Southern California environment news and trends

Song of the Week: For Rick Perry's announcement, "Sleeping In"

We've had a lot of marijuana news this week, but we went national for Pacific Swell's song of the week this time around. It's in honor of a new entry into the Republican 2012 presidential race. 

Texas governor Rick Perry's announcement he's seeking the presidential nomination is welcome news to his fellow self-identified "climate skeptics." Slate reports that this week on the campaign trail, Perry said, "I think the record is still out on whether global warming is man-made or not. I’m a skeptic."

Governor Perry's views go beyond asking questions. Maeve Reston of the LA Times reports: "Without citing any specific examples, the Texas governor charged that "there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects."


Song of the Week: for the Coastal Commission and its adversaries, Old 97's "The One"

This week's song honors the coast of California…you know, the one that the California Coastal Commission watches over…including Peter Douglas, the longtime executive director of that regulatory body. As we reported, he announced his retirement this week. Song of the week's by the Old 97's, one of my favorite bands. It's called "The One." The opening - shimmery guitar chords - give way to lyrics sung by Rhett Miller that imagine the band robbing a bank and running away up the coast.

Murray says we’re gonna take the money sometime

Well it might as well be this time

We’re gonna spend it all on ourselves

Ken picked this bank at random

I said, do we shoot them?

And he said, either way’s alright

Whistlin’ Boy, that’s Philip, he’s our drummer

He does the them from “Endless Summer”


Song of the Week: "I'll Follow the Sun" for solar companies, LADWP

Pacific Swell's song of the week is dedicated to the LA Department of Water and Power and the companies who are criticizing its solar incentive program. It's called "I'll Follow the Sun," and even though it's a Beatles song, I picked a Glen Phillips version because he's a southern Californian and because I just plain liked it.

Not surprisingly, Beatles songs that date back to 1960 and came out in the US in 1965 don't have intensely complex lyrics:

One day you'll look to see I've gone

For tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the sun

Some day you'll know I was the one

But tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the sun

And now the time has come and, my love, I must go

And though I lose a friend In the end you will know, oh

Companies like Varengo, Solar City, Sungetivity and others say the DWP's restructured program is an aggressive step. Ken Button from Varengo told me that it had a chilling effect on his business. "we had planned to open up a new facility in the city of LA in the San Fernando Valley," he told me. "And because the program has been on hold, and now because of these cuts, we don’t expect to have that much residential business and we put all of our hiring and facilities plans on hold."


Song of the Week: Radiohead, Idiotheque, for the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher

It may be the case that Radiohead's Thom Yorke and his brethren cut up lyrics on pieces of paper and stuck them in a hat and pulled them out and made songs out of them (that's lore, not fact). But Yorke is deeply concerned about climate change, and his song "Idiotheque" touches on the same ideas the stories about Tim DeChristopher have. Utah climate activist Tim DeChristopher got sentenced to 2 years in prison on Tuesday, and that's why Radiohead's got the song of the week.

The song's from the Kid A album. (Kid A is 10 years old, and at least one real Radiohead fan has reflected on its political context.)  

Yorke sings on "Idiotheque":

Ice age coming 

Let me hear both sides…

"Both sides" may well be a reference to the face that our public discourse is dominated by the idea that there are sides, and there are two of them. Scientists themselves don't think that way. But the way their information gets used puts it on a do this-don't do that, redlight-greenlight spectrum. 


Song of the Week: Bloomberg Philanthropy gives $50 million to Sierra Club for coal campaign

News today inspires this week's song. A campaign already targeting LA's utility for its reliance on coal power has gotten a $50 million boost from Bloomberg Philanthropy for its national work. The Sierra Club says it will use the money to double the number of organizers it has for its Beyond Coal campaign, place people in 45 states, and aim for a hard-to-reach target: the group wants to shut down a third of the country's older coal plants by 2020.

In the Sierra Club's announcement, former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal. Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because, while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source, the impact on our environment and the impact on public health is significant," said Bloomberg. "Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water, and the leading cause of climate disruption."