So long, plastic grocery bags?
The Los Angeles City Council voted for an ordinance banning plastic bags Tuesday, making L.A. the largest city to possibly forbid grocers from providing anything other than paper bags (at 10 cents a pop).
Plenty of people have voiced their disapproval of the ban, including one bag-totting Target customer in Eagle Rock:
“I’m going to forget to bring my bag, and I’m not going to want to pay, so Target will probably lose some of my business,” the Highland Park resident said. “Then I’ll be putting even more things back.”
But the inconvenience may be worth it for the greater good, as Karin Klein writes in her account of the bag-less lifestyle (with a bit of a learning curve):
Truth is, though, it can be a pain. Sometimes, you just crave a flimsy wisp of plastic with built-in handles to carry out the trash, or to hold some messy item that should not see the inside of a backpack. The reality is that life without plastic bags is entirely doable and a lot better for the environment, but it does require some adjusting.
Read more on the possible ban, which would begin in 2014, here.
Photo: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
The majesty of Yosemite’s Half Dome
Times photographers Marc Martin and Mark Boster visited Yosemite National Park in May, capturting the natural beauty that runs throughout the park. In comparing his relationship with the Half Dome landmark, Martin summoned the memory of Japanese artist Hokusai, who had a storied penchant for Mt. Fuji.
in the 1820s and 1830s, he made a series of 36 woodblock prints of the mountain, from near and far, in summer and winter. When they went over well, he made 10 more scenes. Then, because an artist must follow his muse, he started a new series: 100 views of Mt. Fuji.
When I’m looking at Half Dome, the great granite hood ornament of Yosemite National Park, I understand Hokusai and Fuji.
Above are some new photos from their trip, with even more over at Framework.
Photos: Marc Martin, Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
So long, San Onofre nuclear plant
One of the two nuclear power plants in California, the San Onofre plant near San Clemente will be shut down for financial reasons, with an intimidating series of hearings looming ahead should owner Edison International have decided to re-open the plant.
So what happened to cause the plant’s closure for good?
The coastal plant near San Clemente once supplied power to about 1.4 million homes in Southern California but has been shuttered since January 2012 when a tube in its newly replaced steam generators leaked a small amount of radioactive steam, leading to the discovery that the tubes were wearing down at an unusual rate.
The plant has been in limbo since that discovery. And while environmental advocates are cheering the closure, more than 1,100 will still be losing their jobs as a result of the permanent shut-down.
Read more over at L.A. Now
Photos: Mike Nelson / EPA, Gregory Bull / Associated Press
The wake of the Powerhouse fire
With the flames 60% contained, the worst of the Powerhouse fire may be over. The wildfire has run rampant since Thursday, putting the abilities of more than 2,000 firefighters to the test, and scorching 32,032 acres.
Several evacuations near the fire have been called off, and officials are confident the blaze will soon be entirely under control.
Said Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Tony Akins:
“We’re cautiously optimistic that if the conditions continue, we’ll be able to see containment early next week.”
Read the latest on the fire from L.A. Now.
Photos: Gina Ferazzi, Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
How can the Colorado River be saved?
The giant river, which stretches across seven states, has long been endangered by droughts and rapidly-increasing demand for water supplies. Now, states are weighing a widespread partnership, led by the federal government, to find a solution before the problem blows up into a crisis.
For a sense of the current status of the river:
On one point, there appears to be no disagreement: The hour is late and shortages loom as demand threatens to outstrip supply. Last year was the fifth driest on record; this year is headed to be the fourth driest.
By Oct. 1, the river’s two reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, could be at less than half of their capacity, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
But a solution won’t be easy to come by, with the need for drinking water, agricultural sustainability, economic interests and environmental concerns all in conflict with each other.
Read more on the growing problem here.
Photos: Matt York, Julie Jacobson / Associated Press, Rebecca Flowers / Los Angeles Times
Return of the Frozen Zombie Plants from the Little Ice Age
It may sound like something out of a horrible sci-fi B-movie, but thanks to the work of researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, frozen zombie plants have made their return to the land of the living.
The plants, known as bryophytes, are hardy samples from the micro-Ice Age that ran between 1550 and 1850. Researchers ground up the stems of the plants’ leaves, sowed them into potting soil, and to their delight, the plants successfully came to life.
For more info on the zombie plants, and other frozen resurrections, head over to Science Now.
Photo: Catherine La Farge / University of Alberta
The Guardian has a multi-part, video heavy media set on climate refugees in America. I’d argue that the title “first” is a misnomer and would point to the coastal communities in Texas, New Orleans, and the Carolinas who’ve been retreating from the coasts for several years. But, the point is made - that sea-level rise and coastal erosion is much more aggressive than at anytime in history. Thus, tens of thousands of people are at immediate risk, especially the poor.
The above is one minute.
The people of Newtok, on the west coast of Alaska and about 400 miles south of the Bering Strait that separates the state from Russia, are living a slow-motion disaster that will end, very possibly within the next five years, with the entire village being washed away.
The Ninglick River coils around Newtok on three sides before emptying into the Bering Sea. It has steadily been eating away at the land, carrying off 100ft or more some years, in a process moving at unusual speed because of climate change. Eventually all of the villagers will have to leave, becoming America’s first climate change refugees.
Some great work here!
test reblogged from climateadaptation
Tired of smog in Los Angeles?
Why not try out L.A. health officials’ electrostatic precipitators? Better known as a “smog catcher,” the device seen above was put into use in 1945, when a thick, heavy layer of smog constantly choked the city.
The “smog catcher” is a tubular device for picking up and measuring the amount in the ozone. Generally used by the health department’s division of industrial hygiene for measuring foreign matter in the air in operations of various industrial plants, the machine will be used for spot checking with the ultimate view of ascertaining what substances are in the atmosphere and proceeding with abatement operations accordingly, in order to reduce the annoying atmospheric condition….
So while the smog catcher didn’t exactly solve L.A.’s smog problem (which continues to this day), we can’t help but give it some credit for trying.
Photo: Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times
The crisis facing California sea lions
State officials have declared an “unusual mortality event” for California sea lions, after an unusually high number of pups barely clinging to life have recently washed ashore.
For a sense of the sheer number of pups who have reportedly been found washed up:
In Los Angeles County, nearly 400 pups have been stranded since the beginning of the year. Last year, 36 were reported during that stretch.
As of March 24, officials said, 214 sea lions were reported stranded in San Diego County, 189 in Orange County, 108 in Santa Barbara County and 42 in Ventura County.
Read more from reporter Rick Rojas here.
Photos: Allen J. Schaben, Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
A new study suggests record warming is in store for us: By observing several indirect temperature indicators, researchers looking at weather patterns since the end of the last Ice Age are predicting that average surface temperatures will be at their highest point in human experience by the end of this century.
Photo: John McConnico / Associated Press
A Los Angeles ghost town
Surfridge was once a wealthy community, a coveted locale visited by Hollywood stars that just so happened to be within the domain of LAX. As the airport grew, the town shrank, and now it’s best known as the home of a rare species of butterfly.
From Mike Anton’s report on the ghost town’s current status:
Weeds sprout through cracks along streets lined with majestic palms. Retaining walls and foundations of custom homes peek through the brush. Rusty utility lines that have wiggled their way above ground bake in the sun like scattered bones.
Two throttled-up passenger jets simultaneously take off from LAX and soar overhead, the thundering cacophony a reminder of why the community of Surfridge was forced to disappear.
Read more on the town’s decline, and newfound efforts to reinvent the area, here.
Photos: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times
“Honeybees aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.”
Wild bees may be just the solution that farmers are looking for as they struggle to come with the continued die-offs among domestic reserves.
In fact, farmers may have been completely wrong about bees for years. Said Rachael Winfree, a pollination ecologist at Rutgers University:
“At 90% of farms studied in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, native wild bees are fully pollinating the watermelon crop. But farmers don’t realize this. “They’re thinking they need them but they don’t.”
Read more about the possible bee fix, and why honeybees may be totally overrated, here.
Photo: Rufus Isaacs
Dry enough for you?
More than two-thirds of the U.S. is experiencing abnormally dry, if not outright drought conditions, with the situation becoming increasingly dire for western states. And the implications aren’t limited to an uptick in air conditioning.
From the National Drought Early Warning Outlook:
The 2012-2013 drought has serious implications for agriculture, navigation, recreation and municipal water supplies, costing the nation at least $35 billion in economic losses.
Photo: Greg Lindstrom / Longmont Times-Call
In its annual report, State of the Climate, NOAA reported that the average annual temperature was 55.3 degrees — 3.3 degrees greater than the average temperature for the 20th century.