Southern California environment news and trends

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


America Recycles Day, E-Waste drop-off at L.A. Live

'Tis sort of the time of year for e-waste events - in the sense that we're approaching the time of year when people go running into BestBuy like firefighters into burning buildings to pick up a Blu-Ray player or three for presents. (I tend to run the other way out of a mall, especially at the holidays, but I do have seemingly dozens of cousins.)

Over the weekend, the city of Pasadena held an electronic waste event at Brookside Park, next to the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. Today, L.A. Live's the site of a monster recycling effort. Curbside at Nokia Plaza L.A. LIVE, entering from Figueroa and 11th streets only, they're taking:

  • Light bulbs
  • Batteries
  • Used sporting goods

E-waste items including:

  • Cell phones
  • CRT devices including older televisions and computer monitor
  • Desktop computer monitors, hard drives and Laptop Computer
  • Televisions (Plasma, LCD, CRT)
  • Portable electronics (DVD players, handheld video games, cd players
  • Cash registers and oscilloscopes containing CRTs
  • Computer keyboards, mouse and other peripherals
  • Telephones, cell phones, and answering machines
  • Stereo equipment, radios, tape and phonographs
  • Video cassette recorders and calculators
  • Microwave Ovens


Greening faith

A month and a half ago Heal the Bay's Mark Gold wrote on his Spouting Off blog:

I’ve always been struck by the fact that so much of the local environmental leadership is Jewish (Andy Lipkis, Felicia Marcus, David Nahai, Adi Liberman,  Fran Diamond, Madelyn Glickfeld, the late Dorothy Green, Sara Wan, David Beckman, Laurie David, and so many more). Clearly, the importance of social action in the community means a lot more than Tikkun Olam and Tu Bishvat.

He had a religious experience at temple, of all places:

Joel asked simply: “How can we claim that our righteousness flow like a mighty stream when our streams have been flowing to create destruction or our streams have dried up?”
Because my life has been water for many years, the rabbi’s words resonated with me strongly. His powerful use of the water analogy and connecting to the impacts of climate change on water were extraordinary.


Morning greens: Wilshire bus-only lanes, sunburned whales, toxic blowouts

What is Los Angeles’ green future? “In a way, because Los Angeles is so complex, so diverse, so big — that if you can get a sustainability process underway, if you can make Los Angeles sustainable, then you can do it anywhere," says Futurist Jamais Cascio, before warnng “The worst case scenario for Los Angeles is….” Watch the 15-minute video below to find out what that sad scenario may be.

Wish the Metro Rapid 720 bus moved down Wilshire Blvd. more rapidly? Metro’s The Source blog announces Metro staff’s new recommendations for rush hour bus-only lanes on Wilshire, running the 8.7 miles between Centinela and South Park view between 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm on weekdays.

Brazilian Blowout gets sued for formaldehyde content by Calif. Attorney General. The company’s popular hair-straightening treatments are now under attack, after numerous salon workers complained about health problems. No More Dirty Looks blog has a copy of a formal complaint, which alleges that “high levels of formaldehyde” are found in the company’s products, which are marketed as containing no formaldehyde or harsh chemicals.”