By: Pam Kan-Rice, University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
California’s majestic oak trees have been felled by the hundreds of thousands by a disease first reported in 1995 and dubbed “sudden oak death.” To get a broader perspective on the disease, UC Berkeley scientists have developed a smartphone app for hikers and other nature lovers to report trees they find that have succumbed to sudden oak death.
While out in a park or forest, iPhone users can use the new OakMapper mobile application to report sightings of trees killed by Phytophthora ramorum, the plant pathogen that causes sudden oak death. Onsite, they can note the symptoms they see, such as seeping, bark discoloration, crown discoloration, dead leaves, shoot die-back, fungus, beetle frass and beetle bore holes. The OakMapper app, created by scientists in the UC Berkeley Geospatial Innovation Facility, uses the phone's built-in GPS to identify the participant’s location when the data is submitted.
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By: Wyatt Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle
The California Air Resources Board has approved the creation of the nation’s first broad-based program to put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and to begin charging large emitters for the excess carbon dioxide they put in the air.
After an all-day meeting on Thursday, the board voted 9-1 for the proposal, which will take effect in 2012 and means California is once again moving forward with climate-change policy while efforts on the national level have stopped.
“The comment ‘the world is watching’ is sometimes an idle comment. It’s not idle this afternoon,” said Air Resources Board member Ronald Loveridge.
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The 5,222 square foot renovation provides modern, efficient and sustainable labs that have been certified LEED Gold. The laboratory renovation project, which opened in June of 2010, renovated former office and storage spaces to create modern, efficient and sustainable laboratories for the Department of Nutritional Science & Toxicology. This project took the opportunity as the first green laboratory project on campus to involve students from the service learning class “Building Sustainability @ Cal”. Students prepared a video to educate the building occupants, campus community and public about the environmental aspects of Morgan Hall's new sustainable development, and prepared instructions to teach the lab occupants how to use their new space. Transmitting the green building goals and new behavior practices to the new lab occupants was an essential goal for the student team, as they indicated “After all, expensive infrastructure changes would be meaningless without behavioral changes”.
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By: Michael Tennesen, Scientific American
If the northern California coast gets less fog, the state's iconic redwoods may be in trouble.
The Earth's tallest trees, California redwoods, rely on characteristic coastal fog to reach their towering heights—and that fog may be diminishing, according to new research.
A study by climatologist James Johnstone and biologist Todd Dawson of the University of California, Berkeley, looked at a combination of weather station and airport data along the northern California coast where massive coastal redwood trees thrive. Because fog appears as a cloud that moves off the ocean and sits on the ground, airport monitors of the ceiling height of the clouds were particularly illuminating. The results, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences March 9, 2010, showed that the region's fog has decreased by 30 percent in the past six decades.
Continue reading "Clearing and Present Danger? Fog That Nourishes California Redwoods Is Declining" »
By: Marina Adshade, Big Think
There are two facts about HIV that are difficult to reconcile. The first fact is that the transmission rate of the disease is extremely low; the risk of being infected from an person who has the disease through vaginal intercourse is about one in a thousand or 8-12% per-partner-year.* The second fact is that the disease has an extremely high prevalence among heterosexual women in Sub-Saharan Africa; 40% of pregnant women in Botswana and 25% in South Africa are infected with the disease.
The question is then, if the transmission rate is low then how did so many young women become infected?
Continue reading "HIV Prevalence in Africa Explained by "Marital Shopping" " »
By: Jai Ranganathan, Miller-McCune
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The natural beauty of southern California is famous around the world.
But that beauty comes with a price: giant wildfires that threaten to engulf cities almost every year. How do we prevent these fires? And if the fires are a natural part of local ecosystems, will prevention efforts cause even bigger problems down the road? Into the debate steps Max Moritz, a fire ecologist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
In a recent article in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, he shows that large wildfires are an inevitable part of living in Southern California, as they are driven by powerful Santa Ana winds that can’t be stopped. He discusses what people and communities can do to prevent loss of life and property in a landscape where devastating wildfires are unavoidable.
Music for Curiouser and Curiouser is provided by Jamie Miller and by David Matheson.
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Associate Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch has received the Damu Smith Environmental Achievement Award from the Environment Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA). The award recognizes crosscutting collaborative work that has enhanced or increased understanding of economic security, ecological conservation, culture, or health. Morello-Frosch was chosen for her scientific contributions to the field of environmental health and her work in community-engaged research related to environmental justice. She received the award on November 8 at APHA's annual meeting in Denver.
Morello-Frosch's research examines race and class determinants of environmental health among diverse communities in the United States. A focus of her work is the relationship between segregation and environmental health inequalities associated with air pollution, children's environmental health, and the intersection between economic restructuring and community environmental health. Currently, she collaborates with colleagues and environmental justice organizations to research and address climate justice issues, including the social equity implications of proposed greenhouse gas reduction strategies in California associated with the AB32 Scoping Plan; and disparities in community capacity to adapt to environmental impacts of climate change. Her work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the California Environmental Protection Agency.
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