The Science of Sustainability

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Race for Renewables

Race for Renewables

With its wind and solar resources, California is known as a hotbed of renewable energy. Driving that development is an ambitious goal: by 2020, state law requires utilities to generate one third of their electricity from renewable sources. But the road to clean energy is full of obstacles. Lauren Sommer reports on how we got here and the chances of meeting our big green power goals.

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Baby Brain Development

Baby Brain Development

Thousands of babies are born each year in the U.S. with brain defects that can cause lifelong disability or even death. UC-San Francisco neurologists and pediatricians are developing better diagnostic tools and treatments to help brain-damaged babies not only survive, but grow up to live more normal lives.

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Greening The Grow

Greening The Grow

Voters in California will consider a measure on the November ballot to legalize and tax marijuana. Amid the debate over pros and cons, another issue has been gaining visibility — the environmental damage pot cultivation can incur. Illegal pesticide use and creek water diversion at large-scale outdoor operations are well-documented. But environmental concerns are also growing over indoor marijuana cultivation, as Lisa Morehouse reports.

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Sea Water Showdown

Sea Water Showdown

A plan being considered by California's State Water Resources Control Board would end the practice of allowing power plants along the coast to suck in ocean water to cool their machinery. Environmentalists say it kills millions of fish larvae, small animals and other ocean life, but the power industry says tighter rules would raise California's electricity prices, already among the nation's highest.

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Notes From An Environmentalist

Notes From An Environmentalist

The oldest grassroots environmental organization in the U.S. is the Sierra Club and it's undergoing a change in leadership. After 18 years running the organization, Carl Pope has just stepped down as executive director, but he remains involved as ever in his new position as chairman. Andrea Kissack spoke with him about the biggest challenges facing the environmental movement today.

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Smog Checks Made Easy

Smog Checks Made Easy

This month Governor Schwarzenegger faces a stack of proposed legislation awaiting his signature. One of those bills has to do with the car you may be sitting in this very moment. It's a proposed change to California's annual smog check program which, as Amy Standen reports in this holiday rebroadcast, is due for a tune up.

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Ghost Fleet On The Move

Ghost Fleet On The Move

For decades, more than 70 Navy and merchant ships known as the "ghost fleet" have been anchored in Suisun Bay, waiting for disposal. While many served in World War II, today they're the subject of a lawsuit filed by environmental groups who are concerned about the pollution these aging vessels are leaching into the bay. Now, some of the ships are finally on the move.

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Lessons From Chile

Lessons From Chile

The 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile last month may offer some clues for how California would withstand such a massive quake. Andrea Kissack spoke with one Bay Area engineer who just returned from Chile where he was looking at how U.S. building codes held up in the quake.

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Alcatraz Goes Green

Alcatraz Goes Green

Alcatraz, the iconic former prison in San Francisco Bay, goes green. Extra stimulus funds have made it possible to replace two aging diesel generators with solar panels that will power up to 60 percent of the island. Amy Standen reports on how the National Park Service plans to hide more than 1300 dark blue solar panels from public view.

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Battle Over Public Power

Battle Over Public Power

This week, voters on both sides of a contentious measure set for California's June ballot will take the stage in a public hearing in San Francisco. Proposition 16 has to do with how electricity will be delivered to our homes, and by whom. The issue is shaping up to be an epic showdown between local non-profit groups and the utility giant PG&E. Amy Standen has more.

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Wither The Lawn

Wither The Lawn

After three years of drought, California is finally getting some wet relief. Yet a series of strong storms doesn't end the state's need to conserve water. A new California law will impose restrictions on landscaping for decades to come. Katharine Mieszkowski reports on the future of the suburban lawn.

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Teaching the Brain To See

Teaching the Brain To See

Thanks to stem cells and other cutting-edge technologies, doctors hope they may one day be able to restore sight to people who were born without it, or lost it, later in life. But a rare case here in the Bay Area suggests that curing blindness may be more than meets the eye.

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The Godfather of Green

The Godfather of Green

Art Rosenfeld is retiring, stepping down from his post with the California Energy Commission. The 83-year-old nuclear physicist pushed California to enact some of the toughest energy efficiency standards in the world. QUEST talks with Rosenfeld about his passion for saving kilowatts. Andrea Kissack reports.

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Is The Drought Over?

Is The Drought Over?

The recent rain storms have drenched Northern California, dumping in some places almost twice as much rain as we'd expect to see at this time of year. That's great news for a state that's suffered three years of drought. But are we finally in the clear? Amy Standen went in search of answers.

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Saving Coho

Saving Coho

Coho salmon conservationists in Marin County are losing hope they'll see large numbers of the fish return to spawn this year, even after our recent rains. Marine biologists say the future looks grim after a series of drought years, and they're looking for ways to stop the fish from being sucked into what they call "the vortex of extinction." Dan Brekke reports.

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Truckers Clean Up Their Act

Truckers Clean Up Their Act

This month, truckers at the Port of Oakland face new rules on diesel rigs.The rules call for expensive filters that cut down the amount of soot the trucks spew out. Many truckers say they can't afford the new gear, especially amid a recession. But treating the health effects of diesel pollution may be much more expensive.

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Power Up With Leftovers

Power Up With Leftovers

Americans throw away a staggering 31 million tons of food each year. As those scraps decompose they create methane – a powerful greenhouse gas – that could be harnessed to light our homes one day. As Tara Siler reports, a wastewater treatment plant in the Bay Area is leading the way.

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Tactile Maps

Tactile Maps

Human beings have used maps to describe the world for thousands of years. Blind people have used Braille for about 150. But there's never been a way for the blind to have easy access to maps of everyday places. Until now. Amy Standen reports.

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Solar Thieves

Solar Thieves

Solar panels are a hot commodity these days and not just for residents and business owners who want to go green. It turns out that thieves are also embracing clean technology: Solar panel thefts are on the rise. And among the most popular targets are California wineries.

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The Future of Phone Books

The Future of Phone Books

For many Bay Area residents, 'tis the season for egg nog, evenings by the fireplace, and…phone books! The new Yellow and White pages will land on hundreds of thousands of doorsteps this month. But if two California lawmakers get their way, this holiday tradition may soon change. Amy Standen reports.

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