Southern California environment news and trends

Generation X: Too cool to care about climate change?

Steven Cuevas/KPCC

In the early ‘90s, the burgeoning youth culture that came to be known as “Generation X” (due in large part to Douglas Copeland’s popular book of the same name) was typified as disenfranchised yet more open-minded and politically active than aging Baby Boomers, with a penchant for flannel shirts and grunge bands like Nirvana. But a new study from the University of Michigan reveals that members of Gen X—people born between the early 1960s and early 1980s—are “surprisingly unconcerned” about climate change issues, even as American swelters under a record-breaking heat wave this summeer.

As reported by, “The Generation X Report” surveyed about 4000 people between the ages of 32 and 52 and found that only 5 percent are “alarmed” and 18 percent are “concerned” about climate change issues.


Hot topic: Air, water pollution top America's environmental worries

A view of downtown Los Angeles,Californi


As most of the country is gripped in a brutal heat wave, a recent Washington Post-Stanford University poll finds that climate change is no longer the primary environmental concern of Americans.

According to the poll, air and water pollution is now the number one ecological situation Americans worry about at 27 percent, compared to just 18 percent who cited climate change. A similar poll taken back in 2007 had climate change in the top spot with 33 percent.

AFP points out that the survey of 800 people occurred between June 13 and 21, before the current record-breaking temperatures overtook a large part of the nation. Still almost three quarters of those polled believe the world is heating up and will continue to rise unless something is done to stop it. Seventy-eight percent of the respondents said global warming will be a serious problem if left alone, and 55 percent replied that the U.S. government should do "a great deal.”


Studies say less red meat production key to rebalancing global warming trends

Severe Drought Major Factor In Steep Rise In Beef Prices

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There have been numerous studies linking the consumption of meat to health risks, but a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists claims that meat production is just as dangerous to the environment. The study, entitled “Grade A Choice? Solutions for Deforestation-Free Meat,” states that the vast amounts of land required for meat production is one of the leading causes of deforestation and global warming emissions. Findings also reveal that a shift towards less red meat consumption would protect the planet by drastically reducing those emissions.

“We have a big beef with beef,” said Doug Boucher, a Union of Concerned Scientists’ director and co-author of the report in a statement. “Because of the way it is produced, the more beef we eat, the worse global warming gets.”

Calling red meat “ecologically inefficient,” the report finds that beef production consumes a staggering 60 percent of the world’s agricultural land, but returns less than 5 percent of the protein and 2 percent of the calories that feeds the world.


Cap-and-trade getting to nuts and bolts, but Sacramento still seeing climate skeptics, AB 32 opponents

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Molly Peterson/KPCC

California Air Resources Board chief Mary Nichols, whose agency oversees state climate policy efforts under AB 32, outside a conference in Hollywood in 2011.

A discussion about how state lawmakers should dole out cap-and-trade auction proceeds under AB 32, the state's landmark greenhouse gas reduction law, is proceeding in Sacramento. What's interesting is that it's doing so with considerable and continuing opposition to the premise of capping or, for that matter, trading greenhouse gas emissions in the first place.

The bill is AB 1532. By its language at the moment, it provides that proceeds of an auction "shall be used to facilitate the achievement of feasible and cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in this state" that maximize economic, enviro, and public health benefits; boost jobs; complement other work to improve air quality; invest in disadvantaged communities; and/or provide opportunities for local agencies, schools, or other community institutions (this actually includes businesses).


Weather report: America sweats the hottest 12 months in recorded history

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Image: Cimexus/Flickr

Hot enough for you, America? According to a new study, the answer is a resounding (and somewhat unsettling) yes.

As reported by Treehugger, the latest State of Climate overview from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that the twelve months from May 2011 through April 2012 were the hottest in American recorded history, dating back to the late 1800s (1895 to be exact, according to the Washington Post).

While western states like California and Nevada experienced higher than average temperatures, 22 other states (mostly in the Midwest and the northeastern seaboard) saw record-breaking high temperatures. The average temperature for the lower 48 states during that time was 55.7°F, a full 2.8°F higher than the 20th century average. Only Washington and Oregon saw near-normal heat over that time period. All other states ranged from “above normal” to “record warmest.”