The Science of Sustainability

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Reporter's Notes: Swine Flu and You

Reporter's Notes: Swine Flu and You

As this story is being produced, the reports on swine flu are changing hourly. Cases are popping up closer and closer to home, and the CDC is updating several times a day on the spread of the virus, and plans to fight it. The $64,000 question is how worried we should be.

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Let's Weatherize

Let's Weatherize

It's easy to get excited about installing solar panels on our houses, but most of us could significantly cut our energy bills for less with a simple trip to Home Depot. Thanks to the new federal stimulus package, $411 million is coming to California to help the state's buildings become more energy efficient.

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Reporter's Notes: Let's Weatherize!

Reporter's Notes: Let's Weatherize!

Since people seem to nod off a bit when I say I'm working on a story about energy efficiency, I've had to re-tool my pitch. "It's a story about how installing solar panels or a wind turbine is the last thing you should do to green your house," I say, perhaps a little over-dramatically.

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Goodbye to the Bevatron

Goodbye to the Bevatron

For the last 18 years, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has had the physics equivalent of a rusty pickup truck parked in its front yard. Now, the 1950s era Bevatron is being demolished, and a chapter in the Bay Area's history of high level physics research comes to a close.

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Goodbye to the Bevatron

Goodbye to the Bevatron

For the last 18 years, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has had the physics equivalent of a rusty pickup truck parked in its front yard. Now, the 1950s era Bevatron is being demolished, and a chapter in the Bay Area's history of high level physics research comes to a close.

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Reporter's Notes: Goodbye to the Bevatron

Reporter's Notes: Goodbye to the Bevatron

Much as I tried to get Stewart Loken to wax poetic about the demise of the Bevatron, the truth is that he – and, I'll bet, a lot of scientists – just don't think that way.

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Reporter's Notes: California at the Tipping Point

Reporter's Notes: California at the Tipping Point

The conventional wisdom is that a warming planet means more wildfires–and in many cases the conventional wisdom is right. But globally it's a more complex question.

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Smart Grid at Home

Smart Grid at Home

President Obama's stimulus plan set aside billions for clean energy. Funding will go to some familiar projects — like wind and solar power — and to some not so familiar ones, like the smart grid. So what is the smart grid? And how will it affect your home energy use?

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Reporter's Notes: Smart Grid at Home

Reporter's Notes: Smart Grid at Home

I've never paid much attention to my electric meter. For most of us, it's just that box on the side of the house with a small white disk spinning inside, keeping track of our energy use. But over the next three years, all the meters for PG&E customers will be getting a major upgrade to a new, digital SmartMeter.

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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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