Science + Health

Berkeley Lab Finds Ingredients for Life—In Meteorites

Twenty years ago, two chunks of rock plummeted from space. One landed in Texas in March, only yards away from a children’s basketball game. The other hit the ground in Morocco five months later. At the time, no one guessed that the meteorites carried some very unique passengers: crystals embedded with clues to the origins of life on Earth.

From the Spring 2018 Edibles and Potables issue of California.

Will the EPA Really Trump California’s Fuel Standards?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decreed a roll-back of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles, benefitting automakers and oil companies while predictably enraging environmentalists. In making the announcement, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt declared the CAFE (for Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards set by the Obama administration were too high and “didn’t comport with reality.”

Deep Water in Deep Trouble: Can We Save California’s Drying Aquifers?

It may not be a true meteorological “March Miracle,” but it’s close enough for government work, as government workers are wont to say.  The series of storms that have battered California in recent weeks have pumped up the snowpack in the Sierra and swelled streams at lower elevations. And it looks like we could be in for a last wet gasp from the Pacific, with a fairly robust front poised to dump rain and snow mid-week. For a state that still teeters on drought despite last year’s extraordinarily wet rainy season, that’s good news.

We’re Not on OxyContin Anymore, Toto

Perry Solomon is used to people extolling the virtues of medical cannabis.

Dr. Solomon is the chief medical officer of HelloMD, a website that bills itself as one of the nation’s largest online medical cannabis communities. Over the past five years, the site has issued more than 70,000 recommendations for patient cannabis use in the state of California alone. And 65 percent of those recommendations, Solomon says, have been for pain.

From the Spring 2018 Edibles and Potables issue of California.

Back to the Land: Richard Sanford and the Tao of Pinot Noir

Richard Sanford graduated from Berkeley in 1965, served a combat tour in Vietnam, and by 1971 found himself working from a mossy old barn near Lompoc with no plumbing or electricity.

A geographer by training, the Navy veteran was engaged in an improbable quest—transforming the barn and adjoining bean fields into a classic, Burgundian-style vineyard.

From the Spring 2018 Edibles and Potables issue of California.

After Heavy Snowfall, a Massive Rainstorm Hits California: What You Need to Know

Water managers and hydrologists are a mite worried. The good news is that the recent cold storms dumped a lot of new snow in the Sierra. That will help keep reservoirs charged and Californians adequately hydrated through the coming year. But there’s a literal dark cloud counterbalancing that silver lining—a massive “atmospheric river,” aka the Pineapple Express, now poised to wallop California.

Could the Feds Bigfoot California Over Water?

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent lawsuit against the State of California over immigration isn’t just about immigration, of course. More fundamentally, it’s about the limits of states’ rights. The move could be a harbinger of other attempts by the Trump administration to muscle obstreperous states that don’t conform to its agenda. And that begs the question: in what other areas could the feds trump, so to speak, California policies?

Study: Rising Seas Are Quickly Sinking Bay Area Landfill Zones

UC Berkeley researchers have cautioned for some time that climate change-driven sea level rise will inundate much of the Bay Area’s low-lying regions, but a new study indicates the threat is particularly acute for landfill developments such as Treasure Island and Foster City.

The California Timber Battles Shift to New Grounds

California’s Lost Coast isn’t that hard to find—just drive south on a narrow, twisting road from the Humboldt County town of Ferndale. The landscape is extreme in its beauty, wending across ridge top meadows that plunge eastward to forested gorges and roll to the cobalt blue Pacific to the west. The route skirts miles of deserted beach where the only sound is the lapping of gentle surf and the cries of seabirds, and finally tracks through Petrolia, a tiny settlement on the Mattole River.

Pot of Gold: A Former Silicon Valley Executive Turns to Weed Farming

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Cultivating some dynamite weed, that is. In 2015, UC Berkeley grad, former Daily Cal photographer, and superstar digital engineer Mike Lovas purchased a 70-acre farm near Brandon, Oregon, with his wife, Donna, and his stepson, Nick. Their goal: sustainable and, they hoped, profitable agriculture. The first part was relatively easy, they say.

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