Blast from the past: IPWSD 2012 Keynote and Panel Recordings

For IPWSD 2012, I brought an audio recorder to the keynote speech by Jeff Sachs and the panel discussions, and I never got around to uploading them. So here they are!

Jeffrey Sachs Keynote Speech: MP3

Panel Discussion: MP3

Impact of variation in climatic factors on crop yield

Project by Prabhat Barnwal:

This study examines the effects of temperature and precipitation on mean and

variance of seasonal rice yield in Andhra Pradesh, India. Two distinct approaches are employed: stochastic production function and quantile regression. The findings suggest adverse impact of temperature rise on mean rice yield as well as its variability. Furthermore, quantile regression reveals that rice yield’s sensitivity to climate change differs significantly across the quantiles of yield distribution. International University of Japan Working paper.

Journeys toward Sustainable Development: Policy Entrepreneurs and the Rise of the Green State in Chile and Peru

Project by Jose Carlos Orihuela (completed thesis):

Journeys inquire why and how mineral-rich Chile and Peru joined in the international trend of good green governance. Behind formal governance convergence hides effective institutional divergence: a relatively strong and autonomous green state in Chile and a relatively weak and captured green state in Peru. The “green state” comprises ministries of the environment, transsectoral regulatory agencies, national standards of environmental quality, systems of protected areas, and citizen participation schemes. Inquiring on the agency of policy-entrepreneurs , the dissertation shows how legacy, opportunity, and agency shape institutional change. The thesis uses a political economy approach, building on analytic frameworks and methods from institutional schools in the social sciences.

The effects of convective clouds on transport of pollutants using a numerically simulated flow field

Project by Nicole Ngo:

In the planetary boundary layer (PBL) (loosely defined as the layer < 1 km above the surface), pollutants travel smaller distances and have shorter residence times relative to those in the upper troposphere.  As a result, understanding the processes by which pollutants can be transported to the upper troposphere is critical. One way this can occur is by deep convective cloud systems. In this study, we observe how deep convection influences the distribution of an insoluble or less soluble chemical species, like carbon monoxide (CO), O3, and NOx, within the troposphere. This is done by using a Lagrangian approach that traces particles along a simulated time-evolving, three-dimensional wind field associated with a deep convection system.

Air pollution in urban areas in Sub-Saharan Africa

Project by Nicole Ngo:

There are few large urban areas in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), but the cities in SSA are rapidly expanding.  As such, there is increasing concern over urban planning and coping with a growing urban population, including mitigating environmental health problems.  Of particular concern is air pollution.  There have been few studies examining urban air pollution in SSA (to my knowledge, < 5 studies), but a 2-week study in the summer of 2009 in Nairobi found that particulate matter (PM) emitted from vehicles was more than 10 times that of World Health Organization standards.  This project will continue the efforts to monitor urban air pollution in Nairobi, not only for its health impacts but also its influence on climate change.

Measurements of black carbon from vehicles in New York City

Project by Nicole Ngo:

There is concern over the public health issues concerning black carbon (BC), a species of particulate matter.  One major source of BC in urban areas is vehicles that use diesel, such as trucks or buses.  To examine population exposure, studies have used data from monitors that  measure background pollution, since they are cheaper than having individuals carry around monitors.  Though, there’s evidence that BC decays quickly from sources, such as roadways.  As a result, monitors may not properly capture population exposure.  To better understand if monitors are capturing some trend from the road or pure noise, I use the Clean Fuel Bus Program in NYC to see if variations in types of buses (e.g., diesel buses, hybrid buses, CNG buses) along bus routes by monitors are captured by the monitors.

Purchase Feedback

Project by James Rising:

This project is part research and part social entrepreneurship.  The goal is to construct a software system that can evaluate the unintended consequences of individual purchases, and match them to charities that ameliorate those specific effects.  Using this framework, consumers could get detailed information about the effects of their purchases and have an easy way to respond to that information, just by copying their credit card statements or entering their receipts on a website, or (in collaboration with a store’s customer-tracking system) getting the information immediately when buying their items.

An Open Model of Climate Change Behaviors

Project by James Rising:

The behaviors that produce climate change are overdetermined and systemic, but that fact suggests that there exist “leverage points” within society where small policy changes will have big effects on these behaviors.  The goal of this project is to generate a new style of system dynamical model of society, at a sufficiently high level of granularity to identify those policies and institutions.  Some complimentary goals include the incorporation of fractal networks into system dynamics, producing an online interface for researchers to contribute and run simulations, and develop a numerical framework to analyze the coherence and local-significance of the model elements.

Flooding in Pakistan

Project by James Rising (with Prof. John Mutter):

This research has two complementary directions: studying the projected evolution of flood variability in the Himalayan floodplain with respect to glacier melt. What portion of the current flooding along Himalayan rivers is attributable to glacier melt, and how will that change as the glaciers retreat?  Second, I’m focusing on the economic consequences of floods for Pakistan, using an inter-sectoral model of their economy.  When floods hit agriculture, for example, how does that trickle down to other sectors, and what sectors are most likely to be unaffected?

Distributive Impacts of Dams and Governmental Responses in County-level in China

Project by Xiaojia Bao:

This paper initially built a theoretical model for governments’ fiscal response with respect to the distributive impacts of dams along a river basin. The model claimed that upstream counties should get compensated, while downstream counties should compensate or transfer out, if the local governments were functioning efficiently. Then the paper verified the distributive impacts of dams on different areas along a river basin using empirical data in county level in China from 2000 to 2008. Empirical analysis indicated that dam construction and finished dams mainly had distributive impacts on agricultural economic outcome variables, such as primary industry valued added per capita and grain production.  Local counties would suffer from agricultural loss due to the disruption from dam construction work and land loss for reservoir construction, but those areas were compensated correspondingly, which can be seen from the reduced deficit percentage. Upstream counties suffered from deteriorated economic outcome indicators both in agricultural and non-agricultural industries with GDP per capita decreased by 1540 RMB and net income per capita in rural households decreased by 147 RMB, while they got compensated to some extend through the revenue increase (close to 87 RMB per capita). Downstream counties benefited from dam construction on agricultural production, mainly in grain production and meat production, corresponding to a decrease in the expenditure (43 RMB per capita) and increase in revenue (122 RMB per capita).

Rural Household Residential Water Use Behavior in Northern China

Project by Xiaojia Bao:

This paper modeled household water use in a water-scarce rural village in Northern China using household level data. Several household characteristics were identified to impact water use significantly. Household size shows a scale-economy effect, with a coefficient close to 0.25. Gender structure and characteristics of household head don’t show a significant effect. In addition, households adjust their water use as a response to weather variability.  The increase of average monthly precipitation by 1mm corresponds to 0.1-0.2% decrease in per capita water use . And the increase of average monthly temperature by 1 degree corresponds to 2-5% increase in per capita water use. The response of households’ water use to weather is state-dependent. Generally, smaller and younger households increase water use more as a response to temperature increase, but decrease water use less as a response to precipitation increase.

Groundwater Management under Multiple Uncertainty

Project by Chandra Kiran:
There is a vast literature on groundwater management when recharge is stochastic and when demand is known. Given the developed country setting of this literature, there is no corresponding focus on stochastic demand, especially when demand is a function of the price of crops. In a setting with high price variability, we illustrate that it is important to account for this source of uncertainty, for two reasons: first, the magnitude of this uncertainty can easily exceed that of natural recharge and second, the implications for risk averse farmers of multiple sources of uncertainty is substantial. In particular, the effect on steady state distribution of groundwater stock of increases in variability are very uncertain. We provide conditions under which increases in uncertainty lead to reduction in optimal withdrawal.

Climate Change Impacts on Indian Agriculture

Project by Chandra Kiran:

Using a 25-year panel on more than 300 districts, and newly available gridded climate datasets, we estimate the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture. The effects of random year-to-year variations in weather are used to estimate the relationship between weather and agricultural yield, separately for the major food crops, for each season. This approach permits delineation of impacts by crop and by growing season, unlike previous work for India. In addition, we use a newly developed quantile regression framework for fixed effects panel data, which allows for differential impacts of weather and climate at different quantiles of yield. We find robust, negative impacts of climate change on wheat yields while impacts on Rice yields are positive at the lowest quantiles and are relatively unchanged at the higher quantiles.

Complementarity and Returns to Public and Private Capital for Microenterprises in Kibera, Nairobi

Project by Anna Tompsett
A ‘spine road’ is being constructed in Kibera, a large informal
settlement in the center of Nairobi. The road will vastly improve
transport access to the settlement. My proposed research project will
track a panel of microenterprises along the proposed route of the
road. The microenterprises will be incentivised to participate in the survey
with the opportunity to participate in a small grant lottery. We will
carefully track those businesses that exit the market (using mobile
phones and social networks) and those that enter the market as a
result. The resultant data will allow us to estimate the ‘return’ on
the investments in public capital (the road) and private capital (the
small grants), the distribution of those impacts, and, critically, to
determine whether the two interventions have a complementary effect.
The research outputs will contribute to the debate on how to achieve
sustainable economic development in informal settlements, the role of
infrastructure improvements, and the importance of integrated approaches
to intervention design.

The Flood in the Desert

Dealing with spatial and temporal variation
in water availability in a data-sparse environment
Project by Anna Tompsett
The project focuses on an area of the Niger Inland Delta near
Tombouctou, Mali, where there is very little data available for water
and agricultural management. Both traditional and modern agricultural
systems are however extremely dependent on the spatial and temporal
extent of the annual flood. The project aims to use landsat images to
generate maps of the area flooded with given probability at a given
time of the year.

The Economics of Energy Resource Development and Grid Interconnection

Project by Aly Sanoh

This paper analysis the optimal options to supply electricity to national economies from both domestic as well as distant resources using transmissions systems across the huge renewable energy resources of Africa. The overarching questions are: How to model continent wide energy development as it affects regional economies? How to model demand growth and how to evaluate the potential and costs of energy supply? What drive long transmission costs?

Municipal Taxes, Income, and Rainfall

Project by Aly Sanoh
This paper addresses three unresolved questions in the literature of public finance and development. First, it uses exogenous variation in rainfall across municipalities in Mali to estimate the causal effect of household income shocks on municipal level tax revenue performance. Second, it exploits a national tax collection incentive policy to measure the impacts of rainfall variation on local government spending. Third, it measures the effect of public goods capital spending on development outcomes at district levels.

Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Olivier Deschenes

Title: Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Olivier Deschenes
Location: Room 1401 International Affairs Building
Description: Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Olivier Deschenes (UCSB)

Sponsored by the Earth Institute and the School of International and Public Affairs

Start Time: 16:10:00
Date: 2010-12-06
End Time: 18:00:00

Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Eugenia Kalnay

Title: Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Eugenia Kalnay
Location: Room 1401 International Affairs Building
Description: Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Eugenia Kalnay (Maryland)

Sponsored by the Earth Institute and the School of International and Public Affairs
Start Time: 16:10:00
Date: 2010-11-22
End Time: 18:00:00

Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Jeffrey Vincent

Title: Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Jeffrey Vincent
Location: Room 1401 International Affairs Building
Description: Sustainable Development Seminar Series: Jeffrey Vincent (Duke)

Sponsored by the Earth Institute and the School of International and Public Affairs
Start Time: 16:10:00
Date: 2010-11-08
End Time: 18:00:00