Thinking ahead to 2050, voyaging solo across the Pacific, celebrating earth Day ... Our new environmental column looks at how we're living within the natural world
She'll use the solo row as a fund-raiser for Plastic Ocean Foundation, a UK charity working to tackle the problem of plastics pollution. She also plans to collect ocean-water samples that will be turned over to scientists for micro-plastics research.
Hammond will leave Monterey on June 7, and the adventure will take her into the deep blue of the Pacific for an estimated 2,400 miles. She figures the toughest part will be "getting used to a really harsh and difficult environment."
Planning for this trip involves preparing for seasickness; individually pre-wrapping calorie-packed meals; getting comfortable with the idea of strapping into a harness and holing up in the boat's tiny cabin should stormy weather cause the vessel to capsize; learning navigation by sea; and familiarizing herself with the solar-powered GPS and other essential on-board technologies.
Hammond plans to live-tweet the experience, using a satellite phone. That relates to her solo journey's second theme: Promoting gender equality and female empowerment. To support her efforts, "People can nominate an inspirational woman of their choice," and donors can specify which mile of the 2,400-mile row will be dedicated to their selected heroine.
Hammond will name-drop them on Twitter as she completes each appointed mile. "All the way around the boat will be the names of these women," she noted, a kind of protection for her daring three-month challenge.
To learn more, visit www.elsahammond.com.
On the 11th day of every month since an earthquake triggered Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant meltdown in March 2011, Berkeley resident Chizu Hamada has led a cohort of anti-nuclear activists to San Francisco's Japanese Consulate. Time after time, they show up to deliver correspondence directed to the Japanese Prime Minister, relating to the ongoing impacts of the nuclear disaster.
Called No Nukes Action, her group includes Japanese activists who've closely followed the ongoing developments of remediation, radiation testing, health impacts, and governmental initiatives to re-start nuclear reactors across Japan. Their letters ask pointed questions of the Japanese government, and call for a shift away from reliance on nuclear power.
But while a previous consul was more sympathetic to their cause, showing up each month to receive the letter in person (his wife was rumored to be from Fukushima), Hamada reports that a staffing change has left them out in the cold.
When Hamada and a group of about 25 arrived at the new Japanese Consulate location at 275 Battery St. on April 11, there was no one to greet them and accept the letter. One of the group members ventured beyond the front lobby to hand-deliver it, only to be threatened with arrest for trespassing.
"She wanted to give the letter, that is it," Hamada wrote in an email. "We wonder why they are afraid of receiving the letter. Japanese officials have the duty to receive the letter from a citizen."
Meanwhile, an ongoing effort to employ citizen scientists for a crowdsourcing effort to test for low-level radiation along the West Coast has produced some interesting preliminary results. Created by research scientist Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to test for long-term impacts from Fukushima, the ambitious project aims to measure whether low-level radiation has reached North America's western shores. Samples from Point Reyes, La Jolla, and two Washington locations "show no detectable Fukushima cesium," according to results posted Jan. 28.