It's that time of year again. Temperatures are hot, so we're cranking up the air conditioning. That means more electricity from the power grid, more greenhouse gas emissions, more global warming and — with warmer temperatures — even more air conditioning! There are a few ways to halt this vicious cycle, one of which starts with a makeover for the machine itself.
Taking the energy from plants and making a gasoline alternative to run our cars has great promise but there are huge problems to solve. The next answer may not come from Saudi Arabia but from a UC Berkeley lab, a Silicon Valley start up or a local researcher working in the jungles of Costa Rica.
When you order your double latte to-go at the corner coffee shop, the empty cup and lid may end up in a giant pit of plastic ocean litter off the coast of California. Some cities and counties are so concerned about the garbage in the so-called North Pacific Gyre that they've passed ordinances to try to limit the amount of plastic in our lives.
Forget solar panels – how about having your own wind turbine? Your own solar thermal power generator? Your own geothermal well? San Francisco homeowners are some of the first to experiment with these DIY home-energy technologies, and they are getting some help from the city to do it.
Earlier this year a report came out showing that trace amounts of pharmaceuticals — everything from ibuprofen to birth control pills — are showing up in America's drinking water. Today, water agencies and consumers are still grappling with some unanswered questions: Do these tiny amounts of drugs pose any health risk? And if so, what can we do about them?
An age-old environmental crime has become an increasing problem. Poachers illegally hunt down everything from abalone to black-tailed deer, on private lands, parks and wilderness areas. But catching poachers can be tough because of California's vast size, so state fish and game wardens are trying something new.
Since 1995, astronomers have identified more than 200 new planets, but these planets aren't in our solar system. Known as exoplanets, they're the planets orbiting other suns and Bay Area scientists are leading the search. QUEST reports on some of the latest efforts to find new planets– and maybe even life– in outer space.
Scientists predict we'll be seeing hotter conditions and drier forests in the near future. The Summit Fire that's been burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains is likely a part of that trend. QUEST talks to Malcolm North with the U.S. Forest Service. He says any area that's burned before is vulnerable to burning again, including the coast range and Sierra Nevada.
Dr Jane Hightower was one of the first Bay Area doctors to start diagnosing mercury poisoning in her patients. In this audio clip, she explains how to know if you might be getting too much mercury from the fish you eat. And, she tells us what she feeds her 10-year old twin boys. (Hint: No tuna fish sandwiches in the Hightower home.)
It's often said dogs and their owners resemble each other. Now, researchers at UC-San Francisco are looking for those connections on a whole new level. They're searching for the genes that cause common psychiatric problems in humans – by looking at the DNA of dogs.
California has 11 coal-fired power plants, all used to heat limestone into cement — making us one of the biggest cement-producing states in the country. These kilns produce 95% of the state's airborne mercury pollution and 2% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Mostly, they've slipped under the radar of regulators, but that is changing fast.
Consumer appetite for salmon is booming at a time when the supply is about to dry up. With an impending year-long fishing ban in place, prices for wild salmon — that is, salmon caught in the ocean off California and Oregon — are expected to skyrocket. What are the alternatives for shoppers?