We’re starting a new feature here:
In The News. We plan to post summaries of relevant news items (or other pieces from the internet), and comment on them.
SAVING FORESTS IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFICIENT CLIMATE REMEDIES
This article in the newswletter of the World Wildlife Fund comes from its Swedish arm. It urges the Swedish government to protect forests, because it’s one of the most efficient climate remedies.
And here’s a great Youtube video from American Forests, promoting its Global ReLeaf 2 program – to plant trees.
We shouldn’t have to say that it applies as much to eucalyptus as to any other tree.
DOES THE SF CHRONICLE HATE TREES?
It’s a strange question to ask, in a world where forests and trees are one way to combat global warming. Trees take decades to grow to a decent size, and any time one is “removed” it stops sequestering carbon and starts to release it into the atmosphere.
In two articles on October 11, there were references to tree-removal that sounded almost jubilant. The first was in an article looking at Santa Cruz 20 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake. In the description of the rebuilt downtown, it says: “Gone are the overgrown trees that made the street dark by day and a druggy hangout at night.” And another, describing the work on Doyle Drive, talks casually of “removing trees for the new Doyle Drive approach.”
We’re not saying trees should never be chopped down. Some do have to go – when they’re a hazard, or when the space they occupy is urgently needed for road-building. But it’s a cost, and in more than money.
We’re sensitive about this, of course, because of the threat to the trees of Sutro’s Cloud Forest. Still, it does seem that with nativist thinking spreading, respect for trees and what they do for the environment has plummeted in favor of some kind of assessment of them as illegal aliens or something. It’s unlikely, though, that 1 acre of chaparral – or even 1 acre of a “sun-splashed sprawl of specialty stores” – equals 30 cars.
NOBEL PRIZE FOR UCSF’S ELIZABETH BLACKBURN
UCSF’s Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize yesterday (Oct 5, 2009), (with two others – Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins and Jack Szostak of Massachussets General) for her work on telomeres. It’s a proud moment for everyone associated with UCSF. This is hugely important work, and is part of what makes UCSF the marvelous institution it is. Congratulations, Dr Blackburn, and congratulations UCSF!
Which makes it so much more galling that this institution we respect so much is notably unscientific in its management of its facilities. Particularly Sutro Forest.
POST-HOLES AND ROUNDUP
This isn’t a news item, but I thought people would be interested.
1. UCSF is using Roundup in the Aldea student housing area on the west side of Mt Sutro. Why they think this is a good idea in family housing where small children and pregnant women many be present, I am not sure. Aldea has naturalistic landscaping; I didn’t know they’re doing chemical maintenance. One of our Sutro neighbors has been providing UCSF with evidence about its dangers and trying to get them to stop – apparently to no avail.
[ETA: In November 2009, they did stop. Here’s the link.]
2. The mysterious holes along the trail in the forest have been puzzling a lot of people. UCSF eventually got back to me.
They’re post-holes. Mt Sutro Stewards are going to put up signposts because people have been getting lost. Also, they’re concerned that if someone is alone and injures themself, they would have no way of telling the emergency responders where to find them.
AVOIDING ROUNDUP HERBICIDE
The SF Chronicle’s gardening section had a question from a local gardener, asking how to avoid using herbicides to remove bindweed. The expert, Pam Pierce, responded by suggesting various methods – and reinforcing the questioner’s decision not to use Roundup:
“Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, is not registered for (meaning not legal to use around) food crops. It can last in soil for up to a year. While it isn’t highly lethal in an acute poisoning sense, it can have many ill effects on your health.”
While of course no one is planning to eat food from Mt Sutro (except maybe blackberries) it is quite disturbing to think of herbicides leaching into the watershed and getting onto us and our animals for a year after they have been applied.
UC FEES GOING UP – UP – UP
The SF Chronicle carried a news item about how UC was going to raise its fees for undergrads not once, but twice for a total of over 30%…
They’ve laid off nearly 900 people, and will lay off another 1,000. They’re deferring hiring and purchasing.
And they’re planning on spending over $100,000 to gut 14 acres of forest in a project of no urgency (in addition to some $350,000 of taxpayer funds through FEMA).
SAN FRANCISCO TREE PLANTING
The SF Chronicle newspaper noted that the city has exceeded its target of planting 25,000 trees in five years. (Click on the link and scroll down to see the item.) We’re very encouraged- that’s 5,000 trees annually. They look nice, and help sequester carbon. Now figure that UCSF’s plan will remove, according to their own estimate, over 3,000 trees. Well, they might argue, they are all under one foot in diameter (approximately 3 feet around). So the question is, are the trees San Francisco is planting any larger than that?
If not, and this misguided plan goes through, we hope UCSF is planning to fund the city to plant 3,000 trees to compensate.
HERBICIDES AND NATIVE PLANTS
The environmental organization The Nature Conservancy had an article on its blog entitled: No Spray Zone: Are Pesticides Really Controlling Invasives? We found it echoed many of our concerns about the planned use of herbicides on Mount Sutro.
Excerpts: “Spraying pesticides for invasives control has long struck me as one of those cases where “the cure is often worse than the disease.”
“Perhaps the real issue here is humanity’s relationship with non-native species. Too often, conservationists appear content to label all non-native species as “bad” and thus seek to eradicate them by any means necessary.
“It’s time to face up to the reality of the “” issue: It’s complicated.
“The rapid spread of invasives may be a symptom of deeper ecological problems, not the problem itself. Thus, using chemicals is only treating the symptom, not addressing the real issues. I’ll refrain from making any comparisons to U.S. health care.
“In other instances, invasives may be so established on a landscape that we can only hope to manage them, and eradication attempts will be proven folly.”
THE UNDEAD GARDEN
In July, the San Francisco Chronicle published a citizen complaint about a city-maintained garden at Howard and Embarcadero, which he said “looked dead.”
The Chron investigated. In an article titled S.F. garden isn’t dead – just in transition, it reported no, the garden wasn’t dead, only the plants in it were. “At this stage of the year, most of the annual plants are in fact dead…” said a spokesperson.
It was a native-plant wildflower garden. The plants had bloomed in spring and was now were throwing seeds and dying (in July). When the rain came, the whole thing would green up again. The rain comes in … December? January? So there’s going to be an Undead Native Garden for six months of the year. There were a few comments there; the best one was the first, from someone who quoted the Monty Python ‘Dead Parrot’ skit:
“Mr. Praline : I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. It’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it.
Owner : No, no, ‘e’s ah… he’s resting.
Mr. Praline : Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.
Owner : No no, h-he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’!”
Is this what is planned for Mount Sutro? (The Native Garden on the summit already looks a bit like that, but without the trash.) Having a hillside that’s “resting” for six months of the year in a flammable and ugly condition doesn’t seem like a great idea.