The Science of Sustainability

Environment

Reporter's Notes: Mercury in the Bay – Part 1

Reporter's Notes: Mercury in the Bay – Part 1

View Larger Map In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to take a big look at a chronic environmental issue in the Bay Area, tracing it from its origins to the contemporary strategies to solve it. Mercury was the obvious choice: It's been flowing into the Bay since before California joined the union, and it […]

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Mercury in the Bay – Part 1

Mercury in the Bay – Part 1

You might not know it from the textbooks, but California's gold rush was also a mercury rush. Quicksilver mines near San Jose provided gold miners with the mercury they needed to separate gold from ore. 150 years later, we're still facing the consequences of gold-rush era mercury.

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One Part Perspiration, Five Parts Inspiration

One Part Perspiration, Five Parts Inspiration

These 5 folks are full of bright ideas. Image Source: PiccoloNamekACI trains home performance professionals through national and regional conferences and through the Web. Last week I participated in my eighth ACI national conference. The annual conference is where I go to network; learn about all aspects of home performance; recruit authors for Home Energy […]

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Through the Lens: California in your backyard

Through the Lens: California in your backyard

The camera has long been an invaluable tool of field researchers. For example, the initial identification of a new mammal species was initiated by a camera trap set up by Francesco Rovero of the Trento Museum of Natural Sciences in the Ndundulu Forest in Tanzania's Udzungwa Mountains. Both Francesco Rovero and Galen Rathbun of the […]

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Resurveying California's Wildlife 100 Years Later

Resurveying California's Wildlife 100 Years Later

In the early 1900's, researchers from UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology traveled around California and created detailed records of the wildlife they found. A century later, scientists are revisiting the same sites — they've found that global warming is already having an impact.

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Producer's Notes – Resurveying California's Wildlife 100 Years Later

Producer's Notes – Resurveying California's Wildlife 100 Years Later

It's rather mind-boggling to walk into the storage rooms at UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. The rooms hold all manner of skulls, skeletons, pelts, and entire specimens that are intact in jars and drawers.

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Up A Creek: an exploration of your watershed

Up A Creek: an exploration of your watershed

Raise your hand if you live in a watershed! Are all of your hands up? We all live in a watershed, an area of land that all water (from rain, snow and springs) flows across, under and through on its way into a common body of water, such as a creek, river, bay or ocean. […]

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Producer's Notes – Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol

Producer's Notes – Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol

A sample of switchgrass at Sandia National LaboratoriesIt doesn't need to be said that there's a heated debate about how to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions with actions that lessen our society's carbon footprint. Biofuels like ethanol or biodiesel are one option. They're touted as being carbon neutral because the CO2 they emit comes from crops […]

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Reporter's Notes – Cool Critters: Sharks of the Bay

Reporter's Notes – Cool Critters: Sharks of the Bay

First things first: If you swim in the bay, no need to worry about sharks. None of the experts we spoke to could remember a single instance of someone getting bitten. And you can rest easy about Great Whites too; they don’t seem to have a taste for Bay waters. For more on this, see […]

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Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol

Biofuels: Beyond Ethanol

For years there's been buzz — both positive and negative — about generating ethanol fuel from corn. But thanks to recent developments, the Bay Area is rapidly becoming a world center for the next generation of green fuel alternatives. Meet the scientists investigating the newest methods for converting what we grow into what makes us go.

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Cool Critters: Sharks of the Bay

Cool Critters: Sharks of the Bay

Do sharks live in San Francisco Bay? QUEST heads out on a shark-tagging expedition to unlock the secrets of some of the bay's biggest and least known predators.

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Sticking up for the little guy: the California freshwater shrimp

Sticking up for the little guy: the California freshwater shrimp

This year the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) will celebrate its 35th anniversary. Under the ESA over 1,350 species are listed in the United States as threatened or endangered, including over 300 in California. This includes a number of "celebrities" of the conservation world such as the humpback whale and California condor, but also dozens […]

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Cement – A Dirty Business

Cement – A Dirty Business

Thought California has consigned coal-burning to the scrap bin? Think again! 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. In addition to cement, these kilns produce 95% of the state's airborne mercury pollution and 2% of its greenhouse […]

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Cement – A Dirty Business

Cement – A Dirty Business

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.

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Stop Energy Going Down the Drain

Stop Energy Going Down the Drain

Here are three of the DWHR devices tested, showing the headers: Left to right, the Retherm S3-60, GFX G3-60, and PowerPipe S3-60. Credit: Charles ZaloumI don't think there is one big solution to our energy problems and the environmental problems related to the use of fossil fuels–there are lots of little solutions that in the […]

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Urban Heat Islands

Urban Heat Islands

Buildings, concrete, asphalt, tar roof tops and industry have caused cities to reach higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. Now, green-minded architects are taking cooler approaches to their designs.

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An Upside Down Tree

An Upside Down Tree

A Baobab TreeIt is not only animals that can be become endangered but plants and trees as well. One of California Academy of Science's research areas has been Madagascar. Coined as an "Island of Evolution," Madagascar hosts a rich biodiversity of plant and animal life that is indigenous to the area and, unfortunately, highly threatened. […]

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The Fierce Humboldt Squid

The Fierce Humboldt Squid

A mysterious sea creature up to 7 feet long, with 10 arms, a sharp beak and a ravenous appetite, has invaded ocean waters off Northern California. Marine biologists are working to discover why they have headed up from South America.

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Plug-in Hybrids Get a Boost

Plug-in Hybrids Get a Boost

Today's San Francisco Chronicle reports on the California Air Resources Board's decision to require automakers to produce more low-emissions cars such as plug-in hybrids and on the plug-ins that GM, Toyota and Ford are now testing. If you're curious about how plug-in hybrids actually achieve 100 miles per gallon, watch Plug-in Hybrid Cars, the story […]

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Wild Prices for Wild Salmon

Wild Prices for Wild Salmon

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?

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