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News, Research and Events from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy
Baker Institute Update: Protecting the Gulf Coast from hurricane damage; Veterans and Viewpoints

October 26, 2016: In this edition
Protecting the Gulf Coast from hurricane damage

Hurricanes and severe storms have repeatedly devastated the Texas Gulf Coast, and climate change is increasing the region's vulnerability. One solution is to restore natural ecosystems along the Gulf Coast to provide some protection from flooding and storm damage. A new study by Jim Blackburn, Baker Institute Rice Faculty Scholar, and researchers at Rice's Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disaster Center proposes to accomplish this through the creation of a Texas Coastal Exchange, which would compensate Gulf Coast landowners for stewarding the ecosystems in their area that provide a service to communities.

For instance, the native prairie of the upper Texas coast filters pollutants from water runoff, slows water runoff after heavy storms, stores water in times of drought and cleans the air of carbon dioxide; Gulf Coast oyster reefs provide a vital day-to-day function as an excellent habitat for fish, and they also may reduce the most damaging impact of a storm surge by breaking the waves; the bottomland hardwood forest along major river corridors, most notably the Brazos, San Bernard, and Colorado river systems, sequester carbon in the wood and soil, and hold significant volumes of floodwaters; and coastal saltwater and brackish wetlands play an important role in the life cycle of many marine species and have an impressive root system that injects carbon into the soil at higher rates than native prairie lands.
"It is increasingly apparent that there is a dollar value in these ecological services and that markets can be developed to allow landowners to reap compensation from restoring, protecting, and stewarding the ecosystems that provide these services," reports Blackburn. "In this way, protection, income, and conservation goals merge to produce a fascinating potential for the upper Texas coast, as well as the rest of Texas and the United States."
Click here for the full report on the Texas Coastal Exchange.

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Roundtable Mixer: Veterans and Viewpoints

Join the Baker Institute Roundtable and Roundtable Young Professionals for a special Veterans Day celebration featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Robert Olen Butler and Bruce Weigl. Novelist Butler (“A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain”) and poet Weigl (“Song of Napalm”), two of the most accomplished writers of the last 50 years, both served in the Vietnam War and offer unique perspectives on their military experience. Enjoy what should be a memorable literary evening of friendly conversation and drinks as the Baker Institute honors the service of veterans, who now make up over 20 percent of the Roundtable Young Professionals group. Books will be available for purchase courtesy of the Brazos Bookstore.

This event is co-sponsored by the Baker Institute Roundtable and Roundtable Young Professionals and Houston Public Libraries. Join the conversation online with #BakerVeterans.

Click here to register for the event.

For questions about Roundtable membership, please contact assistant director of development Starr Dickerson (713.348.8087 or For information about membership in the Roundtable Young Professionals, please contact assistant development officer Emily Kinkaid (713.348.5191 or

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Upcoming Events
  • U.S.-Cuba Relations Beyond 2016: Trade and Investment Outlook. Experts from Cuba and the U.S. analyze political and economic outlooks between the two countries, as well as the current investment framework in Cuba and the reforms necessary to facilitate trade and investment. October 27 | 8:30 am
  • Global Competitiveness and the Texas Economy. A panel of representatives from government, business and academia offers firsthand feedback on the role government can play in helping Texas workers and businesses compete and succeed in the global economy. October 28 | 8:30 am
  • Roundtable Mixer: Veterans and Viewpoints. The Baker Institute Roundtable and Roundtable Young Professionals host a special Veterans Day celebration featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Robert Olen Butler and Bruce Weigl, who both served in the Vietnam War and will offer unique perspectives on their military experience. November 2 | 6 pm
  • Roundtable Exclusive: Election Night Watch Party. Join fellow members of the Roundtable and Roundtable Young Professionals and Baker Institute fellows and scholars for a night of fun, food and politics and watch the election results roll in live on the big screen. November 8 | 7 pm
  • Impunity, Corruption and the Rule of Law in Mexico. At this event, three leading experts discuss their research findings and activism on impunity and corruption in Mexico, and the challenges ahead. November 10 | 6:30 pm
  • Roundtable Exclusive: Policy Challenges in the Middle East for the New Administration. Join us for a conversation with Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian on the state of the Middle East, and U.S. policies to navigate the region’s complex political landscape. November 15 | 6 pm
  • HPV-Related Cancers: Opportunities for Cancer Prevention. Leaders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas state government, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the media will discuss HPV, HPV-associated cancers, barriers to HPV vaccination programs and a proposed plan to promote HPV vaccination in Texas. December 2 | 7:30 am
  • De Lange Conference X: Humans, Machines and the Future of Work. This conference, hosted by the De Lange Conference, focuses on issues that will be created by the impact of information technology on labor markets over the next 25 years. The event will be held at Rice’s Bioscience Research Collaborative Building. December 5-6 | 7:30 am

For a complete list, visit our event page.

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Research and News

For a complete list, visit our research library.

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Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy is a nonpartisan, independent think tank in Houston, Texas. The institute's fellows and scholars conduct research and collaborate with experts from academia, government, the media, business and private organizations on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy.
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