• Tree mortality at Bass Lake, Sierra National Forest. Source: U.S. Forest Service, Region 5

    Historical narratives drive debate over California’s forests

      The latest news release by the U.S. Forest Service reads ominously: the Sierra Nevada has over 100 million dead trees. Swathes of standing dry trees infested with insects populate the Stanislaus, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. Climate change, a five-year ...

Tree mortality at Bass Lake, Sierra National Forest. Source: U.S. Forest Service, Region 5

Historical narratives drive debate over California’s forests

  The latest news release by the U.S. Forest Service reads ominously: the Sierra Nevada has over 100 million dead trees. Swathes of standing dry trees infested with insects populate the Stanislaus, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. Climate change, a five-year drought and bark beetle attacks have together resulted in what the Forest Service has called […]

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Mystery of the Red Tide

I stood with my feet buried in sand, staring at the ocean waves as they touched the beach. It was mid-October. To my untrained eye, the Monterey Bay shoreline looked like a child’s bubble bath. To California Fish and Wildlife scientists, it was a terrible déjà vu. Nine years ago, an algal bloom wreaked havoc—and […]

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Black turban snail. Credit: Gabriel Ng

Sea Snails on Acid

Twice a day the rocky Pacific coast traps seawater in pools as the tide rolls in and out. Compared to the ocean, the puddles are so small and innocuous that it seems nothing momentous could possibly be happening there, but there is. It turns out tiny black turban snails may be getting a buzz from […]

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Olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Photo by Sukee Bennett.

How does one turtle’s tale promote ocean conservation?

I watched nearly 2,000 baby olive ridley sea turtles hatch while working on a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica. Most of them were born in our human-made hatchery from wild eggs we had relocated— each hatchling crawled and tumbled upon dozens of siblings in a sheltered plot, eager to be free. Others were […]

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Bridge damage from the Loma Prieta Earthquake.
Photo credit: Joe Lewis

Do you want insurance with that shake?

I come from the land of tornadoes in the Upper Midwest. I’ve spent nights in the basement, watched rotating clouds for much longer than was wise and picked up softball-sized hail in the aftermath of the storm. But now I live in California, land of earthquakes, and my husband and I are buying a home […]

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A firefighter checks for hot spots by the Soberanes Fire. This fire cost $250 million and is one of the costliest fires in the history of the U.S. Photo from the U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flikr.

There’s no money to fight fire with fire

In 2000, my husband’s cat made the news. The Cerro Grande Fire had chased his family from their home in Los Alamos, New Mexico but everything happened so fast that they didn’t have time to find their cat. When the cat ambled into the house a few hours later, firefighters caught him and stuffed him […]

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Battle of the bags at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Battle of the bags at Monterey Bay Aquarium California’s beloved aquarium enters the political fray Meet Makana, the only captive Laysan albatross in North America. An ambassador for her species, she takes the stage at the Monterey Bay Aquarium everyday at 1:30 sharp, helping guests understand how human-made plastics—single-use bags, straws, water bottles—can end up […]

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Peter Gleick: top water scientist doggedly pursues conservation

The man in the shirt and tie with thin-rimmed glasses, a graying beard, and slightly tousled hair spoke with confidence and carefully chosen words. He was being interviewed on “Inside Story,” a TV news program on Al-Jazeera America, at its San Francisco studio. The segment, called “Poor People’s Water,” aired in late January and focused […]

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Under Lock and Chain Photo Credit: Pictures of Money via Flickr.

Medical advances yield ethical quagmire: Does NIH research ban protect or harm?

Lately it seems like the field of biomedical research has been incessantly presenting society with a whirlwind of game changing medical advances. Among other exciting recent developments, scientists have used 3-D printing to implant an artificial trachea in a sick infant, retinal prostheses have restored rudimentary sight to patients with degenerative vision loss, and scientists […]

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