Author Archives: Krissy Clark

War of Watts: Neighbors Compete for Lowest Energy Use

Pitting neighbors against one another isn’t always a bad it?

Hear the companion radio feature to this post on KQED’s The California Report.

“Keeping Up With the Joneses,” the 1920s-era comic strip that inspired the catch-phrase of the same name, is a classic reminder of the ridiculous lengths we sometimes go to just to impress our neighbors. The need to “keep up” has driven plenty of neighborhoods into frenzies of conspicuous consumption—fueling spending sprees on everything from pink socks and fur-lined miniskirts, to microwaves and McMansions.  But can that same impulse really inspire a trend in “non-consumption?”

According to a growing body of research [PDF download] by environmental economists and behavioral psychologists, the answer is a resounding: Yes! Here are some of interesting nuggets to come out of that research. Continue reading

Blame My Driving Habits on that Parking Spot

Being the true confessions of a solo driver in L.A.

Hear Krissy Clark’s companion radio feature from The California Report.

Afternoon rush hour with a mostly-empty HOV lane

I’m a Bay Area native who has about evenly divided my adult life between San Francisco and Los Angeles. So, I have a schizophrenic relationship to driving. Which is to say, I have the same kind of relationship that California as a whole has to driving.

Here’s what I’ve learned during my intra-state sojourns: my transportation habits have very little to do with how environmentally conscious I am as a person, and have a lot to do with parking spots.

When I lived in San Francisco, my daily life was 90% car-free. I owned a car but aside from moving it on street sweeping days (or trying to remember to), I barely thought about the thing unless I was leaving for a weekend trip. My bike, my feet, the bus, BART and the transbay ferries were my chariots. Some of it had to do with the city’s human-scaled streets and efficient public transit. But mostly, it was just too damn time-consuming–or expensive–to find a parking spot most of the places I wanted to go. I couldn’t be bothered to drive. Continue reading

Imperial Valley Confronts its Water Future

Peter Osterkamp hopes his generation of farmers isn't the last in the Imperial Valley. (Photo: Krissy Clark)

Clichés about water in California can seem more abundant than the water itself these days.  But that doesn’t make the clichés any less true.

There’s that Mark Twain saw about how “whiskey is for drinkin’ and water is for fightin’,” and the line about how water flows uphill toward money.  And then there’s the time Twain fell into a California river and “came out all dusty.”

All those quips seemed fairly dead-on when I was down in the desert of southeastern California recently.  I was reporting for two radio stories on how Imperial Valley farmers are facing the double wallop of an eleven-year drought (and counting) in the Colorado River basin, and the expected effects of climate change.  Recent models suggest that Lake Mead — the giant reservoir that stores Colorado River water for Imperial farmers and much of the Southwest — has a 50% chance of drying up in the next 50 years.  Talk about dusty.  And because the Colorado is so over-allocated already, no water is left by the time the river reaches — make that attempts to reach — the Colorado delta in Mexico.  More dust. Continue reading