Category Archives: News

City Council Tables Climate Action Report

On Monday, August 15th, the Sonoma City Council voted unanimously to table an agenda item to approve the county’s long awaited Climate Action 2020 Plan (CAP). The vote was based on the advice of the City Attorney. He cited too much uncertainty surrounding the plan, now that it has been challenged in Sonoma County Superior Court.

The lawsuit, filed on August 9th by controversial Sebastopol-based non-profit, California River Watch, alleges that the CAP “fails to accurately assess the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with land use activities within county boundaries and which the county and its communities, cities within Sonoma County, can influence and control. The CAP also fails to identify sufficient enforceable mitigation measures…” (emphasis added).

Until the case is resolved, it is likely that elected officials in Healdsburg (on Sept. 6) and other cities throughout the county will also postpone formal adoption of the CAP.

Opinions differ as to whom to blame for this disappointing delay, and whether this legal dispute might have been avoided. However, no one on either side disputes that we need to take bold action NOW to fight climate change.

The CAP already has a menu of climate action measures itemized for each jurisdiction. It shows exactly where we must first focus our efforts. Our initial list was chosen by Sonoma city staff. Then in July at the behest of the Community Service and Environment Commission, Councilmember Hundley, Mayor Gallian, and staff, an additional eight measures were added. While this  increased the City’s commitments by 51%, we still lag far behind every single other jurisdiction in the county.

We know we need to implement at least these 21 Sonoma-specific measures (CAP p. 5-130) as soon as possible. Once started, we can strengthen Sonoma’s GHG emission reduction efforts to the level necessary to meet this challenge.

Climate change won’t wait for lawsuits to be resolved, nor can we.

On August 26, the Sonoma Index Tribune agreed with us: “if the council is truly serious about taking a leadership role in mitigating the effects of global climate change… it should re-agendize the eight Sonoma-specific measures it was set to consider”.

To fail at this puts our common future in grave danger. Continue reading City Council Tables Climate Action Report

How Did Our GHG Baseline Change?

A bogus GHG emissions baseline would be a giant step backward for Sonoma County

Update: In response to this post and other developments, RCPA issued a statement and additional data on August 26. TSV appreciates that RCPA takes the questions we raised seriously, and we look forward to narrowing the gap in our understanding of the CA 2020 plan. We are continuing to explore these issues and will report back with more findings as soon as we can.

Sonoma County’s long awaited Climate Action 2020 (CA 2020) Plan is finally here. But what is wrong with this picture (Fig. 1)?

How did Sonoma County’s AB32-mandated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions baseline — and even the direction of its 20-year trend line — change so dramatically in just the three months between the Draft and Final Reports?

Climate Action 2020 Baseline Trend, Draft vs. Final Reports
Fig. 1. Climate Action 2020 Baseline Trend, Draft vs. Final Reports (ES-2, excerpts compared)

Did the consultants hired to write the CA 2020 Plan make a serious error in their baseline analysis, or are they trying to rewrite history with a ‘backcast’ that is poorly documented and simply too good to be true?

Only the inattentive or the foolish will fall for this without a better explanation. Here’s how the fable currently goes. Continue reading How Did Our GHG Baseline Change?

Carbon Reduction: Taking it to the Streets of Sonoma

By David Templeton – Sonoma Index Tribune August 4, 2016

Transition Streets. It sounds like some trendy Broadway musical, or perhaps a modern-day halfway house for folks moving from hardship to security.

According to Ed Clay, co-founder of Transition Sonoma Valley, the colorfully urban-sounding title actually describes a citizen training program for small groups of neighbors, committed to making better decisions about energy-consumption and its effect on climate change. Originally developed in the UK, the grassroots curriculum was designed to educate and encourage positive environmental action on a street-by-street, family-by-family basis.

Transition Streets, says Clay, “is about creating closer community and saving money, but mostly about finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint.”C-Rogers-bilingual-6104868581_8709eabf2a_o

Clay, who is hoping that other groups of neighbors in the Valley will follow in his neighborhood’s carbon-reduced footsteps, and form other Transition Streets groups. He points out that interested people can find information about how to do that on the Transition Sonoma Valley website.

“The greatest part of the whole process is the sense of community that’s developed in our neighborhood, just by coming together to talk about these issues.”

If you are interested in launching a Transition Streets group in your neighborhood, send us a comment below or come to one of our Steering Team meetings.

Read the Full Story at Sonoma Index Tribune >>

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Peak Wine? Let Them Eat Cake

Sonoma County’s 40+ year love affair with grape alcohol may be on the rocks. Or is it time to pop a cork to celebrate the apex of high times in Wine Country?

It depends on whom you ask.

Writing for The Bohemian, Stephanie Hiller reports that Big Vineyards Face a Sustainability Gap in Sonoma County. Napa winederkind [sic] Joe Wagner’s proposal to build a huge new winery, distillery and events center at Dairyman ranch off Highway 12 near Sebastopol has led to a groundswell of opposition.

Does Wagner care?

Continue reading Peak Wine? Let Them Eat Cake

Faith and Science – Who Believes?

For a long time, we’ve been having a pretty confused discussion about the relationship between religious beliefs and the rejection of science — and especially its two most prominent U.S. incarnations, evolution denial and climate change denial.

Josh Rosenau, an evolutionary biologist who works for the National Center for Science Education  has published a chart that, no matter what you think of the relationship between science and religion, will give you plenty to think about.

Crunching data from the massive Pew survey of American religious beliefs (2007), Rosenau plotted different U.S. faiths and denominations based on their members’ views about both the reality of specifically human evolution, and also how much they favor “stricter environmental laws and regulations.” Continue reading Faith and Science – Who Believes?

TSV Sustainability Scholarship 2015

Transition Sonoma Valley is extremely pleased to announce that Stephanie Angulo has been selected to become the first recipient of our first annual, Transition Sonoma Valley Sustainability Scholarship. Ms. Angulo is a graduating senior at Sonoma Valley High School and also an intern at TSV.
Ms. Angulo was selected because we believe in planning for and investing in the future, and we consider her intellectual talents, communication skills, and work ethic to merit our support. We also appreciate all the time and good work she has contributed as a volunteer for our organization.
Ms. Angulo received her award, a check in the amount of $500, on May 18, 2015 at Sonoma Valley High School. She also has been accepted into Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute in Washington. In the Fall of 2015  she will enroll in the 3/2 Engineering Program at Occidental College, where she will have the opportunity to complete her studies at Caltech or Columbia University.

Sustainable Sonoma – What It Is, and Isn’t

Fueled by nearly five years of discussions with you, our beloved neighbors in this feisty Bear-Flag-loving pueblo, The Sun has asked us to comment on a surprisingly moveable topic: ‘Sustainability’.

Like Thomas Jefferson, we generally find the truths about sustainability to be ‘self-evident’. Nevertheless, we offer up a few observations we find neither too obscure nor too convenient to ignore.

What We Know

“Sustainability is permanence.” Soil advocate Lady Eve Balfour said this almost 40 years ago, and it still rings true today. She went on to quote Aldo Leopold, “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise”.

Sonoma is blessed with an abundance of natural — and increasingly cultural — amenities that inspire our spirits and make almost all of us happy to live here. Sonoma also has a proud tradition of iconoclastic independence. It should come as no surprise that our new vecinos de Michoacán have independence in their tradition too. We have much to learn from one another in the years to come.

Continue reading Sustainable Sonoma – What It Is, and Isn’t

Lawn Transformations – Now in a Front Yard Near You

By all reports residential lawns in drought-stricken California are fast becoming another one of those quaint 20th century anachronisms . Unless you still have a compelling need to play futbol, polo, or golf in your front yard (Anglo-Saxon bowling or tennis anyone?) it’s getting hard to justify why to still keep one.

How many lawn conversions can you count in your neighborhood?

By last count, one nearby two-block span had at least five in progress (or recently completed). Here in Sonoma, we are not alone. Water agencies throughout the state report a surge in interest in turf replacement and conservation rebate programs as our unprecedented statewide drought continues. Savvy homeowners will want to take advantage of the generous incentives before the free money inevitably runs out.

Best of all, these landscaping changes are as creatively diverse and inspiring as you would expect from Sonoma Valley.  The one above on Third Street East certainly caught our eye. Here’s what the owner had to say: Continue reading Lawn Transformations – Now in a Front Yard Near You

How Not to Deal with Shenanigans at a School That’s Ready to Pop

Many have read local news accounts of the water balloon incident that took place at Sonoma Valley High School this past Friday.  After interviewing several eyewitnesses, we believe that unless student perspectives are taken more seriously, the root causes of this event may be misunderstood by the community at large. If that happens, matters at the high school are likely to continue to get worse before they get any better. We should all hope to avoid that if we can.

Last Friday at lunch, the senior class arranged for a water balloon fight in the school’s parking lot, intending just a harmless prank and some innocent fun.  A majority of seniors brought their own ammo of balloons from home and prepared themselves for the event. The fight continued on for about 15 minutes, with administrators filming the entire sight with their smartphones. At around 12:45, an announcement was reported over the intercom, declaring that the school’s lunch had been cut short and all students were required to return back to classes. Students were disappointed and walked back to class hesitantly.

Once seniors approached campus grounds, most noticed that many students from other grade levels were not listening to the orders. Likewise, most of the school population then refrained from going back to class and gathered around the school’s rotunda. Students began badmouthing the unfairness of losing their lunch and that the entire school had to face consequences for the actions of the senior class. Soon, all abusive remarks were directed towards the school’s administrators and the school as a whole. There, a mob mentality was brought into the atmosphere.

The key question is this.  Continue reading How Not to Deal with Shenanigans at a School That’s Ready to Pop