Significant Figures by Peter Gleick

Archives for February, 2013

Water Wars? Here in the US?

OK, put away your guns. We’re not talking shooting wars, at least not yet, at least not in the U.S. We’re talking politicians shooting off their mouths, political wars, and court battles. But water is serious business. But it is a different story around the world, where there is a long and sad history of…

One of the most important and threatening risks of climate change is sea-level rise (SLR). The mechanisms are well understood, and the direction of changes in sea-level is highly certain – it is rising and the rate of rise will accelerate. There remain plenty of uncertainties (i.e., a range of possible outcomes) about the timing…

The Pacific Institute has done extensive and groundbreaking research over the past 25 years on a wide range of water, climate, energy, and environmental issues. One focus has been on how to use water more efficiently to do the things we want to do – a focus on “efficiency” and “productivity” – not deprivation. Society could…

One of the reasons that climate change is such a big issue is because the global climate is an integral part of the Earth’s entire ecosystem, tied to so many of the big and little things that society cares about. Figuring out how all these complicated pieces tie together is hard, as is linking these…

Smart Water; New Jobs

Invest in the future. And especially, invest in sustainable, effective job creation in the water sector. The result will be millions of new jobs – a significant result. That is the key message from a new analysis just released today by the Pacific Institute on sustainable water jobs in the United States. That study, Sustainable…

We’re bombarded with numbers every day. But seeing a number and understanding it are two different things. Far too often, the true “significance” of a figure is hidden, unknown, or misjudged. I will be returning to that theme often in these blog posts in the context of water, climate change, energy, and more. In particular,…

It is time we just said “no.” There is growing attention to climate change in the media; and there is a growing realization that decisions we make today will have a lasting effect on the world’s climate tomorrow. But there is still a gap – a chasm really – between the reality of climate change…

Welcome to “Significant Figures”

Welcome to the first post in my new National Geographic ScienceBlogs column “Significant Figures.”  I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you on a wide range of environmental science-related issues, data, and people, and to a productive and constructive interaction. My background? I’m an environmental scientist by training and inclination, with experience in engineering,…