Check out this study from the National Science Foundation.

I found it interesting to read the conclusions:

“Ocean management needs to move beyond single-sector management and towards comprehensive ecosystem-based management if it is to be effective at protecting and sustaining ocean health.

“Also, the global results for this region were highly correlated with the regional results, suggesting that the global results can provide valuable guidance for regional efforts around the world.”

On part 1, EDF’s Oceans Program has been working towards that for a long, long time.

Part 2 interests me since they probably used some of the same spatial data I used to make the maps of potential global temperatures in 2100 more than a year ago…

I’m glad that the NSF is embracing GIS technology as a means towards picking out the hotspots where we need to focus our energies.

Posted by: Peter Black | April 28, 2009

Utah and South Carolina Green Jobs Maps Come Online


Behind the scenes, we’ve been working diligently to add more states to our website. We have now released Utah and South Carolina. More to come…


Today EDF released a report on the relationship between publicly funded international financial institutions (like the World Bank) and coal fired power plants which harm both regional human health and the atmosphere.

Here are a couple of key facts from the report:

– Since 1994, the World Bank, other MDBs and ECAs financed new construction or expansion of 88 coal-fired power plants.

– These plants will generate roughly 791 million tons of CO2 emissions per year, or more than 75% of the current emissions for coal-fired power in the entire European Union.

Bruce Rich, a long time crusader for reform of these institutions, spearheaded this work. Among his recommendations: immediately shift any future money for coal plants into renewables.

I think that makes great sense…

Posted by: Peter Black | April 20, 2009

Fire Hotspot Map Released


Researchers at UC Berkeley and Texas Tech University have created an interesting new map based upon ten years of satellite data (1996-2006). The new map predicts regions of the planet that will become more or less fire prone as the climate changes.

The study, currently being peer reviewed, presents an interesting view of a changing world: the extreme northern latitudes, Tibet, the Fertile Crescent, and the high desert regions of the US will see an increase in fires while the entirety of southeast Asia, southern India, the Iberian peninsula, and large swaths of Brazil and north-central Africa, will see less fires.

As a geographer, this map compels me to ask questions. For instance, how will the new fire regime affect the local and regional ecologies of species that rely upon fire for propogation? How will species unadapted to fire cope? These questions are vexing conservation biologists and planners as I write this: how do you best plan for the massive ecosytem changes we expect to see in the coming century?

Posted by: Peter Black | April 8, 2009

Antarctic Ice Shelf Set to Collapse


The European Space Agency has been keeping close tabs on the status of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica from it’s ENVISAT satellite. This is the same satellite that observed the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002.

Bottom line: the warning signs are everywhere that this planet is warming. EDF is working diligently to pass policies at the local, regional, state, national, and international levels, so that we can begin the process of stabilizing the climate.

Posted by: Peter Black | March 27, 2009

Mapping the Stimulus Package


Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D, CA-05…Sacramento area) has taken a really cool step towards transparency. She and her staff have been mapping where stimulus money has been going within her district.

As you can see, many green projects, and some that don’t appear to be, are receiving funding.

Perhaps all representatives should follow Matsui’s lead and let the public know what’s going on with the stimulus. What do you think?

Posted by: Peter Black | March 23, 2009

Backyard Climate Change

An estimated 82 million Americans, including yours truly, have some sort of a garden in their yard. That number is probably increasing due to the recent economic situation and a re-trend towards victory gardens. So all of you out there who are into gardening stay tuned: The USDA is releasing a new plant hardiness zone map which will help everyday gardeners choose which plants to grow. The map will also illuminate the tangible changes in vegetation regimes since the last map was produced in 1990.

I’m sure geography geeks like me will, ahem, eat this one up…

So says the Pacific Institute, which recently released a bunch of online maps on the topic.

The institute used the same exact data as I did when I produced maps for the entire lower 48.

I found it interesting that the county I currently reside in (San Mateo), will be the most affected county in all of California.


Why is this important? There’s an ongoing perception that the green collar economy will only be available to highly trained, affluent people. However, there’s already 500 million in the stimulus package for green collar job training, and the fact that we can now verify the location of green companies in proximity to middle and lower income areas means that there are already opportunities for people close to where they live. We don’t know the details: how many people are being hired, what kind of backgrounds they come from, etc. But perhaps this analysis is a crystal ball into the future of the green collar economy.

Here’s how I figured this out:

  • I took all of the green company location data for the 12 states we at EDF included in the report and overlaid it with some zip code level demographics data in my geographic information system (GIS).
  • Then, I created a threshold for “middle class” by defining it as per capita income $25,000 per year…which could be expanded or changed due to the definition of “middle class”.
  • Using the GIS, I found out how many of the green companies were within the selected zip codes, how many were within 1 mile, and how many were within 5 miles
  • I then used the same methodology to find the green companies in poorer areas, which I defined as: per capita income < $20,000/year

Here are the results of the analysis:

For the middle class,

  • 540 of the 1,197 comanies are located within middle class zip codes
  • 704 are within one mile
  • 965 are within five miles

For poorer areas,

  • 307 are located within poorer zip codes
  • 445 are within one mile
  • 781 are within 5 miles

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for this line of analysis, or if you thought it was useful (use the comments for this! Everyone benefits from great comments!) If people yearn to see the zip code level demographic data as an overlay on the google map, I can make it happen…but only if it’s something the community will value.

Posted by: Peter Black | February 27, 2009

1,200 Green Companies in 12 States



That’s the word Steve Cochran, director of EDF’s national climate campaign, used to describe our effort to show the nation that thousands of companies across the U.S. are already fully engaged in the “green economy”. Our director of sustainable technologies, Jackie Roberts asked a pertinent question in a blog post last July:

How can we concretely describe the economic opportunity of a low-carbon economy?

Our new set of maps, released today, which shows 1,200 companies in 12 states via the interactive maps, takes the logical step of begging to answer Jackie’s question. Now, Jackie says:

These maps tell the story of companies across the manufacturing heartland that will get new customers and create jobs with cap and trade

Does the green economy affect you and your livelihood? Can we do a better job with the maps? Missing your company? Let us know!

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