Green Space

A stroll through California's natural world

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How Much Precious California Water Did You Just Eat? Find the Water Footprint of Your Food

Courtesy LA Times

Courtesy LA Times

CORRECTION: This article originally stated that soy milk was the most water-intensive drink. The  value, as initially listed by the LA Times, was for the soybean ingredient, not the actual final soy milk product. Soy milk actually has a smaller water footprint than most other processed drinks.

Looking to minimize your water footprint at the dinner table? How about a wholesome meal of eggs, carrots, potatoes and beer?

Nutritious and downright water efficient (although perhaps not age-appropriate for the whole family).  Continue reading

How Much Water Do Californians Use and What Does 25 Percent Less Look Like?

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

Feeling a bit dry lately? It’s not just your imagination.

California is mired in its fourth year of historic drought, with snowpack in the Sierra Nevada — which supplies about a third of the state’s water — at 6 percent of the long-term April average. Continue reading

Getting Hot in Here: The Beat of California’s Four-Year Drought

Drought infographicFlorida might not like to talk about climate change, but here in drought-stricken California, the topic’s not so taboo. Mired in year four of the worst drought on record, Californians are witnessing the climate literally change before their eyes. As the state nears the end of one of the warmest, driest winters on record, with Sierra snowpack and statewide reservoir water levels at alarming lows, the evidence is pretty hard to ignore.

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Why California’s Drought is America’s Problem

Despite a few recent downpours, California remains stuck in one of the most severe statewide droughts on record.

But it’s far from just California’s problem. The state produces a huge percentage of the nation’s agriculture — nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts, by some estimates. And that requires a massive amount of water: farms here use about 80 percent of the state’s developed water supply.

Much is riding on the upcoming rainy season. Because if not enough water remains valuable for farmers to adequately irrigate their land, the impact will likely be felt far beyond the state’s borders.
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Visualizing the Inequities of Climate Change

This Carbon Map was created by Duncan Clark and Robin Houston from the design firm KILN as an entry in the World Bank’s Apps for Climate competition. Recently updated and featured on The Guardian, the map resizes the world’s geography so as to reflect the nations that are most responsible for climate change and those most vulnerable to its impacts. Click the PLAY button to see a demo. Listed below the map is a collection of additional interactive climate change resources.


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Burned Out: Why Western Wildfires Have Gotten Bigger, Hotter and More Out of Control [Comic]

The 2014 fire season was predicted to be a doozy, and so far it hasn’t failed to disappoint. Prolonged drought conditions throughout the West, felt particularly hard across the Golden State, have resulted in a string of large, destructive and extremely costly blazes, charring huge swaths of forest in Northern California and the Northwest and leaving local and federal fire prevention agencies dangerously strapped for staffing, funding and resources. As of September 4, over 38,000 fires had been reported since the beginning of 2014, burning more than 2.7 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Why has fire season gotten so much longer, more dangerous and increasingly expensive? Comic journalist Andy Warner explains the heated history. Continue reading

Interactive Earthquake Map: Get to Know Your Local Fault Lines

Mouse over this USGS earthquake map to see the names of the fault lines (in red) nearest you. Zoom in and click on the South Napa quake for more specific location data and to view a map showing the quake’s geographical intensity range. Zoom out to see the locations and sizes of other recent earthquakes around the world. View a full-screen version of the map here.

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake that rattled Napa and surrounding communities early Sunday morning was the largest to hit the Bay Area since the devastating 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989. The South Napa Earthquake, as it’s being called, struck at 3:20 a.m., causing significant damage and injuries in the immediate vicinity and waking folks up as far south as Salinas and as far north as Ukiah.

As of Monday morning, USGS scientists still hadn’t confirmed the specific fault line where the quake occurred, although the likeliest culprit is the Browns Valley section of the West Napa fault, one of the many fault lines comprising the sprawling San Andreas Fault system.

For more on the science of earthquakes, check out KQED’s free e-book.

The Chilling Effect: Why San Francisco Gets So Foggy in the Summer

Includes video and interactives

Note: This post was originally published on May 20, 2014

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Mark Twain may never have actually said it himself, but that doesn’t make the statement any less true.  Continue reading