Policy

The Planet Is Suffering. How Do We Write About It?

Here’s the thing: The climate is warming, our population is growing, resource consumption is surging, and it isn’t looking so great for us—or our fellow earth-dwelling organisms. Speaking of which, the UN just released a report warning of “unprecedented” decline in environmental health and the threat of imminent extinction for some 1 million species.

I know, you’ve heard it a thousand times. Those environmental journalists just won’t leave you alone!

Out at First: What the Carmody Case Tells Us About Press Freedoms

It was more Keystone Cops than Law and Order. On May 10, wielding a sledgehammer and drawn guns, San Francisco police raided the apartment of Bryan Carmody, a freelance videographer who had leaked a police report on the death of popular and progressive public defender Jeff Adachi. The confidential account contained salacious hints of drug use and extramarital sex.

“There’s a message implicit in the denouement of this affair, and it’s this—messing with the press carries risk.”

Why Are Animals Becoming More Nocturnal?

Research out of UC Berkeley shows that animals around the world are becoming more nocturnal in response to human populations.

The study, published in the journal Science in June, found that mammals have, on average, become 1.36 times more active at night. In other words, a creature that normally would have split its activities equally between day and night, now carries out 68 percent of its activities at night, presumably in avoidance of humans.

From the Fall 2018 Culture Shift issue of California.

A Train Going Nowhere: How Can We Get U.S. Infrastructure On Track?

The news cycle is spinning with such ferocity that it may be hard to remember that it was only a couple of weeks ago that infrastructure was Topic A, with the Trump administration announcing a new initiative to fix America’s potholed roads, repair its spavined bridges, and spiff up its energy delivery systems. But even while the general focus has shifted, Berkeley engineers and public policy analysts are thinking about possible remedies to our infrastructure woes.

The SF Bay-Delta Is Invaluable. What Will Happen to It Under Trump?

The Bay-Delta, comprised of San Francisco Bay and the shared delta of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, is the largest estuary on the west coast of the continental United States. It sustains valuable salmon and Dungeness crab fisheries, supports hundreds of family farmers who work the rich peat soils of its reclaimed islands, serves as a recreational relief valve for millions of Bay Area urbanites and the main source of drinking water for around 25 million Californians.

Performance Trumps Policy: Is The Donald’s Media Presence Enough for Nomination?

Since Donald Trump announced that he was running for president this past June, he’s spread through news headlines like the Resident Evil t-Virus. Judging by the number of readers he’s attracting and supporters he’s gaining, we now appear to be a nation of Trump zombies with an insatiable hunger for his next sapid statement or offhand comment.

Feel the Burn: To Avoid Year-Round Wildfires, California Needs to Up Its Forestry Game

If you have the feeling that “wildfire season” is anything but seasonal these days, you’re right. Drought and climate change are combining to make wildfires a year-round phenomenon in the Golden State and much of the West, a trend that already is changing the character of our forests and straining government budgets.

On the Bus

The latest front in the Culture War busted wide open at the Marriot in downtown Oakland Thursday night. Those expecting the assembly of regional transportation officials and municipal bureaucrats to be a dull affair, poorly attended and governed by Robert’s Rules of Order, haven’t been paying attention to the political paroxysm stirred up by Plan Bay Area

California Water Wars, Part 2

As we reported earlier today, a forthcoming study, to be released on Monday, details the consequences—both good and bad—of the Twin Tunnels project that would divert water from the Sacramento River to farms and cities to the south. Critics say that it addresses only the concerns of contractors and agriculture, and doesn’t mention the rest of the California populace.

Guess the Next Fed Head

The econ-blogs and mainstream papers are all agog over the two candidates considered top contenders to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chief, with many setting it up as a titanic battle of East and West—coasts, that is.

In the Left Coast corner is Janet Yellen, Fed Vice Chair and Berkeley Professor Emeritus, representing right-brained California generally and Berkeley specifically—as well as the nation’s women.

The Longhorns and the Law

President Obama is messing with Texas over the state’s eagerness to change election procedures following the Supreme Court’s dumping of key provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Or rather his proxy, Attorney General Eric Holder, is doing the messin’: Earlier this week, Holder announced he had asked a U.S. court to force Texas to get approval from the feds before they start overhauling their voting regulations.

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