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Dec 19th
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Environment

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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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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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire