February 2011 Online Update
Research for People and the Planet
In This Issue
- Shared Dialogue in India
- Word of the Year: Peak Water
- CEO Water Mandate
- Community Mapping
- Nitrate Focus Group
- Indonesia Water Project
- Groundwater Storage
- Cherry-picking Climate Data

Check Out Peter Gleick’s Blogs:

Letter to Congress from Climate Scientists

Climate B.S.* of the Year Award

Peak Water

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Pacific Institute and Partners Host Shared Learning Dialogue in Water Management in India



The Pacific Institute and our India-based partners ISET and TARU brought together more than 60 local residents, elected officials, water utility managers, and representatives from the informal (or private) water sector in the city of Indore, India in December for a Shared Learning Dialogue to present the results from a household water survey and a water market survey the three organizations conducted — and to develop ideas to improve water management in Indore.

The meeting was a tremendous success, with numerous respondents saying that it was helpful to hear the perspectives of other sectors before identifying solutions to water problems. One participant stated: “This is the first time I’ve come to a workshop where the informal, formal, and community groups participated together. This is a positive step toward making communities self-sufficient.” Participants also suggested that the dialogue should be expanded in the future to involve more communities.


Meena Palaniappan, director of the Pacific Institute’s International Water and Communities Initiative, developed a presentation of the results from our household water survey and informal water survey which was presented in Hindi during the first part of the meeting.

“The Shared Learning Dialogue was a rich opportunity for the many water managers in Indore to begin planning for the impacts of climate change on water security in Indore, get access to new information from household and water market research, understand the perspectives of other sectors, and develop solutions to work together to improve water management in Indore,” she said. 

Continued: read the full story here. 


Peak Water Named a New York Times “Word of the Year” for 2010


The New York Times announced “peak water” as one of the 33 words to enter mainstream lexicon in 2010, and it links to the Pacific Institute’s chapter “Peak Water” from The World’s Water 2008-2009! In the Times article, peak water is described as “Like ‘peak oil,’ a theory that humans may have used the water easiest to obtain, and that scarcity may be on the rise.”The Pacific Institute has led the analysis of “peak water” in terms of limits to global and regional freshwater availability and use — the critical point, already reached in many areas, where we overtax the planet’s ability to absorb the consequences of our water use. Recognition of this concept can help shift the way freshwater resources are managed toward more productive, equitable, efficient, and sustainable use.


Read more on Peak Water.  


Read Peter Gleick’s blog on Peak Water.

Globalization Program Releases Summary of UN CEO Water Mandate Conference 


The Globalization Program, in its capacity as operational arm of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, released a summary of its November 2010 multi-stakeholder working conference in Cape Town, South Africa. The summary, like the meeting itself, is oriented around the initiative’s three main workstreams: 1) policy engagement, 2) human rights and water, and 3) corporate water disclosure. It provides a detailed examination of key discussion topics, insights, and questions raised at the meeting, as well as decisions on the future direction of the initiative. The summary, as well as companies’ and stakeholders’ presentations from the meeting, can be found here.    


Read more about the CEO Water Mandate.


Community Mapping Initiative Uses Mapping Technologies to Build Community Power


Maps are powerful tools for analyzing and communicating how environmental hazards and resources are distributed in a given place. Yet those most affected by the issues being mapped are rarely involved in the decisions that guide map creation, analysis, and distribution. The Institute’s Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice (CSSJ) Program’s Community Mapping Initiative builds community capacity and access to mapping tools and technologies in low-income communities of color most affected by environmental and health disparities. In mapping their own communities and reflecting on the maps they create, affected residents can generate and advocate for solutions that address the root causes of their experiences with these disparities. The CSSJ initiative adapts mapping technologies to principles of participatory research and popular education by engaging impacted communities in documenting, analyzing, and communicating spatial patterns in environmental and health conditions.  


CSSJ’s Community Mapping Initiative builds on past mapping projects and capacity-building workshops we have done with community and coalition partners on issues ranging from lead contamination risk and liquor store concentration to freight transport hazards and access to open space. Community mapping tools we have used include hand-drawn mapping by residents over computer-generated base maps, spatial analysis using GIS software to answer questions posed by community residents, and internet-based mapping to document and share community knowledge. CSSJ also provides technical assistance in creating digital maps or conducting spatial analysis on a contract basis to nonprofit and community-based organizations working on environmental health and justice issues.  For more information on the Community Mapping Initiative, please contact Eli Moore at 510.251.1600 x123.


CSSJ Holds Community Focus Group on Nitrate Contamination in the San Joaquin Valley        


Community Strategies Co-Director Eli Moore and Research Associate Eyal Matalon traveled to Visalia, Calif. on January 12 to facilitate a focus group of community leaders on the results of a survey documenting the household impacts of nitrate contamination. Community leaders shared their perspectives on key findings of the survey conducted in the summer of 2010 of 37 households in four communities impacted by nitrate contamination. Their insights will be integrated into a forthcoming report on the costs of nitrate contamination in the San Joaquin Valley, co-authored by the Pacific Institute, Community Water Center, Clean Water Fund, and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

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Read more on Nitrate Contamination.


Project Kick-Off: Indonesia WATER SMS Project   

In January, the Pacific Institute and our partners, the Indonesian governance NGO PATTIRO and mobile technologies NGO Nexleaf Analytics, kicked off a three-year project to improve water services for the urban poor in Indonesia. The WATER SMS (Short Message Service) Project will work with urban poor communities and urban water utilities in Indonesia to develop a mobile phone-to-web-based mapping system that will give the urban poor a tool to advocate for improved water services, and that will give water utilities the ability to better plan and manage their water systems. Over the two-day meeting, the Pacific Institute and our partners, along with USAID, a primary funder for the project, developed a shared understanding of the vision and goals of the project and developed the management structures needed to implement it. It was a very exciting collaboration, and the partners demonstrated a strong commitment to the vision of improving water services for the urban poor by allowing them to report problems and water conditions using mobile phones.

Gleick Calls for More Groundwater Storage in California


With the heavy rains earlier this year – and excess water running off in ways that do not help natural ecosystems or provide long-term benefits to our cities and farms – Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick wrote an Op Ed for the Sacramento Bee calling for better water storage in California – underfoot. Gleick holds that the era of big new dams in California is over and a far better alternative is intentional and coordinated groundwater recharge. The largest unused storage reservoirs available in California are the massive groundwater aquifers that we over-pump in dry years: every major watershed in California should have a coordinated program to intentionally capture flood flows and recharge groundwater aquifers. Read the full Op Ed here.

Misrepresenting Climate Science: Cherry-picking Data to Hide the Disappearance of Arctic Ice  

In a widely reprinted Huffington Post, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick analyzes the egregious “cherry-picking” of data done by the Heartland Institute. In a desperate attempt to try to support a long-debunked paper by former senator, astronaut, and self-described climate “denier” Harrison Schmitt claiming there was as much or more Arctic ice in 2009 than 1989, Heartland searched through the ice records from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and found the single month (April), where the area of ice was higher in 2009 than 1989. There was less ice in 2009 in January, February, March, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, on average, the maximum, and the minimum. Dr. Gleick pointed out that the complete record of ice data for the years shows that the disappearing Arctic ice cap is irrefutable, and the more serious loss of total amount of ice measured by volume is even more dramatic — and the National Snow and Ice Data Center itself weighed in with an official letter disputing Heartland Institute and Schmitt. Scientists and honest researchers don’t cherry-pick data to support pre-determined positions.

Read more.


New Board Chair Joan Diamond

Joan Diamond

The Pacific Institute announces the election of Joan Diamond to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors. Ms. Diamond is Chief Operating Officer and Senior Scenarist at The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and consults for policy and research organizations undergoing major change. She has been serving on the Pacific Institute Board.

The Institute expresses its deep appreciation to outgoing Board Chair Gigi Coe, whose leadership has been a tremendous asset here. She will continue her service as a Board member for the Pacific Institute.


Pacific Institute Welcomes New Board and Staff Members


The new year welcomes new faces. Malo André Hutson joins the Pacific Institute Board and the Globalization Program expands with the addition of researchers Mai-Lan Ha and Mike McGuirk.  

Malo Hutson


Malo Hutson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California – Berkeley. His current research focuses on urban policy and politics and the role of institutions in influencing urban and regional development. Dr. Hutson is also a Co-Principal Investigator on a study funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce which analyzed innovation within California’s green economy. 

Mai-Lan Ha

New research associate Mai-Lan Ha spent two years working with local and regional NGOs out of Bangkok, Thailand, focusing on energy, investment, and environmental issues facing the six Mekong countries. She also worked with investment and trade associations in the U.S. and human rights organizations in Southeast Asia, bringing international development and commerce experience at the community, national, and regional levels in

Mike McGuirk

Southeast Asia.


Mike McGuirk focused on fair-trade and international agriculture issues at the Oakland Institute. He has worked with the Clorox Company to improve Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) communications and to create a corporate strategic cause program, “Safe Water.” In addition to his work at the Pacific Institute, he will continue coordinating Clorox’s pilot project in Peru which aims to disinfect dirty drinking water in developing countries at the community level with chlorine bleach dispensers.

In Brief  

- Heather Cooley, co-director of the Water Program, gave a presentation on the soft path for water on January 13 at the International Congress on Sustainability, Science & Engineering in Tucson, Arizona.

- Peter Gleick, president, spoke on a panel at the California Water Law Symposium at Golden Gate University on January 22 in San Francisco, addressing law students on the topic of water efficiency.

- Eli Moore, co-director of the Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program, facilitated a workshop for Green Life, a volunteer-based environmental group of incarcerated men at San Quentin, on January 29. Green Life is preparing a curriculum to lead peer education workshops on environmental issues and is drawing on the Pacific Institute’s community workshop planning tools and curriculum.

- Jason Morrison, director of the Globalization Program, attended a design session on January 25 in Washington, D.C. to help shape the creation of the Global Water Solutions Center (GWSC), a new public-private initiative being led by the Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF) and Global Water Challenge (GWC), with the support of a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of State.

- Peter Schulte, Globalization Program research associate, participated in a stakeholder dialog on January 13 convened by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) with representatives from Toshiba America to discuss the company’s environmental performance and reporting.

Upcoming Events


Peter Gleick, president, will give a talk entitled “Peak Water: New Thinking about World Water Problems and Solutions” at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio on February 16.  The event will be hosted by Roger Saillant, director of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value, Weatherhead School of Management. The event is open to the public and free to attend, Wednesday, February 16, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. at the Strosacker Auditorium.  For more information, click here.   


Dr. Gleick will also be speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on February 18. He will be giving two talks during the meeting, the first of which will be a tribute to the late Dr. Stephen Schneider, considered one of the world’s leading climate scientists. Gleick’s second talk will be part of a session called “Telecoupling of Human and Natural Systems.” The AAAS Annual Meeting is Friday, February 18 from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. at the Washington Convention Center, Room 140B. For event details, click here. 


Dr. Gleick will be delivering the keynote address, “The Water Crisis, New solutions and the Role of the Human Right to Water,” at Water Conflict and Human Rights: Emerging Challenges and Solutions hosted at the University of Utah on February 24. The conference will stimulate dialog on emerging challenges related to conflicts over water, living systems, and human rights. For more information about the conference, click here. 

In the News


- Peter Gleick was interviewed by Eric Bolling, Fox Business News correspondent,  on his Follow the Money show featuring “The Globe Gets Warmer and It Gets Cooler.” Gleick spoke about climate change and the misuse of scientific data to back up claims made by climate change deniers. Read a transcript of the interview here (scroll to Bolling: “The Globe Gets Warmer and It Gets Cooler.”)      


- Dr. Gleick also spoke with Bettina Boxall from the Los Angeles Times about water scarcity in California — and with Julie Vader from the Pacific Sun about bottled water, climate change, and the pros and cons of desalination.

- Meena Palaniappan and the Pacific Institute’s work on greywater were quoted in the article “Rethinking Domestic Water Use” in the Think About It: International Blogging Competition.


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