Thursday, February 25, 2016

UC Berkeley's Center for Effective Global Action: Where science meets activism

Haven't contributed to Berkeley's Breakthroughs magazine in a little while, so I'm happy to post my latest, an article on the Center for Effective Global Action. Based at Cal, with more than 60 member researchers at Stanford and seven other West Coast universities, CEGA is geared toward using research-derived, science-based tools and evidence to drive global development policy and programming, often taking its cues from major human rights funders like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. “It’s not only trying to disseminate the research and promote the scale-up; I like to say it’s steering the ship toward problems that society has recognized,” said CEGA executive director and cofounder Temina Madon. “We try to be nimble and adaptive and figure out where there are gaps that we can usefully fill.” Read the full story here.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Despite "Airpocalypse," China's Air Quality on the Mend

My latest Science Selection news article for Environmental Health Perspectives covers new research showing that over the last eight or years, on the whole -- including in Beijing, the Chinese capital recently beset with all-time-high particulate-matter levels -- China's air quality is actually improving. True, these recent spikes have been severe, but averaged over time and space, new data blended from satellite instruments and ground monitors show that average PM2.5 levels nationwide and in a number of key regions including Beijing have been gradually declining since approximately 2008. As discussed in my article, the reasons for this are manifold and hard to pin down, including meteorological factors potentially influenced by climate change. And in some regions of China where coal-burning and heavy industry have a heavy hold -- including one just outside the Beijing metro area, the source of some of the city's problems -- PM2.5 levels climbed steadily in the years prior to the nationwide 2007/8 inflection point and continued to do so afterward, bucking the trend and showing that significant challenges still remain. Read the full article here.