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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.