The Science of Sustainability

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Sea Lion Rescue

Sea Lion Rescue

Next month, the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands opens its doors to the public for the first time in four years. The Center treats sea lions, elephant seals, and other marine mammals that run into trouble along our coast. They swallow fishing lines, get hit by boat propellers and, increasingly, come down with a bacterial infection that scientists say they still don't understand.

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Do-It-Yourself Mini-Satellites

Do-It-Yourself Mini-Satellites

NASA will soon attempt to launch an unusual satellite. Most satellites are the size of a car, but this one is small enough to fit inside a glove compartment. Mini-satellites are reaching space in increasing numbers, thanks also to a do-it-yourself satellite program at Stanford University.

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Sudden Oak Death

Sudden Oak Death

Sudden Oak Death is devastating oak forests along the coast, killing trees that are key to the ecology of the coastal hills. Researchers have found a way to inoculate individual trees from the disease, but are struggling in their search to find a more sweeping answer to the threat.

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Swine Flu and You

Swine Flu and You

Why are health officials so worried about swine flu? A major reason is that against it, we are almost defenseless. Apart from the drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, which must be taken in the first 48 hours, swine flu is untreatable. The swine flu scare is only the latest chapter in an ongoing arms race between humans and viruses. But some scientists believe the end may be in sight.

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Let's Weatherize

Let's Weatherize

It's easy to get excited about installing solar panels on our houses, but most of us could significantly cut our energy bills for less with a simple trip to Home Depot. Thanks to the new federal stimulus package, $411 million is coming to California to help the state's buildings become more energy efficient.

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Goodbye to the Bevatron

Goodbye to the Bevatron

For the last 18 years, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has had the physics equivalent of a rusty pickup truck parked in its front yard. Now, the 1950s era Bevatron is being demolished, and a chapter in the Bay Area's history of high level physics research comes to a close.

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Smart Grid at Home

Smart Grid at Home

President Obama's stimulus plan set aside billions for clean energy. Funding will go to some familiar projects — like wind and solar power — and to some not so familiar ones, like the smart grid. So what is the smart grid? And how will it affect your home energy use?

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Sewage Spills Increasing

Sewage Spills Increasing

How much sewage makes its way into our water? Plenty. Statewide, it's likely that last year's record number, 20 million gallons of raw sewage dumped in California waterways, is going to be broken this year. Decrepit pipes, lack of money and the growing severity of storms could all add up to a disaster of septic proportions.

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High Tech in the Vineyards

High Tech in the Vineyards

When it comes to water conservation, you might want to toast some of the state's vintners. Grape growers are among the best at curbing water use and many are increasingly relying on an array of high-tech gadgetry to help them do it.

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Medicine from the Ocean Floor

Medicine from the Ocean Floor

Ever thought about using medicine from the ocean floor? Well, scientists are using robots to sort through millions of marine chemicals in hopes of finding a cure to all kinds of diseases from cholera to breast cancer. Amy Standen has more.

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Tracking Carbon through Your Cell Phone

Tracking Carbon through Your Cell Phone

A group of high school students in San Francisco are using high-tech GPS cell phones to track their daily carbon footprint – and to gauge their daily environmental risk. The GPS tracks the students' trips and shows them how much carbon they use and are exposed to each week. As cell phones become more powerful, organizers hope to spread this movement virally.

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Playing with Lead – Artifical Turf

Playing with Lead – Artifical Turf

Even in small amounts, lead can be poisonous. The California Attorney General's office is suing several manufacturers of artificial turf after lead was found in the pigment used to color it. Lead is especially harmful to children and that could be bad news around the state for anyone who has installed turf in playgrounds, soccer fields, child care centers and homes.

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Redesigning the Bay

Redesigning the Bay

The predictions for climate change all warn that San Francisco Bay waters will rise. The latest estimate is the bay will be about 5 feet higher by the end of this century, and 16 inches higher by 2050. If the water rises high enough, a lot of expensive Bay-front property could be inundated. What can we do about it? And how do we plan for that? That's the subject of an innovative design contest that launches this week.

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Mass Transit Housing Plan

Mass Transit Housing Plan

A single-family home with a yard and two-car garage may be the American dream for many Californians. But with real estate at a premium and traffic congestion getting worse, there is a new urban way of living that is becoming increasingly popular. Quest reports on the rise of the transit village and just why the trend has taken so long.

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Investigating Darwin's Legacy

Investigating Darwin's Legacy

This year marks Charles Darwin's 200th birthday. One of the iconic fossils that supports Darwin's theory of evolution is called the Archaeopteryx and it was recently flown out to Stanford University for an unusual test. Scientists are bombarding this dino-bird with high-tech gadgetry to unlock even more information about how we came to be here.

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Putting a Price on Nature

Putting a Price on Nature

As the economy struggles, a lot of people are thinking about prices these days. That's the focus of a new project at Stanford University, too, but their aim is to put a value on something that's never had a price tag – nature.

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Birds vs. Planes

Birds vs. Planes

Following the recent crash landing of a U.S. Airways jet into the Hudson River, QUEST takes a look at local efforts to avoid collisions between planes and birds. Every year pilots in the U.S. report more than 7,000 bird strikes. The Sacramento International Airport has one of the highest incidences of bird strikes in the nation, thanks to its location next to the Pacific Flyway.

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New Life for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

New Life for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Soon after Barack Obama is sworn in as President next week, he is expected to reverse the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The resulting boom in this cutting-edge medical technology will benefit California's research institutes in a big way.

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Last Minute Rules

Last Minute Rules

The Bush Administration has recently passed dozens of so-called "midnight regulations" – last-minute rules and amendments. Many of those new laws affect the environment, including a change to the Endangered Species Act that has California environmentalists deeply worried.

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Building Blocks Go Green

Building Blocks Go Green

Some of the most common building materials – drywall, steel, cement – are among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Manufacturing them requires vast amounts of energy. Now, several Silicon Valley start-ups are looking for cleaner solutions and some of their efforts are drawing major venture capital.

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