Plant Trees SF Events 2014 Archive: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024


SF Nature News Jake Sig posted on as Jake has quit his blog

“How to Overthrow the System: brew your own beer; kick in your Tee Vee; kill your own beef; build your own cabin and piss off the front porch whenever you bloody well feel like it.”   Edward Abbey

1.   Only one more week to get waterfront height limit petition signatures
2.   Vegetation & Fire Ecologist position in Marin
3.   19th Avenue Traffic Study: Study in Flawed Development
4.   Animal cruelty in California Rodeo
5.   Animal cruelty practiced by nearly all of us
6.   Wendell Berry says the mind that is not baffled is not employed
7.   Suggestions for saving water
8.   Ted Kipping potluck: wildflowers of the Swiss Alps - Tuesday
9.   Feedback
10. Fascinating microscopic photo of a carnivorous plant
11.  Observation on Mozart’s death - on his birthday
12.  Scientific American potpourri


One week from today, Monday, February 3rd, is the deadline to turn in petition signatures to qualify a measure for the June 2014 San Francisco election ballot.  With the help of hundreds of volunteers and petitioners, in the past two weeks we have already collected more than two-thirds of the 17,000 signatures we need to submit the Waterfront Height Limit Right To Vote Act for the June ballot.  

But time is short and we still have a long way to go.  We are asking everyone who cares about keeping San Francisco's waterfront from becoming a wall of high-rise luxury towers to donate some time or funds this week to helping us get this done.

Here are three things you can do this final week to get the Waterfront Height Limit Right to Vote Act on the ballot:

1)  VISIT the No Wall on the Waterfront office at 15 Columbus Avenue in North Beach to sign and pick up some petitions to circulate among your friends and neighbors.  We also need data entry volunteers.  Office hours are 10AM - 6PM every day.  The phone # is (415) 410-9588.  Call or just come by!

2)  SEND a contribution to support the petition drive and help pay for printing petitions, signs, and other things we need to get this on the ballot.  Please mail your donation of any amount to No Wall on the Waterfront, P.O. Box 330476, San Francisco, CA 94133.  Please include the name of your employer and your occupation with your donation.  There are no contribution limits for this campaign.

3)  JOIN us this Saturday, February 1st at 12:00 Noon at the No Wall on the Waterfront office at 15 Columbus Avenue for a FINAL PETITION PUSH RALLY featuring former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos.  If you have any signed petitions, bring them all in on Saturday so we can get them ready to hand in.  See you Saturday!


2.  Job opportunity in Marin

	•	Vegetation & Fire Ecologist - The Vegetation and Fire Ecologist will develop, plan, organize and administer the functions and activities of the Vegetation and Biodiversity Management Plan (VBMP) and associated Environmental Impact Report, in order to reduce fire fuels and protect the natural biodiversity of Marin County Parks. Closes 2/18/2014

Visit us at for our full list of current openings


3.  Glenn Rogers:

19th Avenue Traffic Study:	A Study in Flawed Development

(Full article at:

The 19th Avenue Transit Study, which proposes to improve traffic conditions along 19th Avenue or Highway One, is a flawed effort.  The study by the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority (SFMTA) seems more focused on money than the public good, does not follow proper rules of transit design, shows favoritism to developers, does not consider how changes will affect senior citizens or the disabled, shows bias to certain businesses over others, provides a design that will create noise and blight in a tranquil residential community and lastly, ignores more satisfactory solutions.  First, let me provide a brief history of this project and some background on MUNI.
The thrust of the SFMTA plan is for the ‘M’ streetcar to enter Parkmerced,  where a new streetcar station would be located. Development of the ‘M’ streetcar extension and Parkmerced station would be partially funded by the Fortress Investment Group LLC, which would provide 70 million dollars.  Federal funds are matched 80% by projects considered to be ‘commuter friendly’.  Unfortunately, this plan is not in the public’s best interest because we will be forced to wait 20 years for the future connection to Daly City BART by the ‘M’ streetcar. Thankfully, San Francisco Tomorrow has provided a serious legal challenge over the appropriateness of this project.  Please, see the following article: 

Hey, Jake -
Don't know how many (if any) of your folks care about rodeo issues, but this is a hot one.  (I was the sponsor of the 1999 legislation which is currently going largely unenforced.)  This video from SHARK of the many injuries at the 2013 CALIFORNIA RODEO in Salinas needs to be seen.

Subject:  Salinas video
January 26, 2014

Steve Hindi (SHARK) has outdone himself.

See the enclosed video and report regarding last year's CALIFORNIA RODEO (SALINAS).

Steve videotaped 23 animal injuries, yet only THREE were reported to the State Veterinary Medical Board as required by state law (Penal Code 596.7).  Something's terribly amiss.  Add to this the report from one of my charro friends that California hosts nearly 800 charreadas (Mexican-style rodeos) every year, and the fact that not a single charreada injury report has ever been submitted.  Simply not possible.

I would suggest that everyone forward this video to her/his state representatives and demand immediate action to correct this unacceptable situation.

Eric Mills, coordinator

Salinas video:

The rodeo folk have trashed the rule requiring injuries to be reported. The veterinary board is letting them off.

(JS:  I post this item with mixed feelings.  The Economist is well named, and focuses on business aspects of issues.  It is out to lunch on environmental issues, and has shown no indications of solicitude for pain and suffering of animals--or, for that matter, ethics.  But I find it worth reading because it points out aspects of realities that are easy for us bleeding heart liberals to overlook.)

Livestock farming

Meat and greens

A lot can be done to make meat-eating less bad for the planet

Jan 18th 2014 The Economist

IN DECEMBER angry farmers drove their cattle to Manapparai, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and blockaded the market. They were protesting against a decision by health inspectors to close their own market at Trichy, 35 kilometres (22 miles) away, after cases of foot and mouth. India is famously tolerant of cattle in the road. Now, cows were everywhere.

It was just one example of the tensions affecting the livestock business worldwide. In places like Tamil Nadu, one of India’s richer states, middle-class supermarkets and food-safety rules coexist uneasily with older customs of selling live animals in cities and consumer preferences for local meat and milk. Europe has been transfixed after horsemeat was found in processed beef in Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands; French, Polish and Romanian suppliers were implicated. China is gripped by a donkey-meat scandal: the “Five Spice” donkey sold in Walmart stores had been adulterated with fox.

The new attention is warranted. Around the world 1.3 billion people, most of them poor, raise animals, accounting for a third of total agricultural GDP. More acres are given over to feeding animals than to any other single use. Meat provides a third of the protein in worldwide diets. But it is a mixed blessing. Animals are less efficient than plants at converting nutrients and water into calories. Meat accounts for a sixth of humanity’s calorific intake but uses roughly a third of its crop land, water and grain. Producing a kilogram of grain takes 1,500 litres of water; a kilo of beef takes 15,000 litres.

Domestic animals also belch and fart amazing quantities of greenhouse gases—and when jungle is cut down for pasture, carbon emissions rise. In all, livestock farming produces 8-18% of greenhouse-gas emissions. It is the main contributor to the build-up of nitrogen and phosphorus in the world’s soils, producing too much ammonia (which is caustic), nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas) and dead zones in oceans (the result of excess phosphorus).

A fifth of the world’s pasture has been spoilt by overgrazing. If the livestock business repeats the growth of the past 40 years during the next 40 the results could be disastrous, with more jungle and savannah turned into pasture, and more rivers and watering holes drunk dry. If all that were not enough, domesticated animals form a reservoir of diseases that afflict humans (see article).

Many environmentalists say the only thing to do is to cut the business down to size. “Eat less meat,” said Rajendra Pachauri of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN gathering of scientists who track global warming. “You’ll be healthier and so will the planet.” Fat chance. Urbanisation and rising incomes in the developing world will lead to much of it approaching European and American levels of meat consumption (see chart). Even if parts of India remain vegetarian, worldwide meat-eating will probably double by 2050.

So what sort of livestock farming can satisfy growing demand while using land, water and crops more rationally? Recent papers by Mario Herrero of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and colleagues argue that the answer is intensive livestock farming, which is more efficient and environmentally friendlier than small-scale, traditional pastoralism of the sort beloved by many greens. But to avoid turning more wilderness into pasture and using more water that the world cannot spare, “factory farming” must be reformed.

A greener hoofprint

Among the lessons of the research is that white meat wins out over red for environmental reasons as well as health ones. It takes 2kg of feed to produce 1kg of chicken; 3kg for 1kg of pork. The ratio for lamb is between four and six to one; for beef, between five and 20 to one. And cows need five times as much feed to produce 1kg of protein as meat than to produce it as milk.

Even without switching between types of protein, there is scope for big productivity gains in South and South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where 45-80% of pig and chicken farms are smallholdings. In America and Europe 70-98% are run at industrial scale. A cow in America or Europe eats 75-300kg of hay and other dry matter per kilo of protein; in Africa, which has the largest number of traditional pastoralists, she needs 500kg or more. On the dry rangelands of Ethiopia and South Sudan, the figure is up to 2,000kg.

Switching from pastoralism to feeding cattle with grain would dramatically improve efficiency. Just how much can be seen from milk yields. Between 1950 and 2000, they doubled in the Netherlands, from 3,560 litres per cow per year to 7,180. In Africa the improvement was zero.

This switchover would also reduce the damaging build-up of nitrogen and phosphorus in soil, since intensive methods turn the nutrient in feed into meat more efficiently. And it would slash greenhouse-gas emissions. Cattle on dry rangelands produce 100 times as much per unit of meat as cattle in America or Europe. Three-quarters of the total comes from cattle, for 59m tonnes of beef a year. Poultry and pigs produce 10%—for four times as much meat.

Industrial-scale livestock farming can encourage the spread of diseases that humans share with animals. And animals may suffer in factory farms (though they bear a big burden of endemic diseases in pastoral systems). Such downsides are cited by environmentalists who would prefer less factory farming and more traditional pastoralism. But efficient livestock farming makes better use of scarce basic resources—and is far better for the planet.

“When a man must be afraid to drink freely from his country's river and streams that country is no longer fit to live in. ” 

“We are slaves in the sense that we depend for our daily survival upon an expand-or-expire agro-industrial empire—a crackpot machine—that the specialists cannot comprehend and the managers cannot manage. Which is, furthermore, devouring world resources at an exponential rate. We are, most of us, dependent employees. …Edward Abbey

The Real Work
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
~ Wendell Berry ~
(Collected Poems)

(JS:  Just as it has been since the first clear message from nature about water, its quantity, its delivery reliability--I'm talking 1976-77--it amazed me to line up for the Opera House urinals (called thundermugs for good reason--they sounded like Niagara Falls).  Every single one of them flushed, in spite of the fact that there were another 20 going to use that same urinal.  I may have been the only one who didn't flush--a futile gesture, because the next guy flushed it before he pissed in it!  Now, at least, there are a few who don't flush each time, although the majority still do.

Which, now that I think about it, makes me wonder what will be done about all those automatic urinals without manual flushers if the drought gets serious enough.  I have long wondered about the techno world we create for ourselves:  hotel doors that unlock electronically.  I always thought that is a safety issue.  Am I the only one to worry about things like this?)

Denise D'Anne (with added comments by JS in italics):  

I sent this out to some friends a couple a weeks ago in anticipation of water restrictions.  I picked these habits after the last 6 year drought.

Put on your faucet/and shower head
At least in my household we bathed only once a week.  NOT NOW, OF COURSE.


Or reduce shower time to one to two minutes.

(JS:  I have always taken "navy" showers.  [Water is scarce on ships.]  Wet myself, shut water off, lather and turn on to wash soap off.  Been doing that for >65 years.  I was in the Navy, you know.)

Stop running faucets by wetting toothbrush; squirt a little toothpaste, brush without water running.  Same for shaving.

(Wetting toothbrush?  Why?  Apply toothpaste to dry brush, don't turn on water until ready to rinse mouth.)

Same for hand washing.  Soap up and then rinse without constant water running.

Collect shower water in bucket.  Use to flush toilet or use in garden.

If feasible put used dishwater in bucket and use for flush.  Need to have basin in sink to collect water to put in bucket.  Don’t have water running while rinsing dishes, the device above reduces flow but keeps temperature constant.  Same type device for shower too.

(I wash dishes and don't rinse until all dishes washed.)

Water trickles while soaping up or shampooing before rinse.

Keep pitcher of water in frig instead of running faucet.

Garden watering before sunrises or before sunsets.  Sun evaporates water before water hits plants.

(Water in late afternoon/evening to maximize moisture penetration and retention in soil.  You lose water to evaporation by watering in morning before moisture has had time to soak into soil.)

There are ways to reuse gray water from washing machines for gardening.  Check Google.
TEA:  Make tea in large thermos.  Uses fewer tea bags and uses less water than individual teacups.   Thermo keeps liquid warm for hours. Makes several cups.  I use two tea bags and it is strong enough.  Experiment!

California is heading into its third consecutive dry winter with no relief in sight.

(Denise left off an important item:  Heat only the water you need.  I have found an appallingly common practice is to heat a full kettle of water just to make a cup of tea.  You unnecessarily lose water to evaporation, but you've burned a lot of fossil fuel to no purpose.  JS)

(In this short YouTube are more ideas on how to stretch water):

Water frugality in the house

Film made by a friend, of a friend using care and common sense to save that precious commodity, water.  It is filmed by Marina Shoup, her tenant, and it's called Wet.
Ted Kipping pot luck/slide shows
4th Tuesday of the month at 7 pm (slide show at 8 pm) at the San Francisco County Fair Bldg, 9th Av & Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park
Served by Muni bus lines #6, 43, 44, 66, 71, and the N-Judah Metro

*Please bring your own plates & flatware as well as a dish & beverage to serve 8 people



9.  Feedback

On Jan 25, 2014, at 2:32 PM, Peter Vaernet wrote:
You actually made perhaps one of the most important points in your "btw" statement at the end of the long discussion on xenophobia.  I my opinion, the major reason that expressions of concerns regarding discrimination/racism is emanating from lands settled by and descended from England is rooted in the fact that the western Enlightenment philosophical system promulgated from England (John Locke et al) on into France and then adopted by the American founding fathers has set up western world thinking to intensely believe in "tolerance" and the "equality of all" arguments....imagine the revolutionary Enlightenment thought that women should have equal rights and slavery is an unacceptable idea.  This "new" thinking is still greatly at odds with much of the rest of the world.  One only has to travel to Africa, Asia and the Middle East to get a clear sense of 3000+ years of ongoing traditional thoughts on this topic.   It can be very difficult of many young westerners to understand that racism and slavery has and is still institutionally well-established and accepted in many countries.
Thus, whenever there is a conflict between people of different ethnicities or nationalities, the western mind jumps very readily onto an assumption track which can obfuscate the basis for realistic discussion.

Thanks for clarifying something that was half-formed in my mind, Peter.  There is a good deal of truth in what you say.  

I’m sort of thinking this out as I go along, and may back down if challenged.  European nations are more homogeneous than our polyglot, multiracial nation; they have distinct cultures and traditions, and are less racially mixed, so that diluting that culture is a cause of unease and concern--a loss of identity.  That applies to Asia and most of Africa also.  Trotting out the ‘racist’ label is at best a crude characterization that doesn’t reflect the reality.  It is the newly settled “nation built by immigrants” that is most tolerant and allowing.  That has served us well up to now, when space was considered abundant, but may not in the future, as climate change creates food shortages and unwelcome mass migrations.  That scenario is so obvious to me that I wonder why people wait for it to happen.

Slightly shifting the subject:  The increasing class division and spreading inequality here is deeply concerning to me.  It is like a cultural hardening of the arteries, and seems to happen as nations get older.  I hope that isn’t the case, and that the U.S. will find a way of reversing the present shift of wealth from the poor to the rich, with the middle class squeezed out.  That is a recipe for authoritarian regimes; democracy depends on a middle class, and present trends are moving that way--notice the decline in voter participation?

Ironically, our tolerance of legal and illegal immigration is feeding the widening inequality, as we use immigrant labor to drive down wages and fight our wars.  (Fight our wars?  Yes, President Obama actually did say that, obliquely.)  

Edward Abbey:  “Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.” 

On Jan 24, 2014, at 9:35 PM, Laarry Brown wrote:
A marvelous talk on Redwoods Jake.  Thanks for the tip.  Most memorable fact I took away:  Redwoods can absorb water from the fog THROUGH THEIR LEAVES!  Quite unique.
Not unique.  We were always taught that plants can’t absorb water through their leaves.  Now it appears that many plants can.  

That’s the sum total of my knowledge on that topic.


“Fears in modern-city dwellers protect us from dangers that no longer exist, and fail to protect us from dangers in the world around us.  We ought to be afraid of guns, driving fast, driving without a seatbelt, lighter fluid, and hair dryers near bathtubs, not of snakes and spiders.  Public safety
officials try to strike fear in the hearts of citizens using everything from statistics to shocking photographs, usually to no avail.  Parents scream and punish to deter their children from playing with matches or chasing a ball into the street, but when Chicago schoolchildren were asked what they were most afraid of, they cited lions, tigers and snakes, unlikely hazards in the Windy City.”
    —Stephen Pinker, "How The Mind Works"


10.  Bladderwort opens wide


Under a microscope, the tiny trap of a carnivorous plant becomes an impressive gaping maw. Rootless and adrift in its wetland habitat, the humped bladderwort (Utricularia gibba) preys on water fleas and other small invertebrates. Organisms that trip the plant’s sensory hairs are sucked inside bladderlike traps to be digested.

Neurobiologist Igor Siwanowicz of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va., created this psychedelic image of a bladderwort’s trap using fluorescent dye to tag the cellulose in plant cell walls. This trap was just 1.5 millimeters long, so he magnified the image 100 times to reveal minuscule details, including digestive glands that line the trap’s inner wall (red crosses). The plant also sports some microscopic hitchhikers: single-celled green algae living inside the trap (red-and-blue disks, three species shown). Algae escape digestion by squatting in older, inactive traps.

In December, Siwanowicz’s photo took first place in the 2013 Olympus BioScapes Competition, an international contest for life science images.

Science News

This bladderwort is native to California, among other places.  JS


11.  Note on the death of Mozart, whose birthday is today:

It's a persistent myth that Mozart was buried in a pauper's grave. While it's true that he was buried in a communal plot, that was common practice in Vienna at the time. Only members of the aristocracy received individual burials as we think of them today; people of Mozart's status and below were sewn, naked, into a linen sack, and placed into a pit with four or five other bodies. Quicklime was sprinkled over the corpses to speed their decomposition. After about seven years, the remains were exhumed and dispersed so that the grave could be reused. As a result, Mozart's body is lost to us, and scientists have never been able to examine it using modern technology.

Writer's Almanac

(JS:  The DVD of Mahler on the SF Symphony's Keeping Score series showed his body in a plain sack, deposited in a dug pit and covered with dirt.  That is so sensible, efficient, and realistic, and is a good reminder about the nature of existence.  It should be a universal practice, applying to kings and commoners.

Our pretensions about ourselves are occasionally exposed when real estate becomes too valuable for dead bodies.  San Francisco just dug up the bodies at Masonic Cemetery and Laurel Hill and shipped them to San Mateo County.  Very dignified.)


12.  Scientific American

FEATURES: Creating Tastier and Healthier Fruits and Veggies with a Modern Alternative to GMOs
By combining traditional plant breeding with ever-faster genetic sequencing tools, researchers are making fruits and vegetables more flavorful, colorful, shapely and nutritious 

CLIMATEWIRE: Scientist Targets of Climate Change Hate Mail Rally for Support 

FORUM: Why Scientists Should Embrace the Liberal Arts 

PLUGGED IN: The California Drought: “A Stark Warning of Things to Come” 

60-SECOND EARTH PODCAST: Heat Is On These Countries for the Heat
A new analysis calculates each of the world's countries total amount of CO2 pollution, along with responsibility for the ensuing global warming 

NEWS: What a Transportation Revolution in China Looks Like
Can China find a fuel alternative for its swelling number of transportation vehicles? 

NEWS: Shark Species Thought to Be Extinct Found in Fish Market [Slide Show]
After more than a century, the smoothtooth blacktip shark has been rediscovered 

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE: Will We Ever Run Out of Oil? [Video]
Fossil fuels such as oil come from, well, fossils—organisms that died long ago. This means there is a limited supply, and at some point we'll be tapped out. Scientific American editor David Biello explains when the well may run dry 

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE: A Global Transition to Renewable Energy Will Take Many Decades
The great hope for a quick and sweeping transition to renewable energy is wishful thinking 

THE CURIOUS WAVEFUNCTION: "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?" 

THE CURIOUS WAVEFUNCTION: The many tragedies of Edward Teller 

EXTINCTION COUNTDOWN: From Saved to Stolen: Thief Absconds with Extinct-in-the-Wild Water Lily 

TECHMEDIANETWORK: Older Trees Grow Faster as They Age
Rather than slowing down, older trees grow faster and fail to suffer the ill effects of old age 

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE: Start-Up Aims to Replace Eggs with More Sustainable Vegetable Proteins
A west coast start-up wants to make the staple ingredient obsolete 

NEWS: Banana Fungus Creeps Closer to World's Key Plantations
Fears rise for Latin American industry as devastating disease hits leading variety in Africa and Middle East 

TECHMEDIANETWORK: Invasive Earthworms Harm Forests Near the Great Lakes
Although no earthworms are native to North American's northern forests, 15 earthworm species now live in the Great Lakes forests now, resulting in a loss in plant life 


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