Climate Change Solutions and Human Adaptation

How can changes in travel, or the way communities develop, reduce climate change?

Roadside emissions, automobile dependence, and transportation control measures that reduce traffic delays build understanding of how roads and public travel preferences can help reduce vehicle emissions that pollute the air and raise greenhouse gases. Deb Niemeier, professor of civil and environmental engineering and of education, develops models that help policymakers and leads projects in interdisciplinary policy and environmental law, environmental justice, road ecology, “green” entrepreneurs and climate change.

Can land use policies reduce automobile dependence and greenhouse gas emissions?

Automobile dependence is an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and evidence shows that automobile use is associated with land use patterns: residents of communities with higher densities, greater land use mix, and better pedestrian infrastructure drive less than residents of more conventional suburban communities. Susan Handy, professor of environmental science and policy, studies the connections between transportation, land use, and travel behavior. Among her many projects, Handy has examined the impact of neighborhood design on driving and walking in studies in Northern California and in Austin, Texas.

What can governments and citizens do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Land use, transportation and urban design are determined in part by local government and important components of sustainable development. Stephen Wheeler, professor of landscape architecture and environmental design, studies regional government with an emphasis on urban growth management, and state government with an emphasis on climate change planning frameworks.

Why do people travel so much, and how can we reduce travel and greenhouse gas emissions?

Patricia Mokhtarian, professor emerita of civil and environmental engineering, has identified that people travel more than they must due to curiosity, variety-seeking, control, independence, escape and health. Her research has also determined that the net impact of telecommuting, internet shopping and other communication technologies will be to generate more travel rather than less and that policies attracting “auto-dependent” people to live in mixed-use neighborhoods may not have the desired effect on travel. Her work demonstrates the need and several methods to study travel attitudes and behavior from multiple perspectives.

What should be the optimal timing of investment in climate change control policies and what are the economic costs of no action or delayed action?

It takes expertise in environmental regulations and market structure, environmental regulation and uncertainty, and linkages between environmental and economic development to account for the dynamics of global carbon cycle in models.Y. Hossein Farzin, professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics, forecasts and models demand and supply, pricing of fossil fuels, technological change and measures of natural resource scarcity. He has examined the optimal timing of investment in climate change policies and the economic costs of delaying action. He investigates the optimal economic incentives for the timely adoption of clean technologies and the introduction of alternative energy sources to control climate change.

How is climate change related to environmental justice?

Climate change poses additional threats to public health that may be expected to have more severe impacts in communities, which are disenfranchised due to race, gender and economic inequities. Julie Sze, professor of american studies, examines the relationship between environmental justice and climate change.

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