CVIndependent

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Environment

07 May 2013
Most weekdays, a long line of rail cars delivers thick slabs of steel to a factory in Fontana, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, and 60 miles northwest of Palm Springs. Deep in the bowels of California Steel Industries, the slabs are toasted until they glow white-hot; they’re then rolled into thin sheets used to make shipping containers, metal roofing and car wheels. The plant churns out more than 2 million tons of flat rolled steel each year, using enormous amounts of natural gas and electricity, and releasing more than 190,000 metric tons of climate-altering carbon dioxide annually. Now, California Steel and many other businesses have to pay for their carbon emissions under California's new cap-and-trade law, the first of its kind in the nation. Last November, the company participated in the state's first auction of carbon allowances, purchasing an undisclosed number, each worth one metric ton of carbon…
07 Apr 2013
In the fall of 2011, biologists Dan Cooper and Miguel Ordeñana installed 13 remote cameras in a 4,000-acre patch of wild hills known as Griffith Park, above Los Angeles. Each month, they combed through predictable images of a near-urban ecosystem: Coyotes marking; bobcats stalking; deer browsing the chaparral. One evening last March, however, they got a shock: A photo captured at 9:15 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2012, showed a large cat-like creature ambling along a trail above the iconic Hollywood sign. There could be no doubt: It was a mountain lion. Until that moment, the only surprising sight had been the occasional homeless person. "It was like finding Bigfoot," Cooper says. "The difference being that Bigfoot doesn't exist, so you couldn't really hope for it." Griffith Park is, technically, part of the Santa Monica Mountains, which begin in slide-prone bluffs along the Southern California coast, rise to 3,000 feet and…
02 Mar 2013
In 2004, Carl Pope, then-director of the Sierra Club, tangled publicly with Capt. Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Pope was steering the club toward cooperative solutions to environmental problems, collaborating with large corporations instead of fighting them. Watson, an advocate of direct action whose group blocked environmental despoilers with living bodies or ships, wasn't having it. "I want the Sierra Club to … fight for what is left," wrote Watson in an open letter to Pope. "We need to get in the face of the destroyers … to force people to sit up and take notice that … our political, economic and cultural systems are laying waste to the entire planet. "As things get worse," he concluded, "my approach will become more appealing." When Pope stepped down in 2010, his legacy included an advertising campaign with Clorox and $25 million in donations from natural-gas companies. Watson…
14 Feb 2013
When Miguel Luna was an 8-year-old in the city of Cúcuta, Colombia, his family sometimes went days without water. The municipality would just shut it off, he recalls. "Nothing would come out of the faucets." When the water returned, his grandmother, Hercilia, would ceremoniously drink a glass before bedtime. "She'd say to us, 'Water is the most important thing in the world. We cannot live without it. We have to appreciate it, to protect it.'" And to do that, he adds, "We have to understand where it comes from." Now 40, Luna, who immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager, has spent much of the last decade trying to etch his grandmother's words into the youthful minds of urban Los Angeles County. He has brought teenagers to the banks of trash-choked city streams, and has taught them how to collect water samples and test for contaminants. He has led them…
04 Feb 2013
It's a brilliant Sunday morning in southeast Utah, and a hag mask hangs on the fence before me. Gray hair askew, the mask gapes at red cliffs through dripping fake blood. The vandal who mounted the mask has also locked the gate to our campsite. No one can get in or out—a dangerous prospect, since most of the 50 or so folks here are senior citizens. I'm about to photograph the scene, documenting what to me seems a gruesome tableau, when a voice pipes up: "She's kind of pretty, actually." "Yeah, she looks wise," adds another. "Like us!" "Will you take my picture with her?" Rose Chilcoat, the rosy-cheeked, energetic 54-year-old associate director of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, mugs next to the mask as I snap away. I'm startled by the Broads' calm response to this outrageous threat. The mask comes with an ominous note: "Get out of…

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