Plastic Bag Bans Continue to Flourish
By Bill Hickman
This week saw three cities in California move forward with different stages of a plastic checkout bag ban for grocers and retail food stores. After state legislators failed to pass AB 298 this year—the statewide bag ban—it is imperative for cities, towns and counties to continue the groundswell of local ordinances to start to make a dent in the plastic pollution entering the marine environment.
Plastic bags are just the tip of the plastic pollution iceberg, but it's an easy solution so it's great to see California city council's of Culver City, Mountain View and Capitola addressing the issue. It looks like 2012 will end with 34 carryout bag ordinances in California covering 54 municipalities, then Capitola could be #35/55 in early 2013 if/when the second reading of their ordinance passes.
On Monday, Culver City discussed the idea of a local plastic bag ban. They have been following the issue for years and have done some local research while litigation across the state has been ruled on. At the public hearing speakers supporting a bag ban outnumbered those in opposition by about a 10 to 1 ratio. Speakers from 5 Gyres, Heal The Bay, Environment CA, Santa Monica High's Team Marine, Surfrider's South Bay and West LA/Malibu Chapters, other groups and concerned citizens made the case why a local ordinance is needed and council voted unanimously to move forward. The next steps for Culver City are to do the appropriate environmental review and draft the ordinance language before all of that will be voted on, likely in spring or summer of 2013.
On Tuesday, Mountain View quietly passed the second reading for their plastic bag ban ordinance which will begin on Earth Day in April. The second reading of an ordinance is usually somewhat of a technicality to make sure nothing important was missed with the first reading. The first reading for an ordinance typically sets the course for council as was the case here on Dec. 4.
Thursday was the day for Capitola to discuss a local plastic bag ban. City council delayed taking action on the issue a few times this year and some viewed this as the last chance for awhile to get a bag ban ordinance on the books. Environmental groups including Save Our Shores, Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz Chapter and Environment CA rallied and nearly all of the input the council received was in favor of the ban. The plastic bag ban vote was unanimous then council took the somewhat bold move of placing a 25 cent fee (instead of 10) on paper checkout bags as an incentive for people to remember their reusable bags. The ordinance language needs a second reading in early 2013 before final approval.
A tornado tore through a city north of Birmingham, Alabama, Monday night, killing one person and injuring at least 30.
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On his first day in office President Joe Biden started signing executive orders to reverse Trump administration policies. One sweeping directive calls for stronger action to protect public health and the environment and hold polluters accountable, including those who "disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities."
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.