Hexbyte Glen Cove California fights fire with fire to protect giant sequoias thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove California fights fire with fire to protect giant sequoias

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Flames got close to the General Sherman, the world’s biggest tree, but were pushed back thanks to years of controlled burns that starved the fire of fuel.

The so-far successful battle this month in California to save the world’s biggest trees from ever-worsening forest blazes seems to offer an important lesson: You can fight fire with fire.

Human-caused climate change has made the western United States hotter, drier and more vulnerable to increasingly destructive wildfires, which have this year taken a horrific toll on the region’s forests.

That has included threatening huge sequoias like the General Sherman, which looms 275 feet (83 meters) above the .

Firefighters were able to beat back the flames as they ate into California’s Giant Forest, thanks to decades of prescribed burns that starved the blaze of fuel.

“It sounds a little strange to say this, but there actually has not been enough fire in California for about a century,” said Rebecca Miller, a researcher at the University of Southern California.

“There were policies in place at the federal and the state level throughout much of the 20th century to prevent fire, because there was an incorrect belief that fire was bad for the environment.”

Fires are part of the natural cycle of life, clearing away excess vegetation, purging pests, and making space for new growth.

In the wilderness, these fires eventually burn themselves out.

But as has encroached further into formerly wild spaces, tolerance for these fires has diminished and firefighters are under instructions to put out all blazes as soon as possible.

Parts of the Sequoia National Forest have burned in the most recent blazes.

Now there is a growing realization that this policy is actually contributing to the worsening of forest fires—giving them so much more fuel and making them hotter, faster and more destructive.

Instead, the thinking goes, we should actually be helping smaller fires to burn.

The practice was key to protecting Giant Forest, home to the General Sherman, says Mark Garrett, a spokesman for the force trying to tame the still-active KNP Complex fire.

‘Best tool we have’

The sequoias of Giant Forest, some of which are up to 3,000 years old, have survived countless previous fires.

Their thick bark protects them from flames, and their cones actually need the heat of smaller fires to open up and spread their seeds.

But even these imposing giants cannot cope with the mega blazes tearing through California’s parched landscape.

Around 10,000 of them—up to 14 percent of the world’s total—perished in a huge fire last year.

So there was considerable nervousness when flames from the KNP Complex started eating into the Sequoia National Forest.

Sequoias can survive – and even thrive – in low-level fires, using the heat to open their cones and spread their seeds, but can be killed in the hotter, faster fires that are gripping California.

Garrett says it was the first time an uncontrolled fire had come so close to the General Sherman, which was wrapped in a protective foil.

But thanks to years of controlled burns, the fire couldn’t get much of a purchase, said Garrett.

“We’re seeing things we haven’t seen before, like near 300-foot trees being killed because of the smaller trees in between them that are carrying that fire,” he told AFP.

Controlled burns are “the best tool we have right now.”

The next General Sherman

But not everyone agrees.

“It is not an effective strategy and it’s been very much overblown,” says ecologist George Wuerthner.

Controlled burning has to be so widespread and so regular that it’s prohibitive.

“We just can’t be doing the whole landscape at that kind of frequency. It’s misleading to suggest that that’s a panacea for preventing large fires.”

California redwood trees grow taller – over 100 metres – but sequoias are the largest trees by volume in the world.

Former forest service official Andy Stahl says worthwhile controlled burns would cost billions of dollars.

“You can’t just burn it, walk away from it and say, ‘Well I don’t have to do that again for another 100 years.”

“No, you have to go back there in another five or 10 years and do it again,” said Stahl, who is executive director of FSEEE, an organization focused on ethical forest management.

Which explains why there are very few areas in the western United States where the practice is common—apart from around Giant Forest.

“It’s a very, very small footprint in a small National Park.”

For Garrett, there is simply no choice: “We need more money. We need more people. This needs to be done, all over the mountains and the federal lands.

“We don’t have a lot of brand new sequoia trees in the Giant Forest because it hasn’t seen in so long.

“We need that new generation to replace the General Sherman 2,000 years from now.”



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
California fights fire with fire to protect giant sequoias (2021, September 26)
retrieved 27 September 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-california-giant-sequoias.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove A drought-hit California town finds itself sinking into the ground thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove A drought-hit California town finds itself sinking into the ground

Hexbyte Glen Cove

An aerial view from July 24, 2021 of the farming town of Corcoran, California, which is steadily sinking as drought, worsened by climate change, has forced big farms to pump increasing amounts of water from the ground.

“You’ve got too many farmers pumping all around,” complained Raul Atilano. This octogenarian resident of Corcoran, the self-proclaimed farming capital of California, was struggling to make sense of the strangest of phenomena: his already suffering town is sinking, ever so gradually, into the ground.

A constant stream of trucks carrying tomatoes, alfalfa or cotton outside this town of 20,000 shows just how inextricably Corcoran’s fate is tied to the practiced here.

To irrigate its vast fields and help feed America, farm operators began in the last century to pump water from underground sources, so much so that the ground has begun to sink—imagine a series of giant straws sucking up groundwater faster than rain can replenish it, as hydrologist Anne Senter explained it to AFP.

Like a 2-story house

Strangely, signs of this subsidence are nearly invisible to the human eye. There are no cracks in the walls of the typical American shops in the town’s center, nor crevices opening up in the streets or fields: to measure subsidence, Californian authorities had to turn to NASA, which used satellites to analyze the geological change.

And yet, over the past 100 years, Corcoran has sunken “the equivalent of a two-story house,” Jeanine Jones, a manager with the California Department of Water Resources, told AFP.

The phenomenon “can be a threat to infrastructure, groundwater wells, levees, aqueducts,” she said.

The one recognizable sign of this dangerous change is a levee on the edge of the city, in an area where wisps of cotton blow in the air. In 2017, the authorities launched a major project to raise the levee, for fear that the city, which sits in a basin, could be flooded … whenever the rains finally return.

This year, however, the problem has been not floods but an alarming drought aggravated by climate change.

It has transformed this food-basket of America into a vast field of brown dust, forcing the authorities to impose water-use restrictions on farmers.

So Corcoran now finds itself in the midst of a vicious circle: with their limited, farm operators are forced to pump more underground water, which in turn speeds the sinking of the town.

A sign just outside the California town of Corcoran proclaims it as the state’s ‘farming capital’; drought has caught its farms in a vicious cycle.

Fear of losing jobs

Few locals have spoken out against the problem—not surprising, since most of them work for the same big agribusinesses pumping up groundwater.

“They are afraid that if they speak against them, they might lose their job,” said Atilano. He spent years working for one of the country’s biggest cotton producers, J.G. Boswell, whose name is seen on thousands of cloth bags stuffed with cotton that are seen stacked around town.

“I don’t care,” he adds with a smile. “I’ve been retired for 22 years.”

As big farm operations have increasingly become mechanized and industrialized, requiring less and less local labor, the town’s inhabitants themselves have been sinking—into a debilitating economic and psychological slump.

One-third of the majority Hispanic population here now lives in poverty. The three that once brought life to the town have all closed their doors.

“A lot of people are moving out,” said local resident Raul Gomez, who is 77.

On this summer afternoon, under a crushing heat wave, some people have stopped to chat under an enormous wall painting.

It depicts a clear blue lake surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks—for now, a distant dream.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
A drought-hit California town finds itself sinking into the ground (2021, August 8)
retrieved 8 August 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-drought-hit-california-town-ground.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove University of California regents approve rare tuition hike thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove University of California regents approve rare tuition hike

Hexbyte Glen Cove

In this May 17, 2019, file photo, Michael Drake answers questions during an interview in Columbus, Ohio. University of California regents on Thursday, July 22, will take up a multi-year tuition increase proposal that officials say is needed to keep campuses competitive, increase aid for low-income students and give families some financial predictability. The office of UC President Michael Drake said that an accompanying increase in financial aid would more than offset increases in tuition. Only students whose families earn $150,000 a year or more would benefit from keeping tuition flat, it said, whereas everyone else would benefit from more financial aid. Credit: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File

University of California regents on Thursday approved a multiyear plan to raise tuition and fees at the system’s 10 campuses.

The proposed increase is the first since 2017 and had been criticized by opponents as a “forever hike.” University officials say the increase is needed to maintain the quality of the public university system and provide more to students.

The proposal calls for tuition and fees to rise by 2% plus inflation for new undergraduates starting in the 2022-23 academic year. UC officials estimate that will amount to an additional $534, putting tuition and systemwide fees at just over $13,000 a year for in-state students. The estimate does not include additional campus-based fees.

That amount would stay flat for those students for up to six years. Increases for incoming freshmen in the following years would gradually decline from 1.5% to 0.5% plus inflation until the 2026-27 , when increases would be based only on inflation.

However, regents also voted to visit the issue in five years, and the board at that time will have to reauthorize the plan. The vote was 17 in favor and 5 opposed.

Kalli Zervas, a senator with the Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley, said she was “absolutely appalled” that leaders would consider raising costs on low-income students such as herself.

“How dare you parade yourself as a diverse system?” she told regents. “At this rate, you might as well only accept the wealthy students, as you’re making it nearly impossible for the rest of us to attend.”

In this Nov. 24, 2014, file photo, students march under Sather Gate during a tuition-hike protest at the University of California in Berkeley, Calif. University of California regents on Thursday, July 22, will take up a multi-year tuition increase proposal that officials say is needed to keep campuses competitive, increase aid for low-income students and give families some financial predictability. Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

UC President Michael Drake and others said that an accompanying increase in financial aid would more than offset increases in tuition. Only students whose families earn $150,000 a year or more would benefit from keeping tuition flat, it said, whereas everyone else would benefit from more financial aid.

Even with an increased $11 billion in the California budget for UC this year, officials say has not kept pace with enrollment growth. State funding has gone from nearly $40,000 a in 2000 to an estimated $25,200 in 2021, the office says, while enrollment has increased from 171,000 to 292,000 over the same time period.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, warned against tuition increases for both UC and the California State University system in January when he released his initial state budget.

“Right as students and families continue to struggle to recover from the adverse impacts of this pandemic, this proposal would lock-in inequitable fee increases for the foreseeable future,” the University of California Student Association said in a statement, calling the proposal a “forever hike.”

The University of California has a strong public mission and is invaluable in promoting social and economic mobility, said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, in an op-ed published last year to support the increase.

“For a public university, there are only three choices: the state subsidizes, or tuition goes up, or quality gets cut,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “The only way to make sure that the University of California remains excellent is to ensure that it has adequate funds.”

The office of the UC president said in-state tuition and campus fees at comparable public universities in Virginia, Illinois and Michigan average around $17,000, with increases ranging from 24% to 56% since 2011, at the same time UC tuition has gone up 6%.

The Board of Regents was scheduled to vote on a version of the tuition proposal in March 2020, but deferred action amid the pandemic.



© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation:
University of California regents approve rare tuition hike (2021, July 22)
retrieved 23 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-university-california-regents-rare-tuition.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove California fire cancels bike ride, prompts evacuations thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove California fire cancels bike ride, prompts evacuations

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Smoke rises from the Dixie Fire burning along Highway 70 in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger

A rapidly growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe forced evacuations of a mountain town and the cancellation of an extreme bike ride through the Sierra Nevada, leaving thousands of riders and spectators stranded Saturday.

The Tamarack Fire, which was sparked by lightning on July 4, exploded overnight to about 10 square miles (26 square kilometers) and was burning near the small town of Markleeville, close to the California-Nevada state line. It has destroyed at least 3 structures, authorities said. A notice posted on the 103-mile (165-kilometer) Death Ride’s website said several communities in the area had been evacuated and ordered all riders to also evacuate immediately.

Meanwhile, the largest wildfire in the U.S.—burning in southern Oregon—grew significantly overnight as dry and windy conditions took hold in the area, but containment of the inferno more than tripled as firefighters began to gain more control, authorities said Saturday.

The Bootleg Fire grew to 427 square miles (1,105 square kilometers) and was just one of numerous fires burning across the drought-stricken U.S. West, as new fires popped up or grew rapidly in Oregon and California. There were 70 active large fires and complexes of multiple fires that have burned nearly 1,659 square miles (4,297 square kilometers) in the U.S., the National Interagency Fire Center said.

In this photo provided by the Bootleg Fire Incident Command, the Bootleg Fire burns at night near Highway 34 in southern Oregon on Thursday, July 15, 2021. Firefighters scrambled Friday to control a raging inferno in southeastern Oregon that’s spreading miles a day in windy conditions, one of numerous wildfires across the U.S. West that are straining resources. The Bootleg Fire, the largest wildfire burning in the U.S., has torched more than 377 square miles (976 square kilometers), and crews had little control of it. Credit: Jason Pettigrew/Bootleg Fire Incident Command via AP

A fire in the mountains of northeast Oregon was also growing rapidly and was 15 square miles (39 kilometers) in size on Saturday. The Elbow Creek fire started Thursday and has prompted evacuations in several small, around the Grande Ronde River about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Walla Walla, Washington.

In southern Oregon, fire crews have dealt with dangerous and extreme fire conditions, including massive “ clouds” that rise up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the blaze. Earlier in the week, firefighters had to retreat after one of these clouds started to collapse, threatening them with strong downdrafts and flying embers.

The Bootleg Fire has destroyed at least 67 homes and 117 outbuildings and flames are surging up to 4 miles (6 kilometers) a day.

The conflagration has forced 2,000 people to evacuate and is threatening 5,000 buildings, including homes and smaller structures in a rural area just north of the California border. The main Oregon blaze was 22% contained.

  • In this photo provided by the Bootleg Fire Incident Command, the Bootleg Fire burns at night near Highway 34 in southern Oregon on Thursday, July 15, 2021. Firefighters scrambled Friday to control a raging inferno in southeastern Oregon that’s spreading miles a day in windy conditions, one of numerous wildfires across the U.S. West that are straining resources. The Bootleg Fire, the largest wildfire burning in the U.S., has torched more than 377 square miles (976 square kilometers), and crews had little control of it. Credit: Jason Pettigrew/Bootleg Fire Incident Command via AP
  • In this photo taken with a drone provided by the Bootleg Fire Incident Command, a pyrocumulus cloud, also known as a fire cloud, is seen over the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Smoke and heat from a massive wildfire in southeastern Oregon are creating “fire clouds” over the blaze—dangerous columns of smoke and ash that can reach up to 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) and are visible for more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) away. Authorities have put these clouds at the top of the list of the extreme fire behavior they are seeing on the Bootleg Fire, the largest wildfire burning in the U.S. Credit: Bootleg Fire Incident Command via AP
  • In this photo provided by the Bootleg Fire Incident Command, smoke from the Bootleg Fire rises behind the town of Bonanza, Ore., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. Firefighters scrambled Friday to control a raging inferno in southeastern Oregon that’s spreading miles a day in windy conditions, one of numerous wildfires across the U.S. West that are straining resources. The Bootleg Fire, the largest wildfire burning in the U.S., has torched more than 377 square miles (976 square kilometers), and crews had little control of it. Credit: Bootleg Fire Incident Command via AP
  • In this photo provided by the Bootleg Fire Incident Command, columns of smoke from the Bootleg Fire rise behind a water tender in southern Oregon on Friday, July 16, 2021. Firefighters scrambled Friday to control a raging inferno in southeastern Oregon that’s spreading miles a day in windy conditions, one of numerous wildfires across the U.S. West that are straining resources. The Bootleg Fire, the largest wildfire burning in the U.S., has torched more than 377 square miles (976 square kilometers), and crews had little control of it. Credit: Lisa Chambers/Bootleg Fire Incident Command via AP
  • Smoke billows behind power lines as the Dixie Fire burns along Highway 70 in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger
  • Jessica Bell watches as the Dixie Fire burns along Highway 70 in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger
  • Jessica Bell takes a video as the Dixie Fire burns along Highway 70 in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger
  • Jessica and Benjamin Bell watch as the Dixie Fire burns along Highway 70 in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger
  • Benjamin Bell watches as the Dixie Fire burns along Highway 70 in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger
  • Firefighters spray water from Union Pacific Railroad’s fire train while battling the Dixie Fire in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger
  • Firefighters spray water from Union Pacific Railroad’s fire train while battling the Dixie Fire in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger
  • Firefighters spray water from Union Pacific Railroad’s fire train while battling the Dixie Fire in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 16, 2021. Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger

A Red Flag weather warning was issued for the area through Saturday night.

Extremely and tied to have swept the region, making wildfires harder to fight. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

Firefighters said in July they were facing conditions more typical of late summer or fall.



© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation:
California fire cancels bike ride, prompts evacuations (2021, July 17)
retrieved 18 July 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-california-cancels-bike-prompts-evacuations.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove California already in throes of drought as summer looms thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove California already in throes of drought as summer looms

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Water levels in the Lake Oroville reservoir, the second largest in California, are already far lower than in past years—a worrying sign of extreme drought.

Summer has not even begun and Lake Oroville, the second-largest reservoir in California that provides drinking water to more than 25 million people, is at less than half of its average capacity at this time of year.

It is a worrying indication of the worsening drought conditions in the northern part of the Golden State.

“When we go into a year like this with the reservoir low and with really dry conditions throughout the state, that is concerning,” John Yarbrough, the assistant deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources, told AFP.

“The reservoir is much lower than we would like to see it, much lower than typical at this time of year. It’s about 47 percent of average,” he said, pointing to the cracked earth forming the wall.

Since May 10, California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency linked to drought in more than 40 counties. Conditions in Butte County, where Lake Oroville is located, are already seen as “extreme,” the highest level.

And the situation—exacerbated by the effects of climate change across the western United States—is not expected to improve before the rains return in five or six months.

Yarbrough said that in 2019, which he called a “good year,” the water level reached the trees on the edge of the dam—meaning it was about 50 meters (165 feet) higher than usual.

Residents of the area told AFP they had never seen like this before.

Many of them recalled how in 2017, they had to evacuate because torrential rains had prompted authorities to fear that the dam would break under the pressure. Not even five years later, the situation has shifted dramatically.

Boat owners in Lake Oroville have been forced to remove their vessels from the water or risk seeing them run aground and suffer damage.

Evaporating snow

Lake Oroville, built in the 1960s at the confluence of three rivers, is the key component of California’s State Water Project, a massive network of reservoirs, aqueducts and pipelines bringing water from the northern part of the state to the south, which has a higher population and a far .

“This lake right here provides drinking water for 27 million Californians,” Yarbrough said, adding that it also irrigates “up to 750,000 acres” (303,000 hectares) of farmland.

On average, Northern California gets two-thirds of the state’s total precipitation, but this year has been particularly bad.

On April 1, which traditionally marks the end of snowfall in the state, snow reserves in the Sierra Nevada mountains—source for about a third of the water used in California—stood at only about 60 percent of the average.

“One unique thing this year is, as that snow melted, the runoff ended up soaking into dry soils and evaporating,” meaning very little runoff ended up in Lake Oroville, Yarbrough explained.

The waters contained by Oroville Dam, the tallest in the United States at 770 feet (235 meters), will not dry up that quickly, but at the end of the so-called dry season the lake is expected to be at its lowest level recorded since September 1977.

Fears of forest fires

After two years with very little precipitation, and with no assurances that upcoming seasons will be any better, restrictions are the next step.

The charred trees that dot the landscape around Lake Oroville are a stark reminder of the increased risk of wildfires as a result of the drought.

The California Department of Water Resources, which runs the State Water Project, has warned that it risks being unable to provide more than five percent of requested supplies this year.

The owners of dozens of boats moored on Lake Oroville were forced this week to put the vessels in dry dock, or risk seeing them run aground and be damaged.

Another serious consequence of the drought: the increased risk of wildfires, which is particularly worrying for authorities in a region that has been repeatedly devastated in recent years by massive forest blazes.

The charred trees that dot the landscape around Lake Oroville are a stark reminder: Last year, more than 6,500 square miles (17,000 square kilometers) went up in flames in California alone, and 33 people were killed, including 15 at Berry Creek, not far from Oroville.

This year, fires have already consumed five times more vegetation than at the same point in time in 2020.

“I think we’re in a long-term trend of drought conditions. And it’s been going on for about six years,” said Butte County fire chief John Messina.

“We’ve had a few wet years in between those years, but overall, we’re much drier than what we’re used to,” he said.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand if you don’t have precipitation, your fuels don’t stay moist—and the drier the fuels are, the more potential there is to have a catastrophic wildfire, or at least an extremely busy summer in California.”



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
California already in throes of drought as summer looms (2021, May 30)
retrieved 30 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-california-throes-drought-summer-looms.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove California agency approves warehouse rule for air quality thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove California agency approves warehouse rule for air quality

Hexbyte Glen Cove

A semi-truck turns into an Amazon Fulfillment center in Eastvale, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. Southern California air quality regulators are considering a rule that would curb emissions from trucks that ferry goods from the growing number of massive warehouses run by Amazon and other companies. Areas around the facilities have weathered increased pollution affecting largely minority communities. The “warehouse rule” will be voted on, by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. (Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register via AP)

Southern California air quality regulators on Friday approved a rule that would curb diesel emissions from thousands of trucks that ferry goods from the growing number of massive warehouses in the region run by Amazon and other companies.

Areas around the facilities have weathered increased pollution affecting their largely .

The so-called warehouse rule was approved 9-4 by the South Coast Air Quality Management District board.

It institutes a points-based system requiring about 3,000 distribution centers to choose from a menu of options to reduce or offset emissions. Those could include choices such as replacing diesel trucks and other equipment with electric models, putting in rooftop solar panels or installing air filters at nearby schools or day care centers.

“Warehouse operators could prepare and implement a custom plan specific to their site, or they could pay a mitigation fee,” the proposal read. The fees would go toward funding similar air quality improvements in surrounding neighborhoods.

South Coast district officials said they acted in order to meet federal smog-reduction deadlines in 2023 and 2031.

The Air Quality Management District said in a socioeconomic impact assessment report earlier this year that the regulations would provide public health benefits worth $2.7 billion from 2022 to 2031—including 5,800 fewer asthma attacks and 300 fewer deaths.

Environmental and activist groups praised the vote, saying it will reduce pollution while providing local clean energy jobs.

The rule “is the first step in eliminating toxic emissions from one of the nation’s largest and most profitable industries,” said a joint statement from the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, People’s Collective for Environmental Justice and the Partnership for Working Families.

“Squinting through the smog, California is charting a better future for the sake of our lungs, ” said Adrian Martinez of Earthjustice. “The health benefits will be immense, but the Indirect Source Rule is just the beginning. The way we move goods in this country has got to be electric, for the sake of clean air and a breathable future.”

A semi-truck turns into an Amazon Fulfillment center in Eastvale, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. Southern California air quality regulators are considering a rule that would curb emissions from trucks that ferry goods from the growing number of massive warehouses run by Amazon and other companies. Areas around the facilities have weathered increased pollution affecting largely minority communities. The “warehouse rule” will be voted on, by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. (Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register via AP)

But the Los Angeles County Business Federation said the rule amounts to an unauthorized job-killing tax and called the Air Quality Management District’s action “irresponsible” and “a travesty.”

“The staff advised the board that this rule and tax will eliminate tens of thousands of jobs, with no evidence it will actually reduce emissions,” the business group said. “What’s more, these job losses will disproportionately impact communities of color, the same communities the board is claiming to support. This is not how public policy should be made.”

B.J. Patterson, chief executive of Pacific Mountain Logistics, which employs more than 65 people at a 200,000-square-foot (18,580-square meter) warehouse in San Bernardino, told the Los Angeles Times that he didn’t know which of the compliance options his company would select.

Most of the forklifts used inside are already electric, he said, and he does not control which trucks come in and out.

Opting to pay the mitigation fees would cost his business close to $200,000 a year, he estimated.

Environmental and community groups have for years pushed for tighter regulations to help neighborhoods inundated with smog-forming nitrogen oxides from trucks driving to and from sprawling warehouse complexes owned by Amazon and other distributors across the inland region east of Los Angeles.

“These communities are often disadvantaged and people of color. So it’s part of our ongoing commitment to address the inequity, as well as addressing the overall regional air quality pollution,” Wayne Nastri, the South Coast district’s executive officer, said a day before the vote.

More than 2.4 million people live within half a mile of at least one large warehouse, and those areas have higher rates of asthma and heart attacks, and are disproportionately Black and Latino, district officials said.

Presentation of the proposal began after board members honored clean-air trailblazer William A. Burke, who is retiring after 23 years as chairman.

“Today is historical. It couldn’t be a better day to go home,” Burke said.



© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation:
California agency approves warehouse rule for air quality (2021, May 8)
retrieved 9 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-california-agency-warehouse-air-quality.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove California to ban new fracking from 2024 thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove California to ban new fracking from 2024

Hexbyte Glen Cove

California plans to ban new permits for fracking from 2024

California plans to stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024, Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday, as the state looks toward progressively halting fossil fuel extraction in the coming decades.

Hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting hydrocarbons that is controversial for its impact on the environment, accounts for as much as 17 percent of California’s production, according to industry groups.

“The is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” Newsom said in a statement.

“As we move to swiftly decarbonize our transportation sector and create a healthier future for our children, I’ve made it clear I don’t see a role for fracking in that future and, similarly, believe that California needs to move beyond oil.”

The state oil and gas regulator will start the process to halt the issuance of new permits by January 2024, he explained, referring to the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management.

Newsom also instructed the state’s clean air agency to investigate “pathways” to phase out oil extraction by 2045.

That target ties in with California’s efforts to fight , including the goal of being “” for its economy by 2045 and Newsom’s decision to ban the sale of new combustion-engine vehicles by 2035.

The fracking industry boomed between 2000-2010 making the United States the world’s leading oil producer since 2014.

But its environmental and health costs are increasingly well documented: earthquakes, air and near farms as well as leaks of planet-warming methane gas.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
California to ban new fracking from 2024 (2021, April 24)
retrieved 25 April 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-california-fracking.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove When rare California toads get thirsty for love, this tiny college helps set the mood thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove When rare California toads get thirsty for love, this tiny college helps set the mood

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

When you’re as rare and vulnerable as a black toad, you can’t afford to be coy about romance.

Surrounded by an unforgiving desert and forever isolated on a small patch of irrigated ranchland about 50 miles southeast of Yosemite National Park, black toads inhabit the smallest range of any North American amphibian.

So when breeding season arrives, as it did last month, this high desert basin nestled between the Inyo and White mountain ranges resounds with the toad’s high-pitched chirrups, which are reminiscent of peeping of baby chicks.

But this “toad heaven” would not be possible without the annual cooperation of the ranch owner, Deep Springs College. One of the smallest institutions of higher education in the United States, Deep Springs provides the amorous toads with all the basic creature comforts they will need to pair up and produce new crops of eggs and tadpoles.

Among those necessary comforts are peace, quiet and plenty of room for the 2-inch-long black toads with warty skin and golden eyes to serenade each other.

Cattle are kept away from the springs that ooze from the base of a nearby cliff from March through September—ensuring that courting toads don’t get trampled, said Tim Gipson, 63, ranch manager at the college.

“My priorities are cattle, toads, water and pasturelands,” Gipson said. “We only graze cattle by the springs in winter, when the toads are dormant and hibernating underground.”

The college, a complex of low-slung buildings surrounded by cottonwood trees, occupies a remote corner of the high desert, roughly 20 miles from the Nevada border. Framed by volcanic peaks, rock towers and sagebrush-studded alluvial fans, the area is the very definition of “remote.”

Grazing cattle and saving black toads have been dominant forces on campus operations for half a century, and a conservation success story at a time when amphibians are facing declines and extinctions across the United States and around the world.

Once abundant across the vast floodplains of the Great Basin, only about 8,500 black toads cling to existence by their stubby little toes at the college, a relic population isolated about 12,000 years ago when things were starting to heat up.

The toad’s first scientific name, Bufo exsul, acknowledges its extreme isolation. It means “exiled toad.”

Greg Pauley, herpetological curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, was a graduate student when he first ventured to Deep Valley Springs two decades ago.

“It was a bit of a shock to see how desolate, isolated and critically important their habitat is,” he recalled. “What’s terrifying now are the increasing demands for use of the desert aquifers that sustain such sites.”

It is one of several genetically distinct toad species that exist only in highly restricted -fed habitats and are prone to disease, inbreeding, predation, development and groundwater pumping. Now, longer droughts and rising temperatures from climate change are also upsetting the delicate balance between life and death in those habitats, too.

“These imperiled creatures face a staggering number of threats to their persistence,” said C. Richard Tracy, 76, a professor emeritus at the University of Nevada Reno. The threats, he said, “are compounded by their remarkably small range.”

“The situation requires urgent attention and strong conservation initiatives to protect and monitor these species,” Tracy said.

Cooperative management between Deep Springs College and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife helps protect the black toads and their water sources.

On a recent weekday morning, Padraic MacLeish, 63, director of operations at Deep Springs, led a group of visitors on a tour of the black toads’ nuptial flows.

At the water’s edge, MacLeish carefully scanned dense thickets of willows and bulrush, saying, “Black toads are good at hiding.”

Moments later, he nodded appreciatively toward a pair of toads, one of them floating placidly with only its nose and bulging eyes visible above the surface of the water, and the other clambering up a pile of leaves.

A few feet away, entangled in submerged twigs and pebbles, were long strands of toad eggs that resembled strings of tiny black beads.

With luck, the eggs will hatch in due time, and little tadpoles will begin a precarious existence.

Among those eager to get a glimpse of the toad story unfolding at the springs was Susan Darlington, 63, who was named president of Deep Springs College in September.

Kneeling on muddy banks amid the pervasive smell of cow manure may sound unpleasant, but for Darlington it was an opportunity to get close-up photographs of one of the rarest amphibians on the planet in its lone stronghold—her backyard.

After snapping dozens of pics with a macro-lens from a variety of angles, she remained spellbound.

“Wow! I’ve seen our legendary black toads and have photos to show for it,” she said. “I’m a real Deep Springer now!”



2021 Los Angeles Times.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove California appears to be in for a dry, warm winter thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove California appears to be in for a dry, warm winter

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

December typically marks the onset of winter, but you’d never know it by looking at California.

Mountain ranges lay blackened by wildfire as record heat scorched the Golden State through fall. Daytime temperatures in Los Angeles have hovered around 80 degrees through Thanksgiving. Southern California has experienced scant rain since February—with no precipitation in the forecast. And nearly all of the state is experiencing extremely dry or again.

In a year beset by upsets, on comes La Niña with a seasonal gift of warm, . Federal weather forecasters say there’s greater than a 90% chance such conditions will prevail across much of California and the Southwest this winter.

Warm weather is great if you like wearing shorts, sandals and sunglasses at Christmas. But it’s not so good for water supply, wildlife, agriculture or air quality.

Ocean conditions, including La Niña, play big role in shaping California winters

“There’s a good chance this winter will be drier and warmer than average. This is likely to affect the Sierra Nevada snowpack and the timing of spring runoff, which can lead to trouble next year with the water supply in California,” said Lowell Stott, professor of Earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He studies how ocean temperatures influence weather and climate with a focus on drought cycles in the U.S. West.

La Niña occurs when below-average sea surface temperatures prevail across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Winds blow west across the Pacific, affecting rainfall and weather patterns around the world. It happens every few years, often punctuated by the opposite condition, El Niño.

Climate change is in play as a long-term warming challenge, Stott says, but the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle, as it is known, has been around a long time. The complex ocean and atmospheric interplay has direct consequences for California.

“It’s so dry in California because of the complicated and dynamic role that the oceans play, which isn’t always easy to predict,” said Professor Naomi Levine, an expert in climate change and chemical and biological oceanography at USC Dornsife. “We’ll likely have a La Niña year, which typically means a warm and dry winter in Southern California, but competing forces in the North Pacific can influence ocean temperatures and atmospheric river storms that affect California.”

For example, Levine said a wildcard this winter is a giant blob of warm water soaking along the Pacific Northwest, independent of La Niña conditions in the equatorial Pacific. The blob warms the air above it and can influence storm pathways. If the blob slides down the West Coast, it can trigger algae blooms that affect marine life in California, which previously happened in 2015.

Dry winters can lead to serious storm issues like mudslides

Even in a dry winter, storms can be a risk to burn areas. Sometimes, so-called atmospheric rivers slam into California, dumping lots of rain fast. Even if seasonal precipitation is below average, a few well-placed, intense storms can do a lot of damage, explained Josh West, professor of Earth sciences and environmental studies at USC Dornsife.

“So much land burned this year across California and the West that we have heightened risk for damaging debris flows,” he said. “We’ve dodged a bullet so far because it’s dry, but that could change with big storms.”

West is an expert in the landslides and debris flows that can occur after fires and during storms. He said that the Bobcat fire exposed a lot of bare soil in the San Gabriel Mountains north of the Los Angeles basin—one of the steepest and fastest eroding in the world. He said as little as 15 minutes of intense downpour can trigger mudslides in local mountains.

When and how rain will eventually come remains to be seen. What seems clear is more dry and lies ahead, making this a holiday season for sunscreen or sandals rather than mittens or umbrellas.



Citation:
California appears to be in for a dry, warm winter (2020, December 4)
retrieved 4 December 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-12-california-winter.html

This document is subject to