In the beginning this blog was centered on San Francisco parks and open space issues with special emphasis on natural areas and natural history. Over time it began to range into other areas and topics. As you can see, it is eclectic, as I interlace it with topics of interest to me.

I welcome feedback: just click this link to reach me.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


1.   Community meeting on Navy's plans for Hunters Point Shipyard's Parcel E2
2.   Enhancement of Presidio's Outdoors: the year ahead, July 12
3.   Weed beautiful Owl Canyon on San Bruno Mtn, Satur/save date for pancake breakfast
4.   The Amazing Leatherback Migration to California July 12
5.   Save the Park, Save the Dark, support birds - latest on GGP soccer fields
6.   Regrouping on Knowland Park
7.   Big Deal:  Discovering the Higgs boson
8.   Support requirement for labeling GM foods
9.   I'm working on the world - Wislawa Szymborska
10. Supervisors increase funding for SF RecParks
11.  Feedback: New thought on wildlife feed/foraging/Central Subway v mass transit
12.  Can dogs really show empathy towards humans?
13.  Why internet scams seem so obvious
14.  Gregory Orr: Let's remake the world with words...but with a purpose
15.  Marin Water District events, July 7 and 21
16.   SciAm potpourri: climate changed brought down cultures/volcanoes cooled climates
17.  How the taste of tomatoes went bad (and kept on going)
18.  Marketplace host gets grilled on Mother's Day - and carbon footprint
19.  Planning & Conservation League receives bequest

“The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile, theoretical concept.” Edward O. Wilson

1.  Community Meeting on the Navy’s Plans for the Hunters Point Shipyard’s Parcel E2
July 10th 6pm Dinner, 6:30pm Meeting
Bayview Opera House, Third and Oakdale.

Fellow Members of the Bayview Community, San Franciscans and Concerned Stakeholders:

Superfund sites are often divided into Parcels to make coordination of cleanup easier.  Located on the Shipyard’s southwestern shore across from Double Rock is the portion of the Hunters Point Shipyard known as Parcel E2, believed by many to be the most contaminated portion of the most contaminated property in San Francisco.

Most San Franciscans became aware of the Shipyard as a Superfund site as a result of the Parcel E2 Landfill fire in 2000.

Recently the Navy issued a Draft Record of Decision “ROD” focused on how to address the contamination in Parcel E2.  The ROD will become the legally binding agreement between the regulators and Navy governing the method and standards for Parcel E2’s “cleanup.” The Navy’s decision about what to do with the Hunters Point Shipyard’s Parcel E2 and its landfill/ dump will go final sometime in the fall/winter of this year.  

The Navy and the Regulators have decided to do some hot spot removal from Parcel E2’s landfill but otherwise leave it intact under a cap it will construct to prevent the escape of pollution and the public’s/ environment’s exposure to it.

On the other hand most (but not all) residents of Bayview Hunters Point and District 10 we’ve talked to have told us they are very skeptical about the capping plan and want the landfill removed.

This decision may well be what’s best BUT: because of the extreme importance of this decision to the Bayview Hunters Point Community and District 10 we have proposed and the EPA and the Navy have agreed to allow Arc Ecology to coordinate a completely independent peer review of their plan for Parcel E2. 

The goal of this project is to provide the Bayview Hunters Point Community, USEPA, and Navy with a completely neutral, technically based evaluation of the Parcel E2 ROD before the Navy produces its final Record of Decision later this year.

The objectives of this project are:

1.   To set aside all pre-existing perspectives about what should be done about Parcel E2’s landfill.

2.   To take a hard look at the Navy’s ROD and the analysis supporting it.

3.   To provide the BVHP community, EPA, and Navy with the benefit of an entirely objective outside evaluation of the ROD and its supporting documents.

4.   To determine if: 1) the Navy has done the work necessary to make a recommendation about a final remedy for Parcel E2’s landfill; and 2) whether the Navy’s recommendation is appropriate for the site and the community.

5.   To ensure the BVHP Community has the opportunity to engage in this review.

6.   Report these findings back to the BVHP Community, EPA, and Navy.

Arc Ecology is the community technical advisor for the India Basin Neighborhood Association (IBNA) Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) from the USEPA. The Parcel E 2 Independent Review is being held under the auspices of the IBNA TAG program.

The Review is completely independent.  Neither the EPA, the Navy nor Arc Ecology will provide anything other than direct technical/ data information and background on analysis to the consultants we have hired for this review. The Navy and EPA will be able to answer questions from the consultants but they are to refrain from attempting to influence their findings.  The EPA has reviewed the resume’s of our consultants to determine if we have met professional standards but have otherwise had no input into the selection process.  To ensure independence from even our own point of view, Arc Ecology has not briefed our consultants about or long standing point of view or comments regarding Parcel E2.   

Arc Ecology has hired three scientists with no prior experience at the Shipyard although each has had extensive experience with the types of issues the E2 ROD addresses.  A toxicologist/ health risk assessor; a geologist/ landfill expert; and a radiation specialist/ health physicist will review the ROD and report back to the community whether or not the Navy’s proposal is appropriate and is supported by the data they have on hand. To ensure transparency Arc Ecology will be posting their resume’s online on the IBNA and Arc Ecology websites.

To ensure the BVHP Community has the opportunity to engage in this process we are organizing two public meetings at the Bayview Opera House, the first is on July 10th and the second is on August 8th. Both meetings start at 6:30pm with a dinner served earlier at 6pm.  Our comments on the Proposed Draft ROD are due August 10th.  Arc Ecology will make this report public and present it to the public at our August 8th meeting.

The goal of the July 10th meeting is to:
·         introduce the review project,
·         introduce our team of consultants, and
·         have them hear the community’s opinions about what should be done with E2.

The second meeting will focus on reporting our consultants findings and how they line up with the community’s input.

Both meetings will be catered so you can focus on the issue and not worry about dinner (O’ James Bayview BBQ but vegetarians also welcome).

Please come. This is your opportunity to give our technical team the benefit of your perspective on what should be done about this site.  Please let your neighbors know about this important event.  Feel free to make copies of the attached flyer and distribute them to your neighbors.


2.  ​Enhancement of the Presidio’s Outdoors: The Year Ahead
Thursday, July 12th
5:30 – 7 p.m.
El Polín Spring

Curious about the enhancements of the Presidio’s outdoors in the year ahead? Park staff will briefly explain the projects taking place now through summer 2013, including forestry, native plant restoration, trails improvements, and environmental remediation.

Following the presentations, join us for a 45 minute tour showcasing the recent transformation at El Polin Spring.

Help us plan for seating by sending an RSVP to or calling (415) 561-4449.

For location visit



Come out and help us weed in Owl Canyon on San Bruno Mountain

Saturday July 7th - help restore the habitat of the Mission Blue Butterfly in Owl Canyon

We will meet first at the Mountain Watch Office at 44 VISITACION AVE, Suite 206, Brisbane
Workdays start at 10:00 AM and go to 12:30 PM with a ten minute break with snacks provided.
Bring a liter of water - Gloves will be provided.
QUESTIONS?  415-467-6631 or email:


Save the date

Gourmet Pancake Breakfast & Native Plant Sale
Popular annual fundraiser for San Bruno Mountain Watch
Sunday 29 July, 8.30 am to 11.30 am
Mission Blue Native Plant Nursery
Brisbane, California


4.  San Francisco Naturalist Society

Thursday, July 12

The Amazing Leatherback Migration to California.
Dr. Chris Pincetich, of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, will tell us about leatherback biology, ecology, and conservation challenges. Come learn about the new 70,000 sq. km protected critical habitat off California and the Leatherback Watch Program.
Dr. Pincetich also studies shoreline marine debris at Point Reyes National Seashore and into SF Bay, collecting detailed density data on plastic pollution and discovering treasures along the way! His research dovetails into a habitat assessment for leatherback feeding areas offshore (plastic is deadly!) and will be a great baseline dataset for Japan tsunami debris and America's Cup waste pulses.
Randall Museum Theater, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco CA 94114. 7:30-9 pm. For more information, go to or contact Patrick Schlemmer at or (415) 225-3830. Free and open to everyone.

Action Alert:
Tell the San Francisco Board of Supervisors not to replace grass soccer fields that support birds and wildlife with artificial turf and 60-foot-tall light towers!

Come to hearing on July 10/Write Mayor and Supervisors now


6.  Dear Knowland Park Supporters,

Happy Independence Day! Today is a good day to remind ourselves that our right as members of the public to challenge the “powers that be” is something we can never take for granted. That right has to be exercised, like a muscle, or it will be lost. It’s also a good day to get out and stroll our lovely Park (admittedly looking a little bare-bones after the goats came through, but still a peaceful place) or watch the sunset view.

Thanks to all of you, including some who came through at the very last moment, I’m happy to report that we MADE OUR MATCHING GRANT! This means a total of $6000 generated in just the last few weeks. I’m working on another foundation grant application right now, and I can tell you from experience that being able to show that we have this kind of solid support from our membership really impresses funders. They don’t want to give money to organizations if the organizations’ own supporters don’t give. That has certainly never been true for Friends of Knowland Park—we have kept coming through, time after time.

Of course we are disappointed that we lost our lawsuit (and still discussing the possibility of an appeal—your thoughts on this welcome). But we are not giving up the fight to save our park—and to reduce the destructive impact of this expansion on core wildlife and plant habitat. Our efforts are clearly having an effect: the zoo is reinforcing its “kindly conservation organization” image by talking to the media about allowing wild animals to eat at the zoo (see the San Francisco Chronicle piece published 6/27/12. This puff piece—especially the last line, which reads as though lifted straight out of a zoo press release--is clearly a response to our very reasonable, persistent critique of the authenticity of its commitment to conservation.

Conservation means protecting the habitat that is essential for wildlife and plants—not building restaurants and gift shops on top of it. Conservation means approaching development in the most conservative way—using already disturbed land, not untouched rare chapparal. Conservation means walking the talk. Unfortunately, despite many efforts to persuade the zoo that better alternatives are possible, its executives remain determined that their bloated, grandiose vision of conservation will be built atop one of the most beautiful pieces of remaining open space in the East Bay Hills.

Only the public can stop this—by exercising our rights to speak out against it in every forum. Please continue to educate your neighbors who may have never heard about the Park. And watch for updates as we move into the next phase.


Very few events count as historic. Finding the Higgs boson is one. Broadly, particle physics is to the universe what DNA is to life: the hidden principle underlying so much else. And the significance of the Higgs is massive—literally. Without the Higgs there would be no mass. And without mass, there would be no stars, no planets, no atoms—and certainly no human beings. In most of our editions we celebrate this great leap forward on our cover. But in Britain we look at the price-fixing scandal in the City of London—and its gathering global impact. We think this could be finance's tobacco moment. 

(JS:  I studied physics in the 1980s at the California Academy of Sciences Adult Education (now, sadly, discontinued), and we were excited about the Higgs boson.  However, at that time it was thought helpful if the Higgs existed, but it was not considered essential.  That changed in a few years and there was fear that if it were not found it would strike a crushing blow to particle physics, a very serious matter.  Although this find is far from definitive, it has definitely caused many people to feel more comfortable that they're probably on the right track.  Exciting times.)


8.  Please support the California Right To Know Act - on the ballot this November.
Sign the petition here:
Volunteer locally (coastsiders) by emailing Leta at
Tell your friends
This act will make it a requirement that Genetically Modified "Foods" - GMOs - be labelled as such.  It was put on the ballot with a million signatures; 90% of Americans support labelling of food. Why would anyone not want to label food?  It's a "no-brainer" - right?

It is food -- isn't it? Should we have to question a banana as to its banana-ness?
The ballot initiative has two main provisions. The first requires "labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specific ways." The second provision bans foods from being labeled "natural" when they contain genetically-altered ingredients. Some exceptions will apply to certain foods such as, "certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages."
A National Poll done in March 2012 by the Mellman Group shows that over 90% of Americans favor labeling for genetically engineered foods—an unusually high number in today’s increasingly polarized political climate. A survey done in the State of Vermont confirms similar public opinion. California voters will get the opportunity to decide for themselves in November, so go do some research, and get your pens ready!
There is no good health reason for not labelling food -- and what is life if we can not trust that the produce we purchase is just produce - not produce with chemicals engineered into it?  GMO food often does not produce viable seeds.

The Union of Concerned Scientists summarizes: "... Finally, the scientific evidence available to date, while encouraging, does not support the conclusion that genetically modified crops are intrinsically safe for health or the environment. ... " Or read the whole report here 



I'm working on the world,
revised, improved edition,
featuring fun for fools,
blues for brooders,
combs for bald pates,
tricks for old dogs.

Here's one chapter: The Speech
of Animals and Plants.
Each species comes, of course,
with its own dictionary.
Even a simple "Hi there,"
when traded with a fish,
make both the fish and you
feel quite extraordinary.

The long-suspected meanings
of rustlings, chirps, and growls!
Soliloquies of forests!
The epic hoot of owls!
Those crafty hedgehogs drafting
aphorisms after dark,
while we blindly believe
they are sleeping in the park!

Time (Chapter Two) retains
its sacred right to meddle
in each earthly affair.
Still, time's unbounded power
that makes a mountain crumble,
moves seas, rotates a star,
won't be enough to tear
lovers apart: they are
too naked, too embraced,
too much like timid sparrows.

Old age is, in my book,
the price that felons pay,
so don't whine that it's steep:
you'll stay young if you're good.
Suffering (Chapter Three)
doesn't insult the body.
Death?  It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.

When it comes, you'll be dreaming
that you don't need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it's part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.
Only a death like that.  A rose
could prick you harder, I suppose;
you'd feel more terror at the sound
of petals falling to the ground.

Only a world like that.  To die
just that much. And to live just so.
And all the rest is Bach's fugue, played
for the time being
on a saw.

~ Wislawa Szymborska ~

(Poems New and Collected, trans. by S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh)


10.  From SF Parks Alliance
Last week the Board of Supervisors adopted a budget for the City that included about $120 million in operating funding for the Recreation and Parks Department. This includes roughly $30 million in funding from the City's General Fund - less than 2% of that fund. While this funding level continues the chronic pattern of underfunding our park system, it could have been worse.

And, it also just got a little bit better. The Board voted a supplement to the budget (called an "add-back") that restores $420,000 in this fiscal year, plus $665,000 in the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2013. This extra funding will be devoted to hiring additional park patrol officers and gardeners, and will directly address two of our most pressing problems in our parks - curtailing vandalism and providing for more grounds maintenance.

The Parks Alliance engaged in an array of advocacy efforts last week to support this add-back. Thanks to all of you who contributed by contacting your Supervisor! We're gratified we've been able to have a positive impact on making this small but important step in the right direction in funding our parks.  Supervisor Scott Wiener was the leading voice on the Board in favor of this add-back, and it was his leadership that made this win possible.


11.  Feedback

Steve Neff:
   I am very sorry not to be able to make Josiah Clark's talk (I'll be out of town). I would be very interested in any tidbits of info you could pass along: perhaps in your next newsletter? One wildlife-resources thought I have been having is that people are always planting flowers for pollinators, or putting out feeders for birds, but what about planting specifically for seed production, like letting plants go to seed for seed-eaters? Or nurturing a variety of insects for insectivores? Why focus on butterflies or bees?  I was thinking maybe we could leave garbage in our yards and breed flies and gnats and ants for the birds to eat. In fact, the heck with grey water: think of all the wildlife that would be supported by a nice fly-infested blackwater pond in the yard! Or cool it would be to see a turkey vulture feeding on fido (or grandma) in the garden!
      happy trails,
                           steve neff
As to garbage in the yard--Steve, you may be ahead of your time, like by a century :-)  And for stagnant water to breed flies, gnats, &c---hmm.  Mosquito Abatement may have other ideas.

P.S.  I'm tempted to post your feedback to my newsletter.  Boy oh boy, I can see the vociferous folks trying to destroy the Natural Areas Program getting charged up over this.  They won't have to endlessly repeat their same old same old--here's some new fodder for them.  Maybe you'll make the New York Times..
Jake,  Well, of course I'm joking, but there was an element of seriousness there. I really have been wondering about encouraging bugs and seeds, though I'm afraid the garbage would just draw rats, and I'm kind of squeamish about more rats. Especially if they beat the vultures to Fido.

Doug Allshouse:
Jake, Your very thought-provoking LTE [to Bay Nature on "foraging"] was answered by Dan Rademacher and I couldn't help thinking what your reaction was to his response. I got the impression that he was defending foraging because he didn't want to appear contrary to the magazine, or maybe he really does believe that foraging field trips are attended by people who want to learn about ecosystems. The people I have encountered who constantly ask "Is this edible?" are only interested in just that. Couple that with hikes that are aimed at exposing people (especially kids) to what is edible and you have a perfect storm of constant grazing in nature.
This phenomenon is catching fire in the Bay Area and is fueled by locavore chefs and foodies who tweet a time and location for a pop-up dinner featuring wild foods. One was featured on Anthony Bourdain's Travel Channel show called "Layover" when he was in SF. He was with a local forager gathering fennel pollen at McLaren Park for just such a gathering. It does seem to fascinate the younger crowds, and well-educated ones at that!
I am scratching my head at Rademacher's awkward final question and I find it frustrating that he didn't attempt to answer it.
I find it easy to forgive politicians, editors, and others who depend on voters, subscribers, et al.  Actually, I thought Dan's thoughts are OK.  Bear in mind that there are positive sides to "foraging", and I don't blow those off.  Considering today's urban people's understandable ignorance about nature, any contact with nature should be taken as an advance.  Does that balance the other aspects of foraging?  I don't know; I keep open about this, at least for the time being until I know more.

The important thing is that there is publicity and debate.  Two weeks ago I received an email from Slow Foods--whose aims I support and want to further--and it contained an item labeled Foraging, but without elaboration.  I hit the Reply button and asked them to expand a bit on the word.  I received a courteous response, but no explanation.  I asked again, and didn't receive a reply.  So I deleted that from newsletter posting.  Another confirmation that humans aren't inclined to give much consideration to other species.

"Recognize your phylogeny. You are a Great Ape. We're more related to gorillas than most warblers are to each other."
    Audrey Schulman; Three Weeks in December; Europa; 2012.

On Jul 3, 2012, at 4:54 PM, Laarry Brown wrote:
Jake --
Though I certainly share Savemuni's objection to the Central Subway, the Transportation Bill that has been passed is a disaster for alternative transit in general.  All public transit, bicycle and pedestrian funding has been cut dramatically.  And without the specific allocations of the previous bill it allows states to opt out of spending for alternatives entirely.  It's nice to think that California might reallocate Central Subway funds to more productive transit uses but I fear that those funds would just dry up completely.
I'm sure you're right, Larry.  I know who runs the House of Representatives, and I know their motives and shenanigans.  What I don't know is the Congressional processes and how they work.  I am opposed to the ill-conceived Central Subway and look for possible ways to defeat it.

This is one move in a complicated dance and I have no idea how it plays out.  We may still get the Subway through the maneuverings of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, et al.  In the meantime, if the GOP can contribute to its defeat I'll be happy.  This move may mean nothing, just another step in the patterned choreography which we're all so weary of.

Lynn Adams:
Hey Jake,
thanks for including  the Mammoth Bone clip in your newsletter.  I have several of the bones including one that fits perfectly into one of Ian's leg bones.  It is a pretty exciting find!
Gasp!  You mean Ian is closely related to mammoths?  :-)
Like Ian and I say, you never know what you will find when you pick up litter!
Hope you are well.  I am looking forward to our August adventure.
She's talking about our Pedro Point combination field trip and work party on Sunday, August 26.  Save the date.

12.  Animal cognition

Man’s best friend

Can dogs really show empathy towards humans?

Jun 30th 2012 | from The Economist  (excerpted)
I feel your pain

DOGS quickly become part of the family. Tales abound of dogs celebrating joy in a household or commiserating when tragedy strikes. This may not seem surprising after 15,000 years of co-evolution. But what hard evidence is there of dogs’ empathy with humans? A new experiment suggests that behind all the waggy tails there really is something deeper going on.
Past experiments have hinted that animals can feel sympathy. Rats and monkeys had been found to forgo food to avoid delivering electric shocks to relatives. Similarly, apes have recently been documented consoling one another after conflicts. However, all these experiments and observations were demonstrating an animal’s sensitivity to distress in other members of the same species. Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer of Goldsmiths College, London, set out to see if dogs could detect the emotional state of humans.

To do this, (researchers) conducted an experiment to study the response of dogs when a nearby human suddenly began to cry. The researchers knew that interpreting responses would be difficult, since dogs tend to whine, nuzzle, lick, lay their heads in laps and fetch toys for people in distress. Although such actions hint at a dog wishing to offer comfort, they could also be signs of curiosity, or suggest that a dog is simply distressed by seeing its master upset.

...These discoveries suggest that dogs do have the ability to express empathetic concern. But although the results are clear enough, Dr Custance argues that more work needs to be done to be sure that such behaviour is true empathy. It is possible, she points out, that the dogs were drawing on previous experiences in which they were rewarded for approaching distressed human companions. Dog-owners, however, are unlikely to need any more convincing.


13.  Online fraud
Blatancy and latency

Why internet scams seem so obvious

Jun 30th 2012 | from The Economist

IN FAULTY English, the e-mail describes vast riches in search of an owner. Your new pen pal just needs your bank account to park the money—and will pay richly for the favour. In fact, the fraudsters will empty your account, or sucker you into paying fees for cash that never materialises.

Though Nigeria is well known as the source of such tricks (called 419 scams after the relevant paragraph in that country’s criminal code), many crooks make puzzlingly little attempt to hide their origins. In a new paper*, Cormac Herley of Microsoft Research has used maths to show why: blatancy is a means of weeding out all but the most credulous respondents.

He argues that scammers are rational actors. A big cost for them is the time they spend coaxing fully into their net those who show initial interest. So they need to select the most promising targets, rather than timewasters or the wary. “By sending an e-mail that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks [victims] to self-select,” he says. But the absurd stories and rum prose are not necessarily works of art. Scammers may simply reuse the e-mails that work best.

Officials are intrigued by Mr Herley’s conjecture. According to Basil Udotai, who was formerly the cybersecurity director at the office of Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, “There are more non-Nigerian scammers claiming [to be] Nigerian than ever reported. Even when Nigerians relocate to other West African countries they retain the Nigerian status, addresses and operational bases in their e-mails for competitive reasons.” But he suggests that this has another motive: it is Nigeria’s dreadful reputation for corruption that makes the strange tales of dodgy lawyers, sudden death and orphaned fortunes seem plausible in the first place.
Jenna Burrell, who studies online scams and is at the University of California, Berkeley, says many African fraudsters are now pretending to be non-African to look more credible. Eve Edelson, the author of “Scamorama”, a book about baiting the fraudsters, says African criminals use many methods: not only fake-sounding e-mails but realistic ones, too.

But some empirical evidence backs up Mr Herley’s broader point about the fraudsters’ incentive to filter out discerning targets. Eric Park of Symantec, a computer-security firm, notes that advance-fee scams that purport to offer cheap loans have begun to change from appearing very official and asking for information, to looking amazingly louche. That suggests that these scamsters too are trying to attract idiots, rather than serious-minded borrowers.

One implication of Mr Herley’s work is that a little bit of public-spirited scam-baiting—wasting the fraudsters’ time by pretending to be a potential victim—can increase the scammers’ costs and undermine their business model. For those with some time to spare, joining a cyber-posse may offer an amusing way to make the world a safer place.

* “Why do Nigerian scammers say they are from Nigeria?” WhyFromNigeria.pdf

Let's remake the world with words.
Not frivolously, nor
To hide from what we fear,
But with a purpose.

As Wordsworth said, remove
"The dust of custom" so things
Shine again, each object arrayed
In its robe of original light.
And then we'll see the world
As if for the first time.
As once we gazed at the beloved
Who was gazing at us.
~ Gregory Orr ~

Marin Municipal Water District
Miller Trail
Saturday, July 7, 9 AM to 2 PM

Join us to improve tread and drainage plus trim vegetation along the Upper Miller Trail. Meet at 9 a.m. at the turnout at the top of the Miller Trail on East Ridgecrest Blvd. If you reach East Peak parking lot you have gone too far.  

Habitat Restoration 
San Geronimo Creek Stabilization
Saturday, July 21, 9 AM to 2 PM     

This event is a collaboration with the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project.
Come help us restabilize a bank on San Geronimo Creek by removing invasive blackberries and English Ivy and planting native riparian plants.

We will meet at Lagunitas School District parking lot at 1 Lagunitas School Road in San Geronimo at 8:45 a.m. and will walk to the site at 9:00 a.m.

Breakfast snacks will be provided and volunteers should bring their own lunch. Ice cream will be served at the end of the event!   

To pre-register or for more information about the above volunteer events, call 415-945-1128 or e-mail or visit our Volunteer page on our website. 

NEWS: Thanks to Plants, We Will Never Find a Planet Like Earth
Earth's flora is responsible for the glaciers and rivers that have created this planet's distinctive landscape

OBSERVATIONS: Climate Change Has Helped Bring Down Cultures

NEWS: Volcanoes May Have Sparked Little Ice Age
New simulations show that several large, closely spaced eruptions (and not decreased solar radiation) could have cooled the Northern Hemisphere enough to spark sea-ice growth and a subsequent feedback loop

CLIMATEWIRE: New Study Calculates Years of Life Lost to Extreme Temperature
The analysis of health data from Brisbane suggests humanity may struggle with the heat waves and cold snaps brought on by climate change

How The Taste Of Tomatoes Went Bad (And Kept On Going) 

NPR's All Things Considered, June 28, 2012

Capsule story:  Growers selected tomatoes that ripened uniformly and didn't have what they call "green shoulders" - green areas which were deemed less appealing to shoppers.  (JS:  Not to this shopper, as I like the flavor of the green and transitional areas and have always sought them out when I have a choice.)  Only now have they discovered that the gene that produces the uniform color is the same gene that adversely affects flavor.  

Garrison Keillor:  "Tomatoes they strip-mine down in Texas."

So Heirloom tomatoes is what people who have bemoaned the fate of tomatoes turned to.  AND 'Early Girl'.  Yum yum, and it's time for them to show up at my farmers market any day now, pant pant.  As I remind people every year, if they can find
dry farmed Early Girls there is no need to go to heaven; it's here.
       Interview with Stephen Dubner
Marketplace for Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Kai Ryssdal: Time now for a little Freakonomics Radio. Every two weeks, we're talking with Stephen Dubner, co-author of the books and blog of the same name, about the hidden side of everything. Dubner as always, good to talk to you.

Stephen Dubner: Great to be here Kai. Hey, seems like you talk about your mom on the show quite a bit, am I right?

Ryssdal: I don't know, maybe.

Dubner: And it sounds from what I hear, you have a fairly loving relationship, I'm also right on that?

Ryssdal: No. 1, she's listening, so watch yourself. And No. 2, yeah, we get along, me and mom.

Dubner: I'm just thinking, with Mother's Day coming up, two Sundays from now, I'm guessing you're thinking about maybe sending her some flowers. Yes?

Ryssdal: OK, two things: 1) It's all I can do to remember to get my wife flowers on Mother's Day, let alone my own mother; and 2) The dirty secret which I will deny if you repeat it -- my wife actually does the flowers for my mom.

Dubner: Ah, but she gets something?

Ryssdal: Yes.

Dubner: Well, she is not alone. Every year in the U.S., we spend about $12 billion on cut flowers alone -- Mother's Day is obviously a huge part of that. But here's something you may not know, Kai: about 80 percent of these cut flowers are imported, mostly from equatorial countries that get 12 hours of year-round sunlight.

Mario Valle is a flower wholesaler in Los Angeles; he handles about two million flowers a year. Here's how they get to him.

Mario Valle: Anything that's coming out of South America is generally air-freighted into Miami, then it's trucked over to California.

Ryssdal: Really? They fly to Miami and then drive it to here?

Dubner: And I do not want to rain on your mother's parade or anybody's mother's parade, but there is something going on here. We live in a day and age where people are obsessed with "food miles" and the carbon footprint of everything we consume. So if that's the way we're going to be, here's what I want to know: Where is the outrage over these globe-trotting Mother's Day flowers? I mean, if you ship food across the planet, at least we eat it -- it's our sustenance. But flowers? You look at them for a couple of days and then plop, into the trash!

Ryssdal: So this is you up on your high horse here, you are now killing all the joy and glory that is Mother's Day and cut flowers in this country?

Dubner: Kai, it is not my nature to scold. I hope you know that by now. But I do find it curious that cut flowers have somehow escaped the environmental scrutiny that accompanies what we eat, how we transport ourselves. It may be a halo effect from the flowers themselves -- I mean, how can you hate on roses and tulips, they're so pretty!

Ryssdal: So here's the thing -- if I don't, well let me rephrase that -- if my wife doesn't send my mother flowers for Mother's Day, then I'm in deep and serious trouble.

Dubner: I don't want that to happen. It's the last thing I want to happen. So let's look to a different holiday for a potential solution: Christmas. Every year, we buy about 35 million Christmas trees in this country, about $2 billion worth. Again, we're talking crops that are harvested and transported solely for our viewing but not eating pleasure. But every year, the share of artificial Christmas trees rises -- and now we're up to about 40 percent fake Christmas trees. Meaning there's no need to grow and transport another tree next year, or the year after.

Ryssdal: Wait now, stop -- I'm not doing a fake Christmas tree, I'm just not going to do it.

Dubner: Let me try to persuade you of a little something. Kai, you have a little package there in the studio. We sent you something. It's a good time to open it up.

Ryssdal: OK. No. 1, I'm a little disappointed because it's clearly not beer, but all right, that's fine. Is this a corsage? Or something equally sensitive?

Dubner: What do you think? How do they look?

Ryssdal: They look lovely. They're yellow roses.

Dubner: And what are they made of?

Ryssdal: Yeah, they're not real.

Dubner: They're plastic flowers. And they're beautiful, right? They do wonderful things with plastic these days. So here's the thing, we may associate flowers with nature and plastic with the opposite, but is in fact a very simplistic view of how the world actually works.

Here's Susanne Freidberg, she's a Dartmouth professor and author who's been studying how carbon footprints are calculated. Here's what she thinks of the idea of giving plastic flowers instead of real ones.

Susanne Freidberg: They're so lightweight, they wouldn't need to be flown anywhere. They wouldn't decompose and produce greenhouse gases in any landfill. There's the endless lifespan, so the possibilities for regifting them.

So Kai, listen: If you really love your mother -- and I'm not implying you don't, by the way -- I want you to think about sending her, or having your wife send her some plastic flowers this year. If you want, you can even regift this bouquet, like Prof. Freidberg suggests. Because I know you're a bit of a cheapskate as well.

(JS:  No, I'm not promoting plastic flowers.  I'm not promoting anything, just sharing a fun and provocative POV.)


19.  Planning & Conservation League receives charitable bequest

The Planning and Conservation League announces a generous bequest to our organization from the Estate of Scott Fleming. We would like to thank the Fleming family for this generous donation which is especially critical in these challenging economic times.

Mr. Fleming, an ardent conservationist, was involved in founding both the Planning and Conservation League and California Native Plant Society. He and his wife Jenny always enjoyed the outdoors; the two cultivated a backyard botanical garden containing many rare native species at their home in North Berkeley. Scott’s passions also included white-water kayaking, hiking and camping.

(I post this because Scott and Jenny were friends of mine, and were well known to many readers of this newsletter.  We should all love PCL and be happy about this bequest.)

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