Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Toll lanes, condor trouble, and Schwarzenegger's climate summit

schwarzeneggerSchwarzenegger is at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit in Davis, “where representatives from more than 80 regional and local governments have come together for two days to try to figure out ways to reduce emissions and put the brakes on climate change,” according to Gretchen Weber of KQED’s Climate Watch.

L.A. could get more freeway toll lanes to reduce congestion in a plan that includes more clean energy buses, reports LA Times. “A preliminary study by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has recommended that five locations be explored in detail for the installation of high-occupancy toll lanes or so-called HOT lanes.”

What now for the West Hollywood Transit Corridor? Since the Metro Board’s decided to go with Westside Subway Extension plans that don’t include a “pink line” down Santa Monica Blvd., Dan Wentzel examines the possibilities for a “Hollywood-WestHollywood-SanVicente-Crenshaw-LAX-SouthBay-LongBeach light rail line” in Streetsblog LA.

New hurdle for California Condors may be DDT from years ago, reports NY Times.

In national news: At least one green energy measure will see congressional action this week, reports Greenwire.

However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to announce an agenda that attacks federal energy regulations this week, reports LA Times. And a climate change skeptic seeks to be the next House Energy and Commerce committee chairman, reports NY Times’ Green.

Lastly and frugally: Can tourists visit L.A. for $100 a day? Yes, says a NY Times writer who got to know L.A. by bicycle. “Seven days and six nights without a car turned out to be not only possible but in many ways afforded me a more unfiltered view of Los Angeles than I would have gotten behind the wheel, taking highways rather than local roads and further buffered from my surroundings by a windshield and a loud radio.”

Photo: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)


L.A. Eco-Village: Living green in the city

Our weekly Everyday Heroes series highlights one remarkable local environmentalist a week — but often, these environmentalists are remarkable in more than one green way. Take Joe Linton, for example. His Everyday Heroes profile focuses on his work with the L.A. River — specifically kayaking down the whole waterway! But Joe’s not only a river activist but a bicycle and green living activist as well.


If you’re curious about how an Everyday Hero lives, watch our 4.5-minute companion video about Joe Linton and his environmental activism. The video starts at the L.A. River — Joe talks about how the waterway can serve as a “connective tissue running through the neighborhoods” — but quickly moves on to the Los Angeles Eco-Village, an intentional green living community where Joe lives!


Everyday Heroes: Jane C. Doe, anonymous pubtran rider & blogger

Could you get out of your car and get to where you need to go for six months in Los Angeles? Jane C. Doe has: she's halfway through an experiment to go 180 days carless in LA - and writes a blog of the same name.

"Jane" came to LA from a southern state to work in the entertainment industry. She says you can usually find her in West Hollywood, though I suppose you'd have to know what she looks like. She does "editing, producing, writing, (and a bit o' directing) in both the long and short-form world." Her posts on her blog are loaded with references to art and architecture, design and dance. And her challenge to skip driving a car in L.A. is a self-imposed one: this isn't a bet or a contest.

Jane's not a full-time activist. You wouldn't pass her going into a supermarket, holding a clipboard and looking for your signature. (And she didn't trade in her car for a bike, like someone did at Tour de Fat, either.) She's just a woman working in Los Angeles, figuring out how to live and move around on LA's busses and trains - everyday.


Citizen scientists: Collect insects at Page Museum Sat.

pagemuseum Page Museum

Fancy yourself an amateur entomologist? I find creepy crawlies scary — especially after a recent bedbug scare (don’t ask) — but if six and eight-legged creatures fascinate you, here’s a local opportunity you won’t want to miss. The Page Museum‘s looking for would-be urban wildlife observers to collect insects.

The museum’s first citizen science survey happens this Sat., Nov. 20 from noon to 2 pm. From the museum’s website:

What do we know about insect life during the Ice-Age? And how might it have changed? In the Page Museum’s first-ever citizen science survey, we’ll try to answer those questions by collecting insects and other invertebrates in the Pleistocene Garden, atrium and Hancock Park with Entomology Curator Brian Brown. Join in on fascinating discussions of insect and invertebrate life, and even learn how to hone your skills as an urban wildlife observer in your neighborhood.


Morning greens: Prop 26 debates, end of 1 (800) Commute, new enviro health risks

recycle Morning greensToday’s America Recycles Day! Don’t forget to drop off your e-waste and other hard-but-possible-to-recycle goods at L.A. Live.

The impact of Prop 26 is under hot debate. LA Times reports environmental policies ranging from the disposable bag fee being considered by L.A. County to a tax on crude oil could become very difficult to pass. Earlier: Legal experts disagree on Prop 26′s effect on AB 32.

1 (800) Commute will be discontinued as of June 2011, according to Metro’s The Source. “Taking its place is the new 511 system launched last spring and a new local number: 323-Go-Metro.”

Chromium-tainted groundwater plagues residents of Hinkley, Calif
., continuing the pollution saga that inspired “Erin Brokovich.” Reports LA Times: “The border of the plume has shifted 1,800 feet beyond a containment boundary set by PG&E in 2008, spreading higher levels of hexavalent chromium, a cancer-causing heavy metal isotope linked to stomach cancers and other health hazards, according to state water officials.”

Frequent flyers face radiation risks. Reports NY Times’ Green: “At airliner altitudes, exposure to radiation from the sun and the stars can be hundreds of times higher than on the surface of the earth, where the atmosphere filters out radiation.” A new controversial “backscatter” X-ray machines are also creating concerns.

Some reusable bags are tainted with lead, so shop wisely. NY Times’ Green reports that “There is no evidence that these bags pose an immediate threat to the public,” but that some bags, mostly made in China, contain potentially unsafe levels of lead. “The offending bags were identified at several stores, including some CVS pharmacies.”

Lastly and un-foodie-ly: In the New Yorker, Ellis Weiner snarks against our broken food safety system by making fun of food and product recalls:

There’s even more good news: every product we recall creates a job opportunity that didn’t exist before. Case in point: approximately thirty-four thousand children’s jackets and thirteen thousand five hundred vests are on their way to the warehouse right now, because it’s been said that their drawstrings can pose entanglement and strangulation hazards to young children. Well, when they arrive, somebody has to be there to welcome them.

Image: Courtesy of America Recycles Day