As fall and winter rolled on and the year’s end approached, major green events left their imprint on Orange County. Anaheim played host to the nation’s largest solar conference, one of the county’s most important environmental figures died, and a state panel recommended that the ocean off Laguna Beach be closed to fishing — one of many such proposed closures up and down the California coast that stirred anger in the fishing community. (See previous posts covering January, February and March, April, May and June, and July, August and September.)
October, November, December
In early October, Placentia residents became the first to receive water in their taps from the Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System, which uses powerful filters and other technology to purify what was once sewer water.
Rain barrels, which capture rain for use in the garden, generated green chatter in Orange County.
The nation’s largest solar event, Solar Power International 2009, was held in Anaheim, with robots, high-tech panels and other exhibits filled a cavernous exhibition hall, with 20,000 people from 90 countries signed up to attend.
And in November, a sudden death stunned Orange County’s environmental community.
Jan Vandersloot, 64, had campaigned for years to protect wildlife, wetlands and ocean habitat. He was also a practicing dermatologist whose office was always crowded with patients.
A few days later, a state panel recommended that a six-mile stretch of the Laguna Beach coast become a marine reserve, which would ban fishing there, as part of the Marine Life Protection Act initiative. The recommendation, one of several fishing bans or restrictions proposed between Santa Barbara and the Mexican border, awaits approval from the state Fish and Game Commission.
That same month, strife inside the San Onofre nuclear plant burst onto the public scene when two employees filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor. The two men said they had tried to blow the whistle on unsafe practices at the plant, and were punished for it by management.
While officials at Southern California Edison, the plant’s owner, did not comment on the complaints directly, they said San Onofre maintains a safe working environment where employees are encouraged to bring forward their concerns without fear of retaliation.
At the start of December, the state Department of Water Resources announced that it was allocating just 5 percent of the water requested by downstream agencies — the lowest initial allocation ever, another sign of drought and tight supplies.
Soon after, “Climategate” began to swirl, when e-mails hacked at a British University appeared to suggest, according to some interpretations, that scientists were trying to shield data from the public to bolster the case for human-driven climate change.
The scientific community roundly rejected those charges, and said the e-mails would not affect an international consensus that global warming is real and is largely caused by human activity.
But at least one UC Irvine scientist found his own e-mail among those hacked. He shared the e-mail — very technical, and non-controversial — as well as his thoughts on the controversy.
About the same time, the National Climatic Data Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said 2009 was on track to become one of the top 10 warmest years ever recorded.
An upbeat report found that, while the rest of the state’s economy struggled, “green” jobs were on the rise.
A team of professors from Chapman University, meanwhile, headed to the climate summit in Copenhagen, where they found cultural diversity along with protests in the streets.