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Podcast: Talk Policy To Me

Episode 212: Talking Carbon Footprinting


1.5 degrees Celsius. According to a special 2018 report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that’s the maximum global temperature increase allowable before we see catastrophic impacts on food security, ecosystems, water access, frequency and extremity of weather events, and more. The report warns global leaders and policymakers that failing to limit the Earth’s temperature increase will result in a world that is unrecognizable – and extremely difficult to live in.  

Given the urgency and magnitude of climate change, what are individuals’ role in helping to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius? How do our lives and habits need to change? How does our responsibility, as residents of the wealthiest country in the world, compare to those living in poverty? And how does individual responsibility for carbon reduction interact with corporate and industrial responsibility? Does it matter that we recycle and buy local produce and use public transit when the US continues to buy oil from Saudi Arabia and 85% of Americans drive to work?  

To get to these questions Talk Policy to Me reporter and Goldman MPP student Reem Rayef spoke with Chris Jones, one of the makers of the CoolClimate Calculator. The calculator is an online interactive tool that calculates users’ carbon footprints (the amount of CO2 they emit per year) using information about their homes, consumption habits, and lifestyles. The calculator then provides custom recommendations to users on how they might “green” their lifestyles – from buying an electric vehicle to eating a vegetarian diet. The calculator can be accessed here: https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator

 In this episode, the Talk Policy To Me team also kicks off a two-week challenge to drastically reduce their carbon footprints, using recommendations generated by the CoolClimate Calculator. TPTM hosts Reem, Spencer, and Sarah set goals and discuss challenges of living on low-carbon diets while being students with limited time and budgets. 

Stay tuned for Part II of this two-episode series on personal carbon accounting.


Speakers featured on this episode

Chris Jones is Director of the CoolClimate Network, a university-governmet-industry partnership at the University of California, Berkeley. His primary research interests are carbon footprint analysis, community-scale greenhouse gas mitigation, environmental psychology and environmental policy. 

Jones lead the development of the first carbon footprint calculators to account for the greenhouse gas emissions of all transportation, energy, food, goods and services purchased by households and businesses. This comprehensive method, called “consumption-based greenhouse gas accounting,” powers a suite of online tools that allow households, businesses and communies to estimate their complete carbon footprints, compare their results to similar users, and develop personalized climate action plans to reduce their contribution to climate change. Versions of these tools have been adopted by governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations throughout the United States and internationally. CoolClimate also develops and evaluates programs to engage, educate, motivate and empower individuals to take climate action. Examples include the Cool Campus Challenge and the CoolCalifornia Challenge. He also serves as Program Chair (8th year) of the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference.

Episode 211: Talking UBI, part 3


How can we fix the stigma around welfare?

Welfare is deeply politicized and often stigmatized. Social support programs are strongly centered around beneficiaries working. Has it always been this way? Are we destined to be stuck with these political perspectives?

In today’s episode, UC Berkeley MPP student Sarah Edwards wraps up the three-part series around Universal Basic Income and the Social Safety Net. She examines a crossroads moment in our nation’s history when the  Social Safety Net conversation began to talk about the “deserving” vs “undeserving” poor.

She then speaks with the California Budget and Policy Center’s Sara Kimberlin to explore California’s new policies driving the future of our safety net—and how we might not be as far from a UBI as it seems.

Special thanks to James Hawkins (MPP '18) for research support on this episode.

Interested in more on the UBI, social safety nets, and the complicated history of welfare policy? We recommend you try out the following:

  1. Listen to part 1 and 2 of this series—Part 1 features Goldman Professor Hilary Hoynes and Part 2 features Lori Ospina, the former director of the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (the first basic income demonstration in the United States).
  2. Read Brian Steensland’s book, The Failed Welfare Revolution: America’s Struggle Over Guaranteed Income Policy, that dives into the historic attempts to guarantee Americans basic economic security.
  3. Explore the California Budget and Policy Center’s reports on the impact of the CalEITC.

Episode 210: Talking the CA Housing Crisis


NIMBYism, geographical limitation, and weaponized policies have led the state to the biggest housing crisis in state history. Can state-level policies fix a very local problem?  

California housing is an undeniable problem. Rents are too high and there is not enough housing for those who need it in the places they want it. But how did we get here? Why has the development of solutions shifted from a city level to a state level? UC Berkeley MPP student Spencer Bowen speaks with Ophelia Basgal and Elizabeth Kneebone from the Terner Center and California Assemblyperson David Chiu. Here are five intersecting causes of California’s housing crisis that they help identify:  

  1. Limited land and diverse geography  
  2. Production not keeping pace with booming job market 
  3. Housing is expensive to build and new methods are limited 
  4. Cities wield their power to slow down or vote down projects that they don’t like  
  5. Proposition 13 and the California Environmental Quality Act have been weaponized to limit housing production 

While this feels grim, all three of our guests share reasons to believe the future can change for the better. As Governor Newsom takes a strong stand on housing, California looks to rebuild a set of broken policies. Tune in to learn more!  

Wondering how to dive deeper into the history of California’s housing problem and the future of policy change? Here are some thought from the team:  

  1. Attend the monthly “Food for Thought: Lunch Series” on California Housing Crisis and Potential Solutions, sponsored by the Berkeley Institute for the Future of young Americans and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation.  
  2. Watch Governor Newsom’s speech on his budget proposal, where housing featured strongly. Read the overview of the governor's proposed budget.
  3. Check out the blog from the Terner Center for Housing and Innovation at UC Berkeley.

Additional music heard on this episode is by Blue Dot Sessions. Photo by Ananth Pai on Unsplash.

Episode 209: Talking Title IX

UC Berkeley will spend $30 million on building new softball and beach volleyball teams. While Title IX is widely understood to be a sports equity law, its historical advancement of feminist interests and its application at Cal today reveal a more ambitious and inclusive agenda. Not merely a mechanism for intercollegiate sports, Title IX advocates for building holistic inclusive collegiate experiences and making that ethos integral to the operations and strategy of the university.

UC Berkeley MPP ‘20 Spencer Bowen talks with Meagan Owusu, Head Beach Volleyball Coach at Cal and campus directors Denise Oldham and Jenny Simon O'Neal of Cal Athletics and Title IX programs to discover why Title IX is a flash point that opens opportunities, but also underscores the societal role of universities to foster the personal and professional growth in its students.

Episode 208: Talking UBI, part 2

A UBI experiment takes shape in Stockton, California

In our last episode on universal basic income, or UBI, a conversation between UC Berkeley MPP ‘20 student Sarah Edwards and Economics and Public Policy Professor Hilary Hoynes revealed that the landscape for UBI proposals and experiments is ripe.

In this episode, Goldman School student Sarah Edwards interviews Lori Ospina, about Stockton’s guaranteed income program, Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (or SEED for short). With a $1 million grant, SEED will distribute cash to 100 residents falling below the area’s $64,000 area median income. Although modest in scale, SEED’s potential to ignite other policy conversations on UBI on the local and state level is much greater in magnitude.

With growing acknowledgment of a wealth gap in the U.S., Stockton’s program could be dually meaningful—for the residents of this Central Valley city and for future conversations on social safety nets.

Episode 207: Talking UBI, part 1

How Universal Basic Income could decrease the stigma of social safety nets

Professor of Economics Hilary Hoynes and UC Berkeley MPP Student ‘20 Sarah Edwards probe whether work is a solid foundation on which to build the welfare of American society. Can and should income from working really provide a stable base for all Americans? And can more universal coverage social safety nets for non-working adults alleviate the stigma of government support?

While welfare reform of the 1990s resulted in spotty coverage from the coupling of assistance and working, the universality of UBI could be an attractive counterproposal to extend coverage to those without it and reduce the stigma of government support. But untargeted programs risk becoming prohibitively expensive or overstretched.

In this episode of Talk Policy to Me, find out why loosening the bind between working and government support opens a new space where new possibilities for policy solutions can come forward.

Tune in to next week’s episode on the specifics of one experiment in Stockton, California.

Speakers featured on this epsiode

Hilary Hoynes is a Professor of Public Policy and Economics and holds the Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities at the University of California Berkeley where she also co-directs the Berkeley Opportunity Lab. She is a member of the American Academy of Art and Sciences and a Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists. She has served as Co-Editor of the American Economic Review and the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and is on the editorial board of the American Economic Review: Insights.

Her research focuses on poverty, inequality, food and nutrition programs, and the impacts of government tax and transfer programs on low income families. Current projects include evaluating the effects of access to the social safety net in early life on later life health and human capital outcomes, examining the effects of the Great Recession on poverty, and the role of the safety net in mitigating income losses.

Episode 206: Talking Dockless Scooters

Dockless scooters: last-mile mobility solution or temporal tech experiment?

Streets littered with bicycles and scooters represent the latest skirmish between Bay Area city administrators and the technology sector. In a region ready to confront carbon emissions and ready to embrace pedestrian-friendly streets, scooters have become the next item in an evergreen local debate on what mode of transport should dominant city streets, who should decide, and how to keep city residents safe.

San Francisco’s proximity to the hub of the technology sector makes it a “petri dish” for experimentation, says Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, transportation reporter for the San Francisco Examiner in conversation with UC Berkeley public policy student Reem Rayef about the issues that surround scooters. But—while Bay Area tech companies seek to be a major player in urban transportation with its disruptive technologies, municipalities often have other goals in mind.

Tune into this lively conversation on how cities are responding to scooters, how companies are trying to get around city regulation, when local residents revolt against new technologies—and whether scooters really are a better way to get around.

Speakers featured on this epsiode

Brianne Eby is a policy analyst for Eno, where she conducts research on various topics related to the transportation industry. She has written at length about what dockless scooters mean in the context of reduced carbon emissions, disruption of car culture, equity in public transit, and increased investment in public transportation infrastructure. Prior to joining Eno, Brianne conducted research on transportation behaviors as a graduate student, and on helping cities and metropolitan regions achieve inclusive and sustainable growth as a research assistant at the Brookings Institution. Brianne earned her B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University and her M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Follow her on Twitter: @brianne_eby.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez covers transportation for the San Francisco Examiner. Joe is a long time San Francisco resident and pretty obsessed with transit, so he has followed (and written about) the scooter issue closely. He also writes the weekly political On Guard column. Reach him at joe@sfexaminer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzTheReporter.  

Episode 205: Talking Housing Re-segregation

The color of housing in the Bay Area

As rents continue to skyrocket in the Bay Area, housing displacement is disproportionately affecting people of color. A “geography of racialized inequality” has long been set in the region—but today’s segregation is taking a new configuration as new housing market preferences take root. 80 percent of neighborhoods in the East Bay experiencing gentrification were previously redlined, according to a finding from UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project is providing research and data tools to characterize the nature of this displacement in the Bay Area. In this episode, UC Berkeley public policy student Spencer Bowen and urban planning alumnus Philip Verma discuss some of the data analysis and what it reveals about the the Bay Area’s housing market today. Tune in here.

Are you interested in getting engaged with housing issues in the Bay Area? Here are three suggestions from Philip Verma:

  1. Read Evicted by Matthew Desmond
  2. Read more about California housing policy. You can start with SPUR and the Terner Center.
  3. Every neighborhood has slightly different challenges. Find out what challenges your neighbors are facing by talking to your local council member.
  4. Learn more about Urban Displacement Project’s data tool.

Speakers featured on this episode

Philip Verma is a Master of City Planning student interested in the intersection of housing policy and environmental health, especially for low-income renters. He has worked as a housing advocate in New York and Oakland, helping tenants fight evictions, harassment, illegal rent increases, and substandard conditions. He also spent two years as outreach director for a sustainable transportation NGO in Bogotá. Philip graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History.

Episode 204: Talking Elections

3 reasons millennials might vote more than Gen-Z

Young voter turnout is lower than overall voter turnout. But, as we approach the 2018 midterm elections, UC Berkeley public policy student Sarah Edwards speaks with Buffy Wicks, Sarah Anzia, and others to find that there are reasons to be optimistic about young voter engagement:

  1. Millennials are opinion leaders—and have helped transform the social, cultural and political landscape in the last decade
  2. Young people are a tech-savvy cohort who can and are deploying technology to get out the vote
  3. While hot-button issues for young voters have been notably muted or absent, increasing concern around college loan debt and social safety nets are poised to drive interest and engagement higher

Wondering how to get more involved and have better conversations about voter engagement? Here’s a few ideas from our team:

  1. Vote!
  2. Attend community meetings in your local community
  3. Join our mailing list at Berkeley Institute for Young Americans

Speakers featured on this episode

Buffy Wicks is a candidate for the CA State Assembly in District 15. She was one of the architects of President Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

Sarah Anzia is a political scientist who studies American politics with a focus on state and local government, elections, interest groups, political parties, and public policy. She is the Michelle J. Schwartz Associate Professor of Public Policy & Associate Professor of Political Science at the Goldman School of Public Policy. 

Joshua J Dyck studies American politics, public opinion and voting behavior, elections, and state politics. He is Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Max Lubin is the CEO of Rise, Inc and the founder of Vote Crew. He is a graduate student at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley





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Episode 203: Talking Food Policy

The role of your dinner plate in food systems -- and other food policy questions

Food surrounds us—and yet we can become careless about how food is transformed from the farm to something palatable on our plate. UC Berkeley public policy student, Reem Rayef, interviews Nina Ichikawa at the Berkeley Food Institute about what consumers should be thinking about in their individual consumption choices, but also what the impact the aggregation of those choices means for food overall.

Considering the role of multiple actors in U.S. food policy, they also discuss how coalitions of like-minded groups can mobilize greater and more equitable access to healthy foods. Get some food for thought with this episode all about food.

Wondering how to get more involved and have better conversations about food policy? Here are a few ideas from our team:

  1. Form a more mindful cohort of food consumers with a book club, reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma or Six Seasons.
  2. Cook a local meal. Try shopping at the farmer’s market and learning about the sources of your food and the farmers who grew them.

Speakers featured on this episode

Nina F. Ichikawa is the policy director of the Berkeley Food Institute. She is a fourth-generation Californian and policy professional dedicated to making good food accessible, sustainable, and culturally appropriate. Prior to joining BFI, she served in the office of Senator Daniel K. Inouye and with the US Department of Agriculture’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative. In 2011, she was named a Food and Community Fellow by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. In 2009 she launched the Food and Agriculture section for Hyphen magazine, and she has also written for Civil Eats, Grist, Al-Jazeera America, NBCNews.com, and Rafu Shimpo. Her writings on Asian American food and farming have been published in Amerasia Journal and Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader. Following research on sustainable food systems in rural Japan and Mexico, Nina received an MA in International Relations/Food Policy from Meiji Gakuin University and a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies/Food Policy from UC Berkeley.

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