Geothermal Energy Visuals

Here in San Diego, we have not only a lot of sunshine for solar energy, but also an exceptional potential for geothermal energy based on the heat that flows up from deep inside the earth.

Last spring, SD350’s Peg Mitchell was given a tour of the John Featherstone Facility, a geothermal energy plant located within the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area in the Imperial Valley. Peg has written about what she learned for SD350’s October column in the San Diego Free Press.

In case you’d like to learn a little more, we’ve shown below a few presentation slides provided by a company developing this renewable energy resource in our region.

You can link here to Peg’s report in SD350’s monthly article in the environment section of San Diego Free Press.

The Salton Sea area of the Imperial Valley has the largest known California has the largest known geothermal potential of any state in the U.S.

The Salton Sea area of the Imperial Valley has the largest known California has the largest known geothermal potential of any state in the U.S.  Its 1800MW potential electric generating capacity is 80% as much as the recently shut-down nuclear power plant at San Onofre.

Historically, California has tried to make use of this energy resource, but it's had challenges.  Many attempts have been abandoned.

Historically, California has tried to make use of this energy resource, but it’s had challenges. Many attempts have been abandoned.

A local newspaper clipping from 1957 documents one early attempt.

A local newspaper clipping from over half a century ago documents the enthusiasm accompanying attempts to make this resource work for California.

The steam that emerges contains many impurities that have posed challenges to those who have tried to use this energy resource.

The steam that emerges contains many impurities that are among the challenges to those who have tried to use this energy resource.

This list shows the kinds of compounds found in the brine.

This list shows the kinds of compounds found in the brine.

The most recent installation uses a modern technique called "flashing" to

The most recent installation, built by EnergySource uses a modern technique called “triple flashing” to gather energy from steam produced by underground geothermal reservoirs.

This flow chart shows the how the triple flashing process works.

This flow chart shows the how EnergySource’s triple flashing process works.


These slides and many more comprise a visual array used for the Borrego Springs Energy Day presentation about the history and potential of geothermal energy in the Imperial Valley.  If you’re interested in seeing the Energy Day slides, you can link to it here:  2015 Borrego Energy Day Presentation

Climate Justice Forum: Answering Earth’s Call

“We are hope gathering.” — Rev. Beth Johnson


gathered in the courtyard - IMG_0034-crop

The courtyard was filled with energy.

So many people came. The courtyard of St. Paul’s at Fifth and Nutmeg reverberated with their energy. They crowded into the Great Hall. People of many faiths and affiliations were gathered together, encouraged and challenged by Pope Francis’s courage, taking in and giving out the hope he inspires in us.

Pope Francis, as perhaps no one else could, is making the world see that climate change is a moral issue: a matter of justice for the poor, the vulnerable, and the children, who have done least to cause climate change and will suffer the most from it.


People crowded into the Great Hall.

Responding to Francis’s moral challenge, SanDiego350 joined with representatives of four great faiths, as well as other advocates for justice and the environment, in an Interfaith Forum on Climate Justice. The Forum took place last Thursday night, September 24, the day of Pope Francis’s historic speech to Congress. More than 300 people attended.

MFOP square

Our coalition unites many faith, social justice, environmental, labor and other groups.

The Forum reflected how broad the climate movement is becoming. The program included clergy and religious teachers from twelve congregations and religious centers, and spokespeople from labor, environmental and community empowerment groups. The program’s sponsor, the San Diego Coalition to Preserve Our Common Home, includes thirty-three different religious and other organizations.

The Coalition was inspired by Pope Francis and is named for his historic encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. The Forum is the beginning of a long-term coalition effort for climate justice.

Lots more photos here.


Moments to move and change us

Elders leading, children reminding us they will inherit the world we make.

Rabbi Laurie Coskey (l) and Very Rev. Penny Bridges lead the ceremonies. The choir looking on reminds us that today’s children will inherit the world.

The Forum brought some beautiful and memorable moments:

  • Clergy in liturgical attire processing into the Great Hall, followed by other community leaders, to the music of the St. James Academy youth choir: elders guiding us toward the future, the sweet voices of children reminding us that they are the ones who will inherit the world we make.
  • All of us taking a moment to post photos to our friends, tagged with “I stand for #ClimateJustice,” “My faith inspires me to #ActOnClimate,” and “Grateful to be surrounded by #Faiths4Climate.”
  • We reached up together.

    A prayer of movement: 300 people reaching upward in unison.

    300 people‘s hands reaching upward together in a prayer of movement, under the banners of the many faith and community groups gathered to speak for climate justice.

  • Everyone sweating on a sultry evening, making a small common sacrifice for our common future, experiencing in the most direct way how the everyday feel of our lives will change as the climate warms.


The wisdom of many faiths

Rev. J. Lee Hill: "We must care for the Earth because God cared enough to create it."

Rev. J. Lee Hill: “We must care for this Earth because God cared enough to create it.”

Speakers at the Forum offered insights from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. Nana Firman of the Islamic Center of San Diego spoke of men and women as only stewards, holding the Earth in trust. Rev. J. Lee Hill, Jr., of Christian Fellowship Congregational Church, spoke of stewardship as well: “We must care for this Earth because God cared enough to create it.” Rabbi Shai Cherry told us of Sukkot, the festival of water, in which ancient Hebrews gave sacrifices to help bring rain to all nations. Kent Peters of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego spoke of the need for dialogue, especially with those who do not yet see the urgency of climate action. Karma Lekshe Tsomo reminded us, from a Buddhist perspective, that climate justice flows from the principles of loving compassion, interdependence and simple living.

All of the Forum’s speakers reinforced a common message: Climate action is not only a practical necessity, but a matter of justice and moral obligation.


Hope on the move

For many of us, one of the most moving thoughts of the evening came from Rev. Beth Johnson of the Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Early Thursday morning, watching the Pope come forward to speak to Congress, she hadn’t known why she was in tears. A friend on the telephone put it together: “He is hope walking.”

St. Stephens's  young choir ended the program by reminding us that we embody hope.

The young singers of St. Stephen’s ended the program with a song of hope.

Hope is on the move. We can feel climate action growing into a broad movement. Like the Civil Rights movement before us, we can succeed because we have a clear and compelling moral message: Climate action is about justice. Pope Francis himself is bringing that message to the world. 300 people coming together for the Interfaith Forum on Climate Justice tell us that the message is taking root here in San Diego: We are hope gathering.

*       *       *


There’s more below: photos and video of the Forum, links to media coverage, things you can do right now, and the many people we want to thank.

 More photos

Coming together for climate justice.

Rabbi Laurie Coskey and Rev. Dr. Frank Placone-Willey: Two faiths speaking together for climate justice.

Good fellowship, common purpose.

Good fellowship, common purpose.








Climate justice is all about love.

Climate justice is all about love.

Building a broad coalition: Angela meets Damian Tryon of the California Nurses Association

Building a broad coalition: SD350’s Angela Deegan meets Damian Tryon of National Nurses United








Rabbi Shai tells the story of Sukkhot, and the long relationship of the Jews to their natural environment.

Rabbi Shai Cherry tells the story of the seven days of Sukkhot, and the long relationship of the Jews to their natural environment.

Bill Wellhouse hands down banners to Bill Avrin.

After a successful Forum, Bill Wellhouse hands down banners to Bill Avrin.









Thanks to Bonnie and Peg for providing the photos in this post.


Click here for a start-to-finish video of the Forum.

Media coverage

The Interfaith Forum on Climate Justice got outstanding media coverage, including news spots on six television channels; articles in the Reader, San Diego Free Press, OB Rag, Reporting San Diego, Fox5 and KPBS; and an op-ed and news article in our city’s biggest, most mainstream newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune.

What you can do

Understanding the moral necessity is a first step. The next step is to turn that moral necessity into action. Here are some things you can right now:

Climate Action Plan. Perhaps the biggest thing we should all do right now is to submit comments in support of a strong city Climate Action Plan. You can do that by emailing, “” In the subject line, put, “Comments regarding San Diego Climate Action Plan, SCH NO: 2015021053. In the body of the email, start with, “Attention: Rebecca Malone.” You can follow that with your own version of, “I urge the City of San Diego to adopt a strong Climate Action Plan…”

You can let them know that we want (1) 100% green energy by 2035, (2) a plan that encourages green, healthy, efficient homes, (3) affordable, safe, clean, convenient public transit, (4) walkable, bikeable neighborhoods, (5) investment in the communities most burdened by air pollution, poor transportation and climate impacts, and (6) good local jobs.

Learn, dialogue and connect. You can:

Reduce your climate impact. While we work for solutions in cities, states and nations, there are lots of simple ways you can help to mitigate the climate crisis:

  • At home: Use a fan instead of air conditioning. Wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat. Replace old lightbulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs. Insulate your home. Reduce waste.
  • When you eat: Eat less meat, especially beef and lamb.
  • When you drive: Drive less. Keep the tires aired up. Combine errands into a single trip, since a warm engine uses less gasoline. Drive a little slower.

People we want to thank

We at SanDiego350 are proud to have played a role in making the Interfaith Forum happen. We thank all of the groups who worked with us, the many San Diegans who attended, and the dozens of volunteers who did hundreds of small tasks. From within SanDiego 350, special thanks go to Masada Disenhouse, a driving force behind the Forum, Bill Wellhouse and Holly Young, who led our Forum team, and Angela Deegan, who worked tirelessly to bring in great media coverage.

We also want to thank all the people who spoke and sang at the Forum:
Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Jewish Committee for Worker Justice
The St. James Youth Music Ministry choir, Anne Marie Oldham, director
The Very Rev. Penny Bridges, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Jeanette Ham, Foothills United Methodist Church
Rev. Sadie Callumber, Pacific Beach Christian Church
Rev. Jennifer Chanin, First Unitarian Church
Rev. Iona Dickinson, University City United Church
Sister Maureen Brown, St. Thomas More Catholic Church
Kent Peters, Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego
Nana Firman, Islamic Center of San Diego
Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Professor, Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Diego
Rabbi Shai Cherry, Shaar Hamayim Jewish Learning Center
Rev. J. Lee Hill, Jr., Christian Fellowship Congregational Church
Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson, Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Jim Miller, American Federation of Teachers Local 1931
Maria Concepcion Villanueva, Environmental Health Coalition
Itzel Osmara Martinez, Student, Ethnic Studies, Mesa and City Colleges
Eddie Junsay, SanDiego350
Terry Bunting, California Nurses Association
Rev. Dr. Frank Placone-Willey, Summit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Father Mike Ratajczak, St. Thomas More Catholic Church
St. Stephen’s Youth / Young Adult Choir, Laura Smith, director

Notes from a Climate Conference Junkie, Part 2

by James Long

This post and my last one are about a journey that has changed my view of myself as a climate activist. That  journey took me to two climate conferences in a month. I found new friends, a new awareness of how active the climate movement has become, and a lot of ideas about the issues that call for action and how I can respond to them. Last time, I wrote about the first part of that journey, the Pando Populus conference in Claremont, California. Now I want to share the second part with you.

“We will not acquiesce to the ongoing degradation and destruction of life.” –Unitarian Universalist Statement of Conscience on Climate Change
Climate conference: 2015 General Assembly logo

I joined 5000 other Unitarian Universalists at our annual Assembly. Climate justice is a moral commitment for UUs.

Two weeks after Pando Populus, I left for Portland,Oregon to attend climate workshops at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Assembly. What does the UUA have to do with climate?  Well, Unitarian Universalists have long committed themselves to climate action. It flows from one of UU’s seven principles, that we “affirm [our] respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” In 2006, the UUA enacted a Statement of Conscience on Climate Change, declaring, “we will not acquiesce to the ongoing degradation and destruction of life that human actions are leaving to our children and grandchildren.” I feel the UUA’s call to act for climate justice is exactly what faith groups need to do to help protect the planet.

In Portland, we experienced a sign of the times with a heat wave reaching triple digits. The weather put an exclamation point on all of our climate workshops.

Climate conference: Panelists for the "Commit2Respond: Growing Young Adult Leadership for Climate Justice" workshop

Young activists told how they lay their bodies on the line to fight climate change: (l to r) Benjamin Craft-Rendon, Aly Tharp, Elizabeth Mount, Jennifer Nordstrom, Matthew McHale.

The first climate workshop that I want to tell you about featured young UU activists. These UU Young Adults for Climate Justice shared their sit-ins on oil pipelines in Texas, research on plastic garbage gyres in the Pacific Ocean, and actions to stop coal trains resulting in getting arrested. They gave specific advice about how to support them: delivering food and supplies to their sit-ins, contacting media and writing letters to editors, and raising bail funds to get them out of jail after they get arrested.  A particularly striking example of activism came from Elizabeth Mount: suspending herself from a bridge for nearly forty hours to block the passage of a ship involved in Shell’s drilling in the Arctic. For me, after two weeks of discussing philosophy and theory at the Pando Climate Conference, this was an inspirational change, to hear the passion of the millennial generation laying their bodies on the line to stop the fossil fuel industry.

The Young Adults presented another workshop called “Moving Capitalism Towards an Ecological Economy.”  Aly Tharp and Matthew McHale echoed themes from the Pando Climate Conference, suggesting that economics based on unchecked “growth” values profit blindly, even at the cost of destroying life sustaining ecological systems.  Aly showed the short video, “The Story of Stuff,” which illustrates the problems created by a consumer economy very simply.  Matthew described his action “Occupy the Farm” at Berkeley, which shows how urban farming is the type of solution that creates an ecological economy. I felt these young adults presented effective activism and direct action protest from a deep understanding of what we need to do to move toward an ecological society.

Climate conference: Lummi Nation witness_salmon_graphicC

At UUA’s Public Witness, members of the Lummi Nation taught us about their struggle to save their ancestral lands from a major coal port.

Direct action is a powerful way to advance the climate movement.  I think witnessing and learning from our indigenous partners struggling to defend their land can be just as powerful.  The UUA  invited the Lummi Nation to speak at the “Public Witness” for social action.  The Lummi Nation is fighting the largest coal port on the West Coast at Cherry Point in Puget Sound. Elder Jewell Praying Wolf James and his daughter Shamania James shared their story of totem pole making, and rallying people to protect their land from trains and coal supertankers.  Elder James carves 19-foot totem poles as a symbol of protest against the fossil fuel industry, and conducts ceremonies across the country. What a powerful way to bring ancient teachings to thousands of people! Elder James spoke of fossil fuel companies entering their ancestral land without permission, and bulldozing their sacred wetlands.

Shamania James of Lummi Nation addressing the UUA conference for Public Social Witness

Shamania James: “Learn what fulfills your heart and pursue it bravely, even if it scares you a little.”

For me, the greatest wisdom came from a visibly nervous young Shamania, who said, “I have pretty severe anxiety, but I just want to tie the video to the message. To learn what fulfills your heart, and to pursue it bravely, even if it scares you a little bit.  My hands go up to you.”  Shamania showed her music video, “This is My Life.”

Climate conference: Speaker Kathleen Moore's book shows that climate change is fundamentally a moral issue.

Conference speaker Kathleen Moore’s book shows that climate change is fundamentally a moral issue.

Some of the most powerful ideas I heard were presented at the next workshop, “A Moral Response to Climate Change.”  Kathleen Dean Moore, editor of Moral Ground, Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, explained how moral arguments operate in the public debate. Moral arguments must have two dimensions. First, they must be grounded in fact. Second, however, they must also look at those facts in terms of right or wrong, good or bad. As Moore puts it, “Not only is causing climate change destructive and incredibly stupid; it is wrong.”

I think the Pope’s encyclical turns the debate on climate change to “what we ought to do,” and not “whether it is scientifically proven or not.” Moore gave us the ultimate analogy about the moral dimensions of climate change: She called the fossil fuel economy’s exploitation of the planet and the species that inhabit it the moral equivalent of a slave economy.

Right after Moore’s talk, I received a pleasant surprise showing connections between the two climate conferences. I asked a question at the microphone, and I looked to my right.  Sitting a few rows over I found a fellow climate conference junkie!  Christina Conklin is an artist and ecological thinker in the Bay Area, who sat next to me at most of the workshops at the Pando conference. We talked and agreed that we had a lot to share with others from the two conferences. Another connection between conferences was author David Korten who wrote “When Corporations Rule the World.” Korten spoke at both conferences, and his message reinforced the need to move to ecological economics. Finding others like me who attended climate conferences back-to-back shows me how climate change motivates people; I’m glad I’m not the only conference junkie.

Climate conference keynote speaker Cornel West with James

I met Cornel West at a book signing after his Keynote Address. Every climate activist should listen to Dr. West’s speech on how moral integrity is critical to the success of social movements.

As the final days of the UUA climate conference approached, I wondered how the concluding keynote address would wrap things up.  I must say, I was blown away by the dynamism of the General Assembly keynote speaker Cornel West. In the tradition of Martin Luther King, West lifted oratory to an art form. I felt transported back to the sixties with West’s style and energy.  I suggest that anyone participating in a social movement listen carefully to Dr. West’s speech. He identifies four key elements that a successful movement must have: integrity, honesty, decency, and virtue. A movement, no matter how just, will fail to engage public imagination if it lacks these elements.  The civil rights movement was first a spiritual and moral movement that touched our humanity.  West criticizes today’s market-driven culture that emphasizes smartness and dollars over wisdom. West says, “Let the phones be smart, we have to be wise and aspire to integrity.” In struggles for justice, West adds that the “condition for truth is to allow suffering to speak.”  Thrilled by Cornel West’s message, I bought his book and waited an hour-and-half in line for the signing and personal greeting.

Well, I’ve shared the highlights of my trek through two climate conferences. These experiences of the climate movement inspired me on many levels. The best part was spending time with fellow SanDiego350 friends, but also connecting with so many other organizations. I got to see so many people working to save the climate: Pete Seeger in his last video message; Bill McKibben telling us about the breadth and successes of the global climate movement; Vandana Shiva and Wes Jackson showing us how to grow food sustainably; John Cobb and Kathleen Dean Moore reminding us that climate is a moral issue; young activists like Elizabeth Mount putting their bodies on the line; native people like Shamania and Praying Wolf James standing up to the coal industry; Cornel West’s thundering call for social movements with integrity.

I learned a lot about what we can do, as well. It really comes down to the old saying, “Think globally, act locally.”  We need global solutions like re-shaping economics and agriculture. We also need local activism to stop the fossil fuel companies. We need to partner with allies like the Lummi Nation.  SanDiego350 is right on track with our efforts in public policy, planet-based diet, fracking, and raising public awareness.

These climate conferences enabled me to imagine change for the future. I’m an idealist, so I feel like the future generations are cheering all of us at SanDiego350 to work together and find out what energizes us. I’m eager to continue to grow the movement right here in San Diego!!


Guest blogger James Long is an accountant for the City of San Diego.  He lives in El Cajon with his wife, and looks forward to traveling more when he retires.  James joined SD350 to do something for a future that is threatened by climate change.  Working together with others is the way for him to have hope for that future.

Notes from a Climate Conference Junkie, Part 1

by James Long

Folk singer Pete Seeger, age 94, at his home on the Hudson River, where he was interviewed for Pando Populus.

Folk singer Pete Seeger, age 94, at his home on the Hudson River, where he was interviewed for Pando Populus.

I started my journey singing with Pete Seeger and ended it three weeks later with the fiery intellectual Cornel West! I just got back from Pando Populus in Claremont, California, and the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. After 25 to 30 lectures — together with great music, stimulating presenters and a lot of new friends — I’m ready to get down to the business of local organizing for climate action.  But first, I’d like to share my notes about these inspiring conferences. I’ll tell you about Pando Populus this time, and the UU Assembly in a second posting.

What is Pando Populus?

"Seizing an alternative" logo from the Pando Populuus conference.

“Seizing an alternative” logo from the Pando Populuus conference.

The name Pando Populus refers to a Utah aspen grove that may be the oldest and largest living organism on Earth.  “Above ground Pando appears to be a grove of many individual trees.  Underground they are interconnected through a single root system — sprouts of the same tree.”  Pando Populus, the environmental organization, has adopted this name as symbolizing the interconnectedness of all living things.

The Pando conference started with a welcome message from Pete Seeger, recorded on video a few months before his death. We all sang along with what must be one of his last performances of, “Where have all the flowers gone?”

Bill McKibben delivers an impassioned keynote address.

Bill McKibben delivers an impassioned keynote address at the Pando Climate Conference.

Keynoter Bill McKibben’s Bill McKibben keynoted the conference by laying out the global response to the climate catastrophe.  On June 4th, the air in the hall crackled with electricity as McKibben described climate movements around the world.  From Africa to India to the Pacific Islands, he brought us images of vulnerable people of all colors and creeds, standing up to demand action on climate change.  Addressing the conference theme, “Toward an Ecological Civilization,” McKibben laid out’s successes in stopping fossil fuel infrastructure with protests like Keystone Pipeline and the growing oil divestment campaign.

James Long, Keith Mesecher, and Sadie MIzisin with Bill McKibben after Bill's keynote address

Keith Mesecher, James Long and Sadie Mizisin with Bill McKibben after Bill’s keynote address

What a thrill to meet Bill McKibben after his conference address, and accompany him to the airport the next morning after a radio interview.  I witnessed first hand how tirelessly he works for the climate movement.

Pomona's Urban Mission Church hosted SD350 and our LA counterparts..

Pomona’s Urban Mission Church hosted SD350 and our LA counterparts.

That evening, I returned to  Urban Mission Church where  fellow SD350ers — Ashley Mazanec, Dwain Deets, Michael Brackney, Keith Mesecher  — stayed four nights with new friends from LA350. Pando climate conference organizer, Sadie Mizisin, had graciously arranged lodging at the church for us. We enjoyed the warm hospitality.  The Urban Mission Church hosted a dinner on our behalf, where church members came to welcome us.

For me, our Pando Populus group shared a “mini-retreat” experience where we lodged, ate and bonded over shared experiences; it was where we engaged with professors, artists, bloggers, and climate activists from around the world.  Theologian and author Philip Clayton came just to meet us at Urban Mission Church, because he wanted to share how churches can build resilient communities by planning urban farms.

Biodiversity and Agriculture

Vandana Shiva, world renowned Indian environmental activist.

Vandana Shiva, world renowned Indian environmental activist.

Another highlight of the conference was the energizing eco-feminist Vandana Shiva, who gave a breathtaking  plenary address. Shiva, originally trained as a particle physicist, has redirected her efforts towards issues more directly affecting her people. She spoke about the devastating effects of industrial agriculture on India.   She sees industrial monoculture farming as a “violent agriculture that sees all life as an enemy,” tying such agricultural methods to the patriarchal mindset of the west.  In contrast, she says polyculture farming can heal the planet and still grow enough food for the world while increasing biodiversity. Shiva stressed that the solution to climate change lies in the earth itself, in the living soil. Demonstrating this, she was exuberant, saying “species are flowering … one study says there are six times more pollinators on our farm than in the forest next door … the more we give to the earth, the more she gives to us.”

Then, focusing on the monoculture vs polyculture struggle in the US, Shiva warned us about a dangers of The California Seed Law, AB2470, passed in 2014.  (A member of SoCal350 had alerted Shiva about the law.) Polyculture seed breeding, which is the key to sustainable agriculture, is criminalized by AB2470. The law declares that the success of the state agriculture depends on industry research (as opposed to breeding seed by farmers) and potentially makes only industrial monoculture seed available for sale in California. To take action against this law, we of SD350 can exert some influence: Pressure on California Assembly Speaker, Toni Atkins, may be the most effective way to abolish,or at least change this law.

San Diegans at Pando Populus

San Diego's Lee Van Ham, Director of  Jubilee Economics and the One Earth Project

Lee Van Ham, Director of Jubilee Economics and the One Earth Project and a San Diegan, attended the Pando Climate Conference.

I encountered so many interesting “Pando Populists.” Fellow San Diegan, Lee Van Ham, director of Jubilee Economics for One Earth. talked to me while Bill McKibben was giving a television interview. Lee hosts a monthly podcast promoting practices, ideas, and stories for living economically. Lee has been a long time advocate for sustainability and changing our economic system.  Lee’s team is producing a series of 20 interviews filmed at Pando Populus Conference, including Bill McKibben.

The high point of the conference came Saturday afternoon when Ashley, Michael, and I presented a paper, “SanDiego350 Activism”.  We had an audience of about 30 people in our workshop where we presented for 15 minutes.  We had a unique presentation, emphasizing hands-on organizing, We gathered the room into a circle and opened with an ice breaker.  Then we each in turn spoke about SanDiego350 history, organizing, and our team structure. I really hope we communicated our passion to those who attended our workshop.

Community Development

Poster for the Richmond Project's Breakthrough Communities

Poster for the Richmond Project’s Breakthrough Communities

I also want to tell you about an amazing session on Environmental Racism with Dr. Paloma Pavel and Carl Anthony, co-founders of Breakthrough Communities Project in Oakland.California. They developed a blueprint for statewide planning tools (SB 375). In the city of Richmond, community leaders across racial lines collaborated with leading transportation and urban planners. The community leaders presented their own development plan, and the local regional planning agency adopted it. What a different story from SANDAG.


Keith and I got so deep in discussion, we kept getting lost on our way to the next session.

Not everything was peachy keen, but mostly for the best of reasons.  One difficulty I had was trying to get around the Claremont campus.  My friend Keith Mesecher and I were often getting lost between sessions.  We debated ecology, economics, Buddhism, and philosophy, and got disoriented so we couldn’t find our way to the next session.

Ecological Economics

Philosopher and environmentalist John Cobb, Jr., co-founder of Pando Populus

Philosopher and environmentalist John Cobb, Jr., co-founder of Pando Populus,spoke at the climate conference.

The best line in the conference came on Saturday morning.  Theologian John Cobb Jr, and economist Herman Daly spoke on the topic Ecological Economics for an Ecological Civilization.  When asked about modern economists, Cobb said, “Theologians can do without God much better than Economists can do without Growth.” (Find at 8:57 on the video.) Ecological Economics is based on rejecting “growth” as the goal to organize our economy.  Conventional economists consider the only viable economic model to be one based on growth and maximizing profits for big corporations. They ignore the costs of excess CO2 in the atmosphere in pursuit of growth. According to John Cobb Jr., the discipline of economics seems more like a dogmatic religion guarding growth and profit for corporations. I had to laugh with appreciation at the plain-spokeness of the 90-year-old architect of the Pando conference,who is so obviously a loved and respected  figure among the ecological crowd.

Sustainable Agriculture

Photo: Land Institute

Photo: Land Institute

The Pando conference ended Sunday with the encouraging research of Wes Jackson, director of the Land Institute.  Jackson’s motto, “If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough,” is how he has lived his life. He’s worked the last 40 years on a project to create a sustainable agriculture by learning from nature.

At the Land Institute, ecologists explore ways to replace annual grains, oil seeds and legumes with perennial plants so the soil stays intact, and create bio-diverse farm fields.  Perennial crops mean the soil is not tilled and replanted every year, like annual crops.  The result is that roots can grow longer and develop a much more resilient soil.  (See photo at left.) As the seasonal patterns change with climate change, perennial plants are more resistant to drought.  Longer roots mean more organic carbon sequestered from the atmosphere to the soil. Jackson reports that perennial high-yield grain varieties can be developed just like annual grains.

This approach to developing grains for harvest circles back to the beginnings of agriculture and civilization 10,000 years ago.  Such an ecological transformation is a metaphor for the climate movement.  We must similarly re-think the root of every activity of modern society with a goal of sustainability and cooperation with the planet.

Pando Populus Conference AdThe Pando Climate Conference by no means promised a future without problems for humanity. But Pando did inspire us to look carefully at the problems and come up with systemic solutions and ideas to create an ecological civilization.

This climate conference was not the end for me.  In the next blog, I’ll talk about the second conference I attended in Portland Oregon, right after Pando Populus.


An invitation to our San Diego readers: is sponsoring a Climate Chat on Thursday, August 27th at 7PM at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Hillcrest.  Author James Long and others will be sharing their experiences and Pando’s vision for an ecological civilization.  For more information and to make a reservation, follow this link.

Guest blogger James Long is an accountant for the City of San Diego.  He lives in El Cajon with his wife, and looks forward to traveling more when he retires.  James joined SD350 to do something for a future that is threatened by climate change.  Working together with others is the way for him to have hope for that future. 


La Mesans Demand an Effective Climate Action Plan

By Joan Raphael

La Mesa residents in the audience hold signs showing support for a strong Climate Action Plan

La Mesa residents in the audience of the Planning Commision hearing hold signs provided by SD350 to show support for a strong Climate Action Plan.

On Wednesday, June 3, concerned citizens came together at a hearing of the La Mesa Planning Commission to press for a stronger Climate Action Plan (CAP). Many of those who came to speak were volunteers with SD350. The hearing turned out to be an uplifting reminder of what regular folks working together can achieve.

California’s cities are creating Climate Action Plans, following executive orders from Governors Brown and Schwartzenegger to comply with state targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions pursuant to provisions in the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32). Citizens at the hearing noted that La Mesa’s draft CAP includes no fixed timelines or mechanisms to quantify reduced emissions, and relies largely on promoting voluntary measures such as installation of solar power by individuals and businesses.

Nicole Capretz speaks

Climate Action Campaign’s Nicole Capretz speaks to the La Mesa Planning Commission about the legal hazards of an inadequate Climate Action Plan.

Nicole Capretz, Executive Director of Climate Action Campaign, who developed the City of San Diego’s highly praised CAP, added support to the SD350 volunteers’ and other La Mesans’ voices.  She pointed out that the La Mesa draft-CAP’s lack of measurable, enforceable provisions and timeline for implementation renders the city vulnerable to expensive and time-wasting legal challenges of its CAP.

Volunteers from SanDiego350, speaking on their own behalf as citizens of La Mesa, added that the city could learn from the legal troubles of San Diego County and SANDAG, who were sued in court and lost because of the inadequacies of their CAP.  They urged the Planning Commission to craft a CAP that would not siphon taxpayer dollars away from services and would be a genuine effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

La Mesan Angela Deegan encouraged the commissioners to aim for 100 percent clean energy by offering Community  Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), also called Community Choice Energy.  CCA would allow the City of La Mesa to   procure electricity generated from renewable sources and deliver it through existing transmission lines.  Community residents and businesses would have the choice of buying electricity from a La Mesa CCA or from the utility.  Deegan emphasized that with CCA, La Mesa can achieve higher greenhouse gas reduction goals and also provide more competition in the local energy market, giving consumers a choice they don’t now have.

Co-organizers of SD350 volunteers, Jean Costa and Angela Deegan stand with Masada outside La Mesa Council Chambers before the start of the hearing.

SD350 volunteers and La Mesans Jean Costa, Masada Disenhouse and Angela Deegan (l-r) preview the messages they will deliver to the city’s Planning Commission.

Masada Disenhouse, co-founder of SanDiego350, noted that Governor Brown has issued a new executive order increasing the state’s emissions goal to 40 percent below 1990 by 2030.  (The previous goal had an extended target date of 2050.)  Disenhouse concluded, “The Governor’s recent executive order sends a clear message: We need to act boldly today.”

After all the speakers had voiced their concerns, the commissioners voted unanimously to send the draft Climate Action Plan back to staff for reconsideration in light of the information provided at that evening’s hearing.  While this is clearly a small victory for citizen action, the battle for a strong La Mesa Climate Action Plan has not yet been won.

The CAP hearing opened with Margaret Meade’s inspirational words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  In closing, Commissioner Jim Newland praised the citizen speakers for their participation in the democratic process.  La Mesans, it is clear, will be watching to see that their new Climate Action Plan does indeed pass muster.


Guest blogger Joan Raphael is a Youth Services Librarian for the City of San Diego. She hopes that the kids she has seen grown up will have a better future because climate change has been ameliorated.

A similar article entitled “La Mesans Call for Effective Climate Action Plan, Planners Vote to Reconsider City’s CAP” has been published in the Communities section of the East County Magazine.  Click on the link for this and other La Mesa news.


San Diegans Say No to TPP Fast-Track

Activist participation numbered in the fifties as the event got under way

Activist participation numbered in the fifties as the event got under way and grew as members got off work and were able to join the rush-hour rally.  Here, as the rally was winding down, many gathered for a group photo.

Wednesday, May 27, SanDiego350 joined forces with the Sierra Club, Climate Action Campaign, Environmental Health Coalition and others to urge local Congressman Scott Peters to vote against fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.  Our message: TPP is bad for people, bad for the environment, and bad for the climate.

Rounding a bend on La Jolla Shores Drive, UCSD commuters met SD350 placards and banners.

Rounding a bend on La Jolla Shores Drive, UCSD commuters met SD350 placards and banners.

Underscoring that TPP-climate connection, the backdrop for the rally was world-class climate-research center Scripps Institution of Oceanography, located in Peters’ district.  Activists positioned themselves at a strategic bend on La Jolla Shores Drive, where commuters would come face-to-face with colorful placards and banners, as they wound down the hill from UCSD.  Messages such as “Rep. Peters, Lead on Climate Change”  and “TPP -> Climate Change” elicited waves, thumbs up, and honks of approval from passing cars.

TPP’s negotiating partners include twelve nations that represent 40 percent of the world’s  economy. Environmental groups are concerned because the trade agreement’s dispute resolution provisions and the secrecy surrounding the terms of the agreement will undermine democratic processes needed to protect the environmental, health and labor laws.

While addressing the crowd, Masada turns to engage SD350 members Ashley Mazanec and Dave Engels

While addressing the crowd, Masada turns to engage SD350 members Ashley Mazanec and Dave Engels.  Kali Gochmanosky  catches the scene on video.

SanDiego350’s Masada Disenhouse voiced the concern that “85% of the people writing this deal come from lobbying groups representing massive corporations whose primary concerns are not climate change or the rights of workers.”  Also of grave concern is the secrecy surrounding the trade document: Congress members, who must vote on whether to fast-track the trade deal, may only review the document under highly restricted conditions.

Speaking on behalf of the Sierra Club, Davin Widgerow warned, “TPP would give large multi-national corporations the right to sue governments in private, non-transparent trade tribunals over environmental regulations that corporations allege would reduce their profits.”  Canada was sued under a similar provision in NAFTA and ordered by a tribunal to pay $5 million to Ohio-based S.D. Meyers in a case involving the disposal of toxic waste. Germany is currently being sued for $4.6 billion under an EU trade agreement over its decision to phase out nuclear power.  These payouts to large corporations will ultimately be paid by taxpayers.

Kath Rogers speaks to the crowd.

Kath Rogers gestures to the crowd as she emphasizes local effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Kath Rogers, Operations Director for Climate Action Campaign, added that local governments, too, can be subjected to litigation, which will inhibit enforcement of environment and labor laws. The TPP, Rogers predicted, “will make it more difficult for local governments like San Diego to pass their Climate Action Plans,” which under California law they are required to do.  Rogers appealed to Congressman Peters to remember his connection to his community, where he has been a climate action leader.

Peters' Chief of Staff Maryanne Pintar hold a "petition" for a theme of flushing the TPP down the drain.

SD350 participated in other anti-TPP actions.  Here Peters’ Chief of Staff Maryanne Pintar holds a “petition” for a theme of flushing the TPP down the drain.

While the speakers were rallying the crowd, social-media savvy activists tweeted and facebooked photos and messages, according to a plan designed especially for this event. Placards displayed Congressman Peters’ office phone number and active hashtags for passersby.  Especially popular with the activist crowd were selfies with the SIO campus, the seaside town of La Jolla, and the blue Pacific in the background. That spectacular backdrop was a reminder to all of us how important it is to protect our beautiful world from the threat of misguided policies, like the TPP.

The event was a huge group effort, SD350 members showed their generous support of climate action by helping in many ways.  They’re documented here by photographs taken by Bill Avrin, Bonnie Funk and Masada Disenhouse.

Sue Zesky and Hugh Moore paint a banner with letters large enough that passing drivers can easily see their message.

Sue Zesky and Hugh Moore paint a banner with letters large enough that passing drivers can easily see their message.

Emily Weir emcees while Angela Deegan scouts for tweeting opportunities.

Emily Weir emcees while Angela Deegan scouts for tweeting opportunities.








SD350's Michael Brackney and Sierra Club's Anelli Ford share their concerns about the fast-tracking the TPP.

SD350’s Michael Brackney and Sierra Club’s Anelli Ford share their concerns about the fast-tracking the TPP.

Volunteers hold placards for Sierra Club's Davin Widgerow.  Kali gets his speech on video.

Volunteers hold placards for Sierra Club’s Davin Widgerow. Kali gets his speech on video.







After the rally is over, Sue. Masada, Paul and Bill help load up signs and gear.

After the rally is over, Sue. Masada, Paul and Bill help load up signs and gear.


Placard-holders silhouetted against the Pacific Ocean remind us that it’s a beautiful world that deserves protection from threats like TPP.

Signholders silhouetted against the ocean.

Signholders silhouetted against the Pacific Ocean.

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 Keith 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 visitors 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 gave him something to think about.


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 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.

Fracking Team co-leader Nicole Peill-Moelter says 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.