The Monitor has always been a publication with a scientific orientation. After all, the League launched it in 1975 to address air pollution, a problem that calls for systematic study, measurement, and expertise, not to mention usage of terms such as “oxides of nitrogen” and “hydrochlorofluorocarbons.” Cutting through tricky lingo in attempting to convey technical information that shapes government policy has been a Monitor mainstay ever since.
Our current edition exemplifies this effort, with all articles focusing on scientific research in some capacity. We start off with a look at academic investigations into power sources for electric vehicles. In her article on this subject, Cecily O’Connor pays particularly close attention to work being done at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, an institution featured on our front cover in Jacqueline Orrell’s photo of Stephen Dongmin Kang demonstrating how he uses a modular glovebox workstation at Menlo Park’s Arrillaga Science Center. The Stanford postdoctoral researcher is part of an investigative team led by William Chueh, whose work with batteries should help reduce the carbon footprint of our energy usage.
Robin Meadows follows with a look at a new study on the unintended consequences of building seawalls along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay to combat sea-level rise, demonstrating how policymakers will need to take such research into account in coordinating an effective and equitable regional response to this threat. After that, Leslie Stewart begins her article by citing recent findings that fine particulate matter in wildfire smoke is up to ten times as hazardous to human health than similarly sized particles from other sources; she then explains how pollution regulators and their partners are seeking innovative methods to reduce the availability of fuel for the wildfires that have become so prevalent in our part of the country. Finally, Aleta George highlights the research of one woman attempting to protect one bird species as an example of the kind of effort required for all of us to protect all species. Aleta also graces our back cover, searching the skies for feathered friends over Suisun City’s Rush Ranch.
As important as scientific inquiry may be for its own sake, its application to solving real-world problems is what the Monitor strives to illuminate. Ultimately, we want to reveal how science can spur positive change in our communities. Moreover, in the spirit of the League, we also want to showcase ways that you can contribute to that positive change.
With science, this can be a tall order — not everyone has access to a modular glovebox workstation. While the Monitor aspires to provide information you can act on, that goal can be a little harder to accomplish when we’re covering cutting-edge research. It’s a delicate challenge, and one of a few that I invite you to consider with me at LWV Berkeley-Albany-Emeryville’s April 12 Environmental Concerns online meeting at 7:30, when I’ll be discussing how the media can empower people to take action in support of the environment.
Of course, the media can use a little support itself. On that note, thank you to our readers who have recently donated to the Monitor: Jane Bergen, Linda Craig, Sally Francis, Robert Jenkins, Liza Loeffler, James Murray, and Deborah O’Brien. Your donations will help us complete our transition to an online-only publication this summer.
Editor, Bay Area Monitor