Los Angeles is in its third year of extreme drought — and water officials have resorted to extreme water-reduction measures. Professor Stephanie Pincetl, founding director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at the University of California Los Angeles talks to WBUR radio.
UCLA cogeneration plant. “You’re basically operating a large jet engine that has been strapped to the ground,” explained Eric Fournier, research director at the California Center for Sustainable Communities within the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability. An impressive number and diversity of pipes – a description also courtesy of Fournier – line the inside of the facility, as do support structures for seismic stability.
Panel discussion by the California Association of Realtors:Panel discussion by the California Association of Realtors: featuring CCSC's Director Stephanie Pincetl, Karen Collins, Assistant Vice President, The American Property Casualty Insurance Association and Chief Jim McDougald, Division Chief, State of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
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“Lawns do well with about 30 inches of rain a year. Do we get 30 inches of rain a year? I don’t think so,” Pincetl said. Los Angeles receives about half that amount in a typical year.
“So if you want to have water to drink, water to do all the stuff you do inside, bathe your children, do your laundry, using water on a lawn just seems foolish,” Pincetl said.
One downside to the understandable focus on greenhouse-gas mitigation is that more place-specific environmental considerations, including the destruction of traditional landscapes, can get lost. “I think this approach to carbon-dioxide mitigation is a new regime of trying to justify the same kind of development,” Stephanie Pincetl, a professor at U.C.L.A. whose research focusses on land use and the environment, told me. “It’s very clever and extremely insidious because it doesn’t change anything: it doesn’t address structural racism, it doesn’t address affordability, it doesn’t address the climate, it doesn’t address resource impacts, it doesn’t address anything except on paper.”
UCLA’s Stephanie Pincetl, another co-author, said part of the problem may be due to the Jevons paradox, a phenomenon that occurs when a technological advance or government policy improves the efficiency of how a resource is used but leads to an increase in consumption as a direct result of that efficiency gain.
“People think they can increase consumption without increasing their bills, so they use more,” said Pincetl, who is director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA.