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Nov 27th
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Environment

News - Environment

Gunk Goes Green

Gunk Goes Green

Biotech researchers transform biodiesel waste into additional fuel
Ray Newkirk doesn’t hesitate to wash his hands with dirty soap. Before founding the Green Station on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz, where locals pump Bay-Area-made biodiesel into their cars, Newkirk was a backyard producer, making fuel out of fryer waste from the Saturn Café.

Like other biodiesel producers, Newkirk also inevitably made a lot of dark, thick waste glycerin.

For every 100 gallons of biodiesel made, 10 gallons of the crude goop remain. Last year 600 million gallons of biodiesel were produced, and while a freeze on tax credits has slowed production this year, America will still have millions of gallons of crude glycerol at its fingertips.

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News - Environment

Drill Baby, Drill?

Drill Baby, Drill?

California, breathe easy—offshore oil drilling has been tabled
What do President Barack Obama’s decision to open up parts of the U.S. coast to oil exploration, the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s withdrawal of his support for new oil drilling off of Santa Barbara have in common? They may all influence the future of offshore oil drilling in California.

Though the West Coast was conspicuously absent from Obama’s announcement that he would open parts of the Atlantic Coast, northern Alaskan Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to oil exploration, some fear that opening up those areas may pave the way for new offshore drilling in California.

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News - Environment

Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son

Jean-Michel Cousteau carries on his dad’s profound legacy
When you’re the son of perhaps the most famous waterman in modern history, you know you’re going to be thrown into the world of ocean adventuring. For Jean-Michel Cousteau, such was the case—literally. At the age of 7, when his legendary father, the revolutionary explorer Jacques Cousteau, strapped an oxygen tank to his back and tossed him overboard into the Mediterranean Sea, the Frenchman inherited an insatiable curiosity and a subsequent need to protect the aqua underworld.

 

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News - Environment

Organic Crackdown

Organic Crackdown

One reporter’s exploration of organic, and the USDA’s standards for enforcement
The sound of a cash register chings at the organic market. Vibrant produce passes over the scanner, and the total leaps five, eight, then 15 dollars higher.

A single adult living the organic lifestyle can spend $500 a month on food—at least if my grocery bill is any sign of the times. An heirloom tomato might be $.50 down the road at Safeway, but here it’s $1.60. Why is organic produce so expensive? Are organic junkies like me getting ripped off?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently published the first in-depth report on organic farming, finding that the average organic farm spends $170,000 a year in production. Conventional farms only spend about $103,000.

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News - Environment

Transcending Time With A Telescope

Transcending Time With A Telescope

Astronomy professor gazes 15 billion years into the past
Ever since she was a little girl, Sandra Faber has been pondering the heavens. She recalls spending many evenings lying on the grass, gazing skyward and meditating upon the origins of our cosmos. “I think most kids look up with wonder at the night sky,” she says. “It just struck a chord of awe in me.”

Faber has spent her entire adult life pursuing that sense of awe. Now, as professor and chair of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, she is working at the cutting edge of her field to answer the questions starry-eyed youths have been asking for centuries, including one enigma that puzzles scientists to this day.

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News - Environment

Grid Fever

Grid Fever

Desalination plant gets green light. Will energy use spike water rates?
The Santa Cruz City Council has unanimously endorsed an agreement for a desalination plant, sparking community concerns about energy and environmental impacts.

Their March 23 decision gave the green light for project design and planning, but does not commit the city to construct the plant, says Mayor Mike Rotkin. The agreement also outlines a water-sharing plan with the Soquel Creek Water District, giving Santa Cruz primary rights to use the facility.

“The city council is on record at this point for moving forward with the desalination plant, although we won’t approve construction until we have seen the environmental review,” says Rotkin.  

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News - Environment

Something Wilder

Something Wilder

Cherished state park offers a window into the past and sheds light on energy solutions

“It’s something that you’re never going to see anywhere else, and it’s totally unique,” says Wilder Ranch docent Mike Dalbey. He’s talking about the water-powered tools in the Wilder Ranch State Park, which is home to a 19th century saw mill, lathe, drill bit, coffee grinder, and grindstone—all powered by Pelton Water Wheels.

Wilder Ranch's water-powered machine shop dates back to the 1890s and is the last one operating in the State of California. Dalbey, who has helped to restore some of the tools himself, says his favorite part is the lichens growing on one of the wheels—something he calls “high technology as the substrate for organic life.”

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News - Environment

Hatch and Release

Hatch and Release

The Monterey Bay Trout and Salmon Project is back in the water after a few dry years

Following three years of no salmon and no salmon fishing, local fishermen can once again take up their poles on April 3. Among those excited for the opening of salmon season is the Monterey Bay Salmon & Trout Project (MBSTP), which plans to recommence its King Salmon release program after a three-year hiatus.

Founded in 1976, the MBSTP is a non-profit run almost entirely by volunteers (there is only one paid staff member) with the mission of restoring, conserving, and enhancing native Coho salmon and Steelhead populations and their habitats in the greater Monterey Bay area. MBSTP Treasurer Larry Wolf says that the voluntary aspect makes it “an uplifting program,” and he describes the MBSTP as “one of those programs that was instituted because people thought they could do a better job than government could to take care of our local environment.”

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News - Environment

New Lagoon

New Lagoon

UCSC’s Natural Reserve System works to restore Younger Lagoon

It’s a beautiful, mild mid-December day and Gage Dayton is standing on a gently sloping hill overlooking Younger Lagoon, a natural reserve site, as he looks politely, if a bit sternly, at a surfer. The surfer, a man in his early twenties clad in a black hooded wetsuit, is, for his part, looking both embarrassed and uncomfortable; he’s in a distinctly awkward spot, positioned several feet off the ground, halfway over a fence. His two friends, also clad in wetsuits and clutching their surfboards, are standing behind him, looking similarly abashed.

“No hopping here, guys,” Dayton says mildly. “Sorry. This is a reserve.” The surfers haven’t moved; they look at him a bit skeptically. “The UC Santa Cruz police have actually been starting to patrol down here, unfortunately,” he adds.

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News - Environment

In Slow We Trust

In Slow We Trust

A walk with Dr. Wallace J. Nichols illuminates the Slow Coast Movement, the ‘long now’ and what's really in a name

We all know the area. That long stretch of Highway 1 that weaves along the cliffs, between hills, forests and farmland beginning just north of Santa Cruz at Wilder Ranch and ending south of Half Moon Bay just past San Gregorio. It's a region of undeniable beauty and tangible calm. A place where time seems to move a little slower, perhaps on an older more natural cycle. A certain Dr. Wallace 'J' Nichols, his partner Dana Nichols and other like-minded people in the area are working on keeping it that way.

"We're lucky here," says Nichols, walking in the crisp morning air along Swanton Road with his black and white Newfoundland, Fisher. "This isn't about rebuilding something, it's about hanging onto it."

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Good Times Holiday Giving

Giving Where It Helps

 

Giving Thanks: The Thought-Form of Solution

We are in the time and under the influence of Sagittarius, sign of the wanderer, good food, good music, and the joy (Jupiter as ruler) that occurs from giving to others while simultaneously giving thanks from our hearts. Having the Thanksgiving holiday during the month of Sag is not a mistake. No other sign understands joy (an aspect of the Soul) as Sag (except Pisces when not in despair). “Sag is a beam of directed and focused light. The beam reveals a greater light ahead, illuminating the Way to the center of the Light,” emitting the Ray of Joyfulness. Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude; in the form of prayers, thoughts, feelings, wishes, hopes and greetings. Gratitude is something we still need to learn. Gratitude creates goodwill. Together, gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution” for humanity and our world’s problems. Gratitude and goodwill are the prerequisites for the reappearance of the Christ, the Aquarian World Teacher. In Ancient Wisdom texts it is written, “being grateful is the hallmark of one who is enlightened.” Gratitude comes from the Soul—the characteristics of which are love and wisdom (Ray 2). Gratitude is scientifically and occultly (mental, not emotional) a releasing agent. Gratitude liberates us and everything around us. Also a service to others, gratitude is deeply scientific in nature, releasing us from the past and laying open our future path leading to the new culture and civilization, the new laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarian, the Age of Friendship and Equality. The Hierarchy lays much emphasis upon gratitude. Let us be grateful this year and this season together. And so now the days of light illuminating the darkness begin (December’s festivals and feast days). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful for all of you, my readers.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of November 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Round About Now

The glory of persimmons, plus Ivéta scone mix and lunch at Assembly

 

What charities would you like to see people support this season?

Judy Allen, Scotts Valley, Consulting

 

Big Basin Vineyards

I was just in the process of purchasing a bottle of Big Basin’s 2012 Homestead in Vinocruz when Matt Ryan walked into the store. Ryan manages the tasting room, sales and the mailing list at Big Basin, and, considering the popularity of their wines, he’s a very busy man.

 

Ashby Confections

Local chocolate maker talks chocolate and self control