Southern California environment news and trends

DWP and Solar: Let the sun shine...

The LA Department of Water and Power took a little bit of a beating with the defeat of Measure B back in March. DWP’s political opponents crowed victory; the utility’s chief, David Nahai, told me immediately that Solar LA would move forward anyway.

And it is.

Now DWP is launching a series of six workshops around the city to get public input about solar energy plans. They're recordin' and facilitatin' and generally takin' note of what people say. But there's no specific action that will come out of it; DWP's board can approve a course of action, regardless. The flyer is long on locations; it's short on specific details about what they'll do with people's input. But you can't know if you don't go.

Wednesday, September 16
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Expo Center
3980 S. Menlo Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90037


Yes, you can...have a garden in the fall

A preview of coming attractions: Last month, amid Katrina madness, I talked with a lot of very enthusiastic folks about community gardening. Which happens to be on the rise, what with the financial apocalypse and all.

Their summer harvests are ending. But fall planting is underway - wonderful lettuces, among them. Yes, I know that's not what's in the picture. I'm just excited about lettuce season, okay?

In the coming days, I'll have some stories about community gardens bursting at the seams, with crops, demand, community, musicians, artists, social networking, dogs and cats, living together. Check back for more!


An interview with "Matthew Glass," author of Ultimatum

Earlier I confessed to my fascination with climate change fiction - visions of a future global warming-driven apocalypse, in film and in books. Reading Ultimatum made me want to talk to the author. Unfortunately, that's hard to do, since he's writing under a pen name. His publisher agreed to send "Matthew Glass" questions, though.

Some of the characters in Ultimatum seem inspired by current political figures. Are they? Or are you projecting where the world might be some decades into the future?

I guess some people might see certain parallels between Joe Benton [ed.- the fictional U.S. President in 2032] and Barack Obama (although clearly there are also many differences in the profiles). If there are such parallels, they’re fortuitous. I wrote the first draft of ULTIMATUM in the winter of 06/07 when we were still deep in the Bush presidency and Hilllary Clinton (with whom Benton has very few parallels) was hot favourite for the Democratic nomination. I don’t think I was much aware of Obama as a candidate with serious potential at that stage – I don’t think anyone else was either!


Climate ultimatum, negotiation or apocalypse

The summer The Day After Tomorrow came out, I was a fellow at a workshop at the University of Rhode Island's Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting. It was a fascinating time for oceans, with the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy in full swing. (Not to mention heaven if you've got a jones for the sea. Or seafood.)

Five years later, some of what I learned has changed. But I still remember the way oceanographers had their knickers in a twist over scientific inaccuracies in the movie. This is terrible! It could never happen! It's misleading and confusing and just plain wrong! The film's been good fodder for scientific accuracy geeks. It did stretch reputable science to apocalyptic lengths.

And I love it.

I just read a book loaned to me by KPCC listener and renaissance man Mark Robison. The book, by Matthew Glass, is called Ultimatum. I think it's like a summer beach reading cousin of The Day After Tomorrow, with more Realpolitik. In the year 2032, a President has to confront scientific evidence that global warming is happening faster still than the public knows - and publicly, the world's already making plans to run to higher ground because of sea rise. Kyoto's a failure; the U-S attempts secret bilateral negotiations with China to cut emissions. And China ain't playin'.


MPAs, MLPAs: A salty alphabet soup

We've got another regional meeting for what to do with marine protected areas off shore, Tuesday, in southern California. The process for establishing marine protected areas is in full simmer in southern California, for waters from Point Concepcion to the Mexican border. Stirred into the soup are acronyms and words like stakeholder. I love me some jargon, but usually out of curiosity, as opposed to out loud, on the radio. So here's a primer. 10 years ago, California got a Marine Life Protection Act. That's the MLPA. It sets goals for evaluating the state of marine life in coastal waters, and it authorizes marine protected areas. Those are MPAs. The state Department of Fish and Game is implementing the law. That's the DFG. It was about a century ago that California started making protected areas offshore. Some didn't stick; others did, and are wildlife areas, and ecological reserves. Under the terms of the new law, the process for deciding what to protect now is supposed to be science based. The state's gathered people to drop some science knowledge: they're the Science Advisory Team. That's the SAT. Then there's the Blue Ribbon Task Force. "[S]elected by the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency for their knowledge, vision, public policy experience, and diversity of professional expertise." You can read more about them here. These people also drop knowledge: management, law, policy. That's the BRTF. No idea how to say that. Someone's looking out for California's interests as a whole; they're creatively named the Statewide Interests Group. That's the SIG. Each place the state's doing all this also has the Regional Stakeholder Group. RSG. We've got 64 people on that in the south coast - plus alternates. Speaking of, there's the South Coast Region. That's the SCR - where we live. Mix 'em up to fool friends and family! Or clip 'n save: