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Sustainability Science
How might we keep the lights on, water flowing, and natural world vaguely intact? It starts with grabbing innovative ideas/examples to help kick down our limits and inspire a more sustainable world. We implement with rigorous science backed by hard data.
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California’s New Fracking Regulations Delayed Half a Year

California’s New Fracking Regulations Delayed Half a Year | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
State lawmakers approved the delay in late June, and at the same time tightened up the environmental review process for fracking permits.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Our new regulations/enhanced review of fracking wells in California are being delayed slightly to make the process more unified and cohesive.

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New carpool lane on northbound 405 finally set to open

New carpool lane on northbound 405 finally set to open | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

After countless delays, cost overruns, gridlock gripes from Tesla's Elon Musk and a phenomenon known as "Carmageddon," officials Friday will finally unveil on the 405 Freeway the nation's longest continuous carpool lane.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

Wow...it only took a billion dollars, a decade of active planning/construction (on top of our twenty previous years of discussions), unions screaming for the "high paying jobs" the construction would provide, beyond aggravated motorists, etc., etc.

 

Who says we can't do overpriced, car-centric, gasoline-centric, dated-before-it-launches transportation planning?

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Bill banning fracking in California passes first committee

Bill banning fracking in California passes first committee | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
A bill that would temporarily ban the oil and gas drilling procedure known as fracking in California was approved at its first state legislative committee hearing on Tuesday.
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WaterSmart software for a more water-wise lifestyle

WaterSmart software for a more water-wise lifestyle | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
WaterSmart Software, a small startup in San Francisco, is working with local water districts in California and other states to transform meter data into easy-to-understand home water reports that are mailed directly to homeowners or made accessible via the Web and mobile devices.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

New apps to make us more water efficient.

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Why Distant Dust Storms Matter to California Rainfall

Why Distant Dust Storms Matter to California Rainfall | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Scientists are finding that dust storms in Asia and Africa influence how much snow falls in the Sierra Nevada. The research could help make weather forecasting more accurate and improve how California manages its water supply.
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California Salmon Will Get a Free Ride to the Ocean—In Tanker Trucks

California Salmon Will Get a Free Ride to the Ocean—In Tanker Trucks | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
If the salmon won't come to the ocean, then the ocean will come to the salmon. Well, not quite: Tanker trucks will take them there. Such are the extreme measures in California this spring, as drought forces major salmon hatcheries to funnel their fish into tanker trucks and ride them straight to the Pacific.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

No drought = no water = no fish.

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PIRatE Lab's curator insight, March 14, 8:34 AM

Is the fact that we need to move our salmon via trucks instead of rivers (er...I mean the few rivers that aren't dammed up) a sign that something wrong?

 

Yep.

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Current Issue

Current Issue | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Placing Science-Based Tools in the Hands of Land and Resource Managers Planning for Climate Change
The timeline for impacts of climate change and sea level rise on Pacific coast wildlife refuges, Sierra habitats, state parklands, and federal forests gives us a few decades of wiggle room, but the time is now, not later, to make adjustments so species and landscapes can adapt, says Debra Schlafmann of the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative. This special 8-page progress report describes half a dozen projects providing just the kind of maps, data, models, and other information resource managers need to address this global challenge locally on the ground.

 
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Great magazine.  Scroll down to see the special section on Cal LCC

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Why give away fish flows for free during a drought?

Why give away fish flows for free during a drought? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
By Jay Lund, Ellen Hanak, Barton “Buzz” Thompson, Brian Gray, Jeffrey Mount and Katrina Jessoe With California in a major drought, state and federal regulators will be under pressure to loosen envi...
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California positively gets a negative from Tesla on battery factory

California positively gets a negative from Tesla on battery factory | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

California loves Tesla Motors.

 

The Palo Alto electric car maker's Model S sedan is the state's new eco-luxury status symbol. Californians bought more than a third of Teslas sold globally last year. Residents of the state pack the order list for Tesla's next offering, a sport utility vehicle.

 

California pollution-control policies enable Tesla to rake in tens of millions of dollars each year from selling environmental credits to other automakers — a key source of Tesla's revenue.

 

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Tesla: from the brink of bankruptcy to "auto-pilot" cars

Tesla: from the brink of bankruptcy to "auto-pilot" cars | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
If anyone needed a reminder of just how far Tesla Motors has come in very short period of time, CEO Elon Musk provided it Thursday. Speaking at a panel discussion in San Francisco, he told the audi...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Not new news, but a good overview piece/perspective for folks who are looking for evidence that we need continued vigilance/acceptable risk with regards to new technologies.

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Huge Solar Farms On California’s Public Lands Could Power 170,000 Homes

Huge Solar Farms On California’s Public Lands Could Power 170,000 Homes | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

The Obama administration on Wednesday announced that it has given final approval to two sizable solar projects on public lands near the Nevada-California border, which when operational are expected to provide a combined 550 megawatts of renewable energy, or enough to power about 170,000 homes and create 700 jobs.


Via Organic Social Media
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Interesting framing: public land-producing fossil fuels or public land producing renewable energy.

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Organic Social Media's curator insight, February 27, 8:31 AM

Huge Solar Farms On California’s Public Lands Could Power 170,000 Homes via @EcoWatch

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Drought: Feds cut water to Central Valley farmers to zero

Drought: Feds cut water to Central Valley farmers to zero | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Central Valley farmers took a crippling blow Friday when U.S. officials made the unprecedented announcement that they would get no irrigation water from the federal government this year because of the drought. California's unusually dry weather is forcing producers of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains to make tough decisions about which crops to plant, and which ones not to plant due to a lack of water, leaving harvests that are likely to fall short of demand. A recent estimate by an industry group, the California Farm Water Coalition, suggested that as much as 600,000 acres of land, or about 8 percent of the state's total, could be left fallow in the coming year. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Friday that meager snow and rain in the Sierra Nevada means they won't be able to provide farmers any of the water they normally receive from the federally run system of reservoirs and canals fed by mountain runoff. Farmers still reelingWhile the announcement wasn't unexpected, it was more bad news for an agricultural industry in California that is the nation's most valuable, and is still reeling from last year's low water allocations. Residents and business in many communities also rely on the state and federal water projects, as do wildlife such as sensitive fish populations. In the San Joaquin Valley, the state's most productive agricultural region, many growers have already ceased planting winter crops such as broccoli, tomatoes and lettuce because of the drought.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

I very much like this photo at the header of this story.  It says so much: "Congress Created Dust Bowl."

 

When the rhetoric is turned to folks who are not directly to blame (well, okay, they partly funded most of the infrastructure that created the modern gland that is the Central Valley of California...but leaving that aside), you know you are in for a wild ride and a "battle" of falsehoods.  

 

Why are we in this situation?  Perhaps because we drained the hell out of one of the most impressive and vast wetland-wet meadow ecosystems on earth.  We got the water out of there to create farming land.  Then we literally re-plumbed the entirety of the western United States to supply abundant water to cities, suburbs, and farms in California and beyond.  The insane irrigation patterns of past decades have created something of a salty mess in much of our topsoils (requiring even more water to rid the soils of these contaminants).  The farmers (and we who ate their bounty) were the prime beneficiaries of this water wind fall. 

 

This unusual weather pattern (see   https://vimeo.com/87351461) is at the core of both the intense winter back east and the lack of moisture here in California.  While the jury will remain out for some time, it appears quite likely to many of us that climate change has at least a partial hand in all of this (if not a tight grip).  So we can all thank ourselves for this situation in which we find ourselves.  It is nice and easy to point a finger at congress, but the reality is that we all had a hand in this.  Just perusing the landscape around that "dust bowl" sign will tell you how deviant the central valley is from what anyone might call "natural."  And how far we are from an easy landing to this crisis.

 

Surviving this whole mess will be difficult.  Not all will make it.  But we must begin by facing reality.  No one here is a demon.  And no one is a saint.

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Water-Cleaning Technology Could Help Farmers

Water-Cleaning Technology Could Help Farmers | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
A project developed by WaterFX, a start-up in drought-stricken California, exploits two things the Central Valley possesses in abundance — fallow land and sunshine — to cut desalinization costs.
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These Are the Streets You Want to Avoid When You're Riding Your Bike

These Are the Streets You Want to Avoid When You're Riding Your Bike | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Whether you're a commuter or a leisure rider, when you head out on your bicycle you want to be safe. That could mean wearing a helmet, making sure your bike's tuned up, or avoiding the streets where the most bicycle crashes happen. That last part just got a little easier, thanks to these data-derived maps by You Are Here.
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Air quality regulators give truckers more time to meet smog standards

Air quality regulators give truckers more time to meet smog standards | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
A day after hearing hours of impassioned testimony from a divided trucking industry, California air quality regulators on Friday postponed deadlines for aging heavy-duty trucks to comply with the nation's toughest diesel air pollution rules.
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Mercury News editorial: California should embrace breakthrough on groundwater protection

Mercury News editorial: California should embrace breakthrough on groundwater protection | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Water agencies are proposing serious regulations to protect the state's groundwater from over pumping in drought years like this, and the Legislature needs to seize the moment.
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California’s water system faces a funding drought: New PPIC report says resources and reforms needed

California’s water system faces a funding drought:  New PPIC report says resources and reforms needed | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
New PPIC Report highlights the resources and reforms needed for rural communities, flood protection, stormwater pollution, and aquatic ecosystems From the Public Policy Institute of California: "Ca...
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California Drought News: Thirsty almonds and higher prices

California Drought News: Thirsty almonds and higher prices | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Today's journey through the drought reveals the growing impacts on California's all-important agricultural sector. But renewable energy offers a bright spot.
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Californians grow less reliant on cars, survey finds

Californians grow less reliant on cars, survey finds | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Californians aren't depending quite as heavily on cars for commutes and errands as they did a decade ago, according to a new survey by Caltrans .
PIRatE Lab's insight:

When you give people the right incentives, they will abandon cars.

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The ultimate California water cheat sheet

The ultimate California water cheat sheet | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
There's only so many acre-feet of water jargon the public can absorb during a drought. Here's a primer that avoids wading into cubic-feet-per-second, appropriative water rights, overdraft, conjunct...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Our golden state's plumbing.

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Judge: California water managers didn't consider ecological impacts of running huge water bank

Judge: California water managers didn't consider ecological impacts of running huge water bank | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
SAN FRANCISCO - A state judge ruled Wednesday that California water managers failed to consider the environmental impacts of running one of the nation's largest water banks.
Updated: 3/5/14 11:09 pm

Via Donald Rodriguez
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In California, drought plays out unexpectedly.

In California, drought plays out unexpectedly. | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
As California suffers through a three-year drought, residents of semiarid Southern California are mostly being asked to voluntarily conserve water. In typically wetter Northern California, residents are faced with mandatory rationing.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Northern vs. Southern California preparations.

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Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. to renewable energy

Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. to renewable energy | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Online interactive map reveals the optimal wind, solar and water energy resources in each state.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

A potential path to sustainable electricity generation.

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California Startup Turns Old Wind Turbines Into Gold | InsideClimate News

California Startup Turns Old Wind Turbines Into Gold | InsideClimate News | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The sprawling hills of California's Altamont Pass are covered in thousands of wind turbines nearly three decades old. But many of those aging models are coming down as wind developers replace them with a smaller number of giant, more powerful turbines. For Rick Koebbe, the switch spells opportunity.

Via Anita Woodruff
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Desalination destroys the environment and isn't a quick fix for Southern California's water woes

Desalination destroys the environment and isn't a quick fix for Southern California's water woes | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club welcomes your participation in its century of involvement in the enjoyment and protection of our planet's environment. The Angeles Chapter spans Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Southern California, with an extensive program of hikes/hiking, national and international travel, local conservation campaigns, political action, and programs for people of all ages.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

While many of these concerns and points are valid, this may well be fighting a battle that is already over.  With places like Santa Barbara with effectively reserves remaining and no other possible source of water other than desalination, the writing is on the wall.

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