Report: Climate change is harming national parks

By Alex Horton | Washington Post

By 2100, visitors walking the grounds of California’s Joshua Tree National Park may view exhibits showing what will have been lost – the spiky yucca palms that inspired the park’s name, dwindled to a few rare husks.

Climate change could kill most of the park’s iconic trees, wildfires may transform the towering conifer forests at Yellowstone National Park into scarred grasslands, and once-mighty ice sheets in the north will probably melt and flow into the sea, making Glacier National Park both an obsolete name and a hard lesson about environmental degradation.

A new study published Monday has warned that climate change has adversely and uniquely affected many of the 417 national parks spread across the United States and its territories, according to scientists from the University of California at Berkeley and University of Wisconsin.

“Human-caused climate change exposes the U.S. national parks to severely hotter and drier conditions than the U.S. as a whole,” Patrick Gonzalez, a climate scientist at Berkeley and a lead author of the study, told The Washington Post on Tuesday.

The consequences are alarming, the study suggests. Some of the most sacred and ecologically sensitive areas in the country, from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite and Denali, may decay into ghosts of their former mighty selves and be unrecognizable to future generations expecting to inherit a planet hotter than they received.

Researchers looked at data between 1895 and 2010 and concluded temperatures in national parks increased twice as much compared with other parts of the country, while precipitation fell dramatically at those parks.

That is because parks are often in places sensitive to shifts in climate. Many parks are at high elevation, where the Earth warms quickly due to a thinner atmosphere, researchers said. Alaska is severely affected because melting snow uncovers darker surfaces that absorb heat.

Alaska …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

Palo Alto: Teacher housing experiment moves closer to reality

As more teachers continue to be priced out of the South Bay housing market, an experimental plan to build up to 120 units in Palo Alto that teachers could afford may soon be a reality.

Los Altos School District trustees on Monday night unanimously directed staff to find $600,000 that could be set aside to help create the below-market units as local schools continue to face problems retaining and attracting high-quality teachers. In recent months, the county set aside $6 million while Palo Alto set aside $3 million.

Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s board in August asked staff to set aside $600,000 toward the housing, and Palo Alto Unified, Mountain View Whisman and Mountain View-Los Altos school districts have expressed interest in each setting aside $600,000, as well, with the boards are expected to weigh in later this year.

Generally, teachers make too much to qualify for conventional “affordable housing” projects — what is commonly called the “missing middle.” As a result, teachers either flee the area or endure long commutes, leaving them unable to assist with or attend after-school events or work with students outside of the classroom. According to the Silicon Valley Index, roughly 1 percent of new housing in the county since 2015 has gone to middle-income earners.

“This project could be a game changer in terms of solving the teacher housing crisis, and could inspire others to follow its example,” Sarah Chaffin, founder of SupportTeacherHousing.org, said in a county news release Tuesday.

County Supervisor Joe Simitian said between 60 and 120 housing units could be built on 1.5 acres of county land at 231 Grant Ave., but the county needs $36 million before construction can begin. If the five school districts come through with their requisite funds, the county will still need another $24 million, possibly through a no- or low-interest …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

Dunkin’ Donuts now just “Dunkin’ ” (but still has donuts)

By DEE-ANN DURBIN

Dunkin’ is dropping the donuts — from its name, anyway.

Doughnuts are still on the menu, but Dunkin’ Donuts is renaming itself Dunkin’ to reflect its increasing emphasis on coffee and other drinks, which make up 60 percent of its sales.

The 68-year-old chain has toyed with the idea for a while. In 2006, it released a new motto — “America runs on Dunkin’ — that didn’t mention doughnuts. Last fall, it tested the “Dunkin’ ” logo on a new store in Pasadena, California; it has put the name on a few other stores since then.

“Our new branding is a clear signal that there’s something new at Dunkin’. It speaks to the breadth of our offerings,” said David Hoffman, the CEO Dunkin’ Brands, the chain’s parent company, in a conference call with media.

The name change will officially take place in January, when it will start appearing on napkins, boxes and signs at new and remodeled U.S. stores. The change will gradually be adopted as franchisees update their stores. It will be phased in overseas over the next year, the company said. Dunkin’ Donuts has 12,500 restaurants worldwide.

The new logo will still have Dunkin’ Donuts’ familiar rounded font and orange-and-pink color scheme, which the company has used since 1973. The Canton, Massachusetts-based company isn’t saying how much the change will cost.

Dunkin’ Donuts has always sold coffee, but hot breakfast sandwiches and specialty drinks like the fruity Coolatta and Cold Brew iced coffee have become increasingly important to the chain. In the second quarter of this year, the company noted that overall U.S. store traffic was down, but revenue was up thanks to sales of higher-margin iced coffee drinks and breakfast sandwiches.

Dunkin’ says the name change is one of several things it’s doing to stay relevant to younger customers. It’s also simplifying …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

Sold! An original, working Apple I scores six figures at auction

Like cars that start to lose their value the second you drive them off a dealer’s lot, a personal computer you buy today will next year not be worth anywhere near what you paid for it.

Oh sure, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, when it comes to cars, anything owned and driven by 1960s and 70s action star Steve McQueen can easily fetch more than a million bucks at auction. But, for computers there are not too many 42-year-old machines that someone would willingly pay six figures for here in 2018.

Unless that 42-year-old machine happens to be a functional Apple I, the first computer built by Apple co-founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. Then, you can expect someone to pony up, say, $375,000 for the thing. Which is what happened on Tuesday.

Boston-based RR Auction sold the Apple I as part of its annual “Rare and Remarkable Auction.” The auction house said the computer was restored to its original functional state in June, and that it is one of only 60 to 70 of the original 200 Apple I computers that Wozniak and Jobs built.

The computer was sold along with a period-specific keyboard and monitor, as well as the original Apple operation manual and other original Apple documentation and accessories.

Of course, $375,000 is a lot of money for a computer that can’t play Fortnite, or probably much else today. But, if that seems like too much dough for a piece of Apple history, there were a few other “deals” to be had with the RR sale.

Why, a Macintosh Plus computer signed by Jobs and nine Mac team developers could have been yours…for a relatively paltry $28,750.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

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