February 2008   



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Panel presentation
Los Angeles, Calif.
Swati Prakash is speaking at the annual Faster Freight Cleaner Air conference on a plenary panel, along with the Transport Minister of Canada, the President of APM Terminals North America, and the Executive Directors of the Ports of Los Angeles and Tacoma. Click here for more information. 

2/28/08 Community workshop
Richmond, Calif.
Those concerned with the associated problems of trucks and trains in West Contra Costa County neighborhoods are invited to a workshop focused on developing community solutions. The workshop will concentrate on the Martinez Subdivision Improvement Project–a proposed Port of Oakland-led rail expansion project currently awaiting $157.5 million in funding from the Trade Corridor Improvement Fund with expected match from Union Pacific Railroad. For more information on the freight expansion project, click here. For information on the workshop, contact Catalina Garzón or call (510) 251-1600 X104.



Career Opportunities

The Pacific Institute is seeking a full-time Communications Director to work to enhance the Institute’s effectiveness by promoting our work to the media, policymakers, academic and scientific communities, local communities, and the general public. For more information or to apply, click here.



  Climate Change Threatens Western Water Supply

Newly Released Studies Support Institute Research




California and other Western states will have to implement new ways of managing water supply to deal with the increasing variability climate change will likely bring–including a rising sea level, greater likelihood of flooding, and increased urban runoff, according to new studies recently published in Science.

While attention has recently centered on water’s changing future, the Pacific Institute has been exploring the impacts of climate change on water resources since its inception.

“Freshwater systems are among the most vulnerable sectors to changing climate conditions,” said Heather Cooley, Pacific Institute Senior Research Associate. “These studies emphasize the need for water managers to include the impacts of climate change as they plan for the future.”

To read the Institute’s work on the impacts of climate change, click here.

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 Circle of Blue Reports on Expanding Desert

China Faces Reign of Sand


Reign of SandEvery spring, furious dust and sandstorms from Inner Mongolia cripple airports, darken skies, and choke millions of people across East Asia.

Primarily caused by deepening drought in northern China and the mismanagement of the largest grasslands on earth, the storms are getting worse, according to “Reign of Sand,” the recently released multimedia report from Circle of Blue.

“It’s much more than a landscape surrendering to the sand,” says J. Carl Ganter, director of Circle of Blue, a nonprofit project of the Pacific Institute. “We’re looking at a crucial international economic and environmental story that has implications for us all.”

Circle of Blue covers the challenges and solutions of the global freshwater crisis using leading talents in journalism, science, data, and design. Circle of Blue is a member project of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Full multimedia coverage is available online.



 Mapping Tool Enhances Institute Research

GIS To Show Impacts of Sea Level Rise


GIS MapFrom locating water bottling facilities to mapping the proximity of people to train-related air contamination, GIS has bolstered research efforts throughout the Institute.

GIS is a tool to help capture and analyze information relative to geographical location and has become an integral part of our current and future research efforts.

By using GIS to map the location of licensed water bottlers in California, we were able to provide analysis to the California Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in March for the drafting of Senate Bill 917, a watershed protection act.

As part of research in Africa on the impacts of clean water and improved sanitation on childhood illness and death, GIS allowed for the visualization of statistics on childhood mortality and morbidity. The maps confirmed that child survival decreases in areas that are further from main roads, have fewer hospitals, and poor soils leading to poor nutrition.

The Institute’s West Contra County Indicators Project, which looks at a broad set of environmental health issues, currently relies on GIS to map the presence of factors that affect quality of life, such as proximity to train-related air contamination, street lighting, lead contamination of housing, access to social services for formerly-incarcerated residents, and concentration of liquor store outlets near public parks and schools.

GIS will also be essential for our future research aimed at quantifying the economic impacts of sea level rise on the California Coast.



   Institute Welcomes Two New Staff

Water, CSSJ Programs Expanded


January brought the addition of two new faces to the Institute.

Anny Chang joins us as a Program Associate for the Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice program, working on freight transport justice and green economic development projects. Prior to joining the Institute, Chang worked as a Housing & Urban Development Fellow in Michigan with rotations at Greater Corktown Development Corporation, Southwest Detroit Business Association, City of Detroit Planning & Development Department, and Ann Arbor Housing Authority. A Bay Area native with an interest in environmental issues and social justice, Chang has also worked with the US EPA Region IX Environmental Justice team and the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Pollution Prevention Team. Chang holds a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and a BA from University of California-Berkeley.

Also in January, Pablo Herrera began an internship with the Pacific Institute’s Water Program, to assist with GIS analyses that will quantify the economic impacts of sea level rise on the California coast. Pablo holds a B.S. in Language Studies from the University of California-Santa Cruz and is currently a graduate student in the Geography program at San Francisco State University.


In Brief

Morrison Leads Training on Sustainability Reporting

On Jan. 17, Program Director Jason Morrison conducted the first Facility Reporting Project training of the sustainability disclosure initiative at Xanterra LLC’s South Rim facility at Grand Canyon, Arizona–one of nine facilities participating in Phase II of the US EPA-sponsored pilot project on comprehensive sustainability reporting and stakeholder engagement.

Gleick Talks Water Around the Nation
Institute President Peter Gleick talks water throughout Feburary at universities and organizations across the nation. Gleick will give the opening keynote address at both the American Water Works Association Conference in Reno, Nevada (2/11) and a University of Florida symposium (2/26). On Feb. 15, he will talk on the connections between water and energy at the AAAS Annual Conference in Boston.These lectures round out a water tour that included January keynotes at Stanford University’s Troubled Water Lecture Series and at a UCLA Law School climate change symposium. In addition, he participated in a panel on reasonable and beneficial water use under conditions of climate change at the Hastings Law School water conference on Jan. 26.

Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative Meeting Starts New Year Strong
Representing community-based organizations, technical assistance organizations, service providers, and advocacy groups, the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative held its first general member meeting of 2008. The Jan. 31st meeting covered the group’s past successes and challenges, and gathered ideas on how DDD can support efforts to reduce diesel impacts in the most affected communities. For more information or to be added to the invitation list, please email us.

Port of Oakland Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan Stakeholder Meeting
On Jan. 30, Swati Prakash participated in the second-to-final meeting of a stakeholder task force working to provide input to the Port of Oakland’s Marine Air Quality Improvement Plan. Prakash led a coalition of stakeholders in expressing concerns over the content of the air plan The consequent letter also provides a clear outline of the minimum elements necessary for a comprehensive air plan to protect community health. A sample outline of such a comprehensive air plan can be found here.

Institute Co-Sponsors Soot Busters Workshop
On Jan. 24, the Pacific Institute and the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project co-sponsored a Soot Busters workshop for West Oakland residents and organizations interested in developing solutions to the community health challenges created by freight movement. Funded by Caltrans and the EPA, the workshop provided a basic introduction to the health impacts of Port of Oakland activities and how residents can get involved. For more information contact Catalina Garzon.