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Monitor Notes: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Smoke Science, Transit Scenarios, La Niña

Welcome to Monitor Notes, a weekly roundup of news items, event announcements, and updates on past Bay Area Monitor articles.


Be Inspired

The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is having a profound effect on many of us. We’re mourning the loss of a formidable women’s and civil rights advocate who pushed through many barriers during her career because of her belief in justice and the power of the rule of law. We open with perspective this week from Stephanie Doute, executive director of the League of Women Voters of California, who wrote a tribute about the late justice’s impact. Doute discussed how Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is an opportunity to extend her legacy and persevere during a time of difficulty in our nation.

“I encourage you to take the time you need to feel what this loss means to you. And when you are ready to wipe away the tears, pick up the torch. Be inspired. Imagine the future that can be if we all keep pushing. Pick up her legacy. Be fiercely determined. Never forget that a 5’1”-tall woman was a giant who changed the world — and we can keep that spirit alive.”

With that sentiment in mind, Notes this week features a range of local participation opportunities to help find your own determination, whether it’s cleaning the air, advancing climate awareness, or supporting public transit planning.


Live and Breathe

It’s hard to forget the dark orange sky we all woke up to on September 9 as smoke from collective wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington washed out the sun and contributed to harmful air quality in the days that followed. Scientists at Aclima have been monitoring Bay Area air conditions and found a “rapid rise” in both the daily average and daily maximum levels of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less) at ground level after September 9 in each of the nine Bay Area counties. View Aclima’s charts here, stark reminders about the importance of protecting public health. It’s good timing, too. California Clean Air Day is October 7, a day to pledge to do one or more activities to help clean the air. What switches can you make?


Transit Service Transition

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will transition out of “COVID service” and into its 2021 transit service plan early next year and is seeking feedback about the process during community meetings tonight at 6 p.m. and September 29 at 11 a.m. The bus and rail operator has come up with three scenarios that reflect pandemic-related realities, including lower sales tax revenue, new travel patterns, and potentially lower ridership. Residents may weigh in on the scenarios — which include various service hour reductions and transit route changes — through mid-October. The VTA board of directors will consider the proposals at a December 3 meeting.


Winter Outlook

Climate scientists are saying La Niña is here, which generally brings warm and dry winters to the southern tier of the U.S. and colder temps to the northern region and Canada. Want to learn more? The National Integrated Drought Information System is hosting a September 28 climate outlook webinar at 11 a.m. focused on California and Nevada. The gathering is part of a series of webinars with the latest on drought status and developing climatic events like La Niña. Check out this SFiST article ahead of the event, which pointed out the effects of La Niña cycles “are harder to pin down in terms of NorCal weather” because the region is on the border of where wet weather is likely to hit this winter.


Monitor Notes is produced by Cecily O’Connor. To receive it by email, scroll to the bottom of this page, enter your email address in the box under “RECEIVE EMAIL UPDATES,” and click the red “SIGN UP” button.


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