World Population Awareness

California Population

California Population

January 12, 2013

The city of Los Angeles, in Southern California, as seen from an airplane - through the smog, showing smog and the mountain behind the sprawled urban area
The city of Los Angeles, in Southern California, as seen from an airplane - through the smog. doclink

In California there are as many births as immigration per year and with these additions to its population, California grew 13.6% from 1990 to 2000. US Census Bureau More than 3 million unintended pregnancies occur every year in the United States. (AGI)
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California is one of the world's 25 biodiversity hotspots, which, together, have 45% of the world's plant and animal species in just 4% of its land mass.
April 20, 2004   University of California at Davis Plant Herbarium doclink

Consumption and Population - Is California Big Enough?

Karen Gaia - WOA!! website

California's population grew by nearly 26% between 1980 and 1990, from 23.7 million to 29.8 million, and grew by another 4.1 million persons between 1990 and 2000. Current projections indicate that population may double from the 1990 level to 58.7 million by 2040. In the face of such intense growth, California's fragmented and competitive local land use planning structures and subsidized dependence on drive-alone transportation have contributed to severe environmental and ecological deterioration, including: -- Serious air pollution -- Gridlocked roadways -- Strained and polluted water supplies -- Loss of valuable food producing lands and open space -- Increased numbers of endangered species due to loss of critical habitat -- Increased energy consumption -- A lack of affordable housing near places of employment. --Loss of open space. -- Excessive consumption of natural resources. Sierra Club California believes that this state needs a comprehensive program to address the magnitude and management of growth, and to determine what amount of growth is actually supportable, based on constraints analysis, not only on economic projections. ... Sierra Club California Growth Management Plan. circa 2000 Click on the headline to see the entire article. doclink

US California: Pharmacists Who Impose Own Morality Can Do Harm

May 10, 2005   San Jose Mercury News

Four states have approved laws that allow pharmacists to proclaim that their religious beliefs preclude them from filling prescriptions for contraceptivesdo and 23 other states are considering similar laws. There's no word yet on whether the conscientious pharmacists also won't fill prescriptions for Viagra or AIDS-treatment medication or other drugs that might offend them. We are supposed to have respect for the rights of pharmacists even if their beliefs deny the rights of women at their counters. One law, supported by the California Pharmacists Association, would require pharmacists who oppose filling certain prescriptions to alert their employers in writing when they're hired. The pharmacies would be required to have someone else on hand to fill the prescription or refer customers to a nearby pharmacy. A majority of pharmacists had no trouble filling prescriptions for contraceptives, but a few pharmacists not only refuse to fill the prescriptions, but also give customers stern lectures. It is unconscionable that others who are trying to be responsible might encounter a local pharmacist who will dispense only lectures and disdain. doclink

Perhaps someone who gets pregnant because of the refusal of the pharmacist should sue him/her for the consequences?

US California: Sierra Growth to Bring More Congestion, Development

June 27, 2005   Associated Press

The population of the Sierra Nevada could triple in the next 35 years. Much of the 400-mile-long range is designated as national forest, park land or wilderness but has private land where development could change the feel of the mountains. About 600,000 people live in the 20 California and three Nevada counties that divide the Sierra, projected to grow to between 1.5 million and 2.4 million by 2040. Seven of the 20 California counties have plans more than 10 years old, although five are expecting updates. But fewer than a third have plotted areas that deserve protection from development, and most have no conservation plans. California state Assemblyman Tim Leslie fears overburdening property owners with restrictions which is why he backed creation of a Sierra Nevada Conservancy charged with protecting resources, promoting tourism and enhancing recreation in the area. A third of the Sierra is privately owned, but private landowners own half the land in 10 of the 20 California counties, and two-thirds or more of the acreage in five of those counties. The amount of developed land could double over the next half-century. Traffic congestion has followed an increase in home building, and the environmental coalition fears a cascading effect on air and water quality. Placer County's population is expected to grow by 84%, El Dorado's by 42% and Nevada County's by 38% by 2020. More isolated counties attract retirees. Much of the environmental focus has been on the region's old growth timber, as the U.S. Forest Service fights to implement a plan for the 11 national forests, but the oak woodlands at lower elevations are most in danger from sprawl, in the western foothills, where 70% of the current population resides. doclink

Rapid Population Growth in California: A Threat to Land and Food Production

June 17, 2005   Diversity Alliance/

By 2035, California's population will be 64 million, based on the state's 2% annual growth rate. All human activities suffer when humans exceed the basic resources. If the population continues to climb, food security will be significantly stressed. The future of agriculture is critical, as resources like arable land, clean water, energy, and biodiversity are depleted. Of the 2.3 billion acres of land in the US, only 20%, are suitable for agriculture. California ranks first in agricultural production in the US, but a loss of land, and decrease in production, is imminent if current population trends continue. The US population is increasing geometrically while arable land is decreasing. This land is lost to urbanization and industrial spread, transportation systems, and wind and water erosion. About 8 million acres in California are devoted to crops and each year 122,000 acres are swallowed by urban and industrial spread. Each person added to the population requires approximately 1 acre of land for urbanization and highways. When the California population doubles about 32 million acres will be used. Arable soil consists of about the top 6 inches of soil that is easily lost by wind and water erosion. Poor farming tactics can increase erosion and a significant portion of California's 8 million acres are lost each year. Salinization from irrigation can further diminish productivity. Agriculture in California totals $20 billion each year. Much of this income could be lost unless California's agricultural land base is protected from population growth. In about 60 years, per capita agricultural land will be half of what it is today. With a decreased supply and increased demand, food prices are expected to increase 3-to-5 times. The land area may be half what it is today and will have a major impact on the economy of California. If the current rate of land loss continues, in less than 33 years half of California's cropland will no longer be available for production. The average American uses about 1,450 gallons/day/capita of water to meet all his/her needs, including agricultural production. Unfortunately, to provide the amounts of water necessary for a steadily increasing population, overdraft is already occurring from surface and ground water resources. By the time the Colorado River enters the Gulf of California, it is a small trickle. The seven adjacent states -- among them California, Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona -- remove enormous amounts of water to meet their local needs, but return little or no water to the rapidly diminishing supply. Americans are going to have to conserve and reduce their water use as the amount of available water per capita rapidly diminishes. California agriculture consumes 80% of the pumped water. To irrigate an acre of corn requires nearly 1 million gallons of water during the 3 to 4 month growing season. The total land area irrigated in California is about 7.6 million acres. Much of the water is applied to low value crops like forage alfalfa and rice and is possible only because the federal government provides $1.5 billion annually to pay for the irrigation. At present, water is cheap for the farmer, but the supply cannot be increased very much, will have to be shared, and at a higher price. As quality cropland is lost to urbanization and erosion, poor marginal land will probably need to be used for growing crops, and will require irrigation, further stressing the limited water supplies and increasing costs. In most developed areas, including California, the primary source of energy is from oil, gas, and coal. California farmers use large amounts of fossil fuels to run their farm machinery and irrigation systems; about 17% of US fossil energy supports our food system. Energy is used to manufacture the fertilizers and pesticides as well as to power food processing and food transport. The US has only about 20 years of oil reserves and 30 years of natural gas. About 60% of our oil supply is imported; nearly 100% will be imported by 2015. As domestic oil supplies are depleted, the price will rise. Then, cost and limited availability will restrict human activities, including the expansion of intensive agriculture. Californians will need to produce even more food, but will lack the energy resources. The ozone levels in LA exceeds the EPA standard. The average exposure to carcinogens is 5000 times above the acceptable level. Air pollutants cause several million dollars worth of lost crops each year. About 91% of California's wetlands have been drained to provide more room for human activities. Loss of wetlands has reduced the natural biodiversity in the state. Maintaining biodiversity is essential for the productivity of agriculture and forestry systems, the development of pharmaceutical products, the protection of the evolutionary processes, and sustaining a quality environment. Water resources are being contaminated with sediments, pesticides, fertilizers, and salts. Livestock wastes are a public nuisance and pollute waterways. All these problems, from pollution to loss of biodiversity, will continue and intensify as long as the human population and its diverse activities continue to expand in California. As it becomes harder to feed the growing numbers of humans, our quality of life will decline. Our diet will depend less on animal protein and more on grain, legumes, and fruits and vegetables. As food becomes more expensive, Americans will need to spend more of their income on food. Many people propose that technological advances will save us, that we will figure out ways to cope with our increasing population and diminishing resources. Technology has produced many positive benefits but it cannot increase the land area of California or produce fresh water, fertile soil, or fossil fuels. Conserving natural resources is a necessary starting point for preserving our health and quality of life. However, conservation measures will not be sufficient to ensure food for future generations unless population growth is curtailed. The lives and livelihood of future Californians depend on what action present generations are willing to take to reduce population numbers. Otherwise, the harsh realities of nature will impose a drastic solution for us. doclink

Demographic Trends

California Population Growth 1970-2003

US Census Bureau

Date
Population %
Chg
Total
Population
Change
Births Deaths Inter-
national
Immi-
gration
Net
Domestic
Migration
1970 19,971,071 - - - - - -
1971 20,346,000 1.9 374,929 - - - -
1972 20,585,000 1.2 239,000 - - - -
1973 20,868,000 1.4 283,000 - - - -
1974 21,173,000 1.5 305,000 - - - -
1975 21,537,000 1.7 364,000 - - - -
1976 21,934,000 1.8 397,000 - - - -
1977 22,350,000 1.9 416,000 - - - -
1978 22,839,000 2.2 489,000 - - - -
1979 23,255,000 1.8 416,000 - - - -
1980 23,667,764 1.8 412,764 - - - -
1981 24,285,933 2.6 618,169 512,258 232,197 - -
1982 24,820,007 2.2 534,074 425,037 186,508 - -
1983 25,360,023 2.2 540,016 432,694 188,149 - -
1984 25,844,397 1.9 484,374 441,576 191,756 - -
1985 26,441,107 2.3 596,710 459,120 198,657 - -
1986 27,102,238 2.5 661,131 476,374 202,335 - -
1987 27,777,160 2.5 674,922 492,656 206,127 - -
1988 28,464,250 2.5 687,090 518,056 212,306 - -
1989 29,218,165 2.6 753,915 551,023 215,571 - -
1990 29,811,427 2.0 593,262 426,990 161,956 - -
1991 30,470,736 2.2 659,309 762,498 264,153 275,274 -169,650
1992 30,974,659 1.7 503,923 613,922 215,497 258,605 -214,679
1993 31,274,928 1.0 300,269 588,764 216,219 275,299 -388,524
1994 31,484,435 0.7 209,507 580,029 223,794 243,823 -433,991
1995 31,696,582 0.7 212,147 558,891 221,067 216,954 -384,082
1996 32,018,834 1.0 322,252 545,292 225,650 228,609 -255,692
1997 32,486,010 1.5 467,176 531,990 222,870 274,728 -150,831
1998 32,987,675 1.5 501,665 523,712 224,071 258,572 -92,389
1999 33,499,204 1.6 511,529 522,160 225,723 248,490 -80,952
2000 33,871,648 1.1 372,444 - - - -
2001 34,533,054 2.0 661,406 652,856 284,064 361,217 -68,820
2002 35,001,986 1.4 468,932 524,818 234,687 288,563 -113,507
2003 35,484,453 1.4 482,467 523,578 238,007 288,051 A-94,861
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U.S.: New Population Estimates for July 1, 2012 for California and Counties

December 13 , 2012   California Department of Finance

California's Department of Finance has revealed that California's population grew by 256,000, to 37.8 million, at 0.7%, between July 2011 and July 2012. The growth rate was nearly the same as last years.

Natural increase (births minus deaths) remains the primary source of the state's growth. The natural increase was 269,000, resulting from approximately 503,000 births minus 234,000 deaths. Births declined while deaths increased. Net migration reduced the population by less than 14,000. Net migration includes all legal and unauthorized foreign immigrants, residents who left the state to live abroad, and the balance of hundreds of thousands of people moving within the United States both to and from California. About 96,000 net foreign immigrants were added in the last fiscal year. doclink

U.S.: California Lost More People to Other States Than it Gained in 2011

December 12 , 2012   Sacramento Bee

In 2011 California lost about 100,000 people in state-to-state movement, but gained about 250,000 as newcomers from other countries. That plus "natural increase" - births minus deaths - meant that the state still gained population, the Census Bureau report revealed in a new report.

Texas was most popular destination for Californians, followed by Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and New York while most of the immigrants from other states came from Texas, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, and New York.

269,772 persons moved to California from outside the 50 states. doclink

California's Population Takes Aim at 38 Million

January 16, 2012  

California, the most populous state in the U.S., is predicted to reach a population of 38 billion in May, according to On Numbers' latest population estimates.

Texas was next, reaching 26 million on New Years Day, New York is at 19,442,080, Florida 19,221,784 and Illinois 12,906,281. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I couldn't find the On Numbers website.

U.S.: California Has 2 Million Kids in Poverty, Says Census Bureau

November 17, 2011   Sacramento Bee

Over 2 million children live in poverty in California - more than any other state, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. The rate rose from 19.9% to 22% In the U.S., the number of children living in poverty rose from 14.7 million in 2009 to 15.7 million in 2010 with the rate rising from 20% to 21.6%

Mississippi had the highest child poverty rate among the states at 32.5%, with District of Columbia following with 30.4%. Puerto Rico had 56.3%.

Families using food stamps or supplemental nutrition programs rose from 10.3% to 11.9% from from 2009 to 2010. California is below average, going from from 6.2% to 7.4% .

California's huge foreign-born population, some 10.2 million, tends to have a higher-than-average proportion of those who arrived in the state prior to 2005. Other studies have shown that the rate of immigration into California, both legal and illegal, has dropped sharply in recent years due to the state's moribund economy.

86.7% of California's foreign-born came here prior to 2005. States who have experienced recent inflows to satisfy their growing economies and therefore their growing needs for labor, were lower, with North Dakota's 66.9% the lowest.

While California has the nation's largest number of residents over 89 years old, it also has one of the lower percentages of over 89. doclink

US California: Sacramento Region Grows at Double State's Rate, Census Shows...

March 08, 2011   Sacramento Bee

Census figures show that, from 2000 to 2010 in California's population grew 10% to 37.3 million., Latinos grew by 28% to 14 million while Asians grew by 31% to 4.8 million. Non-Hispanic whites decreased by 5% and African-Americans dropped 1%.

The Sacramento region grew by 353,000, or 20%, now with 2.15 million residents. Both its Asian and Hispanic communities increased by 55%. Whites no longer make up the majority of Sacramento County's population.

Placer County grew 40% lagging behind Riverside County. The Placer County town of Lincoln grew by nearly 300%. Citrus Heights and South Lake Tahoe lost residents - a fact that could cost them millions of dollars over the next decade due to redistricting.

Since the Central Valley grew faster than the state, it will likely get more representation in the state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives. doclink

California to See Uptick in Population Growth

May 20, 2010   Sacramento Bee

While, in 2009, California's population growth rate fell to 0.87% per year in 2009, it is projected to rise to 1.26% a year by 2015, giving the state nearly 41 million residents at that time, according to the state Department of Finance's demographic unit.

The projection is based on births, deaths and domestic and foreign in- and out-migration. In 2000 the birth rate exceeded 2%. Even a 1% rate means about 400,000 more Californians every year.

In 2000, the state's population was 34.1 million; today it is at now 38.8 million, according to the state's demographers, while the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 1.5 million fewer. The 2010 census may settle the difference. doclink

Water

Feinstein's Water Bomb; California Senator Takes Aim at Delta Fish Protections

February 12, 2010   High Country News

A legislative amendment would dramatically reduce Endangered Species Act protection for salmon and other fish in California by lifting restrictions on the amount of water that farmers can pump from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta for the next two years.

The rider, proposed by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. could scuttle a delicately negotiated effort to balance protections for endangered fish with the water needs of farms and residents of Southern California.

After three years of drought, the state is head for the third year of an emergency fishing ban to protect dwindling salmon runs, while populations of the Delta smelt and other fish continue to crash.

Feinstein only recently denounced a similar amendment at the behest of California water districts; her reversal may largely be due to lobbying by the Westlands Water District which saw the federal government cut its supply of water from the Delta dwindle to just 10% of the amount it holds contracts for. The district's chief deputy manager said "We're going to pursue every right and legal avenue we have to protect ourselves."

But fish-related restrictions account for only 15 to 20% of the cutbacks; the vast majority of the water shortage is due to the drought. Last week judge Oliver Wanger ordered the Delta pumps to run at maximum capacity, which helped capture the surge of water delivered by a massive winter storm, but only for six days. Feinstein's rider would force federal officials to keep the pumps running at the highest levels currently permitted, allowing water agencies to pump an extra million acre-feet of water out of the Delta during the winter and spring, twice as much water from the Delta as they could were the current fish protections totally eliminated. doclink

Karen Gaia says: With California's bulging population, the state is scrambling to provide enough water during drought years. It is no surprise that wildlife populations will suffer first. But the human population will suffer in the long run, as population continues to grow and exceed carrying capacity.

California Water Allocation Hits Record-Low Level

December 1, 2009   Reuters

For 2010, planned water deliveries to irrigation districts and cities in California will be cut to just 5% of their contracted allotments, said California officials. The State has a water shortage due to drought and environmental restrictions.

The state Water Resources Department typically ends up supplying more water than first projected for an upcoming year, but this 5% initial allocation is the smallest since the agency began delivering water in 1967.

University of California at Davis say that drastic cutbacks in water supplies have idled some 23,000 farm workers and 300,000 acres of cropland in California.

City have raised water rates and imposed rationing.

The state 2009 initial water allocation was 15% of the amount users are entitled to receive under their contracts. That figure was later raised to 40%, under the 68% averaged over the past decade.

Along with the water shortage problems, the chronic budget problems and jobless levels above the national average have raised an alarm up and down a state.

The state Legislature and the Governor have put together a landmark package to conserve water and for new water infrastructure projects.

Much of the water comes from rainfall and snow-melt runoff from the Sierra Nevada mountain range. But the prolonged drought, the worst in state history, has depleted the Sierra snowpack and reservoir levels. Complicating matters are federal restrictions on delta pumping levels in order to protect endangered fish species. doclink

California's Water: a Vanishing Resource; Agencies Adopt Water Diets

October 11, 2009   San Diego Union-Tribune

California is entering its fourth straight year of drought, and water agencies are establishing permanent rules to reduce use even after the rains and snow return.

By January, cities statewide are supposed to have regulations that limit the amount of water used for landscape irrigation in future commercial and residential projects. Developers will have to abide by a water "budget" for each property.

Some water providers also are proceeding with rules to increase the number of individual meters in apartments, where residents typically pay a flat rate for water and don't know how much they use.

The Governor and lawmakers are aiming for legislation that would pay for building reservoirs and restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the main waterway from the north to the south.

Other legislation would force owners of most residential and commercial real estate built before 1994 to bring plumbing up to current requirements for water conservation. This measure could trim use in those homes and buildings by 35%.

In San Diego County, conservation mandates drove down consumption more than 10%.

Gray-water systems and water meters are two popular measures with environmentalists. Attention is also being paid to drought-tolerant plants. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Of course, the more people we have in California, the shorter showers we will have to take. In parts of Ethiopia, there is little or no water for bathing, flies abound, and blindness from flies is a common occurrence. But then we can always fool ourselves by believing that technology will take care of it.

Snow Study Shows California Faces Historic Drought

January 29, 2009  

A survey of California winter snows shows it is facing one of the worst droughts in its history. The state, is in its third year of drought and its main system supplying water to cities and farms may only be able to fulfill 15% of requests. "The snowpack is carrying only 61% of the water of normal years. California is headed toward one of the worst water crises in its history, underscoring the need to upgrade the water infrastructure by increasing water storage, improving conveyance, protecting the ecosystem and promoting greater water conservation". Schwarzenegger said.

The Sierra snowpack alone provides two thirds of California's water supply.

December through January tend to be the wettest months but thus far the Sierra has only received one third of its expected annual snowfall.

This could be a crisis situation, in addition to conservation and rationing it could cause higher prices for produce. Twenty-five local water agencies are mandating rationing. The state Department of Water Resources is arranging water transfers through its Drought Water Bank program and expects to release a full snowpack runoff forecast in two weeks. doclink

Karen Gaia says: California has received much unexpected rain since this survey. Still, with climate change, the problem is likely to come up again next year.

Is Growth Over? California's Continuing Water Crisis May Mean the End of the State as We Have Known It

July 20, 2008   Los Angeles Times

Arnold Schwarzenegger's order certifying that California is in a drought and directing state agencies to think what to do about it is only the latest sign that a way of life built on available water is coming to a close. The continuing water crisis raises the question of whether we are approaching the limits of growth in California.

California's economy and population exploded, fueled in large part by abundant water supplies. Snowmelt which historically has filled the state's major reservoirs has been shrinking steadily. California's rights to Colorado River water have been scaled back. Court orders aimed at protecting endangered fish have slashed water deliveries from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta. Reduced rainfall has made it difficult to replenish groundwater basins.

Now, the situation is that the water agencies are beginning to give the public a taste of what lies ahead.

The largest water agency in the region and the principal supplier to the cities announced a 30% reduction in deliveries to agricultural customers. The agency adopted a plan that could result in similar cutbacks to urban consumers and rate hikes of up to 20%. Such steps alone will probably not make enough of a difference to avert a water-supply crisis. There is a finite amount of water in Southern California, and it has not increased since 1990. Major sectors of the state's economy such as agriculture and real estate development will soon face unimagined restrictions.

Environmental groups contending that many water-use practices violate the state's constitutional mandate that water be put to beneficial use to the maximum possible extent and that waste or unreasonable use be prevented.They object to pumping water from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta to irrigate cotton and alfalfa, as well as lawns. These environmentalists plan to petition to permanently reduce Delta pumping that would affect every aspect of water use.

State laws require water agencies to document sufficient long-term supplies to support large developments. The Eastern Municipal Water District, the largest water agency in Riverside County, recently delayed approval of a huge industrial development because it couldn't guarantee water supplies. The state Supreme Court overturned approval of a major new planned community in the Sacramento area because the project's environmental impact report did not adequately address long-term water supplies.

Don't expect new homes to be built along a new golf course or the shores of a man-made lake. The appliances in the new homes will be low-flow, and the pavement outside permeable to help replenish groundwater. The Legislature is considering a requirement that all urban water agencies reduce their consumption by 20% within 12 years.

Agriculture is also feeling the sting of dwindling water supplies. Agencies throughout the state are pressing farmers to cut their water consumption by not growing water-intensive crops, investing in more efficient irrigation systems and even taking land out of agricultural use altogether.

Yet it is unrealistic to expect that California's population will stop growing. The current shortage of water is largely the product of global warming. The easiest way to increase water supplies is conservation.

California is approaching the limits of growth. Those areas with limited local water supplies already are off-limits for development, and big users of water, such as agriculture, are cutting back. doclink

Ralph says: Natures resources are limited and it is time we limited the number of people using them.

US California: More Mouths to Feed Means Less Land to Feed Them On

Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS)

Agricultural experts have warned that California's most productive farmland is threatened by the state's population growth. Warnings have not slowed the pace at which the nation's most productive soils are being eaten up by development. Even as the population in California soars beyond 40 million, the land and water resources needed to feed the growing populations that depend on California's agricultural exports are shrinking.

The state's farmlands are shrinking precisely because the millions added to our population every decade are competing with farmers for water and land that is best at producing food. As population increases the ability to feed that population decreases. Flat lands with access to fresh water attract both agriculture and urbanization.

California has long been America's leading agricultural state. Fertile soils, the availability of irrigation water, and a moderate, climate allow for year-round cropping. California cultivates more than 350 crops on less than 4% of the nation's agricultural acreage. The cash value of crops grown in the great Central Valley is unrivalled by any other comparably-sized area on earth. Unfortunately, around the world, the urbanization of these irreplaceable lands is accelerating.

Between 1990 and 2004, land was being developed at nearly twice the historic rate. Rapid population growth is driving this trend. More than 60% of the 538,000 acres developed in California was agricultural land. Nearly half of all farmland lost was high quality, classified as prime farmland.

If the state's population projections come to pass, and if current trends in development efficiency continue, an additional 2.1 million acres would be urbanized. Reducing the rate of land conversion by increasing density will merely slow but not stop the inexorable attrition of California's farmland. These are the lands that with the proper stewardship could produce food virtually in perpetuity.

Food prices are mounting globally as a number of factors converge, including the addition of 70-80 million more mouths to feed every year. If California is to be part of the solution, unsustainable population growth must be checked. Since virtually all present and projected growth is from immigration and higher average immigrant fertility, these must be reduced.

If we don't, then one day California will struggle just to feed its own citizens. doclink

US California;: Dams and Levees Heighten Flood Danger in a Warming World

July 29, 2007   San Francisco Chronicle

Floods are the most destructive, natural disasters. Flood damages have soared for a variety of reasons: global warming; we've deforested and paved over watersheds; and more people are living and working on floodplains. But a key factor is the flood-control measures supposed to protect us. Flood damages soar when engineering projects reduce the capacity of river channels, block natural drainage, increase the speed of floodwaters and cause the subsidence of deltas and coastal erosion. Flood control based on dams and levees can ruin rivers and estuaries.

Dams and levees fail, and do so spectacularly and sometimes catastrophically. Worse, they provide a false sense of security that encourages risky development. When New Orleans was devastated the primary cause was not Hurricane Katrina, but the failure of the city's poorly conceived and maintained flood defenses. A warming climate threatens New Orleans with increasingly intense hurricanes and a rising sea level. Sacramento is witnessing high floods washing down from the Sierra.

Fortunately there is the "soft path" of flood-risk management.

This assumes all anti-flood infrastructure can fail and must be planned for. We need to recognize that floods will happen and learn to live with them as best we can. This means reducing the speed, size and duration of floods by restoring river and wetlands, and by improving drainage. It means improved warning and evacuation measures. It means developing plans to help communities recover from flood disasters and discouraging development in areas that will inevitably flood.

Houses can be raised on stilts. By removing levees that protect low-value land, we can free up funds to maintain essential levees protecting urbanized areas.

A sensible flood bill was killed in the California Assembly and would have required local governments to share liability with the state for damages caused by levee failure. A 10-year, $220 million project to reduce floods on the Napa River will restore tidal marshlands, remove some buildings in the flood zone and set back levees to give the river room to spread. u There remain powerful interests devoted to outmoded flood control. The "soft path" of flood management should be a core part of efforts to adapt to a changing climate. doclink

Energy

California is No Longer Leading the Pack on Wind Energy

June 28, 2007   Grist Magazine

Texas is the state with the most wind-power generating capacity.

California's wind capacity grew at a slower rate than any of the other top 10 wind-producing states. Texas's grew at 39%, California, 10%. California's early pioneering is part of its trouble. Regulations make it hard for developments to get off the ground. California is probably the most difficult state in the country to build in. Texas provides property-tax exemptions to people with windmills on their land, California does not.

California developers have been cowed by lawsuits over bird deaths. The wind industry is supposed to cut the number of raptor deaths in half by the end of 2009. Development at Altamont remains frozen because of bird issues, though a few hundred megawatts have gone up in nearby Solano County.

The wind industry says that technology has improved: turbines which rotate more slowly while generating more energy. The California Energy Commission is soon to come out with voluntary guidelines for reducing impacts on birds and bats. Turbines are commonly a few hundred feet high, raising concerns about radar interference. In Kern County, parts of the area were "out of play" for a few years, because the military effectively barred anything above 200 feet. But the real bottleneck may be lack of transmission capacity. Since 1986 there has been no additional transmission capacity in Tehachapi, with the exception of a private transmission line built some 15 years ago. California is certainly at the forefront of pushing renewable energy; 20% of California's retail electricity is supposed to come from renewables by 2010.

Transmission shortages will ease, wind advocates hope. A project to build more than 4,000 MW of additional transmission capacity is in the works. But the approval process is still under way. 15,000 MW of new wind projects are currently planned in California. doclink

California Leads in Energy Efficiency

June 01, 2007   Tri-Valley Herald

In the past 30 years, Californians have kept their electricity consumption about the same.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked California at the top of a state-by-state report on energy efficiency, sharing first with Vermont and Connecticut.

An energy-efficiency map of the nation looks like a map of the blue states that lean left politically.

After those 10, the energy-efficiency council found, efficiency drops off with little effort to save energy in the 26 bottom-ranked states where energy has been inexpensive. Skeptics on the benefits of energy efficiency say California and other efficient states tend to have higher energy costs. But they also tend to have lower bills and greater economic growth.

It does say that you can have energy efficiency and a strong economy. States were ranked across eight criteria: spending on rate-payer funded efficiency programs, use of tax incentives, efficient appliance and building standards and their willingness to lead by example. California rated highly in almost all categories, though less than perfect for its lack of a tax credit for hybrids and land-use controls to curb sprawl.

You can only push air conditioning and refrigerator efficiencies so far, but we're still far away from that threshold. There always are promising new technologies coming along.

Energy efficiency is an easy case in California. It keeps money in the state that otherwise might be spent on out of state transmission lines and power plants. The state will spend $10 billion on energy efficiency while saving the need for 10 new power plants at roughly $20 billion.

Water is an untapped area of energy savings that, accounts for roughly a tenth of the state's electricity use.

The commission is charting next generation energy savings, by promoting "net-zero energy" buildings that use solar cells and other technologies to pull little or no energy off the grid.

We don't have the luxury of much time. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I live in California. We are not going to be energy efficient until we reverse our terrible sprawl and start sharing housing (many of us are one to a house). This article also overlooks the big drought coming. You cannot produce electricity and provide flood protection and save water for crops all at the same time. They are mutually exclusive.

Studies Support Emissions Plans; Two Independent Analyses Say An Effort, Opposed by Business, to Cut Greenhouse Gases Could Be Beneficial for California's Economy

February 08, 2006   Los Angeles Times

California's plan to cut emissions could create new jobs and boost the economy, according to two analyses. The reports agree with a draft version of a state plan released earlier this month and reject concerns that curbing the gases would hurt the economy. A Berkeley report found that the cost savings on fuel and gas would translate into more money for consumers and more jobs. Investment in technology to reduce greenhouse gases could pay off in the way that investment in computer technology has paid off for Silicon Valley. The state could meet its 2010 emissions reduction goals at no cost to consumers and would save money if the 2020 goals were met. The study described a number of cost-effective ways to cut emissions, capturing methane and using it to generate energy, switching freight transport from diesel trucks to rail. Gov. Schwarzenegger directed a "Climate Action Team" made up of representatives from various state agencies to devise a plan to cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. California is one of the 10 largest economies in the world and the 12th-largest producer of greenhouse gases. The state's 2050 targets are among the most stringent in the world. The state's efforts have also attracted attention on a national level. If greenhouse gas emissions are not cut, global warming is expected to raise temperatures between 8 and 10.4 degrees in California and diminish the Sierra snowpack by 90% in the next century. Warming could also raise the sea level between 4 and 33 inches. Such effects could threateng agricultural production, increase the risk of forest fires and utility costs for cooling. The climate team is planning to submit a final report to the governor in mid-February. Allan Zaremberg is president of the California Chamber of Commerce and a member of a new coalition formed to ensure that climate regulations do not harm business. Two new analyses agree with the state draft report in suggesting that many industry fears are unfounded. The state draft analysis suggests that California would gain 83,000 jobs and $4 billion in income if changes to curb greenhouse emissions were made. Savings to consumers would generate more demand for goods that would create additional jobs. One group concluded that voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gases would be insufficient and the changes would require new regulations and a "cap and trade" program in which the government would set a cap on emissions and businesses could trade emissions credits and payments to meet the cap. doclink

US California: Governor Backs Off Solar Energy Plan

September 11, 2005   Sacramento Bee

Arnold Schwarzenegger is prepared to veto his solar roofs proposal. The standoff between the governor and legislative Democrats has left proponents afraid the solar plan will fall victim to politics. Senate Bill 1 lost its bipartisan support when union amendments were added that would drive up the costs of solar installations. The governor considers the bill unacceptable in its current form. It could provide $2 billion toward solar-panel installations in California. Schwarzenegger had made the bill a cornerstone of his legislative package to appeal to environmentalists. Assembly Democrats added amendments to Schwarzenegger's plan that would require workers to receive a union-based wage on commercial and industrial solar installations and requires future installers to have an electrician's license. Republicans contend that the change will drive up costs as much as 30% and makes solar uneconomical. But Democrats defend the change as minor because they say most workers already receive a "prevailing wage." Labor unions sought to extend the prevailing wage requirement to new residential construction, but Democrats applied it only to commercial and industrial projects. Some suggest Assembly Democrats are trying to force the governor's hand by sticking new labor requirements into his priority. Schwarzenegger has assailed unions as special interests. His spokeswoman, sounded a similar note: "Unfortunately, special interests were put in front of the people's interests," she said. doclink

Adding solar in sunny areas like California will help ease the demand on oil and make us less energy dependent on other countries.

US California: Judge Bars New Coastal Oil Drilling

August 13, 2005   Sacramento Bee

A federal judge blocked new oil drilling off the California coast until they conduct a study of the environmental risks. The government wants to extend leases on 36 offshore tracts between Oxnard and San Luis Obispo to turn them into working oil fields. State officials and environmental groups have been fighting the plan. Lawyers representing 10 environmental groups declared the ruling a major victory. Even if the federal government appeals, no ruling would be likely until late next year. The stretch of coastline includes 36 tracts off Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties that were leased to oil companies but never developed and were set to expire more than 15 years ago. The leases sit atop an estimated 512 million barrels of oil and have been the focus of legal battles from the time they were issued. The companies that own the leases have filed their lawsuit against the government, demanding they either allow them to drill or buy back the leases, purchased for $1.25 billion. In a similar situation off Florida, the Bush administration spent $235 million to buy back leases. A federal law provides states the right to make sure federal actions do not run afoul of coastal protection laws. Wilken's decision, which ordered a federal environmental analysis, was challenged by the administration and upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Minerals Management Service released its environmental analysis, concluding that extending the leases would cause no significant impact to the environment. It did not examine risks associated with exploratory drilling, building platforms and pumping oil. At the hearing, Wilken ruled that the analysis should include an assessment of any impacts related to future oil exploration and production. California has oil production on 43 offshore tracts in federal waters at least three miles from shore. A number will be decommissioned as their undersea oil fields are played out. doclink

US California: Senate OKs Legislation Requiring Solar Power in Some New Homes

May 21, 2004   San Diego Union-Tribune

Some new California homes would have solar energy systems under a bill approved by the state Senate. The legislation would require a percentage of single-family homes in developments of 25 or more to be equipped with solar panels generating at least two kilowatts. The percentage of homes would increase each year until 2010. Two kilowatts take care of about half of a family's needs, the grid providing the rest. Supporters said this would reduce dependence on fossil fuels and ease air pollution. Some contended the solar systems would add $20,000 to the price of a new house and would make them tougher to sell. Solar panels would cost about $11,000, others said, and become less expensive. There would be a cost benefit to homeowners. A lot of things increase building costs but can be recouped over time. doclink

Tidal Wave of the Future

May 08, 2003   MSNBC.com

San Francisco is the first U.S. city to investigate commercial tidal power, with a $2 million pilot project. Every day, 400 billion gallons of water rush through the mouth of San Francisco Bay, more than enough to power the city. The pilot project will generate one megawatt when water flowing through underwater concrete passageways creates suction, pulling air from pipes connected to onshore turbines. The lack of moving underwater parts means the project would be easy to maintain and have limited impact on marine life. doclink

Housing, Infrastructure

US California: Slumburbia

February 10, 2010   New York Times*

By TIMOTHY EGAN

In Lathrop, Manteca and Tracy, California, among some of the world's most productive farmland, you can find streets of foreclosed home, looking like a 21st century ghost town, with rock-bottom discounts on empty starter mansions.

Here population nearly doubled in 10 years, and home prices tripled and urban planning circles hailed the boom as the new America at the far exurban fringe. But others saw it as the residential embodiment of the Edward Abbey line that "growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."

Now median home prices have fallen from $500,000 to $150,000, one in eight houses are in some stage of foreclosure and the crime rate has spiked well above the national average, and unemployment hovers around 1%.

Nationwide, foreclosure increase 119% from two years ago. Owners of 1 in 10 mortgages owe more than their houses are worth, and many just walk away. Without vested owners, vandalism runs rampant and the place becomes a slum. Only 11% of the people in this valley could afford the median home price.

Through immigration and high birth rates, the United States is expected to add another 100 million people by 2050. We've already added 105 million people since 1970; we have a net gain of one person every 13 seconds.

This housing boom was spurred by the state's broken tax system where cities were hampered by by property tax limitations and increased revenue by the easiest route: expanding urban boundaries. Developers plowed up walnut groves and vineyards to pay for services demanded by new school parents and park users.

A lesson can be learned from cities like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and San Diego, which have stable and recovering home markets, have fairly strict development codes, trying to hem in their excess sprawl. Developers said these cities would eventually price the middle class out, and start to empty, but this hasn't happened. Instead, the free-for-all cities like Las Vegas, the Phoenix metro area, South Florida, this valley - are the most troubled, the suburban slums. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Population growth feeds these 'booms'. Build it and they will come, say the developers, confident that growth is always the answer. They have no idea about carrying capacity. And most people still do not realize that economic hard times are related to carrying capacity.

US California: Sales of New Homes Plummet

November 17, 2005   Sacramento Bee

Sales of new homes in the Sacramento region dropped 40% over the past three months, the sharpest decline the group has seen for the August-October period since 1989-1990. Several factors are contributing to the decline: a slower resale market, more canceled sales, higher mortgage rates and the lack of the region's growing condo market in the sales figures. The decline doesn't necessarily mean the region has entered a downturn, but - if in another three months sales are still off 40% - this may occur. The 1,388 new homes sold during the past three months marks the lowest total for August-October since 2001. Cancellations of pending sales have spiked in recent months because more buyers either got cold feet, couldn't qualify for a loan or couldn't sell another property fast enough. Some builders insist they're enforcing the anti-speculator clause in their contracts and cancel deals if they learn a buyer is not a primary resident. One of the drivers of cancellations is people not being able to sell the home they have for the price they expected. Condos are a growing share of all new homes in the Sacramento region, representing about 17% of sales in the third quarter. The problem is that most condo sales are not reported to the BIA. But there is a cool-down in the new home market. Some economists and housing analysts say prices soared too high, too fast. Last week, fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 6.36% the highest in two years. Marginally qualified borrowers find it more difficult to use the most aggressive, riskiest forms of financing. In contrast to the market of the past few years, many Sacramento-area builders are forced to offer incentives worth tens of thousands of dollars to attract buyers. Builders have been using these incentives, such as $50,000 toward upgrades on higher-end homes, in lieu of lowering prices. The BIA also reports a 22% decline in the number of home shoppers visiting the subdivisions compared with the same period last year. doclink

Population is not the only factor that drives up housing prices and the building of more and more houses. While demand has been high, higher still has been the availability of inexpensive loans and inflation - all driven by an attempt to growth the economy. Other reports suggest that there is now a shortage of building materials. Too bad builders and planners fail to pay attention to the shortage of water or shortage of money for the necessary increase in infrastructure.

US California: Air in Portable Classrooms More Toxic

June 25, 2003   Associated Press

The California Department of Health Services reported Monday after sampling a thousand portable classrooms, that half exceeded guidelines for eight-hour indoor exposure to formaldehyde, and one-hour exposure levels were 10 times as likely to exceed guidelines as with permanent classrooms. Similar levels are often found in homes and offices. A percentage of classrooms have formaldehyde levels that may cause short-term irritant effects, and nearly all have levels that may cause long-term irritation and contribute to cancer. Portables have materials known to emit formaldehyde, including pressed-wood furniture, tackable wallboard and carpets. In 2000 pre-fabricated classroom manufacturers switched to a less toxic form of formaldehyde and improved ventilation. But problems remain in all but the most recently installed portables in California. The state recommends redesigning new classrooms and retiring old ones. Part of the problem stemmed from shutting off conditioning and ventilation system and lack of proper maintenance. Nearly a third of the state's classrooms are portables as schools struggle with growing enrollments and shrinking budgets. State standards are needed for construction and ventilation. doclink

US California: New Homes to Transform the Tranquil Martis Valley

June 07, 2003   Sacramento Bee

Developers have projects for 3,200 upscale homes in the scenic mountain valley between Truckee and Lake Tahoe, a 60% increase in number of residences. Placer County is to approve a plan that would allow up to 6,000 housing units. Anglers fear trout fishing will be jeopardized and Truckee will be choked by traffic. The county's General Plan in 1975 allowed 12,000 dwelling units, the update only 8,600. New residences will be hidden in the woods beyond the meadow. The new Plan, with its environmental impact report, is a blueprint for the next two decades. There is tremendous opposition. Environmentalists, who worry that development here may become a model for the rest of the Sierra, call Martis Valley "a poster child for sprawl." Placer County's review says development would add 2,000 car trips daily and add air pollutants to the Tahoe basin. There are plans to challenge the development in court for its effects on Lake Tahoe, failing to consider a lower-density alternative and underestimating the traffic generated. It is proposed that fewer units and higher fees for development could provide money to preserve natural habitat. There are plans for 18 to 20 golf courses within 30 minutes of the Martis Valley. Northstar-at-Tahoe resort plans to build 1,800 condominiums on what was originally rangeland. This development is aimed at selling expensive, elite vacation homes and a golf course was built to sell 60 houses. The Martis Plan has been under discussion for over three years, there were public meetings, but people didn't show up till the end. This new plan is better than the 1975 plan. There are two main issues the town of Truckee faces, affordable housing and traffic, although the constituents approve of the jobs and commerce new construction will bring. doclink

California: Human Dynamic Swamps State's Building Blocks

March 01, 2001   Los Angeles Times


Infrastructure has not kept pace with population growth in California. New
road capacity, water supplies, housing stock and, now, even electricity has been
exceeded by the demand. A quarter of the population of California was not
born in the US. In previous years, the impacts of rapid overall population
growth were moderated by the poverty of many new immigrants. Newly arrived,
and poor, their average demands on the state's infrastructure were
relatively low. If those coming into California had been native-born
migrants from Texas and Michigan instead of immigrants from Mexico and
Korea, California's infrastructure demands would have surged much sooner,
placing the state in worse jeopardy than it is today. Those immigrants who
had lived in the U.S. for less than a decade increased from 3.4% to 11.1% of
the state's total population from 1970 to 1990. As of 1990, the average per
capita electricity consumption by newcomers was 53% below consumption of the
native-born population; water consumption was 27% lower; number of cars
owned was 39% lower; and the proportion of homeowners was 72% lower. Now the
inflow of new immigrants has leveled off, ending three decades of
acceleration. Now those same immigrants comprise a bigger portion of the
population, and they are more established, their poverty rate has dropped,
which translates into large and previously unexpected increases in demand
for roadways, housing, water, electricity and other infrastructure. When the
lights go out, they go out for everyone, regardless of where they were born
or how long they have lived in the state doclink

California's Sprawl Inching Into Central Coast

2000   MSNBC.com

The rolling hills of the central coast used to be the stuff of California dreams. Now, outlet malls and housing tracts grace some of America's most beautiful coast and valleys. Sunny California is beginning to feel more like an urban nightmare for some residents clinging to rural memories of just a generation ago.

Projections show California's population will swell to about 59 million by 2040 from about 34 million today. Ted Gibson, chief economist of the California Department o Finance, estimates up to 225,000 new housing units are needed statewide each year to keep up. "The voters approving these antigrowth measures are the ones who are already there. They don't want high density. But each little community trying to set a growth boundary is ridiculous." doclink

Rapid Population Growth in California: A Threat to Land and Food Production

1999   Pimental

By David Pimental

California ranks first in agricultural production in the U.S. At present, about 8% of the 100 million acres in California -- 8 million acres -- are devoted to crops. Yet each year about 122,000 acres -- 1.5% -- are lost from production when swallowed by urban and industrial spread. As the population grows, more and more people need a place to live and work, placing increasing demands on limited land areas. In general, each person added to the population requires approximately 1 acre of land for urbanization and highways. When the California population doubles to 64 million, will there be enough land?

A significant portion of California's current 8 million acres of agricultural land are lost each year to erosion. Finally, salinization and/or waterlogging of soil from irrigation can further diminish the productivity of the land. And when crop production is curtailed, food prices will increase and the economic health of the state will suffer. doclink

Transportation

US California;: Population Increases Drive State

December 30, 2007   Sacramento Bee

The state's demographers released an update on California's population, calculating that as of July it had increased by 438,000 during the previous year, to a total of just under 38 million. The Census Bureau estimated California's population at over a million fewer than the state. The Census Bureau believes that California has lost more population to other states. The new data are a reminder that California is an ever-expanding and ever-changing society.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislators are proud for enacting nearly $40 billion in public works bonds in 2006, but it was only a start on an infrastructure several times that large and, with population growth, will continue to grow.

Those 438,000 additional Californians will need at least 150,000 housing units. Deciding where and how they will be housed is a major issue for state and local governments.

Those additional Californians will mean a quarter-million additional cars and trucks on a road system that is already severely stressed. And they'll need water, underscoring the long-standing political impasse over water development.

The single factor in California's population growth is a high rate of births. Baby production declined in the 1990s, thanks largely to a recession that propelled more than a million Californians to leave the state but has picked in this decade. And that means that a new wave of youngsters will hit the classroom.

While the state is a net loser in state-to-state migration, immigration from other countries remains about 200,000 a year in the most recent estimates, and over half of the state's 500,000-plus babies are born to immigrant mothers.

The state's white population is declining, and already is well below 50%, while Latino and Asian American communities expand, driven by high immigration and/or birth rates.

The vast majority of voters are white, middle-aged homeowners, and a constant political theme is the gap between the priorities of voters and those of the much more diverse population of nonvoters. Immigration is the most important issue to California voters, and we have seen sharp political clashes over it and such issues as affirmative action and bilingual education.

Growth and cultural change, when coupled with economic evolution, drive the state's budget crisis and the angst over extending health insurance to millions of working poor families. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Nothing is said in this article about the impacts of population on the environment and sustainability of California. It is more wrapped up in the ethnic composition of the population. This is the sort of article that makes people turn off at the mention of population.

Flunks Traffic Test

January 22, 2006   California Association of Governments

Southern California residents are experiencing increased delays in traffic and a decline in their quality of life. For the first time, traffic mobility in Southern California earned a flunking grade. Travelers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are spending about 55 hours a year stuck in traffic. Commuters in Los Angeles and Orange counties topped the nation's urban areas with an average delay of 93 hours during peak periods. Congestion on the region's roads and highways costs about $12 billion annually. Traffic mobility earned a failing grade because of planning inadequately for population growth and new-home construction. Regional leaders took advantage of the failing grade to pitch support for Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposed multibillion-dollar state infrastructure bond. The regional planning council is made up of six counties that collectively have 187 cities and a population of 18 million. Southern California has the highest housing-cost burdens for owners and renters and the highest poverty rates in the country. doclink

Southern California: 101 'Nightmare' Plan

November 13, 2003   Los Angeles Daily News

The Southern California Regional Transportation Plan proposes $120 billion and major changes along the 101 corridor. The six-county region Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Imperial will lose $37 billion in federal dollars if it fails to meet air-quality goals. Six million more people will live in the region by 2030, and smog levels are on the rise. New recommendations push land-use changes that consolidate homes and transportation in traffic corridors. In the San Fernando Valley, the plan revives the 101 expansion, which widens the freeway and calls for denser land use that would allow residents to live with fewer car trips. Some residents have opposed the plan. For the expected 20% population increase it is anticipated that families will move farther away and populations will double in Palmdale and Lancaster, and Santa Clarita will grow 60%, with lower-income households creating a demand for urban-living settings. Cities need to develop public-transit systems to give residents alternatives to a single-family home in the suburbs. Only 1 to 2% of the land is going to be affected, but the plan supports placing a bill that allows an additional half-cent sales tax before voters. It calls for increasing the tax on gasoline, charging tolls on some roads and going into debt for new transportation projects. In San Bernardino County, they are considering a fee on builders to help pay for freeway improvements. As the residents waste more time in traffic, support for the project will grow. doclink

Pollution, Waste

Governor Kills Port Smog-fighting Bill, Signs Into Law Sprawl and Water Supply Measures

October 01, 2008   Los Angeles Times

A multibillion-dollar proposal to curb air pollution near California's ports was rejected by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he approved $842 million to boost the water supply and bolster endangered levees.

He won some praise for signing legislation to control the state's global-warming emissions by discouraging sprawl. The number of miles Californians drive has been growing as suburbs have spread farther into the countryside. Under the new law, projects built in denser communities will get priority in the distribution of $12 to $20 billion a year in transportation funds. This involved a compromise with building interests. They were exempted in many cases from strict environmental reviews. The port fee legislation the governor vetoed would have imposed a fee on cargo containers to pay for programs to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.

The measure would have allowed the collection of $60 for each 40-foot container that moved through the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach or Oakland. The $400 million raised annually would have gone into reducing traffic congestion and cleaner-burning engines.

Nearly $900 million will soon flow to water projects all over California. Schwarzenegger said it will not solve long-term water supply problems. doclink

US California: Ammonia From Sacramento Waste Could Hurt Delta Ecosystem

June 01, 2008   Sacramento Bee

Sacramento's regional sewage treatment plant discharges treated wastewater from nearly 1.4 million people into the Sacramento River without removing ammonia.

Two recent studies show that ammonia disrupts the food chain in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The discovery, if it holds up to further scientific review, illustrates how fixing the Delta will be a costly task. The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District estimates it needs as much as $1 billion to remove ammonia from the metro area's wastewater. It seems to interrupt a natural food production line that would otherwise yield abundant blooms of tiny aquatic animals to feed salmon, smelt and bass, but those species have been in steady decline.

The ammonia threat was illustrated when dozens of chinook salmon showed up dead in the San Joaquin River near Stockton's sewage outfall. Sacramento's effluent problem is slightly different, the threat is the enormous volume of ammonia-laced wastewater. The plant near Freeport each day releases about 146 million gallons of treated wastewater into the Sacramento River. The Sacramento River is traditionally considered the Delta's lifeblood, because it provides the vast majority of fresh water entering the estuary.

But Sacramento has been growing like gangbusters, and so the water's perhaps not quite clean as we thought.

The ammonia load in Sacramento's wastewater has more than doubled since 1985 due to rapid urbanization and the regional sewer agency is planning a major expansion that includes no ammonia controls.

Sewage officials estimate upgrading to filter out ammonia would cost $740 million. To remove excessive nitrates produced as a byproduct of that treatment would raise the cost to $1 billion.

District engineers estimate these steps would boost sewage rates in the region from $19.75 per month to $62.17.

Growth in Sacramento's ammonia output has coincided with a decline in diatoms, an important phytoplankton at the base of the food chain.

The volume of human wastewater may be starving Delta fish by shutting down food production.

Young fish eat small animals called zooplankton that in turn, feed on diatoms and other phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton require nutrients and enough sunlight to bloom in sufficient numbers. Nitrates are the favored nutrient. Ammonia is another.

Phytoplankton can't feed on nitrates when there is too much ammonia in the water. A toxic type of algae, has begun to replace more nutritious phytoplankton. So ammonia may also encourage the rise of harmful foods.

New studies are under way to confirm whether Sacramento's sewage is the true cause.

"If it's part of the problem, the river just could never handle that amount and reduce it. Sacramento's regional sewage plant uses a so-called "secondary" treatment process that has become outdated. Most other urban areas have upgraded to "tertiary" systems that add rigorous filtration steps.

Sacramento has been able to avoid this expense so far, Snyder said, because its wastewater is quickly diluted to legally acceptable levels by the strong flow of the Sacramento River.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled against the district on a number of points filed by many of the water agencies that divert drinking water from the Delta to serve more than 20 million people throughout California.

The court ruled that the Sacramento district "ignored a significant component of the environment" by failing to fully assess the additional nutrients pumped into the Delta in the region's wastewater.

The ammonia threat can be fixed if further research confirms it to be a danger.

But there is no fix for the predicted sea level rise that could overwhelm Delta levees, nor any practical way to remove foreign species invading the estuary. doclink

Karen Gaia says: how can people be so short-sighted! Duh! If you add more people, you have more impacts of varying sorts. Better to stabilize population by preventing unintended pregnancies in the first place. You can't put people back once they are born (or conceived according to some religions).

U.S.;: New Tactic Against Rapid Growth

July 03, 2007   Davickservices.com News for Public Officials

The California Attorney General brought a lawsuit against San Bernardino County accusing the county of not considering the impact of rapid growth on global warming. This came only days after the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society filed lawsuits over the same issues.

The County's plan projects more homes and traffic as the county's population, now 1.7 million, climbs to 2.6 million by 2030. Both the state and environmental groups say they want to see the county look at how its growth policies will affect global warming. We think the county can take some very reasonable, steps to deal with that issue.

County planners said they were a victim of timing, approving their general plan update only months after the state adopted a law aimed at reducing greenhouse gases by 25% by 2020.

The County Board of Supervisors has responded by boosted the amount of money it is spending on legal fees defending the plan to $325,000. Many counties experiencing fast growth but failing to plan for the increase in emissions.

Counties need to do more to reduce the environmental impact of burgeoning communities. The largest county San Bernardino encompasses more acreage than the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island combined!

County planners said that the plan includes policies to help counter the effects of growth, but the state provides no standards for measuring or reducing greenhouse gases. doclink

US California;: State Acts to Limit Use of Coal Power

May 23, 2007   Los Angeles Times

The California Energy Commission forbid municipal utilities in the state from signing new contracts with coal-fired power plants.

The move is a step toward reducing the contribution of California to global warming.

California, with the strictest pollution laws in the nation, has largely phased out coal-fired generators. But the state still buys 20% of its electricity from coal-fueled power plants in other states.

The DWP buys 47% of its power from two coal-fired plants in Utah and Arizona that are major sources of greenhouse gases. Those contracts expire in 2017 and 2027. and they cannot be renewed unless those plants find a way to pump their emissions underground.

Nor can cities that own their utilities forge new contracts with coal-fired generators, or gas-fired plants that lack pollution controls.

The DWB board has hiked the agency's renewable energy supply from wind farms and other sources from 3% to 8%. The state's action will help increase the amount of renewable power to 35% of the city's energy portfolio by 2020. The city expects only a moderate increase in electricity rates, about 1.4% over the next five years.

Environmental groups hailed the restrictions on power purchasing and is a first step in carrying out the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires the state to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. It will prevent utilities from locking in long-term contracts for dirty power. The maximum emissions for municipal and private utilities are 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity.

California's rules may not prevent the construction of coal-fired plants that are in the planning stages. But they would have to lower their emissions to sell power to California.

The energy industry is pinning its hopes on a technology that would pipe gases into underground repositories. But the feasibility of this technology have not been determined.

If other states adopt California's approach, it will make renewable energy more competitive with cheap coal. But the DWP has a long way to go. Los Angeles gets the bulk of its electricity from coal. Its solar program remains underfunded, understaffed and poorly designed. But the potential is there. doclink

US California;: Dire Health Effects of Pollution Reported

December 05, 2006   Los Angeles Times

An environmental group concluded that 1,100 premature deaths and half a million absences in 2005 were caused by people breathing emissions from older diesel equipment at an estimated public health cost of $9.1 billion.

The report urged state regulators to quickly require owners to retrofit or replace older equipment.

The Los Angeles basin fared the worst with 731 estimated premature deaths, in the city and suburban areas such where there has been construction to accommodate growing populations.

Parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and the San Joaquin and northern Sacramento valleys also experienced high health costs from construction equipment. A second study, found an elevated risk of heart attacks for people with clogged arteries after a day or two exposure to diesel soot.

One coauthor said the results should prompt heart doctors to advise those with coronary disease to stay indoors on sooty days, or change jobs or move.

The particulate matter from diesel engines lodges deep in human lungs. Clouds of soot can drift into heavily populated areas.

An estimated 70% of California's construction equipment is not covered by federal and state regulations because it is too old. Federal rules require cleaner-emitting new equipment, but don't cover existing engines. A draft of new regulations for older engines would require all industrial off-road equipment to be replaced or retrofitted between 2009 and 2020. Estimated compliance costs could $3 billion over 11 years but the $60 billion-a-year construction industry is capable of absorbing the costs.

The Associated General Contractors, which represents construction equipment owners could not comment on specifics. But he said the industry is dedicated to cleaning up. It would be a costly and lengthy process. A second study found that for every additional 10 micrograms of soot in a cubic meter of air, there was a 4.5% increase in heart attacks.

In areas which can experience wide swings in air quality based on weather patterns, the risk of heart attack can be 10 times higher than normal on a bad air day. doclink

Karen Gaia says: another case where the existing population, including recent immigrants, are threatened by the influx of more and more people. Our energy costs are bound to go up because of the increased demand, so pollution controls may have to be sacrificed.

US California;: Schwarzenegger OKs Chemical Exposure Research

October 03, 2006   Tri-Valley Herald

California will become the first U.S. state to try to measure how its residents are absorbing chemicals from common products. State health officers will use blood, urine, tissue, hair and breast milk samples collected voluntarily to gauge levels of exposure.

There are thousands of chemicals being used in our products in the US. It's important to know how those chemicals are building up in our bodies or how they may be affecting our health. doclink

Karen Gaia says: has life become so difficult that we think we need all these chemicals?

US California: New Law Aimed at Protecting Ocean From Fish-Farming Risks

May 27, 2006   San Jose Mercury News

Gov.Schwarzenegger signed new rules giving California the toughest ocean fish-farming regulations in the United States.

The measure is designed to reduce the risk of pollution and harm to marine wildlife from floating pens of tuna, halibut or other species that could result if the aquaculture industry expands to the California coast.

This legislation will lay the groundwork for a new California aquaculture industry while providing an abundance of healthy food and more jobs.

It passed along party lines, with Democrats voting for it and nearly all Republicans voting against.

The law requires the Fish and Game Commission to identify which coastal locations are best suited for fish farming and requires fish-farming companies to reduce pollution and chemicals, tag all farmed fish, minimize the risk of fish escaping and return each site to its original condition after the operation is finished.

California's aquaculture industry brings in $83 million a year. It is made up of freshwater fish grown in tanks in So. California, and also shellfish. No fish are now farmed off the California coast, just abalone, oysters and mussels. In 2003, the state banned farming of salmon and non-native fish in all coastal waters, but in the past 20 years, fish-farming has increased fourfold worldwide. Last year, the Bush administration launched an effort to expand the U.S. industry to $5 billion a year by 2025. doclink

Forests, Deserts, Wetlands

California Wildlands at Risk

CAPS

The Tioga Pass into the Sierra Nevada Range, the vast Sonoran Desert, the San Francisco Bay/ Delta and all of the Pacific Coast beach areas are at severe risk, according to a recent publication by the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC).

While the report is primarily about risks caused by potential climate change, it states that the direct cause of damage and threat in the desert is due to unsustainable water use from explosive population growth; in the Sierra, population growth, recreation and changing land use, and in the Bay/ Delta, unrealistic human demands on water.

UCLA geography professor Hartmut Walter said, "Land coverage change, and the rapid increase in people who need places to live and things to eat, drastically changes the ecosystems rapidly." ... "Climate change is a fact, but I believe right now in the near future the threat to California's ecosystems comes from changing land use practices and development."

Conservation International said, "Human population pressures have rendered California one of the four most ecologically degraded states in the country, with all or part of the nation's eight most threatened ecosystems represented." They estimate that only 25% of the original vegetation of the region remains in more or less pristine condition.

The population of the city of Indio in Riverside County has nearly quadrupled since the 1980 census, for example.. Merced, "The Gateway to Yosemite," and now home to a new University of California campus, has experienced a nearly 20% growth rate over the last census period. Population growth in Southern California affects the Bay/Delta region, which is the major conduit for north/south water transfers. More than 60% of California's population lives in Southern California and largely depends on northern water.

In some of these areas, including Southern California, more than 30% of that population is foreign-born, somehow leading the author to conclude that the answer is to reduce immigration. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we can also reduce population growth by addressing unintended pregnancies, which account for a large part of the growth.

LTE on California Population: Curb Growth to Save Parks

September 2010   Sacramento Bee

Re: "State's growth pinches parks" - It was disturbing to read about the threats to our state parks caused by increasing land development and illegal use of parks, which results in environmental damage and unsafe conditions for legitimate park users. Having hiked and camped in state parks for more than 50 years, I have many great experiences and memories which I hope to pass on to future generations. If that doesn't happen, it will be a great loss to our natural environment and quality of life.

The Bee article states, "In the decades ahead, tensions between California parks and other priorities - transportation, green energy, private development - are likely to intensify. Over the next 40 years, the state's population is expected to grow from about 39 million to more than 59 million, according to the Department of Finance."

Such growth rates are unsustainable in the long run and new policies need to be developed that stabilize our population and land development pressures. Only when our state parks receive a higher priority will they be adequately protected.

Chuck Knutson, Sacramento doclink

Coalition Applauds Boxer-Solis Vision for Future California Wilderness

March 25, 2006   Sierra Club

The California Wild Heritage Act outlines a vision for protecting some of the remaining wilderness. It seeks protection of roughly 2.5 million acres and grants wild and scenic status to portions of more than 20 rivers throughout California. Studies have found that wilderness designation contributes to economic growth, with visitors generating an additional $44 per acre per year of spending in nearby communities. Every 550 acres of wilderness contribute one new job. Around the state there is long-standing, well-established support for the bill. Millions flock to wilderness areas to recreate and escape to the outdoors. Participation in wilderness activities increased 42% from 1990 to 1998. More than 60% of drinking water comes from Californias wild lands and rivers. Over the last 25 years, nearly 700,000 acres of our states unprotected wilderness have been lost. California is home to more than 5,800 plant species and 800 species of wildlife, many of which depend on habitat in wilderness areas. The California Wild Heritage Act has been a priority and allows our grandchildren to inherit a true natural legacy. Potential wilderness includes Eagle Peak in San Diego County, an area critical to the water supply and many sensitive species. Potential wild rivers include the Clavey River, one of only four remaining free-flowing rivers in the Sierra Nevadas. doclink

Karen Gaia says California is becoming increasingly overcrowded, and as it does, these wild places will be more and more difficult to protect, as the past has already shown us.

Out on a Limb - Experts Sound An Alarm, Saying Development is Swallowing 30,000 Acres of Forest and Woodlands Annually in California

June 07, 2005  

Sixty years after Edwards' father bought 520 acres of forest east of Sacramento, the son struggles to keep it from being overrun by homes. 30,000 acres of private forests and woodlands are swallowed by development each year. Experts predict that California will lose 1 million acres of forest and woodlands, 8% of its 12.2 million-acre total, to development by 2040. As housing prices rise, Californians are willing to pay more for home sites than the land is worth in timber. Private forest owners say they are tempted to sell to developers because log prices have dropped 38% to an average $292 per thousand board feet. The value of California's wood harvests has fallen from $1.1 billion in 1994 to $500 million last year. Some advocacy groups acknowledge that timber-cutting rules meant to protect forests, rivers and water are one factor conspiring to bring development and its pollution threats. More people moving into forests results in declining populations of birds and animals, new pests and tree diseases, more air pollution and watershed erosion. The harvest plans tell foresters where not to cut timber and some counties, have their own stricter rules. About 5.4 million acres of private forestland are in a Timberland Production Zone, in which an owner agrees not to sell for development for 10 years in exchange for property taxes based on timber value rather than residential value. But counties can allow large-lot parcel splits as long as the parcels remain a working forest. Rural residential zoning could allow anywhere from one home per acre to one home per 40 acres. Some new ideas include: promote "California Grown" wood, conservation easements that restrict logging while keeping forests free of development. doclink

California Forest Futures 2005

May 15, 2005   California Forest Futures

Recent estimates by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection indicate nearly 35,000 acres of oaks and conifers are being lost to development every year. With every acre lost, we are losing wildlife, water flows and wood products critical to all Californians. doclink

Why do we feel we must keep up economic growth, -- even if it kills us all?

Wetlands

January 2005   Bill Denneen

California has lost more than 90% of its wetlands, the largest of any state in our nation. The US had 5 million acres of wetlands with only a half million remaining. Local example of wetlands are west of Guadalupe, Cienega Valley and Black Lake Canyon. The situation gets worse as we start growing houses. Wetlands provide critical feeding, breeding,and spawning grounds for one-third of our endangered plants and animals, and a myriad of waterfowl and other wildlife. Wetlands recharge ground water supplies, control floods, purify water that flows through them and are the nurseries for the fish of the seas. Wetlands are vital to the health of our nation, yet they are being lost at 300,000 acres per year. A few years ago over 200 tractors and farmers gathered to protest regulations to protect wetlands and I carried my sign: "Save Our Creeks". The Nature Conservancy have been doing a fine job taking care of Osos Flaco Lake while ignoring the drainage into the lake. In the 1960's it had high giant willows and cottonwoods, songbirds, watercress, Yerba Manza, duckweed, Azolla, rushes, bulrushes, muskrats, black shoulded kites, raptors, cattails and all kinds of insects, anphibians, garter-snakes and horsetails. Clear water flowed in the creek. Now it is a channelized, sterile, very silted ditch. In California we have destroyed 98% of our riparian habitat that provide wildlife habitat, protect adjacent areas from flooding, filter our drinking water, and clean polluted water. The importance of wetlands may not be apparent until AFTER they are destroyed. The pressure to obliterate wetlands comes from out exploding numbers. It used to be due to high teenage pregnancy rate with Santa Maria leading until we finally reduced them. In California alone we have "exploded" to 34 million, about 30 million more than what is sustainable, the "people glut" much like the rabbits in Australia. doclink

California Will Sue to Block Sierra National Forest Plan

November 22, 2004   San Jose Mercury News

California will sue to block the federal government's plan to manage 11.5 million acres of Sierra Nevada national forests. U.S. Undersecretary has 15 days to decide whether to review the decision before it becomes final. Environmental groups plan to sue as well claiming that the Bush administration maintains its retreat from environmental protection. Regional Forester Jack Blackwell, who approved the plan took umbrage at these remarks saying he wrote the decision, to avoid a repeat of the catastrophic wildfires such as those that devastated Southern California last year, and believes the plan will improve wildlife habitat while reducing fire danger. He was appointed a regional forester under President Clinton, and was transferred to the top post in California a year into the Bush administration. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth, who approved the revised plan Thursday, was born and raised in California and held the No. 2 post in the state in the early 1990s. The Schwarzenegger administration is reviewing the plan and has taken no position. doclink

Biodiversity

Biodiversity Hotspot

California is one of the world's most botanically diverse regions, having a
wide range of climates and soils. doclink

Feinstein's Water Bomb; California Senator Takes Aim at Delta Fish Protections

February 12, 2010   High Country News

A legislative amendment would dramatically reduce Endangered Species Act protection for salmon and other fish in California by lifting restrictions on the amount of water that farmers can pump from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta for the next two years.

The rider, proposed by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. could scuttle a delicately negotiated effort to balance protections for endangered fish with the water needs of farms and residents of Southern California.

After three years of drought, the state is head for the third year of an emergency fishing ban to protect dwindling salmon runs, while populations of the Delta smelt and other fish continue to crash.

Feinstein only recently denounced a similar amendment at the behest of California water districts; her reversal may largely be due to lobbying by the Westlands Water District which saw the federal government cut its supply of water from the Delta dwindle to just 10% of the amount it holds contracts for. The district's chief deputy manager said "We're going to pursue every right and legal avenue we have to protect ourselves."

But fish-related restrictions account for only 15 to 20% of the cutbacks; the vast majority of the water shortage is due to the drought. Last week judge Oliver Wanger ordered the Delta pumps to run at maximum capacity, which helped capture the surge of water delivered by a massive winter storm, but only for six days. Feinstein's rider would force federal officials to keep the pumps running at the highest levels currently permitted, allowing water agencies to pump an extra million acre-feet of water out of the Delta during the winter and spring, twice as much water from the Delta as they could were the current fish protections totally eliminated. doclink

Karen Gaia says: With California's bulging population, the state is scrambling to provide enough water during drought years. It is no surprise that wildlife populations will suffer first. But the human population will suffer in the long run, as population continues to grow and exceed carrying capacity.

Climate Change Threatens Two-thirds of California 's Unique Plants, Study Says

June 25, 2008   Los Angeles Times

Some 2,300 species of California 's unique plants could be wiped out by the end of the century because of rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.

The species that cannot migrate fast enough to higher altitudes or cooler coastal areas could face extinction. As the climate changes, many of these plants will have no place to go.

Half of the plant species that are unique to the continental US grow only in the Golden State, and under likely climate scenarios, many would have to shift 100 miles or more from their current range -- a difficult task given slow natural migration rates and obstacles presented by suburban sprawl.

The study, published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed on-line journal PLoS One, is the first to analyze the effect of climate change on all of the plants unique to one of the world's most biologically diverse areas. Previous models have focused on fewer species in areas such as the eastern United States, Europe, South Africa and Australia.

"The climate is changing 10 times faster than it did during the last ice ages," said ecologist Scott Loarie, who has a doctorate from Duke University and who conducted the study over five years with Ackerly and other collaborators. "The first thing we need to do is to reduce the pace of change."

The study, which was based on more than 80,000 specimens, was hailed as groundbreaking by leading scientists in the field. "It is a timely analysis of the likely fate of the plants of California in the face of climate change," said Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden and coauthor of seminal texts on California flora.

And in Southern California, given water shortages and habitat disruption, he added, "lots of the populations are right on the edge. . . . The balance could easily be tipped so we could lose many of them in a very short period of time."

As California 's unique species migrate, they could be separated from the creatures that pollinate them. Animals could be divided from the plants on which they depend, the researchers noted.

"Individual plants can't pick up and fly away like birds," Ackerly said. "A seed grows into a tree. Then the adult tree drops another seed, which can be carried by the wind or an animal. And that seed grows into another tree."

The state may also have to set aside new refuges and corridors, and prepare to move some plants if necessary. "Planning for plant refugees will become a new but important concept for natural reserves to think about," said biologist Brent Mishler, director of the University and Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley, the state's most important flora collection.

Less than 10% of the state's original coastal sage-scrub land and less than 1% of its native grassland remain intact.

Coast redwoods may range farther north, while California oaks could disappear from Central California in favor of cooler weather in the Klamath Mountains along the Oregon border. Many plants may no longer be able to survive in the northern Sierra Nevada or in the Los Angeles Basin.

Plants of northern Baja California will migrate into San Diego County ranges. The Central Valley could become the preferred habitat for plants of the Sonoran Desert.

The study looks at eight scenarios that used different rates of warming and species mobility. There were uncertainties in the analysis, but the climate is outpacing these plants.

Under the worst-case scenario, plant diversity would decrease by as much as 25%, and 66% of all species unique to California would suffer more than an 80% decrease in range.

In the most optimistic scenario, diversity might increase along the state's northwest and central coasts. But many species would disappear from Southern California and the Northern Sierra.

If a plant loses 80% of its range it is hard to say if that plant is extinct or not, but in a hot year, that plant's gone.

This is a wake-up call for all Californians that global change impacts on our environment are more than just a theoretical issue. doclink

US California: More Mouths to Feed Means Less Land to Feed Them On

April 2008   Leon Kolankiewicz - CAPS

Agricultural experts have warned that California's farmland is threatened by population growth. Farmers and ranchers have expressed the concern for decades.

Unfortunately, warnings have not slowed the pace at which croplands and soils are being eaten up by development. The state's farmlands are shrinking because the millions added to our population are competing with farmers for water and for the land that is best at producing food. California has long been America's leading agricultural state, generating over $30 billion a year in revenues. California cultivates more than 350 crops. The cash value of crops grown in the great Central Valley is probably unrivalled by any other comparably-sized area on earth. Unfortunately, the urbanization is accelerating. In California, productive farmlands are succumbing and are being split up into unproductive rural ranchettes or hobby farms.

Between 1990 and 2004, rapid population growth has been driving this trend.

More than 60% of the 538,000 acres developed in California was agricultural land. In the most important agricultural areas like the Central Valley, a higher portion, nearly three-quarters of the area, developed was farmland. By 2050, if the state's population projections come to pass, and if current trends continue, an additional 2.1 million acres would be urbanized. These are the lands that with the proper stewardship could produce food virtually in perpetuity. Like the non-renewable energy resources we have squandered in recent decades, this loss will come back to haunt us in a future.

Food prices are mounting globally with the addition of 70-80 million more mouths to feed every year, diversion of food crops into biofuels production, increasing consumption of meat (which uses far more land to grow the crops fed to livestock), and rising energy prices.

If California is to be part of the solution, unsustainable population growth must be checked. Since virtually all present and projected growth is from immigration and higher average immigrant fertility, these must be reduced.

If we don't, then one day California will struggle just to feed its own citizens, no less the nation and the world. doclink

US California;: Deal Would Revive San Joaquin River

September 13, 2006   Los Angeles Times

The most ambitious river restoration project in California's history was filed in federal court Wednesday.

The agreement ends an 18-year legal battle over the San Joaquin River, after most of its Sierra-fed waters were diverted to 1 million acres of San Joaquin Valley agriculture.

Returning water and salmon back to 60 miles of dead river is virtually unprecedented. The agreement among the federal government, growers and environmental groups will reduce diversions from the river by an average of 15%, releasing enough water from Friant Dam to revive a spring chinook salmon run that was completely wiped out after the dam was built. Fish passageways and screens will be constructed, the river channel will be improved and levees strengthened to contain the increased flows.

The project will take years and cost between $250 and $800 million. Funding will come from growers, the state and the federal government.

The settlement lays out ways to help farmers make up for the water they will lose. The river was deep and wide enough to carry steam paddleboats. Its chinook salmon runs were among the biggest on the West Coast.

Up to the 1940s, when Friant Dam was completed, tens of thousands of spring-run chinook migrated to the San Joaquin's upper reaches to spawn.

By the early 1950s, the spring run had been wiped out despite last-ditch rescue attempts by the state Department of Fish and Game.

Though officials praised the agreement, representatives from irrigation districts not involved in the lawsuit expressed their concerns in Congress and at the Interior Department.

Those districts take water from tributaries of the San Joaquin and parts of the river not covered in the settlement. The districts hope that the federal government will declare the San Joaquin's chinook run experimental, which would prevent protections from being imposed. doclink

US California: Wine Country Casualties - Grape-eating Bears Killed as Vineyards' Territory Expands

December 26, 2005   San Francisco Chronicle

Bears have frequented the pond and an adjacent meadow since the Dakins bought Wild Springs Ranch a decade ago. Now they are gone. The owner of the adjacent Aetna Springs Vineyard, tired of having his prized grapes eaten, hired federal trappers to kill the offending bears. The tragic fate of their beloved bruins has thrust the Dakins into a seething debate over the future of the nation's famous wine-growing region. Wildlife is often the loser as vineyards creep into the hinterlands amid a growing demand for the kind of grape that can be produced only in mountainous wildland regions. Vineyard owners were the reason state law was changed this year to include wild turkeys on the list of animals that can be killed. Cabernet grapes are fetching from $5,000 to $7,000 a ton and as a result, vineyards are popping up on slopes and ridgetops. Even older, established vineyards are taking steps to protect their investments. Paul Maroon, who bought the Aetna Springs was given permits to kill the bears after he showed the damage they did to his fence and vines. The department is required by law to issue a permit if damage can be shown to personal property. Two male black bears and two females were killed by federal animal control officers. They damage the fences and allow the deer to enter and both damage the vines. The industry has been growing to the delight of Californians and environmentalists, who prefer vineyard development to housing development. It's not surprising that a bear-wine conflict would occur in the Pope Valley. The director of Aetna Springs Golf Course called the controversy "wine for blood", life versus profit. Herds of deer have been killed over the same thing. To come into a wildlife area and then kill off the wildlife is wrong. Concerns about wildlife prompted Napa County to pass tougher ordinances for hillside vineyards increasing the restrictions for every increase in slope. But they haven't stopped hillside planting. Premier Pacific, has promised to plant on only a fraction of the land and preserve 2,000 acres of old growth redwood forest on the Gualala River. Other vineyards write off the grapes devoured as a kind of tax for doing business in their territory. doclink

US California: Sierra Growth to Bring More Congestion, Development

June 27, 2005   Associated Press

The population of the Sierra Nevada could triple in the next 35 years. Much of the 400-mile-long range is designated as national forest, park land or wilderness but has private land where development could change the feel of the mountains. About 600,000 people live in the 20 California and three Nevada counties that divide the Sierra, projected to grow to between 1.5 million and 2.4 million by 2040. Seven of the 20 California counties have plans more than 10 years old, although five are expecting updates. But fewer than a third have plotted areas that deserve protection from development, and most have no conservation plans. California state Assemblyman Tim Leslie fears overburdening property owners with restrictions which is why he backed creation of a Sierra Nevada Conservancy charged with protecting resources, promoting tourism and enhancing recreation in the area. A third of the Sierra is privately owned, but private landowners own half the land in 10 of the 20 California counties, and two-thirds or more of the acreage in five of those counties. The amount of developed land could double over the next half-century. Traffic congestion has followed an increase in home building, and the environmental coalition fears a cascading effect on air and water quality. Placer County's population is expected to grow by 84%, El Dorado's by 42% and Nevada County's by 38% by 2020. More isolated counties attract retirees. Much of the environmental focus has been on the region's old growth timber, as the U.S. Forest Service fights to implement a plan for the 11 national forests, but the oak woodlands at lower elevations are most in danger from sprawl, in the western foothills, where 70% of the current population resides. doclink

Pregnancy Prevention

In California, 4,258,620 women are in need of contraceptive services and supplies. Of these, 2,205,920 women,including 536,330 teenagers, are in need of publicly supported contraceptive services.
June 2002   Alan Guttmacher Institute doclink

Each year, Title X-supported clinics alone help prevent nearly one million unintended pregnancies. These pregnancies would have resulted in an additional 397,000 unintended births, 470,000 abortions and 123,000 miscarriages.



Two-thirds of the 6.6 million women who rely on publicly funded family planning clinics for their contraceptive care are served by 4,500 clinics nationwide that receive funding under Title X of the Public Health Service Act. These clinics serve one-quarter of all American women in need of subsidized family planning services.   June 2002   Alan Guttmacher Institute doclink

U.S.: Title X-Funded Clinics in California Facilitate Access to Care Better Than Other Providers

December 11 , 2012   Guttmacher Institute

A study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that Title X -funded clinics in California are more likely to offer services during evenings or weekends; to provide outreach to hard-to-reach populations, such as males, teens and individuals with limited English proficiency; and to use advanced technologies, such as electronic medical records and online appointment scheduling, to streamline clinic operations.

The data came from surveys of more than 1,000 public- and private-sector Family PACT clinicians in 2010. They found that Title X-funded clinics have implemented a greater array of infrastructure enhancements that promote access to and improve the quality of services for underserved populations than have other providers.

The authors suggest that Title X-funded clinics can serve as a model and recommend that nationwide health care reform build on the California model to improve infrastructure and the quality of care as family planning providers increasingly serve marginalized populations. doclink

U.S.: Women Hit Hardest by Recession, Budget Cuts

February 26, 2012   Sacramento Bee

The State of California is once again facing a large budget deficit, and the governor and lawmakers face choices that will determine our state's future and the future of programs that Californians depend on.

Their deliberations should be informed by new research showing that California's women have been especially hard hit by the Great Recession.

CalWORKs, California's welfare-to-work program has been cut by more than $3 billion, about $3,000 for each of the 1.1 million children in the program.

Funding for the California State University system was cut by nearly one-third between 2007-08 and 2011-12, while support for community colleges was reduced by almost one-fifth. These budget cuts limit women's access to higher education. Most troubling is the drop - by nearly 130,000 students in recent years, with women accounting for more than 80% of this decline - attending California's community colleges, which help students build employment skills or prepare to transfer to a four-year institution.

State budget cuts also have hit support for child care and preschool, eliminating services for 35,000 children in the current year alone and an additional 62,000 children in 2012-2013, making it harder for working parents to find affordable child care that enables them to remain in - or return to - the workforce.

Between 2007 and 2010, the share of single mothers with jobs dropped by 10%. Only six in 10 single mothers were employed in 2010, the lowest employment rate among this group since 1996. This means that job losses among single mothers in just three years erased all the employment gains this group had made since the implementation of welfare reform in the late 1990s.

Budget choices reflect our values and priorities. As lawmakers seek to close the budget gap, they should strive to help all Californians to achieve success and contribute to the state's prosperity. The very future of our state is at stake. doclink

Karen Gaia says: It is likely women who have neither a job or a classroom to go to will not likely have enough money for birth control every month. Single moms may do without, thinking they are going to stay abstinent. Married moms may decide to have another, now that they are a stay-at-home mom. Or, maybe they will decide they can't afford to have another child and find the money to pay for birth control, if they can't get it free.

Planned Parenthood Clinics Are Stripped of Affiliation After Complaints

August 30, 2010   New York Times*

Financial and administrative problems have led to the end of one of the largest Planned Parenthood affiliates. Patients visiting Planned Parenthood's eight clinics in San Francisco and four other Bay Area counties often encountered wait times exceeding two-and-a-half hours. Shortages of critical supplies, including intrauterine devices, meant some patients were turned away.

Doctors, nurses, midwives and physician's assistants complained to the national organization about low morale and a hostile work environment at Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, the local affiliate that owned and operated the clinics.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America has taken the rare step of stripping a local organization of its affiliate status.

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, covering San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Sonoma and Alameda Counties, will continue to offer the same services in the same facilities, under the name Golden Gate Community Health.

The care of some 50,000 patients, more than 90% of whom live at or below poverty level, is at risk. Tax filings show that the nonprofit lost $2.8 million during the 2008-9 tax year, at the same time its chief executive's total compensation exceeded $340,000.

Patients depend on the Planned Parenthood clinics for birth control, cervical-cancer screening, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and abortions.

The national federation has assigned Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's five Bay Area counties to neighboring Planned Parenthood affiliates, which are racing to get new clinics up and running.

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's leaders said the organization was undermined by a poor economy and lack of support from the national organization. doclink

Sex Ed Credited for Dip in State's Teen Birth Rate

February 23, 2010   Ventura County Star

Sex education, including abstinence education, has been credited for a record low birth rate to teen mothers in California. A representative of Planned Parenthood Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties said "The more education that kids have about themselves and their bodies, the better," and "We also teach them to consider the emotional impact ... of having a pregnancy."

Newly released statistics showed births to mothers ages 15 to 19 dropped to a record low of 35.2 per 1,000 in 2008, according to the California Department of Public Health. In 2007, the rate was 37.1 births.

In Ventura County, the birth rate went from 36.2 to 34.1 per 1,000 births to teen mothers.

Latino teens continued to have the highest birth rate statewide and countywide.

87% of teen births in Ventura County were to Latino teens compared with 11% to white teens, and only 1% to Black, Asian, and Native American teens.

Nancy Maxson, coordinator of health services for Ventura Unified School District said that some of the newer immigrant families consider it "more acceptable for older men to be with their daughters" "The thought is that they can take care of them." And families in poverty, not just Latinos, may be looking for more practical support through a larger family.

Maxson said Ventura Unified talks "about medically appropriate tools to prevent pregnancy, while stressing abstinence, in seventh grade.

Planned Parenthood offers a peer advocates program in which teen volunteers, with their parents' permission, talk to other teens about sex and pregnancy. It also offers a Teen Success Program, in which teen mothers and their babies meet once a week. "Our goal in the program is to help them maintain their current family size, complete high school and seek or pursue further education."

A California Department of Public Health spokesman said California saved an estimated $98 million dollars in medical and other social expenses because of the decline of births to teen mothers from 53,393 in 2007 to 51,704 in 2008.

Preventing teen pregnancies saves the U.S. $9 billion a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teen mothers have higher rates of pre-term births, lower-birth weight-infants, and a higher rate of infant death.

Compared to mothers who delay childbearing until the age of 20 to 21 years, teen mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, remain single parents, have chronic medical conditions, and rely more heavily on publicly provided healthcare, CDC officials said. doclink

For Most Parents, Sex-ed No Longer a Taboo Subject: Poll Finds 89 Percent Want Children to Learn About Birth Control, STDs

May 24, 2007   Contra Costa Times

Politicians and evangelists may push abstinence-only sex education but 895 of California parents want their children to receive an education that includes contraception and STD protection.

The statistics span every economic, racial and religious demographic, including Christian evangelicals.

Regardless of location, politics, religion or educational levels, California parents overwhelmingly support comprehensive sex education. Recent studies report that 82% of American adults support sex education in the classroom, and 90% to 92% favor discussion of condom use. But for the past decade, the federal government has taken an abstinence-only stance and will spend $176 million on such programs this year.

California is one of eight states that that funding. Instead, its education code mandates that any public school district that chooses to provide sex education must include curriculum that is age appropriate, medically accurate and covers all approved contraception and STD prevention methods. The number of young women 15 to 19 giving birth has been dropping since 1990. The number of STDs is rising. Chlamydia rates for women 20 to 24 have risen 80% since 1996. Gonorrhea, which had dropped in the early 1990s, have risen 65% among young men and 90% among young women.

The poll "clears the way" for educators who have been trying to walk a fine line. Everyone wants the same thing.

A taxpayer-funded, abstinence-only program reviews grant applications for the federal abstinence-only education program.

A study of more than 2,000 teens who had gone through abstinence-only programs was delivered to Congress last month. The findings? Abstinence-only doesn't work.

Congress will decide the fate of abstinence-only funding this summer. But there can be no question about what California parents want. doclink

Growth Limits

Putting Boundaries Around Bulldozers

March 2010   CAPS

The root cause of urban sprawl and wild land encroachment is rapid population growth. Developers and businesses thrive on the "growth is good" syndrome.

Dick Schneider, a Northern California based environmental scientist and policy analyst has worked to facilitate and win key initiatives in the fight to protect farmland and open space for communities struggling with rampant growth.

Schneider, working with Citizens for Open Space, successfully led the Alameda County Open Space Initiative in 2000. The initiative put much of the eastern part of Northern California's Alameda County out of developers' reach by creating an urban-growth boundary around several cities. Activists collected more than 63,000 signatures in seven weeks, nearly 40% more than required to qualify the open space initiative for the ballot.

The victory which protected 250,000 acres from development proved that a voter approved development boundary could work and set a statewide precedent that "an urban growth boundary could be a legitimate tool to hinder growth and one that doesn't violate state planning laws."

Since then, Schneider advises citizen groups on how to clarify the issues and develop strategies to slow growth. Often they will have to fight the misinformation created by well-funded developers and growth proponents. "They made it sound like their measure would preserve open space and protect land, when in fact the opposite was true," said Schneider. Committed volunteers worked hard to make it clear which was the environmentally safe measure and which the counterfeit.

California's population projections show a bulge to 60 million people by 2050 from the current already high number of 39 million. This population growth is driving development, at a cost of 50,000 farmland acres annually, and threatening the rich diversity of endemic species throughout the state.

Please see the rest of this article at http://www.capsweb.org/content.php?id=1137&menu_id=8#bulldozers for Schneider's advice on how to fight development and preserve open space in high population areas. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we cannot afford to lose farmland. 1.2 acres per arable land are needed per person for a diverse diet, and we are now at only 1.4 acres per person, only .2 acres away from being short. In addition, we are using our cropland to produce food for other countries and ethanol, plus peak oil and loss of mechanized farming capability are looming, our soil is facing salinization and erosion, climate change will result in crop loss, and both water shortages and flooding are becoming more severe.

US California: More Mouths to Feed Means Less Land to Feed Them On

Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS)

Agricultural experts have warned that California's most productive farmland is threatened by the state's population growth. Warnings have not slowed the pace at which the nation's most productive soils are being eaten up by development. Even as the population in California soars beyond 40 million, the land and water resources needed to feed the growing populations that depend on California's agricultural exports are shrinking.

The state's farmlands are shrinking precisely because the millions added to our population every decade are competing with farmers for water and land that is best at producing food. As population increases the ability to feed that population decreases. Flat lands with access to fresh water attract both agriculture and urbanization.

California has long been America's leading agricultural state. Fertile soils, the availability of irrigation water, and a moderate, climate allow for year-round cropping. California cultivates more than 350 crops on less than 4% of the nation's agricultural acreage. The cash value of crops grown in the great Central Valley is unrivalled by any other comparably-sized area on earth. Unfortunately, around the world, the urbanization of these irreplaceable lands is accelerating.

Between 1990 and 2004, land was being developed at nearly twice the historic rate. Rapid population growth is driving this trend. More than 60% of the 538,000 acres developed in California was agricultural land. Nearly half of all farmland lost was high quality, classified as prime farmland.

If the state's population projections come to pass, and if current trends in development efficiency continue, an additional 2.1 million acres would be urbanized. Reducing the rate of land conversion by increasing density will merely slow but not stop the inexorable attrition of California's farmland. These are the lands that with the proper stewardship could produce food virtually in perpetuity.

Food prices are mounting globally as a number of factors converge, including the addition of 70-80 million more mouths to feed every year. If California is to be part of the solution, unsustainable population growth must be checked. Since virtually all present and projected growth is from immigration and higher average immigrant fertility, these must be reduced.

If we don't, then one day California will struggle just to feed its own citizens. doclink

Urban Sprawl Threatens Species; Loss of Open Space in Fast-growing Areas Puts 1,200 at Risk

January 11, 2005   MSNBC.com

Urban sprawl is gobbling up open spaces so quickly that it could spell extinction for nearly 1,200 species of plants and animals. Over the next 25 years, more than 22,000 acres of natural resources will be lost to development in 35 of the most rapidly growing areas. Species are at risk of extinction due to habitat destruction. The leading cause of habitat destruction is development of homes and office buildings and roads in forests and farm fields. The government lists 518 animals and 746 plants as endangered or threatened by extinction and in need of federal protection. The environmental groups cited a larger group of species they said were in trouble. The NatureServe database identified about 6,400 imperiled species including more than 4,000 in the lower 48 states but excluding Hawaii and Alaska because each has special circumstances. 60% of the lower 48 states' species live within metropolitan areas, and about 1,196 are in the metropolitan areas with the fastest growth rates and more than 1 million people. California has 16 of the 20 counties that have the most imperiled species. To turn back urban sprawl, developers should be given incentives to build in existing city areas and create higher-density projects. More land also should be set aside as natural open space. The National Association of Home Builders said the group has focused on building affordable homes and hasn't researched endangered species protection in any scientific way. doclink

US California: Growth Management Guidelines

2001   Sierra Club California

The California/Nevada Conservation Committee of Sierra Club California as developed Urban Growth Management Policy Guidelines, is a comprehenisive plan, based on growth projections, to guide the conservation and development of the State and calling for actions at the state, regional, and local levels to limit the impacts of growth. It should determine what growth is supportable, based on environmental, fiscal and economic projections. The Guidlines call for: Urban Growth Boundaries to define the ultimate urbanization around all cities; Plans to include biodiversity inventories; Encouraging compact development within urban boundaries; Increasing the supply of low-income housing; Requiring all public services and facilities before a development project can be approved; Encourage coordinating transport and land use planning; Effective regional planning; High standards of services and design in all urban areas; And recognition that there are long-term limits to growth in California. Current projections (2001) indicate net population may double to 58.7 million by 2040 and California's fragmented and competitive planning structures will contribute to environmental and ecological deterioration resulting in air pollution, gridlocked roadways, polluted water supplies, loss of food producing lands and open space, increased numbers of endangered species, increased energy consumption, lack of affordable housing, and excessive consumption of natural resources.

This state needs a comprehensive program to address the magnitude and management of growth. This should be based on the ability to sustain biodiversity and wildlife communities, on a particular population level and a set of quality of life goals. The Guidlines call for Long-term limits to growth in California - eventually population will exceed a level sustainable by available natural systems. No programs can be successful if population increases without limit. California's growth is affected by births among its residents as well as by the attractiveness of the state to outsiders.

Each State resource or pollution-control agency should conduct an assessment of the level of future population it can sustain without further deterioration and the State should adopt an explicit population policy which is in harmony with the ecosystem upon which life depends.

The State should provide adequate funding for family planning programs.

Regional planning efforts should include similar assessments of the long-term carrying capacity of their region. doclink

Bay Area Chooses to Limit Growth

January 2000   San Jose Mercury News

Bay Area voters approved more than a dozen measures to manage rampant
growth. Alameda County was stripped of its power to convert most farmland
into housing tracts and shopping malls without a vote of the people. Of the
18 growth-related measures in the region, only five lost. Most of the
winning measures set or strengthen urban growth boundaries around cities,
including San Jose. The Home Builder Association of Northern California said
such measures worsen the area's already severe housing shortage by pushing
development farther east and south, and neighbors complain because it puts
too much traffic on their streets. Throughout California, 35 of 54 measures,
65%, passed, as compared to only half in 1998, according to the California
Planning & Development Report. In Arizona and Colorado, two statewide
initiatives to limit growth failed by a 2-to-1 ratio. [A Washington Post
article said that growth control suffers when the debate can be converted
into environmental protection vs. affordable housing. For example, the
housing group Habitat for Humanity fought the initiative in Colorado saying
that the anti-sprawl measure "threatens our mission and the future of
affordable housing in Colorado." Opponents pointed to the growth of housing
costs in Portland and in Boulder, Colo., which has a growth boundary.
(Advocates pointed out that housing costs in Denver have gone up even faster
than in Portland, even though Denver has no growth restrictions.) Opponents
attacked Loudoun County's slow-growth efforts as "snob zoning" that would
preserve open space for the affluent while driving up housing costs for the
less well-off. .... In yet another article from The Tracy Press, Tracy
residents voted in favor of slow growth with 56.1% of voters favoring
Measure A which amends the city's Growth Management Ordinance by cutting the
number of residential building permits that can be issued in half, from a
maximum of 1,500
to 750 and an average of 1,200 to 600.] doclink

Limiting Growth

November 18, 1999   Associated Press

In last year's elections (1999) there were 240 ballot initiatives throughout the country related to limiting growth and preserving open space; 150 passed, authorizing $7.5 billion in government spending. "People have lost affection for the place where they live because it's not as pleasant as it was 10 years ago,". "They want a change." Several of those initiatives were passed in California, "the birthplace of urban sprawl," said Nelson Rising, president and CEO of Catellus Development Corp. http://www.catellus.com/ of San Francisco. After World War II, California's population grew by leaps and bounds, and local governments did not consult each other on zoning, roads or land uses. The result, especially in Southern California, is an endless stretch of low-density neighborhoods, strip malls, asphalt and bumper-to-bumper traffic, he said. "We are the example to the rest of the country of what not to do." doclink

California's Footprint Impacts Other Regions

US California: More Mouths to Feed Means Less Land to Feed Them On

April 2008   Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS)

California's farmland is threatened by the state's population growth. Even as the number in California soars toward 40 million, the land and water resources needed to feed these multitudes are shrinking.

The farmlands are shrinking because the millions added to our population every decade are competing with farmers for water and the same land that is best at producing food. When homes can be built to house hundreds of new residents on the land occupied by a single farm, urbanization will displace agriculture.

Fertile soils, irrigation water during the growing season, and a moderate, Mediterranean climate allow for year-round cropping. California cultivates more than 350 crops. Only a handful of other regions on earth have the same unique combination of soil productivity, mild climate, and available water as the San Joaquin Valley. In California, especially the Central Valley, productive farmlands are being split up into unproductive rural ranchettes or hobby farms.

Between 1990 and 2004, land was being developed at nearly twice the historic rate. Rapid population growth, of course, is driving this trend.

In the most important agricultural areas like the Central Valley, nearly three-quarters of the area developed was farmland. Nearly half of all farmland lost was high quality, classified by the state as prime farmland, unique farmland, or farmland of statewide importance.

By 2050, if the state's population projections come to pass, an additional 2.1 million acres would be urbanized. Reducing the rate of land conversion by increasing density will merely slow but not stop the attrition of California's farmland. These are the lands that with the proper stewardship could produce food virtually in perpetuity.

Food prices are mounting globally with the addition of 70-80 million more mouths to feed every year, diversion of food crops into biofuels production, increasing consumption of meat, and rising energy prices. All of these put upward pressure on prices.

Unsustainable population growth must be checked. Since virtually all present and projected growth is from immigration and higher average immigrant fertility, these must be reduced.

If we don't, then one day California will struggle just to feed its own citizens. doclink

Trying Times Ahead: the Prospect of 60 Million Californians

2007   New York Times*

The California Department of Finance projected that there will be 60 million people living in the state by 2050. At present there are 36 million. There is the bland assumption that a two-thirds increase in population is inevitable. The main problem is how to keep them from showing up in the first place.

A mid-21st-century Californian may look back in horror at the consumption footprint of someone living in the state right now. The trouble, of course, is that a population projection like this one more or less takes it for granted that not much will have changed by 2050. This population forecast is a reminder of the assumptions that make meaningful change so hard. We believe that the way to create change is simply to buy different stuff, so growth doesn't stop. And we refuse to think seriously about the number of human beings on this planet, a kind of growth that somehow seems "natural" to us. It makes no difference how little each of those 60 million Californians will consume in 2050. The number cannot be negative. It's nearly impossible to imagine how they could meet their water needs alone.

In 2007, we remain blindly impervious to the life-claims of almost all other forms of life. If there are indeed 60 million people living in California in 2050, there will be nothing meaningful to be said on the matter, except as a subject of nostalgia.

But faith in our enlightenment seems a little misplaced to me, when I remember a speech that James Madison gave nearly 190 years ago.

Madison said, we have no reason to suppose that all of Earth's resources can be commandeered to support mankind alone. It's a principle that should move to the very center of our thinking. It should cause us to re-examine not just how we shop and what we drive and who we elect but also how our species reproduces. It should cause us to re-imagine that once and future California, which lies only 43 years away, and make sure that it isn't barren of all but us humans. doclink

Activism

60 Million People in California? Don't Fret, Help is at Hand

October 2007   Sacramento Bee

California's population will increase to about 60 million by 2050.

The worry warts are wondering how we will build the schools, transportation and water projects to serve an additional 23 million people.

But it assumes that a population of 60 million is inevitable. There are a number of choices that will drive down the state's population.

Continue to build houses in deep floodplains, fire zones and coastal areas that will be inundated by rising sea levels. Also allow families to live in unreinforced masonry buildings in earthquake zones. These buildings will knock down the population and prompt millions to flee as in New Orleans.

Maintain the barriers to medical care and health insurance to people who are forced to delay treatment will crawl into emergency rooms, and lower the average life expectancy. Encourage school kids and their parents to consume soft drinks and junk food. Ask the pope to move to Los Angeles to continue the Vatican's crusade against birth control. In the backlash, the population of Los Angeles will decline just as Italy's has. Don't let your sons read recent coverage of philandering mayors they might think they can gain celebrity by engaging in reckless reproductive behavior. Fill the California Aqueduct with concrete. Elect Putin as governor. His policies and crackdown on dissidents could achieve some real crowd control in California. Russia is expected to shrink from 143 million by 31 million by 2050. Urge Bush to launch a U.S. invasion of California. An estimated 2.2 million Iraqis have fled their country since Bush invaded Iraq. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I hope you appreciated this tongue-in-cheek article as much as I did. This rings even more true with the recent Southern California fires.

US California: Planned Parenthood Mar Monte - Northern California

March 25, 2006  

The Schwarzenegger Administration implemented a 5% Medi-Cal provider rate cut, which would have resulted in diminished access to health care for low-income Californians. Fortunately, the cuts were restored.

California has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country, making it hard for providers to provide high quality health care and will force decreased services to low-income patients.

90% of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte's family planning services are funded by federal dollars. While the state is "saving" 10 cents, we are losing 90 cents in federal matching funds. Reducing provider rates when the economy has caused the uninsured rates to increase would have a devastating impact on California which already has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. doclink

Help the Environment - Support California Bill 644 - The Patient Prescription Protection Act

July 09, 2005   Karen Gaia Pitts

Why would an environmental organization be involved in contraception? Forty years ago the fertility rate of the U.S. was 4 children per woman. Without chemical contraception, the population of the U.S. would have grown much faster than it has, and today's population would be more than twice what it is today, impacting the environment and the quality of life tremendously.

In the last few years, a promising new contraception has come along - emergency contraception, also known as the morning after pill, or Plan B. It is most often used as a backup to regular contraception, such as when a condom breaks, or when a woman has an unplanned sexual encounter. Since a great many pregnancies are unintended, emergency contraception has a big potential to bring the birth rate down - if it can be acquired and ingested within 72 hours of intercourse.

Emergency contraception works the same as the pill - it is only a multiple dose of the pill, and does not cause an abortion because it works by preventing conception, ovulation, or implantation in the uterus. The sooner after intercourse it is taken, the more likely it is to prevent pregnancy. Women who do not have this drug on hand - a have no desire to be pregnant - must find a pharmacy that is open and has the drug in stock, and then must find a pharmacist who is willing to fill her order.

Across the nation, including California, patients, especially women, have been denied prescription to contraception. There is a movement among pharmacists to opt out of providing emergency contraception on moral grounds without employers developing protocols to ensure the patients access to their medication in a timely manner. A recently started organization, Pharmacists for Life International, has 1,500 members, and endorses such practices.

SB 644 (Ortiz), the Patient Prescription Protection Act, balances a pharmacist's right to ethical, moral or religious beliefs with a patient's right to basic health care. If a pharmacist objects to filling a prescription on ethical, moral or religious grounds, the pharmacist would be required to provide prior notification to the employer in writing and the pharmacy would be required to set up protocols that would ensure the patient has timely access to his/her prescription. If the drug is not in stock then the pharmacists must immediately notify the patient and make arrangements to order the prescription on site; transfer the prescription to another pharmacy known to stock the prescription and is within reasonable distance; or, return the prescription to the patient and refer him/her to a pharmacy known to stock the prescription and is within reasonable distance.

This bill will probably be voted on August 15 - September 9.

Please send a message to Senator Ortiz, State Capitol, Room 5114 Sacramento, CA 95814, (916)651-4006 Fax (916)323-2263 - and thank her for sponsoring SB644.

Please contact your own assemblymember and urge them to vote for this bill when it reaches the assembly floor.

And an additional heads-up: this fall, more reproductive choice legislation is proposed in Governor Schwarzenegger's ballot initiative - which may again affect the birth rate in California. doclink

US California: The Central Valley Has Found Its Voice

June 14, 2005   USA Today

Carol Whiteside cares about the future of the Central Valley, California's mammoth agricultural heartland. She is founder and president of the Great Valley Center, a Modesto-based think tank that specializes in a region approximately the size of England. Whiteside's forte is finding innovative ways for the region to cope with the unintended consequences of growth. The Central Valley is made up of 19 counties and stretches 450 miles from Redding to Bakersfield. The area is home to more state prisons than any other region; perpetually suffers from high unemployment, poverty and teen pregnancy rates; and struggles with unprecedented growth and choking smog. Its population, 6.3 million today, is expected to nearly double by 2040. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helped fund the Great Valley Center in 1997.

Whiteside is the oracle of the Central Valley, explaining the region's challenges and highpoints to elected officials and philanthropists, planners and journalists from coast to coast. in the Visalia Times-Delta she said: "We live in an area with America's highest poverty and America's fastest growth rate." .. "We are the world's most productive agricultural region and suffer the worst air quality in the United States. We need to improve our jobs base and diversification and, at the same time, preserve our strengths and culture," she said for a report by the Congressional Research Service, the public policy research arm of the U.S. Congress, showing that the San Joaquin Valley - the southern half of the Central Valley - gets dramatically less in federal spending per capita than the nation as a whole. At the same time, according to the report, the San Joaquin Valley has a much higher poverty rate than Appalachia. The Central Valley provides 25% of the U.S. food supply or a connection with the more than 300 crops raised in the flat fields between the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges. doclink

Schwarzenegger Suggests that He Might Shut Down California EPA

September 30, 2003   Los Angeles Times

Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), one of the more famous of the California gubernatorial candidates in the recall election, suggested that he might terminate the state's environmental protection agency. A farmer asked why the state needed Cal/EPA when there was a federal EPA. Schwarzenegger answered: "What you just talked about is the waste -- overlapping agencies." ... "They cost a fortune. We have to strip that down and get rid of some of those agencies." In the meantime, the current governor, Gray Davis (D)just signed three bills that will help tackle water-pollution problems, and is in the process of hammering-out out two high-profile land-conservation deals in southern California. doclink

Beyond the Borders

September 11, 2003  

The 'Beyond the Borders' Mexico Project awarded its first set of grants in Spring 2002. Since then, a total of 13 grants have been awarded on a twice-a-year schedule - every Spring and Fall. The goals of this grantmaking Mexico Project are to help grassroots, community-based organizations along the U.S.-Mexico border and throughout Mexico in their fight to protect the environment, to educate Sierra Club members about Mexican environment and environmental justice issues, and to involve Sierra Club volunteers in supporting Mexican environmental activism. (We even have money available for Sierra Club groups working on border issues.)

Several of the grants recipients are now highlighted in a virtual tour on the Beyond the Borders website: http://www.sierraclub.org/beyondtheborders/ Please feel free to check it out! doclink

Don't Throw Out Birth Control with the Budget Bathwater

January 10, 2003   Los Angeles Times

California's first round of budget cuts trim Medi-Cal rates, medical supplies, and media to prevent unintended pregnancies - essentially meaning less birth control and more babies. "We're just biting our fingernails," said Kathy Kneer, a Planned Parenthood executive who feared even more damage today when the governor releases details on sweeping budget cuts and tax increases. California anticipates population growth, and no one is asking how many people are too many. The budget gap is partially due to the spending binge during the short-lived dot-com revenue windfall, but also due to unchecked population growth. The Bush administration and Congress propose a policy of abstinence, arguing that a faith-based life will stem the urge -- a nice thought, but the author says he spent his years at Catholic school thinking of nothing but sex. The author is not saying we should shut the door on immigration or growth, because it made California one of the most interesting and productive places on the planet. But if policy promotes open borders to provide cheap labor, California ought to demand that the feds pay a share for the education and care of the working poor. And hand out more condoms. One in three California children is born to an unwed mother, and the number of out-of-wedlock births to teenagers is as high as two out of three. Some estimate that for every dollar invested in birth control, the state saves $3 or $4 on the cost of unwanted pregnancies. Although teenage birth rates dropped every year between 1991 and 2001 in California (probably due to successful programs in prior years), they are still too high. doclink