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Mitzvah Moments - May 2015

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Mitzvah Moments - May 2015

by Tish Levee

Leading the Way Again. The Sonoma County Adaptation Forum, first of its kind nationally, was jam-packed with information and ideas. Look for articles about it elsewhere in the Gazette and go to sonomacountyadaptation.org to hear the presentations.

Plant Sale and Water Saving Fair. May 30th, 9-1, at Home Depot in Santa Rosa. Free event hosted by Sonoma Marin Water Saving Partnership in collaboration with Home Depot, which will have low water use plants for sale.  Learn about rainwater harvesting, graywater reuse, composting, sheet mulching, low water use plants and water conservation tips. Free children’s activities and water saving give-aways.

Be Part of the Solution Revolution. Join the Daily Acts Community Resilience Challenge: save water, grow food, conserve energy, reduce waste, and build community, May 16-17, 2015. Go to dailyacts.org/crc to find out more and register YOUR actions.

Sonoma County Water Agency is Carbon Free. One of the largest energy users in the county, SCWA has achieved its goal of being carbon free in energy use by 2015. Nearly 10% of the state’s electricity is used by water and wastewater utilities, which is likely to increase significantly in the future due to more groundwater pumping, water recycling, and water treatment because of increasing drought. If 25% of the electricity used by water and wastewater utilities statewide came from renewable energy, it would contribute 1,000 MW to California’s electricity supply—enough to power roughly 800,000 homes. Sonoma County sources for 93% of SCWA carbon free electricity include 55% from landfill gas and 27% from Warm Springs Dam, as well as 6% from the agency’s solar panels and 5% from the Geysers, via Sonoma Clean Power.

Plastic Bag Ban Under Attack. The statewide ban on plastic bags, SB270, set to go into effect in July, is now on hold, as the plastics industry, by spending $3.2 million—98% of it from out of state—has qualified a ballot measure for the November 2016 election to overturn it. Meanwhile, the bags go on littering our landscape, polluting our waterways, and adding to the Pacific Garbage Patch, and millions more dollars will be flooding into California from out-of-state. “If Californians can’t manage to ban single-use plastic bags,” said the L.A. Times, “…it doesn’t speak well of the state’s ability to confront the bigger environmental challenges that lie ahead… The ban is NOT a tax and it will NOT cause massive job loss in the plastic industry.” 

Fortunately, this does not affect the bans already in place in 139 cities and counties (see the list at tinyurl.com/lteud6n), including Sonoma County. Recently, in talking with Vesta Copestakes, she mentioned how few plastic bags were caught in tree branches after flood waters receded this year compared to the past. 

Want cheaper electricity—go Green! A recent study by the venture capitalist firm DBL Investors showed that states boasting robust green energy programs have the nation’s cheapest electricity, something Sonoma Clean Power customers already know. Rates for SCP’s default Clean Start program are significantly lower than PG&E, with more renewable energy. Nationally, the study suggests it’s only going to get better for green energy consumers. Since 2013, states with the most green energy now offer cheap electricity, while the dirty power states are the most expensive.

How to Debunk Climate Deniers. Starting on April 28th, the University of Queensland, Australia, will offer a free seven-week online course on “Making Sense of Climate Denial.” Coordinated by John Cook, who founded the climate science myth debunking website skepticalscience.com, it includes climate science and myth debunking lectures by the international team of volunteer scientific contributors to Skeptical Science and interviews with many of the world’s leading climate science and psychology experts.

Cook explains that, “[While] 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming, … half of the US Senate has voted that humans aren’t causing global warming. This course explains why there is such a huge gap between the scientific community and the public and looks at what’s driving climate science denial and the most common myths about climate change.” Enroll at ti.com/kxyp9f8.

California’s drought is making headlines everywhere. So this month I’m mostly writing about other news on the sustainability front. Meanwhile, go to wateroff.org for local information and water saving tips.

© Tish Levee, 2015