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Pacific Institute Insights is the staff blog of the Pacific Institute, one of the world’s leading nonprofit research groups on sustainable and equitable management of natural resources. For more about what we do, click here.

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    New Data Show California Cities’ Response to Drought Is Highly Uneven

    By Matthew Heberger, Senior Research Associate

    March 24, 2015

    As California heads into its fourth consecutive year of drought, and pronouncements about our water supply are increasingly dire, new data released by the state show that water use and water conservation efforts in cities across the state are highly uneven. Since June of 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board has required urban water suppliers to submit monthly reports of water use, in order to help track conservation efforts. As of now, the state has collected 8 months of data from about 400 water suppliers.

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    National Geographic ScienceBlog: The Impacts of California’s Drought on Hydroelectricity Production

    By Peter Gleick, President

    March 17, 2015

    California’s hottest and driest drought in recorded history has shifted the sources of electricity with adverse economic and environmental consequences. The Pacific Institute has just completed and released a report that evaluates how diminished river flows have resulted in less hydroelectricity, more expensive electricity from the combustion of natural gas, and increased production of greenhouse gas emissions.

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    National Geographic ScienceBlog: Tackling Global Sustainability: A Need for Integrated Systems Approaches

    By Peter Gleick, President

    February 26, 2015

    If there is anything that the past few decades of research and study of major global challenges tells us, it is that truly effective solutions to sustainability challenges require truly integrated approaches across disciplines, fields of study, data sets, and institutions. We are not going to solve 21st century global problems with 20th century tools.

    The planet is faced with a wide range of regional and global threats: air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity, a rapidly changing climate and new risks from extreme weather events, energy and food security, conflicts over resources such as water, spread of diseases, and much more. These threats are interconnected, but are typically studied in narrow disciplinary ways.

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    Knowing and Showing that Companies are Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation

    By Mai-Lan Ha, Senior Research Associate

    February 18, 2015

    The intersection of business, water, and human rights has a contentious past. From protests, to legal battles, to the suspension of business operations, addressing local community conflicts over water and sanitation issues is a business imperative. Last month, the Pacific Institute in its role as part of the Secretariat of the CEO Water Mandate launched the first comprehensive guide to help businesses meet their responsibility to respect the human rights to water and sanitation. The document Guidance for Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: Bringing a Human Rights Lens to Corporate Water Stewardship provides companies with step-by-step guidance to know and to show that they are respecting the rights.

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    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: The State of the California Drought: Still Very Bad

    By Peter Gleick, President

    January 13, 2015

    The California drought continues.

    While we do not know yet what the rest of the wet season will bring – and while we hope for the major storms needed to recharge our rivers, groundwater and reservoirs – it seems increasingly likely that California will not see enough precipitation to get out of the very deep deficit that three years of drought (so far) have produced.

    There is, however, some misleading and confusing information out there. Some are already arguing that California’s rainfall is nearly back to normal or that because there may have been more serious droughts in the past we needn’t worry anymore. Most of these claims are based on misunderstandings of California’s hydrology, water systems, or current conditions, and on very narrow definitions of “drought.”

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    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: The Growing Influence of Climate Change on the California Drought

    by Peter Gleick, President

    December 8, 2014

    Over the past three years (and indeed, for 10 of the past 14 years) California has experienced a particularly deep drought. How bad is the drought? Is it the worst in the instrumental record? The worst in over a century? The worst in 1200 years? The worst “ever”? And why has it been so bad?

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    New Data Show Residential Per Capita Water Use across California

    By Matthew Heberger, Senior Research Associate

    November 18, 2014

    New monthly water use data for California water utilities shows that residential water use varies widely around the state, and that the response to the drought has been uneven. Moreover, in some areas, residential use averages more than 500 gallons per person per day, indicating that we could be doing much more to save water.

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    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: Peak Water: United States Water Use Drops to Lowest Level in 40 Years

    by Peter Gleick, President

    November 5, 2014

    The most important trend in the use of water is the slowly unfolding story of peak water in the United States and elsewhere. Data on US water use are compiled every five years by the US Geological Survey, covering every state and every sector of the economy. The latest data – for 2010 – have just been released, and they show the continuation and acceleration of a stunning trend: US water withdrawals, for all purposes, are declining, not growing.

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    Huffington Post: The California Water Bond is a Beginning, Not an End: Here’s What’s Next

    by Peter Gleick, Kristina Donnelly, and Heather Cooley

    November 5, 2014 

    California voters have approved Proposition 1 – the 2014 California Water Bond. The ultimate value and effectiveness of the bond will depend on how it is implemented and how the funds are spent. Here are some key issues to watch, things to understand about the new water bond, and recommendations:

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    Huffington Post: What Does Proposition 1 — the 2014 California Water Bond — Really Say?

    by Peter Gleick, President

    October 23, 2014 

    On November 4, California voters will decide the fate of Proposition 1 — the 2014 Water Bond — which authorizes the sale of $7.12 billion in new general obligation bonds and the reallocation of an additional $425 million of previously authorized, but unissued, bonds.

    Do you live in California and are you trying to figure out how to vote on Proposition 1? Today the Pacific Institute has released a comprehensive assessment of Prop 1. The Institute is neutral: We are taking no formal position, choosing instead to try to offer the voting public some insights into the complexities of the bond. If passed by the voters, Proposition 1 would be the fourth-largest water bond in California history, funding a wide range of water-related actions and infrastructure. The total cost of Proposition 1, including interest, will exceed $14 billion over 30 years.

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