Good Vote and Good Reads

This sign on the gate to the Berkeley Meadow, aka Sylvia McLaughlin Memorial State Park, asks for a “yes” vote on Proposition FF.   FF keeps in place an important funding stream for parks.  The East Bay Regional Park District writes:

Measure FF will continue existing, voter-approved funding for Regional Parks in western Alameda and Contra Costa counties – without increasing taxes.

Measure FF will continue funding for regional park services including:

  • Wildfire prevention
  • Public safety
  • Maintaining and improving visitor use facilities, public access, and trails, including closing gaps in the Bay Trail
  • Restoring and enhancing natural areas/habitat, including sensitive redwoods, urban creeks, marshlands, grasslands, and hillsides

Measure FF was developed with community input including three community meetings, four public board meetings, and engagement of key stakeholder, including the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, and Save the Redwoods League, among others.

I plan to vote Yes on FF.  I hope you will too.  Meanwhile, if you’re swamped with election mailers and can’t read one more of them, here’s some completely different recommended reading:

Why Are Sunsets More Colorful in Fall?  An article in the current Bay Nature by naturalist and ace photographer Tony Iwane explains not only why the daytime sky is blue — we knew that already, didn’t we? — but also why sunsets in fall and winter tend to run to the reds.   And, contrary to a friend who bemoaned brilliant red sunsets as spawns of toxic air pollutants, the red comes from the low angle of the sun, which forces its rays to filter through more of the earth’s atmosphere.  All those oxygen and hydrogen atoms knock out most of the shorter wavelength blue photons but let the longer orange and red rays slide through.  Pollution, when it occurs, also blocks blue and favors red, but it knocks out brilliance and clarity.  Winter sunsets right after a storm has washed the air clear show the most brilliant and vivid shades of scarlet.  Iwane’s piece also includes a couple of beautiful sunset photos.  Of course, ahem, if you want sunset photos, you can see more than a hundred of them right here on this website, all taken from Cesar Chavez Park.

The Helpful Bacteria that Eat Methane.  I’ve written here some time ago about the bacteria that live in the soil and convert methane into oxygen.   They’re the helpful creatures that make for zero methane escaping from the grass in the park even in areas where the buried extraction wells don’t reach.  The argument has been made, as I point out in this article, that the elaborate and expensive gas collection and incineration system in the park is completely unnecessary, thanks to these methane-eating bacteria.  An article in the current issue of Scientific American reports that similar bacteria thrive deep in the ocean around natural methane vents.  Working in close symbiosis with other bacteria, these methanotrophs consume roughly 80 percent of the methane emerging from the sea floor.  If that seems incredible, remember that the oxygen we inhale is the exhalation of zillions of cyanobacteria who, eons ago, created the atmosphere as we know it and breathe it.

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