Earth Fair 2015 Scrapbook


In early observance of Earth Day, dozens of SD350 volunteers, high on solar power and down on fracking, showed up Sunday, April 19th to work at Earth Fair 2015.  (Officially Earth Day is April 22nd.)  60,000 fair-goers crowded into the park, many of them crossing Cabrillo Bridge and walking along El Prado where they came upon SD350’s Sustainability and Anti-Fracking booths. What a great spot for visibility! — right there on Balboa Park’s only western access route.

On the Prado

Volunteers are kept busy answering questions and soliciting petition signatures.

Volunteers Ken Fowler, Bob Braaton, and Bruce Graves are kept busy answering questions and soliciting petition signatures.

All day long on El Prado we could see from a distance that the largest groups of people were gathered in front of our booths, easily identified by our Blue Man and our willing volunteers bobbing with their yellow sun hats.                 — Sue Zesky, SD350 Earth Day volunteer coordinator


Easily visible, SD350’s Blue Man, Paul Sasso, helped slow traffic down so volunteers could corral them with our message about climate change: It’s happening, humans are causing it, and together we can do something about that.

Concerned mom urges son to listen while Emily explains what the family can do to guard his future against climate change.

Concerned mom urges son to listen while Emily Weir explains what his family can do about climate change. It’s his future.

Blue Man embrace of a kindred spirit from outer space draws cameras.

Blue Man’s embrace of a kindred spirit from outer space draws cameras.







A new attraction this year was the photo booth.  Volunteers enticed passers-by with the lure of having their picture taken for signing petitions on Nooks, also new this year.  With signers often waiting, volunteers could have used more of those Nooks.  Over 800 people signed petitions.

SD350's photo both offered fun sourvenir of  Earth Fair

Petitioner-signers got this fun souvenir from the photo booth.

Signers could don a wig or a mustache and hold their choice of climate-change slogan placard for three photos that would be made immediately into a bookmark they could take with them. Kids, especially, had fun mugging for the camera while their parents signed two petitions, one to Governor Brown to stop fracking in California and the other to Mayor Falconer to strengthen San Diego’s Climate Action Plan. Three copies of each bookmark were made. Two were signed on the back to be delivered, one to the governor and the other to the mayor, and the third went home with the petition-signer.


       Over 800 signatures gathered!


San Diego’s former Interim Mayor, current Councilman and Climate Action Plan champion Todd Gloria came by to offer encouragement.  He even joined in the photo booth hilarity.

Emily Weir and 350-man usher Todd Gloria into the photo booth, while Masada stands by with a petition and climate-change brochures.

Emily and Blue Man usher Todd Gloria into the photo booth, while Masada stands by with petitions and climate-change brochures.

All day long, people entered and exited Earth Fair by way of Cabrillo Bridge, providing many opportunities for SD350 volunteers to engage them in conversations about combating climate change.

Nicole appeals to fair-goers to learn about the harm caused by fracking.

Nicole, sporting a newsboy-in-knickers look, appeals to fair-goers to learn about the harm caused by fracking.

Fracking Team members seized this opportunity to inform the public that fracking degrades the environment and the water supply in a number of ways. But engaging people who know little about climate change issues takes some ingenuity. To introduce fracking to people who didn’t know what it was, Nicole Peill Moulter used this easy-to-grasp image:

In the past oil was easy to access, like a swimming pool of oil not too deep underground. We could drill a well and suck the oil up, like through a straw, without much effort. Now all that easy-to-access oil and gas has been used up. The only oil and gas left is locked up in shale rock layers many thousands of feet underground. So we have to use more extreme extractive processes like fracking.

Peg Mitchell found herself challenging a skeptic from the financial industry who didn’t like the idea of disrupting the economy with new policies to address climate change. She approached him from his own perspective: Hearing from her that there are known financial risks associated with climate change got his attention.


The Garden of Eating

Rob speaks to a crowd gathering to see his display of dumpster-derived food waste.

Rob speaks to a crowd gathering to see his display of dumpster-derived food waste.

One big attention-getter at Earth Fair 2015 was Rob Greenfield’s eye-catching Food Waste Fiasco, found in the Garden of Eating.  In addition, this year SD350’s Planet-Based Diet Team had a massive educational display right at the center of the park in the Plaza de Panama.  The featured message was the astonishing amount of greenhouse gases contributed to the atmosphere by animal agriculture — more than that produced by all transportation worldwide!

Colorful vegan sampler.

Attractively presented vegan sampler.





But the Garden of Eating had even more to offer, including live music and informative talks from their stage — with colorful vegan recipes to sample.


Kate ?? serves vegan sample to audience attending Planet-Based Diet Team's presentation at Garden of Eating stage.

Kate Placey serves vegan samples to an audience attending Planet-Based Diet Team’s presentation at the Garden of Eating.

Dynamic singer draws an audience to the Garden of Eating.

Dynamic rapper Kiyoshi Shelton draws an audience to the Garden of Eating with his empowering message of healthy, conscious living and hope for humanity.


High-Fives and Solar Smiles

In fact, SD350 gave this Earth Fair a lot of its energizing color.  High-fives from SD350’s Blue Man came in sizes from Adult Extra High to Toddler Extra Cute.

You're not so scary, Mr. Blue Man.

Wow! A big blue man and he’s giving me a high-five!

350man in high-5 (2)


Blue Man, being very tall and very blue, got people’s attention, but what drew them in was the photo booth. When Councilman Todd Gloria came by, he entered into the spirit of signature-gathering and smiled for the camera.

Kids in fake glasses with big noses and mustaches pose for their bookmark photos.

Kids in fake glasses with big noses and mustaches pose with important messages for their bookmark photos.

Todd Gloria holds a placard for his session in the photo booth.

Todd Gloria holds a placard for his session in the photo booth.










Among fair-goers, reactions were varied and the interest level high.

A supporter or a skeptic?  Hard to say, but Bruce has her attention  ... or does she have Bruce's?

A supporter or a skeptic? Hard to say, as Bruce explains climate change … or is she explaining it to Bruce?

He shakes the hand of a happy fan.

He shakes the hand of a happy fan.

An extrovert, SD350-man's appeal is universal.

Blue Man’s intergalactic appeal.

It was quite a day, exhausting but ultimately gratifying.  Many SD350 volunteers spent the whole day gathering electronic petition signatures on Nooks, explaining the need for a ban on fracking or how animal agriculture affects climate change, taking time out to wander around and see other booths and displays, and enjoying the camaraderie of our big group effort.

Peg was joined by her grandson.

Peg shares an SD350 solar smile with her grandson .

Bonnie draws in a passerby with, "Hey, you got that at the Garden of Eating, right?"

Bonnie draws in a prospective petition-signer with, “Hey, you got that at the Garden of Eating, right?” Not long after, she got signatures on both petitions.









A SanDiego350 high-ten to all who worked so hard to make our Earth Fair effort so successful.

High-tens for all the volunteers who worked so hard and with such spirit to make our Earth Fair effort so successful!

  's sunny smile gave our effort a friendly and inviting vibe.

Volunteer John Garcia welcomes the crowd with his solar smile.





Thanks to SD350 volunteers Bill Avrin, Janina Moretti, Martha Sullivan, Masada Disenhouse, Ashley Mazanec and Angela Deegan for sharing photos they took at Earth Fair 2015.











SD350 Awarded Patagonia Grant for Anti-Fracking Efforts — Again!

For the second year in a row, SD350 has been awarded a grant from the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. This year’s grant, which again recognizes SD350’s activism in the fight against fracking in California, is for $5000.

Patagonia logo tee-shirts and jackets are often seen on back-country trails.

Patagonia logo tee-shirts and jackets are favorite outdoor garb.

Patagonia’s grant program donates 1% of annual sales – not profit! – to local action-oriented organizations that build public involvement in defense of the environment. In a video on the company’s grant website, Lisa Pike Sheehy explains why: “No matter how much we strive for sustainability, we are still using non-renewable resources. For that, we tax ourselves.”

A privately held company, Patagonia has the freedom to fund grassroots groups that use creative methods to engage communities to take action on environmental issues, actions that include but also go beyond education and awareness-building. “We often fund groups that other companies don’t feel comfortable funding,” says spokesperson Hans Cole, adding, “Maybe it’s because the issues are too political or too hot. That’s where we feel we can make the most difference.”

Patagonia store at the corner of San Elijo Blvd. and Chesterfield Avenue in Cardiff.  .

Patagonia store at the corner of San Elijo Blvd. and Chesterfield Avenue in Cardiff.

San Diego County’s Patagonia store, which encouraged and received our grant applications, is located in Cardiff.  Local Patagonia stores accept grant proposals throughout the year. These are reviewed by the employees’ Grants Council at the Ventura headquarters, but the employees at the local stores are actively involved in deciding where the money goes for grants in their region. The Cardiff store North County is where the story of SD350’s successful grants begins.

At the end of the 2013-14 grant cycle, the Cardiff store still had money not yet granted. Because that store’s employees were concerned with the spread of fracking in California, they were looking around for a local group with an active anti-fracking record. They found SD350, and their representative Paul Amato contacted SD350’s Masada Disenhouse. That conversation, in which Masada detailed our anti-fracking activities, convinced Amato that SD350 should apply for a grant. Masada turned the project over to Peg Mitchell and Nicole Peill-Moelter, co-leaders of the Fracking Team, who wrote last year’s successful proposal.

For this year’s proposal, Peg and Nicole built on last year’s, emphasizing the year’s successes which had been helped along by the first Patagonia grant. Again, the reapplication began at the Cardiff store, where SD350’s Sue Zesky was soliciting donations of raffle items for the fall fundraiser featuring Bill McKibben. She was asked if SD350 would be interested in applying for a grant. Unaware we’d already been a grant recipient, she told Masada, which was how she found out about the first successful grant application.

SD350 Fracking Team members  ? Peg MItchell, and ?accept grant check from Cardiff store manager Dalton ???

SD350 Fracking Team members Helen Bouirne, Peg MItchell, and Margie Williams accept grant check from Cardiff store manager Dalton Smith.

The second proposal asks again for funds to build on SD350’s efforts to build a powerful grassroots movement with the goal of achieving a ban on fracking in California. The Fracking Team now has ongoing programs of community education, advocacy, and coalition-building throughout San Diego County, while at the same time managing to gain media visibility for those efforts.

Patagonia particularly supports SD350’s emphasis on coalitions with other local organizations, like CoastKeeper, Environmental Health Coalition, Activist San Diego, Citizens Climate Lobby, and others, exceeding last year’s goal of ten such partnerships. Within SD350’s membership, commitment to anti-fracking activism increased from 50 to 589.  This past year a collaboration formed between SD350 and IBEW Local in San Diego has generated a lot of enthusiasm. The electrical workers union has been helping us make the case that the clean energy economy does not have to sacrifice jobs.

Says Fracking Team co-leader Nicole Peill-Moelter of this second successful grant, “We’d accomplished so much with so little money, we earned that grant.”

The work of co-leaders Peg and Nicole has been recognized by invitations to join in organizing statewide anti-fracking actions. Peg was invited to attend a Californians-Against-Fracking Leadership Summit to discuss growing the movement and mapping out the 2015 campaign to stop fracking locally and statewide.

Ever the optimist, Peg gave this response to a question about future grant applications: “When the new application period begins on May 1, we may re-apply to make up the difference between the $5000 we received this year and the $12,000 we can possibly receive in a calendar year.”

Congratulations to Peg, Nicole, Masada, Sue and all SD350 members whose contributions of time and hard work have grown and energized the anti-fracking movement in San Diego County.

Plant-based Diet for a Healthy Planet

Garden of Eating

Hungry? Step Inside Earth Fair’s Garden of Eating!

Many of us take pains to do the right thing for the environment. We may recycle, take shorter showers, and turn the lights off when leaving a room. But did you know that you can eat your way into making an even bigger difference?

It’s true: food choices matter in so many ways. The great news is this is an area where personal health and happiness come together with conserving resources, building community, and addressing climate change – not to mention more compassion for the animals we share this planet with.

SD350 Planet-Based Diet Team

A recent SanDiego350 Planet-Based Diet Team book discussion of Comfortably Unaware. Click photo for the event presentation Powerpoint!

At this year’s Earth Fair on Sunday, April 19 from 10am – 5pm in Balboa Park, SanDiego350’s “Planet-Based Diet” team invites you into the Garden of Eating, where you can experience the pleasures of good food, good life, and good earth – and we promise, it’s anything but rabbit food!

Why Check It Out?

An overwhelming body of research shows that plant-based is planet-based. The UN says, “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”

How can this be? In a nutshell, we are now rearing 70 billion livestock animals for slaughter annually on a planet of 7 billion people, with both numbers growing each year. Yet our resources are finite, and it takes quite a bit of them – and causes shocking amounts of environmental damage – to accommodate these animals before they end up on our plates.

Got Drought?

PBD quote 3Take, for example, freshwater depletion. Per Pacific Institute, the crop receiving most of drought-stricken California’s water is alfalfa hay (livestock feed) and a whopping 47% of California’s total water footprint is associated with meat and dairy. Yet: “Eating lower on the food chain could allow the same volume of water to feed two Americans instead of one, with no loss in overall nutrition” (Scientific American, “Growing More Food With Less Water”). While Shorter showers save about 2.5 gallons, National Geographic says the average vegan diet saves 600 gallons of water per day! With California’s water supply running out, there’s no single more effective way to help save it.

Other areas of resource depletion in which animal agriculture is being called a leading cause are deforestation, water pollution, rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, and ocean dead zones. The documentary “Cowspiracy” explains this in further detail (check out their extensive fact sheet).

The Climate is Changing

And then there’s the creation of greenhouse gases and climate change, which is the focus of SanDiego350. Although energy and transportation are major contributors, animal agriculture is responsible for 35% of methane and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions, which trap much more heat than carbon dioxide (UN FAO). In PBD quote 2fact, animal agriculture is reportedly responsible for more emissions than all forms of transportation combined (UN FAO), with one more recent study finding it is responsible for 51% of total emissions (Worldwatch Institute)!

Deutsche Bank Research says, “Greenhouse gas emissions from meat-eating warrant the same scrutiny as do those from driving and flying.” And Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the UN IPCC, begs us, “Please eat less meat—meat is a very carbon-intensive commodity.” He adds that doing so is the most immediate and feasible way to reduce emissions in a short period of time.

Do Fish Count?

Although fish are often considered a more environmentally friendly option, our population’s demand for seafood is simply greater than the oceans are capable of producing. Outrageously, one third of all fish removed from the ocean, with most discarded as “bycatch,” are fed to livestock. Scientists say the oceans will be completely depleted at this rate by 2048. Additionally, removing too many fish from the ocean sets off a chain of events that further warms the atmosphere. Due to this rapid depletion of wild sea life, about half of the world’s fish currently come from fish farms, which are incredibly environmentally destructive and often poorly regulated.

But Grass-Fed Beef and Cage-Free Eggs Are Fine, Right?

Those opposed to factory farming may be reassured by meat labeled grass-fed, cage-free, local, organic, or sustainable. But what do these words really mean in this sense? Although impacts may be less in some areas, producing animal versus plant foods still uses far more resources and creates more greenhouses gases under any circumstances. Far more plants can be produced on a given acre of land, and using fewer resources, than animal foods. And ultimately, creating demand for meat products is what necessitates factory farming in the first place due to scarcity of land.

Need, Not Greed

Finally, consider the fact that one-third of all arable land on earth is used to grow livestock feed while millions of human beings starve to death each year – yet the World Hunger Program at Brown University found that a plant-based diet can feed billions more people. This seems like reason enough to give veg eating a try, no?

Death and Taxes… and Meat?PBD quote 1

With all this destruction being caused by animal agriculture and fishing, why are meat and animal products still so prevalent? Apart from current preferences and habits, it’s a clear case of profit over planet. Gigantic tax subsidies ($38 billion for meat and dairy vs. only $17 million for fruits and veggies, per Meatonomics) keep the price of meat products artificially cheap compared to the amount of irreplaceable natural resources used to produce them, and the true environmental cost is deferred to future generations ­– and possibly ourselves.

But Where Do You Get Your Protein?

Is a plant-based diet healthy? Most definitely! It is the American Dietetic Association’s position that vegetarian and vegan diets are “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases” and “are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle.” If our closest relative, the gorilla, can thrive as an herbivore, so can we!

Luckily, plant-based eating is a trend that’s here to stay. Vegan alternatives are getting better and better, and are now available in most grocery stores.

At the Garden of Eating, plenty of samples, demos, speakers, performers, factoids, and other features await you once you step inside, including nationally recognized environmental activist Rob Greenfield’s “Food Waste Fiasco.” Jimbo’s, San Diego Soy Dairy, and Be Wise Ranch have generously donated food and supplies for our food demonstration stage. Vegetarians and omnivores alike are welcome! No “vegan police” will be present. The hope is simply for you to come away inspired and excited about plant-based eating.

Garden of eating logoThe Garden of Eating will be located adjacent to the Timken Museum. Get more event info and RSVP here!

Bring your appetite, and we’ll see you there!

Graphics by Amy Duncan/Wonder Creative.



Rob Greenfield Donates to SD350’s Planet-Based Diet Team

Local powerhouse environmental activist and SanDiego350 member Rob Greenfield has kindly donated a $3,000 advance he received to a cause he passionately believes in: using our forks to change the world.

He has designated $1,500 to SanDiego350’s Planet-Based Diet team (which he is also now a member of), which advocates the environmental benefits of shifting to plant-based diets and reducing food waste, and the other $1,500 to FoodShift, a group that works to reduce food waste. Rumor has it that the advance is for a Discovery TV show Rob will be featured in!


Rob in a green field. (Photo:

This self-described “adventurer, activist, and dude making a difference” employs attention-getting tactics such as cycling across the US and living in a 50-square-foot San Diego home to promote living simply for the environment’s sake. Greenfield has been featured on BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, the Discovery Channel, USA Today, the LA Times, and more. He has vowed to live without bills or debt and to donate all of the money he makes to non-profits.

Although Rob chooses to live by example in every area of his activism, in his viral blog post “Lessons Learned From a Year Without Showering,” Rob writes, “If I could do only one thing to live in a manner that is good for the earth, my community, and myself it would be eating a plant-based diet.”

Much of Rob’s donation will be used for the Planet-Based Diet team’s “Garden of Eating” (click for Facebook event) area at EarthFair 2015 on April 19 in Balboa Park, which will take up a substantial area adjacent to the Timken Museum. The area will feature several of San Diego’s own 100% vegan food vendors, information exhibits, and a raised stage for speakers, performers, and cooking demos. Rob’s popular “Food Waste Fiasco,” in which he displays perfectly edible nonperishable food he rescues from dumpsters to spread awareness that up to 40% of food is thrown away, will also be part of the area and sure to draw a crowd.


Rob at a previous Food Waste Fiasco, surrounded by food he rescued from dumpsters to show how much perfectly good food is wasted. (Photo:

SanDiego350 gives a heartfelt thank you to Rob for his generous donation! We are very proud to call him a SanDiego350 and Planet-Based Diet team member.

To learn more about how animal agriculture and food waste contribute to climate change and global resource depletion, visit our Planet-Based Diet team webpage.

Recycling Water to Our Garden

Juan at Activist Training Workshop in August

Juan at Activist Training Workshop last August

SD350 Member’s Family Makes Water Recycling Simple and Do-able

Last September, SD350 sponsored an Activist Training Workshop.  One of the attendees was Juan Ahumada, a graduate student, Teaching Assistant and Undergraduate Adviser in the Communications Department at SDSU.  Juan had been looking for an organization where he might direct his energy and skill towards the purpose of combating climate change.  In this open letter for our blog, he describes how his family recycles water to their garden, helping to mitigate the 19% of California’s electricity used for pumping water, as well as the energy used in mechanized agriculture and transportation of food to market.  The simple methods of water conservation he describes here will become ever more important as we adapt to climate-change-induced drought.  The more families that practice home gardening with recycled water, the better our region will be able to deal with the consequences of climate change.  The following description of how Juan’s family does this is inspiring — and very do-able.   Bonnie


My name is Juan Ahumada, I am a SD350 volunteer and climate activist. I wanted to post a short blog on how my family and I go about recycling our water in order not only to have a beautiful garden, but also to be mindful of the water crisis that has plagued our state.

Could this be corn coning up with the verbena and cactus in a neighborhood garden?

All the plants in our garden are watered by recycled household water.

Having always been a low-income family, we have needed to adjust our life-style in order to save as much money as possible. One of the most important things we do to save money is pick fresh fruits and veggies from our garden.  To have this healthy benefit, we use recycled water.

Saving water and having a beautiful garden in the process is very easy to do. All you really need is a bucket, some land, and a little bit of time. My family uses water from baths and showers, hand washing, laundry, and dish washing in order to water virtually all of our plants. This not only saves us hundreds of dollars a year in water costs, but also provides us with fresh fruits and vegetables year round.

Most of our water — with the exception of outflow from the washing machine — is moved by hand via buckets to the garden. We simply lock up the bathtub drain in order to keep the water in the tub, then scoop the water up and put it in a bucket that is always kept next to the bath. Then when we are ready all it takes is a quick trip outside to pour the water into whatever plants need watering on that day. We repeat this same process with all of our sinks. On a daily basis we average approximately three-to-five buckets of water for the garden from this method alone

Here we've staked bean vines with branches, recycling garden waste, too.

Here we’ve used bamboo that also grows in our garden as stakes to hold up beans and tomatoes.

It didn’t take very long for us to notice that the most wasteful appliance we have in the home is our washing machine. In fact, for every load of laundry the machine will use anywhere from 2-3 buckets of water which we are then expected to just let go to waste. Well, instead we collect that water in a large tub and using either a hose or a water pump we transport the water to several locations within the garden.

The plants don't seem to mind soap bubbles and they discourage pests.

The plants don’t seem to mind soap bubbles and they discourage some pests.



By engaging in water recycling my family not only saves hundreds of dollars each year, but we are able to do so while still maintaining a beautiful year-round garden providing us with all sorts of fruits and vegetables.

The water we recycle easily makes up over 60% of the water we need to keep our garden healthy and productive. In return, our garden provides us with many different foods ranging from multiple species of cacti, prickly pears, to apple trees, a pomegranate tree, an avocado tree, cinnamon, and even sugar cane. For my family, saving water and gardening have always been a big part of our lives. We first did it out of necessity, but now we do it because it’s simply the right thing to do for the environment, and our health.


Rally Rhyme

Rally Rhyme

March for Real Climate Leadership, Oakland




A quiet sleep did fly us there,

Us travelers with tangled hair

But not so tangled up in knots

As governors in chess board spots.


The push and pull of tug-of-war

2for sons and daughters, what’s in store?

We’ve come from miles, miles away

Please hear our woes, as woes they stay:



3Please let our land be free from waste

From toxic streams and rumbling earthquakes

For thirstier we grow each year

Without your help, we’ll drink our tears.

The wells are running dry, they say

And yet we wait another day.


Lawless acts and bleeding noses

Residents of Dish have told us4

Scrolls unroll the chemicals

This practice is now medical.


Airborne benzene, CO2,

The price of power is up to you.5


 Dear Governor, please hear our voice

 With energy we have a choice.

6 7 8 9 10 11

SanDiego350 Applauds President Obama for Keystone XL Veto (Press Release)

Calls on the President to reject the project outright

SAN DIEGO, CA – In San Diego and across the nation today, citizens concerned about climate change applauded as President Barack Obama vetoed legislation that would have forced him to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL). SanDiego350 (SD350), an all-volunteer climate action group, called the presidential veto a battle won in the fight against KXL, but noted that it does not stop the pipeline’s construction. The pipeline would cross an international border, so its ultimate approval rests with the President. SD350 is urging the President to take this last crucial step.

Masada Disenhouse, a co-founder of SD350, said, “Yes, of course I’m happy that the President vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline.  But I’m more anxious for him to finally reject it once and for all.  If he fails to take this action – that is totally within his power to do – then he fails to be the climate leader that the world so desperately needs right now.”

President Obama has promised to disapprove construction of the KXL if it would make climate change significantly worse. Federal agencies and top scientists agree that it would.  The 800,000 barrels of crude oil to be transported daily through KXL will be extracted from the tar-sands of Alberta, Canada. Oil extracted from tar sands crude causes 17% to 22% more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than does oil produced from conventional crude oil. The destination of this particularly dirty crude is the refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, from where most of it would subsequently be exported.

Another SanDiego350 co-founder Janina Moretti said, “KXL would create only about 35 permanent jobs and it’s only in the short-term interests of TransCanada and not at all in the interests of the average American who is already starting to experience disruptive weather events related to climate change.  Looking at it as a Southern Californian, why risk worsening our already critical drought and wild-fire situation to help out a corporation?”

According to climate scientists, we must keep global warming at or below 2° Celsius (or 3.6° Fahrenheit) to avoid the worst impacts. They estimate that, to stay within that limit, humanity must burn no more than 565 gigatons of carbon by 2050. Globally, it is estimated that five times that amount exists in oil, coal and gas reserves, meaning that 80% of these reserves would thus need to be left in the ground to keep global warming within the range recommended by climate scientists. SD350 argues that the extra emissions associated with tar sands crude oil production make the case for leaving it in the ground even stronger.

Noting this link between KXL and climate change, Peg Mitchell, a grandmother and volunteer with SanDiego350, stated, “If I didn’t act to stop this horrifying threat to my grandkids’ future, I couldn’t live with myself. This country should be focused on a moonshot-type effort to get off all fossil fuels now.”

Opponents of KXL include groups concerned with public health. RN Janice Webb, regional director of the California Nurses Association-National Nurses United, weighed in: “Nurses denounce the Keystone pipeline as a danger to public health.  Keystone’s tar sands oil poses a far greater hazard than conventional oil, and has already caused a spike in cancer deaths, renal failure, lupus and hyperthyroidism in Alberta, Canada.  Accidents in oil transport have become all too common and cause disastrous contamination of air and water supplies.  We call on President Obama to stand up for the health of children, the elderly, and all people, and oppose the Keystone Pipeline.”

SanDiego350 and its partners have actively opposed the Keystone pipeline since early 2013, with rallies and “pipeline walks”  in Mission Bay, Mission Beach, Balboa Park, La Jolla, downtown San Diego and even at Comic-Con.  They stand against the endless mining of fossil fuels and for an expedited transition to clean energy. The time is now, they believe, for the President finally to reject KXL outright.

From Comic-Con 2013    
2013 Comic-Con

From Feb 2013 Rally at Mission Bay Photo by Alex Turner
February 2013, Rally at Mission Bay – Photo by Alex Turner

California Nurses Association at downtown KXL vigil, February 2014 by Diane Lesher
February 2014, California Nurses Association at KXL downtown vigil –  Photo by Diane Lesher

Mission Beach. February 2014 - photo by Doug Fowley
February 2014, Mission Beach  – photo by Doug Fowley

SanDiego350, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, is concerned about climate change and its very real effects on our livelihoods, well-being, and the future for our children. We work to increase awareness of climate change and advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are loosely affiliated with, the international climate organization, whose work inspires us.

Photo Essay: High Water Line

Martin Luther King Day was a gorgeous winter day in San Diego, perfect for visually demonstrating the effect of climate change on one of our favorite communities, Mission Beach.  Sea-level rise is already starting to affect this popular beach community, and by 2050 high tides will be reaching across Mission Boulevard.  Misson Bay Flooding Map from SD FDN

By the end of the century, if public policy towards climate change doesn’t recognize the threat of sea-level rise, Mission Beach will be mostly under water.  The purpose of demonstrating this threat was to create public support for a stronger Climate Action Plan (CAP) for San Diego in an effort to mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change.

Michael Brackney and Linda Case look encouraged by the support of Mike of Kokjaks

Michael Brackney and Linda Case look encouraged by the support of Mike of Kojaks

With the aid of a map showing where the High Water Line (HWL) is likely to be by 2050, the Crowd Engagement Team (CET) planned a “public art installation” event, using a mechanical chalker to create a visual representation of  the HWL along the east-side sidewalk of Mission Boulevard.  The original idea for this event comes from Eve Mosher of Brooklyn, NY.  Find out about events like ours that Eve has inspired at

In the two weeks preceding our event, members of the CET and the Media Team canvassed community businesses to tell them about SD350’s plan to stage this event.

Because Mission Beach has already experienced some effects of sea-level rise, notably at high tides during storms, we found that most business owners and residents see the need for stronger public policy to mitigate climate change.  Canvassers were able to gather fifty-three signatures from business owners, employees and residents to urge the San Diego City Council to adopt a stronger Climate Action Plan.

Ray gets a signature from the owners of Arslan's and Vashida's Greek Restaurant.  Some of us returned to eat a late lunch there after the HWL event.

Ray Paulson gets a signature (and a free sample!) from the owners of Arslan’s and Vashida’s Restaurant. Some of us returned to eat a late lunch there after the HWL event.

Jeanne and Ellen: Time to get started.

Jeanne and Ellen are all smiles: Time to get started.


On the actual day of the HWL chalking, SD350 volunteers gathered at the north-east corner of Mission Boulevard and Mission Bay Drive.  The eagerness on the faces of CET-leader Jeanne Peterson and record-keeper Ellen Speert (with the clipboard) indicate they’re ready for the day’s action.



The media showed up right from the start.  Channels 6, 8, 10 and KPBS covered our HWL event.  (See links to media coverage below photo gallery.)

KPBS cameraman films Dwane Brown interviewing Mission Blvd. business owner.

KPBS cameraman films Dwane Brown interviewing Mission Boulevard business owner Jason Daung.

So, how does one go about generating so much interest and media coverage for chalking a high-water line?  You can come along with us as we walk north on Mission Boulevard, chatting with news folks, tourists, residents and business owners along the way..

Leaving Belmont Park's historic roller coaster behind, the line starts north on Mission Blvd.

Leaving behind Belmont Park’s historic roller coaster, the line starts north on Mission Blvd.

Rachel Eggers spreads and sets the chalk line with a broom.

Ellen runs the chalker while Rachel Eggers spreads and sets the chalk line with a broom.








Michael becomes our stenciling expert.  Check out the cool shadow of the stencil!

Check out the cool shadow Michael makes when he carefully lifts the stencil.

Bill Avrin, assisted by 3rd generation Mission Beach resident Robby Shea, gives MIchael a break.

3rd-generation Mission Beach resident Robby Shea joins Bill Avrin, giving Michael a break from stenciling.








James chalks a hashtag along the HWL.

James Long chalks a hashtag along the HWL.

Dave Engel inspects his sea-level rise message.

Dave Engel inspects his sea-level-rise message.








Ray Paulson refills the chalker.

The chalker must be re-filled.  Ray volunteers.

Ellen engages a citizen in conversation about the effects of climate change on sea-level,

Ellen engages a curious citizen in conversation about the effects of climate change on sea-level.








Susan Crowe and Michael Zimmer walk the line.

Susan Crowe and Michael Zimmer walk the line.

Ken Brucker talks with employee at   Surf Shop

Ken Brucker talks with Allison Gardner Liquid Foundation Surf Shop

Ralph gets stenciling on film.

Closing in for a detailed shot, Ralph Chaney gets Michael setting a stenciling on film.

Chalkers pass iconic, zero-emissions beach cruiser.

Chalkers pass iconic, zero-emissions beach cruiser.

Ralph gets video footage of Ashley explaining the action for SD350.

Ashley Mazanec explains the action while Ralph films for SD350’s website.

MB attorney John Ready is one of many proprietors who gladly displayed our HWL poster in their windows.

One of many proprietors who gladly displayed our HWL poster in their windows is attorney John Ready.

Michael Brackney chats up a Camaro driver who stopped to see what was going on.

Michael chats up a Porsche driver who stopped to see what was going on.

Sidewalk skater checks out sea-level-rise messages along the HWL.

Like many passers-by, this sidewalk skater checks out sea-level-rise messages along the HWL.

,,, and the line continues

… and the line continues.





























The bright white line that started at the corner of Mission Bay Drive and Mission Boulevard went north as far as Pacific Beach Boulevard, a distance of just over a mile. Along the way, SD350 members had many opportunities to converse with people passing by. Vacationers and residents alike were aware of climate change, but many learned something they hadn’t known about one of its damaging effects: sea-level rise, right here in Mission Beach.  That, plus the great media coverage, the good time we all had, and the companionship we enjoyed made the HWL action the success we all hoped it would be.

Many thanks to Bill Avrin for his pictures of the HWL event.  It must also be said that Angela Deegan and Ashley Mazanec of the Media Team were largely responsible for the outstanding media coverage.



To access media coverage of this event, follow any of these links:

Compilation of TV coverage, excluding Channel 10. I’m not sure who provided this:
Photos posted on the SD350 Facebook page:


A Simple Guide to Improving Your Home Energy Efficiency

I’m a techie and tinkerer by nature, and as a Sierra Club Life Member, I’m always looking into ways to reduce my carbon footprint. Some of these ideas I came up with on my own, and some of them I learned about in this excellent series written by Daily Kos founder Markos “kos” Moulitsas:

I’ll talk about them in order of increasing cost.

Live Energy Use Monitoring
One of the first questions you might wonder is “Exactly how much energy is my household using right now?” There is a way to find out your instantaneous energy usage. In order to do this you need to have a smart energy meter installed at your house, and check with your electric utility company to find out which devices it supports. Here is the info for SDG&E:

I chose the Rainforest Eagle recommended in the kos article. It can be purchased at for about $100.


Once you get the device, you have to go online to register it with SDG&E. They notify you when it has been approved, and then you can install it on your home network. Using either a web browser or smart phone (I use EnergyVue on my Samsung Galaxy S4) you can get an instant “meter” reading for the electric consumption in your house.


You can then experiment with turning household appliances on/off to discover which ones are the biggest power draws.

Proximity Sensors for Utility Room Lights
How many times have you gone into your laundry room, turned on the light, and then left it on all day accidentally? I do this a lot. At one of my weekly forays into Home Depot, I was thinking about this and looked in the lighting section to see what kind of automation was available. That’s where I found this:


It automatically turns on the light when I open the laundry room door. Five minutes after I leave, it automatically shuts off. You can also turn it on and off manually. It costs around $20 for one. Also useful in kids’ play rooms or any other room that is infrequently occupied.

The wiring isn’t that hard… (Author’s note: I have Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Electrical Engineering so your definition of “hard” may vary from mine.) Here it is installed in my laundry room.


Switch to LED Lighting
LED lighting prices have come down a lot. They are more expensive up-front than traditional incandescent bulbs, but their electricity consumption is a lot lower, so they pay for themselves over time. You can now get dimmable and 3-way LEDs easily at Home Depot. I also have a lot of chandelier lighting in my house; some of those bulbs I had to order online. The new track lighting I recently installed also could use LED bulbs.





You have to be careful, though, because LED lights tend to be a little larger than their incandescent counterparts. Bring the old bulb with you to the store and compare its size to the larger LED bulb, keeping in mind the space requirements of the fixture. You may need to take some measurements of the fixture to make sure the new LED bulb fits. I have had to return a few LED bulbs because they were too big to fit in the enclosure.

Get a Smart Thermostat
I got a Nest learning Thermostat last year. They are not cheap at $249. I got mine simply because I hated the controls of my old thermostat. It’s like having an iPod interface for your thermostat.


Where this can help you conserve energy is that it can be set to “Home” and “Away” modes. In “Away” mode, the house heating or cooling threshold is set for maximum energy conservation. For the first few weeks you manually set “Home” and “Away” when you enter/leave your house. Eventually it learns your patterns and does this automatically.

It also learns how long it takes for your heater or A/C to move the temperature from the “Away” point to the “Home” point and will kick in your heating or cooling system early so your house is at your comfort point by the time you get home. It can also be controlled manually from your smart phone.


Have Solar Panels Installed
This is potentially the most expensive endeavor, depending on how you choose your arrangement with the solar installer. Most installers provide both Buy and Lease options. With a Lease Option they lease you the system, but your reduced energy bill plus lease fee will be lower than your existing monthly energy bill.

I went with Stellar Solar and chose to buy the system outright. It was around $21000 installed, but I was able to claim 30% of my installation cost as Federal Tax Credit in 2013. The credit is available through the end of 2016. You can find the details on this and other Federal energy credits here:

Energy usage report provided by Stellar Solar to size my solar system:


SDG&E Smart Meter


Solar inverter install and wiring


You can barely see the solar panels on the roof


You can see my Yelp review of Stellar Solar here:

The whole process takes several months. There are some permits needed by SDG&E, your electric meter may need to be upgraded, and of course there is the solar panel installation, power inverter, all the wiring, and installing new breakers in your breaker panel. They handled all of this, and I just had to be at the house a few times to give them or the SDG&E inspectors access.

One thing to consider before installing solar panels is the state of your roof. If you have an older house and it is nearing its typical lifespan, you’ll probably want to get it redone before you have solar panels installed. I had an inspection done and decided it was the smart thing to do.

Other Things You Can Do
Now you have an idea of ways to improve your home energy efficiency, ranging from simple to grandiose. There are many areas I haven’t touched upon that you can do. Here a just a few of them:

  1. Replacing a home appliance? Check Consumer Reports reviews for newer energy efficient models that have met Energy Star compliance testing by the EPA. See
  2. Getting a bigger TV? LCD, OLED and plasma TV display technologies all have different energy consumptions rates. See
  3. Live in an older house? Have a home energy audit done to see where all your heat is escaping. See

The bottom line: Any time you are considering a home improvement project, whether it’s a DIY or you are hiring a professional, add energy efficiency improvement to your list of criteria when making a decision. With a little extra effort, you can save money and help Mother Earth.

In Deep: Sea-Level Rise and San Diego

As we burn more fossil fuels, and thus pump more heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are changing every aspect of earth’s climate system. One of the many consequences is that the sea is rising.

On January 19, San Diego 350 will stage a simple action to help make people more aware of what rising seas mean to San Diego right now, as well as in the future. We’re going to Mission Bay, which is pretty much ground-zero for sea-level rise in our county, to mark out where the high-water line is likely to be in about thirty years. Come join us. It’s pretty striking where that line will be.

This page will give you some of the background on why this action is important. We’ll fill you in on what is causing the sea to rise, how it is likely to rise over time, and why it matters to us in San Diego.

Why the sea is rising.The sea is rising now because [1,2,3] water expands as it warms, like the mercury in a thermometer. It is also rising because higher temperatures are melting glaciers worldwide. Even the great Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets are beginning, gradually, but possibly inexorably, to melt and slide into the sea. The world’s average sea level has already risen about eight inches since the start of the Industrial Revolution [1,2,3]. How far and how fast it rises in the future depends on how much fossil fuel we continue to burn and how rapidly the great ice sheets respond to the warming climate. Though both of these factors are hard to predict [1,2,3], one recent estimate is that global average sea level is likely to rise 12 to 18 inches by 2050, and 36 to 55 inches by 2100 [4]. It could rise 30 or 40 feet over the next few centuries, if the Greenland [3,5] and West Antarctic [6] ice sheets collapse.

Here and now. Though 12 to 18 inches over a few decades might not seem like much, sea-level rise is something we need to deal with, right here in San Diego. The map below, from a report by the San Diego Foundation [7], shows what even a little sea-level rise can do to a low-lying area such as Mission Beach. By 2050, roughly half of Mission Beach will likely be flooded at high tide. Much of the rest would be flooded about once in five years, when higher sea levels, high tides and waves from big storms combine.

Sea-level rise will flood Mission Beach by 2050

Rising seas will likely flood much of San Diego’s Mission Beach by 2050. The area in purple would be flooded at high tide. The area in blue would be flooded about once in five years, when storm-driven waves come on top of rising seas and high tide. (Source: San Diego Foundation/California Climate Change Center.)

That flooding is going to cost San Diegans real money. Our quick check of real-estate listings suggests that property in Mission Beach costs about $20 Million to $40 Million per acre. At those prices, the property within the five-year flooded area on the map below is worth roughly $1 to 2 Billion. That estimate is very crude, of course, but it does indicate that sea-level rise can have real economic consequences.

2050 is only thirty-five years away. That’s about the length of a typical mortgage. It’s well within the time-scale on which we make plans for our lives, including our plans for financial security. If your financial planning includes property in Mission Beach, sea-level rise is something you need to think about, right now.

More than flooding. The rising sea will do more than flood property. It will exacerbate the loss of beaches that we are already suffering [8]. It will shrink what little is left of our coastal wetlands [9,10]. Those wetlands are nurseries for fish and shellfish, vital habitat for endangered birds and other wildlife, and natural filters for the polluted runoff from our streets [11,12].

Rising seas will also increase coastal erosion [13,14], which is already a problem in many San Diego communities such as Solana Beach [15], Carlsbad, Encinitas and others. California as a whole could lose 41 square miles of land to the sea by 2100 [16]. That’s equivalent to erasing a strip of land 200 feet wide along our entire 1100-mile coast. However, the actual erosion would be concentrated in certain areas, so the loss in those places would be even greater.

Too much of the wrong kind of water. One of San Diego’s biggest rising-sea problems is happening hundreds of miles away, in the San Francisco Bay Delta.

The Delta is a vast, low-lying maze of channels, fed by the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers and emptying into San Francisco Bay [17,18]. Much of Southern California’s water [17,18], including 20 to 30 % of San Diego’s [19], is pumped from a collection point in the Delta.

Jones-Levee-Break-berkeley-coutesy dwr

Sea-level rise increases the risk of a severe levee break in the San Francisco Bay Delta, which could shut down much of Southern California’s water supply for months. (Photo: CA Dept. of Water Resources.)

The problem is that the water level in the channels needs to stay a certain distance above sea level, to keep out the salt water that tries to push its way in from the Bay [18,20]. Yet, the reclaimed ground between the channels has sunk as much as 15 feet below sea level [17]. The water in the system is precariously kept above sea level by 1100 miles of aging levees. If those levees break at the wrong place, the water in the channels will drop, sea water will flood into the channels from the Bay, and the water supply for 25 million Californians [18] will be ruined for weeks or months [20]. As the sea rises, the water level in the Delta, and the pressure on those rotting levees, must increase. Sea-level rise is thus one of several factors that are making this vital water system unsustainable [18,20].

Our governor has advocated a possible fix that would cost $23 Billion [21]. That’s $600 for every person in the state. In this sense, the rising sea is costing us all real money, no matter how far above sea level we live. Our perilous water system is one very concrete example of how we are connected in surprising ways to places far away, and how much our well being depends on public policy that recognizes the reality of our changing environment.

Beyond San Diego. Of course, sea-level rise affects far more than our city and our state. The United States has more than $1 Trillion worth of infrastructure at risk of going under water, with just a two-foot rise in sea level [2]. Many American cities are at increasing risk of flooding at high tide [22]. That risk is especially high on the East and Gulf Coasts. There, sea-level rise is compounded because the land is sinking and the slowdown of the Gulf Stream – itself a consequence of global warming – is pushing the sea upward along the shore [23] .

Sea-level rise increases hurricane flooding.

A foot or two of sea-level rise can greatly increase the area flooded in a hurricane. (Photo: NOAA)

In addition, in many America cities, a small rise in sea level can markedly increase the risks of flooding during severe storms. In San Francisco Bay, with sea levels just six inches higher, a relatively routine storm, such as might come along once a decade, could produce the same flooding that a much more severe, once-a-century storm would have produced before [24]. In Long Island Sound, a 19-inch rise in sea level would increase the property loss due to storm surge by 73% [25]. If the sea had been that high during Hurricane Sandy, coastal flooding losses would have been nearly $14 Billion. [26. See table, “The ten most significant flood events by National Flood Insurance payouts.”]

Along America’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts, more than 4 million homes worth more than $1 Trillion are at risk from hurricane storm-surge damage today. [26. See table, “Total potential residential exposure to hurricane storm-surge damage in coastal states.”] Higher sea levels will make this risk even greater. With so much investment at stake, rising seas are a very important factor in our nation’s economic security.

The future is now. The risks to Mission Bay, our Delta water system, and our nation’s infrastructure are examples of the very practical reasons why we need to mitigate climate change right now. But an even bigger reason is that our choices today will determine so much of the future, for such a long time to come.

Our responsibility to the future is spelled out by the physical processes that are causing the sea to rise. Those processes have several implications. First, the fossil fuels we burn today will affect the climate for hundreds or thousands of years, because the carbon dioxide we emit today will stay in the atmosphere that long [27,28,29]. Second, depending on how much carbon dioxide we allow to accumulate, the sea could rise by a tremendous amount over the next few hundred years: 23 feet if the Greenland ice sheet melted [5], another 15 feet if the West Antarctic ice sheet collapsed [6], even 70 feet if parts of the East Antarctic ice sheet collapsed as well [30]. Third, we are in deeper than we realize: As the heat slowly mixes down into the ocean and the ice sheets slide slowly downhill, the sea will continue to rise for centuries, just based on the greenhouse gases we have already emitted [3,5,6,31,32,33]. Yet, fourth, it is never too late to act: Although we have already caused a certain amount of sea-level rise that will unfold over time, we can always keep it from rising faster and farther by burning less fossil fuel [2,3,5,6,31,32,33].

Our action on January 19 is our effort to alert our fellow San Diegans to the reality of sea-level rise, its importance for us here and now, and the responsibility we have to every person who lives after us. We hope you will join us in Mission Beach, to see one small example of how real that responsibility is.


Thanks to George for his hard work researching sea-level rise, and to Bonnie for her thoughtful critique.

Creative Commons License This text is used here by permission of the author, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.