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Sep 05th
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Environment

News - Environment

A Natural Step

A Natural Step

GT chats with John Laird about his new post as Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency
From his 23 years experience as an elected official, beginning with the Santa Cruz City Council in 1981, John Laird has earned a statewide reputation as a progressive yet pragmatic politician, with a mastery of both process and details of legislative compromise.

Before arriving in Sacramento, Laird was a UC Santa Cruz graduate (1972) and former Santa Cruz City Council member (1981-90) with two stints as the city’s mayor.  He went on to serve the maximum three terms as State Assembly Member (D-27th District, 2002-2008), during which time he was appointed chair of the Assembly’s Budget Committee (2006).

Over the summer of 2010, in a hotly contested, off-cycle special election, Laird lost the race for the 15th District State Senate seat, vacated by Abel Maldonado’s appointment as lieutenant governor, by a slim margin to Republican Sam Blakeslee. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens: On Jan. 5, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Laird’s appointment as Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.

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News - Environment

Bag Lag

Bag Lag

The Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance pressures local government to adopt a single-use plastic bag ban
Nature photographer Terry McCormac recently had a typical day photographing a mother and baby sea otter near Moss Landing take a turn for the worse when the playful otter pup found itself trapped inside a plastic shopping bag.

“The baby got all panicky and started screaming,” McCormac remembers. “Then the mom started screaming. The mom went over there and got [the baby] on its chest and was trying to pull it off. Neither of them knew what to do. It was very heart wrenching.”

Helpless, McCormac continued to snap photos. The distressed mother and baby disappeared behind a boat, and then reappeared without the plastic bag. McCormac was relieved the otter pup’s misadventure had a happy ending, but he was determined to use the photo to help fight against plastic bag pollution in the ocean.

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News - Environment

Green to the Grave

Green to the Grave

Will there be a greater demand for ‘green’ burial practices?
For those who spend their life dedicated to reducing their environmental footprint, it can seem contradictory for their final act of recycling to be having their bodies pumped full of toxic chemicals and buried in a metal casket that will take longer than an SUV to biodegrade.

According to Joe Sehee, executive director of the New Mexico-based Green Burial Council, this realization is leading an increasing number of people to re-think their final footprint and seek more sustainable alternatives to standard funeral industry burial practices.

This environmentally conscious demographic, says Sehee, considers the “industrial-preservative” standards of embalming and burial in vaulted metal caskets as misguided, resource intensive overkill in trying to delay the natural processes of decomposition. In addition, they disapprove of mining, processing, and then burying hundreds of tons of metal and concrete in traditional cemeteries each year.

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News - Environment

Berry Dangerous?

Berry Dangerous?

As applications of methyl iodide begin, potential health risks of the pesticide remain unknown
Litigation, restricted materials permits, toxicity reports. These represent just some of the red tape involved in the recent registration of methyl iodide, a new pesticide approved for strawberry production by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) in December.

Just before the new year, an alliance of advocacy groups, including the United Farm Workers’ Union, filed suit to block use of the chemical and urged Gov. Jerry Brown to reverse the decision.

Despite these efforts, the potential side effects for farm workers and nearby residents—the people who spend hours every day exposed to these chemicals—remain to be seen. In agricultural hubs such as Watsonville and Salinas, which together produced a volume of nearly 90 million trays of strawberries in 2010, according to the California Strawberry Commission, the new pesticide is sure to have a large presence.

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News - Environment

Shelter from the Storm

Shelter from the Storm

UC Santa Cruz’s Energy Service Corps is on a mission to keep homes a little warmer this winter
It’s been a cold and wet winter so far here in Santa Cruz. The outside chill generally prompts an expensive habit of cranking the heater, but, this year, two UC Santa Cruz students are leading the switch to a greener and cheaper option for staying toasty.

On Nov. 18, Adan Codina and Adrienne Borders held a press conference in front of the Boys & Girls Club on Center Street to announce the launch of the student-operated Energy Service Corps (ESC) program, which will offer home weatherizations to hundreds of local homes.

“The goal of Energy Service Corps is pretty simple,” says Borders, co-coordinator of the local ESC branch along with Codina. “It’s to reduce energy used by taking the mystery out of energy efficiency.”

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News - Environment

California’s Green Facelift

California’s Green Facelift

Santa Cruz’s Ecology Action is at the center of new program designed to save money and the environment
Just in time for the New Year, the Energy Upgrade California Program (EUCP) is announcing its plans to keep the environment green and clean while putting a different kind of green back into the pockets of the state and consumers alike.

A collaborative effort between nonprofits, utility companies and the California Energy Commission (CEC), the program will use federal stimulus funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA). It will allow homeowners and commercial businesses a unique opportunity to make their buildings more energy efficient by providing rebates and monetary incentives for upgrades. What makes this program different from others, is that it is a statewide program that will allow all 58 counties to participate in reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions providing more benefits than just monetary. At the cornerstone of the project is Santa Cruz’s own Ecology Action.

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News - Environment

Taking Action

Taking Action

Local nonprofit heads to Haiti to offer aid and support
Having only five members hasn’t stopped fledgling humanitarian nonprofit Action Santa Cruz from delivering aid and supplies to a whole arsenal of worthy causes. The small group formed shortly after the 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010. On Dec. 9, the group will take flight to Haiti, where its members will embark on a search for the project that will define them.

And if their resolve is tested, Action Santa Cruz has the inspiration they need to fall back on, a Haitian saying which has already carried member Mary Anne Kramer-Urner through one challenging trip to Haiti:

“Piti, piti, zwazo fe nich.”

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News - Environment

Something Old Something New

Something Old Something New

Local Business and Non Profit Partner to Revitalize Sentinel Building
The long-anticipated retrofit of the Santa Cruz Sentinel building is about to nearly open for business. The designers, builders, owners and future tenants of the revamped building welcomed Good Times to a preview of its new “green” home on Friday, Nov. 12. Our tour inspired feelings of pride to see what can be accomplished when business works to preserve tradition while developing a modern workspace.

The original Sentinel building was operated by our local newspaper from 1966 to 2007 when it moved to Scotts Valley. In 2008 local internet provider Cruzio and the progressive non-profit Ecology Action partnered with Appenrodt Commercial Properties to purchase and redesign the space at the corner of Cedar and Church Street in Downtown Santa Cruz. Out first impression? Nothing short of wow.

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News - Environment

Timber!

Timber!

New ruling tightens logging regulations by requiring companies to obtain point source permits
The snake nest of logging roads that curl through the Santa Cruz Mountains could soon be lined with paper from logging permits and the lawsuits that challenge erosion.

Here in the southernmost tip of America’s iconic redwood landscape, old growth cathedrals used to physically block erosive winds, pack soil into hillsides with root clusters, and maintain organic binders in the soil by dropping seeds onto the forest floor.

After the trees were cut, the winter rainstorms carried sediment to the streams. Fish eggs have been smothered by sediment, insects and other foods have been buried, and silt raises temperatures in the cool ponds used by spawning fish.

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News - Environment

Unplugged

Unplugged

Gary Patton’s ‘Land Use Report’ gets pulled off the air
Effective Dec. 1, environmental advocate Gary Patton will say farewell to his weekday “Land Use Report” program on the radio station KUSP.

The report, which has held the 6:49 a.m. and 8:49 a.m. weekday slots for the last nine and a half years, is an 80-second opportunity during NPR’s “Morning Edition” for Patton to expound on local land use issues like water, farmland protection, transportation, and housing, as well as a time for him to inform listeners on how they can help.

But while the station asked Patton to host the report a near decade ago, in mid-September, KUSP Talk and Information Producer JD Hillard put an end to the segment.

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You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 4

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs