Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Three Cheers for the Porcupine!


I've always admired the porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum, a prickly critter, with a prickly personality. They don't care much for the barbs and jabs of other critters, as they are so well supplied with their own. Mostly, they keep their quills to themselves, losing a few here and there to mark their path back to their favorite piney lunch tree. They make their slow plodding way through the forest, climbing a favorite meal when hungry. It's a pleasant life; admirable, puzzling in the sex department, but they manage somehow known mostly to themselves.

Unfortunately, porcupines are a frequent target of dogs, bears and truculent children who throw rocks and poke them with sticks just to see them squirm. Their slow waddling pace, myopic eyes and single-minded determination give a false impression of stupidity, but who else knows how to make a living by hoarding bacteria to digest cellulose.

Three cheers for the porcupine,
He has his quills and I have mine.
Come on Erethizon dorsatum,
Let's get up and at 'em!

Michael

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

San Lorenzo Valley Water District eyes cap-and-trade program





The Santa Cruz Sentinel printed this article today, as straight news, not even in the comics section. 






BOULDER CREEK -- Surveying will begin next month on about 1,600 acres of land in Boulder Creek, Zayante and Olympia to find out how much carbon those forests contain, with the San Lorenzo Valley Water District hoping to fetch a princely sum in the state's newly launched cap-and-trade program.
Earlier this month, the district's Board of Directors approved spending $45,000 on the "carbon sequestration" project, which will be headed by the Alameda-based forestry consulting firm Buena Vista Services. Work is expected to begin within the next 30 days, and "by the fall, we'll have the inventory number locked down," said Jim Mueller, district's general manager. 
That number will be certified by an independent third party, and soon after, the district will be able to enter the cap-and-trade auctions.
During a meeting to discuss the project several months ago, Joe McGuire, a principal with Buena Vista Services, estimated the district's lands contain up to 850,000 tons of carbon, and that those credits can be sold for a total of $550,000 during the next 12 years. 
Betsy Herbert, the district's environmental analyst, said the team will take samples from trees in different sites, and that data will then be crunched to get an estimate on how quickly the forests will grow during the next 12 years, she said. The study will be updated in 2025, and every 12 years thereafter, she said.

How much more absurd can this be? The forest is standing there, growing, breathing in CO2 and breathing out O2, as it has for centuries. Now some upstart snert in the water department can make money off it by selling "carbon credits," as if the Department was responsible for making the trees do their natural thing.

The other side of the story, not included here, is that someone, whoever is buying the "carbon credits," is buying the right to pollute.

This is why economics is a fantasy discipline. It has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with human audacity. Who would have thought of such a thing but an economist?

Chaining them to the ocean floor is too good for them.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where Does Santa Cruz County End?

We all know where Santa Cruz County is. It’s all around us. Most of us live here.

The County starts somewhere north of Davenport, climbs the mountains to the northeast and wanders along Summit Drive. It crosses Highway 17 at The Summit, and skirts the edge of Loma Prieta. Fortunately, the County line is anchored in geography, not geology, so the 1989 earthquake didn’t knock it off track. The County makes a turn near Watsonville and heads back to the ocean in the main channel of the Pajaro River.


We don’t worry where the County is. We know when we are in it. There are signs on the roads that tell us when we’re leaving the County, and when we come back home.


But where is the Santa Cruz County boundary on the seaward side? At the cliffs looming over the beach? On the beach itself? The high tide line? The low tide line? Somewhere in between?





As it turns out, the boundaries of Santa Cruz County are carefully defined by the State of California, and enshrined in crisp black and white in California Government Code Section 23144.


Copyright 2003 Microsoft Corporation

According to the State of California, the County starts “at a point in the Pacific Ocean south 45 degrees W., three nautical miles from the intersection of the east line of Rancho Punta del Ano Nuevo with said ocean, forming the western corner.” At the opposite end, “westerly along said river [the Pajaro], on the northern line of San Benito and Monterey, to the Bay of Monterey, and three miles westerly into the ocean, forming the southwest corner; thence northwesterly along a course three nautical miles distant from the shore to the point of beginning.

What this means is that Santa Cruz County ends, not at the beach, nor at any particular tide line, but three miles off-shore. This also means that jurisdiction for all County departments also extends three miles off-shore, covering the entirety of all beaches in the County.

Stand on the beach with your toes in the water on a clear day and look out to the open ocean. The horizon you see is three miles away. That’s the end of Santa Cruz County, where the sky meets the sea.

Beyond that edge, dragons lie.