The Science of Sustainability

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Revisiting Mandatory Recycling

Revisiting Mandatory Recycling

Until very recently Philadelphians recycled a dismal five-percent of their trash. But all that began to change a few years ago when the city stepped up its mandatory recycling program and cracked down on violators.

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Boom Times For The Recycling Industry

Boom Times For The Recycling Industry

Here's one silver lining to a slow economy: High recycling rates. Americans are wasting far less, and recycling far more. Nowhere is the trend as strong as in California. As Amy Standen reports, this change is sending ripple effects throughout the economy.

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Chemistry By Smell

Chemistry By Smell

The Lighthouse for the Blind recently held its first ever chemistry camp for blind kids. The goal is to engage blind kids in the sciences by teaching chemistry through other senses, like touch and smell.

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Supercomputers Hit an Energy Wall

Supercomputers Hit an Energy Wall

Supercomputers are becoming increasingly vital to modeling complex scientific problems. As they get bigger, they're also becoming massive energy hogs, using as much power as small cities. Now, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab are hoping reduce that energy load through an unusual source: the technology in your cell phone.

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Changes in the Carpool Lane

Changes in the Carpool Lane

At the end of this month, some hybrid drivers will lose their solo carpool privileges. Beginning July 1, only drivers of all-electric and natural gas powered cars will be allowed to drive alone in California's carpool lanes. How effective was the hybrid perk and what will be the new wave of fuel efficient hybrids that gets this special benefit?

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The Search for Alcoholism's Miracle Drug

The Search for Alcoholism's Miracle Drug

At one hospital in San Francisco, more than half of the patients in an alcohol abuse program refuse medications that could help them stop drinking. So Bay Area scientists find themselves waging two campaigns: to develop drugs that work, and to convince alcoholics to take them.

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The Science of Pain

The Science of Pain

Pain is the most common reason for trips to the doctor's office. So it makes sense that pain treatment is a huge part of our health care system, costing more than $100 billion dollars a year. But how exactly pain works is still a mystery in many ways. As Lauren Sommer reports, some researchers are trying to understand it better by looking at a very unusual creature.

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The Changing Bay

The Changing Bay

Peer into San Francisco Bay and you probably won't see much, thanks to the murky water the bay is known for. But over the past decade, scientists have made a surprising discovery — the bay's water is clearing. As Lauren Sommer reports, clearer water is not always good news.

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Chemistry By Smell

Chemistry By Smell

The idea behind Lighthouse for the Blind's chemistry summer camp was to show that chemistry isn’t just a visual science.

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Is it Time for SETI to Stop Looking?

Is it Time for SETI to Stop Looking?

Are we alone? For more than 50 years, scientists have listened for a signal from intelligent life on other planets… and come up empty. Now, they're running short of money. Is it time to give up?

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Should SETI Stop Looking?

Should SETI Stop Looking?

Of all the questions in science, few have haunted humans as persistently as this: Are we alone? For more than 50 years, scientists have listened for a signal from intelligent life on other planets… and come up empty. Now, they're running short of money. Is it time to give up?

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Spotted Owls Face New Threat

Spotted Owls Face New Threat

Spotted owls are one of the most iconic threatened species in the West. But despite two decades of work to bring them back, their numbers are still declining. That may be due in part to a new threat – not from humans, but from other owls. Lauren Sommer has the story.

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Combating Bay Invaders

Combating Bay Invaders

Hundreds of invasive species have been found in San Francisco Bay, one of the most invaded estuaries in the world. Hoping to restore native fish and wildlife, California has passed the strictest rules in the nation to prevent ocean freighters from introducing more foreign species to the bay. But as Lauren Sommer reports, the standards are so tough, officials may not be able to enforce them.

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Earthquake Warning

Earthquake Warning

When a devastating earthquake shook Japan last month, some residents knew it was coming. A series of warning signals was sent out, including over Japanese television. Scientists say we could be just a few years away from launching a similar system here in California. As Amy Standen reports, the science is here but the funding is not.

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Earthquake Early Warning: What Could We Do With 15 Seconds?

Earthquake Early Warning: What Could We Do With 15 Seconds?

What would an earthquake early warning look like?

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A California Bat Success Story

A California Bat Success Story

White-nose syndrome has devastated bat populations back east, and is steadily making its way west. Researchers are keeping close tabs on the Bay Area's 16 bat species, including one thriving colony south of Sacramento.

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How Green Is Biomass Energy?

How Green Is Biomass Energy?

California is hungry for renewable energy. Solar and wind power have taken off thanks to the state's ambitious clean energy goals. But there's another way to generate electricity — by using organic material like agricultural and tree waste. It's known as biomass power, but as Lauren Sommer reports, some say it's not as green as it seems.

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Nuclear's Future in the U.S.

Nuclear's Future in the U.S.

Japan's nuclear power crisis is renewing debate over the topic of safety at nuclear power plants. Andrea Kissack talks with two men with very different opinions on the issue: Bill Magavern, head of the Sierra Club California and Ed Morse, Professor of Nuclear Engineering at University of California, Berkeley.

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California's Historical Nuclear Meltdown

California's Historical Nuclear Meltdown

Japan’s nuclear power crisis has planted indelible memories worldwide and revived doubts about the health and safety of nuclear power. It may unsettle many to discover that California has its own partial nuclear meltdown in its past.

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Fighting Fire Where Homes and Wilderness Meet

Fighting Fire Where Homes and Wilderness Meet

In California, a state agency called CalFire is charged with fighting fire in rural areas. But over the years, the line between rural and urban has become much less clear. Governor Jerry Brown proposed to scale back CalFire and help trim the state's budget, but that proposal may go down in flames.

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