The Science of Sustainability

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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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Fighting Fire Where Homes and Wilderness Meet

Fighting Fire Where Homes and Wilderness Meet

One idea for closing the state budget gap proposes trimming funds for Cal Fire, the state fire-fighting agency.

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The Science of Snow

The Science of Snow

It's been a harsh winter across the US. Snow has blanketed the Sierra Nevada, where the snowpack is well above normal. Lots of snow means good skiing, but it also means an increased danger of avalanches. Lauren Sommer travels to Lake Tahoe where researchers are trying to understand the inner workings of snow a little bit better.

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The Heroic Imagination Project

The Heroic Imagination Project

40 years ago, Stanford psychology professor Phillip Zimbardo's notorious Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrated how good people can do evil things. Now, his "Heroic Imagination Project" takes those lessons to an Oakland high school to see if heroes can also be made.

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Can Heroes Be Made?

Can Heroes Be Made?

If there is one thing Stanford Professor Phillip Zimbardo is known for, it's that normal people can be turned into sadists. Can he leave a more optimistic legacy and prove the opposite to be true?

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Land Preservation on the Chopping Block

Land Preservation on the Chopping Block

For more than four decades, much of California's ranchland has been protected by the Williamson Act. But with the state's budget woes, its funding is threatened – and that has both ranchers and environmentalists concerned.

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Local Cheese Makers Fear a Raw Deal

Local Cheese Makers Fear a Raw Deal

After a series of high-profile recalls, the FDA says it's reconsidering rules that allow cheese makers to use unpasteurized milk in their products. That could mean big changes in Northern California, which has become a hub of artisanal cheese making.

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Local Cheese Makers Fear a Raw Deal

Local Cheese Makers Fear a Raw Deal

Pasteurization may kill microbes like e.coli, but, they say, it also kills a cheese’s terroir, the unique taste associated with a particular place.

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A Happy Medium For Solar

A Happy Medium For Solar

Solar power is booming in California. Last year, state officials approved an unprecedented amount of new solar energy. But large solar farms and small home rooftop installations have run into challenges. As Lauren Sommer reports, that's why a new sector of solar is emerging — one that benefits from being in the middle.

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How CFLs Got Their Bad Rap

How CFLs Got Their Bad Rap

This month begins America's long goodbye to the incandescent light bulb. The most common replacement bulbs, CFLs, are just as bright and warm-colored as the old incandescents. So why do so many people complain about them?

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How CFLs Got Their Bad Rap

How CFLs Got Their Bad Rap

CFLs — maligned for their industrial color and low-quality manufacturing — deserve better.

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Goodbye to the Bevatron

Goodbye to the Bevatron

With the demolition of the Bevatron, a chapter of the Bay Area's high-level physics research comes to a close.

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