The Science of Sustainability

Jennifer Skene

Jennifer Skene

Jennifer Skene develops curriculum on climate change and ocean sciences at the Lawrence Hall of Science and teaches biology and science communication at Mills College and the University of California Berkeley. She has a degree in biology from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley. She started working with QUEST in 2008 as an intern. She has written for the Berkeley Science Review and the UC Museum of Paleontology’s Understanding Evolution and Understanding Science websites.

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Jennifer Skene's Latest Posts

California’s Gray Wolves

California’s Gray Wolves

When a gray wolf wearing a GPS collar crossed from Oregon into California in December, it was the first wild gray wolf to tread on California soil since the 1920s. It is debatable whether this lone wolf is a sign of things to come, but if wolves return to California, their role in the ecosystem will be different than it was in times past.

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Methane Moves From Landfill to Fuel Tank

Methane Moves From Landfill to Fuel Tank

Trash that ends up at a landfill is the ugly stepsister of hipper, cooler compostable kitchen scraps and recyclable bottles and cans. But landfill trash has more of a future than you might think.

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Homegrown Fruit in the New Year

Homegrown Fruit in the New Year

Is your new year’s resolution to eat more fruits and veggies? Or eat more local produce? You can do both at once by growing your own fruit—you can’t get more local than fruit you harvest in your own backyard.

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O Perfect Christmas Tree

O Perfect Christmas Tree

The Berkeley students from the Forestry Club described their trees as “free range,” in contrast to trees from Christmas tree farms, which are painstakingly grown to be perfect.

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Tidepooling Trip Planner

Tidepooling Trip Planner

QUEST blogger Andrew Alden’s recent post about Bay Area Tides got me thinking about pulling on my rubber boots and heading out to the intertidal during an upcoming low tide. In the next few weeks, we’ll get some really low tides during daylight hours—a great opportunity to see the organisms that live on the narrow edge between the land and the ocean.

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You Say Sweet Potato, I Say New World

You Say Sweet Potato, I Say New World

As you fill your grocery cart with food for Thanksgiving, pause for a minute and think about where that food came from. I don’t mean is it local or organic or hormone/pesticide /gluten-free—I mean is it Old World or New World? On what continent did that food evolve?

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Saving Daylight and Energy

Saving Daylight and Energy

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, the little hand on the clock ticked backwards one hour and Daylight Saving Time ended—along with energy savings.

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The Bay Area Science Festival Begins

The Bay Area Science Festival Begins

The Bay Area Science Festival, a 10-day celebration of science, starts this week. There are over 50 exciting events throughout the Bay Area, including hikes, lectures, and concerts.

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Eucalyptus: Fuel for Fire

Eucalyptus: Fuel for Fire

Twenty years ago this week, a fire ripped through the Oakland and Berkeley hills, taking 25 lives and burning more than 3,000 homes. Eucalyptus trees, leaf litter, and long peels of bark were fuel for the fire.

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Red Tide Rising: Harmful Phytoplankton Blooms

Red Tide Rising: Harmful Phytoplankton Blooms

About a month ago, thousands of abalone and other invertebrates washed up along the Sonoma coast, killed by what people thought was probably a red tide, a.k.a. a harmful algal bloom. An interdisciplinary team of researchers banded together to find out what was going on.

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Tomatoes: Heirlooms vs. Hybrids

Tomatoes: Heirlooms vs. Hybrids

Heirloom tomatoes are getting more and more popular—but what does “heirloom” really mean? And how do these colorful tomatoes differ from their supermarket relatives?

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Cattle Ranches and Carbon

Cattle Ranches and Carbon

Researchers from UC Berkeley are working with cattle ranchers in Marin County to figure out how to increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil.

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Rumors and Truth in Lake Tahoe

Rumors and Truth in Lake Tahoe

A few weeks ago, scuba divers in Lake Tahoe found the body of a man who had drowned in the lake 17 years ago. Still in its wetsuit, the body was very well preserved. Because the water in this high alpine lake is so cold, decomposition is very slow. This fact has spawned rumors, the most famous of which involves Jacques Cousteau and still makes me shudder, years after I first heard it.

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The Deep, Cold Secret Behind Summer Fog

The Deep, Cold Secret Behind Summer Fog

Another foggy morning. Why is the Bay Area so foggy in summer? To answer that question, look west—at the Pacific Ocean.

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Climate Change Favors Invasive Species in California Grasslands

Climate Change Favors Invasive Species in California Grasslands

California’s grasslands are some of the most heavily invaded habitats in the state. As the climate changes—temperatures increase and water becomes scarcer—the conditions will favor exotic grasses, which will become even more prevalent.

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Herbicides: Help or Harm?

Herbicides: Help or Harm?

Recent headlines have brought to light some of herbicides’ unintended effects. Herbicides can provide farmers and gardeners with advantages over unwanted weeds—but they also come with drawbacks.

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Everything is Illuminated, All the Time

Everything is Illuminated, All the Time

The world is not as dark as it used to be. Light pollution can come directly from light bulbs, or it can bounce off of dust and water droplets in the air, creating a bright haze called skyglow. But there are ways to dim the lights and reduce their effects—and save energy in the process.

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Sea Lions, Herring, and Climate Change

Sea Lions, Herring, and Climate Change

I thought I’d check in on the sea lions at Pier 39. Just a few years ago, there were about 1600 of them. Then in 2009, most of them swam away.

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Summer Solstice, Shifting Spring

Summer Solstice, Shifting Spring

Tomorrow is our summer solstice—the longest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere.

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California's Climate Cousins

California's Climate Cousins

Spain, in the Mediterranean Basin, is California’s climate cousin.

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