Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning Greens: A soup of shark fins, water bonds, and Barbie dolls

Good Morning Greens from the Silver Lake bureau of Pacific Swell, where August gloom looks a lot like June gloom. Let's waste no time getting into the bouilliabaise of green news this morning, so that you've got the energy to monitor market upheval the rest of the day.  

Sibling rivalry becomes sibling revelry over shark fin soup. LA foodie Jonathan Gold is known for his lucid and vivid prose, and for enjoying pissing off his brother Mark, who runs Heal the Bay. But 2 out of 2 Golds now agree: a ban on shark-fin soup is a good idea. Jonathan Gold has an editorial on the subject in the LA Times where he points out some super interesting things enviros rarely do: like that the burgeoning Chinese middle class is a significant driver of pressure on sharks, that it takes a skillful chef to make shark fin soup even taste good (interesting!), and that while a ban would mostly affect Chinese Americans, it wouldn't kill Cantonese culture.

A Wayne's World "I'm not worthy!" praise piece by Mark Gold on his Spouting Off blog explains backstory for how he got Jonathan on board with the shark fin ban. (Mark likens Jonathan to Pujols, which hopefully he doesn't mean the Pujols I experienced on my fantasy baseball team a few years ago.)

How are we all feeling about S&P today? Standard & Poor's has assigned the LADWP's water bonds a "AA" rating with a stable outlook. S&P noted that residential customers make for a broad and mature revenue stream, even though customers used less water in the last two years after DWP imposed water allotment surcharges. S&P says DWP needs to raise rates to achieve the utility's financial targets, though. 

Don't turn your back on moving water. My mom taught me that about the ocean before I could read. It applies to rivers and waterfalls too. Parkland managers and officials at National Parks and National Forests are raising alarms about visitors who underestimate the terrain, or overestimate their skills, or misunderstand the risk of slipping near rushing water. Summertime is novice time in public lands, but volunteer rescue teams told the Los Angeles Times that Angeles National Forest closures after the Station Fire have concentrated visitor interest in certain locations, and a wet and cold winter has made for higher river flows in the summer. 

And finally, Barbie's dream house is green and for the girls. A month after Barbie lost Ken in a nasty breakup orchestrated by Greenpeace, Barbie got her dream house. The American Institute of Architects had a panel of judges vote on how well submitted designs met environmental and sustainability criteria. The winning design by some recent Harvard graduates features "solar panels, a landscaped rooftop and irrigation system, operable shading devices, bamboo flooring, low flow toilet and sink fixtures, and locally sourced and manufactured materials and furnishings." The competition is supposed to raise Barbie's profile so kids buy the Architect Barbie, soon to come out. As for the dispute Greenpeace has with Mattel, over box packaging around Barbies shipped from Asia? Mattel said back in June it was freezing its contracts with Asia Pulp and Paper. But as far as Greenpeace is concerned, Mattel's dream couple remains broken up - until Mattel announces concrete steps for sustainable sourcing of box packaging in Asia, including certification. Check out the pictures of Barbie's sustainable dream house - and note that Ken isn't in them.