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Mar 04th
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Environment

News - Environment

Solmentum Gathers Momentum

Solmentum Gathers Momentum

Bay Area company comes to Santa Cruz with affordable way to go solar
With as much as 60,000 barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf per day, local economies on the brink of ruin and fragile ecosystems likely tarnished for years, there is no better time to really start thinking about what our dependency on fossil fuels is costing us. Sure BP is the evil company that may have skirted regulators and operated the unsafe rig that has caused the greatest environmental disaster in American history, but could it have been avoided if our demand for oil weren’t so insatiable?

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News - Environment

Motorcycles for a Greener Tomorrow

Motorcycles for a Greener Tomorrow

Local company looks to reinvent electric vehicle technology, boost green industry
For many, the word “motorcycle” conjures up the sounds and smells of roaring engines and the kind of mechanical monsters known for startling unsuspecting pedestrians with a mere flick of the wrist. But Zero Motorcycles, a local developer and manufacturer of 100 percent electric motorcycles, is hoping to change that perception—one green bike at a time. 

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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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Crop Circles

How the confusion over GMOs is undermining the organic movement

 

Week of Festivals: Full Moon, Lantern Festival, Purim, Holi

It is a week of many different festivals along with a full moon, all occurring simultaneously. Thursday Chinese New Year celebrations end with the Lantern Festival (at full moon). Thursday is also the Pisces Solar festival (full moon), Purim (Jewish Festival) and Holi (Hindu New Year Festival). Sunday, March 8, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. The festival of Purim celebrates the freedom of the Hebrew people from the cruel Haman (a magistrate) seeking to destroy them. Esther, the Queen of Persia, who was secretly Jewish, saved her people from death. The sweet cookie hamentaschen celebrates this festival. Friday, March 6, is Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival celebrated after the March full moon. Bonfires are lit the night before, warding off evil. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is the most colorful festival in the world. It is also the Festival of Love—of Radha for Krishna (the blue-colored God). It is a spring festival with singing, dancing, carnivals, food and bhang, a drink made of cannabis leaves. Holi signifies good over evil, ridding oneself of past errors, ending conflicts through rapprochement (returning to each other). It is a day of forgiveness, including debts. Holi also marks the beginning of New Year. At the Pisces Solar festival we recite the seed thought, “We leave the Father’s home and, turning back, we save.” Great Teachers remain on Earth until all of humanity is enlightened. The New Group of World Servers is called to this task and sacrifice. Sacrifice (from the heart) is the first Law of the Soul, the heart of which is Love. This sacrifice saves the world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Don’t Tell a Soul

The Secret Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary
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Water Street Grill

YOLO gets reincarnated

 

What would make Santa Cruz better?

A lot more outdoor activities such as outdoor movies and concerts, food and art festivals, and more multicultural activites. Emmanuel Cole, Santa Cruz, Bicycle Industry Product Developer

 

Thomas Fogarty Winery

When looking for a bottle of something to have with dinner, Gewürztraminer 2012 is not the first wine to come to mind. Given the popularity of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir—to name but a few—Gewürztraminer sits low on the totem pole.

 

So Long, Louie’s

Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar closes, plus Back Porch pop-up, and 2015 Outstanding in the Field tour