Category Archives: Climate Change

Sea Star Wasting Disease Update 2017

32822The years from 2013 through 2015 witnessed the largest non-commercial marine mass mortality event on record (as of 2013) as up to 96% of all Ochre Sea Stars on the coasts of California and Oregon perished. This created a ‘natural experiment’ and an opportunity to study genomic changes in wild populations with unprecedented detail. Rather than observing only the aftermath — usually the case in such catastrophes – a team of researchers from UC Merced is reconstructing the population and genetic consequences of this epidemic outbreak of sea star wasting disease. The team measured the abundance and genetic variation of Pisaster ochraceus (the Ochre Sea Star – a keystone species) in the year preceding mass mortality. They then repeated sampling of adults and juveniles in subsequent years, measuring population dynamics and genomic shifts during and after the disease outbreak. At a time when marine diseases and mass mortalities are on the rise, this study documents the impact of little-known wildlife diseases and potential trajectory of recovery in a keystone marine species.

Learn more and watch: Sea Star Wasting Disease Update 2017


The Water Wars Have Begun

32822The Water Wars are coming – and according to Executive Producer Lynne Kirby, they’re already here.

Concerned about what her daughter would drink in the years ahead, Kirby became passionate about water conservation issues. She knew water was going to be a big issue in the decades to come – that water would be the “oil” of the 21st century.

She pitched the idea of making a documentary of the coming water wars to Alex Gibney, an investigative documentary filmmaker of films about Scientology, WikiLeaks, Enron and others. According to Kirby, Gibney’s the kind of guy who says, I’m coming after you… and you’re going down… and we’re going to peel back the onion and expose you.

Gibney then approached National Geographic who had been looking for a water project and the rest is history. Water & Power: A California Heist unfolds like a real-life version of the 1974 film noir Chinatown and uncovers the ruthless exploits of California’s notorious water barons, who profit off the state’s resources while everyday citizens endure a debilitating water crisis.

Watch Water & Power: Discussion of Documentary with host and UCSB Professor of Film & Media Studies, Constance Penley, and Executive Producer Lynne Kirby to hear more behind-the-scenes stories about this incredible documentary.


Confronting Climate Change

8232Rosina Bierbaum, formerly of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and an Adaptation Fellow at the World Bank, shows how climate change will affect all regions and sectors of the economy, and disproportionately affect the poorest people on the planet. Therefore, improving the resilience, adaptation, and preparedness of communities must be a high priority, equal to that of achieving deep greenhouse gas reductions and rapid development and deployment of innovative technologies, as well as altered planning and management strategies in the coming decades to achieve a sustainable world.

Watch Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable, Managing the Unavoidable with Rosina Bierbaum – 2017 Keeling Memorial Lecture

To see more programs from this series, click here.


Food Justice: Economics, Ethics, Access

8232What a group! You know you’re watching something special when Dolores Huerta, the legendary co-founder of the United Farm Workers and Rose Hayden-Smith, the PhD author who writes the UC Food Observer blog are flanked by passionate leaders in healthcare, social justice, and organic farming – all talking about the policies and politics that lead to food deserts and swamps in some communities and abundance in others. Gathered in the historic Star Theatre in Oceanside, California, this lively panel led by Michelle Lerach of the Berry Good Food Foundation will inspire many to plant their own gardens, share their green bounty and engage on issues that address the most fundamental human need – healthy food for a thriving planet.

Watch Food Justice: Economics, Ethics, Access


UCTV Launches New Portal to Sustainability for California

8232As the world’s sixth largest economy and provider of more than half the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables, sustaining California’s vitality is paramount. And, with greater demands from a changing climate and growing population, taking a proactive approach to maintaining sustainable growth for California is critical.

That is what Sustainable California, a new, media-rich web portal hosted by University of California Television (UCTV) is about.

Broadcasting stories of sustainability research and outreach conducted by University of California faculty, scientists and students, Sustainable California
connects users to the science-based, real-world solutions the University of California is creating to maintain the balance of natural resources, biodiversity and sustainable growth in our state.

Principal project partners include UC Water, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and UC Merced School of Engineering among others.

UCTV Director Lynn Burnstan expressed her excitement at inaugurating the new portal, “This is what UCTV is about, connecting Californians to the real-world, inestimable values that the UC provides all of California. We are very excited to be able to join these partners and give the public direct access to what they are doing for all our benefit.”

The launch features Water in the Balance, from UC Merced headquartered UCWater, a 5-minute journey from Sierra Nevada snowpack through the state’s system of dams to groundwater; Introduction to Conservation Agriculture Cropping Systems, from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, featuring California farmers and UC scientists working together to develop sustainable farming practices and Sierra-Net, from Berkeley-headquartered CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, featuring the development of innovative cyber-infrastructure to provide real-time monitoring of the state’s water resources.

The channel’s content is appropriate for audiences of all ages and freely accessible to the public online at The integrated video, article and curriculum format of the channel, in addition to its focus on biodiversity, natural resources, and low-impact living, provides users both a look at and connection to practical solutions and approaches the UC is developing, making it a valuable resource for professional practitioners, educators, and media outlets.