What Are You Doing to Survive the Drought?

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Many of us have drought on our minds these days. Even if you don’t live in California, you probably have come across stories about the Golden State’s struggle to deal with dismally low snowpacks, emptying reservoirs, and thirsty agricultural industry.

For many Californians, a big ongoing conversation is about conservation. On April 1, Gov. Brown issued a mandatory 25 percent consumption cut from the 2013 levels for homes and businesses in big cities and little towns. Since then, I have heard many conversations from friends and strangers wondering how they are going to cut their water use, especially if they already have been reducing their consumption to comply with mandatory or voluntary restrictions imposed by their cities or water districts in the past year.

That’s an interesting puzzle to solve. While many of us have meters to tell us how much we need to pay for our household water use, we tend to have a muddy picture of where all that water goes. There are educated guesses, of course. If you have a large yard with lush grass and big leafy plants, then it’s likely that most of the water goes to irrigation. But you don’t have hard data unless you have a meter that measures only outdoor irrigation. Beyond the big, obvious water needs around the house, pipes and appliances can leak for hours and days unnoticed. Sensors and modern, digital meters that break down water use by the minute could alert you to this overlooked waste, but the vast majority of our homes and businesses don’t have those smart meters. (more…)


Women, Engineers, and Computing in the Climate Equation

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Climate change presents grand and urgent puzzles for engineers and computer scientists. From designing future mega-cities for minimal energy use and writing software for designing biological systems to improving solar cells and devising safe ways to store carbon dioxide, engineers hold many of the tools needed to shape our future energy mix, food supply, and ability to adapt to a changing climate.

But from college freshmen through working professionals, the fields of engineering and computing are not running at full steam. A lot of women are missing. (more…)


We’re Turning One and Going in Two Directions

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When we at Climate Confidential launched our initial campaign, in March 2014, we had modest goals. We wanted to build a home for stories about the intersection of the environment and technology, rooted in deep knowledge of both subjects. We wanted to be able to pay ourselves something for producing those stories. We thought it would be cool to host an event or two.

Your support blew those modest plans out of the water. With hundreds of subscribers and several large donations from individuals and organizations, we closed our campaign determined to do a whole lot more: host quarterly events, produce 4 – 5 stories a month in themed issues, partner with other outlets to find a larger audience for our work, and think about ways in which we could support other reporters who were doing important work in our field.

Thanks to your continued readership and feedback, we’ve pulled it off. In its first year of existence, Climate Confidential produced more than 60 stories and hosted three events. We have partnered on stories and events with more than a dozen outlets, including The Atlantic, The Guardian UK, Scientific American, Smithsonian, Pacific Standard, Modern Farmer, Popular Science, Quartz, and many more. As a result, your subscriptions have supported climate coverage that reaches readers far beyond Beacon, and our stories have deepened an ongoing conversation about businesses, communities, and society reckoning with environmental change. (more…)