The Science of Sustainability

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Sewage Spills Increasing

Sewage Spills Increasing

How much sewage makes its way into our water? Plenty. Statewide, it's likely that last year's record number, 20 million gallons of raw sewage dumped in California waterways, is going to be broken this year. Decrepit pipes, lack of money and the growing severity of storms could all add up to a disaster of septic proportions.

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Reporter's Notes: Sewage Spills Increasing

Reporter's Notes: Sewage Spills Increasing

The biggest problem can be the smallest thing, and that's the case in the sewer world. More than 20 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into California waterways last year, according to the state Department of Water Resources Control Board. That's not counting the partially treated sewage that makes its way into our water from overflows and sewer system malfunctions.

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High Tech in the Vineyards

High Tech in the Vineyards

When it comes to water conservation, you might want to toast some of the state's vintners. Grape growers are among the best at curbing water use and many are increasingly relying on an array of high-tech gadgetry to help them do it.

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Reporter's Notes: High Tech in the Vineyards

Reporter's Notes: High Tech in the Vineyards

Wine making is indeed an art form, but it is increasingly becoming more scientific. I knew growing wine grapes requires a lot of attention to detail — there is the terroir, pests and diseases and all those microclimates. But who would have known, driving down Hwy 29, the main thoroughfare through the Napa Valley, that many of those vineyards are totally wired.

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Make a Macro Difference with a Microdonation

Make a Macro Difference with a Microdonation

Becoming a KQED member is not for everyone. Perhaps you're not from around here. Maybe you're just not a joiner. Or you really just want to support have a specific program– like QUEST– that matters to you. We hear that. So we're trying something new. Enter the QUEST *microdonation* pilot program.

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Medicine from the Ocean Floor

Medicine from the Ocean Floor

Ever thought about using medicine from the ocean floor? Well, scientists are using robots to sort through millions of marine chemicals in hopes of finding a cure to all kinds of diseases from cholera to breast cancer. Amy Standen has more.

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Reporter's Notes: Medicine from the Ocean Floor

Reporter's Notes: Medicine from the Ocean Floor

Scientists gather samples on the ocean floor. Credit: Roger Linington.There's nothing new about looking to nature to cure disease – we've been doing it for thousands of years, with good results. (Two recent examples: The active ingredient in aspirin was first identified in the bark of the willow tree. And we have the Pacific yew […]

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Reporter's Notes: Changes at the Pump

Reporter's Notes: Changes at the Pump

You'd have to be a real gas pump aficionado to notice the new gear that gas stations across California are required to have installed by April 1. California's gas nozzles have been outfitted for some time with vapor-capture devices, designed to cut back on the amount of volatile organic compounds – those smelly fumes – that escape when you pump gas.

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Tracking Carbon through Your Cell Phone

Tracking Carbon through Your Cell Phone

A group of high school students in San Francisco are using high-tech GPS cell phones to track their daily carbon footprint – and to gauge their daily environmental risk. The GPS tracks the students' trips and shows them how much carbon they use and are exposed to each week. As cell phones become more powerful, organizers hope to spread this movement virally.

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Reporter's Notes: Tracking Carbon through Your Cell Phone

Reporter's Notes: Tracking Carbon through Your Cell Phone

"Do I get to keep the phone?"

Not exactly the environmentally-conscious line of thinking that organizers were hoping for, but understandable for those high-schoolers holding a brand new, latest version of the Nokia in their hands.

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Playing with Lead – Artifical Turf

Playing with Lead – Artifical Turf

Even in small amounts, lead can be poisonous. The California Attorney General's office is suing several manufacturers of artificial turf after lead was found in the pigment used to color it. Lead is especially harmful to children and that could be bad news around the state for anyone who has installed turf in playgrounds, soccer fields, child care centers and homes.

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Reporter's Notes: Playing with Lead

Reporter's Notes: Playing with Lead

It's easy to get scared. You look around the Oakland office of the Center for Environmental Health, and lead is everywhere. Piles of toys that are loaded with lead. Lunch boxes and kids' backpacks that have tested positive for high levels of lead. Samples of artificial turf.

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Redesigning the Bay

Redesigning the Bay

The predictions for climate change all warn that San Francisco Bay waters will rise. The latest estimate is the bay will be about 5 feet higher by the end of this century, and 16 inches higher by 2050. If the water rises high enough, a lot of expensive Bay-front property could be inundated. What can we do about it? And how do we plan for that? That's the subject of an innovative design contest that launches this week.

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Reporter's Notes: Redesigning the Bay

Reporter's Notes: Redesigning the Bay

The most recent estimate looks pretty dire. The Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), a state planning agency, says it expects San Francisco Bay to rise about 16 inches by 2050, and 55 inches by the end of the century.

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Mass Transit Housing Plan

Mass Transit Housing Plan

A single-family home with a yard and two-car garage may be the American dream for many Californians. But with real estate at a premium and traffic congestion getting worse, there is a new urban way of living that is becoming increasingly popular. Quest reports on the rise of the transit village and just why the trend has taken so long.

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Reporter's Notes: Mass Transit Housing Plan

Reporter's Notes: Mass Transit Housing Plan

Even in these difficult economic times, California's population continues to grow, and those additional people are going to need a place to live. Recent legislation in California directs city planners to make environmentally responsible choices for new housing. One way to do that is to create transit villages.

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How do you use QUEST?

How do you use QUEST?

How do you use QUEST? Take our 10 minute online survey and be entered to win a $50 Amazon certificate.

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Investigating Darwin's Legacy

Investigating Darwin's Legacy

This year marks Charles Darwin's 200th birthday. One of the iconic fossils that supports Darwin's theory of evolution is called the Archaeopteryx and it was recently flown out to Stanford University for an unusual test. Scientists are bombarding this dino-bird with high-tech gadgetry to unlock even more information about how we came to be here.

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Reporter's Notes: Investigating Darwin's Legacy

Reporter's Notes: Investigating Darwin's Legacy

This year marks the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin – and the 150th anniversary of his landmark work, "On the Origin of Species". One of the iconic fossils that supports Darwin's theory of evolution is called the Archaeopteryx.

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Putting a Price on Nature

Putting a Price on Nature

As the economy struggles, a lot of people are thinking about prices these days. That's the focus of a new project at Stanford University, too, but their aim is to put a value on something that's never had a price tag – nature.

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