I currently hold a joint appointment between the University of Arizona and Oxford University - as co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona and professor in the School of Geography and Development and as a senior research fellow in ECI and Visiting Professor of Environmental Policy and Development at Oxford. At Arizona I am be helping to develop a university-wide environmental program and serving as a member of the US National Academy of Sciences Committee on America's Climate Choices, and as chair of the panel on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions on Climate Change. My responsibilities at Oxford include supervising my current doctoral students and postdocs, teaching on MSc courses each autumn, and working with the GECAFS and Tyndall projects.
Prior to coming back to Tucson I spent about 6 years in England as Director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University after spending most of my professional career in the United States. My former positions include Professor of Geography and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona (1996-2003), Interim Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona, Associate Professor of Geography and Associate Director of the Earth System Science Centre at Penn State University (1990-1995), Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1985-1989) and a research fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado (1981-1984). My degrees are in Geography from University College London (1976), the University of Toronto (1980) and UCLA (1984).
I have been interested in the impacts of climate on society for most of my professional life. My MSc at Toronto was on drought impacts and I was also fortunate to work as a research assistant for Anne Whyte, Ian Burton and Ken Hare in the Institute for Environmental Studies on a variety of international environmental initiatives. I did my PhD with Werner Terjung and his group at UCLA on climate change and the world food system through a cooperative program with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), spending two years as one of Steve Schneider's group in the Advanced Study Programme just as climate change was emerging as a major issue in the early 1980s.
I was especially interested in the potential and limitations of modeling climate impacts using both crop simulation models and the first generation of global models that allowed the assessment of climate change impacts. As it became clear to me that our knowledge of climate impacts in the developing world was insufficient for modeling, and that some of the most interesting questions were about how people and places became vulnerable to climate change, I was able to use a research fellowship from the SSRC and MacArthur Foundation to begin fieldwork in Mexico. I was particularly interested in understanding vulnerability to natural hazards in the agricultural sector and to explore how global warming might affect agriculture and livelihoods in Mexico and was funded by NSF and EPA for work on these topics. In 1988 I was invited to become a member of the US Social Science Research Council national committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change and this led to many other opportunities to serve on committees seeking to mobilize and define research on social science and global change including the US National Academy Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (which I chaired from 1995-99), the NOAA Global Change Advisory Committee and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Inter American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI).
Mexico was a fascinating place to work and when I moved to the University of Arizona (starting with a sabbatical in 1994) I began to work on a wider range of Mexican environmental issues, especially land use change and US-Mexico border environmental issues. I was able to work with my students in several regions of Mexico and in other parts of Latin America and have sustained a strong interest in Latin American climate impacts and policy. One of the most significant issues to draw my attention was the spread of neoliberalism in the Americas and its impact on environmental conditions and management, not only through NAFTA but also in the privatization of resources and other changes in governance. At the University of Arizona I was funded by the Ford, Hewlett and Mott foundations to co-organize an annual conference on US-Mexico border environmental issues, and by NASA for work on land use change in Mexico. I also helped to develop a regional climate assessment center for the southwest US (a model for the national NOAA program), which now flourishes as CLIMAS in Arizona's Institute for the Study of Planet Earth. One other commitment is a Prentice Hall textbook on world regional geography (World Regions in Global Context) that I wrote with Sallie Marston and Paul Knox where we use globalization and environmental history to place world regions in a global context. We have just finished the 4th edition together with two new authors - Vincent Del Cassino and Paul Robbins.
Upon returning to the UK my interest (re)turned to climate change, partly because of the expertise that surrounded me in Oxford, because the UK is trying to lead internationally on climate policy, and also because the implementation of international climate policy raises some intriguing questions about the political economy and practices of mitigation and adaptation. As a coordinator of projects on climate policy for the James Martin 21st Century School and for the Tyndall Centre I focused on climate and development (with a focus on Latin America) and on the geographies of the new carbon economy in the form of the CDM and other carbon offsets.
I am the co-editor of Annual Review of Environment and Resources and member of editorial boards for Global Environmental Change, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, and Climatic Change. In terms of committee responsibilities I currently chair the Science Advisory Committee for the ICSU Global Environmental Change and Food Systems program (GECAFS) and served on the UK Human Dimensions of Global Change Committee. I am a member of the board of Cape Farewell (an organization that brings artists, scientists and educators together to collectively address and raise awareness about climate change) and of Julie's Bicycle a non profit company established to find ways to reduce the UK music industry's greenhouse gas emissions.
Ph.D. in Geography, University of California, Los Angeles, 1984
Climate impacts; vulnerability and adaptation; climate policy and mitigation especially in the developing world; political economy and political ecology of environmental management in the Americas, especially in Mexico
Geography 500: Research Design
Required course for all grad students in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona with the goal of developing a high quality research proposal
Option module taught to environmental masters students at Oxford University
Climate policy and the countdown to Copenhagen
Seminar at University of Arizona
Climate Assessment of the Southwest: I have a project with colleagues Margaret Wilder and Tracey Osborne to look at climate and poverty in the Southwest US
Committee on America's Climate Choices: My role on this committee derives from helping to chair one of the committee's subpanels on Informing Effective Decisions and Actions on Climate Change.
Climate Governance: I am involved in several projects that take critical approaches to climate governance including research into carbon offsets, adaptation, and the role of non-nation state actors. These are collaborative with my students and with colleagues in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change and the Earth Systems Governance project of the IHDP. There are a number of papers related to these projects listed on my publication pages.
Climate and Art: Several years ago I was approached to see if ECI would be interested in helping to organise an encounter between climate scientists and artists concerned with environmental change. We held the first conference at Christ Church college in 2005, and each year since. I have become closely involved with cultural sector efforts to respond to climate change through my roles with Tipping Points, Cape Farewell and Julie's Bicycle which include research.
Here is a webcast of an April 2011 panel at Columbia College in Chicago of a panel on art and science: http://ecologywithoutnature.blogspot.com/2011/04/cultural-response-to-climate-change.html
Global Environmental Change and Food Security: In 2005 I became the chair of the science advisory committee for the international program GECAFS under the ICSU Earth System Science Partnership. Focusing on the interaction of global change and food systems GECAFS looks at future scenarios and at vulnerability working with key partners such as FAO and the international agricultural research system (CGIAR). The GECAFS project office is now based in ECI led by John Ingram and we have recently published a synthesis book.
Other work: I continue to maintain a strong interest in Mexico and have maintained research interest and contacts through my current and former doctoral students and postdocs. I continue to monitor and write about the environmental impacts of NAFTA and to study vulnerability and mitigation in the Mexican context. Because of my long term involvement in climate change I have also been asked to write several recent review articles on assessments such as IPCC.