49ers Tackle Sustainability With New Green Stadium

On Monday the 49ers take the field for their last regular season game in Candlestick Park. Though they look good for the playoffs, this is likely their last game at Candlestick, period, ending a 43-year run in the stadium.

Niners fans may miss the cold weather at Candlestick (OK, maybe not all of them will), but, in addition to Santa Clara’s balmier weather, fans can look forward to solar panels, bicycle parking and a native plant garden. Levi’s Stadium — the 49ers’ new home in Santa Clara — is being touted as the greenest stadium in the NFL.

This feature aired on KQED on 12/23/13.

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Can California Burn its Way Out of its Wildfire Problem?

A firefighter works a prescribed burn at the Shasta National Forest.(Molly Samuel/KQED)

A firefighter works a prescribed burn at the Shasta National Forest. (Molly Samuel/KQED)


The Rim Fire, which consumed more than 250,000 acres in and around Yosemite National Park this summer, is a prime example of America’s dangerous legacy of putting out too many wildfires. After a century of suppressing the flames, firefighting agencies have let the brush and small trees get so thick, that when a fire does get going, it can turn into a monster.

People who fight and study fire generally agree that one of the best tools for preventing massive wildfires is prescribed burning: intentionally setting smaller fires before the big ones hit. But there are major challenges to fighting fire with fire.

This featured aired on KQED on November 18, 2013. There are a lot more pictures from the fire I went to on the website.

Valero Rail Project Fuels Tar Sands Speculation in Bay Area

Valero, the nation’s largest oil refiner, wants to start using trains to bring crude oil to its Bay Area refinery. But the project is raising concerns about congestion, safety and air pollution in the East Bay city of Benicia – and the connection it may have to Canada’s controversial tar sands.

This aired on KQED on 8/12/13.

Battle Rages Over East Bay Wildfire Plan

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Wildfire season in California started early this year, and researchers say the fires are burning stronger because of the dry winter. The news is adding urgency to the effort to prevent fires like the 1991 Oakland Hills blaze that killed 25 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes. But a proposal to cut 100,000 eucalyptus trees or more has stirred up controversy, and now, a long-running battle over the plan is coming to a head.

This aired on KQED Science on June 24, 2013.

Airborne Lasers Yield Better Measure of California’s Water Supply

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California has had one weird winter this year: lots of snow and rain early, and almost none since January. It’s in years like this that it’s especially crucial to know just how much water to expect from melting Sierra snows — runoff that provides about a third of the state’s water supply. Current estimates combine patchy measurements with a kind of sophisticated guesswork. But that may be about to change with new technology that’s currently being tested.

This aired on KQED Science on May 13, 2013.

San Francisco’s Exploratorium is Moving, Growing — and Evolving

After forty-three years in the Palace of Fine Arts near the Golden Gate Bridge, the Exploratorium is moving to a restored pier on the Embarcadero. The move is a big experiment for the museum: how to grow into its new location, without losing the feel of its old self.

This aired on KQED Science on March 25, 2013. There are a bunch more pictures on KQED’s website.

San Francisco a Test Case for Coping with Rising Seas

(Photo: Nicholas Christen/KQED)

(Photo: Nicholas Christen/KQED)

Parts of New York and New Jersey are still reeling from Superstorm Sandy, an event that brought climate change and the threat of sea-level rise front-and-center. It’s a looming problem for all coastal cities, and one that San Francisco has been pondering since long before Sandy struck.

Along San Francisco’s western shore, the Ocean Beach Master Plan is a kind of test case for sea-rise planning. It calls for big changes, including a strategy known as managed retreat.

This aired on KQED Science on February 4, 2013.