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Apr 24th
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Environment

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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News - Environment

Climate Change…and Wine?

Climate Change…and Wine?

The Science Sundays lecture series explains how climate change affects California’s wineries
On a warm and sunny Sunday in this temperamental summer, it’s easy to let your mind wander away from the various environmental problems plaguing the world today. That stuff is depressing—for example, a gulf that seems to be more oil than water, covering its wildlife in a slick, crude sheen while stalling local fisheries and economies to near insolvency. Not to mention the silent moans of countless trees lost to deforestation. And, of course, there are the lovable polar bears and penguins, already on the endangered species list, that see their habitat melt away due to the increase of greenhouse gases and annual temperatures.  

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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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We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise