John Metcalfe

John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.

An illustration of buildings sunken underground and upside down.

Surreal Architecture to Tackle the World's Environmental Crises

Could sustainability depend on e-waste-eating fungus and towing icebergs to the Persian Gulf?

Birds circle in the beams of the 9/11 tribute in New York.

Urban Lights Are Confusing Birds to Death

What can be done to prevent migrating birds from getting drawn into the deadly allure of artificial illumination?

At night, a firefighter passes through smoke to survey a building destroyed by a wildfire near Calistoga, California.

Is Oakland Overdue for Another Firestorm?

As wildfires rage in California’s wine country, the scene is set for a recurrence of Oakland’s devastating 1991 blaze.

The ClimateMusic Project performs inside the planetarium at Oakland's Chabot Space & Science Center.

The Odd, Disconcerting Music of Climate Change

San Francisco scientists and musicians are creating experimental compositions based on real climate data.

Lake Erie Gets Legendarily Slimed, Again

A virulent algae bloom feeding on agricultural nutrients has transformed the water, yet again, into something green and oozing.

Deer crossing a two-lane highway

How Do You Stop Drivers From Colliding With Wild Animals?

Crashes between cars and critters are up in California, particularly in the Bay Area. What can transportation departments do?

An illustration of Earth with white strips of light emanating out

The World's Soaring CO2 Levels Visualized as Skyscrapers

This unusual animation gives an architectural twist to the history and possible dark future of climate change.

A bollard toppled over and cracked on a city street, surrounded by wheel marks

How Do You Design an Effective Bike-Lane Barrier?

Drivers are mowing over dividers in Oakland meant to protect cyclists and pedestrians. What can be done?

A traffic light dangles from its wire on Simonton Street in downtown Key West, Florida, after Hurricane Wilma

The Storm-Preparedness Tool That Predicts Power Outages

Researchers wanted to forecast potential blackouts across vast spans, not just specific cities.

Palm trees blow in the wind and rain

Watch the Damage a Category 5 Hurricane Can Wreak

In Puerto Rico, Florida, and beyond, storms with the force of Hurricane Irma can cause total structural oblivion, smashed trees, and blackouts for weeks or months.

Washington Is Scribbling Superb Traffic Maps With Microsoft Paint

The state transportation department is “full of real, genuine people,” says its spokeswoman, who just happen to be “not that great at art.”

A close-up view of red swamp crawfish

Southern Crawfish Are the Newest Scourge to Northern Infrastructure

When the tasty critters invade, they can undermine the integrity of dams and levees.

A proposal for a milk-vending cow in a public park.

The Fossil-Fuel-Free Cities of the Future Sure Look Weird

Three takes on imagining a carbon-free world.

Visualizing the Bloody History of Mining as Precious-Metal Blobs

Photographer Dillon Marsh contrasts the total output of South African mines against settings of violence and ecological devastation.

Farmers work on a farm near a construction site of new residential buildings in Shanghai in 2016

The Smells, Sounds, and Tastes of Future Cities

How might climate change and new technology cause upheavals in our sensorial landscape?

Here Are the Cities With the Best Shot of Seeing the Eclipse

NASA has crunched the numbers on probable cloud cover and revealed the best places to watch the August 21 cosmic spectacle.

A crow perches on a gravestone in Ukraine.

When Crows Attack

One man is on a mission to map bird-on-human aggression around the world.

Watch the World's Temperatures Spiral Out of Control

“Temperature Anomalies” is a data visualization of the past century’s changing climate that effectively captures how screwed we are.

A bicyclist tries to cross railroad tracks and tumbles to the ground.

The Brutal Saga of One Extremely Evil Railroad Crossing

Dozens of cyclists have crashed on a slice of railroad tracks in Knoxville. What lessons can be gleaned from this infrastructural pitfall?

A man and two kids interact with the street perfume machine at an L.A. bus stop

How One L.A. Bus Stop Became a Depot for Experimental Perfumes

The LADOT’s inaugural artist-in-residence has gifted a bus shelter with some truly weird, history-inspired scents.

Fog swallows up the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Your Real-Time Eye on San Francisco's Famous Fog

Bask in the sublime beauty of “Karl,” the city’s chilly miasma, with these always-updated satellite images.