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Sep 01st
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Environment

News - Environment

Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

City of Santa Cruz unveils the latest draft of its Climate Action Plan
“Come gather around people, wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown.” While Bob Dylan may have written those lyrics as a political metaphor, today they ring true for an entirely different reason—the times are changing, for the planet that is.

Whether it’s global warming or just a rapid intensity in conditions, most people today believe we are living in the times of climate change. Scientists from around the globe believe human activity is to blame for the increase in carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) that quickly gather in our atmosphere. This accumulation of GHGs greatly increases the planet’s natural greenhouse effect, resulting in potentially catastrophic weather conditions. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

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News - Environment

Greywater to Green Thumbs

Greywater to Green Thumbs

Santa Cruz embraces the potential of reusing water
Where does the water go after you wash your hands, take a shower or do a load of laundry? Until recently, it all went to sewer lines that funneled to water treatment plants. But California has amended its greywater regulation with the adoption of Title 24, Part five, Chapter 16A for California Plumbing code in January, making it easier to reuse water for gardens and landscaping.

Greywater consists of all wastewater other than food and toilet waste (which is called “black water”) and, with a few adjustments, it can be used to water and irrigate residential properties, thereby reducing water usage and easing the strain on water treatment plants.

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News - Environment

Biodiesel Revisited

Biodiesel Revisited

The Green Station keeps hopes for biodiesel alive in Santa Cruz
Whatever happened to biodiesel? Once—not so long ago—it was hailed as an immediate and sustainable way to alleviate dependence on oil and reduce CO2 emissions. But lately biodiesel seems to be living in the shadow of other green technologies, like spotlight-stealing electric cars. However, the absence of fanfare hasn’t deterred Santa Cruz’s Kings of Biodiesel, Green Station owners Bill Le Bon and Ray Newkirk, from continuing the fight. While forced to lease U-Hauls out of the Green Station lot to make ends meet (and sell some of those sly electric cars, which they also agree are great eco-choices), they remain committed to keeping the biodiesel pumps alive and accessible for Santa Cruz.

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News - Environment

Green Eggs, Hold the Ham

Green Eggs, Hold the Ham

UC Santa Cruz dining goes meatless on Mondays
San Francisco and New York City do it; every school in the Baltimore City School District does it; Sir Paul McCartney does it; and now, like four other UC schools, UC Santa Cruz does it, too.

We’re talking about Meatless Monday—a growing movement to cut meat consumption by 15 percent (one day a week), thereby helping to reduce serious environmental stresses, health problems, and resource shortages. Organizations like Meatless Monday and Meat Free Monday (the latter was founded by McCartney and his daughters) are spearheading the campaign, and reminding the world’s omnivores that, according to the United Nations, livestock are the single largest contributor to global warming—spewing even more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s transportation combined.

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News - Environment

Smart Meters

Smart Meters

How can something so intelligent cause such uproar?
California is tangled up in a controversy involving Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)’s latest energy-monitoring gadget, the SmartMeter.
The SmartMeter is PG&E’s way of "connecting the energy business with the 21st century” by using wireless technology to read electric and gas usage. The SmartMeter is able to report usage data to PG&E every hour, eliminating the need for meter readers and enhancing their ability to access updated account information.

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News - Environment

Something in the Water

Something in the Water

UCSC scientists win grant to study toxic algae blooms along California coast
A curious event happened in the summer of 1961.  One foggy night, birds began acting confused, suicidal, even violent. Hundreds of sooty shearwaters are said to have crashed into buildings and power lines across Capitola in the middle of the night. Residents who ventured from their homes found themselves attacked by some of the birds who seemed drawn by their flashlights. The next morning streets and rooftops were found littered with the bodies of the birds, and those avian creatures that survived the night filled the streets, noticeably confused and disoriented.

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News - Environment

Ocean Advocacy Goes Federal

Ocean Advocacy Goes FederalExecutive Order creates Clean Ocean Act
You don’t need to tell a Santa Cruzan how important the ocean is. From our economy to our natural beauty to our hard-fought-formoniker as “Surf City,” Santa Cruz is defined by its relationship to the ocean as much as Colorado is to its Rockies. So when President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order on July 19 creating a national ocean policy for the first time in history, it was like hearing about a big break for an old friend who’s been going through a tough time lately.
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News - Environment

Solving Global Warming at Home

Solving Global Warming at Home

New rebate programs provide incentives for home energy efficiency
When talking about sectors of the economy hit hard during the recession, it’s hard to compete with construction. According to the latest job report put out by the U.S. Labor Department, construction unemployment remains around 20.1 percent, or 1.8 million people still looking for work. No matter how you spin it, that’s a lot of people.

Last week, the Green Careers Partnership held a workshop at Cabrillo College aimed at helping Santa Cruz contractors move out of that figure and into the emerging economy of energy efficiency retrofitting for homes. Around 60 contractors sat in attendance at the event, which featured presentations highlighting new rebate programs for green home retrofitting, useful credentials and software for the green home sector, and attempts to create a network of green-minded builders.

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News - Environment

Thinking Outside the Bomb

Thinking Outside the Bomb

Anti-nuclear weapons activists take on Santa Cruz
Beneath a magnolia tree in the parking lot behind the Resource Center for Non-Violence, a group of five young adults pulls a makeshift puppet show out of a dust-covered white Astrovan. A puppet in a lab coat steps out in front of a meager audience—five people, including the press, sit on chairs and a tattered gray couch and watch as “Dr. Lab” learns a nightmarish lesson about the detrimental and lasting effects of his work in a nuclear laboratory. A deformed frog tells the doctor that nuclear waste has poisoned his frog family; a visitor from 30,000 years in the future informs him that the effects of nuclear radiation and waste continue to poison and frighten the world’s residents; and a pile of uranium canisters dance and chant about the cancer they will inevitably spread to surrounding residents.

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News - Environment

Why We Need a Single-Use Bag Ordinance

Why We Need a Single-Use Bag Ordinance

In April of this year, the Board of Supervisors made a significant first step in addressing an area of major environmental concern when we initiated the process to enact a county ordinance banning single-use plastic carry-out bags and reducing use of paper carry out bags. The action taken by the Board is only a first step in what will be a lengthy process.

Last year I was contacted by local environmental groups who provided information about other jurisdictions in California that have taken action to reduce the litter and pollution caused by plastic and paper single-use bags. Plastic bags are a petroleum product that not only consume enormous resources during their production, but also tend to be casually discarded, causing significant damage to the environment. Statewide, only 5 percent of these plastic bags are recycled. The production of paper bags adds to deforestation and uses large amounts of energy and water.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.