Take a waste product like cow manure or trash, let it decompose for a bit and you'll soon end up with methane gas. Methane is powerful contributor to climate change. But it can also be captured and used to make renewable electricity. That's something farmers are experimenting with across California. But by solving one environmental problem, they're running headlong into another. Lauren Sommer has more.
The wireless age has introduced countless devices that many of us can't live without, like cell phones, laptop computers and wifi routers. Like all electronics they communicate using electromagnetic frequencies – or EMFs. Some people worry that EMFs are making them sick – and say that technology should slow down, as Amy Standen reports.
This is the classic environmental story: a species in trouble because of what our species is doing. It's happening all over the world. But there are people tackling these problems one by one, coming up with simple ways of changing our behavior. This week we take a look at the plight of the foothill yellow-legged frogs.
Indian reservations hold an estimated 10 percent of the nation's renewable energy resources — hot, windy tracts that suddenly seem more valuable than ever. The Campo tribe, near San Diego, has taken the lead, building the country's only utility-scale wind installation on Indian land. Plans are afoot to triple the project. But tribe members say tax incentives and other federal programs put Indians at a disadvantage.
This week, we continue our series "33 by 20," a look at California's ambitious renewable energy goals. Solar and wind power are booming across the state. But renewables have a downside: there are times when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. California utilities are looking to smooth out those bumps with a new strategy: storing electricity.
As the state dries out from a long, rainy winter, the battle over water rights in the Sacramento Delta continues. Water contractors are hoping an upcoming court ruling will find that water pumps are not the only threat to the imperiled Delta Smelt. Some of the blame is getting pinned on a bigger fish that happens to have an appetite for endangered species. Alison Hawkes reports.
Researchers at UC Davis are collecting DNA from dogs seized in police raids on dogfighting operations. The goal is to create a database to help identify and prosecute the extensive underground breeding programs that sell puppies for as much as $50,000 to dogfighting rings. But the database is controversial among some animal rights activists, who believe it would allow shelters to euthanize dogs whose DNA match fighting lineages.
In April, California continued its ambitious efforts to restore declining ocean fisheries by creating 21 new marine protected areas between Half Moon Bay and Mendocino County. In all, fishing would be banned or reduced in 20 percent of state waters there. But with the state budget crisis, how will California enforce these rules?
If you've ever had small, black ants in your kitchen, chances are they're Argentine Ants. These invasive insects have spread across California, forming what some scientists say is one of the largest colonies on Earth. They're also harming native ants. Now, scientists are developing ways to stop the invasion, by learning the language ants use to communicate. Lauren Sommer reports.
A plan that requires California's utilities to generate one third of their electricity from solar, wind and other types of clean energy by 2020 has been held up by a glacially slow permitting process. The Panoche Valley, south of Hollister, is finding itself in the center of one of those debates.
California has set ambitious goals for a transition to clean, renewable energy: 33 percent by 2020. Some are skeptical that the goal is within reach.QUEST and Climate Watch continue to examine the promise and pitfalls of this historic transformation. Craig Miller reports on one Silicon Valley company's controversial proposal for Panoche Valley.
The Schwarzenegger Administration plans to approve a new chemical called methyl iodide, which is used by strawberry farmers. Although methyl iodide can cause cancer and miscarriages, regulators say that protective measures like respirators and buffer zones will keep farm workers safe. Scientists consulting for the state say these measures often fail, and methyl iodide is too toxic to take chances. Amy Standen reports.
Methyl bromide – a powerful fumigant used by strawberry growers to sterilize the soil before plants go in – was found to harm the Earth's ozone layer. Strawberry farmers have been clamoring for a replacement, and they may get their wish if the state approves a chemical called methyl iodide. But some state scientists say it could cause cancer and miscarriages in farm workers and nearby communities.
Many Californians will be spending summer traveling to their favorite getaway spost. Some of the most popular tourist destinations are national parks. But we can love them just a little too much. Too many hikers crowd trails, exhaust from automobiles clouds park air, and as Craig Miller reports, we can also have a big impact on one of the most treasured aspects of a park, its sound.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.