The Science of Sustainability

Environment

It's Not Easy Going Green

It's Not Easy Going Green

Many Bay Area cities are trying to clean up their acts by putting in place new green initiatives. But from San Jose to Berkeley, some city leaders are finding out it's not always so easy to turn over a new leaf.

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Seed banking: saving both agri- and -culture

Seed banking: saving both agri- and -culture

It's more than the genes that feed us. Some have dubbed it the "doomsday vault"; others, taking a more positive tone, call it a repository of biodiversity. However you look at it, the Global Seed Vault is a fortress. Buried under almost 500 feet of Arctic permafrost, secured against bomb blasts, earthquakes, and potential thieves, […]

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Spring Dating Tips from the Plant Kingdom

Spring Dating Tips from the Plant Kingdom

It's almost spring: time for sultry nights, birds, bees, renewal and the sweet promise of new love. For us humans, that might mean flirty skirts, a new perfume, a dapper new hat or hip hair cut, all in the hopes of attracting a new, or very old and loyal, perfect mate. Plants also feel the […]

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Exploring Alum Rock Park

Exploring Alum Rock Park

Just a few minutes outside of San Jose, you'll find a place to explore 100 million years of history. Alum Rock Park, created in 1872 as the first municipal park in California, offers both ancient rocks and new geologic changes (and lots of nice trails and wildlife, too). Despite its longevity and proximity to a populous urban area, it remains one of the less-visited jewels in the Bay Area's crown.

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$15 per gallon of gas… coming soon?

$15 per gallon of gas… coming soon?

What will life be like when gasoline reaches $15 per gallon? We may have to slow down our too-often fast paced and frenetic lifestyles—a blessing in disguise? That's the question asked of a group of scientists, sociologists, others, and myself who gathered at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) Summer Study in […]

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Stamping out the Apple Moth

Stamping out the Apple Moth

A tiny moth, new to California, is at the center of a controversy pitting state officials against Bay Area residents and politicians. The Light Brown Apple Moth is seen as a threat to California crops. Now the State Department of Food and Agriculture is planning to spray a synthetic hormone over Bay Area neighborhoods this […]

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Stamping out the Apple Moth

Stamping out the Apple Moth

The Light Brown Apple Moth is seen as a threat to California crops. Now the State Department of Food and Agriculture is planning to spray a synthetic hormone over Bay Area neighborhoods this summer to stop the moth from reproducing, but some angry residents are worried it would be unsafe.

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Quest Picks: Bay Area connections to the South Pole

Quest Picks: Bay Area connections to the South Pole

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station As the sun shines and the air warms in the Bay Area, take a moment to consider a place where it's always cold–the South Pole. Thanks to some local folk, we can get a taste of the science at the bottom of the earth without leaving balmy San Francisco. Berkeley graduate […]

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Where have all the salmon gone?

Where have all the salmon gone?

Run down Recent news headlines have been full of Chinook salmon, but sadly the same cannot be said of Central Valley waterways. This fall, only about 90,000 Central Valley Chinook salmon returned to their home rivers and streams to spawn, down from more than 800,000 just a few years ago. Like most salmon, Central Valley […]

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Building to Beat Climate Change and Save Energy

Building to Beat Climate Change and Save Energy

Low winter light over the town of Iqaluit, the capitol of Nunavut,Canada. Photo by Bill Semple, architect and senior researcher at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.I recently heard Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist, speak at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab about his soon to be published new book, Green: The New Red, White […]

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Reporter's notes: Sewage Happens

Reporter's notes: Sewage Happens

photo courtesy of the San Francisco Public Utilities CommissionWe’d had "aging infrastructure" on our story lists for some time when we first heard about the sewage spills in Mill Valley. When news came in that not just one, but two sewage spills had poured five million gallons of partially treated wastewater into Richardson Bay, we […]

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Sewage Happens

Sewage Happens

Last month, a Mill Valley wastewater treatment plant dumped five million gallons of sewage into the San Francisco Bay. The real shocker: Sewage spills happen all the time, even in the eco-conscious Bay Area.

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Gleaning scientific observations from ancient myths

Gleaning scientific observations from ancient myths

I had the privilege this week of interviewing Isabel Hawkins, an astronomer and director of the Center for Science Education at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory. We talked about how people use evidence in science, how it is that we know what we know. Hawkins isn't your ordinary astronomer. She began her career in an ordinary […]

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Reporter's Notes: Designer Biofuels

Reporter's Notes: Designer Biofuels

Concern over global warming and rising gas prices has just about everyone, including presidential candidates, touting biofuels. Taking the energy from plants to make a gasoline alternative that can run our cars has great promise. But there are challenges to meeting the nation’s goal to replace 20 per cent of the nations annual gasoline consumption […]

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Your Photos on QUEST TV – Call for Submissions

Your Photos on QUEST TV – Call for Submissions

View our original YPOQ pilot featuring photographer Russ MorrisDo you love photographing Science, Environment and Nature in Northern California? Would you like to collaborate on a 2-minute QUEST TV short about your photography for an audience of over 100,000 viewers? We're launching a call for submissions for our new series of TV shorts, "YPOQ: Your […]

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The Right to Sunlight:  Solar vs. Redwood Trees

The Right to Sunlight: Solar vs. Redwood Trees

In Silicon Valley, a battle between neighbors has turned into a different kind of face off: solar energy versus trees. It turns out that growing redwood trees can actually be a crime in California, if they block solar panels… as one couple in Sunnyvale found out the hard way. David Gorn reports.

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Discovery of a New Species: A Giant Elephant-Shrew

Discovery of a New Species: A Giant Elephant-Shrew

newly discovered Rhynchocyon udzungwensis the grey-faced sengiAlthough enigmatic new species of insects are fairly common discoveries, many large animals have already made an appearance on the species list. Charismatic animals such as mammals are one of the most documented on the planet and it is now very rare to find a new species in this […]

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Live! from the Green Carpet

Live! from the Green Carpet

January and February are exciting months for movie buffs like me. And no, I'm not referring to Golden Globes, Oscar nominations, or Screen Actors Guild awards. I'm talking about two wonderful "green" film festivals, both right here in our own watershed: the recent Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival in Nevada City, and the San […]

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Answering the Call of the Wild

Answering the Call of the Wild

Why cell phones are bad for gorillas and how Eco-Cell is helping. Got a cell phone? Then in your pocket or stuck to your ear is a metallic ore called Coltan, short for Columbite-tantalite, a vital component in the capacitors that control current flow in cell phone circuit boards. Your i-pod, laptop, DVD player and […]

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Who Controls Your Thermostat? Part 2

Who Controls Your Thermostat? Part 2

No, this is not Big Brother. Credit: Jim GunshinanThe answer to the question, Who controls your thermostat?, which I raised in an earlier post, is now clearly answered. You control your thermostat! The California Energy Commission (CEC) was to require, as part of the 2008 Title 24 building standards, that all new homes be outfitted […]

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