California Watch - Environment http://californiawatch.org/topic/environment en Stories to make you rethink your relationship to water http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/stories-make-you-rethink-your-relationship-water-18838 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/kelly-chen" title="View user profile." class="fn">Kelly Chen</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p>We drink it, we bathe with it, we even swim in it &ndash; but we may not often think about water. What is the source of the water we&#39;re drinking? What happens when whole communities don&#39;t have access to clean water? Here are four stories that explore how we interact with water.</p> <p><strong>We spend $11 billion a year on bottled water, but we don&rsquo;t really know where it comes from</strong></p> <p>Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones reports most of us don&rsquo;t know <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/03/bottled-water-poland-spring-rubio" target="_blank">where our water comes from</a>, due, in part, to regulations around bottled water. &ldquo;In order to be called &lsquo;spring water,&rsquo; according to the EPA, a product has to be either &lsquo;collected at the point where water flows naturally to the earth&rsquo;s surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground source,&rsquo; &rdquo; Sheppard writes. &ldquo;Glacier water&rdquo; and &ldquo;mountain water&rdquo; aren&rsquo;t regulated by the EPA.</p> <p><strong>In some parts of unincorporated California, wastewater backs up into toilets, sinks and showers </strong></p> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/unincorporated_087500px.jpg" title="Francisco González pours bleach into pits where he diverts his washing machine and kitchen sink." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Max Whittaker/Prime</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Francisco González pours bleach into pits where he diverts his washing machine and kitchen sink.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>California Watch reporter Bernice Yeung examined some <a href="http://californiawatch.org/health-and-welfare/neglected-decades-unincorporated-communities-lack-basic-public-services-15635" target="_blank">unincorporated communities&rsquo; basic access to water</a> and other services. According to census data analyzed by PolicyLink, hundreds of communities in California &ndash; with an estimated 1.8 million people &ndash; lack basic infrastructure.</p> <p>In areas like Parklawn, located in central California, residents are accustomed to aging septic tanks that back up into toilets and showers. As a quick fix, residents like Francisco González would &ldquo;divert water from their sinks and washing machines&rdquo; into their yards, forming pools of water that attract rats, mosquitos and cockroaches (which González treats with bleach).</p> <p><strong>31 of 35 cities tested positive for chromium</strong></p> <p>PBS NewsHour and the Center for Public Integrity released a report this week on chromium-contaminated water in the U.S. A 2010 study found the cancer-relatedtoxin in 31 of 35 cities tested.</p> <p>Science correspondent Miles O&rsquo;Brien visited the desert town of Hinkley, Calif. &ndash; which was featured in the film &ldquo;Erin Brockovich&rdquo; &ndash; for a checkup and found the water was still contaminated. Despite a $333 million settlement from PG&amp;E, the company responsible for dumping &ldquo;26 tons of a coolant made of chromium-6 into unlined retaining ponds&rdquo; in the 1950s and 1960s.</p> <p><a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/science/jan-june13/hinkley_03-13.html" target="_blank">Watch</a> the report.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/tadJai_SC4I" width="560"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Thinking globally</strong></p> <p>Internationally, irrigation water is in high demand. While we drink on average a few quarts of water each day, 85 to 95 percent of the water supply in developing countries is used for agriculture. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in water scarce regions.</p> <p>Our Food for 9 Billion project took us to the dry hills of Rajasthan, India, where Rajendra Singh turned to water harvesting &ndash; &ldquo;a practice that goes back hundreds of years, but was largely abandoned with the arrival of tube wells and electric pumps,&rdquo; Jon Miller reports.</p> <p><a href="http://cironline.org/reports/grassroots-movement-tackles-india-water-crisis-3530" target="_blank">Listen</a> to the report.</p> <p><iframe height="200" scrolling="no" src="http://www.marketplace.org/node/54069/player/storyplayer" width="600"></iframe></p> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-explore"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dailyreport/mobile-home-park-residents-sue-owner-over-sewage-electricity-18114">Mobile home park residents sue owner over sewage, electricity</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/health-and-welfare/neglected-decades-unincorporated-communities-lack-basic-public-services-15635">Neglected for decades, unincorporated communities lack basic public services</a> </div> </div> </div> Environment Daily Report drinking water groundwater polluted water Fri, 15 Mar 2013 20:50:12 +0000 Kelly Chen 18838 at http://californiawatch.org Who Owns the Fish? http://californiawatch.org/health-and-welfare/who-owns-fish-18832 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/ariane-wu" title="View user profile." class="fn">Ariane Wu</a></span>, <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/arthur-jones" title="View user profile." class="fn">Arthur Jones</a></span> and <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/susanne-rust" title="View user profile." class="fn">Susanne Rust</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Any commercial fisherman used to be able to fish in U.S. seas. Not anymore. Today, the right to fish belongs to a number of private individuals who have traded, bought and sold these rights in unregulated markets. This system, called &quot;catch shares,&quot; favors large fishing fleets and has cut out thousands of smaller-scale fishermen. How did this happen?</p> </div> </div> </div> Health and Welfare Environment catch shares fish fisheries Tue, 12 Mar 2013 07:00:00 +0000 Ariane Wu Arthur Jones Susanne Rust 18832 at http://californiawatch.org System turns US fishing rights into commodity, squeezes small fishermen http://californiawatch.org/environment/system-turns-us-fishing-rights-commodity-squeezes-small-fishermen-18834 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/susanne-rust" title="View user profile." class="fn">Susanne Rust</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> Sweeping across the globe is a system that slowly and steadily hands over a $400 billion ocean fishing industry to corporations. </p> </div> </div> </div> Health and Welfare Environment Tue, 12 Mar 2013 07:00:00 +0000 Susanne Rust 18834 at http://californiawatch.org How NASA scientists are turning LA into one big climate change lab http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/how-nasa-scientists-are-turning-la-one-big-climate-change-lab-18819 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard">Anonymous</span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img above="" alt="" as="" atmosphere="" atop="" clars="" class="imagecache-image-insert" from="" monitoring="" more="" remotely="" seen="" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/LA climate desk.jpg" tests="" the="" title="Los Angeles on a " which="" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">John Metcalfe/The Atlantic</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Los Angeles on a &quot;clear&quot; day, as seen from atop the CLARS monitoring station, which remotely tests the atmosphere above more than two dozen points in the Los Angeles Basin.</span></p> <p>Southern California&rsquo;s Mount Wilson is a lonesome, hostile peak &ndash; prone to sudden rock falls, sometimes ringed by wildfire &ndash; that nevertheless has attracted some of the greatest minds in modern science.</p> <p>Today, <a href="http://www.mtwilson.edu/">Mount Wilson</a> is the site of a more terrestrial but no less ambitious endeavor. Scientists from NASA&rsquo;s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and elsewhere are turning the entire Los Angeles metro region into a state-of-the-art climate laboratory. From the ridgeline, they deploy a mechanical lung that senses airborne chemicals and a unique sunbeam analyzer that scans the skies over the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/topics/los-angeles/">Los Angeles</a>&nbsp;Basin. At a sister site at the California Institute of Technology, researchers slice the clouds with a shimmering green laser, trap air samples in glass flasks and stare at the sun with a massive mirrored contraption that looks like God&rsquo;s own microscope.</p> <p>George Ellery Hale, one of the godfathers of astrophysics, founded the Mount Wilson Observatory in 1904 and divined that sunspots were magnetic. His acolyte Edwin Hubble used a huge telescope, dragged up by mule train, to prove the universe was expanding. Even Albert Einstein made a pilgrimage in the 1930s to hobnob with the astronomers (and suffered a terrible hair day, a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.einstein.caltech.edu/images/slideshow/8.jpg">photo shows</a>).</p> <p>These folks are the foot soldiers in an ambitious, interagency initiative called the&nbsp;<a href="http://megacities.jpl.nasa.gov/portal/">Megacities Carbon Project</a>. They&rsquo;ve been probing L.A.&rsquo;s airspace for more than a year, with the help of big-name sponsors like the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Keck Institute for Space Studies and the California Air Resources Board. If all goes well, by 2015, the Megacities crew and colleagues working in smaller cities such as Indianapolis and Boston will have pinned down a slippery piece of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/topics/climate-change/">climate science</a>: an empirical measurement of a city&rsquo;s carbon footprint.</p> <p>If that doesn&rsquo;t sound like something Einstein would scarf down energy bars and hoof up a mountain to check out, give it time. It promises to be a groundbreaking development in the worldwide fight against global warming.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder"></div> <p>Historically, researchers have tried to understand anthropogenic global warming by looking at it from the big picture &ndash; first across the planet, then by regions and countries. But two things happened in the past few years that turned their frame of reference. First, they realized that the emissions of a large landmass are extremely difficult to measure. The signal from fossil fuels gets tangled up in a bunch of other things, such as byproducts from the natural ecosystem and agriculture.</p> <p>Second, they encountered a rash of enthusiasm-killing gridlock in the United States government, with the&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_United_Nations_Climate_Change_Conference">2009 Copenhagen climate talks</a>&nbsp;ending in a muddle and a 2010 cap-and-trade bill dying in the Senate. It became clear to environmental stakeholders that if any policy was going to happen on cutting emissions, it was going to be at the scale of states and cities.</p> <p>So climate scientists began to sniff around megalopolises. It makes sense: That&rsquo;s where all the people and resources are. They now suspect that cities are some of the worst offenders when it comes to generating greenhouse gases, especially so-called megacities with more than 10 million residents, like Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and Mumbai. Urban areas and their enabling power plants are thought to pump out about 70 percent of humankind&rsquo;s total fossil-fuel emissions.</p> <p>Cities will only become more important in the climate debate as the years roll by. With the world&rsquo;s urban population expected to nearly double by 2050, the boom in development could release a flood of greenhouse gas, as more city dwellers torch colossal quantities of coal and oil to power their cars, feed their stoves and crank their air conditioners. Of course, many studies indicate that city dwellers create a lesser environmental footprint per person than their suburban counterparts, as urbanites tend to take mass transit and live in smaller homes. But cities, being small and potent geysers of greenhouse gases, are an ideal place to target solutions.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s why we should have begun studying urban emissions yesterday, says Riley Duren, chief systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Lab and manager of the Megacities project. In his past life, the Alabama native helped in the hunt for Earth-like planets on NASA&rsquo;s Kepler mission. But a period of soul searching told him it would be better to focus on the home planet. &ldquo;I was becoming increasingly motivated by climate change inaction,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I just convinced myself ... that this was the biggest thing an engineer could work on.&rdquo;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s a complex problem. A major issue is that governments estimate the volume of emissions with indirect measurements, such as tracking the carbon output of power plants or surveying the number of people riding mass transit or buying gasoline. Nobody is really testing greenhouse gases above cities on a focused, long-term basis, which is crucial in verifying whether the measurements urban governments use to make policy decisions are accurate.</p> <p>To control and reduce fossil-fuel emissions, &ldquo;you have to be able to know what you&rsquo;re emitting to keep track,&rdquo; says Ralph Keeling, director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/">Scripps CO2 Program</a>&nbsp;at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. &ldquo;There are various ways to do that, but they&rsquo;re all fraught with uncertainties. ... An attractive way to do it is to see what&rsquo;s happening in the atmosphere. The atmosphere can&rsquo;t lie.&rdquo;</p> <p>Los Angeles&rsquo; municipal government has a natural interest in this line of inquiry. Since it adopted a climate plan in 2007, the city has&nbsp;<a href="http://c40.org/c40cities/los-angeles">met Kyoto Protocol reduction targets</a>&nbsp;in part by taking thousands of diesel trucks off the road and screwing energy-saving LED bulbs into 140,000 streetlights. Officials want to cut emissions 35 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, and to do that, they&rsquo;re going to need a good verification system.</p> <p>The Megacities project &ldquo;will show that there is a significant impact in what we do,&rdquo; says Romel Pascual, Los Angeles&rsquo; deputy mayor for the environment. &ldquo;When we talk about L.A. being green, people roll their eyes. They won&rsquo;t believe it, right? That&rsquo;s because of the history of L.A. But when you look at the numbers of us hitting major milestones, L.A. is near the top.&rdquo;</p> <p>One morning in January, I pile into a Toyota Prius with Duren and Megacities colleagues Stan Sander and Eric Kort and take a spin up the rock-strewn roads of Mount Wilson. The trees are all scorched and leafless from the last forest fire, so there&rsquo;s an excellent view of the smog. It looks like a volcano vomited up an ocean of brown foulness that spread over the L.A. Basin and now is lapping against the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.</p> <p>In many ways, Los Angeles is an excellent place to kick off a new campaign to heal our feverish atmosphere. The city&rsquo;s terrible air quality has long cried out for intervention. When the first major smog crisis appeared during World War II, it was so bad that people thought the Japanese were bombarding them with poison gas. &ldquo;Your lungs would completely ache. It would take hours for the pain to go away,&rdquo; remembers Sander, who grew up nearby. &ldquo;It was so bad that rubber tires would crack, because ozone attacks rubber.&rdquo;</p> <p>The greater Los Angeles area of the 21st century is home to 19 million people living among 34,000 square miles of clunky concrete buildings, griddle-hot parking lots and sad spits of green space. It&rsquo;s not only America&rsquo;s smoggiest region, but also a breeder reactor for greenhouse gases. Prodigious plumes of carbon dioxide waft up from car-clotted highways and belch from factory smokestacks. Methane pours from landfills, sewage treatment plants and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mfablog.org/2012/05/la-smog-linked-to-flatulent-cows.html">large dairies</a>&nbsp;to the east (a contented cow can produce hundreds of liters of methane daily). And although they&rsquo;ve cut emissions greatly, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are still powerful emitters, with their bunker fuel-burning cargo ships, bulky loading cranes and busy dockside traffic.</p> <p>On a typical morning, ocean breezes blow this noxious chemical gumbo into the mountains to the east. There, at the pinnacle of Mount Wilson, the vapors seethe at the doorstep of a curious object called the California Laboratory for Atmospheric Remote Sensing, or&nbsp;<a href="http://clarsweather.jpl.nasa.gov/">CLARS</a>.</p> <p>In its constant roving, CLARS is building a map of how emissions move throughout the city. Its efficiency is hard to fault. &ldquo;The advantage is, I can point to anywhere and get a map of the whole basin essentially in an hour and a half,&rdquo; says Sander, who oversees the machine, &ldquo;whereas if you had a network of ground monitoring stations, you&rsquo;d have to have 50 or some large number of them to get similar information.&rdquo;</p> <p>The observatory is a big white dome with a furry black fringe running around its base, like a mustachioed R2-D2, sitting atop a shipping container. The container was dropped onto the mountaintop several years ago by helicopter, and today, it&rsquo;s outfitted with scads of high-priced equipment and a technician who lurks in the gloom. Every couple of minutes, the dome whirs and spins to point at a distant target below. A mirror in its curvature reflects a sliver of sunlight downward, where a spectrometer dissects it into different elements. The dome then whirs to the next point in its 27-spot rotation around the basin.</p> <p>Scientists had expected emissions to be fairly uniform, given the region&rsquo;s flat topography. But CLARS picked up a number of hot spots with abnormally high concentrations of methane &ndash; an incredibly potent climate change agent &ndash; in north Orange County and the City of Industry. The Megacities people are just beginning to identify the vapor sources for these anomalous zones.</p> <p>&ldquo;The L.A. Basin is very geologically active,&rdquo; Sander says. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ve probably heard of the La Brea tar pits? That&rsquo;s an area where there are a lot of organisms that anaerobically produce methane.&rdquo; Methane escaping through these ground seeps is one theory, anyway. Sander also suspects the labyrinthine network of tubes that ferries natural gas through town. &ldquo;There are millions of miles of little pipes that go from distribution stations to people&rsquo;s houses,&rdquo; he says. A lot of them leak, and &ldquo;the leaks can be very substantial.&rdquo;</p> <p>Emissions of questionable origin are called fugitive emissions, and they account for a decent-sized hunk of any city&rsquo;s overall greenhouse gas output. L.A. officials estimate that the city&rsquo;s yearly carbon footprint weighs 39 million tons, with this breakdown: 43 percent vehicle emissions, 21 percent commercial buildings, 19 percent municipal energy use, 16 percent &ldquo;industrial fugitive or other&rdquo; and 1 percent wastewater.</p> <p>That 16 percent is a little fuzzy because, again, emitters are judging their output using models. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the best they can do,&rdquo; Duren says. &ldquo;Then we might come along with atmospheric measurements and go, &lsquo;Oh, actually you&rsquo;re underestimating it by a factor of two.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p> <p>Behind the CLARS facility is a rattling, wheezing shed that houses a Picarro, an air-sampling device that displays real-time readings of ambient gases. Sander looks concerned over a sudden spike in CO2 on the machine&rsquo;s monitor, then realizes it&rsquo;s simply us, exhaling.</p> <p>This is another component of Megacities&rsquo; full-court press: a network of a dozen or so Picarros going up this year in different L.A. neighborhoods, where they will ceaselessly inspect the air for greenhouse gas. A planned satellite component adds another layer of detection.</p> <p>Only one spacecraft in orbit right now is monitoring greenhouse gases, Japan&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gosat.nies.go.jp/index_e.html">Gosat</a>&nbsp;(Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite), and its resolution isn&rsquo;t good enough to give an accurate picture of a city&rsquo;s emissions. But in the next few years, NASA plans to launch the&nbsp;<a href="http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/">Orbiting Carbon Observatory</a>&nbsp;(OCO-2) satellite and install a new instrument (OCO-3) on the International Space Station. Both devices will periodically take snapshots of the &ldquo;chemical weather&rdquo; over population centers. &ldquo;OCO-3 will have a &lsquo;city mode&rsquo; where it rapidly starts sweeping back and forth like a whisk broom,&rdquo; Duren says. He expects the satellite to take some 3,000 samples over a city in just a few seconds.</p> <p>With this bulging grab bag of equipment, the Megacities team hopes to sculpt a model of L.A.&rsquo;s emissions so detailed that they&rsquo;ll be able to pull out individual signatures, such as exactly what and how much is spewing from rush-hour traffic or the port system or large landfills. Once they get an emissions baseline for Los Angeles, they hope to assist other cities in starting their own climate-reading networks.</p> <p>Duren&rsquo;s team is already coordinating with French scientists running a Megacities sister project in Paris. (Researchers had to move a Picarro on the Eiffel Tower because its readings were skewed by steamy tourist lung vapors.) The Americans are also trying to link up with a third group in São Paulo, Brazil, which has long battled heavy air pollution.</p> <p>The idea is to prepare a set of climate archetypes that can be applied to different megacities. The L.A. area is on the ocean, ringed by mountains, and often holds emissions in place like a lidded bowl. Perhaps what the Megacities team learns about emissions here will also apply in Mumbai, India, which has a similar geography. In contrast, Paris&rsquo; layout makes emissions rise in a wind-blown plume.</p> <p>&ldquo;The idea for the project is, we pick a representative number of cities that are these different archetypes,&rdquo; Duren says, &ldquo;and if we can characterize them with this giant laboratory, if you will ... you&rsquo;ve got a system that you can apply with confidence, everywhere.&rdquo;</p> <p>To what end, ultimately?</p> <p>The goal is to one day have a comprehensive network for sensing greenhouse gases in&nbsp;all&nbsp;the major cities across America or even the world. With that in place, an obvious application would be capping sources of fugitive emissions. An eagle-eyed satellite might detect roiling leaks in natural-gas pipes caused by aging infrastructure, or disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. Then cities could prioritize repair crews accordingly.</p> <p>If the researchers can extract the signature of freeway traffic, it could instruct a municipality how and where to build future roads, enact tolls or allot carpool lanes. It could also alter the dialogue of commuting: If you reside in the suburbs but drive through a city every day to work, are you somehow on the hook financially or morally for spewing fumes into the greater urban cloud? That issue matters in Los Angeles, where regional commuters arguably bear environmental responsibilities &ldquo;even if they don&rsquo;t live in L.A.,&rdquo; says Pascual of the mayor&rsquo;s office.</p> <p>As the outlines of our individual footprints become clearer, perhaps the Megacities legacy could even motivate some of us to pull the old bike out of storage instead of reaching for the car keys.</p> <p>&ldquo;I guess people are aware that when they use their cars, there&rsquo;s something coming out of the exhaust pipes. But because they can&rsquo;t see it, they don&rsquo;t really have a feeling for how much is coming out,&rdquo; says Scripps&rsquo; Keeling. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s created a bit of complacency.&rdquo;</p> <p><em>This essay appears in the ebook&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ted.com/pages/tedbooks_library#city20">&quot;City 2.0: The Habitat of the Future and How to Get There,&quot;</a>&nbsp;co-produced in partnership by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/">The Atlantic Cities</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ted.com/pages/tedbooks">TED Books</a>.&nbsp;This story is courtesy of <a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/" target="_blank">The Atlantic</a>&nbsp;as part of Climate Desk, a&nbsp;journalistic collaboration among The Atlantic, the Center for Investigative Reporting,&nbsp;Grist,&nbsp;The Guardian,&nbsp;Mother Jones,&nbsp;Slate,&nbsp;Wired&nbsp;and PBS.</em></p> Environment Daily Report climate change Los Angeles Mon, 04 Mar 2013 19:49:53 +0000 John Metcalfe 18819 at http://californiawatch.org National Green Week makes a splash on The I Files http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/national-green-week-makes-splash-i-files-18800 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/julia-chan" title="View user profile." class="fn">Julia B. Chan</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p>National Green Week is upon us, offering an opportunity to explore the ways we can make our communities more environmentally friendly and sustainable. With that in mind, we&#39;re <a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?feature=edit_ok&amp;list=PLDurT10mnRdCR6rTOS9dwa0V5X1PnJwCJ" target="_blank">featuring some great green-themed videos</a> on The I Files, an investigative YouTube channel curated by our parent organization, the Center for Investigative Reporting.</p> <p>One of the videos we&rsquo;re highlighting is &ldquo;Heat and Harvest,&rdquo; a half-hour documentary produced by KQED and CIR that focuses on the environmental challenges California&rsquo;s agriculture industry faces.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1Rg_63PGakk" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>The film takes a look at the state&#39;s farm belt, an area long known as &quot;the nation&#39;s salad bowl,&quot; and the impact threats such as rising temperatures, shrinking water supplies and abundant pests have on a $30 billion dollar industry and, ultimately, our wallets. Exploring possible solutions, &quot;Heat and Harvest&quot; helps to explain the nuanced effects of climate change and some of the efforts to solve these problems.</p> <p>For CIR reporter Mark Schapiro, the answer lies in reducing carbon footprints. But he also <a href="http://science.kqed.org/quest/audio/heat-and-harvest/" target="_blank">cites</a> scientists who are developing new types of crops that can withstand the new stresses that changing weather conditions present.</p> <p>&quot;But these solutions won&#39;t come cheap,&quot; says Craig Miller, KQED Climate Watch&#39;s senior editor. &quot;Every option comes with a price tag, and sooner or later, that could mean higher prices at the supermarket.&quot;</p> <p>For tips on making your diet more earth-friendly and other sustainable eating habits, see CIR&#39;s series &quot;<a href="http://cironline.org/projects/food-for-9-billion" target="_blank">Food for 9 Billion</a>.&quot; Or if you have your own suggestions for how your community could be more green, check out <a href="https://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/pulse-of-the-bay/how-is-your-community-going-green-2/" target="_blank">this post</a> from The Bay Citizen&rsquo;s Marie McIntosh.</p> <p>Make sure you don&#39;t miss out on a single investigation: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdmqkUIfXt2cMBOLQsijMFg?sub_confirmation=1" target="_blank">Subscribe to The I Files</a> today.&nbsp;</p> Health and Welfare Environment Newsroom agriculture carbon footprint climate change environmental health food Mon, 04 Feb 2013 17:05:02 +0000 Julia Chan 18800 at http://californiawatch.org PetSmart selling unregistered pesticide products despite state order http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/petsmart-selling-unregistered-pesticide-products-despite-state-order-18713 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/susanne-rust" title="View user profile." class="fn">Susanne Rust</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/petsmart.jpg" title="Major retailer, PetSmart, continues selling products state flagged as illegal." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"><a class="image-insert-photo-credit-url" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjms/3255747055/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">markyeg/Flickr</a></span></p> <p>About two months after the state&rsquo;s environmental agency ordered a major pet products retailer to immediately cease selling unregistered pesticide products, many of those products remain on the retailer&rsquo;s shelves and website.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s illegal to sell a product that makes pesticidal claims in California unless it has been registered by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Pesticide Regulation,&rdquo; said Lea Brooks, a spokeswoman for California&rsquo;s Environmental Protection Agency and its Department of Pesticide Regulation.</p> <p>In September, the pesticide department <a href="http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pressrls/2012/120928.htm" target="_blank">fined Phoenix-based PetSmart nearly $400,000 </a>for selling <a href="http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pressrls/2012/unregist_pest_petsmart_settlement.pdf" target="_blank">33 unregistered pesticide products [PDF]</a> to California consumers. The products ranged from dog and cat shampoos to reptile cage liners. Once a product is registered, the state can evaluate it for toxins, which could be transferred from animals to humans.</p> <p>The state&#39;s requirement applies to retailers, not product manufacturers. According to Brooks,&nbsp;the retailer is responsible for the products it sells on its shelves.&nbsp;</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>If a manufacturer is making pesticidal clams, the product must be registered with the state and federal government, or the pesticidal claim must be removed from the labeling, which includes marketing material, Brooks said.</p> <p>Brooks said her agency <a href="http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/mill/actions/fines.htm" target="_blank">files hundreds of cases</a> against retailers annually. In one case, Pet Food Express was fined nearly $250,000 in April for selling nine unregistered pesticide products.</p> <p>A spokesman for PetSmart, Andrew Izquierdo, said his company settled&nbsp;with the state as&nbsp;a result of&nbsp;a &ldquo;good faith&rdquo; mistake, and PetSmart was working to comply with the state&rsquo;s demands.&nbsp;</p> <p>PetSmart and the product manufacturers have filed new labels and registrations with the state for 21 of the items, Brooks said.</p> <p>However, nothing has been submitted for 12 of the products, nine<strong>&nbsp;</strong>of which were spotted last week by California Watch on PetSmart shelves in Mountain View and San Carlos. Eleven<strong>&nbsp;</strong>of the products also are being sold online through PetSmart&#39;s website. Items included odor sprays and pet shampoos.</p> <p style="margin-top: 1em; padding-left: 0px; ">Izquierdo said PetSmart is&nbsp;working with its vendors to get additional information about the 12 unregistered products.</p> <p style="margin-top: 1em; padding-left: 0px; ">According to PetSmart&#39;s settlement with the state, the company agreed not to &quot;sell or deliver into or within California&quot; or on the Internet the products cited in the settlement &quot;unless the department first registers the products.&quot;&nbsp;The settlement also states that the government may take legal action if&nbsp;it discovers the company is violating&nbsp;the agreement.</p> <p>Brooks said the state had planned to follow up with PetSmart to make sure the retailer was complying, but in light of California Watch&#39;s finding, &quot;we will move up our schedule.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;PetSmart, as a retailer, is responsible for ensuring the products it sells are in compliance with California&#39;s laws and regulations,&quot; Brooks said.&nbsp;</p> <p>The&nbsp;unregistered items still being sold&nbsp;are unlikely to be harmful, Brooks said, but because the products have labels making claims suggesting that they can kill pests and have not been evaluated for pesticides by the state or federal government, they are illegal.</p> <p>For example, Nature&rsquo;s Miracle Just for Cats Advanced Stain and Odor Remover claims it &ldquo;deeply cleans to remove all pet mess traces, discouraging the growth of bacteria and germs.&rdquo;</p> <p>Anti-bacterial and germ claims are considered pesticidal claims.</p> <p>Or in the case of Whisker City Anti-Hairball Shampoo, the label claims it provides &quot;lasting protection against mosquitoes and other biting insects.&quot;&nbsp;Whisker City subsequently has registered its product with the state and changed the language on its label. The state has determined it does not contain a pesticide.</p> <p>Brooks said that although a product eventually may prove to be safe, &ldquo;unregistered products making pesticide claims have not been analyzed by DPR for efficacy and potential risks to humans or pets&rdquo; and therefore could pose a risk.</p> <p>One of the&nbsp;12 items that have not been registered with the state, Zodiac&rsquo;s 1000 Premise Spray, was not found on the store&#39;s shelves during a recent visit and is no longer available online. It is not clear&nbsp;whether the product contains harmful chemicals.</p> <p>However, the spray can be found on other online retailers&rsquo; websites, including Amazon.com and Wag.com.</p> <p>The state&#39;s settlement indicates that two unregistered products from the original list of 33 contained pesticides. Those products, Sentry Fiproguard for Cats and Sentry Fiproguard Plus for Cats, have since been registered with both the federal and state environmental agencies. They are spot-on applications used to treat cats&nbsp;for fleas and ticks and contain the pesticide fipronil, which is an insect neurotoxin.</p> <p>Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council who follows the pet industry and pesticides, said retailers such as PetSmart have a moral obligation to sell products that are registered and deemed safe not just for pets, but for families.</p> <p>&ldquo;You see how children interact with their pets,&quot; she said, &quot;and you realize these chemicals are going to get all over them, too.&quot;</p> Health and Welfare Environment Daily Report Department of Pesticide Regulation Environmental Protection Agency pesticide pesticides pets Wed, 05 Dec 2012 08:05:02 +0000 Susanne Rust 18713 at http://californiawatch.org Air Force ships Calif. radioactive waste to Idaho landfill http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/air-force-ships-calif-radioactive-waste-idaho-landfill-18655 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/katharine-mieszkowski" title="View user profile." class="fn">Katharine Mieszkowski</a></span> and <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/matt-smith" title="View user profile." class="fn">Matt Smith</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/air force plane.jpg" title="" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"><a class="image-insert-photo-credit-url" href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-109110302/stock-photo-fairford-uk-july-us-air-force-kc-tanker-aircraft-participates-in-the-royal" target="_blank">A Periam Photograph/Shutterstock</a></span></p> <p>After California regulators refused to allow the U.S. Air Force to label residue from radioactive aircraft instruments as &ldquo;naturally occurring&rdquo; &ndash; declaring it unsuitable for a Bakersfield-area dump &ndash; the military turned to Idaho with the same story.</p> <p>There, military officials met with success. The Air Force is now sending radioactive waste from Sacramento County&rsquo;s McClellan Air Force Base to a Grand View, Idaho, hazardous waste landfill.</p> <p>This solution involved a bit of legal semantics rejected in California despite 10 months of Air Force lobbying: The military claimed radium dust left over from glow-in-the-dark aircraft instruments actually was naturally occurring, putting it the same relatively lax regulatory category as mine tailings, according to government memos obtained by California Watch through a public records request.</p> <p>Larry Morgan, a health physicist with the California Department of Public Health, disagreed with that characterization. Radioactive paint does not &ldquo;meet the definition&rdquo; of naturally occurring waste, he wrote in a September 2011 memo.</p> <p>The Idaho facility&rsquo;s permit allows it to accept materials defined as natural without notifying state regulators, leaving the state&rsquo;s hazardous waste manager in the dark.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not familiar with this particular waste stream. I intend to find out now that you&rsquo;ve contacted me,&rdquo; Robert Bullock, hazardous waste permits manager for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, said during an October interview.</p> <p>The redefinition of the waste as natural might not even have been necessary, given Idaho&rsquo;s different standards for waste containing trace amounts of radium.</p> <p>Days after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality told California Watch that the agency was unaware of the Air Force waste, an official went out to inspect the landfill. Interviewed after that visit, engineer Dennis Meier said the dumping was legal because of the low concentration of radium in the soil, despite the source.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not waste that has to go to a radioactive waste facility,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The concentration is way below what we would accept.&rdquo;</p> <p>Nonetheless, California health officials and environmental activists accused the Air Force of bending the truth to get its way.</p> <p>&ldquo;Illuminated instrument dials do not naturally occur,&rdquo; said Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at UC Santa Cruz who leads the environmental group Committee to Bridge the Gap. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t dig into the soil and discover naturally occurring radium instrument dials.&rdquo;</p> <p>The radioactive dirt in question hails from the former McClellan Air Force Base northeast of Sacramento, now a commercial development site. &ldquo;At least 24 sites&rdquo; on the base &ldquo;all have low levels of radium mixed in with the soil, and there are many thousands of cubic yards&rdquo; of contaminated soil, according to Philip Mook, Western region senior representative for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, which is in charge of cleanups at Air Force installations. &ldquo;A little bit of radium goes a long way.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Air Force has sent 22,000 tons of radioactive dirt from McClellan out of state so far, according to Charlotte Fadipe, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.</p> <p>According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, if significant radium is inhaled or ingested, it can increase the risk of diseases such as lymphoma, bone cancer and leukemia. While the concentrations in the McClellan soil are low, they are above limits the federal government has set to protect human health.</p> <p>Before these medical effects became evident, aircraft dials and gauges were painted with glowing radium so pilots could see them better at night. Air Force officials speculate that the radium became dispersed in the soil at McClellan &ldquo;probably in cleanup water, like mop water or solvents that were used to clean the equipment or to clean up spills of radium,&rdquo; Mook said. Although radium paint wasn&rsquo;t used on the base after the 1950s, items contaminated with it remained.</p> <p>Last year, the Air Force planned to dispose of some of the contaminated dirt at the Clean Harbors Buttonwillow landfill in Kern County, a hazardous waste facility, according to letters and emails. While Kern County officials welcomed the contaminated dirt &ndash; and the associated disposal fees &ndash; the Air Force and its contractors met with stiff resistance from the state&rsquo;s public health department.</p> <p>Stephen Woods, chief of the California Department of Public Health&rsquo;s Division of Food, Drug and Radiation Safety, argued in a Nov. 4, 2011, letter that the dirt should be sent to &ldquo;a licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facility.&rdquo; The Idaho facility where the soil is now going does not meet that criteria. Neither do any California waste disposal facilities.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s partly because of vocal opposition from local Kern County residents and environmental groups.</p> <p>&ldquo;Hazardous waste landfills in low-income communities of color in California aren&rsquo;t the right places for&rdquo; nuclear waste, said Caroline Farrell, executive director of the Center on Race, Poverty &amp; the Environment, which for almost two decades has fought to limit the Buttonwillow landfill&rsquo;s expansion and impact on local residents.</p> <p>But in the past, the landfill has accepted nuclear waste. In 1998 and 1999, the Army Corps of Engineers sent residue from the Manhattan Project, the World War II-era research and development program that produced atomic bombs dropped in Japan, to the landfill.</p> <p>The move outraged civilian officials.</p> <p>Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer testified before a Senate committee on July 25, 2000: &ldquo;When I learned that the Corps had disposed of 2,200 tons of radioactive waste at an unlicensed hazardous waste facility in Buttonwillow, California, I was shocked. The facility sits atop aquifers that supply water to the Central Valley of California.&rdquo;</p> <p>Since the Manhattan Project controversy, the facility&rsquo;s permit has been tightened. Yet the landfill&rsquo;s current permit states that it may accept naturally occurring radioactive materials at low concentrations.</p> <p>In letters to the health department, the Air Force contended that the McClellan soil was &ldquo;technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials,&rdquo; a term the federal EPA normally uses for residues from energy production and mining with trace radioactive elements &ndash; all of which fit Buttonwillow&rsquo;s permit.</p> <p>California regulators, however, accused the Air Force of massaging the truth.</p> <p>&ldquo;The McClellan waste appears to be the result of past industrial contamination,&rdquo; Woods, of the health department, wrote in his November 2011 letter. &ldquo;It does not appear to have resulted from any unavoidable and incidental concentration occurring during accepted manufacturing processes&rdquo; such as mining.</p> <p>Officials from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control backed up the health department.</p> <p>&ldquo;When the material was removed from the aircraft instrument and improperly disposed to the ground surface at Dudley Blvd. (at McClellan), it was no longer exempt from regulation, nor &lsquo;incidentally concentrated,&rsquo; &rdquo; Stephen Pay, an engineering geologist for the department, wrote in an email sent Sept. 12, 2011, to an attorney representing the landfill.</p> <p>In February, the Air Force appealed to Gov. Jerry Brown&rsquo;s office to overrule the state regulators, according to Mook.</p> <p>The governor declined in June, he said, and the Air Force moved on to Idaho. On June 28, Air Force officials characterized the radium-contaminated soil again as naturally occurring, according to documents submitted to the Idaho dump.</p> <p>US Ecology, which operates the hazardous waste landfill in Grand View, Idaho, seemed to accept the terminology.</p> <p>Steve Welling, senior vice president of sales and marketing for US Ecology, said in an interview that &ldquo;state law and our permits&rdquo; allowed the facility to accept the waste that the Air Force had characterized as naturally occurring.&nbsp;</p> Environment Daily Report contaminants contamination Landfill military Fri, 09 Nov 2012 08:05:02 +0000 Katharine Mieszkowski Matt Smith 18655 at http://californiawatch.org Facebook gives cash to N. Calif. town over traffic concerns http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/facebook-gives-cash-n-calif-town-over-traffic-concerns-18651 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/matt-drange" title="View user profile." class="fn">Matt Drange</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/facebook headquarters.jpg" title="Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Noah Berger/For The Bay Citizen</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Facebook&rsquo;s move to Menlo Park late last year has created a small windfall for one of the richest communities on the Peninsula.</p> <p>The town of Atherton, a wealthy enclave near the new Facebook campus, received $350,000 from the social media giant last month to allay its concerns over increased traffic.</p> <p>Now the question for the town of 7,000 people is what to do with the cash.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not in a big hurry to spend the money,&rdquo; said Atherton Mayor Bill Widmer. &ldquo;We have a number of issues we&rsquo;re looking at.&rdquo;</p> <p>The payment is the smallest Facebook has made to appease its new hometown and neighboring communities.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>East Palo Alto, one of the poorest cities in the region, received $650,000 from Facebook to compensate for increased congestion on its streets.</p> <p>Menlo Park, meanwhile, received $1.1 million to finance street improvements and other projects to handle the thousands of employees working at the new location.</p> <p>Facebook also will pay Menlo Park at least $8.5 million over the next 10 years to offset the loss of local sales taxes formerly generated by Sun Microsystems, the computer software company that used to occupy the space Facebook now calls home. Menlo Park does not levy a sales tax on online advertisements, a major source of revenue for Facebook.</p> <p>Facebook, which moved from its Palo Alto location last year, employs roughly 2,500 people in Menlo Park. In coming years, it hopes to have 9,400 employees at the new site and a planned campus nearby. The company expects to break ground on the new facility next year and complete it by 2015.</p> <p>After Atherton initially opposed Facebook&rsquo;s move, the two <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/509332-atherton-facebook-agreement.html" target="_blank">reached an agreement in early July</a>; the deal prohibits the town from filing a lawsuit against the company over the project.</p> <p>Atherton, tucked between Menlo Park and Redwood City, is known for its tree-lined streets and secluded mansions. Per-capita income is $107,000 a year, according to the latest Census data, nearly four times the state average. There are few sidewalks or bicycle lanes, giving the city a more rural vibe than its Silicon Valley neighbors to the south.</p> <p>The town&rsquo;s annual budget is a little more than $10 million, with more than half going to public safety, Widmer said. Among the services the city provides are vacation home checks by police officers.</p> <p>The idea behind the one-time payment was to compensate the town for increased traffic at the intersection of Marsh and Middlefield roads, about 5 miles from Facebook&rsquo;s new campus.</p> <p>The T-shaped intersection, which has one lane in each direction, is likely to become a main thoroughfare for cars traveling to Facebook. One possible solution is to remove a roadside drainage channel and add an extra turn lane.</p> <p>In addition to the one-time payment of $350,000, Facebook agreed to provide Atherton up to $15,000 of consulting work for transportation initiatives, including improvements to bicycle lanes around the town. Last month, Atherton took the first step in developing a bicycle-pedestrian master plan.</p> <p>So far, the $350,000 remains untouched in the town&rsquo;s general fund.</p> <p>&ldquo;There are no restrictions as to how it can be spent,&rdquo; said Widmer, who was quick to add that it is up to the Atherton City Council to decide how to allocate the money. &ldquo;The intention was that we would more or less earmark that money so it&rsquo;s used for traffic-related activity.&rdquo;</p> Money and Politics Environment Daily Report Facebook San Francisco Peninsula technology traffic Thu, 08 Nov 2012 08:05:02 +0000 Matt Drange 18651 at http://californiawatch.org New environmental curriculum corrects plastic bag information http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/new-environmental-curriculum-corrects-plastic-bag-information-18567 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/susanne-rust" title="View user profile." class="fn">Susanne Rust</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/school_teacher_class.jpg" title="California officials have revised and published controversial text on plastic bags." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">skynesher/istockphoto.com</span></p> <p>The state&rsquo;s Environmental Protection Agency finalized a revision of a controversial K-12 environmental curriculum on plastic bags Friday.</p> <p><a href="http://californiawatch.org/environment/plastics-industry-edited-environmental-textbook-12123" target="_blank">California Watch reported </a>last year that whole sections of an 11th-grade teachers&#39; edition guide for&nbsp;a new curriculum had been lifted almost verbatim from comments and suggestions submitted by the American Chemistry Council, the chemical and plastics industry trade group.</p> <p>That investigation spurred politicians and state regulators to demand an examination into how the controversial text was compiled and changed, and whether industry bias was present.</p> <p>State schools chief Tom Torlakson <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/62859549" target="_blank">issued a statement</a> saying his office would work with Cal/EPA to examine the material and identify areas &ldquo;where further review may be warranted.&rdquo;</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>And state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica, also called for an investigation, to which Cal/EPA responded by saying it would review the chapter.</p> <p>The new text provides more updated statistics on plastic bag consumption and recycling rates, many of which were provided by California Watch in its story on the textbook.</p> <p>For instance, while the old text used a statistic offered by the American Chemistry Council indicating that 12 percent of Americans recycle plastic shopping bags, the new text notes &ldquo;recycling rates specific to plastic shopping bags are not currently calculated by state or federal agencies.&rdquo;</p> <p>It also refers to a CalRecycle&rsquo;s estimate, which suggests that recycling rates may be as low as 3 percent.</p> <p>&quot;This is the final revised version, which will be available to members of the public and teachers for download,&quot; said Bryan Ehlers, assistant secretary of education and quality programs at Cal/EPA.</p> <p>&quot;We think the curriculum is excellent, and this process gave us the opportunity to go through it with a&nbsp;fine- toothed comb, getting at the same goal of producing a thoughtful and reasoned discussion about the consequences of consumption,&quot; Ehlers said.</p> <p>In 2003, a state law was enacted requiring environmental concepts and principles&nbsp;be taught to all of California&rsquo;s K-12 public school students.</p> <p>Cal/EPA outsourced the development and editing of the curriculum to Gerald Lieberman, director of the State Education and Environment Roundtable. The roundtable is a nonprofit group originally developed by&nbsp;departments of education in 16 states to enhance environmental education in schools.</p> <p>In 2009, after the curriculum had been written, the state posted final drafts of the text online for public review. It was during that period that a public relations specialist hired by the American Chemistry Council&nbsp;submitted comments, edits and suggestions on the text.</p> <p>Lieberman incorporated nearly all of the trade group&rsquo;s suggestions, including adding a new section to the text called &ldquo;Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags.&rdquo;</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/235057-textbook.html" target="_blank">California curriculum</a> covers science, history, social studies and arts and weaves in environmental principles and concepts within 85 units and hundreds of pages. The full-color pages of the curriculum, which can be downloaded from the state&rsquo;s website, mirror the look of a textbook. Teachers are encouraged to use the materials as handouts in the classroom and as reading assignments for students.</p> <p>Ehlers, the Cal/EPA official, said that after the revised curriculum was posted for review, the agency received about a half-dozen comments, and none from the American Chemistry Council.</p> <p>The American Chemistry Council did not reply to a California Watch request to respond to the new revisions.</p> <p>According to Ehlers, the agency has now trained about 2,000 teachers with the new curriculum, which is likely to reach about 60,000 students in more than 100 school district across the state.</p> K–12 Environment Daily Report Cal/EPA curriculum Environment plastic bags Mon, 29 Oct 2012 07:05:05 +0000 Susanne Rust 18567 at http://californiawatch.org Matches made in food heaven get scientific explanation http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/matches-made-food-heaven-get-scientific-explanation-18321 <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/susanne-rust" title="View user profile." class="fn">Susanne Rust</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/steak and wine 2.jpg" title="" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit"><a class="image-insert-photo-credit-url" href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-101309689/stock-photo-barbecued-rib-eye-steak-served-with-vegetables-and-a-glass-of-red-wine.htm" target="_blank">Chiyacat/Shutterstock</a></span></p> <p>It&rsquo;s not just researchers&nbsp;who have noticed that people enjoy a nice glass of dark, red wine with their steaks.</p> <p>But they now know why.</p> <p>Common knowledge suggests that it is the cleansing sensation people appreciate in&nbsp;astringent foods such as a vinegary salad, a cup of tea or a lemon sorbet. Wine acts in the same way.</p> <p>But a team from Rutgers University in New Jersey and the <a href="http://www.monell.org/" target="_blank">Monell Chemical Sense Institute</a>&nbsp;&ndash; a Philadelphia-based nonprofit scientific organization focused on the senses of taste and smell &ndash; says it&rsquo;s more.</p> <p>The research is published in this week&#39;s <a href="http://www.cell.com/current-biology/" target="_blank">Current Biology</a>.</p> <p>&quot;We were not setting out initially to determine why steak and wine go together. It was more theoretical,&quot; said Paul Breslin of Rutgers University and the Monell Chemical Senses Center.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Fat makes the mouth overly lubricated and astringents make the mouth underlubricated,&quot; Breslin said. &quot;So we wanted to test the idea that these two sensations were at opposite ends of oral lubrication sensations. And if this were true, they should oppose one another the way hot water cancels out cold water and vice versa when they are mixed.&quot;</p> <p>The problem is, wines and teas aren&rsquo;t as astringent as researchers would expect to counteract the slipperiness of fatty foods.</p> <p>So, to figure out what is going on, Breslin and his team enlisted 80 volunteers to sip astringent foods, such as grape seed extract, an extract from green tea and aluminum sulfate.</p> <p>&quot;It has been known for some time that astringents grow in their sensory intensity with repeated sampling,&quot; Breslin said. &quot;The sense of astringency builds with sips of tea or wine. So we wanted to know how much does it grow and could something weakly astringent grow to a sensation of strong astringency and would this overcome strong fattiness.&quot;</p> <p>What they discovered is that the perception of astringency grew exponentially over time. So as the subjects took more sips and spent more time sipping, the cleansing sensation grew.</p> <p>The researchers then had the volunteers alternate samples of astringent sips with fatty tastes. And over time, the slippery, fatty perception was reduced.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have observed that astringency grows to different levels and at different rates depending on the compound stimulating the astringency,&quot; Breslin said.&quot; So we wonder if different types of fats and different sources of astringency might make for ideal pairings and that the wisdom of culture or gastronomy has paired certain foods together for a reason.&quot;</p> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-explore"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dailyreport/chocolate-may-help-blood-pressure-cognition-scientists-say-17571">Chocolate may help blood pressure, cognition, scientists say</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/dailyreport/meals-exes-leave-romantic-partners-stewing-study-says-17036">Meals with exes leave romantic partners stewing, study says</a> </div> </div> </div> Environment Daily Report food perceptions science sensory steak taste wine Tue, 09 Oct 2012 07:05:04 +0000 Susanne Rust 18321 at http://californiawatch.org