Southern California environment news and trends

5 things worth seeing at this year's Green Festival in downtown LA

Avais Dinga/Courtesy of OrganicWorks PR

This weekend's Green Festival in downtown Los Angeles will bring over 300 vendors, over 100 speakers and a variety of other events to the Los Angeles Convention Center.  It runs from Saturday at 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Sunday. 

Organizers expect over 30,000 attendees, over 8,000 more than last year. Regional Director Laurie Kaufman tells KPCC the event is aimed at those who are green conscious (and "green-curious") from all political backgrounds. “[It's] fun, it's smart, it tastes good and it's a way to broaden your community,” she said. 

So what should you be mindful of at this year's gathering of the planetary and ecologically conscious? A few highlights:

1. Eco-celebs

“Hollywood’s positive impact is also integral to this movement,” said Erin Brunner by email. Brunner is a senior account executive at Organicworks PR, handling public relations for the Green Festivals nationally. “The celebrity element is also much higher here – we have an all-star lineup in each of the cities, but the LA Festival draws big names of celebrities inspired by the environment.”


Green party: Happy World Environment Day 2012!

Today (June 5th) marks the 40th observance of World Environment Day, established by the United Nations to celebrate environmental action and awareness. As reported by the Huffington Post, this year’s theme is ‘Green economy: Does it include you?’ The UN Environment Programme defines the green economy “as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.”

The host country for this year’s World Environment Day is Brazil, culminating in the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development happening there later this month.

Locally, eco-positive organizations like Environment California are very supportive of World Environment Day, but hope it leads to more people taking action in their everyday lives that benefit the world around us.


LA city council's vote on a bag ban: forward movement, yes. Historic? Not quite

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Even in a small market like Grocery Warehouse, LA sanitation workers are ready to talk to people in 5 languages, a sign of the city's diversity.

Over at the L.A. Times, they’re hailing a step that L.A. City Council took toward banning plastic bags as historic. Over here, we’re not. It seems to be worth explaining why.

First, a bit of history. Richard Alarcon joked today at a press conference before the council meeting: “What took so long?” He made that joke because the idea of a bag ban in L.A. first got kicked around seriously four years ago, and he and then-councilwoman Janice Hahn did a lot of the kicking.

Now, let’s get to why this isn’t historic.

The City of Los Angeles did not pass the first bag ban in the state. That honor goes to the hometown of my favorite baseball team, and their ban was actually the first in the country. San Francisco is actually in a second phase of their ordinance.

The City of Los Angeles did not defend its environmental impact report justifying a bag ban all the way to the state Supreme Court. That honor goes to Manhattan Beach, which argued and won the case last year.


Aquarium of the Pacific celebrates and ponders the fate of Southern California's urban coast

Aquarium of the Pacific

Aquarium of the Pacific

A few weeks back, Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific held an “urban coast” festival, celebrating the millions of people and thousands of species that share hundreds of square miles of ocean. Now the Aquarium is developing scenarios for what Southern California’s ocean and its coastline should look like within 40 years, and it’s looking for help.

That’s where the rest of us come in. Aquarium president Jerry Schubel says just about everyone has a stake in the coast's future. “We’ve got the two largest container ports in the nation. We have some of the best, busiest beaches [and] surfing. We have all of California’s offshore oil platforms, 17 of them, so it’s this wonderful combination of humans and marine life, living and acting and working and surviving in relative harmony,” Schubel says.


California cities rank on new U.S. public transportation list

Expo Line Test Run

Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

The Exposition Line train at the La Cienega/Jefferson station after finishing a test run.

According to a new report, five California locales placed among the top 25 American cities for public transportation.

The rankings were determined by exceedingly useful website Walk Score through a series of calculations resulting in a “Transit Score” which “measures how well a location is served by public transportation, and is based on data released in a standard open format by public transit agencies.”

In California, San Francisco rated the highest, coming in second overall with a transit score of 80, just one point behind the top-rated city of New York. Los Angeles just missed the top ten, scoring the 11th spot just behind Portland, OR and ahead of Milwaukee, WI. Walks Score considers L.A. the 13th most “walkable” city in America, citing downtown L.A., Koreatown and Mid-City as the best neighborhoods for getting around on foot. Los Angeles is sure to rank even higher on the site’s next survey, given the completion of the new L.A. Metro Expo Line that recently opened for service.