Fortunately for firefighters, Santa Ana winds that were expected over the weekend never arrived, but the Day Fire is yet to be contained. As of Wednesday morning, it had burned 150,000 acres and was only 42 percent contained, with 60 miles of fireline still to be built. The wildfire escaped its northwestern perimeter, burning barns and a cabin in Ventura county’s Lockwood Valley Community, where firefighters with air support saved dozens of homes.

It’s getting really, really hot, researchers said last week. A study conducted by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies found that global temperatures are nearly the highest they’ve been in the past million years. Researchers found that the earth has been warming rapidly in the last three decades, and linked the phenomenon in part to human activity. If the earth warms another two or three degrees Celsius, the average global temperature will be comparable to that in the Middle Pliocene, a period 3 million years ago in which sea levels were estimated to have been about 80 feet higher than they are today.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Walter Kohn joined Mayor Marty Blum, Councilmember Das Williams, the Community Environmental Council, and the Sierra Club in endorsing Proposition 87, the statewide ballot initiative that would raise $4 billion for alternative energy development over the next 10 years by raising taxes on oil companies. The oil industry has spent about $40 billion trying to defeat the measure, arguing it would increase gas prices, discourage domestic production, and heighten America’s dependence on foreign oil – which would apply only to oil produced in California – Williams countered the tax which would have little impact on prices because so much of the oil used to make gasoline comes from elsewhere. “But if we can reduce gasoline consumption in the seventh largest economy in the world by 25 percent … that would help push gas prices down,” he said.

The final application of Naled, scheduled for September 26, was cancelled. No more Oriental fruit flies were found after three were caught in a Hope Ranch monitoring trap in late July. Anti-Naled activists were primed to demonstrate once more against using the pesticide on neighborhood streets.

The Four Seasons Biltmore was one of five winners of the Santa Barbara County Green Award this year. The hotel was recognized for replacing energy-intensive lighting with LED lights, among other environmental measures. The four additional winners included NWA, Inc. Landscape Architecture and Construction – which features biodiesel-powered vehicles and graywater drip irrigation – and Van Atta Associates landscape architects, who use drought-tolerant natives and rainwater collected from the roof.

A project is underway on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands to eradicate two weeds, the rare Solanum elaeagnifolium and the even rarer Circium ochrocentrum. The latter, which is toxic to cattle, is found nowhere else in Santa Barbara County aside from the islands, and the county’s Agricultural Commission hopes to keep it that way. Solanum is not toxic, but still a pest. The Agricultural Commissioner’s office will employ the nonprofit Channel Islands Restoration to help search for the weeds.

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