Dec 6 DCDC Water/Climate Briefing

Cotton, Condos, and Climate: Agriculture and Arizona’s Water Future

Irrigation CanalDecision-makers in Arizona are comforted by the idea that water can be diverted from farms to cities in the face of future water scarcity. The assumption has been that historic trends in farm retirement will continue into the future, releasing water for urban use. However, rapid changes in economic, environmental and policy conditions now challenge this assumption.

  • What current and possible future conditions divert water from farms to cities?
  • How are recent changes in the economy, policy and the environment affecting farmers’ and water managers’ decisions about water allocations?
  • Should Arizona rely on agriculture to fulfill a buffering role in the face of future water uncertainties?

A panel of agriculture and water resource practitioners and professionals will discuss these and other issues associated with agriculture, urban growth and Arizona’s future demand for water.

This DCDC Water/Climate briefing explores the climate-water-agriculture-nexus in Arizona. Over the coming year, academic researchers, farmers, water managers, and other stakeholders throughout Arizona will continue this work and will provide new insights into this critical challenge.

December 6, 2011 | 12:00-1:30pm | Lunch will be served

DCDC Conference Room

Please RSVP:


  • Paco Ollerton, Cotton Grower
  • Jim Holway, Director, Western Lands and Communities, a Lincoln Institute of Land Policy-Sonoran Institute Joint Venture
  • Brian Betcher, Manager, Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District, Pinal County
  • Joe Sigg, Director of Government Relations, Arizona Farm Bureau


School of Sustainability graduate students from the workshop, “Adaptation, Resilience and Transformation.”


  • Rimjhim Aggarwal, Assistant Professor, School of Sustainability
  • Hallie Eakin, Associate Professor, School of Sustainability


Map and Parking

Decision Center for a Desert City
Global Institute of Sustainability
Arizona State University
21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B
Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 965-3367

In the News

December 6, DCDC Water/Climate Briefing, Cotton, Condos, and Climate: Agriculture and Arizona’s Water Future. Organized by School of Sustainability graduate students, this DCDC Water/Climate Briefing explores the climate-water-agriculture-nexus in Arizona. Over the coming year, academic researchers, farmers, water managers, and other stakeholders throughout Arizona will continue this work and will provide new insights into this critical challenge.

Using Social Psychology to Promote Sustainability. Our colleagues, Susan Ledlow and Mick Dalrymple at Energize Phoenix are featured prominently in The Atlantic Cities article, “In Arizona, Reducing Water and Energy Use Through Peer Pressure.”

ASU ‘Changing Planet’ town hall airs Nov. 16 on The Weather Channel. This edition of “Changing Planet” brings together over 400 students and features four leading experts from science, academia and politics: Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico; Grady Gammage Jr., senior sustainability scholar with the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability and senior research fellow with the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy; Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority; and Heidi Cullen, former climate expert for The Weather Channel and current research scientist and correspondent with “Climate Central.”

Check out DCDC researcher David Sampson’s interview ( Video no longer availible ) on Fox News as part of ASU student Daryl Bjoraas’ exploration of innovative techniques used to conserve water in Phoenix.

Rating Phoenix Sustainability: What Matters Most by Grady Gammage at ASU. It is understandable that Phoenix strikes people as a fragile place. But at the end of the day, the verdict on urban sustainability is not about geography, but about politics. Before we brand Phoenix as “the world’s least sustainable city,” we need to figure out how to rate political foresight and willpower. The real measure of sustainability is in how a place responds to challenges.

In Phoenix, the Dark Side of the ‘Green’ City by Andrew Ross in The New York Times. While cities like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco are lauded for sustainability, the challenges faced by Phoenix, a poster child of Sunbelt sprawl, are more typical and more revealing.

In Arizona, Reducing Water and Energy Use Through Peer Pressure by Emily Badger at The Atlantic. The city of Phoenix, Arizona State University and the local power utility are trying to figure this out in a three-year project funded by a federal stimulus grant. The program, Energize Phoenix, is targeting 1,800 residential units and 30 million square feet of commercial space in an effort to get people to go for the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.

Engineering alum helps Arizona meet its water challenges. Among certainties about life in the desert Southwest are that the supply, use, conservation and management of water will always be pressing issues. So it’s certain that Arizona State University and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering alumnus Michael Johnson will have a hand in shaping Arizona’s future.

Better economics: supporting adaptation with stakeholder analysis by Muyeye Chambwera, Ye Zou, Mohamed Boughlala. Across the developing world, decision makers understand the need to adapt to climate change — particularly in agriculture, which supports a large proportion of low-income groups who are especially vulnerable to impacts such as increasing water scarcity or more erratic weather.

2011 Water/Climate Briefing Keynote Address

Our Energy-Efficiency Paradox: Psychological Barriers to ‘No-Brainer’ Solutions

Elke Weber

Elke U. Weber, Keynote Speaker

Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business
Founder and Co-director, Center for the Decision Sciences (CDS) and the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED)
Columbia University

November 30, 2011 | 9:30-11:00am | ASU’s Memorial Union Turquoise Room 220

Please RSVP:

Talk Abstract

Of all environmentally-relevant decisions, the adoption of energy-efficiency technologies would appear to be a ‘no-brainer,’ yet these solutions are vastly underused. In this talk, Dr. Weber will highlight the psychological reasons for this paradox and suggest ways in which we can harness cognitive limitations to spark greater adoption of win-win solutions.

About Elke Weber

DCDC Elke Weber Nov 30 2011via The Earth Institute. Elke Weber has made it her life’s work to understand why and how people make the decisions they make. Not a simple task. Take, for example, smoking cigarettes. Doctors’ warnings of the deadly consequences of becoming addicted to cigarettes have been publicized for nearly 50 years now, but this hasn’t stopped millions of people from taking up the habit since. Irrational? Many would argue so. And what about other, less direct forms of unhealthy behavior that seem irrational? A perfect example today would be the continuation of practices known to cause catastrophic damage to our planet’s environment, and by extension, to ourselves.

Working at the intersection of psychology and economics, Weber is an expert on behavioral models of judgment and decision making under risk and uncertainty. Recently, she has been investigating psychologically appropriate ways to measure and model individual and cultural differences in risk taking, specifically in risky financial situations and environmental issues. She describes her research as follows:

“I try to gain an understanding and appreciation of decision making at a broad range of levels of analysis, which is not easy, given that each level requires different theories, methods and tools. So at the micro end of the continuum, I study how basic psychological processes like attention, emotion and memory (and their representation in the brain) influence preference and choice. At the macro end of the continuum, I think about how policy makers may want to present policy initiatives to the public to make them maximally effective. This range of topics and methods is challenging, but at least in my mind the different levels of analysis inform and complement each other.”

Currently, Weber is focusing the majority of her time on two very different, but crucial issues: “… environmental decisions, in particular responses to climate change and climate variability, and financial decisions, for example pension savings.” Like all of her research topics, even these seemingly unrelated issues are linked in that both involve choices with consequences that are delayed in time and are often highly uncertain.

Read The New York Times article featuring Elke Weber, Why Isn’t the Brain Green? by Jon Gertner. Decision scientists are trying to figure out why it’s so hard for us to get into a green mind-set. Their answers may be more crucial than any technological advance in combating environmental challenges.


Elke U. Weber is the Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business at Columbia Business School, with appointments also in Psychology and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Her MA and PhD are from Harvard University. Previous academic positions include the University of Chicago and visiting appointments in Germany, UK, Denmark, Switzerland, as well as fellowships at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, and the Russell Sage Foundation in New York.

Weber is an expert on behavioral models of judgment and decision-making under risk and uncertainty. Recently she has been investigating psychologically and neurally plausible ways to measure and model individual differences decisions under risk and uncertainty, specifically in financial and environmental contexts.

Weber is past president of the Society for Mathematical Psychology, the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and the Society for Neuroeconomics. She has served on advisory committees of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, related to human dimensions in global change, edited two decision science journals and serves on the editorial boards of eight psychology and social science journals. At Columbia, she founded and co-directs the Center for the Decision Sciences (CDS), which fosters and facilitates cross-disciplinary research and graduate training in the basic and applied decision sciences and the NSF DMUU funded Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED), which investigates ways of facilitating human adaptation to climate change and climate variability. She will serve as a Lead Author in Working Group III (on mitigation) for the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


The most convenient parking for this DCDC Water/Climate Briefing at ASU’s Memorial Union can be found at the Apache Parking structure at the intersection of Apache Blvd and College in Tempe. Parking rates are $2/hour with a maximum of $8.00.