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Reopening of SMART Pathway Section


Ground Breaking for New SMART Pathway Section

On October 22, 2022 Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the reopening of a 1.7 mile section of the SMART Pathway from Payran St. to Southpoint Blvd. in Petaluma. The pathway was closed shortly after it was constructed in April 2022 due ironically to construction on additional lanes on the Highway 101 bridge over the pathway. The new lanes will add more cars to the traffic while the pathway is intended to encourage alternate means of travel.

SMART Board Chair and Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbit kicked off the ceremony with a short encouraging speech followed by an equally upbeat speech by SMART Board Vice-Chair Barbara Pahr who also serves on the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District which runs ferries on the San Francisco Bay. Board member Lucan also participated and Petaluma Council Member Kevin McDonnell also weighed in with a few comments. After the speaches, Mayor McDonnell together with SMART Board members Damon Conoley and David Rabbit cut the ribbon across the trail with a giant pair of scissors. The crowd of about fifty adults and children then rode and walked the wonderful new pathway.

Also celebarated was the start of construction of an additional ssegment linking Payron St to Lakeville Blvd. This segment is expected to be completed by end of fall, 2022.

Fossil Fuel Air Pollution Kills One in Five

Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash

Summary by Mel Barnard

EcoRing is passionate about being outdoors and appreciating the natural beauty around us. Part of eco-tourism is keeping the air outdoors clean and healthy. New research from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that air pollution from fossil fuels is responsible for nearly one in five deaths worldwide. Burning fossil fuels causes human exposure to fine particulate matter. This fine matter killed about 8.7 million deaths globally in 2018, about the same number of people living in New York City — making it more lethal than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Not included in that number is the deaths caused by long-term exposure to smog.

The highest toll of deaths from air pollution come from China and India, but we see hard-hit areas in high urban areas in the US Northeast and Midwest. Air pollution can be a silent killer, and one we don’t think about that often. It is important to reduce our harm by decreasing our fossil fuel emissions and its subsequent particulate dispersal so our outdoors stay clean.

Read more here.

Ad Agencies Step Away From Oil and Gas

Photo by Charlie Hang on Unsplash

Summary by Mel Barnard

Oil and Gas advertisements are becoming more and more untenable to the public. Literal weeks after Chevron released a commercial that boasted about their ‘ever-cleaner energy’, a refinery of theirs leaked 600 gallons of petroleum and water into the San Francisco Bay. Greenpeace USA and other environmental groups filed a complaint against Chevron with the Federal Trade Commission. According to the complaint, Chevron has consistently misrepresented its image to appear, “climate-friendly and racial justice-oriented, while its business operations overwhelmingly rely on climate-polluting fossil fuels, which disproportionately harm communities of color.”

As a result of these complaints and similar critiques across the industry, ad agencies are being forced to step away from fossil fuel clientele. This is from pressure from environmental advocates all over the world, from pushback against team sponsorships to putting climate warning labels on street ads. Democratic officials have filed lawsuits over the past 18 months in 6 different states to accuse Exxon of deceiving the public about climate change.

Oil and gas companies still wield a tremendous amount of power and the allure of a good paycheck keeps many advertisers on their side. However, there is hope that the moral pulse of environmental advocacy will move advertisers away from fossil fuel completely.

Looking Back at Women’s History…

By Mel Barnard

Bicycles were invented in the early 19th century and designed with men in mind. The bike garnered attention as a masculine activity because women couldn’t ride bikes sidesaddle, as they did in the proper feminine way of horse-riding. However, the invention of the “safety bicycle” made for an easier time riding. Some women were able to take advantage of this change and used bicycles as a way to transport themselves around without a chaperone, exercise freely in public, and get places quick. This led to changes in clothing since dresses got caught in the gears, which further fueled bicycles as a symbol of feminist action, particularly the suffragette movement.

Since then, however, the bicycle has remained a largely male-dominated activity. The numbers vary based on location, but in San Francisco, twice as many men commuted by bike compared to women. Surveys into the phenomenon generally agree: cycling, particularly on roads, feels intimidating and unsafe. Women are more generally more risk averse and are driven away from the activity because of that danger.

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Electric Cars Could Rule the Road Sooner Than You Think

Photo by Kate Konstantinova on Unsplash

By Mel Barnard

Fewer than 1% of cars currently on the road are electric. However, even with automakers building and selling more electric vehicles, by 2035, only 13% of vehicles are predicted to be electric. Without policy changes, most vehicles will likely run on gasoline even during the midpoint of the century.

To be carbon neutral by 2050, drastic action is needed to turn over and retire the fleet of gas-powered vehicles already on the market. For example, one policy might include buying back and scrapping older cars in use. Policymakers could also focus on electrifying ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft which tend to retire automobiles sooner, or offer rebates to turn in older cars for newer, more fuel-efficient models. Still, these trade-in programs have historically been proven to be less efficient than something like a carbon tax.

One of the best opportunities for change is in improving public infrastructure. Expanding public transit and encouraging biking and walking, particularly in cities, seems to be an excellent, nonpartisan way of decreasing carbon emissions.

Read more at the New York Times