February 2009 Online Update
Research for People and the Planet  
In This Issue
-New Report on Health and Port Trucking
-World Economic Forum
-World Water Forum
-Water Book Launch
-Congressional Briefing
-Launch of “5 in 15”
-In Brief
World’s Water
For twelve years, The World’s Water has informed and challenged conventional thinking about global water issues. This tradition continues, as the Institute has completed work on the sixth edition of this biennial volume. The World’s Water 2008-2009, available for purchase from Island Press, covers today’s most pressing issues, including the concept of peak water, water and climate change, water in China, the status of the Millennium Development Goals for Water, and more.


World's Water


New Report Finds Enormous Health Costs from Port of Oakland Trucking System
Health Costs Estimated at $153 Million Annually

TruckA new Pacific Institute report on the Port of Oakland trucking system finds enormous costs of health, environment, and worker impacts due to Port truck diesel pollution and poor working conditions. The report, Taking a Toll, estimates that the economic cost to the Bay Area of these health impacts reaches at least $153 million annually from premature deaths, hospital admissions, and missed school and work days.

Co-authored by Swati Prakash of the Pacific Institute and Jennifer Lin of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy and written for the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports, the report also estimates the costs associated with port truck drivers not being employees to be at least $4.5 million per year–the amount taxpayers must cover to underwrite emergency or public healthcare coverage for the 62% of truck drivers who cannot afford to buy private insurance. Asthma Screening

Additionally, the report discusses other costs faced by drivers themselves as a result of their hazardous working conditions and their lack of Workers’ Compensation and occupational safety and health protections available to employees. It also discusses the additional neighborhood health impacts of port trucks driving and parking in residential neighborhoods.

Recognizing the health impacts of port trucking activities, health professionals from UCSF and the Alameda County Public Health Department hosted a health fair on February 10th in front of the Port of Oakland’s headquarters, where they administered free asthma screenings for residents, workers, and Port truck drivers.

prakash_press_conference“By fixing the broken trucking system, the Port of Oakland has the opportunity to significantly reduce public, neighborhood, and environmental health costs, and at the same time, significantly improve conditions for truck drivers at the Port who toil without health insurance or basic health and safety protections,” said Swati Prakash, report coauthor and director of the Institute’s Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice program. “The Port of Oakland can help usher in a new era of responsibility.”

Read the report.

Swati Prakash at the Port of Oakland.

In the News
Oakland port truck pollution burdens public health, study says, San Jose Mercury News
Oakland: Study says diesel pollution costs local economy, CBS5

Gleick Participates in 2009 Davos World Economic Forum

Video Exploring Global Freshwater Crisis Debuts

Institute President Peter Gleick attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, participating in a series of public and private meetings on global environmental issues and water.

Gleick’s efforts were focused on educating global leaders on the world’s water-related problems and sustainable solutions. The meeting culminated in a public plenary session on the “Politics of Water,” featuring Gleick, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (CEO, Nestle); Yaacob Ibrahim (Minister of the Environment and Water, Singapore); Kapil Sibal (Minister of Science and Technology, India); and Richard  Evans (CEO, Rio Tinto). View a webcast of the session.

“While it is clear that environmental issues, and water and climate in particular, are becoming central to global discussions about economy and finance, it is less clear how serious the entire business community is about integrating these issues into core operations and behavior. Long after the financial crisis is resolved, the water crisis will still be with us. Addressing these issues is not a luxury, but a necessity,” said Gleick.

The video “no reason” debuted at the Forum. Prepared by Circle of Blue with the help of the Pacific Institute, it highlights many of the issues contributing to the global freshwater crisis. Fusing irony with stark images, the video offers a thought-provoking perspective on the interconnection among water, our economy, our health, and our environment. Watch it here.

Five Researchers to Present at 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul

Istanbul Home to Third CEO Water Mandate Conference

From framing the links between climate change and water, to sharing techniques for improved water-use efficiency, several Pacific Institute researchers will bring their expertise to the 5th World Water Forum, held in Istanbul, Turkey from March 16-22.

The World Water Forum, held every three years, provides water communities and decision-makers from around the world the opportunity to collaborate on finding solutions to increase water security.
Five Institute staff members will be heading to Istanbul:

  • Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith will share different response options that can be adopted by the agricultural sector in an effort to adapt to climate change.
  • Heather Cooley will showcase innovative technologies to reduce the water and energy footprint.
  • Meena Palaniappan will present at a framing session for adapting to climate change in water resources and water services. She will also present Indore, India as a case study for the relevance of demand management and soft supply strategies in developing country urban contexts, and has plans to present at a session on Empowering Organizations and People.
  • In conjunction with the World Wildlife Federation, Jason Morrison will be organizing the third working conference of the U.N. Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, focused on “Engaging in Public Policy to Advance Sustainable Water Management by Business.”
  • Presenting the findings of a study prepared by the Pacific Institute for the CEO Water Mandate, Peter Schulte will examine current practices of corporate reporting on water sustainability.

The World’s Water Launch Draws Overflow Crowd in D.C.

Talk on Peak Water, China’s Water Problems Available Online

Wilson CenterMarking the launch of the newly released 6th volume of The World’s Water, Institute President Peter Gleick presented highlights of the book’s key findings to an overflow crowd at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. on February 4.

In his presentation, Gleick addressed the concept of “peak water,” China’s growing water problems, and solutions to address the world’s water crisis. View the webcast of this presentation. Listen as Gleick gives a brief interview on the concept of peak water.

The World’s Water 2008-2009 addresses these and other water-related topics, from climate change to business practices. With 20 data tables on global water situations and a newly updated Water Conflict Chronology, The World’s Water 2008-2009 brings the urgency of the global water crisis to the fore.

The World’s Water 2008-2009 can be ordered online through Island Press or by calling 800.621.2736. Visit for more information and to access select content and data tables from the entire series.

Gleick Briefs Congress on Climate Change and Water Policy
Nation Needs to Manage Unavoidable Consequences

On January 9, 2009, Dr. Peter Gleick addressed legislators and staff from the House of Representatives and the Senate on “Climate Change: Intersections of Science and Policy” in two briefings sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Gleick advised that both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change must be pursued as we face a hotter world with uncertain changes in precipitation, extreme weather events, dramatic changes in snowfall and runoff timing, and rising sea level.

“It is past time that the nation began to manage the now unavoidable consequences of climate change while also working to avoid those changes that will be unmanageable,” said Gleick. “Comprehensive and sustainable national water policy is not a luxury but a necessity.”

Read his briefing here.

Circle of Blue Launches New Radio Series “5 in 15”
Gleick Interviewed on World’s Water

Circle of BlueCircle of Blue has launched a new weekly online radio series “5 in 15,” five questions in 15-minute conversations with international thought leaders in journalism, science, communications design, and water.

“Some of the biggest stories are unfolding around us every day,” said J. Carl Ganter, director of Circle of Blue. “As journalists, we want to hear from those people who are helping define the solutions to our greatest challenges.”

Ganter interviewed Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where Gleick was a panelist. Listen here.

“5 in 15” conversations will be transcribed and indexed, available soon at for sharing and posting on blogs and websites.

In Brief

Gleick Named One of Nation’s Top Green Leaders
Touted as “arguably the world’s leading expert on water,” Institute President Peter Gleick was named one of ten Bay Area movers-and-shakers leading our nation’s green revolution by the San Francisco ChronicleRead the front page article.

Cooley Gives Graduate Seminar on Water, Energy, Climate Change
On February 11, Senior Research Associate Heather Cooley gave a graduate seminar at the University of California, Irvine on the connections between water, energy, and climate change.

Heberger Presents Impacts of Sea-Level Rise to California Coast
On January 29, Research Associate Matthew Heberger gave a talk in San Francisco at the workshop “Climate Change, Natural Resources, and Coastal Management” sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey. Together with Dr. Dave Revell of Philip Williams and Associates, he presented “An Initial Assessment of the Impact of Sea-Level Rise to the California Coast.” Click here for more information on the conference. The full report on sea-level rise impacts in California will be released at the end of February (available at, with a call-to-action for planning ahead.


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