When my children were small we visited Ardenwood Park in the east bay. We took a horse drawn wagon ride around the park. It took us through a cluster of Eucalyptus trees and I got my first glimpse of clusters of monarch butterflies. I was totally bewitched. It was a magical day. Unfortunately, the monarch butterfly is in trouble. The population of butterflies has declined by 90 percent since the 1990's, and it could go extinct in the next few years if action is not taken.
Did you know that Americans throw away almost 40% of the food sold in the United States, which ends up in landfills? Organics left in landfills turn into methane, a greenhouse gas worse than carbon dioxide, and eventually leak into the atmosphere, despite landfill gas collection systems. Luckily, a new law in California requires commercial organics to be sent to composting or anaerobic digestion operations to recover biogas and put organic materials back into our soils.
More and more cities are using ground rubber, made from shredded recycled tires, in parks and sports fields to replace traditional grass fields. Since its development in the 1960s, there have been growing health concerns about its use in public parks. Because using scrapped tires lowers the cost of maintaining parks, many cities across the Bay Area are reluctant to give it up — despite the risk of chemical exposure to children and athletes.
Hiho, Hiho, Off we go in search of snow... The Loma Prieta Ski Touring Section (STS) had a three day beginner Hutchinson Lodge trip recently. STS leads cross country ski trips in the Sierra Nevada for Loma Prieta Chapter members and guests. We had high hopes when the trip was planned, but by Jan 17th, it had been almost a month since any snow had fallen and we were in the middle of the driest January ever recorded. This left only thin and patchy snow on the ground even at 7,000' where Hutchinson Lodge is located. Our group of 10 participants had a fun time despite challenging conditions.
An excellent trip report by Bob Burd sparked my interest in visiting Mt Defiance, but the rainy weather forecast dampened enthusiasm, leaving four climbers on the day. We hiked the Bear Gulch cave trail, about two-thirds of a mile to Bear Gulch reservoir. To the south of the reservoir is a saddle with a nice view of Mt.
RALLY AGAINST KXL PIPELINE
On January 13, a spirited group from the Pacifica Climate Committee greeted commuters with signs urging President Obama to veto the Keystone XL pipeline. Similar rallies were held in 160 communities across the country. If Congress approves it, the pipeline would boost development of tar sands oilfields in Canada, and increase greenhouse gas emissions. When the fight against Keystone started, it seemed a long shot. No major fossil fuel project has ever been stopped because of its effect on climate. Keystone could be the first. Obama has threatened to veto legislation authorizing the pipeline. Climate activist Bill McKibben recently wrote: "The fossil-fuel industry’s aura of invincibility is gone. They’ve got all the money on the planet, but they no longer have unencumbered political power. Science counts, too, and so do the passion, spirit, and creativity of an awakened movement from the outside, from the ground up." (Carlos Davidson posted this news item on PacificaRiptide.com.)