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2009 January February Effect Change

Shopping Assistant

Dara O’Rourke, associate professor in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, thought of himself as a pretty well-informed consumer. He’d spent years studying global supply chains, after all. But after learning that the sunscreen he’d been using on his daughter contained unsafe chemicals, O’Rourke decided to develop a resource that would provide readily accessible product information […]

Living with Fire

Q & A with fire ecologist Scott Stephens Years of drought across much of California brought a fast and furious start to the 2008 fire season. At one point in June, more than 2,000 fires were burning in the state. Wildfire is a natural, and vital, part of California’s ecosystems, and as more people move in […]

Exiled Home

The Guantánamo detainees who got sent back to Afghanistan endure lives in limbo. Guantánamo is the name of a bay in Cuba and the American naval base that has operated there since 1898. But since 2001, when the United States government built a detention center on the base to incarcerate the enemy as defined by the […]

Lion King: Berkeley Carnivore Research Works to Halt the Decline of African Predators

In Kenya, it seems everyone has a favorite Laurence Frank story. In his book, A Primate’s Memoir, baboon researcher Robert Sapolsky recalls encountering Frank in the Maasai Mara in southwestern Kenya. Sapolsky describes Frank as “Laurence of the Hyenas,” a wild man who stalks through the bush at night, oblivious to danger, using infrared vision […]

Beyond The Haze

China’s ambitious plan to get companies to voluntarily increase energy efficiency is the result of a 20-year relationship with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Even as my plane was landing in Jinan, the capital of China’s heavily industrialized Shandong province, I could see cranes. By the time I got to the city center I’d counted 76 more […]

Mohammed Comes to Holy Hill

Increased interest in Islamic studies has brought new programs to the Graduate Theological Union as well as to Berkeley. Back in 1962, when the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) was founded in Berkeley’s Northside neighborhood, the idea of Protestant and Catholic seminaries working together was thought to be a daring ecumenical experiment. Now, recognizing that Islam has […]

The Writers’ Guide

Oakley Hall was the most famous writer you never heard of, and one of the best writing teachers who ever lived. Plus: Warlock excerpt It was at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers’ conference five years ago that I found myself sharing a picnic bench at the staff dinner with the following literary luminaries: Michael Chabon, […]

Renovating The Past

Behind barriers, Iraqi Kurdistan beckons. Getting into Iraqi Kurdistan was a lot easier than getting out. On arrival, my suitcase passed through an X-ray machine that no one seemed to be monitoring, a man in a glass booth gave a perfunctory stamp to my passport, and that was that. To leave, however, we first had to […]

The Newest New Deal

It looks like Obamanomics will include another return to Keynes. Once upon a housing boom in the Bay Area, million-dollar studios seemed cheap. Short-order cooks were flipping condos instead of hamburgers. Every other cab driver seemed to be moonlighting as a mortgage broker. The proverbial investment-savvy shoe-shine boy—grandson, maybe, of the one whose financial advice gave […]

When in Rome

Cal Discoveries trips take you to places most tourists don’t see. It’s amazing what people learn when they travel. For example: The best way to drink vodka. “Take a scimitar, hold the blade flat between your hands, set a very large cup on the blade, fill it with vodka, slowly raise the scimitar, and bend at […]

Diseases Without Borders

Tuberculosis is easily treatable, but with millions of new cases each year—many of them drug-resistant—it remains a world-wide epidemic. Should you happen to run into Marcos Espinal, MPH ’90, Ph.D. ’95, in an airport lounge—which could happen given how much of his life he spends girdling the earth to fight tuberculosis—be prepared for a shock. He’ll […]

Cooking with Gas

Since 1988, Mark Levine, group leader of the China Energy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been doing the highly technical work of measuring and assisting China’s progress on energy efficiency. But one evening last April, he carried out his duties by fussing over his backyard BBQ. While Levine prepped the salmon, Zhou Dadi, […]