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Feb 14th
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Environment

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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News - Environment

Swine on the Mind

Swine on the Mind

Opinions are split when it comes to the size of the H1N1 pandemic, but most doctors still recommend the vaccine

After ramping up a vaccination campaign larger than any since polio, public health agencies now say swine flu is on its way out. While some doctors question whether swine flu was ever truly as widespread as it was made out to be, warnings that H1N1 could infect half of all Americans and befell 90,000 came from the highest health authorities, the largest media outlets—even the President.

In late November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that H1N1 cases have appeared in all regions of the country, besides a few isolated areas like Hawaii, and has claimed about 4,000 lives so far. The World Health Organization (WHO) also announced “early signs of a peak” in the U.S., saying it expects infections to continue to decline.

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News - Environment

Defining the Elusive “Green” Fish

Defining the Elusive “Green” Fish

Recently passed Sustainable Seafood Bill seeks to inform consumers and reward environmentally friendly fishers

While the declining state of fisheries in California threatens to put us all in Homer Simpson's shoes during a Treehouse of Horror moment ("Oh, I wish I wish I hadn't killed that fish!"), Assemblyman Bill Monning's recently passed Sustainable Seafood Bill is a good start in the other direction.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster