Just in time for Earth Day, Travel + Leisure magazine ranked San Diego as one of the top ten most eco-friendly cities in the nation and the greenest city in California based on cleanliness, pedestrian-friendly pathways and public transit, and public parks that offset urban asphalt and improve air quality.
“Every San Diegan knows our city has been blessed with natural beauty unlike anywhere else in the country, and we’ve been proud to work with our local innovators to keep our environment clean and green,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders.
Other factors that contributed to the city’s top ranking include a high number of farms per capita, easy access to sand and surf, and the electrical rental car service, Car2Go. San Diego is also one of the leading epicenters of clean technology, generating more solar power than anywhere else in the country, according to a recent report by the Environmental California Research & Policy Center.
— Mariko Lamb
Earth Day eats
Restaurants around town will join together for a good cause this week, taking part in Sustainable Seafood Week from April 18 to 25 to bring attention to the sustainable seafood movement and raise funds for San Diego Oceans Foundation’s research and marine science education programs.
Chef Trey Foshee of Georges at the Cove will take part in the awareness efforts by offering locally sourced sustainable fish dishes, including white seabass, black cod, spot prawns, spiny lobsters and yellowtail, with a portion of the proceeds from sales benefiting the foundation.
To make a reservation, call (858) 454-4244 or visit www.georgesatthecove.com.
— Mariko Lamb
UCSD celebrates Earth Week with green events
Students, staff and faculty at the University of California, San Diego will pay homage to Mother Earth during the university’s annual Earth Week celebration April 16-20. This year’s theme, “A Better More Sustainable U,” will be recognized with a tree planting, sustainability awards show, e-waste collection, special film screening and more. As part of the 2012 celebration, students will commit to making sustainable choices in their daily life — not just during Earth Week, but for the entire year, through the “Own Your Own Impact” campaign.
“This year’s Earth Week is a testament to the passion and dedication of UC San Diego students, staff, and faculty for creating a more sustainable world,” said Kristin Hansen, sustainability analyst at UCSD. “Many of the week’s events are student-led. Our university’s commitment to sustainability has been possible because of our campus’s collaborative spirit and because of the initiative of our students.”
The Earth Week 2012 celebration at UC San Diego includes:
• April 12: Leading up to Earth Week, UCSD’s student organization “Geared Up” visited The Preuss School UCSD to donate used sportswear to young Tritons.
• April 16: John Muir College celebrated sustainability at the John Muir Week Kickoff Fair with resource tables featuring information on how to be more green, and on the history of Muir College and the legacy of its namesake, John Muir, famed environmentalist, nature writer and founder of the Sierra Club.
• April 16-18: An e-waste event brought out old computers, stereos and cell phones to the Student Services Center and the Music Building. The e-waste will be reused, refurbished or recycled.
• April 17: “The Revolutionary Optimists,” film, which follows Amlan Ganguly, a lawyer turned social entrepreneur who has made a significant impact in Calcutta by empowering children to improve their environment, was screend at The Loft.
• April 18: A discussion about where to find local foods in our community, opportunities for getting involved in campus gardening efforts, and the opportunities and benefits community gardens offer took place at The Zone.
• April 19: Tree Planting — from 9 to 11:30 a.m., students will plant trees to help the environment. Oxygen released by urban forests is one of America’s first lines of defense against adverse climate change. To take place at the west side of Revelle College Administration Building (near “Stonehenge”).
• April 20: Sustainability Awards — beginning at 3 p.m., the Advisory Committee on Sustainability will recognize individuals and groups that have made the UC San Diego campus more sustainable. To take place at The Loft.
UC San Diego was listed third in Sierra Magazine’s 2011 “Coolest Schools” report and received an A- grade in the Sustainable Endowment Institute’s “Sustainability Report Card.” In addition, UCSD was named the first college in California to earn a “gold” sustainability-performance rating in the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) survey.
For more information on Earth Week events, go to earthweek.ucsd.-edu/index.html and for more information on sustainability efforts at UCSD, go to sustainability.ucsd.edu/.
— Staff and contribution
Discovering how and why plants — like San Diegans — head toward the sun
Who says plants can’t communicate? Not scientists at the Salk Institute, who have managed to quell many armchair biologists’ curiosity by discovering exactly how plants that find themselves caught in a shady spot manage to grow toward the sunlight to get the nutrients they need.
In a new study, Salk researchers have determined precisely how leaves tell stems to grow when a plant is caught in a shady place.
The study, published on April 15 in Genes and Development, reports that a protein known as phytochrome interacting factor 7 (PIF7) serves as the key messenger between a plant’s cellular light sensors and the production of auxins, which stimulate stem growth.
“We knew how leaves sensed light and that auxins drove growth, but we didn’t understand the pathway that connected these two fundamental systems,” said Joanne Chory, director of the Salk’s Plant Biology Laboratory. “Now that we know PIF7 is the relay, we have a new tool to develop crops that optimize field space and thus produce more food or feedstock for biofuels and biorenewable chemicals.”
Plants gather intelligence about their light situation, including whether they are surrounded by other light-thieving plants, through photosensitive molecules in their leaves. These sensors determine whether a plant is in full sunlight or in the shade of other plants, based on the wavelength of red light striking the leaves.
If a sun-loving plant finds itself in a shady place, the sensors will tell cells in the stem to elongate, causing the plant to grow upward toward sunlight.
Choary said the findings may offer new avenues for developing crops with stem architectures better suited to tightly planted field rows, making them less prone to shade-avoidance syndrome. If successful, such crops would produce higher yields of foods and biofuels than existing strains.
— Kendra Hartmann