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Circle of Blue: In the News

Circle of Blue and Qlik Team Up for White House Climate Data Initiative

QlikView Dashboard Visualizes and Compares California Water Reserves as Part of Choke Point: Index Coverage of Global Water Crises

Qlik (NASDAQ: QLIK), a leader in user-driven business intelligence (BI), and Circle of Blue, a team of award-winning journalists and researchers reporting on water and worldwide resource issues, announced that a new data dashboard ( powered by QlikView is being featured today in Washington, DC as a supporting effort to the White House Climate Data Initiative. The application is part of Circle of Blue’s Choke Point: Index, a series of in-depth reports about the competition between water, food and energy in a changing climate. Circle of Blue combines in-depth reporting with collections of fresh and historically relevant data to provide greater context for decision-making.

The new application, drawing on public data sets, visualizes current and past levels of California water reservoirs and is designed to be scaled to compare hyper-local information and research with national and global trends. Researchers, journalists, water managers, and the public will have immediate access to strategic data about the systems that regulate their water sources, information that will allow for comparisons of present and historical water supply conditions. …Read More…

The President’s Climate Data Initiative: Empowering America’s Communities to Prepare for the Effects of Climate Change

Circle of Blue’s partnership with Qlikview featured by the White House in their big data initiative.

“Climate change is a fact.  And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”– President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2014

Last June, President Obama launched a Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution, prepare communities for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address this global challenge. The plan recognizes that even as we act to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, we must also prepare our citizens and communities for the climate impacts that are already underway across the country.

Delivering on a commitment in the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration is today launching the Climate Data Initiative—a broad effort to leverage the Federal Government’s extensive, freely-available climate-relevant data resources to stimulate innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in support of national climate-change preparedness. …Read More…

Media Alert: What Can California Learn from Australia’s Biggest Dry?

Interactive Event on California Drought – Lessons Learned from Australia

Join the conversation
How should California respond to its water challenges?
What can it learn from Australia’s ongoing drought?

March 18, 2014

Background and invitation
Direct link to register
Learn more

CALIFORNIA and AUSTRALIA (March 11, 2014) — Circle of Blue, the team of award-winning journalists and researchers reporting on water and worldwide resource issues, today announced a special participatory online event Tuesday, March 18 that will bring together water experts and the public to help California understand and respond to its water challenges.

The question that experts, researchers, students and business leaders will attempt to answer:
• What can California learn from Australia’s Biggest Dry?

The California drought, now in its third year, looks to be a significant test of the capacity of residents, farmers, businesses and governments to ensure the state’s water security.

Participants in the event will look to Australia and how the country managed severe drought, water-stressed cities, and impact on its farmers and farmland. Those who dial in will take part and help sort out the seminal trends that are shaping water’s future, from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

The event follows launch of Circle of Blue’s series, Choke Point Index. The just-published installment explores three critical, water-challenged agricultural regions in the United States.

Circle of Blue will use new convening technology from MaestroConference to create an interactive, radio show-like experience.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
10:00am PT – 12:00pm PT
1:00pm EDT – 3:00pm EDT

Data dashboard
Participants will also have a preview of new data dashboards produced by Circle of Blue with a Qlikview Change Their World grant that allow comparisons of California and Australia water resources.

A global risk
The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2014 ranks “water crises” among the planet’s top three most serious issues. Water scarcity and supply are emerging as serious threats to people, business, the environment and political stability across the world, including the United States.

“By all measurements, our world’s most important resources are at serious risk,” said J. Carl Ganter, managing director of Circle of Blue and member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Water Security. “We face converging choke points that are causing billions of dollars of disruptions and testing human and ecological resilience. Our capacity to respond is in doubt unless we dig deep into the connections and combine the best of reporting, data and participation to understand the scope of the challenges and responses. We need the best thinking and participation to understand and respond to these challenges.”

This is the second in a series of free conference events on the California drought and part of Circle of Blue’s ongoing coverage of the competition between water, food and energy worldwide. In 2013, Circle of Blue reported from Mongolia, China, the Middle East, South America, the United States and Europe, covering issues that range from water pricing to groundwater stress.

Choke Point: Index is produced with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Wege Foundation, Alpern Family Foundation, Brookby Foundation and individual donors. Circle of Blue is a nonprofit affiliate of the Pacific Institute. Collaborators include the Columbia University Water Center, Earth System Science at the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling, MaestroConference, Qlikview, and others.

The full Choke Point: Index report, and ongoing global coverage, is online at Circle of Blue

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
10:00am PT – 2:00pm PT
1:00pm ET – 3:00pm ET

Background and invitation

Direct link to register


Heather Cooley
Water Program Director
Pacific Institute

Professor Michael Young
Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies, Harvard University
Chair in Water and Environmental Policy, University of Adelaide
Honorary Professor, University College London

Dr. Robert Wilkinson
Director, Water Policy Program
University of California, Santa Barbara

Brian Richter
Chief Scientist of Water Markets
Nature Conservancy

J. Carl Ganter
Managing Director
Circle of Blue
Member, World Economic Forum
Global Agenda Council on Water Security

Keith Schneider
Senior Editor
Circle of Blue

Brett Walton
Circle of Blue

Circle of Blue
+1.202.351-6870 x110

Eric Bonach

About Circle of Blue
Circle of Blue uses its teams of leading journalists, photographers, data experts, field researchers, and designers to report from the front lines of the world’s resource crises, with a core focus on water. In 2012, Circle of Blue received the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial Innovation Award for its breakthrough, feedback-loop model that combines on-the-ground reporting, data collection, analysis, design, and convening. Circle of Blue’s reportage is referenced widely. Circle of Blue is the 2012 recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award. For more information, please visit: or follow Circle of Blue on Twitter: @circleofblue

Columbia Journalism Review cites Circle of Blue for Water News Coverage


“To take an obvious example—why does energy, a close cousin of the environmental beat, get so much more attention than water? First, energy may seem more interesting and diverse. There are wind turbines and solar panels and drilling rigs and nuclear reactors and fields of corn to make ethanol. Water, by contrast, is more drab; it’s found in lakes and rivers and under the ground. Finding a photograph to accompany an aquifer story is hard, because you can’t actually see the water, only the pumps or pipes above-ground. More important, there’s a lot more money in the energy beat. One US government website estimates that energy is a $6 trillion global industry. Energy reporters are “covering some of the world’s most valuable companies,” notes Brett Walton, of the nonprofit water reporting website Circle of Blue. There’s not nearly as much money in water, which is largely, though not exclusively, controlled by public utilities. Tellingly, water has far fewer niche journalism outfits, including Walton’s Circle of Blue and the more industry-oriented Global Water Intelligence, than does energy.”

Read full coverage of the March 3, 2014 story from the Columbia Journalism Review here.

Circle of Blue Convenes Experts – Desert Sun Coverage


“If we look to the past over the last two millennia, we see that multi-year droughts — some extending over a decade — were more common, recurring every 30 to 90 years in the past,” Ingram said Thursday during a conference call organized by the water news website Circle of Blue. “What we see is that our water resources are highly variable, and they’re intimately linked with sea surface temperatures in the vast Pacific Ocean.”

Read full coverage of the February 13, 2014 Circle of Blue MaestroConference event and its coverage by The Desert Sun.

Michigan Senator Carl Levin Recognizes J. Carl Ganter for Rockefeller Innovation Award

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, Michigan Senator Carl Levin recognized Circle of Blue founder and director J. Carl Ganter for his recent innovation award from the Rockefeller Foundation.

michigan senator carl levin circle of blue j. carl ganter innovation award rockefeller foundation
Photo courtesy of
Michigan Senator Carl Levin recognizes J. Carl Ganter.

Mr. President, I extend a hearty congratulations to J. Carl Ganter, director and founder of Circle of Blue in Traverse City, Michigan, on receiving the 2012 Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Award. Innovation and collaboration are two components critical to solving the challenges we face as a state and as a nation. Organizations like Circle of Blue are leading the charge, helping to inform our discussions and to guide us on a path toward lasting, comprehensive solutions.

Circle of Blue has focused its efforts on the global freshwater crisis for more than a decade and has successfully united an international network of leading journalists, scientists, and data experts to shed light on this issue and to illuminate a better path forward. This work has spurred meaningful, dynamic, and workable processes and information that are helping to solve real and pressing problems for communities in need.

Read more of Levin’s letter here.

World Economic Forum and UNFPA: Include Population in Water, Food, Energy Nexus

NEW YORK and GENEVA — (March 2012) The World Economic Forum‘s Network of Global Agenda Councils and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) called on global leaders, particularly organizers of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development scheduled for June 2012, to integrate population in research, discussion and debate at the intersection of water, food and energy.

“We reaffirm the global commitment to poverty reduction and sustainability, and emphasize that we will not reach these objectives without addressing the nexus between water, food, energy and population dynamics; governments, the private sector and civil society need to take population dynamics into consideration,” the joint statement said.

J. Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue’s managing director and a co-author of the document, said, “These issues are intrinsically interlinked. Water, food, energy and population issues need to be viewed systemically, beyond traditional thinking, outside of traditional silos.” Ganter is a member of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security.

The document is available here, or from the World Economic Forum website here.

“Choke Point: China” Findings Cited in Congressional Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dr. Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, presented findings from Choke Point: China to members of the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission in Washington, D.C., on January 26, 2012.

Choke Point: China — a joint project between the China Environment Forum and
Circle of Blue that was released last year from February through May — explored the globally significant competition between water and energy in the world’s fastest-growing economy. The sweeping project received funding support from the Energy Foundation.

“The water issue is their biggest environmental challenge,” Turner said at the Congressional hearing last month. “This could be a really fruitful area for U.S.-China cooperation.”

Turner’s testimony highlighted the global implications of the water-energy “nexus,” given that 20 percent of China’s water is being use to produce coal-fired energy. “Where are they going to get that water?”

Dr. Jennifer Turner testifies

Dr. Turner’s testimony begins at 91:30 in the video.

The U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission, according to its website, “was created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.”

Choke Point: China on Wilson Center’s Dialogue Program

Water Energy Choke Point U.S. United States China scarcity

Dialogue — the Wilson Center’s award-winning television and radio program that explores the world of ideas through weekly, half-hour conversations with renowned public figures, scholars, journalists, and authors — featured “Choke Point: The World’s Looming Water Crisis.” …Read More…

Toby Smith, Photographer for Choke Point: China Series, Featured in The New York Times

On Monday, Toby Smith — who was on location with Circle of Blue’s senior editor, Keith Schneider, as part of the Choke Point: China reporting team last December — and some of his photos from China were featured in The New York Times.

Toby Smith photographer Choke Point china circle of blue energy water photo
Toby Smith, an award-winning photographer specializing in energy and environment matters, was a member of Circle of Blue’s Choke Point: China reporting team.

Smith, an award-winning contemporary reportage photographer specializing in energy and environment matters, was a key player on the Circle of Blue team, documenting China’s water-energy nexus from his unique lens.

Smith’s time is divided between long-term personal, international, editorial, and contemporary works for exhibition. His feature stills and video work have been published by clients such as GEO, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, The Guardian, Fortune, TIME, The New York Times, BBC, and Sky News. Recent projects have included an undercover expose on illegal logging in Madagascar, which snowballed into an international investigation, and his renewable-energy project from Scotland has been awarded an “Innovation in Storytelling” grant for publication by National Geographic online. Reach Smith at

For more of Smith’s work from China, check out Circle of Blue’s Choke Point: China package, which traces the confrontation of water scarcity and energy demand in the world’s fastest-growing industrial economy.