Archive for November, 2010

Duhs and huhs – green/brown world update

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

* File this one in the department of factual duhs. Label it something you’d know by heart if you’d read our book, Smogtown: the Lung Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles. Consider it beyond obvious if you’re a L.A. longtimer, or keep abreast of news from any distant cave. Ready for your shocker, well here goes. From the L.A. Times: ”Automotive emissions standards in California have resulted in cars that are 99% cleaner than they were 50 years ago, according to a new report. Vehicle-related air pollution in the state is down 85% since 1975. Peak smog levels are down. But the Golden State still houses the top 10 most polluted counties in the country, Environment California Research & Policy Center said Tuesday in a new study. State officials should update emissions regulations, according to the report …”

* Will the chrome-six nightmare ever end? Don’t expect the stricken people of Hinkley, California to answer yes. From the L.A. Times: ”A plume of chromium-tainted groundwater is once again bearing down on residents of Hinkley, Calif., where more than a decade ago an underdog battle with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spawned a multimillion-dollar settlement and the Oscar-winning film “Erin Brockovich …”

* Speaking of water, an interesting, if somewhat half-baked concept how to use the global warming crisis to improve the Third World’s dismal water quality.. From a New York Times opinion piece. “… Now there’s a new way to save water projects from an early death: make clean water a for-profit business, charging people an unusual price: zero. Several multinational companies, such as Bechtel and Suez, already run for-profit water systems in cities around the world. These companies have attracted a lot of criticism, especially for the way they treat rural people and slum dwellers. The companies have little incentive to lay pipes to reach people who are far away, and if they do, they charge very high prices. I’m talking about something different: a water business run by a company that has headquarters in Switzerland, Vestergaard Frandsen, that plans to provide clean water to some of the world’s poorest people and charge them nothing …”

* The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power says consumer demand for solar panel and the subsidies they earn are at an all-time high. Since residential use of roof-mounted, photovoltaic panels never amounted to much before, despite California’s supposedly impeccable green credentials, statistical victories are easy to chalk up. Some day, maybe in 2050, ten-percent of homes may actually be harnessing the sun. Not that public utilities really want that, truth be known. Anyway, from the L.A. Times: “… Although the department had budgeted $30 million annually for residential solar rebates, applications this year total as much as $70 million. John Dennis, a senior DWP power system manager, said other utilities, both public and private, are facing the same problem and have made similar moves to slow down or suspend their rebate programs. “We still offer the best, or one of the best, incentive programs here in the state of California, even with these proposed reductions,” he told the council …”