College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

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July 31, 2012

New Climate-Change Reports Analyze CA's Challenges, Solutions

Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Public Affairs

The California Natural Resources Agency and the California Energy Commission (CEC) yesterday (Tuesday, July 31) released more than 30 reports by researchers at the University of California — 15 of them from UC Berkeley — and other academic institutions that detail the state’s vulnerabilities to climate change and pinpoint the economic and policy hurdles that need to be overcome to address them.

In a press announcement accompanying the release of the studies, Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird noted that “significant increases in wildfires, floods, severe storms, drought and heat waves are clear evidence that climate change is happening now. California is stepping up to lead the way in preparing for — and adapting to — this change. These reports use cutting-edge science to provide an analytical roadmap, pointing the way for taking concrete steps to protect our natural resources and all Californians.”

Laird and others appeared yesterday at a press conference in Sacramento, where Robert B. Weisenmiller, chair of the California Energy Commission, called the reports “historic” and praised the scientists who contributed.

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July 16, 2012

ESPM PhD Student Wins Publication Competition

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Ellen Kersten, a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, authored the winning paper in the 2012 Student Research Contest of the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, the journal announced this week. Her primary advisor is associate professor Rachel Morello-Frosch.

The winning paper is “Small Food Stores and Availability of Nutritious Foods: A Comparison of Database and In-Store Measures, Northern California, 2009,” a study of the true characteristics of stores identified in common food databases as "small groceries," a category that also includes traditional supermarkets and indicates stores that should carry a variety of nutritious food items and fresh produce. Instead, after visiting more than 100 stores, Kerston found more than half the stores in her random sampling were actually convenience stores, with no nutritious food options.

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July 4, 2012

Afghanistan has an EPA?

Yes, and its deputy director joins environmental leaders from around the world at UC Berkeley

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It had been 40 days since he applied for his visa, and Abdul Wali Modaqiq (right), the deputy director general of Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency, had not heard a peep from the U.S. embassy in Kabul. The Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) at UC Berkeley was starting in just days but, despite having a diplomatic passport and a government-sanctioned mission to attend the program, he and his Asia Foundation sponsors didn’t know if they were stuck in a bureaucratic snafu or a silent political standoff.

Time was running out, and Modaqiq, a seasoned government official who earlier this year already had traveled to Stanford University for a preparatory workshop related to the Rio+20 sustainable development conference, and was accustomed to waiting less than two weeks for a visa, was getting anxious. He had hoped to work with leading experts and international colleagues on writing and implementing policy during his two weeks at the ELP, a summer institute that selects leading practitioners from around the world to gather at Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, where they study with renowned environmental and agricultural faculty, collaborate with colleagues from around the world, and make new connections.

Then on Thursday afternoon, just as the Afghan weekend was getting underway and Chancellor Birgeneau was addressing the freshly arrived ELP fellows at the program’s welcome ceremony on campus, Modaqiq, who had abandoned hopes for attending, received a call: his visa was waiting for him at the embassy. Hasty preparations, a flight from Kabul, a 10-hour layover in Dubai, two hours sitting on the tarmac because of a sick passenger, and 16 hours in the air brought Modaqiq to San Francisco at 4 p.m. Sunday; he was at a 5:30 session that night.

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Amleset Haile Abreha of Ethiopia (center), and Dubiure Umaru Farouk of Ghana are greeted by Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau after the welcome ceremony. Photo: Jim Block

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