The Science of Sustainability

Lauren Sommer

Lauren is a radio reporter covering environment, water, and energy for KQED Science. As part of her day job, she has scaled Sierra Nevada peaks, run from charging elephant seals, and desperately tried to get her sea legs - all in pursuit of good radio. Her work has appeared on Marketplace, Living on Earth, and NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. You can find her on Twitter at @lesommer.

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Lauren Sommer's Latest Posts

During Drought, Pop-Up Wetlands Give Birds a Break

During Drought, Pop-Up Wetlands Give Birds a Break

As California's drought gets worse, farmers and conservationists are teaming up to create temporary wetlands for birds migrating on the Pacific Flyway.

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In Dry Year, California Looks to Cloud Seeding

In Dry Year, California Looks to Cloud Seeding

There’s no doubt about it – it’s dry out there. 2013 ended as the driest year ever recorded in many parts of California. So water managers are trying to squeeze out every last drop with an old technology: cloud seeding.

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Road Kill or Road Crossing: California Slow to Protect Wildlife

Road Kill or Road Crossing: California Slow to Protect Wildlife

Drivers hit thousands of animals every year on California freeways, often killing the wildlife, and sometimes killing or injuring the human, too. Several western states have built fencing and other infrastructure to help wildlife cross freeways safely, and critics say California could be doing a lot more of the same.

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With Condors on the Brink, California Considers a Lead-Bullet Ban for Hunters

With Condors on the Brink, California Considers a Lead-Bullet Ban for Hunters

Lead poisoning is a major obstacle to recovery for the endangered California condor, but a bill to address the problem has gun owners up in arms.

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Bay Area Biotech Industry Braces for Gene Patenting Court Case

Bay Area Biotech Industry Braces for Gene Patenting Court Case

The Supreme Court is hearing a case on a key question: can you patent a human gene?

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Navy Training Raises New Concerns for Whales off California Coast

Navy Training Raises New Concerns for Whales off California Coast

As the whale migration season reaches its peak, new concerns arise over naval training exercises off the California coast.

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Controversial California Water Plan Takes Shape

Controversial California Water Plan Takes Shape

The latest draft fails to mollify opponents to a $23 billion-dollar plan for California’s trickiest water problem: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Attack of the Killer Electrons! New Mission Searches for Mysterious Space Particles

Attack of the Killer Electrons! New Mission Searches for Mysterious Space Particles

They're out there… lurking in Earth's magnetic fields and damaging any satellite in their path.

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On the Elephant Seal Dating Scene, It’s All About Bravado

On the Elephant Seal Dating Scene, It’s All About Bravado

They may sound like faulty plumbing, but male northern elephant seals have a unique communication system that's all about reputation.

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In Historic Gold Country, Old Mines Get New Life

In Historic Gold Country, Old Mines Get New Life

It's not the frenzy of 1849, but gold mining is quietly making a comeback in California. While some communities are concerned about the environmental costs, others see the chance for a "greener" gold rush.

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Think Tiny: The Science of New Year's Resolutions

Think Tiny: The Science of New Year's Resolutions

Want to keep a New Year's resolution? One Stanford researcher says to give up on lofty goals. Instead, focus on tiny habits.

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California Prepares First Fracking Regulations, Joining Nationwide Debate

California Prepares First Fracking Regulations, Joining Nationwide Debate

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country – and that’s left state governments grappling with how to regulate it. Now, California is wading into that fight.

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With Large Oil Reserve, California Faces Fracking Debate

With Large Oil Reserve, California Faces Fracking Debate

The new oil-and-gas boom that’s sweeping the country may be coming to California. With it comes the controversy over the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing – or fracking.

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Q & A – How Will the Solar Industry Shake Out?

Q & A – How Will the Solar Industry Shake Out?

Plummeting prices, trade war, record growth – it’s been a busy year for the solar industry. Reporter Lauren Sommer talks to a solar analyst about how California is doing in the rapidly changing global market.

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Looming Trade War Shakes Up U.S. Solar Industry

Looming Trade War Shakes Up U.S. Solar Industry

Federal officials have put trade tariffs on Chinese solar panels. American solar companies are split on whether it will be good or bad for the industry.

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Century-Old Battle Over Yosemite's 'Second Valley' Heats Up

Century-Old Battle Over Yosemite's 'Second Valley' Heats Up

One of California's oldest environmental battles is on the San Francisco ballot. Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park holds most of San Francisco's water supply. But some environmental groups want to turn back the clock.

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West Coast a Test Bed for Ocean Acidification

West Coast a Test Bed for Ocean Acidification

Scientists say the waters off the West Coast could be hit hard by ocean acidification, but thanks to the natural conditions, it's a good place to study how ocean species might adapt.

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The Heat is On For California Wines

The Heat is On For California Wines

You’ve probably heard of the wines that made Napa and Sonoma famous, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. But what about Negroamaro or Nero d’Avola? They’re wine grapes that are well-adapted to hotter temperatures — the kind of conditions that California may be facing as the climate continues to warm.

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California Considers Giving Self-Driving Cars Green Light

California Considers Giving Self-Driving Cars Green Light

California is considering rules that would allow self-driving cars on the road, but making rules for robots is no simple task.

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Building a Better, Tastier Tomato

Building a Better, Tastier Tomato

Many tomatoes have been bred to travel well and look appealing, but now researchers are focusing on making them more nutritious and better tasting.

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