The Science of Sustainability

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Combating Bay Invaders

Combating Bay Invaders

Hundreds of invasive species have been found in San Francisco Bay, one of the most invaded estuaries in the world. Hoping to restore native fish and wildlife, California has passed the strictest rules in the nation to prevent ocean freighters from introducing more foreign species to the bay. But as Lauren Sommer reports, the standards are so tough, officials may not be able to enforce them.

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Earthquake Warning

Earthquake Warning

When a devastating earthquake shook Japan last month, some residents knew it was coming. A series of warning signals was sent out, including over Japanese television. Scientists say we could be just a few years away from launching a similar system here in California. As Amy Standen reports, the science is here but the funding is not.

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A California Bat Success Story

A California Bat Success Story

White-nose syndrome has devastated bat populations back east, and is steadily making its way west. Researchers are keeping close tabs on the Bay Area's 16 bat species, including one thriving colony south of Sacramento.

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How Green Is Biomass Energy?

How Green Is Biomass Energy?

California is hungry for renewable energy. Solar and wind power have taken off thanks to the state's ambitious clean energy goals. But there's another way to generate electricity — by using organic material like agricultural and tree waste. It's known as biomass power, but as Lauren Sommer reports, some say it's not as green as it seems.

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Nuclear's Future in the U.S.

Nuclear's Future in the U.S.

Japan's nuclear power crisis is renewing debate over the topic of safety at nuclear power plants. Andrea Kissack talks with two men with very different opinions on the issue: Bill Magavern, head of the Sierra Club California and Ed Morse, Professor of Nuclear Engineering at University of California, Berkeley.

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Fighting Fire Where Homes and Wilderness Meet

Fighting Fire Where Homes and Wilderness Meet

In California, a state agency called CalFire is charged with fighting fire in rural areas. But over the years, the line between rural and urban has become much less clear. Governor Jerry Brown proposed to scale back CalFire and help trim the state's budget, but that proposal may go down in flames.

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The Science of Snow

The Science of Snow

It's been a harsh winter across the US. Snow has blanketed the Sierra Nevada, where the snowpack is well above normal. Lots of snow means good skiing, but it also means an increased danger of avalanches. Lauren Sommer travels to Lake Tahoe where researchers are trying to understand the inner workings of snow a little bit better.

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The Heroic Imagination Project

The Heroic Imagination Project

40 years ago, Stanford psychology professor Phillip Zimbardo's notorious Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrated how good people can do evil things. Now, his "Heroic Imagination Project" takes those lessons to an Oakland high school to see if heroes can also be made.

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Land Preservation on the Chopping Block

Land Preservation on the Chopping Block

For more than four decades, much of California's ranchland has been protected by the Williamson Act. But with the state's budget woes, its funding is threatened – and that has both ranchers and environmentalists concerned.

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Local Cheese Makers Fear a Raw Deal

Local Cheese Makers Fear a Raw Deal

After a series of high-profile recalls, the FDA says it's reconsidering rules that allow cheese makers to use unpasteurized milk in their products. That could mean big changes in Northern California, which has become a hub of artisanal cheese making.

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A Happy Medium For Solar

A Happy Medium For Solar

Solar power is booming in California. Last year, state officials approved an unprecedented amount of new solar energy. But large solar farms and small home rooftop installations have run into challenges. As Lauren Sommer reports, that's why a new sector of solar is emerging — one that benefits from being in the middle.

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How CFLs Got Their Bad Rap

How CFLs Got Their Bad Rap

This month begins America's long goodbye to the incandescent light bulb. The most common replacement bulbs, CFLs, are just as bright and warm-colored as the old incandescents. So why do so many people complain about them?

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California's Basement Bargains on Home Efficiency

California's Basement Bargains on Home Efficiency

Once upon a time, the job of your local utility — say, PG&E, or SMUD in Sacramento was simple: to sell you energy. Well, that business model is changing. Amy Standen reports.

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Visiting the Dentist Chair of the Future

Visiting the Dentist Chair of the Future

It probably goes without saying: the dentist's chair isn't the most popular place to visit. But going the dentist may soon be a very different experience. As Lauren Sommer reports, researchers at the University of California San Francisco are developing new technology that may make dentists' drills less common.

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California's Redwoods Face Climate Change

California's Redwoods Face Climate Change

After a century of logging, California's old growth redwood forests are only a fraction of what they once were. Today, they remain a narrow coastal band that extends from Monterey Bay to the Oregon border. But redwoods are facing a new threat. As Lauren Sommer reports, scientists are trying to understand how these trees are responding to a changing climate.

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How Jet Lag Resets the Body Clock

How Jet Lag Resets the Body Clock

If you plan to take any long plane trips this holiday season, here are a few things to keep in mind: jet lag, scientists say, often hits women harder than men. The direction you're flying matters, too. Jet lag is worse when traveling from west to east. In fact, studies suggests that jet lag can do a lot more than just wear us out

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Fish and Fishermen Go To Market

Fish and Fishermen Go To Market

California fishermen once hauled in groundfish as if there were an unlimited supply, but now fish stocks have plummeted. Beginning in January, fishermen in California, Oregon and Washington will try something new. They'll become owners of the fishery, much like shareholders in a company. But as Lauren Sommer reports, not everyone is happy about it.

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Building an Artificial Leaf

Building an Artificial Leaf

At UC Berkeley, scientists studying how to feed our growing need for energy have turned to a surprising source. As Lauren Sommer reports, researchers there are trying to produce the next generation of green power by mimicking something every weekend gardener works to clean up.

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When Teaching Climate Gets Controversial

When Teaching Climate Gets Controversial

In the wake of mid-term elections, most pundits agree that a national climate change policy is farther from reach. Several science museums and aquariums are currently showing exhibits on climate change in an effort to educate the public on this complicated topic. But as Marjorie Sun reports, these institutions have to walk a fine line through a thicket of sensitive issues.

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Albino Redwoods: Ghosts of the Forest

Albino Redwoods: Ghosts of the Forest

Park rangers in the Santa Cruz Mountains are protecting a decades-old secret: albino redwood trees. Pale and fragile, these so-called "ghost trees" are deliberately off the beaten track, as Amy Standen found out.

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