climate change

Grid Guru: This Atypical Biophysicist’s Startup Helps Us Control Where Energy Comes From

Yes, it’s true that there aren’t many women in the sciences. And the reason for the gender gap is predictable: Male scientists seem to like it that way. That, at least, was the conclusion of a 2013 Yale study that found physicists, biologists and chemists are inclined to view a young male scientist more positively than a young woman with the same qualifications. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that it may be a little harder to achieve tenure or obtain research funding in such circumstances.

The Giving-Out Trees: Drought-Stressed Sequoias and Blue Oaks May Start to Vanish

Todd Dawson’s research has taken him to forests, savannas, and deserts all over the world. But his recent investigations close to the UC Berkeley campus have taken him to the edges where ecosystem types transition.

The professor of Integrative Biology has found that the blue oaks (Quercus douglasii) at Berkeley’s Blue Oak Ranch Reserve near San Jose and the giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in the Giant Forest of the Sierra Nevada are so drought-stressed that they may begin to disappear from the landscapes they currently define.

From the Winter 2014 Gender Assumptions issue of California.

Greenhouse Growing: Climate Change is Wreaking Havoc on your Meal Table

Scientists say that in the next couple of decades, as temperatures heat up and greenhouse gas levels elevate, fruit and nut harvests will not only get smaller, but many of the grains, including wheat, and other ground crops we grow will lose some of their nutrients: protein, iron, and zinc. What that means is that nutrient-dense foods such as produce, nuts, and cereal will become less plentiful and more expensive, and the changes will alter our diets—for the worse.

From the Fall 2014 Radicals issue of California.

Why is California Suffering a Record Outbreak of West Nile in Midst of Drought?

West Nile infections are spiking to record levels in California, making it the country’s hot spot for the virus. And that’s something of a conundrum, given the state’s drought. Logic would dictate that the dread mosquito-borne disease would fall off during dry periods. But mosquitoes don’t need much water to propagate, and indeed, some evidence suggests that the drought may be exacerbating the problem.

Cool Play: Innovator Aims to Combat Global Warming From the Rooftops Down

George Ban-Weiss is all about being cool: Not only does coolness figuratively define his work as a professional jazz bassist, it almost literally defines his career as a scientist.

His work was pivotal in persuading the city of Los Angeles to require this year that new and renovated residential rooftops be “cool roofs”—reflecting rather than absorbing the sun’s heat. It’s an idea that could someday spread throughout California and other sun-soaked metropolises.

What Would Buddha Do? Berkeley Econ Class Covers Supply, Demand and Enlightenment

Let the bull market for college-level economics continue. Despite its daunting math, its abstract models, and its 0-for-1 track record in predicting recent worldwide financial catastrophes, economics remains one of the top 10 college majors across the country, according to the Princeton Review. That trend certainly holds at UC Berkeley where, last fall, econ was the second only to electrical engineering and computer science as most popular major. As the fall semester approaches, expect hundreds more undergrads to flock eagerly to the “dismal science.”

Doomsday 3: California May Oscillate Between Drastic Droughts and Deluges

Editors’ Note:  The Summer 2014 issue of California magazine is called “This is the End.” Every day this week: a different catastrophic scenario.

California’s climate, long known for having a sunny, likeable disposition, is poised to become a major bad actor. As anthropogenic climate change threatens the Sierra Nevada snowpack and brings even more uncertainty to a region already prone to extreme drought and flooding, catastrophic weather events may define our future.

From the Summer 2014 Apocalypse issue of California.

Berkeley Econ Study: No Keystone XL Pipeline Keeps a Billion Oil Barrels Underground

For avid watchers of the political saga known as Keystone, it’s another cliffhanger.

Last Friday, the U.S. State Department announced it would kick the can on deciding whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, blowing past its prior May deadline and ensuring that the project will endure as a partisan talking point until well after the November midterm election.

Igniting Protest: Will UC Make History By Pulling the Plug on Fossil Fuel Investments?

When 29-year-old UC Berkeley student Ophir Bruck spotted Sherry Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount Pictures, on her way to a University of California Regents meeting, he was holding on to a key that he hoped she wouldn’t refuse.

“We’re here to call on the UC Regents to take bold action on climate change,” Bruck told Lansing last May, as she walked past 58 chanting students chained to two homemade structures designed to represent oil drilling rigs. “Will you symbolically unlock us from a future of fossil fuel dependence and climate chaos?”

Cliffs Notes for Climate Change? Science Panels Create a Primer on the Planet’s Fate

No wonder so many scientists are at their wits’ end when it comes to climate change: Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that the planet is warming—and that human activity is much to blame—the public remains skeptical. In fact, one poll indicates that nearly 2 out of 5 Americans believe global warming is just a hoax.

Not to mention that some of those climate change deniers are member of Congress.

Grass Roots Research

With news that an iceberg the size of Chicago has peeled off from Antarctica, attention has focused once again—however briefly—on global warming and the primary driver behind the phenomenon: atmospheric carbon. In other words, emissions—mostly carbon dioxide—from cars, factories, power plants, landfills and cows.

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