The top three results, drawn from the study, which was entitled "Dead Newspapers and Citizens Civic Engagement":
"The study’s findings include: At the national and local level there is a positive relationship between newspaper readership and civic engagement as measured by contacting or visiting a public official, buying or boycotting certain products or services because of political or social values, and participating in local groups or civic organizations such as the PTA or neighborhood watch. Measures of civic engagement in Denver and Seattle declined between 2008 and 2009. In Denver, four out of the five civic-engagement indicators declined significantly between 2008 and 2009, and Seattle saw declines in two out of five engagement categories.
In the other metropolitan areas studied almost none showed a statistically significant change in civic engagement. One measure, boycotting goods and services, declined significantly in Cincinnati while four indicators in different areas increased in that city.
At a national level, civic engagement did decline between 2008 and 2009, but less so than observed in Denver and Seattle."
Which makes sense to this reporter, but it's nice to see in black and white. Hope the quantification stands up to scrutiny. Hope it gets some scrutiny!
“I took away the realization that a lot of other people in Ojai share my concern,” said event organizer and moderator, Kit Stolz, after the event. “If we really are looking at another decade or more of drought — which is quite possible — we will have to be prepared to make changes, and to see change happen in our town and in our environment. That won’t be easy, but I feel much less alone, and that’s deeply helpful.”
Stolz is a longtime freelance reporter in Ventura County and a resident of Upper Ojai. He was inspired to plan this event when the man he called to look at his water well suggested that he “cut way back and pray for rain.”
“This is the right conversation to be having,” said Ched Myers, Ojai resident, author and theologian,“not as an extraordinary event, but as a regular event in the life of this community.”
“We are a community because we share a watershed,” said Victoria Loorz, associate pastor at Ojai Valley Community Church. Loorz, Myers and other spiritual leaders from the valley closed Sunday’s event, saying prayers for rain. “This is a spiritual issue, as much as it is a practical issue,” said Loorz.
“Don’t expect a quick fix. Droughts are slow in coming, and they are slow getting out of. We need to change the way we use water,” said Patzert, who cited a dramatic rise in population in Southern California, a semiarid area that is supported by water imported from the Colorado River and the northern part of the state.
Patzert said state residents must change their water habits.
“We need to change the way we manage water. It starts with how you vote. And you’ve got too many damned trees. Do you know how much water trees use?” he said to gasps from the Ojai audience.
Bill Patzert loves to provoke. It's how he keeps the audience awake as he discusses the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which he convincingly argues modulates the global warming signal, and may keep us in drought for another decade. He scoffs at the NOAA forecast of a "50-50" chance of an El Nino next year, calling it "the great WET hope."
This Sunday, at the Ojai Retreat, one of my favorite scientists, Bill Patzert, will I expect scare us with his talk on the history of drought in California and the Southwest, along the lines of this recent piece of his in Los Angeles magazine.
Let’s look back over the last 20 centuries: We’ve seen tremendous droughts in the American West. In the 11th century there was an 80-year drought along the Colorado. This is before global warming by anthropogenic—or man-made—sources. The 20th century, which is when we built our civilization in California, was one of the wettest in 2,000 years. It was an anomaly. We know this from tree ring records. We have built a civilization, which is the sixth- or seventh-largest economy in the world, based on imported water in a wet century. How do you like that?
Patzert's talk will be followed by a panel discussion, with Steve Bennett, of the Board of Supervisors; Russ Baggerly, of the Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency, Steve Sprinkel, of The Farmer and the Cook, and Steve Wickstrum, of Casitas Municipal Water District, moderated by yours truly.
Here's an op-ed I had in Ojai Valley News on the subject of this event, below, but the basic point to be made is simple -- if in the Ojai area, come join us this Sunday, from 1:45 to 5:15. It's free with a reservation.
FACING DROUGHT TOGETHER: Concerned Citizens of Ojai Valley
According to meteorological records from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, California has been in drought for the last thirty months, and the last two months have been as dry as any winter since the 19th century. That was when Mark Twain supposedly remarked, “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
Here in Ojai, where we are dependent on local sources for all our water, we need to face up to this issue. Four of us from the Ojai Valley area, all concerned citizens from very different backgrounds, think that we need to talk frankly about the drought, and more, do what we can about it. Not just for ourselves, our properties, gardens, orchards, trees, lands, and wildlife, but also for our community.
It’s not a stretch to say that a successful culture depends on fresh clean water, and not only is it as dry as it has ever been in the instrumental record in California, but paleoclimatologists suggest – working with evidence such as tree-ring records – that this may be the driest period since the year 1580, a year they say almost no precipitation hit the Sierra Nevada.
For this reason, we are hold an afternoon drought conference March 9th at The Ojai Retreat. We will begin with a “big picture” talk from Bill Patzert, a veteran overseer of a NASA satellite program, and perhaps the leading voice on the climate and meteorology of Southern California.
The governor and legislature have proposed funding for a groundwater storage lan they say will make a difference for the state, but Ojai and part of Ventura, dependent on the Ventura River watershed, have our own water management decisions to make.
Already some voices in the community have called for mandatory water conservation measures; meanwhile Ventura and Los Angeles offer assistance to homeowners who convert turf lawns to water-conserving or ocean-friendly gardens.
Probably we can agree on the need to conserve water, but which path towards that goal will we take? We are not at mandatory conservation yet, but now is the time to discuss constructive actions to keep our community together. Water in crisis has the potential to pit neighbor against neighbor – which only makes matters worse.
For this reason, as a reporter, I will ask questions of a panel of prominent government officials, (including Steve Bennett from the Board of Supervisors, Steve Wickstrum from Casitas Municipal Water District, and Russ Baggerly from the Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency); Steve Prinkel, of the Farmer and the Cook, and Deborah Pendrey, of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition. We hope the ensuing discussion will clarify the issues and possible choices without rancor.
Because we believe in helping each other save water, we also are holding a workshop session, organized by civil engineer Bill O’Brien, on greywater strategies. Cinnamon McIntosh from Casis MWD will offer instruction on water saving in the home, and Renee Roth will speak on water conserving gardens.
Pastor Victoria Loorz has called on spiritual leaders from the community, and with Ched Myers, Jule Stensile-Tumamait, among others, will help us see how the watershed connects us both physically and spiritually, and how we can benefit from praying together in our different ways.
The director of the Ojai Retreat, Ulrich Brugger, wanted to host this event especially – to give us a chance, at least for one day, to be together on this issue, and to find a communality in our plight.
Please join us. This is a donation-only event, but seating is limited; make reservations at 640-1142.
Here's NOAA's drought monitor for CA...after the recent rainstorms. Here in Ventura County, we're in "extreme drought," but it could be worse -- we could be in the brown/"exceptional drought" category.
I've read the book, seen Strayed speak at UC Santa Barbara, and last fall walked the same first 90 miles or so through the Mojave Desert and into the start of the Sierras on Section F of the PCT that she did at the start of her trip. She got off to a harrowing start. I'm section hiking the trail (not through hiking as she did) and it hasn't been as difficult for me as it was for her but I confess I'm a fan of Wild.
So maybe it's interesting to contrast my real-life experience on the trail with her dramatic telling. The irony is that though her story -- both of her life and of her time on the trail -- is more dramatic than most of ours, her story has an everywoman/everyman aspect, in that like most women she knew nothing about backpacking the PCT when she started, but she went ahead and did it anyhow, which most women (or men) would have the sense to not do.
But because Strayed didn't know what the hell she was doing, as she freely admits, she was kind of wonderfully dumb about it. To be blunt. This gives her story the drama of the sincere naif -- in some glorious/awful sense, the story of youth versus experience. At the start of what the PCTA calls Section F of the PCT, she writes:
I stood by the silent highway after [her ride] drove away. Small clouds of dust blew in swirling gusts beneath the glaring noon sky. I was at an elevation of nearly 3,800 feet, surrounded in all directions by beige, barren-looking mountains dotted with clusters of sagebrush, Joshua trees, and waist-high chaparral. I was standing at the western edge of the Moajve Desert and at the southern foot of the Sierra Nevada, the vast mountain range that stretched north for more than four hundred miles to Lassen Volcanic National Park, where it connected with the Cascade Range, which extended from northern California all theway through Oregon and Washington and beyond the Canadian border. Those two mountain ranges would be my world for the next three months; their crest, my home. On a fence post beyond the ditch I spied a palm-sized metal blaze that said PACIFIC CREST TRAIL.
I was here. I could begin at last.
It's wonderful, and it's a little portentuous. Here's a picture of that scene I took this fall, on an incongruously rainy fall day in the Mojave, but nonetheless this is what that trail looks like to start.
The exciting part is that -- according to Duane Waliser, a lead scientist at the NASA-backed Jet Propulsion Lab -- five-day forecasts of these "Pineapple Express} storms are now as skillful as three-day forecasts a few years ago, and as skillful as one-day forecasts a decade ago. The hope and expectation is that in time scientists will be able to forecast atmospheric river impacts three weeks into the future.
“In certain instances, we’ll be able to have a little bit more foreshadowing – as in weeks-ahead notice,” Waliser said. “However, we’re just learning that capability, but this holds promise for that.”
It's not easy to imagine that, but a little easier after looking at this water vapor image from AIRS, which shows how the storm developed over the month of Febuary, reaching out and almost touching California before it came together and overwhelmed the West.
But the real news for Ojai locally and yours truly is that something important happened for the first time in at least a year and a half:
Sisar Creek began to run.
Which raises a question: How many these "ARKstorms," as the USGS calls them, does it take to recharge the aquifer? Not how many inches. How many big storms? And is there a rating system for the size of these storms?
In analyzing data on more than 64,000 Danish women and their children, researchers found that kids whose mothers took the painkiller at any point during pregnancy were 29% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than were kids whose mothers took none. The risk increased the most — by 63% — when acetaminophen was taken during the second and third trimesters, and by 28% when used in the third trimester alone.
Could this explain the upsurge in developmental and behaviorial issues linked to mental disorders in recent decades? Healy doesn't speculate.
Nor does she explain why a known endocrine disruptor, acetaminophen, was allowed to be sold freely without warnings, even when it -- like many other products -- was suspected capable of harm.
She does quote plenty of experts who point out that this is just one study, first of all, and that many doctors -- even those aware of the linkage and risk -- may continue to prescribe acetominophen to reduce fever and pain.
The international team that conducted the study will next investigate their data for evidence of the neuropsychiatric and other mental health effects of a variety of medications taken during pregnancy. Among the outcomes they will be looking for is autism.
Bill O'Brien, a civil engineer, Victoria Loorz, a pastor, myself, and Ulrich Brugger, who directs The Ojai Retreat, are putting together a public conversation which we hope will help motivate people of the Ojai Valley to take a serious look at our drought and what we can do about it.