Green Space

A stroll through California's natural world

RECENT POSTS

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

Carbon Control: What America’s New Climate Change Offensive Looks Like

UPDATE: On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters like power plants and factories.

The Obama administration dropped the proverbial climate change bomb earlier this month when it announced a groundbreaking plan — without congressional approval — to significantly reduce the nation’s carbon emissions over the next 15 years. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains what these new rules set out to do.

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What Does Climate Change in California Look Like? [Infographic]

Includes infographic
California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

Be it torrential rains or severe droughts, huge wildfires or rising sea-levels, every corner of the United States has been — and will continue to be — impacted by the effects of human-induced climate change.

That’s the scenario presented last week by a team of scientists who described a series of sweeping environmental changes of near biblical proportions.

The government report, known as the National Climate Assessment, notes that many of these changes have resulted from an average temperature increase of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century. It warns that U.S. temperatures could increase by more than 10 degrees by the end of this century if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Continue reading

A Brief History of Earth Day

Includes videos
earth_day

Donning a gas mask, a demonstrator participates in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. (AP)


Quick quiz:

1. Which labor organization helped fund and organize the first Earth Day celebration?

2. Who said this:

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions … It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they, more than we, will wreak the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”

Keep reading for answers. Continue reading