Friday, October 30, 2009

Banning Single-Use Plastic & Paper; PG&E; LED; Energy Star; Vaclav Smil

Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags & Paper Bags
Very glad to read Supervisor Stone is planning to write legislation to ban both single-use paper bags and plastic bags in Santa Cruz.  Sounds like he's being cautious and aiming for April, 2010 and only in non-incorporated areas of Santa Cruz County.  San Jose is apparently doing a Environmental Impact Report (EIR).   Full article:

Use Social Norms!!
PG&E's "Climate Smart" program, which takes a monthly fee of less than $5 from any of its opt-in 5MM billing customers (15MM actual users) and then uses the funds to buy "offsets" which do presumably do good, has had poor subscription rates.

Many environmentals are opposed to offsets because they do not reduce total CO2 emissions and are a way to "cheat" by buying something from an unregulated second market.
PG&E should adopt a "social norm" strategy, supply usage information & neighborhood averages without charge.   This is has worked successfully in Sacramento and elsewhere to reduce energy use.

Full article in SJ Mercury News.

LED Lighting comparison
SJ Mercury

Table below came from this San Jose Mercury article on Oct 19 , which I added a few summary facts to bottom:
Full article:  LED vs. CFL Light

LED bulbs offer potential advantages over older technologies — but at a price
Compact fluorescent
Cost per bulb (approx.)
50 cents
Power use, standard bulb
60 watts
13 watts
7 watts*
Typical lifespan
1,000 hours
10,000 hours
25,000 hours*
Market share, medium-screw bulbs, 2007
77 percent
23 percent

- 20% of average household energy use is for lighting (DOE)
-LED light price is decreasing rapidly and will be new products
-DOE has offered an "L" prize to speed up LED development.
-Incandescent light bulbs may soon face bans
-CFL contains mercury and must be recycled the correct way 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Climate Action Exihibit - at Santa Cruz Public Library

For the month of November,  the Santa Cruz Public Library will have a collection of books and information about Climate Change and how you can be involved, such as with the City's Climate Action Teams.

I just finished "Climate Solutions - What Works, What Doesn't and Why" by Peter Barnes, one of the books to be on display.  It's a small book, quite clearly written and can be read in couple of hours.  It is really about options in Carbon Caps and Trade, since Barnes dismisses a carbon tax, carbon rationing and zeroes in reasons for Carbon cap, which he does explain very clearly.

In summary, he explains the reason for a Carbon cap with all of the following, and why:
  • cap it and issue permits, the number which decreases annually
  • permits must be auctioned (not given away) to 'legacy' polluters
  • cap it "upstream", i.e. when it is first sold, not at each smokestack
  • no offsets or safety valves, or leaks, when we 'cheat' and then try to atone by purchasing something good from an unregulated market
  • cap all the carbon, including carbon emissions represented by imports
  • distribute revenue back to households to mitigate cost of increased price of carbon 
He goes a step further to talk about the idea of 'commons.'   Carbon permits can be extended worldwide, with revenue flowing back to the projects for the 'commons' or distributed to countries.  A basis must be included for the total of amount of carbon a country has put into the atmosphere, about 28% of it from the US.

Given the author's ability to communicate the issues concisely, I recommend reading the book whether you agree or not with his solutions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

City of Santa Cruz - GHG (1996-2008)

Using the City's data, I plotted 2 graphs.

Although the City has reduced CO2 emissions since 1996, the top pie chart shows the contribution from each sector.   (Transportation has actually increased; the biggest decrease is Commerce - due to factory closing before 2000).

The second shows the relative contributions to the total.  Again, transportation with about 50% is main CO2 contributor.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

1 World, 1 Message

350 - Climate Action

Pictures from around the World  (Flickr)

Santa Cruz Sentinel today  + pictures

Story about Trial, Sail  Boats, Climate (10/24/09)

Sentinel Op-ed Piece (10/24/09)

Today: Sailboats begin at 10 am

March from Wharf at 12:30 pm

Mock Trial at 2 pm

Live Tweeting in Santa Cruz

Other links

Santa Cruz Event Summary (10/23/09)  ( Santa Cruz ) (last email)

SCC Proclamation


Facebook (Main

Facebook (350 Santa Cruz)

Flickr (350 photo stream)

Thank you
Santa Cruz 350 Coalition

Friday, October 23, 2009

Santa Cruz Rally Info (as of 1 pm - Friday)

Santa Cruz Rally Event:  (as of 1 pm - Friday)

1:00-1:50pm       Setup
2:00-2:40(5)pm    People Power Car Trial
2:45-2:55pm       Stage Relocation and Setup 
2:55-3:00pm       Letter from Bill McKibben (need reader)
3:00-3:05pm       Cynthia Reading Proclamation
3:05-3:20pm       Ross Clark
3:20-3:25pm       Mark Stone reading county proclamation 
3:25-3:30pm       Fred Keeley
3:30-3:35pm       Cheryl from Veg Meetup Groups
3:35-3:50pm       Lopa Brunjes from BioChar
3:50-4:00(5)pm    James Barsimantov, a scientist from UCSC
4:05                     Micah will end the Rally with the 'car tow'
4:15-5:00pm       Take down/Clean up

350 Santa Cruz - Less than 24 hours to go!

October 24, 2009 is becoming an historic day!  (See on Twitter, #350ppm)
Thousands of events in 174 countries - all focused on Climate Change (

In Santa Cruz, please attend the Saturday events of your choice plus the march (12:30 pm - far end of Wharf) and rally.  Please bring your children, and help make 350 Santa Cruz a NO IMPACT, zero waste day.

Why we need you?  Not all Americans understand the peril.
Thanks to the many, many people who are helping in Santa Cruz and to the 350 Santa Cruz Coalition.
Latest Info
Why 350?  McKibben's Op-ed piece in today's Boston

350 Santa Cruz: (
Facebook: 350 Santa Cruz  (
Twitter: 350SantaCruz (
Event List  (confirmed as of 10-23-09)
updates  here: (

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, 10:00am - 5 pm, all day,
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History invites everyone to stop by and watch some or all of the film, which will be shown through the day.
(Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, 1305 East Cliff Drive)

Hoisting The Sails to 350: An Oceanic Plea for Greenhouse Gas Reduction.
Three boats will set sail with banners displaying the number 350, between Santa Cruz Harbor and The West Cliff Lighthouse, view from end of Wharf.
(Greg Cotten and a City of Santa Cruz: Climate Action Team.)

350 and Practical Activism at UCSC, 11 am - 5 pm,

March: Wharf To Town Clock, 12:30 pm - 1:00 pm,
(Santa Cruz 350  Coalition Initiative)  Meet at far end of Wharf, bring signs.

350 Peace Flags and Drawings of the Earth, 1 pm, Town Clock,
(Santa Cruz School Children)

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Through Diet, 2 pm - 4 pm,
(Santa Cruz Vegetarian Meetup) Emphasis on information and food choices.

Mock Trial of Internal Combustion Engine,  2 pm, Town Clock, presiding judge: Hon Fred Keeley,
(People Power)  Features Bill Monning as Bailiff to read charges leveled against defendant, Micah Posner as idealistic pro bono defense attorney.

Main Rally with Speakers, Town Clock, 2pm - 4pm,
(Santa Cruz 350 Collision Initiative) Includes Ross Clark (SC climate czar), Lupa Brunjes (, Cheryl (Lower Carbon Footprint Through Diet), James Barsimantov (Science & Government Policy; UCSC and + guests!

Potluck Dinner/Live Music/Presentations, and Movie Event, at Live Oak Grange,
Producer Maria Terezinha Vaz and Director Giovanni
Vaz Del Bello will be showing their environmental film: A
Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitibia, Brazil.
(Transitions Santa Cruz)

Simultaneously, people in every corner of the world will be taking similar action, from climbers with 350 banners high on the melting slopes of Mount Everest to government officials in the Maldive Islands holding an underwater cabinet meeting to demand action on climate change before their nation disappears.

November 1 - 30, 2009
Climate Change Book Exhibit at Santa Cruz Public Library
Press Coverage
SC Weekly
Interview Climatologist Dr. Schneider (

350 Day and Activist Bill McKibben (

GT Weekly  (

Earlier   (

And watch for the Sentinel!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Campaign for Sensible Transportation - Files Suite on Widening Highway - Sites GHG

CFST (Campaign for Sensible Transportation) Files Lawsuit:

Elerick concluded, “We expect our public officials to provide more than lip service to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation accounts for 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the City of Santa Cruz. Despite goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they are rising. We expect our tax monies to be spent on real transportation solutions that create a brighter future for us and our children, not to enable more emissions and speed up global warming. Our lawsuit is filed on behalf of our children, the community, and Planet Earth.”


Friday, October 16, 2009

First Flush - Red Alert, a night of waiting

First came the Red Alert, Monday Oct 12 - Just before 5 pm.
If anyone can remember that far back, it rained in the early evening.   But that wasn't the real thing.

Instead, it stopped and  I got a phone call about 8 pm or so from Nancy at Coastal Watershed who said the storm was coming from the north, and they were in Aptos.   They had no one in Santa Cruz to help them "call" the event, could I help?  "Ok, sure"

THEN, Nancy explained the real storm was expected sometime between midnight and 6 am.  "Hmmm, ok, " I said.  Could I, she asked, check for rain about once each hour.  In the mean time, she said, I could watch the storm on radar.    "Ok, I said - could be fun."

I didn't mind dedicating my night's sleep to science and the environment, but unfortunately I have no internet at home.   So I got a ride to the 24 hour dinner on Ocean and explained to the manager I was hoping to stay through the night for "First Flush."    "Yeah, sure, ok", was the reply.   "We now have wi-fi internet."

So I settled in.   Ordered something expensive on the menu and a lot of coffee.   But when came time for internet and radar, the manager said, "Oh, it's new and some people have problems."  

Well, I had problems.  So, no internet, no radar, but a good meal and I did some reading.   The hours started to tick by.  A little drizzle, but not the real thing.   Nancy was watching the radar and calling me every so often.

By 2 am, it started to rain again and a little wind, but not too serious.  I stayed in touch with Nancy.

But soon after this, the night crew at the diner reminded me that the limit was 2 hours.  I tried to explain the previous manager had ok'd this and I was doing this for science.  The night manager, a small, gentle looking woman but with a no-nosense attitude  who has heard it all before, said she didn't know anything about that.

I suppose I could have stayed, but the rain and wind were just starting to kick up and I made an executive decision:   "go home, before it really rains."  

So after 3 am, I made the slow march across the river, down a very subdued and increasingly wet Pacific Avenue toward home on Beach Hill.  It was kind of nice, actually.

By 4 am, I was home - soaked and cold. But still little wind and not a hard rain, yet. In fact, it seemed to tappering off.  Nancy said it really hadn't started much in Aptos but they could see on radar it was imminent in Aptos.    Then she disappeared.

If she "called" it too early, or worse the rain stopped, then there would a lot of volunteers handing around the watershed without enough runoff to collect meaningful samples.   Call it too late and maybe too much of the gunk has already runoff and we've missed the First Flush.

By 4:15 am or so, like a fool in the rain, which had begun again,  I sent another text message.  "You, ok?"   And got the reply, "we're calling it"

In another minute, I was nearly knocked over by a gust of wind - "Hey, this is getting serious - Mother Nature is angry"  and made haste to get inside the door, and to bed.   

Lucky me because about 50 others were being awakened with a chain of phone calls - "Get up, it's raining, go to your site! This is First Flush." 

The Red Alert follows, and then the note from Nancy after it was all over:

Hello Fabulous First Flush volunteers!

This is a Red Alert: We expect the First Flush to happen tonight – see the latest note from Jason:

Get ready for a big storm, this one may actually live up to the hype.  This morning's data indicate this storm is zeroing straight in on the central coast with very strong winds and heavy rain. 

The radar looks clear so at most a few showers may go through this afternoon but nothing much.  Extrapolating satellite motion puts it in here sometime between midnight and 6am.  I would start watching the radar after midnight though.  The rain front should be pretty obvious with this one.  Importantly, rain could be slow to develop in Monterey because this area tends to be rain shadowed in southeasterly wind regimes.  Keep an eye out the window for this.  Given the strength of the storm, rain will pick up and become moderate to heavy, even in Monterey by mid morning. 

Once again be careful, this is a potentially dangerous storm.

Here are a couple of links to help you watch the weather.

Satellite: Naval Research Lab
(click on "west coast & EPAC")

Radar:  National Center for Atmospheric Research
This site also has some satellite and weather model data

National Weather Service

Jason Nachamkin
Research Scientist
Naval Research Laboratory