Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning Greens: Celebrate Joshua Tree, will you; carbon sink, the ocean is

To you from morning greens welcome.  More than halfway through the workweek, we are.  Check what is in today's news, let us. Yessss.

The price IS right! Dr. Gretchen Daily of Stanford University gets a profile in the New York Times for her work seeking to quantify the value of an ecosystem. Sure, Daily acknowledges that some value the earth provides can't be tabulated like a gymnastics routine. (Excellent dismount from the lemur, the sloth really needs to stick the landing, etc.) Still, nobody's really made this serious of a run at accounting for "natural capital"- "Currently, there is no price for most of the ecosystem services we care about, like clean air and clean water," the University of Minnesota's Stephen Polasky told the Times. Close observation is helping Daily see, for example, the impact predators eating a pest can have in boosting crop yields: the new math could change how people everywhere value the ecosystem for regulatory and legal considerations. 

The OC Register's Science Dude reports that UC Irvine researchers are helping the OC Sanitation District drive demand for hydrogen fuel cell cars - with a new fuel-cell filling station. Methane gas at the Fountain Valley sewage treatment plant gets cleaned up and sent to a fuel cell, where it's one of the components of hydrogen. That hydrogen is a component of created electricity, so the fuel cell can dial around to produce more of either energy source. Hey, did you figure out yet that sewage includes HUMAN WASTE? 

LA's natural carbon bank? USC's Lisa Collins says waters in San Pedro Bay are one. A study out of the University of Southern California points to the notion that cooler waters help lock down particulate organic carbon from the atmosphere. Researchers tracked particulate carbon in San Pedro Basin sediment over 4 years. Collins says phytoplankton work more slowly in cooler temperatures, so their slow digestive patterns are allowing carbon to settle in sediment, according to a USC news release. Collins hopes next to deploy sediment traps off of Palos Verdes to see if she can confirm a region-wide carbon sink effect. 

As college kids consider possibly returning to school so as to graduate into a financial apocalypse, Greenpeace is renewing pressure on the LA Department of Water and Power to "quit coal." A blog entry over at Greenpeace's site talks about LA Rising, a concert I missed while I was enjoying some distance from LA, electricity, and deadlines. Greenpeace's video features college-age protesters, Rage Against the Machine and Ellen Page, and footage from CicLAVia.

And finally, at High Country News, the National Parks Conservation Association's Seth Shteir writes about three women who helped bring Joshua Tree National Park to its 75th anniversary. Maybe you know DiFi wrote a Desert Protection Act 17 years ago, but did you hear the one about the socialite gardener from Pasadena? Or the one about the amateur archaeologist from 29 Palms? Give some props to the ladies, word. 

Speaking of ladies, we love Cool J, news tips and opinions in the comments, too. 


(Photo of Yoda at Joshua Tree by Heidi & Matt via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.)