Tags >> Science
May 27
2009

Historic Ecology

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , technology , Science , resources , planning , parks , open space , Napa , history , government , environment , conservation

Bruce Robinson

We tend to think of history as a record of human activity, but a natural landscape also has a history all it's own, which is what is studied in the new field called historic ecology.

 

 The San Francisco Estuary Institute's study of the Napa River ecosystem  was a project that brought together a wide alliance of stakeholders, notes Robin Grossinger (right), and developed information that could be used for multiple purposes.

 

May 19
2009

In Darwin's Footsteps

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , tourism , speaker , Science , religion , ocean , history , education , birds , author , animals

Bruce Robinson

The world has changed in many ways in the 150 years since Charles Darwin published "The Origin of Species." But much remains the same on the Galapagos Islands that inspired his famous theory.  

 

 

 

 

SSS Professor Matt James  returned to the Galapagos Islands earlier this year to recreate the 1905-06 collecting expedition mounted by the San Francisco Academy of Sciences. One of their main goals, even then, was to preserve evidence of the endangered Galapagos tortoise, which, he explains, had been hunted to near extinction by 19th century sea-farers.

 

Charles Darwin's enduring reputation rests on his theory of natural selection, but prior to that, his greater interest was geology, which he exercised extensively during the early years of the voyage of the Beagle, which arrived at the Galapagos (below) late in its five-year global mapping and collecting expedition.

 

 

 

 

Darwin's finches may be the best-known exemplars of divergent natural selection in the Galapagos islands, but SSU professor Matt James reports that finding was nearly missed, due to Darwin's own sloppy sample-gathering.

 

 

 


 

 

Apr 19
2009

Sun Train

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , technology , Science , Santa Rosa , policy , planning , news , Marin , jobs , Ideas , government , environment , economy , design , construction , climate change , carbon , business , author , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

 The North Bay is finally on its way to getting passenger rail service rolling again. But what if it used solar and hydrogen fuel cell technology to be non-polluting and carbon-free?

 

This artist's conception of a future Sun Train was drawn by David Vasquez, who used it as the cover illustration for his book, Mr. Swan's Big Idea, which details and sets out a case for this forward-looking  update of passeger rail travel. He notes that building a new rail system is an expensive undertaking, but Vasquez urges putting the costs into perspective by comparing them highway construction.

America has a proud history of rail service reaching back more than a century, notes David Vasquez (right), but much of that has been forgotten as other modes of transportation took precedence.

 

Mr. Swan's Big Idea  is built on the concepts developed by architect and rail advocate Christopher Swann (left) , whose on recent book, Electric Water, concentrates on his vision of a future hydrogen-based economy.

   David Vasquez will present a multi-media slideshow about the Sun Train concept at Aqus Cafe in Petaluma , on Wednesday, April 22, 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

 

 

Apr 16
2009

Wave Power

Posted by Bruce Robinson in technology , Sonoma , Science , resources , planning , ocean , Ideas , government , fish , environment , design , coast , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

 The Sonoma County Water Agency is taking a close look at the energy-producing potential of wave power off the Sonoma County coast.

 The first step in the process of determining the potential for wave power energy off the Sonoma County coast is conducting a series of baseline studies of the possible locations for such facilities. That, explains Cordell Stillman, SCWA's Capital Projects Manager, is what these federal permits will enable.

The "sea snake" seen at left  is one type of wave power generator already installed and operating off the northern coast of Portugal. Several others are also in development, including the "aquabouy" shown below.

 

Preliminary estimates suggest that wave power off the Sonoma coast could generate as much as 200 megawatts of electricity. Stillman says that represents a sizable portion of the county's current energy consumption.




The map below shows (in orange) the three offshore areas where the potential, and potential impacts, of wave power generation will be studied.

 You can post comments regarding the study permits for each of the three locations shown above at the website of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.