Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Prop 23 fight continues, bike racks get mapped

rallytokickcoal Morning greens:

Young Californians are fighting hard against Prop 23 with the help of social media, according to LA Weekly’s cover story this week. “If it all comes together, they’ll have created a grassroots network of progressive-minded student leaders with the organizational breadth to tackle a few other messes created by the generations who came before.”

The Metro Board’s decisions on the Westside Subway Extension has the local media abuzz. L.A. Now reports the subway line could hit the brakes in Beverly Hills, while LAist points out that a debate over where to place the UCLA stop is also still ongoing.

While rail projects got the most attention, the Metro Board also approved a Hollywood Bike HUB, a 1,000-square-foot bike shop where locals can work on their bikes. “What’s next is to develop request for proposals and find operating partners,” reports Curbed LA.


Matt Kahn's Climatopolis: of golf courses and cemeteries

Golf courses and cemeteries - the two prime wastes of real estate!

Al Czervik said that. And now so does UCLA's Matt Kahn, in a way.

Kahn is an economist I've interviewed a number of times who works at the Institute of the Environment at UCLA. I heard his book was called Climatopolis, and I saw the cover - with its red-orange apocalytic-Red-Dawn effect - and thought I might have a book analog to The Day After Tomorrow on my hands. But no such luck. Kahn's an upbeat guy, so he looks at how people in cities might adapt to a warmer-temperature world - and the results are engaging and thought-provoking.

First, Utah - and specifically Salt Lake City, where they're still printing references to this crazy climate change business - gets top marks for resiliency to a changing climate, for its elevation.

A lack of elevation, you might imagine, will present a challenge. California's thought of that - the state has a climate adaptation plan in the works. And Kahn says so will its residents. Whether you live near the Great Salt Lake or the channelized Los Angeles River, water scarcity is something we'll contend with. Which is where we get back to Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack.

Kahn posits west side golf courses will prove less valuable than high-density residences as people seek to live at the more temperate coast. And he talks about flaws in incentives used as policy mechanisms by the DWP by looking within his zip Candy Spelling's mansion, on a larger parcel of land, with a larger water allotment. (Guy knows his name around search engine optimization, I'd guess.) Actually, he kind of mocks them:


Check your ballots: Prop 23 language incorrect in Fresno

Some 140-thousand Fresno voters got the wrong language for a ballot measure that would pause the state's landmark greenhouse gas law - and the Yes campaign ain't happy.

As Proposition 23 came to the ballot, a federal judge altered its language at the insistence (legally speaking, we call it a "civil suit") of Yes on 23 folks. References to "major polluters" were changed to "sources of emissions" - that's the big one (and confusing in and of itself, since the Supreme Court declared greenhouse gases pollutants under the Clean Air Act a few years back) - and “suspends air pollution control laws” was changed to "suspends implementation of air pollution control law [AB 32]."

Except Fresno seems to have had a slight printing problem, and published the "polluters" version.

The yes campaign is getting word out to its supporters and anyone on its communications lists with text messages.


A Halloween Masked Ball in Venice goes batty

batcostume Love bats? Want to dress up as one for Halloween? Then get that broken black umbrella out of your closet and go green by creating your own batty upcycled costume — for a Halloween Masked Ball that benefits Bat Conservation International.

I’ll be honest — I am very scared of bats. In fact, back when I lived in the Miracle Mile area about a decade ago, I woke up one scary morning to see a clumsy bat flapping around my ceiling! Of course I hid under the covers until the bat disappeared through some exit route I couldn’t determine — at which point I called the CDC — then got a full round of rabies shots!

No actual bats will be at the Halloween Masked Ball, however. And while I hope bats never visit me in my home again, I also hope they don’t go extinct. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service (PDF), seven of the 45 kinds of bats living in the U.S. are in danger of becoming extinct — including the lesser long-nosed bat found in California.

Bat Conservation International works on bat conservation efforts, and a $10 donation to the nonprofit gets you into the Halloween Masked Ball. G2 Gallery says there will be “spine-chilling foods and drinks” — a.k.a. margaritas and tapas — as well as “hair-raising music, and blood-curdling costumes.”

Dress up, because the best costumed reveler will win a nature and wildlife photograph by Michael Forsberg. It all happens tomorrow, Oct. 30, from 7 pm to 9 pm at G2 Gallery, 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Make sure you RSVP to

Photo by Lenore Edman/Flickr


Chemical-munching bacteria to make cleaner water in Riverside area

Bacteria already in the ground could clean drinking water in the Inland Empire. According to Janet Zimmerman at the Press-Enterprise, water districts are developing  system whereby water is pulled from well, run past these bacteria, which eat perchlorate and nitrate and VOCs, volatile organic compounds (well, digest them), producing nitrogen gas which can get released to the atmosphere with oxygen. Then they zap out the waste bacteria, chlorinate the mess and bam! Drinking water. 

Though biological treatment is more expensive up front, about $4.2 million vs. $3.8 million for ion exchange, it saves money in the long run because it can treat high levels of contaminants and treats multiple chemicals in a single process. Biological treatment is about $238 per acre-foot of water, compared to $254 for ion exchange, according to a 2009 study by the Department of Defense.