tv Assignment 7 ABC August 29, 2010 3:30pm-4:00pm PST
welcome to "assignment 7". today on our program, how slimy green scum could soon be powering your cars. the photograph that outed san francisco as a mecca for gays and lesbians back in the '60s. and an innovative east bay program proving that a man's best friend can lead to a brighter future for at risk children. everything from cell phones to digital music players rely on batteries. what you do with those batteries when they're no good anymore can make a big difference. "7 on your side"'s michael finney with more on a nationwide push. >> reporter: rows and rows of batteries line the wall of radio shack. once they've been bought and used, disposing of them properly can make a big impact. san francisco's one of 22 bay
area communities with curb side battery recycling programs serviced by recollege. >> we're trying to help the city of san francisco get to zero waste. that means san francisco wants to send absolutely nothing to landfills. >> reporter: the batteries being unloaded from this truck represent just one day's worth of pickups in san francisco. city residents are responsible for more than two-thirds of the 100-tons of batteries recycleed by reecology last year. people are encouraged to leave their batteries in ziploc bags on top of their garbage cans on pick up days. >> they can have metals in them. you want to keep all of that out of the landfills. >> workers separate the batteries before they're transported to a smoker and made into different metal products. even more effective in reducing waste is using rechargeable batteries. >> everybody is moving in the direction of rechargeable so that that's one step towards being eco friendly.
>> reporter: even rechargeable batteries can lose their charge. that's why lowe's, staples and radio shack nationwide are joining forces to recycle rechargeable batteries as well. >> it is free. we take pretty much all types of rechargeable batteries, nickel cadmium and others, and the sealed lead acid batteries, alarm system batteries if they're under 11 pounds. >> the call to recycle program is challenging americans to drop off one million pounds of rechargeable batteries before october 1. in the last 15 years, the program has collected 55 million batteries. >> i think more people are more conscious of what's going on around them. they're trying not to do anything that is going to damage our environment any further. >> we need to get away from single use products in this country and get closer to
reusable products, rechargeable batteries is one example. a canvas tote bag is another example, something you can reuse again and again. >> i'm michael finney, "7 on your side." >> with growing concern about climate change, scientists have growing concerns about water supplies. will there be enough in rivers and dams to go around to our houses and to our farmers? abc 7's wayne freedman reports. >> in a field filled with old hand
planted grapes in napa, there is an experiment underway. it could change agriculture as we know it. >> the theory is we have to make water from air without using energy and plant our plants with that. >> reporter: peter used to grew tulips in holland, but sees this as a greater calling. since 1994, he's been developing these water boxes, as he calls them. they cool at night, pull moisture from the air, and use it to irrigate young plants and trees of all kinds. it's the same process you see here when cold liquid in the glass condenses water from the outside air.
>> actually what people forget is that all the water that's with us traveled through the air. >> reporter: there is a scientific name for this. biomimicry. it imitates nature. in this case, the surface of a lotus leaf. were you skeptical of this? >> at first i was. but once i thought about it for five minutes, i was intrigued. >> reporter: matt manages the vineyards. each device
collects about 200 cc's of water a day, but if you add it up, he estimates this process could save 175,000 gallons of water a year. and partly because it encourages heartier plants with deeper roots. if grapes and other plants struggle when they're young, they dig deeper roots and might not need irrigation at all. >> what you do is if there is enough water to let it suffice, but not enough to let it grow. >> reporter: peter has experimented with the water box in eight countries by now and says even works in the sahara desert.
his goal? reforce the planet to save water and consume global warming carbon dioxide the natural way. at $25 a copy. >> i'm not crazy. i'm inspired. >> inspired by nature. from the napa valley, abc 7 news. >> a small organism may play a big part in weaning us from our dependence on oil. vic lee visited a south san francisco start-up that's powering cars with the new biofuel. >> we're going to pour some of this diesel fuel into the tank here. >> reporter: the diesel runs this jeep. it's refined from crude oil made from, believe it or not, algae. that slimy green scum that lines ponds, lakes and unkept pools. jonathan co-founded a company that is trying to bring algae to the pumps. he says it's no pipe dream. >> we've gotten very good at taking algae and getting them to make oil for us, very quickly.
>> reporter: it starts with petri dishes and beakers in the south san francisco fermentation labs. they feed the algae with all kinds of biomass. >> we can feed them yard clippings. we can -- from a golf course or from your backyard or leaves. we can feed them woodchips. >> reporter: the algae fatten themselves and are taken through a process which eventually produces oil. >> they do it in big stainless steel tanks, in a few days. we take the oil out and when you put it into a refinery, it comes out as the same kind of fuel that you would get at the gas t. >> reporter: but he says his fuel is biodegradable and more sustainable than petroleum-based diesel. >> it's domestic, it's renewable, and dramatically reduces the carbon foot print and allows us to get off foreign oil. >> reporter: he says people won't notice the difference when they're driving. >> what we're going to do now is get in and you're going to
drive. burn some rubber. let's make it happen. very few people in the world have driven in 100% algae derived vehicle. >> is it cost effective? >> we don't believe we have a product until we can sell at the same price as petroleum, which right now is in the 60 to 80-dollar a barrel range and that's the target and we're just about there. >> reporter: and what about the ride? >> nice. amazing. >> reporter: vic lee, abc 7 news. >> solar power in the central valley. why renewable energy products are getting off to a slow start in california. i love my curves.
that satisfy my love for tasty treats. around 100 calories. zero fat. now i love my curves in all the right places. yoplait. it is so good. >> welcome back. california leads the nation in the development of renewable energy. few projects are actually underway. bureaucracy, environmental concerns and neighborhood complaints have slowed the process. abc 7's dan ashley reports sandwiched in san benito county, this may be as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. >> we stood on a hill and looked out over the valley and i said, this is where i want to spend the rest of my life. >> reporter: this valley could one day provide enough electricity to power 315,000 homes across the state. >> never occurred to me that it might be in view of two story solar panels.
>> it has 90% of the solar. >> his company wants to build one of the largest solar power projects in the nation here. 1.2 million solar panels could cover an area the size of 3500 football fields. >> it's perfect for solar. >> it's very irresponsible place to build a solar facility. >> california is very difficult to find transmission lines. >> could possibly jeopardize their recovery and possibly cause the extinction of some animals. >> we're raising the panels so the sheep can graze because the species here are used to and thrive on a grazed environment. >> debates like this are being played out around california as more and more companies try to build new power facilities. in california, they weigh the benefit of green power against the impact on open spaces. >> very difficult to build any structure on land in california. >> reporter: there are roughly 150 solar projects seeking permits to operate in
california. mostly in southern california deserts. stringent environmental reviews, political wrangling, and lengthy permitting processes are keeping many companies are breaking ground. in the mow half desert, one company had to scrap plans because of concerns about endangered squirrel habitat. another had to reduce the size of its plant because it might disturb desert tortoise. then there are arguments over what should be off limits all together? california senator feinstein has introduced legislation that establishes national monuments in the area. the solar industry says the federal government historically has been slow to embrace large scale solar projects. >> they're actually zero solar projects on any public land in the country right now. to put that in perspective, over the last two decades, 74,000 permits have been issued for oil and gets projects. >> reporter: california has laid out the welcome mat for renewable energy. last year governor arnold schwarzenegger signed an executive order mandating 33% of
california's electricity come from renewable sources like wind or solar. >> i wouldn't say that this is easy. it's not easy for any of these projects. frankly, you're right. this is a green on green kind of issue. it's not greedy coal or greedy oil companies that are really the big problem here. it's variations of our environmental groups. >> picker is the senior advisor. >> i'm confident we're going to make real progress just in this one year. >> reporter: he says the state will need to move quickly if it is going to take advantage of billions in tax credits and grants for green power. they expire on december 1. that could mean five to 10 billion in stimulus dollars just for the largest projects. >> federal stimulus dollars will provide jobs here in california starting late this fall. >> reporter: he expects to hire as many as 200 people to build the project. 50 will stay on after it's built. unemployment in san benito
county stands at 22%. peterson says if we don't build plants like his here, they will be built over state lines. >> they're being built in nevada and arizona and then they're wheeling the electricity into california. the net result is we don't get the jobs. we don't get the clean air here. what we get is the higher electricity price. >> some residents here say no number of jobs or megawatts of green energy will make up for their loss. they want the project to go somewhere else. a compromise is out of the question. >> no. i don't think so. not for this valley. >> dan ashley, abc 7 news. >> when "assignment 7" continues, the promise of more high speed internet and fewer dropped calls. plus, the photograph that declared san francisco the gay capital of the u.s. and two friends carry on a legacy and memory of a friend @ú
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the federal government is promising better internet access and fewer dropped cell phone calls. president obama signed an executive order in june to double the space available on air waves for wireless high speed internet. david louie with what this means for silicon valley. >> reporter: you've seen how people snap up new mobile devices and use them for surfing the internet and watching video. the obama administration wants to double the spectrum available and auction it off to private companies to reduce the federal deficit and to finance a new public safety communications network. >> this is the prime thing that everyone wants and the question is, how do we use this to better our society and reduce the federal budget? >> reporter: it's expected to sell for billions of dollars because existing frequencies can't keep pace with the demand for more band width.
>> if we dent give more spectrum, we will all be much more limited in what we can do with our mobile devices. we're capping today at at & t is between 2 and 3 gigs of what used to be an you will you can eat data plan. >> reporter: marvin, an expert in media policy and visiting scholar at stanford, expects years of fighting to free up the air waves. the spectrum is currently used by tv stations and government agencies. >> you'll see a knock down, drag out fight to hold on to this worth billions of dollars to to at & t, verizon or be worth google and others. >> reporter: opening up more spectrum is expected to stimulate the economy, creating new start-ups and jobs. as entrepreneurs invent new ways to use the airways. silicon valley is a leader in mobile technology. >> you might want to see some spectrum be unlicensed as was the current plan and then you can see new tech companies using that to create new device,
olympics in ways we can't even predict in the licensed model. >> the battle over who will give up spectrum could take years. that means new devices using the new air waves could be ten years off. in san jose, david louie, abc 7, money scope. >> san francisco's reputation as a gay mecca goes back to the 1960s when the city came out on the pages of life magazine. abc 7's carolyn tyler reports. >> this controversial life magazine photo spread back in 1964 put gays on coffee tables across the country. >> it was against the law for homosexuals to congregate even, but they -- >> mike caffey is a well-known artist. he remembers the photo very well. he was there when it was taken. >> my mother actually recognized me. >> reporter: that's him in the back, partially obscured at the tool box, a gay motorcycle bar. >> we chose the people in the
picture on the grounds they were people who, like, were self-employed or worked for gay organizations so that they could not be blackmailed. >> reporter: the article that followed this picture proclaimed san francisco as the gay capital of the nation. >> we were the only place in the country that had let up on persecuting gays. >> reporter: the original magazine is a treasured possession of the glbt historical society in san francisco. >> this is one of the earliest photos of the community, particularly gay men that the nation saw. life magazine was an enormous thing. >> reporter: many gays across the country saw the photo as an invitation to move to san francisco. >> it told gays two things. one, that not all gays are criminal and second, that in san francisco, they'll pretty much let you be yourself. >> people come and said, this is the first time i saw a photograph of people like me.
>> a lot has changed for gays and lesbians in the four decades since the photo was taken. most no longer worry about being blackmailed or touching someone on the shoulder. kathy says the fight for recognition and rights has not ended. >> with this ring, i thee wed. >> today it's gay marriage. what's it going to be tomorrow? >> reporter: carolyn tyler, abc 7 news. >> a follow-up now to an emotional story we brought you earlier this year about a bay area performer batting als. two friends are hoping to turn her legacy into funding for care and research into lou gehrig's disease. here is abc 7's carolyn johnson. >> jennifer and alexa martinez are training for a bike ride that will take them 100 miles and every push of the pedal is inspired by the memory of a friend. >> superior, amazing woman within the most pain i ever saw. if she can do it, i can do anything.
i can ride 300 miles. >> reporter: the two are raising money to fight als, also known as lou gehrig's disease in honor of carla zilbersmith. >> she never shied away from anything. this is a big thing to ride 100 miles. , a ls is a lot harder than riding 100 miles. we want to do it in honor of her. >> reporter: she first revealed her diagnosis to a live audience in 2008. >> i was diagnosed with lou gehrig's disease, which sucks because i hate baseball. [ laughter ] >> reporter: we this year her earlier this year when she was launching an als fundraising effort am her own, convincing fellow als patients to pose for this movie themed calendar. >> they need lots of money for research. >> reporter: she lost her battle with als in may. >> there is two hills, but nothing too drastic. >> reporter: that's when jennifer and alexa, who had been her care giver, decided to
create team carla, along with two friends that will attempt to complete the ride to defeat als which winds through the napa valley in september. it's the largest fund-raiser of its kind in northern california and team carla already has pledges of several thousands dollars. we said 10,000 first, but to be honest, i would much rather be looking at 25,000. >> reporter: they've created a web site to track their progress as they continue to train, hoping to raise both their stamina and money to fight als. carolyn johnson, abc 7 news. >> we have more information on the ride and team carla on our web site, abc7news.com under see it on tv. up next, a first of its kind program in the bay area, ewing shelter dogs to help some of the east bay's most at risk children. taco seasoning?
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teaching, love and compassion program, a new partnership between oakland's lighthouse charter school and the east bay spca. >> one of our main goals is teaching respect for all beings, and that's a really important educational lesson that everybody needs to learn. >> reporter: this violence prevention and interventionfocun program focuses on at risk youth ages 11 to 13 with an after school opportunity to care for and train shelter dogs, prep adohem for adoption. >> i like being able to work with rocky. i like that it's not only about dogs, but we learn about other animals and the program is love and compassion. >> reporter: lighthouse vice principal says it comes at a critical time period in these kids' lives. >> i think the mostr me i thing for me is giving kids something to do after school from 4:00 o'clock to 6:00 o'clock. those are usually hours where kids can get into trouble. >> reporter: the kids invest two hours daily for six weeks. they have to maintain good grades and good behavior to participate. spca staff and a professional dog trainer work with them in a program designed to increase
attitudes of kindness, caring and responsibility for both animals and fellow humans. >> it's an important lesson because it's something that they can carry over into their classroom with their fellow students that aren't even in this program. something that they can take home into their neighborhoods and with their families at home. >> reporter: some of the lessons learn include public speaking, anger management, conflict resolution, and personal development. >> it definitely got me to be more patient 'cause i'm not a patient person. >> as soon as i entered the tlc, i wanted to do more of my homework 'cause i was more interested in working with this. >> the dogs bring out something that i haven't seen before, smiles and compassion. kids who wouldn't normal be interested in school love being in the program. so it gives them a success. >> reporter: the east bay spca is the first organization to bring the tlc program to the bay area. it's already proven successful in high crime gang plagued urban areas of los angeles and new york. funding is minimal right now and
so far, lighthouse is the only local school participating. 36 students have graduated from three sessions. many with new outlooks. >> when i grow up, i want to be a veterinarian. >> theresa garcia, abc 7 news. >> best of luck to her. if you want more information on the stories on our program today, go to our web site, abc7news.com. look under the news links on the left side for "assignment 7". that's all for this edition of "assignment 7". i'm kristen sze. thank you for joining us. we'll see you back here next time. >> dozens of people step up to help an injured bay area police officer. the wait at the blood bank, two