David L. Feldman

University of California at Irvine
Planning, Policy, and Design

226F Social Ecology
Department of Planning, Policy, and Design
Irvine, CA
feldmand@uci.edu |  Visit Personal Website

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The focus of my research is the intersection between environmental ethics and decision-making processes that determine how societies manage resources and protect the environment. My research addresses: (a) water resources policy, (b) global environmental change/energy, (c) environmental risk, and (d) civil society and environmental ethics. A principal component is the conviction that disputes over water allocation, quality, and use are driven by divergent values held by governments, non-governmental groups, and citizens toward how, and whether, nature should be protected. I anchor this work on an adaptive management paradigm; an approach that promotes organizational designs to correct mistakes before they become irreversible, monitor change brought about by previous decisions, and instills the capacity to revise decisions in light of new information. My 2007 and 1995 books, Water Policy for Sustainable Development and Water Resources Management: in Search of an Environmental Ethics examine the challenge of providing adequate freshwater to satisfy the needs of people and nature in different contexts. The first examined controversies over preservation of scenic rivers and regional development initiatives based on constructing large dams. Its major contribution was fusing classical political philosophy concerns over justice with efforts to resolve resource conflicts caused by excluding public participation and gratuitously viewing water projects as merely regional development projects. I have begun to examine the intersection between civil society and environmental reform. My focus is democratic reform in post-1991 Russia. While political scientists agree that civil society provides an outlet for freely articulating public policy demands; a forum for representing divergent points of view; and an autonomous platform for holding government accountable for its actions in Russia, a democratic civil society has never really existed. Bringing about reform requires a state that is accountable to NGO and citizen input, decision-makers popularly elected under the banners of competitive political parties, and respect for consultation between agencies and NGOs. We are undertaking a survey of over 100 environmental NGO leaders to examine the roles of trust and confidence, political efficacy, and experiences with officials to examine these issues.

Feldman, David, Santina Contreras, Beth Karlin, Victoria Basolo, Richard Matthew, Brett Sanders, Douglas Houston, Wing Cheung, Kristen Goodrich, Abigail Reyes, Kimberly Serrano, Jochen Schubert, Adam Luke. 2016. “Communicating Flood Risk: Looking Back and Forward at Traditional and Social Media Outlets,” International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.12.004
Feldman, D. L. 2015. “Polycentric Governance,” in W. Bainbridge, M. Roco (Eds.), Handbook of Science and Technology Convergence. New Delhi, India. Springer.
DOI: DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-04033-2_71-1
Feldman, David L. 2016. “The West’s Water – multiple uses, conflicting values, interconnected fates,” in Western Water Policy in a Variable and Changing Climate, edited by K. Miller, A. Harnlet, D. Kenney, and K. Redmond. Taylor & Francis.
Feldman, David L. 2017- forthcoming. The Water Sustainable City: Policy and Practice. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978 1 78347 855 2.
DOI: DOI 10.4337/9781783478576
Feldman, David L. 2017 - forthcoming. Water Politics – Governing our most Precious Resource. UK: Polity Books ISBN-13: 978-1-5095-0461-9.
Abstract: Low, Kathleen G., D.L. Feldman, Stanley B. Grant, Andrew J. Hamilton, Kein Gan, Jean-Daniel Saphores, Meenakshi Arora. 2015. “Fighting Drought with Innovation: Melbourne's Response to the Millennium Drought in Southeast Australia,” WIRES Water,2015.
DOI: doi: 10.1002/wat2.1087
Abstract: Aghakouchak, A., Feldman, D. L., Hoerling, M., Huxman, T. E., Lund, J. 2015. “Recognize Anthropocentric Drought” Nature, 524: 409-411.
Feldman, David L. 2013. "Adaptatiopn as a water Resource Policy Challenge - Institutions and Science, " J. of Water Resource and Protection 5 (April): 1-6.
Abstract: Adaptation is the pursuit of active, deliberate measures to enhance humankind’s capacity to manage water supply and attenuate demand in the face of climate uncertainty. This article contends that worsening constraints upon freshwater due to climate variability demand concerted, imaginative, science-based solutions. These solutions must join creative management to co-production of climate knowledge. Through a series of case studies, we analyze the need for adapta-tion approaches to prevail over climate variability, and the role of these factors to facilitate their implementation. We also examine how translation of climate knowledge is helping spur adaptation at various spatial levels. These experi-ences point to the challenges in adaptation, and the adversity various regions will be faced if we do not.
DOI: doi:10.4236/jwarp.2013.54A001 Published Online April 2013 (http://www.scirp.org/journal/jwarp)
Grant, S. B., Saphores, J. D., Feldman, D. L., others (2012). Taking the “waste” out of “wastewater” for human water security and ecosystem sustainability. Science 337, 681-686.
Abstract: Humans create vast quantities of wastewater through inefficiencies and poor management of water systems. The wasting of water poses sustainability challenges, depletes energy reserves, and undermines human water security and ecosystem health. Here we review emerging approaches for reusing wastewater and minimizing its generation. These complementary options make the most of scarce freshwater resources, serve the varying water needs of both developed and developing countries, and confer a variety of environmental benefits. Their widespread adoption will require changing how freshwater is sourced, used, managed, and priced.
DOI: DOI: 10.1126/science.1216852.
Feldman, David L. (January 2013) The Politics of Environmental Policy in Russia (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar).
Abstract: In recent years, international, inter-governmental entities have acknowledged the importance of civil society for engaging stakeholders in environmental change, especially at the local community level, and in promoting democracy. In Russia, efforts by NGOs to promote reform since the fall of the Soviet Union have been aimed at achieving both objectives. This book explores the political, legal, and attitudinal barriers to environmental reform in Russia since 1991.
URL: http://ISBN 978 0 85793 850 3.
Feldman, David L. (September 2012). Water. Cambridge, UK: Polity Books. Resource Series.
Abstract: Must the cost of potable water become prohibitively expensive for the poor – especially when supplies are privatized? Do technological advances only expand supply or can they carry hidden risks for minority groups? And who bears responsibility for managing the adverse impacts of dams funded by global aid organizations when their burdens fall on some, while their benefits accrue to others? This book shows how control of freshwater operates at different levels, from individual watersheds near cities to large river basins whose water – when diverted – is contested by entire countries. Drawing on a rich range of examples from across the world, it explores the complexity of future challenges, concluding that nations must work together to embrace everyone’s water needs while also establishing fair, consistent criteria to promote available supply with less pollution.
URL: http://ISBN 978-0-7456-5032-6 hb
Feldman, David L., and Helen Ingram. 2009. "Climate Forecasts, Water Management, and Knowledge Networks: Making Science Useful to Decision-makers." Weather, Climate, and Society 1.
Abstract: Moving from climate science to adaptive action is an immense challenge, especially in highly institutionalized sectors such as water resources. Knowledge networks are valuable strategies to put climate information to use. They overcome barriers to information adoption including stovepipes, pipelines, and restricted decision space ? and they can be responsive to issues of salience and the hurdles of reliability, credibility, and trust. Collaboration and adaptive management efforts among resource managers and forecast producers with differing missions show that mutual learning informed by climate information can occur among scientists of different disciplinary backgrounds and between scientists and water managers. We show how, through construction of knowledge networks and their institutionalization through boundary organizations focused on salient problems, climate information can positively affect water resources decision making.
DOI: DOI: 10.1175/2009WCAS1007.1: pp. 1022-1033.
Feldman, David L., and Ivan Blokov. 2009. "Promoting an Environmental Civil Society: Politics, Policy, and Russia's Post-1991 Experience." Review of Policy Research 26 (6).
Abstract: The UN Environment Program, UN Conference on Environment and Development and other international organizations acknowledge the importance of civil society for engaging stakeholders in environmental change ? especially at the local community level ? and in promoting democracy. In Russia, efforts by NGOs to promote reform since 1991 aim at achieving both objectives and face numerous legal and attitudinal hurdles. This article examines these hurdles and the factors that facilitate development of an environmentally conscious civil society through analysis of the views of 100 representatives of environmental NGOs, news media, scientific community, corporations, and public agencies; and three abbreviated, illustrative vignettes. It has become accepted wisdom that adequately protecting Russia?s environment requires a strengthening of civil society. Our thesis is that Russia's nascent civil society exercises little influence but that recent actions by organized groups, seen in these vignettes and documented in the survey, may change this political landscape.
Feldman, David L. 2009. "Preventing the Repetition: Or, What Los Angeles' Experience in Water Management can Teach Atlanta about Urban Water Disputes." Water Resources Research 45, W04422.
Abstract: Southern California's water history is an epic story with larger-than-life characters and ambitions and abundant hubris (Hundley, 2001; Carle, 2003; Erie, 2006). Students of water policy might reasonably ask: does this story, while unique to greater Los Angeles, hold lessons for other metropolises experiencing water conflict caused by explosive growth? We examine this question by considering similarities between the challenges facing Atlanta, Georgia - one of the nation's fastest growing cities in the 21st Century - with those of Los Angeles. We focus on junctures where important decisions regarding water were made and how these decisions continue to challenge both cities' futures. Atlanta's financial, cultural, and environmental imprint on its surrounding region share remarkable similarities with Los Angeles' influence-trajectory: it is the largest city in the Southeast, a principal transportation and business hub, and it is embroiled in water conflict with nearby communities and adjoining states.
DOI: doi:10.1029/2008WR007605.

Substantive Focus:
Environmental Policy PRIMARY
Science and Technology Policy SECONDARY
Social Policy
Comparative Public Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY