By Doug Porter
The State of California Water Resources Control Board says residential water conservation is not working and there are rumblings about adopting permanent, rather than emergency water conservation measures.
Former Todd Gloria staffer Nicole Capretz has started a non-profit group to keep pressure on the City of San Diego as the Climate Action Plan moves from concept to reality. Activist groups, led by the local chapter of 350.org and the Environmental Health Coalition staged a rally in Balboa Park on Monday to urge local leaders to move decisively.
And a two-decade-long study by scientists with the University of Southern California offers up proof that declining air pollution is measurably improving children’s health. There’s all this and much more in today’s news wrapup…
Are You Thirsty Yet?
Danielle Touma, a graduate student and co-author of the study, explained, “When we look at the historical record, not only do we see a doubling of the odds of a warm-dry year, but we also see a doubling of the frequency of drought years. Warm conditions reduce snowfall, increase snowmelt and increase water loss from soils and plants.”
The researchers say their findings predict worse weather to come.
An article in UT-San Diego, (which talks about the drought but not climate change) says statewide consumption fell by 8.8% this January when compared to the baseline month from 2013.
With average water consumption of 55 gallons per person per day, San Diego had the second lowest residential water use rate in the county in January, next to Otay Water District, which averaged 54 gallons per person per day. However, San Diego also had a slight increase in water use of 4 percent compared with the January 2013.
“It was a super-warm month with hardly any precipitation, and that is the month that is traditionally San Diego’s wettest,” said city spokeswoman Robyn Bullard. “So a creep up of 4 percent is actually quite good. So now we’re battling back, actually. It’s really just weather driven.”
Residents in Santa Fe Irrigation District used about 3 percent more water this January compared to the same month in 2013, with per capita water use of 231 gallons per person per day.
There is some maybe/good news to report, via the Los Angeles Times:
Federal weather watchers on Thursday said the Pacific Ocean current oscillation known as El Niño has formed, raising the prospect of a moderate increase in rain for the U.S. West Coast.
The development is unlikely to have a drastic effect on the drought conditions in Southern California and elsewhere in the West, according to officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which issued the El Niño update.
San Diego’s Climate Watchdog
Last month, she spoke to the Gaslamp Quarter Association’s hospitality committee, a small group of about 10 people from Gaslamp restaurants and other businesses. As part of her presentation, Capretz talked about sea level rise.
“I think it’s important for you to know that the city doesn’t really have a plan to figure out what we’re going to do when sea level rises. What’s going to happen when flooding starts coming through the Convention Center and into the Gaslamp Quarter?” she said.
“What’s that going to mean for your business?”
Go Figure: Less Air Pollution is Good for Kids
California’s efforts to tackle environmental issues are paying health dividends for the state’s younger residents, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times:
Cleaner air has for the first time been linked to bigger and stronger lungs among school-age children, according to findings released Wednesday from a two-decade study in Southern California.
The research by USC scientists, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the region’s steep decline in air pollution since the mid-1990s is strongly associated with “statistically and clinically significant improvements” in children’s lung function and growth.
The analysis, which studied more than 2,000 children in five cities over the years, provides the strongest evidence yet that years of government regulations to reduce air pollution in California and across the nation are paying off with measurable improvements in children’s health.
The dirty energy industry keeps trying to blunt or roll back statewide environmental initiatives. According to the Sacramento Bee, the Western States Petroleum Association poured nearly $8.9 million into lobbying California government in 2014. That compares with almost $4.7 million the group spent in 2013.
Obstruction on the National Level
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) penned an op-ed in yesterday’s Lexington Herald-Leader encouraging state governments to ignore federal environmental regulations.
The Republican Senate Majority leader is protesting the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempts to slash greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants; once the agency finalizes their rules this summer, they’ll ask states to submit a plan detailing their plans to implement the regulation.
McConnell’s plan? Ignore them.
“Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism,” he wrote. “Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back. We’re devising strategies now to do just that.”
The Merchants of Doubt Documentary
There is an important documentary being released this week illuminating the links between the individuals and think tanks who worked with the tobacco industry and the clowns you’re likely to see on Fox News denying climate science. It’s based on the book Merchants of Doubt by Harvard professor authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.
There’s an excellent review of the film at the Guardian and it concludes:
In a famous 1969 tobacco industry memo, one executive wrote:
Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy. Within the business we recognize that a controversy exists. However, with the general public the consensus is that cigarettes are in some way harmful to the health. If we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, then there is an opportunity to put across the real facts about smoking and health. Doubt is also the limit of our “product”.
What’s clear – and has been clear for well over a decade – is that the climate science denial industry is largely an extension of a program developed in the 1960s by big tobacco.
Much of its product, liberally spread, is a public relations exercise. The fact that this is not regularly acknowledged is possibly also a result of the production of doubt.
You’ll probably be able to sample some of that product in the comment section of this post. Enjoy.
Here’s an outstanding preview clip:
Ferguson: Two Vastly Different Stories
Two things happened yesterday in connection with Ferguson, Missouri. You won’t read about either of them in today’s Daily Fishwrap.
The Justice Department concluded that police officer Darren Wilson couldn’t be prosecuted for fatally shooting 18 year old Michael Brown.
Here’s the lede from that story, via 10News:
It was reasonable for police Officer Darren Wilson to be afraid of Michael Brown in their encounter last summer, a Justice Department investigation concluded, and thus he cannot be prosecuted for fatally shooting the unarmed 18-year-old.
An 86-page report released Wednesday found that physical evidence and “credible” witnesses supported Wilson’s version of an event that drew international attention and triggered repeated protests that included looting and arson in Ferguson, Dellwood, St. Louis and elsewhere.
In a speech in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder concluded, “Michael Brown’s death, though a tragedy, did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of Officer Wilson.” Holder said that the decision “represents the sound, considered and independent judgment of the expert career prosecutors,” and that he concurred.
A separate report on the methods and practices was also released. The 10News story mentioned it.
I think readers should be aware of just how bad things were in Ferguson, Missouri.
From The Intercept:
Police in Ferguson, Missouri have presided over a predatory system of entrenched racism, economic exploitation and constitutional rights violations stretching back several years, according to a long-awaited Department of Justice investigation released Wednesday. The scathing 102-page report paints a portrait of a vicious environment in which Ferguson’s black residents are disproportionately mired in municipal court fines — frequently resulting from dubious traffic stops — in order to generate revenue for the St. Louis suburb and routinely subjected to excessive use of force.
The report, six months in the making, confirms many of the complaints black residents raised in the wake the fatal August shooting of Michael Brown — an unarmed African American teen — by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer. Brown’s killing sparked months of protest, highlighting longstanding discriminatory practices carried out by Ferguson’s majority white police force against Ferguson’s majority black population.
In a press conference Wednesday unveiling the report, Attorney General Eric Holder blamed Ferguson’s police for creating a “powder keg” that exploded when Brown was gunned down in broad daylight. In November, a grand jury declined to indict Wilson in Brown’s slaying; in a separate development Wednesday, the DOJ cleared Wilson of alleged civil rights violations in the teen’s killing.
Furguson, San Diego Style
Our local gendarmes most likely aren’t quite in the same league as the Ferguson cops (That investigation is ongoing).
But I think Voice of San Diego’s article by Sara Libby yesterday, “Guilt by Association: Facebook Pics Could Help Send a Young Man to Prison for Life” shows us that there’s more than one way for the system to be rotten and racist.
Here’s the summary at the top of the piece:
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is using an obscure criminal statute to prosecute a group of San Diego men. The DA has admitted that some of the men had nothing to do with the underlying crimes at the heart of the case – a series of shootings by Lincoln Park gang members in 2013. Rather, they’re charged with conspiracy for belonging to the same gang as the shooters.
Read.the.whole.thing. It can happen here.
On This Day: 1770 – British soldiers, quartered in the homes of colonists, took the jobs of working people when jobs were scarce. On this date, grievances of rope makers against the soldiers led to a fight. Soldiers shot down Crispus Attucks, a black colonist, then others, in what became known as the Boston Massacre. Attucks is considered the first casualty in the American Revolution. 1922 – “Annie Oakley” (Phoebe Ann Moses) broke all existing records for women’s trap shooting. She hit 98 out of 100 targets. 1982 – Blues Brother John Belushi died of drug overdose in the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles at the age of 33.
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