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An extended version of the Fuxing bullet train at the China National Railway Test Center on Oct. 15, 2018 in Beijing, China. VCG / VCG via Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

Is it just us?

Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.

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Ocean Heroes Bootcamp

By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eider (15)

Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A major California avocado producer issued a voluntary recall of the popular fruit over concerns they could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, USA Today reported.

Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.

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Poppy superbloom in Lake Elsinore, Calfornia on March 13. cultivar413 / CC BY 2.0

The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.

The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.

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The Thomas fire burns on Sulfer Mountain in Southern California behind a row of citrus trees on Dec. 5, 2017. Bill Boch / Getty Images

Another California utility has been found responsible for sparking a deadly wildfire, according to the results of an investigation announced Wednesday.

The massive Thomas Fire, which burned through 281,893 acres of Southern California in 2017, was sparked when two Southern California Edison (SCE) power lines slapped together on the night of Dec. 4, 2017, the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) said.

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Painted Ladies feeding near Thousand Palms, California as part of a massive migration north. David McNew / Getty Images

Southern California is in the midst of a "magical" surprise: unusually large swarms of Painted Lady butterflies filling the skies from San Diego to Pasadena.

"Everyone was posting about the butterflies all over Instagram," a woman told CBS Los Angeles Tuesday. "I saw so many, it was kinda like a swarm of them. It was pretty insane."

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Five Common dolphins like this have washed up on beaches in Southern California this February. Fat Tony / Aurora Photos / Getty Images

A surprising number of dolphins are washing up on Southern California beaches this February, and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) wants to know why.

The PMCC has responded to six beached dolphins in just 14 days, it said in a Monday press release. By this time last year, it had only responded to one stranding.

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The town of Guerneville could be seeing its worst flooding in nearly 25 years. CBS Sacramento YouTube screenshot

Around 4,000 people were ordered to evacuate from a town about 60 miles north of San Francisco Tuesday night, as heavy rain and snow is expected to raise a river to flood levels not seen since 1995, The Sacramento Bee reported.

"Evacuate now if you live near the Russian River," the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office urged, according to AccuWeather.

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Border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego. Mani Albrecht / U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A federal appeals court on Monday sided with the Trump administration's bypassing of numerous environmental laws to expedite border wall construction projects in southern California.

In a 2-1 decision (pdf), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an earlier district court ruling that determined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has broad authority under the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to waive statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and many more environmental rules to build border barriers.

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Residents, lawmakers and environmentalists from a seaside community in Los Angeles County are questioning why it took a whole week for government officials to inform them of a well blowout that sprayed natural gas and other fluids nearly 60 feet into the air for several minutes.

On Jan. 11, hotel construction workers in a populated area in Marina del Rey dug into an abandoned, 1930s-era oil well, causing an eruption of mainly methane, heavy abandonment mud and water. Video footage shows the fluids shooting high into the sky, and a worker rappelling away to avoid injury. The oil well was last sealed in 1959 and was in the process of being re-sealed before the release.

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Teenager Alex Weber and friends collected nearly 40,000 golf balls hit into the ocean from a handful of California golf courses. Alex Weber / CC BY-ND

By Matthew Savoca

Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.

As a scientist researching marine plastic pollution, I thought I had seen a lot. Then, early in 2017, I heard from Alex Weber, a junior at Carmel High School in California.

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