Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags , ,

1 in 3 Americans now ‘alarmed’ by climate change. Why aren’t our leaders?

LOS ANGELES TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD

New results from a long-running public opinion survey show that about 1 in 3 Americans is now “alarmed” by global warming. Is it any wonder, given the horrific onslaught of fires, floods, heat waves and other climate disasters we’ve experienced in the last year alone?

The share of the U.S. adult population alarmed by global warming nearly doubled over the last five years from 18% to an all-time high of 33%, with about half of that increase occurring between December 2020 and September 2021, researchers with Yale University and George Mason University reported Wednesday as part of a twice-a-year nationwide survey. About 59% of Americans are either “alarmed” or “concerned” about climate change and overall are becoming more engaged and supportive of policies to reduce planet-warming pollution.

The shift in public opinion is surely being driven by experience. A recent Washington Post analysis found that more than 40% of Americans live in a county that was hit by climate-related disasters in 2021 — extremes that will get worse as the greenhouse gas-fueled rise in temperatures continues.

But what should alarm us even more is how out of step our government remains with Americans’ fast-evolving views on climate change, and how little state and federal leaders have done in the face of an escalating emergency. Instead of acting decisively to slash emissions, switch to renewable energy and phase out fossil fuel production, our government is still stuck in the mud, even as U.S. greenhouse gas emissions roar back after a pandemic-induced lull.

President Biden’s Build Back Better bill includes $555 billion for renewable energy and clean transportation and would be the nation’s biggest step ever to fight climate change, but it remains stalled in Congress. California, despite its reputation as an environmental champion, is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, targets that are themselves inadequate and now lag behind other states and countries. The state Legislature, meanwhile, has failed to advance ambitious and necessary climate legislation, including measures to set more stringent emissions reduction goals and begin phasing out oil drilling, a transition that will both help the planet and protect communities of color that are hit hardest by fossil fuel pollution and suffer outsize health damage.

Read more at https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-01-13/americans-more-worried-climate-change

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, ForestsTags , ,

Permit Sonoma releases updated draft of county Community Wildfire Protection Plan

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, SOCONEWS

This week Permit Sonoma, in collaboration with local fire agencies, community members and organizations, released the updated draft of the Sonoma County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for public review.

A CWPP is a detailed document that measures wildfire risks specific to an area and identifies ways to mitigate risks in a comprehensive plan. The plan also provides a prioritized list of projects that if implemented, can help reduce wildfire hazards.

Before the plans are submitted to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval, Permit Sonoma will host a draft review meeting in each county district in order for the public to learn about the plan and provide input.

The virtual meeting dates for each district are as follows:

District 1 – Jan. 20, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 2 – Jan. 13, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 3 – Jan. 19, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 4 – Jan. 26, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

District 5 – Jan. 27, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

The public comment period for the draft CWPP is open until Feb. 28. Comments may be submitted to the Community Wildfire Protection Plan project page or via email at PermitSonoma-WildfirePlan@sonoma-county.org.

Read more at https://soconews.org/scn_county/permit-sonoma-releases-updated-draft-of-county-community-wildfire-protection-plan/article_e12e6f6e-749b-11ec-8a2a-17fd9e118f52.html?

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, ForestsTags , ,

Sonoma County needs public input on wildfire plan

Colin Atagi, PRESS DEMOCRAT

Beginning Thursday, the public may weigh in on a long-term Sonoma County plan to enhance wildfire protections and minimize damage.

A draft of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan will be presented during a 6 p.m. Zoom meeting for Sonoma County’s second district, which includes Petaluma.

The plan and other upcoming meetings are listed on the county’s official website for the plan.

“There’s gonna be lot of information presented at these meetings to give people context to what we are doing,” said Bradley Dunn, policy manager with Sonoma County’s Permit & Resource Management Department.

The 400-page plan identifies high-risk areas and prioritizes projects designed to minimize the threat and damage of wildfires.

Projects include developing an evacuation plan for Bohemian Highway communities in the western county, a prescribed burn in the Sugarhood Complex area east of Santa Rosa and improving emergency response and preparedness in the Camp Meeker area.

The plan is expected to go before the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval later this year.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/sonoma-county-needs-public-input-on-wildfire-plan/?trk_msg=6G93I0RD1S7KB2PG8LVEJLAG4C&trk_contact=8LCG0IN7LNSGSSH59B7T0MAVBK&trk_module=new&trk_sid=GLMDB2ARUSFL0V8QG5IINGJ3O8&trk_link=3C7TQP2C1GAKFEPS5H0HI25GBS&utm_email=157294458471E43CD45CF5795F&utm_source=listrak&utm_medium=email&utm_term=https%3a%2f%2fwww.pressdemocrat.com%2farticle%2fnews%2fsonoma-county-needs-public-input-on-wildfire-plan%2f&utm_campaign=pd_daily

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable LivingTags , , , , ,

California is about to witness its biggest change to trash since the ’80s. Hint: It’s all about composting

Chase DeFeliciantonio, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Dawn has just broken over Recology’s vast Blossom Valley Organics composting facility, about 70 miles east of San Francisco in Vernalis (San Joaquin County). The cold fall air hits like a slap to the face as orange light creeps over the horizon.

As the sun rises over the site, one of six the company operates statewide, a fine grit rides on the air, which is thick with the smell of earthy decomposition.

Operations Supervisor Clifford Reposa casts a wary eye on a 25-ton trailer of organic waste as it is hoisted on a hydraulic lift almost vertically against the pale and reddening sky.

“Not good. Lots of plastic bags,” Reposa mutters, his arms crossed as he watches a flood of pumpkins, apple cores, bits of wood and piles of leaves trucked in from San Francisco tumble out, adding to the towering piles of refuse that dwarf huge bulldozers moving it around in a deafening, mechanical dance.

This load of refuse is just a fraction of the roughly 1,500 tons of compostable material the 120-acre facility takes in every day from San Francisco and parts of the East Bay and South Bay. It comes here to be reborn as natural fertilizer used on vineyards and farms, and in varietals that are crafted specifically for different types of soil.

After those plastic bags and nonorganic materials are plucked out by men, women and gargantuan machines with names like The Titan, what remains will be placed into heaping piles that eventually break down into dark compost some farmers call “black gold.” Those heaps that stand higher than a person are spritzed with water and heated and cooled for two months to help trillions of microorganisms turn the solid waste into rich food for hungry crops.

Read more at https://www.sfchronicle.com/projects/2022/california-compost-law-climate-change-effect/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags , ,

Greta Thunberg on the state of the climate movement

KK Ottesen, WASHINGTON POST

Since there are no binding agreements that safely put us towards a safe future for life on Earth as we know it, that means that we have to use morals, and we have to be able to feel empathy with one another. That is all we have right now.

Student and climate activist Greta Thunberg, 18, burst improbably onto the world stage in late 2018 when what began as a one-person school strike outside the Swedish parliament ended up galvanizing a global climate movement to demand immediate action to prevent environmental catastrophe.

Thunberg’s school strike spread in Sweden and around the world, inspiring a youth-led global climate strike movement, Fridays for Future, which urged cuts in carbon emissions. Her speeches at major political gatherings, including the World Economic Forum, the British Parliament, the U.S. Congress and, most recently, the United Nations climate summit known as COP26, have castigated leaders for failing future generations with their “fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” Or, as she said in one speech, “How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Thunberg credits her Asperger’s syndrome, which is considered part of the autism spectrum, for her truth-telling and focus as a climate activist. She lives in Stockholm.

You called COP26 a “failure” and a “PR event.”

Well, in the final document, they succeeded in even watering down the blah, blah, blah. Which is very much an achievement, if you see it that way. Of course it’s a step forward that, instead of coming back every five years, they’re doing it every year now. But still, that doesn’t mean anything unless that actually leads to increased ambition and if they actually fulfill those ambitions.

What do you mean when you say, “watering down the blah, blah, blah”?

As we all know, or as we might know, the so-called “f-word” was included for the first time in this document: fossil fuel. Which makes you wonder what they have been doing these decades without even mentioning fossil fuels for a problem which, to a very, very large extent, is caused by fossil fuels. And instead of “phasing out” [coal, the document’s language became] “phasing down.” So, yeah, that is one very clear example.

And also, one question that was very up in the air was the question about finance for loss and damage and the Green Climate Fund, which they again failed to agree on. The money that has already been promised, the bare minimum that the so-called global north have promised that they will deliver, they failed to come to any conclusions, and it’s been postponed once again.

Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2021/12/27/greta-thunberg-state-climate-movement-roots-her-power-an-activist/

Posted on Categories TransportationTags ,

Santa Rosa made city buses free to students in July. The program appears to be a success

Andrew Graham, PRESS DEMOCRAT

As Santa Rosa CityBus seeks to maintain public transit during the ongoing pandemic, student passengers are giving ridership a boost after the city made travel free for students through their senior year of high school.

The program, a one-year pilot, so far seems to be a success, according to transit officials, marking a rare bright spot in a dark time for public transportation.

Overall, the bus system was at 61% of it ridership before the pandemic by the end of November, Yuri Koslen, Santa Rosa City Transit Planner, said in a Dec. 15 interview. The bright spot is that youth ridership exceeded pre-pandemic levels by roughly 20% in October and 27% in November, Koslen said.

Paid for by grants from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Transportation Fund for Clean Air, Santa Rosa began one year of free bus trips for students up to the 12th grade on July 1.

Since then, the hulking blue and silver city buses carried young residents at least 80,000 times from then until Nov. 30. Youth ridership has leveled out at around 20,000 trips a month.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/santa-rosa-made-city-buses-free-to-students-in-july-the-program-appears-to/

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Climate Change & EnergyTags , , , , ,

Straus Family Creamery puts Sonoma County dairy cows on seaweed diet to test method to fight climate change

Susan Wood, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Straus Family Creamery is widely known for all things food, but red seaweed isn’t one of them — until now.

This summer, ecologist-at-heart Albert Straus, who is a pioneer in organic farming, signed up his 24 cows on his Petaluma farm to help determine if feeding them red seaweed would reduce their methane emissions, mostly from belching. He mixed the ocean plant into their feed, like humans would add green onions to their scrambled eggs,

And over a 50-day trial in which the cows were tested four times a day, methane releases dropped by 52%. In some circumstances, the experiment showed the methane was cut by as much as 90%. Straus, who produces an assortment of mass-produced dairy products, believes a second trial planned in January will produce more consistent results.

“We know we can do better than that,” he told the Business Journal, referencing the lower percentage of reduction.

So far in the first trial, the equivalent of five metric tons of harmful greenhouse gases, blamed in causing the planet to heat up, was cut.

As part of a state climate initiative, California’s 2030 mandate requires a reduction of methane by 40%. It has been determined that cow burps are responsible for 35% of total U.S. on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/north-bay/straus-family-creamery-puts-sonoma-county-dairy-cows-on-seaweed-diet-to-tes/

Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags , , ,

California proposes big changes to rooftop solar incentives

Sammy Roth, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

Walker Wright, vice president of public policy at San Francisco-based Sunrun, the nation’s largest rooftop solar installer, said in a written statement that Guzman Aceves’ decision would “impose the highest discriminatory charges on solar and energy storage customers in the U.S., putting rooftop solar and batteries out of reach for countless families in California just as more households are demanding that the state do more to combat climate change and provide them with reliable, sustainable energy.”

California officials want to slash payments for rooftop solar power while adding incentives for homes and businesses to install batteries, saying the changes will help the state achieve 100% clean energy in a way that keeps the lights on, prevents electricity rates from spiraling out of control and also encourages people to drive electric cars.

The proposal from Martha Guzman Aceves, one of five members of the California Public Utilities Commission, would revamp an incentive program called net energy metering that has helped the state become a national solar power leader, with more than 1.3 million rooftop and other small-scale systems installed. The solar industry and climate change advocacy groups have lobbied Gov. Gavin Newsom and his appointees on the utilities commission to keep the program’s basic tenets unchanged.

But in an interview, Guzman Aceves said net metering needs to evolve to reflect California’s changing energy needs. The Golden State’s power grid is increasingly flooded by solar energy during the afternoon but strained on hot summer evenings, when millions of people throttle up their air conditioners to cope with high temperatures made worse by the climate crisis.

Read more at https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-12-13/california-proposes-big-changes-to-rooftop-solar-incentives

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , , ,

Mark West Quarry faces hefty fine for polluting salmon habitat

Will Carruthers, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN

A Sonoma County mining company faces a $4.5 million fine for allegedly allowing over 10 million gallons of tainted water to flow into a creek, damaging the habitat of endangered salmon.

In a September press release, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board announced that, at a Dec. 2 meeting, the agency’s board would consider approving a $4.5 million fine against the BoDean Company, Inc. for numerous alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at the company’s Mark West Quarry several years ago. The North Coast water board is one of nine similar boards around the state charged with enforcing a variety of environmental laws.

Water Board staff first identified the problem in December 2018, when they noticed “sediment-laden stormwater” in Porter Creek downstream from the 120-acre quarry, which is used for hard-rock mining and materials processing. Over the next five months, Water Board officials visited the quarry 15 times total, documenting numerous similar incidents. All told, Water Board prosecutors estimate that 10.5 million gallons of tainted water flowed from the mountainside quarry into Porter Creek, which feeds into the Russian River.

Water Board photographs show that the investigators repeatedly discovered cloudy waters, known as “turbid” in Water Board lingo, emanating from the BoDean quarry. The creek serves as habitat for endangered California steelhead trout and Coho salmon, and the sediments flowing from the quarry could put those creatures at risk.

Read more at https://bohemian.com/bodean-water-fine/

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags ,

Seemingly headed for extinction in 2020, Western Monarchs boom back in 2021

Daniel Roman, BAY NATURE

Since 1997, volunteers organized by the conservation group Xerces Society have counted western monarchs over Thanksgiving at the butterflies’ overwintering sites around coastal California, as part of the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count. In 2020, the count hit an all-time low — less than 2,000 monarchs; a number, Bay Nature reported last year, that “represents an astonishing continuation of the near-total collapse of the western migratory population of the species over the last few decades.” Scientists then weren’t certain if any of the butterflies would come back at all. The preliminary reports out of this year’s count, however, suggest that they did, and in a big way.

“We’re well over 100,000 butterflies at this point,” said Emma Pelton, the Xerces Society’s senior endangered species conservation biologist and western monarch lead.

Data from over 200 monitoring sites show significantly greater numbers than last year. For example, more than 10,000 monarchs were counted at overwintering sites in Pacific Grove, Pismo Beach, and Big Sur. Last year, those three sites had less than 300 butterflies total. Similar trends are being reported from sites in Santa Cruz, Ventura, and Los Angeles. “We definitely haven’t seen an increase of this magnitude before,” Pelton said. The final numbers from the count overall are expected to be reported sometime in January.

Though this rebound gives cause for hope for the struggling monarch population, it does beg the question: How did it happen?

“That’s the question of the day,” Pelton said. “I would love to know.”

There’s a couple of different theories, with some studies to back them up. One hypothesis is that this year’s boom is due to an influx of monarchs from the eastern migratory population — which typically migrates between Mexico and the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains — joining western monarchs, thereby adding to the population. Another theory, based on a recent study, suggests that monarchs are spending winters breeding in backyards in the East Bay instead of sheltering as they’ve traditionally done, probably due to warmer weather. Pelton, however, said she doesn’t find these theories very compelling — especially the latter one. “I’m not totally sure why we would think brief winter breeding in a different area of the coast would lead to that increase,” she said. “We see a lot of that sort of behavior in Southern California and we have for decades. It has not helped the population.”

Read more at https://baynature.org/2021/12/08/seemingly-headed-for-extinction-in-2020-western-monarchs-boom-back-in-2021/