Climate Change and Faith: A Moral Imperative

By James Long, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the East County Magazine)

On Monday, March 13, 2017, at the First United Methodist Church in Mission Valley, a panel composed of a climate scientist and representatives of the Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic faiths discussed climate change, each from their perspectives.

Dr. Ramanathan

Dr. Ramanthan makes his presentation. Photo by Greg Withee

The evening began with Dr. V. Ramanathan’s summary presentation of his climate science findings over the past 47 years. Dr. Ramanathan is a professor of atmospheric and climate sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He also serves as a council member in Pope Francis’ Pontifical Academy of Sciences. In his presentation, he made the following points:

  • We are giving a damaged planet to our children, who will witness a rapidly and adversely changing, unpredictable world in their lifetimes
  • $500 billion in subsidies are given to the worldwide fossil fuel industry each year; this amount would solve 60% of the climate problem
  • There is still time to avoid the effects that a global temperature increase of 6°C would impose (at which point one third of the planet would be uninhabitable), but the window of opportunity is only open for 4 or 5 more years
  • The wealthiest one billion people in the world contribute 50% of global CO2 emissions, while the poorest 3 billion people contribute only 5%
  • The University of California has put forth 10 solutions to combating climate change, gathered in a report called Bending the Curve
  • In addition, The Lancet has published a report on the adverse health effects that climate change will impose

[Read more…]

Aliso Canyon’s Fate – and Ours – Hangs in the Balance

by Amy Knight, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press)

Considered one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history, the record-setting release of methane from SoCal Gas’s Aliso Canyon in October 2015 had both long-term climate altering consequences for the world and immediate health consequences for the people of the greater Los Angeles area. The leak went on for 112 days, emitted 65 billion cubic feet of this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, and prompted the evacuation of more than 6,800 households.

Aliso Canyon Leak

Infrared picture of Aliso Canyon gas leak. Photo courtesy of EDF.

Today, the California public can make their voice heard, can be part of choosing the path we will go down from here. SanDiego350 calls on you to phone Senator Ben Hueso (619-409-7690) and ask him to bring SB 57 up for vote in the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communication Committee – and to vote yes on it. The bill prohibits SoCal Gas from injecting any more natural gas into Aliso Canyon until a root cause analysis of the leak is determined. It also calls on the CPUC to finalize by 12/31/2017 its study that will investigate the feasibility of closing the Aliso Canyon facility. [Read more…]

Why I Am An Activist, #3

Activist_Header_ARTBy Eve Simmons, SanDiego350

I think it started with my love for animals, and the sea, and trees, and my connection to the endless wonders of Nature, of which we humans are a part. There’s a compelling desire in me to protect, to comfort, to celebrate, savor, and honor the magnificence of living things. And I work with others who feel the same way. What better company could I possibly keep?

Eve Simmons

Eve Simmons

This appreciation of our environment is like an open portal to an immense heart space that’s always there whenever we choose to tap into it. That’s when I’m most aware that we are ALL a part of Nature and not separate from it. And it’s this space I go to whenever I feel overwhelmed by the immensity of the problem. I may briefly wallow in sorrow, marinate in frustration and fury, but not for long. I remember a friend’s good counsel, “Yea though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I don’t want to build a house there.” So, I banish cynicism, because that will not lead to progress. The truth is that we are awash in solutions, so shouldn’t we try to bring them about? [Read more…]

Why I Am An Activist, #1

Editor’s note: this is the first in a series of articles touching on the topic of why we become activists. Each of us has come to support this cause from different backgrounds and for different reasons. Underlying all those differences though is one common concern (originally published in Indian Voices)

Activist_Header_ARTBy Lora Hilliard

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” – Rumi

The Earth suffers more today than it did when I was a child in the sixties. People still struggle to find hope like they did during that tumultuous decade; we continue to fight against poverty, war, discrimination, and pollution. But the fight against pollution has bloomed into a global effort to stop climate change – an undeniable consequence of human activity that threatens our very existence. Several recent experiences led to my heightened pledge to the environment and my association with SanDiego350.

Lora Hilliard

Lora Hilliard

Last summer, I travelled to Yosemite National Park with my family. We took the scenic route up California 395, entered the park from the east via the 120, and then drove to a campground on the west. Somewhere north of Bishop, I began to notice dead and dying evergreen trees. The condition worsened inside the park, and I wondered whether thousands of acres of suffering pines should have been expected on this trip. When we reached our campground, I examined a fallen tree to find visible signs of bark beetle damage, and my heart sank. Everywhere, injured pines were bloody with leaking sap. I could all but hear them scream in pain. Dead and dying trees faced me in every direction. The magnitude of it overwhelmed and broke my heart. I cried that night and found little joy on our hike among fallen trees the next day. [Read more…]

San Diego 350 Calls on Senators Feinstein and Harris to Reject Trump’s Climate Denier Cabinet

By David Harris, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 1/26/17

Two weeks ago, a sign-wielding crowd of 150 people gathered together in front of the downtown Federal Building to deliver an urgent message to California’s two Senators: reject four nominations made by President Trump to key cabinet-level level posts. Why? Because all four of these men deny the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change.

SD350 Cabinet Nominee Protest

Protesters rally against Trump’s Cabinet Nominees. Photo by Chris West.

At the peaceful but spirited rally, speakers Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coalition and newly elected Councilmember Georgette Gomez called upon Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris to reject Trump’s nominees. “I know how much California has done and plans to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” stated Takvorian, “and I know Senators Feinstein and Harris support this progress. That’s why it’s now so critical for them to take a vocal, principled stand and oppose these climate denying nominees who value corporate profits over our communities.”

[Read more…]

SD350 Impressions of the Downtown Women’s March

The International Women’s March was held on Saturday, January 21st, 2017. More than 670 sister marches were held around the world, in countries and places as diverse as Belarus, Ghana, Iraq, Vietnam, and Antarctica. All in all, an estimated 4.8 million people took part, all marching to declare that women’s rights are human rights, to demand justice for all, including the environment.

SD350 Women's March

SD350 members take part in Women’s March. Photo by Bill Wellhouse.

It all started on one computer, with Theresa Shook asking 40 Facebook friends what if they descended upon Washington DC around Inauguration day to make their demands known? The next morning, she awoke to find that 10,000 people had signed up. The event(s) only escalated from there, in true democratic fashion. One person, indeed, can make a difference.

[Read more…]

The Benefits of Community Choice Energy – and How California Utilities Aim to Block Them

Originally Published in the San Diego Free Press on 12/22/2016

by Tyson Siegele

In California, the fight is on between renewable energy advocates and the old guard electric utilities. All across California, cities and counties have been moving to implement Community Choice programs because they provide cheaper, cleaner, locally generated electricity. In fact these programs are so good, the utilities hope you never hear about them.

how-it-words-graphic

Community Choice Energy delivery model. The CCE provides energy, the utility provides transmission, and you receive cleaner, cheaper energy. Source: Peninsula Clean Energy

Before we get to the conflict and intrigue, let’s look at the basics of this new approach to buying electricity. Community Choice Energy, also known as Community Choice Aggregation, is a way for cities, counties or regions in California to look out for their own energy interests, a hybrid between regulated and deregulated electricity supply. The local utility still provides all of the billing services and infrastructure to supply electricity to the point of use, but they are no longer responsible for selecting the electricity supplier. Instead, the community chooses its energy supplier. Possibly the best part of a Community Choice Energy program is that it allows us choice. While CCEs across the state offer electricity with significantly more renewable content—and at lower costs than the utility—customers can still choose to stay with the status quo. No one is required to buy CCE power, anyone can opt-out. By example, let’s look at an actual program. [Read more…]

The Dakota Access Pipeline: a Tale of Two Characters

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press, October 27th, 2016

By Chris Barroso

As a member of San Diego’s 350.org, I’d followed the story of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) for some time, telepathically urging the protesters on. And then one day, my friend Paul Sasso called me. “Hey, let’s go up and join the protesters. We’ll take my Tesla.” Yeah, I replied. I could do that; the next week wasn’t too busy, or the week after that. When are you thinking? I asked. “I’ll pick you up in a couple hours,” he said.  Whoa, I thought for a moment; but I hurriedly packed, and soon we were off to the North Country.

On the way we talked about this 30 inch diameter pipeline, the rivers (Big Sioux, Missouri, and Mississippi) and the tribal lands it would cross. Eminent Domain, one of us said, shaking our head. Did it translate in Native American languages to “broken treaty”?

Another topic of discussion: major spills are common for oil and gas pipelines—a question of when, not if. As Bill McKibben explained in a New Yorker editorial, the pipeline was originally supposed to cross the Missouri River near Bismarck but those plans changed over concerns that an oil spill at that location would have wrecked the state capital’s drinking water. So the pipeline was shifted to a crossing half a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s treaty lands. Nice. Just how angry were these protesters going to be? It seemed only reasonable that some of that anger might flare in my light-complexioned direction. I took a deep breath as I watched the prairie fly by.

Dakota-Access-Pipeline-Camp

Oceti Sakowin (main camp) (photo by Paul Sasso)

We arrived on September 9th, the Friday after Labor Day, and rolled into the main camp, called Oceti Sakowin, (Och-et-ee shak-oh-win), meaning Seven Council Fires. As we strolled around the camp and met all kinds of people from all over the country, and all happy to chat, the little knots of anxiety in my stomach uncoiled. A fellow there from Florida with his family not only lent us a tarp but helped Paul and I set it up with the tent we borrowed. Everyone was warm, friendly, and thanked us for our visit. They want as many people as possible to come and help carry the message of protecting the water; not just for those of us alive now but for our children and grandchildren too. That’s why they called themselves protectors, not protesters. Fitting, I thought. Accurate.

[Read more…]

San Diegans Voice Concerns to State Officials About Air Quality, Environmental Justice, and Climate Change

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press, July 28th, 2016

What do you get when you bring together 120 environmental activists and residents from environmental justice communities in a room with a dozen state regulators? If you’re lucky, dozens of ideas for incentivizing renewable energy, improving public transit, and protecting neighborhoods from toxic industrial fumes.

This is exactly what happened on July 14th when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) sponsored a workshop on climate change at the beautiful new Cesar Chavez campus in Barrio Logan. Local residents, whose voices are rarely heard by policy makers in Sacramento, came out in force to speak out about air pollution from local industry, the need for better transit options, and the impacts of climate change on communities already impacted by poor air quality. [Read more…]

San Diegans in LA Action to Break Free from Fossil Fuels

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press, May 26th 2016

Over a two week period earlier this month, a wave of
Break Free from Fossil Fuels mass mobilizations was held around the globe. The first action saw hundreds of people peacefully shut down the UK’s largest open cast coal mine in Wales. In the Philippines, 10,000 marched demanding the cancellation of a proposed 600-Megawatt coal power plant. In Australia, 2,000 people shut down the world’s largest coal port for a day, with kayakers blocking the harbor entrance while others blocked a critical rail crossing. In Anacortes, Washington, over the course of three days, thousands converged by land and water at the site of two oil refineries. They marched, led by indigenous leaders, and held an overnight sit-in on the train tracks that led to over 50 arrests.  

These were but a few of the many Break Free actions in the campaign which was organized by 350.org with support and participation from a wide range of international, national and local organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity, National Nurses United and the United Church of Christ.

Figure 9 -BillMcKibbenWithSanDiegans AtBreakFreeLA

San Diegans with Bill McKibben – sporting his SD350 tee-shirt – at the end of the march

Closer to home, Los Angeles was the venue for a Break Free from Fossil Fuels action for people from all over California. Los Angeles is the biggest urban center for oil production in the nation and the Porter Ranch neighborhood was recently the site of the largest methane leak in U.S. history from SoCalGas’  Aliso Canyon gas storage facility.

The LA event started with a rally at City Hall which included high-profile speakers Bill McKibben (co-founder of 350.org) and businessman, philanthropist and environmentalist Tom Steyer, plus speakers from many local groups, including Save Porter Ranch and STAND LA – a group dedicated to ending neighborhood oil drilling in LA. McKibben reminded us of our “brothers and sisters around the world who right now are standing with you.”  He talked about the worsening climate crisis – recent loss of coral reefs in the Pacific and the heatwave in Southeast Asia. He said it’s important we turn up the heat and demand real leadership from Mayor Garcetti and Governor Brown, saying we don’t need them to do a “pretty good job”, we “need them really out in front treating it [climate change] like the crisis that it is.” [Read more…]