Which is dirty: The water or the study?

One of the recurrent themes in today’s round-up of the news highlights of the week carries troubling contradictions. Two reporters who do exemplary jobs covering their local water beats, Staci Matlock of the Santa Fe New Mexican and Janet Zimmerman of the Riverside Press-Enterprise, quote local water managers saying that their water quality tests do not jibe with the ratings reported on December 12th by the Environmental Working Group, which were then later widely broadcast by the news media.

In the case of Riverside, the water authority contends that the group ranked the city based on tests of untreated groundwater. Santa Fe is still investigating what its water department sees as a discrepancy. Once shot out of a cannon into the press, even subjects as important as municipal water quality rarely get the follow-up that they deserve. This post-script to The week that was, 12/13-19/2009 is to urge

The week that was, 12/13-19/2009

"River 2, Position 4," July 2008. Photo: Olaf Otto Becker from "Above Zero" at the Amador Gallery in New York through January 9, 2010. Click on the image to be taken to the gallery website and other images of the summer rivers of Greenland.

These pictures are … about the rivers of meltwater that form on the surface of the glaciers in Greenland during the summer. In the summer heat, the ice melts, and the little rivulets flow into bigger and bigger streams until eventually they become rivers. The water is a deep aquamarine. It wends its way through a landscape of white ice with blue tints, and of small black holes formed by atmospheric soot. The sky is crowded with low-hanging white clouds and only occasional breaks of blue or gray. There are no trees or telephone poles or anything, really, to give a sense of scale. How wide

The Dry Garden: “The tree rings’ tale”

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference concludes in Copenhagen, what is a smart kid to make of the riots? That we’re all going to die — Santa first? That in a few years down the road, discussion of climate is best had wearing a clown’s nose while taunting a Danish policeman?

Let’s hope not. Let’s dream instead that winter solstice on Monday marks brighter days ahead in which the next generation may be armed with the best knowledge of what climate change means and what can be done about it.

And, eh presto, an ideal volume is at hand. A newly released book aimed at young teens, “The Tree Rings’ Tale: Understanding our Changing Climate,” is the work of science writer John Fleck. Although there are other texts out there for children, what sets Fleck’s book apart for Californians is its emphasis on the West. It’s particularly relevant to

Final day. Yes we can / No we can’t

A pelican huddles in a London zoo after a freak snow storm blankets England, including the normally temperate south coast, during the final days of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen. Click on the image to be taken to the London Guardian for full photo coverage of the blizzard and the wan final day of the climate conference.

The Resnick touch

THE National Academy of Sciences today announced the constitution of an expert committee to review protections afforded fish covered by the Endangered Species Act in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, including Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and green sturgeon.

The assembling of these learned souls at the behest of US Senator Dianne Feinstein and California’s billionaire farming couple Lynda and Stewart Resnick brought to mind an incident that perfectly describes the reach of the Resnicks into institutions that we the people might fondly imagine to be incorruptible.

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