About Masada D

Masada Disenhouse co-founded SanDiego350 in 2011 and serves as its Executive Director. She is passionate about engaging volunteers and growing a powerful climate change movement.

Update: SDG&E plays hardball on Franchise agreements

Amanda Ruetten, Policy Organizer & Masada Disenhouse, Executive Director

This week has been a whirlwind. On Monday we got the news that San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez sent a memo to Mayor Faulconer stating that she will not docket the Mayor’s bad Franchise Agreements deal and was instead requesting a one-year extension. That would mean the franchise agreements would be in the hands of our next City Council and Mayor (something the Union Tribune applauded). 

But then last night we learned that SDG&E is playing hardball with our energy future, and refusing to negotiate a one year extension

As you know, we’ve been working to ensure the City gets a good franchise deal that allows us to meet our climate, equity and just transition goals. To that end, we’ve met with San Diego Councilmembers, given public comment at Council meetings, and submitted over 1,200 petition signatures. 

We are committed to stopping this bad franchise deal and secure our clean energy future. We will continue to reach out for your support, and with your help we will prevail. 

For more information about the franchise agreements see our Explainer.

What Just Happened?

Or, some reflections on what the local election results mean for the climate movement 

By Masada Disenhouse, SD350 Executive Director

So… now that we’ll have a new president who lists climate change as a top priority (though we may yet need to fight for our votes to count), let’s focus on what happened in local elections, and what the results mean for us as climate activists. 

Overall, significantly more progressive and pro-climate-action electeds will be taking their seats at the city and county level in the next month, giving us many opportunities to get some of the policies we need enacted. Definitely something to celebrate! Here’s why it matters and what changes and opportunities we expect to see: 

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors flipped Democratic 

  • Who won: 
  • Why it’s important: The County Supervisors oversee the needs of 3.3 Million county residents (and directly govern nearly 500,000 people who live in the unincorporated county—including yours truly). They control a budget of $6.5 Billion. They also manage courts, jails, public health and public lands, and have a strong say in regional transportation and housing.
  • What could change: 
    • Environmentalists can finally stop suing (third time’s the charm?)—and the County can stop spending money defending its terrible climate action plans (over $1M in taxpayer dollars to date). We can all get down (finally!) to developing an effective, accountable Climate Action Plan that gets us to 100% renewable energy. 
    • Environmental justice and air pollution control initiatives via the new Air Pollution Control District can help the health department take a more active role on climate. 
    • End new sprawl developments and prioritize infill and affordable housing. 
    • Switch from opposing to supporting transit and prioritizing communities of concern at SANDAG and MTS.
  • Of interest: 
    • In 2010 San Diegans voted to enact term limits for the County Supervisors. Those term limits put us on a path to the changes we’ve seen, with progressive candidates replacing conservatives who held their seats for (literally) decades. 
    • We have room to grow: LA County just elected its first all female Board of Supervisors

The San Diego City Council went from 6 Democrats to 8 Democrats

  • Who won: 
    • Todd Gloria will be the next Mayor of San Diego. San Diego’s groundbreaking Climate Action Plan was developed under Todd’s iMayor leadership (and Todd spoke at our People’s Climate March in 2014). 
    • Council: In District 1, Joe LaCava won. Joe is a cofounder of our partner Democrats for Environmental Action. In District 3, Stephen Whitburn won. In District 5, Marni von Wilpert won. In District 7, Raul Campillo won. In District 9, Sean Elo-Rivera won. Sean is ED of our partner Youth Will. 
  • What could change:
    • All five incoming councilmembers are democrats (three of the races were between two Democrats) and almost all of them consider climate change a top priority. Combined with a Democratic Mayor, we’ll have a lot better chance of getting stronger climate policies.
    • This all means that the City’s representatives on key regional boards like SANDAG and MTS are more likely to share our priorities. With the County Supervisors and new representatives from other cities that shifted progressive, this adds up to a massive power shift on the SANDAG Board. We should see big changes on transportation, as the next Regional Transportation Plan is underway. This is something we’ve been fighting for since our organization started in 2011. 
    • It won’t all be smooth sailing though. There are many other critical issues, a funding crisis (because of COVID), and some of the CMs were elected with help from labor or other interests which don’t always support the climate policies we do. Mayor Gloria just chose someone from the Chamber of Commerce to be his Chief of Staff. We’ll keep working to push for equity and workers as well as reducing GHGs, and building a coalition.
  • Of interest: 
    • SD350 met with the five new councilmembers as part of nonpartisan visits with all the candidates over the summer, and will be scheduling follow-up meetings to build relationships with the CMs and their staff shortly. 
    • We’ll get a feel for how progressive the new CMs are by seeing who they choose as Council President – their very first vote when they get sworn in on December 10th. SD350 is supporting Monica Montgomery Steppe to be the next Council President (add your name!), and urging the CMs to vote for her. Which CM chairs the environment committee will also be important to us. 

Other Races and Propositions

  • Who won
    • Congress: Sara Jacobs won in the 53rd district. She and most of the other candidates supported a Green New Deal and climate action at the candidates forum we hosted with partners back in February. The work we did on the Green New Deal, including sit-ins at the prior congressmember Davis’, led to this result. Darrell Issa won in the 50th district. He received a climate change denier award in 2013, and ran in the 50th district after losing the seat he held for decades in the 49th district to Mike Levin in 2018.
    • It’s looking like SD350 member and ally Jack Shu won a council seat in La Mesa and ally Marcus Bush won a council seat in National City (these haven’t been called yet). 
  • Of interest: 
    • Pia did a full write up on how our proposition recommendations fared (hint: it’s not pretty). Californians were not nearly as progressive in voting on the props as they were in voting for candidates. Why? Complex, nuanced, disputed props. Huge amounts spent to misinform (Prop 22 was the most expensive ever, >$220 million)—and wealth inequality leading to anti-tax sentiments at all costs. 
    • The 2010 initiative that changed California to a “top two primary system” has significantly increased single party general elections (mostly Dem-on-Dem west of the 125). 
    • You’re not alone. It is seriously time to retire the electoral college

Bottom line: We’ll have more opportunities to advance climate solutions in San Diego County in 2021 and we’ll need your help more than ever. So roll up your sleeves. Let’s get to work!

Climate Justice Calls for Racial Justice, End to White Supremacy

By Kimberly Kishon, Masada Disenhouse and Susan Duerksen

Black people in the U.S. are subject to violence and unjust death regularly – including at the hands of police who are supposed to protect all of us. We, the people of this country, have allowed institutionalized racism to go unchecked for centuries. 

It shows up in every aspect of peoples’ lives, devastatingly in safety, health, environmental and economic inequities. The coronavirus pandemic starkly highlights how rules apply differently based on a person’s skin color – who gets sickest, who can afford healthcare, who has no choice but to work in an unsafe environment. The communities hit hardest by environmental and climate impacts are primarily communities of color — and those least responsible for creating the problem. “People of color are more likely than white people to live alongside power plants, oil refineries and landfills.” (from the LA Times’ Sammy Roth:  Why communities fighting for fair policing also demand environmental justice).

This is a critical moment in history — and it can be a national turning point for racial justice. SanDiego350 leaders believe we, as advocates for climate justice, must stand for  dismantling institutional racism and white supremacy. We strive for a world where people of color have a safe and healthy future on this planet. 

In the words of leaders at 350.org, Rell Brown and Natalia Cardona, “There is no just recovery for climate without addressing the systemic extraction, harm and violence towards Black communities. Building a movement rooted in the needs of those most oppressed is the only way we can achieve liberation for all.”

What is SanDiego350 doing to support racial justice?

It is not enough to be passively non-racist. We must all take action to oppose racism, not just in our personal lives but wherever it exists systemically in the society we create together. We can’t just talk about racism, we have to stamp it out.

In the coming weeks, you will hear about how SD350 plans to more intentionally center racial justice in our work and take important internal steps to ensure our organization is more inclusive and diverse. As a primarily white, middle class volunteer led organization, we know we have significant growing to do.

We look forward to building on our policy work in partnership with people of color (POC)-led community organizations that advocates for equity in climate action planning, transportation, and state legislation; our youth engagement work; supporting partners on non-climate justice issues.

SanDiego350 Commits To:

  1. Share racial justice action steps from black-led organizations with our membership
  2. Focus our climate policy work always on stopping, reversing, and preventing climate  harm to communities of color
  3. Do internal work to uplift diverse voices, improve our practices, and train our membership on dismantling white supremacy
  4. Follow the leadership of POC-led partners 

Below are some specific actions we urge you to take. 

Above all, keep in mind that this is a particularly traumatic time for black Americans. This is not the time for white people to lead, nor is it the time to ask black people for advice or forgiveness. Make space for black people to grieve. Be sensitive, active and present in your responses. Step back, listen, learn and support. 

Get Connected

Subscribe to receive updates & action alerts from San Diego’s local chapters:

Take Action

  • Sign pandemic-related petitions by Black Lives Matter.
  • Sign the petition in support of San Diegans for Justice’s campaign for a ballot initiative to establish a community-led independent Commission on Police Practices.
  • Call on your local elected representatives to divest from white supremacy, which includes divestment from industrial multinational use of fossil fuels and investment in community- based sustainable energy solutions. 

Donate 

Learn

  • Flatten The Curve Of Inequality – a 5-part weekly web series hosted by the San Diego ACLU, where local advocates will share the work they’ve been doing to support families and communities during this crisis. Starts June 4th!
  • For white folks, watch this 22-minute lecture: Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin Di Angelo
  • Follow black writers and activists including Rachel Cargle, Brittany Packnett, Layla Saad 
  • The Movement for Black Lives calls on us to learn about the arguments for defunding the police and re-envisioning public safety, which is not a new idea. We must challenge ingrained ideas about safety. Useful info/resources

More resources from 350.org

You can find more opportunities to support nationally and in Minnesota here.

How we’re responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Coming to grips with the devastating impacts of the pandemic has been hard for all of us. With the situation changing every day, none of us know what this will mean for our health, our loved ones, our jobs, our schooling, and our savings — let alone the nation, the economy at large, our democracy, and our planet. 

Some of us have been hit hard already. SD350 members and their families have lost jobs. Some have gotten sick with COVID-19 or have loved ones who have it or have even passed away due to the virus. Some of us have underlying conditions that make it dangerous to leave home. Some of us are suddenly juggling homeschooling and working from home. 

Most of us have never lived through a time like this. We are all struggling with the emotions, the stress, and the anxiety of this situation. In some ways, as climate activists, we’re more mentally equipped to deal with a worldwide crisis than many of our fellow Americans. 

The pandemic is laying bare the sorry state our nation has been in. The classism, racism, and corporatism that led to the largest wealth inequalities in our lifetimes are now putting our most vulnerable people at risk. It’s no coincidence that the people who are able to shelter at home and work from home have more money and health care than those who are risking their lives working for minimum wage in grocery stores and other service industries.

SanDiego350’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has primarily been in three areas: 

1. Bringing our events online. Prior to the virus, we had already held quite a few of our regular meetings remotely to maximize participation while minimizing our carbon footprint. Transitioning the earth day “Virtual Climate Uprising” was challenging – working remotely with a coalition of more than a dozen organizations, figuring out production for live streaming on multiple platforms, doing only online promotion. In other ways, it’s been easier. We’ve had youth participating in our programs from across the country. People have been more available and it’s easier to participate if you don’t need to leave home. We’re working on making our events as accessible, interactive, and engaging as possible. 

2. Checking in on our members. We’ve made hundreds of phone calls through our volunteer structures to check in our volunteer leaders, team members, and active volunteers and donors. Many volunteers have stepped up to offer help to our members who need help shopping or coping. It’s wonderful to see the care and compassion our members have for each other. Everyone has appreciated the concern and camaraderie and the space to take care of themselves and their loved ones – and it’s brought us closer and made us more resilient. 

3. Reevaluating our priorities. We’ve met with our board to discuss organizational level priorities, and we’ve been holding meetings with our different volunteer teams to check in and see how the pandemic has affected their plans, what challenges have come up, and what new opportunities exist. Some projects we’ve put so much into just won’t go anywhere in this new world. The state legislature has been closed down. Schools are not meeting regularly. But new projects have emerged that are relevant and crucial, for example, organizing a virtual Youth 4 Climate Summer Camp, supporting telecommuting, and advocating to make sure we move forward with a just recovery – instead of going back to the old “normal” when the economy reopens.

SD350 response to “Planet of the Humans”

The YouTube video “Planet  of the Humans”, created and directed by Jeff Gibbs and presented by Michael Moore, is a hodge-podge of blatant inaccuracies and false accusations of climate leaders -mixed with some truths – that promotes despair rather than action. 

The video attacks Bill McKibben using a long disavowed quote about burning biomass for energy, ignoring his more recent denunciations, including his 2016 article “Burning trees for electricity is a bad idea,” as well as his efforts to set the record straight. It also falsely accuses McKibben of being some kind of corporate pawn. For those of us who’ve met Bill, seen what a tireless, thoughtful, humble leader he is, it appalling to see how poorly the video treats him. (See Bill’s article in Rolling Stone and his initial response to the video). 

The video’s claims that carbon pollution produced by producing electricity from solar and wind is comparable to that produced by burning fossil fuels for power is … just wrong. Its claim that solar systems only last a decade are disproved by any homeowner who installed their solar panels before 2010. While every energy source has environmental impacts and there are tradeoffs that are entirely worth discussing, this is the type of misinformation you’d expect from the fossil fuel industry. (See Carbon Brief for some #s).

Meanwhile, Planet of the Humans completely fails to make any mention of the need to replace fossil fuel based systems with sustainable alternatives, instead suggesting population control – often suggested by anti-immigration hate groups – as an only answer.

There is no denying a kernel of truth in the documentary. Clean, renewable energy and transportation systems are necessary to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, but we can’t grow our way out of the climate crisis. The fact is that while too many fellow citizens of our planet live in desperation, an affluent minority live an unsustainable lifestyle of consumption without regard to the toll this takes on our environment. We must transition to a sustainable culture that recognizes our planet’s limits.

As climate activists, our mission is based on science. We must be vigilant against misinformation and direct  people to the facts, as well as rethinking mindless growth so we can leave a planet that is nurturing, sustainable and equitable for generations to come.

As climate activists in California, we can see the impacts of increased renewable energy and efficiency — less carbon and air pollution. We can also see that our actions as community leaders are achieving better policies. There is hope and we remain committed to continuing to work for a renewable energy economy grounded in equity.

Further reading:

Climate Activists Remain Committed to Transit and Transportation Equity Work following MTS Decision to Halt Elevate 2020 Initiative

San Diego – April 16, 2020 – At today’s MTS meeting, Chair Nathan Fletcher said the MTS initiative “Elevate 2020” would not proceed to the ballot in 2020. 

This is a statement from Bee Mittermiller, SanDiego350 Transportation Committee Chair:

SanDiego350 members are disappointed that the transit initiative has been put on hold given its huge potential for improving San Diego County’s transit system, reducing carbon pollution, and increasing  quality of life for residents. However, we understand the coronavirus pandemic has made this campaign impractical in this time of uncertainty.

We applaud MTS’s actions to protect its drivers and the riders who are critical workers serving the needs of our communities, and for making sure that its essential services are continuing.

We are committed to to keep working with MTS and we encourage MTS to continue their public outreach, which has been extraordinary. 

Amidst this tragic pandemic we can see best practices developing around telecommuting and active transportation. We need to build on those developments in a way to complement building out transit infrastructure. 

Candidate Forum – 53rd Congressional District

The event — hosted by San Diego 350, the Sunrise Movement San Diego and six other organizations — gave candidates the opportunity to engage with more than 100 residents and pitch their ideas for reducing the use of fossil fuels, promoting green jobs, and bringing environmental justice to underserved communities.”

There were several areas in which all five candidates were in agreement, such as refusing to accept campaign contributions from fossil-fuel industries and corporate PACs, strengthening environmental protections and supporting the Green New Deal, a wide-ranging resolution aimed at wiping out greenhouse emissions by 2030 while creating new jobs.

However, candidates varied when it came to offering concrete proposals for how they would tackle climate change and other environmental issues.

Young People are Turning our Climate Grief into Hope

Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers. (photo links to license).

 

By Peter Sloan

The first week of winter quarter, I was sitting with Erica Ferrer, a doctoral student in Marine Biology at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, in Muir Woods Coffee House. We had met to talk about the dire situation facing life on planet Earth and what we, as graduate students at UC San Diego, could possibly do about it.

Predictably, I heard myself going off on one of my well-rehearsed climate rants. 25 percent of ocean species directly rely on tropical reefs. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 Special Report indicates up to 90 percent of reefs will die at 1.5 degrees Celsius warming. We’re headed for 4 degreesby 2100. And so on.

I finished, a bit bluntly, “The oceans are gonna die. In our lifetime. How do people at Scripps feel about that?”

I regretted my aggressive tone as I heard Erica’s voice twist in her reply.

“It’s devastating…”

There were tears in her eyes but she didn’t look away.

“…to watch what you study die.”

“But,” the young scientist was quick to clarify, “not everything in the ocean is going to die. Not everything on land is going to die. Species will move poleward. And some ecosystems will do better than we expect. We call them bright spots.

“Besides,” Erica continued, “as a professor at Scripps told me, when a doctor is talking to a dying patient’s family, they don’t deliver an obituary. They make a plan for care.”

It’s 2019, and the climate conversation has changed.

Young people coming into our political own today recognize that the political elites of previous generations wasted their opportunity to prevent catastrophic global warming, leaving us forever picking up the pieces of a breaking world. But we also know it’s never too late to impact the future.

Young people, especially young women, are leading the climate movement on every front.

Gen-Z’ers are walking out of school on both sides of the Atlantic, led by figures like Greta Thunberg in Sweden, Anna Taylor in the United Kingdom, and Alexandria Villasenor in the United States.

The plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, all under 21 years old at the time of the filing, continue to press their case against the federal government for failing to protect them from catastrophic climate change.

And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14th District), the working-class millennial, socialist of color, and youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, has introduced legislation advancing the Green New Deal, a plan to fully phase out fossil fuels from the United States economy by 2030. The plan pulls public support as high as 80 percent and has become an overnight litmus test for 2020 Democratic presidential contenders. Crucial to Ocasio-Cortez’s breakthrough in Congress has been outside pressure from the grassroots, millennial-led Sunrise Movement.

Coming of age under neoliberal capitalism, an ideology that boasts the dubious accomplishments of driving historic inequality and utterly degrading the living world, Millennials and Generation Z have listened to a young lifetime of empty talk about “our children’s future.” But now our voices are leading the conversation. The future has arrived. We are the children.

In Muir Woods that morning, Erica and I mostly talked about our feelings. It hasn’t been easy lately. I told her I was angry. She told me she was bitter. I told her I was depressed. She told me she was too.

We took time to make space for our grief, our fear, even our despair. But we also talked about hope, and how it’s different from optimism.

“Hope,” writes Rebecca Solnit, “is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. … Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.”

These days, that spaciousness of uncertainty is so wide, it can feel overwhelming. Events of the coming decade will determine the climate future for countless generations to come. When every minute matters that much, the question of what to do each day feels very heavy.

The only thing that lifts that weight for me is remembering that I’m not alone. On climate, none of us have to do everything, but we all can do more than nothing.

That’s why, as Graduate Student Association (GSA) representatives, Erica and I have founded a GSA Climate Action and Policy Committee, or GSA-CAP (as in, “cap emissions”), which any UCSD graduate student can join. Our mission is to strategically pressure the administration to achieve ambitious goals like the full decarbonization of campus operations as quickly as possible.

Undergraduates who want to act on climate can plug into the California Public Interest Research Group’s legislative campaign to decarbonize transportation statewide.

Off campus, San Diego 350 has initiated a nonviolent direct action campaign to “Raise the Alarm” and pressure elected officials to champion the Green New Deal. You can learn more and help plan the actions by attending the kickoff event this Saturday, February 23, in La Jolla.

Every day, more people find their place in the climate movement. Every day, more people find that we can do more than nothing. Every day, more people ask themselves, what can we do next, that we haven’t tried before?

Erica and I finished our coffees and headed over to Scripps. I apologized to my friend as we walked towards the shore.

“I’m sorry, Erica, for the way I was talking to you earlier. You don’t need some guy outside your field ranting at you about how bad things are. I think I just act that way because—”

She finished my sentence for me: “Because you’re hurt.”

I paused and let her words resonate. “I am hurt. And I don’t see that pain acknowledged by a single one of our institutions. It’s 2019 and global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising! It feels like our entire culture is one big act of denial of the things I care about most. It makes me want to scream.”

Erica nodded patiently. “To feel gaslit is a dangerous thing,” she said.

Millennials and Generation Z care too much to stay politically silenced on climate any longer. We are waging the fight of our lives—a fight for the future of life on planet Earth—in our schools and workplaces, in the courts, in the media, in the institutions, in the streets, and in the halls of power. There are tears in our eyes, but we aren’t looking away. We are turning our grief into hope. Our strength, solidarity, and moral authority in this fight are grounded in our shared sense of loss. And that is why I believe that we will win.

Peter Sloan is a PhD student in music and a staff writer for The Triton. This piece is the third part of a series titled Fire Season, which publishes once or twice per quarter. Peter can be contacted at psloan@ucsd.edu.

This piece was first published at The Triton, an independent news source at UC San Diego. Follow The Triton on Twitter and Facebook.  Here’s the original link

Young San Diegans Speak Out About Climate Change

By Stephanie Corkran of SanDiego350, and these six young people of San Diego who were interviewed.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from the children” is a quote attributed to the iconic environmentalist David Brower. Isn’t it time that we listen to what the children have to say? After all, they will be the ones who will inherit an overheated planet with extreme weather events, including intense storms, floods, droughts, and sea level rise.

The big question is: Will the children will have their say in court? Juliana v. U.S. is a constitutional climate lawsuit filed by 21 youths, ages 11 to 22. Since climate change is the overarching issue of our times (and perhaps of all time for our species), Juliana v. U.S. may well become the “trial of the century”.

The Trump administration, along with the fossil fuel companies, have attempted various legal tactics to kill the lawsuit and repeatedly failed. On July 30, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of allowing the case to be heard. The trial was scheduled to start today, October 29th, however, ten days before the Supreme issued a temporary stay in response to a second petition by the government.

The children’s lawsuit asserts that the U.S. government, through its affirmative actions in creating a national energy system that causes climate change, is depriving the youngest generation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. In addition, the government has a duty to protect essential public trust resources for future generations.

If successful, the children’s lawsuit would compel our government to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The scale of societal change needed necessitates that our government provides the infrastructure and funding to facilitate a rapid transition to a fossil-free economy.

What Young San Diegans Have to Say About Climate Change

As a volunteer for SanDiego350, I interviewed six young people to discover their views about climate change and the court case. I spoke with Meg, a 23-year-old college student from Rancho Penasquitos and El, a 17-year-old high school student from El Cajon. I also spoke with four younger children: Alex and Max from Escondido (both 12 years), Avery (11 years) from El Cajon, and Danica (10 years) from PB.

For readability, I have grouped their responses under each question I asked of them. Some of their responses were very similar;  these ones I have paraphrased and identified as a  “Consensus” response.

 What do you think of when you hear the words “climate change”?

Consensus: The environment and the weather. How people are polluting by burning oil and the earth is getting hotter.

“That it is getting hotter and the animals are dying, like polar bears dying due to melting ice. I am very sad about the polar bears and the Amazon.” (Alex)

“I think of the plants and animals being harmed by climate change; humans are being selfish.” (El)

 Do you think we (the government /adults) are doing enough to fight climate change?

“No one is doing enough, not even those who believe in climate change.  Not everyone is an activist or needs to be, but everyone needs to do something. Earth Day is not enough.” (El)

“Even worse we are going backward- reforms put in place were wiped out so that more coal and oil could be used.” (Alex)

“I do think of all the people that are trying to help, like my mom who volunteers for SanDiego350. So the lower ranks of people yes, but those in power no.” (Max)

If not – why do you think this is? What are the obstacles?

Consensus: For the people in our government climate change is not the priority. Our government and the world are dominated by corporations. People worldwide are causing climate change but only a small group of people are trying to change it. They cannot do it alone.

 “People get a lot of money from oil; they are not caring about the world but instead how much money they get from selling stuff that pollutes. This worries me.” (Danica)

Human nature and the fact we are driven by greed is a problem.” (Max)

What are some of the things you think we should be doing to fight climate change?

Consensus: Bring back reforms that were reversed and rejoin the Paris Climate Accords.

We need to teach climate change in schools at a young age. Educate.

“Try different angles to get the message out like posting videos on youtube, because a lot of people watch youtube.” (Max)

“Reduce plastic use by using reusable water bottles and have more water refilling stations.  Research the brands you are buying to use your purchasing power to effect change.” (Meg)

“Stop selling oil! Create something that replaces oil that does not pollute (electric vehicles, plant-based biofuel, solar, wind).” (Danica)

Are there things that you are personally doing to address climate change? 

Consensus: My career will be focussed on fighting climate change. I speak the truth to other kids and try to get them involved. When I hear people are misinformed I educate them.

“I told my mom we should not buy plastic, instead we should buy glass containers or use refillable containers for shampoo, etc.” (Danica)

I attend climate marches and rallies. I volunteer with SanDiego350 (Avery has volunteered since she was 7 years old).

What do you want to tell the judge hearing the children’s court case?

“Changing policies are the only way to save the planet and other nations are way ahead of us.” (Meg)

“Try to make people take better care of the earth.” (Avery)

“If the government tells you they are doing enough for climate change tell them to prove it, make them give evidence.” (Danica)

“Please – just look at the facts.” (Max)

Do you feel your rights are being violated by climate change inaction?

“Yes my rights are being violated, as we are in the midst of the 6th great extinction on this planet.  My generation will be the most affected by climate change and we don’t want continued fossil fuel extraction.” (Meg) 

“You are violating my rights because the planet will be worse for me after you die. We need to do this before civilization collapses. I and my family will have to live with this.” (Alex)

“The purpose of government is to protect and serve the people. They are not doing this when they ignore climate change.” (El)

What do you want to tell the kids/plaintiffs who filed this case?

Consensus: You’re my heroes. Thank you for standing up for my rights. In a time when many are apathetic, what you are doing is very powerful.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

“People should get educated. I try whenever possible to spread the message at school” (Meg)

“Government should find climate scientists to guide policy and make sure the public is informed. This needs to be a front and center issue.” (El)

“We need to pass laws to plant trees whenever one is cut down, because they give us air.”  (Alex)

Listen to the Children

The young people who participated in these interviews are well versed in the climate change catastrophe and how it is impacting our planet. They expressed feelings of worry and sadness about their future. As Meg stated, “To be blunt – climate change is the destruction of the earth. This is happening now and nothing is being done about it.”

As an individual, every decision you make going forward needs to further the chance of a livable planet for our grandchildren. On November 6th, we will have the opportunity to vote for leaders who respect the overwhelming evidence of climate science, are willing to use their political capital to transition the country to clean energy and a sustainable future, and to do so at warp speed. Let us heed Avery’s warning: “Humans are causing their own extinction. Do something about it before it is too late!” 

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on October 29, 2018.

About the Author:

Stephanie Corkran, MA, is an anthropologist who works in research at UCSD and a volunteer of SanDiego350. As a Coast Guard veteran, she previously enforced environmental law and responded to oil and hazardous material spills, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She supports a vision of social justice that considers the needs of all life, human and non-human.

 About the Interview Process:

The interviews (by phone or in person) were not transcribed verbatim but main themes were captured. For the younger interviewees there was some communication to ensure I understood what they meant to convey. Sometimes I suggested language substitutions that they agreed to, but the concepts are theirs alone.  I attempted to group related responses together to improve readability.

Note from Meg:

Meg recommends the following books to read: Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by Edward Wilson, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein.

‘Brown’s Last Chance’ Could Be Our Last Chance To Avert Climate Change Apocalypse

By Stephanie Corkran, SanDiego350

Credit: Mark Dixon / Wikimedia Commons

Brown’s Last Chance is a campaign demanding Governor Jerry Brown halt the development of unsustainable, polluting, fossil fuel infrastructure and begin an immediate phase-out of fossil fuels in California. If he’s unwilling to do so, a multitude of organizations (environmental, health, justice, community, consumer) are prepared to protest the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit.

This climate summit, held in San Francisco next month from September 12 to 14, was the brainchild of Gov. Brown. It was conceived of in response to President Trump withdrawing the United States from the international Paris Climate Accord. World leaders will be in attendance to continue the work of past international climate conferences to mitigate climate change. There will be numerous affiliate marches and rallies around the world (including San Diego’s Rise For Climate March) to demand a transformation to clean energy and real action on climate change.

Gov. Brown and California get a lot of credit for climate change action and certainly market that reputation. The problem is this state and its government during Governor Brown’s reign neglected fossil fuel production as a target for climate change mitigation. Oil and gas production is declining in California, but not fast enough in light of the severity of the climate change threat.

This is the last year the governor can serve. The idea of the campaign is to hit now, while media is focused on the conference and environmental issues, and when he is not running for reelection. Perhaps he will be less beholden now to special interests that favor fossil fuel production and buy influence with their campaign contributions.

Why the imperative to protest – why a call to action?

HYPOCRISY OF CONTINUED EXTRACTION

Nationwide, oil and gas extraction is increasing. California, with its accolades for leading the climate change fight in the U.S. is, in fact, a major contributor to that extraction.

Production of fossil fuels is inconsistent with the state’s mandates to address climate change. On the one hand, state lawmakers are currently considering SB 100 which would move up the schedule of clean energy goals — since interim targets of SB 350 have been met ahead of schedule. On the other hand, California is a major producer of fossil fuels. The state needs to stop fossil fuel extraction to avoid the worst risks of climate change worldwide. The consensus of scientists is that fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground.

Yet, California is ranked sixth in the nation for oil production. And because California has a lot of low-quality oil resources, it takes more extreme, energy-intensive methods to extract it. Indeed, the oil that California extracts is some of the dirtiest on the planet.

Inglewood Field, CA, 2014
Photo courtesy of FracTracker Alliance

The state was also recently ranked 13th in gas production. While California gas production has declined, it is still significant and uses the highly problematic hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) method of extraction.

According to the California Department of Conservation, there were 652 oil and gas wells stimulated using hydraulic fracturing in 2014. In 2015, California had 56,653 active oil and natural gas wells.

In addition, there was a 17 percent expansion of offshore oil wells in California state waters under existing leases from 2012 to 2016.

All this while the state suffers some of the worst health impacts of fossil fuel extraction and use. California is home to eight of 10 of the cities with the worst air quality in the nation. The poisoning of extreme amounts of water (a resource in short supply in this drought-ridden state) via the list of fracking chemicals used is also a hazard to health.

Rig in South LA, California
Photo by Brook Lenker, FracTracker Alliance, October 2017

EXISTENTIAL THREAT

Current extinction rates on earth are hundreds of times higher than normal evolutionary background rates. These extinction rates are directly related to our fossil fuel addiction and its impact on the climate. Entire ecosystems are collapsing and if too many links in the chain of biodiversity disappear, the systems that support human life go. We will follow the dinosaurs into oblivion – the difference being that dinosaurs did not do it to themselves.

There is a 5 percent chance of cataclysmic climate change by 2050, and a chance of our own extinction. While many will bet on the intellect and industriousness of our species to avoid or survive this threat (humans have gone down to as few as 1000 breeding individuals in our evolutionary past and come back with a vengeance), it will not be possible if we decimate the environment, if we destroy our home. We depend as a species on a functioning biosphere.

THREAT TO CIVILIZATION

The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control have been preparing for the health risks of climate change that are already occurring and will escalate.

WHO website

The thin veneer of civilization will likely break down as food becomes scarce, infectious disease runs rampant and mass migrations of people — whose homelands will no longer support human life — spawn warfare and further destruction of the environment.

Social and political structures in place are insufficient to deal with current levels of disruption. We already see waves of refugees in Europe and the U.S. reacting to degraded environments from prolonged drought and competition for resources. And we can expect more. Both the U.S. and Europe are struggling to process the numbers of asylum seekers. Xenophobia and backlash against migrants are escalating worldwide.

What will happen when disruption is on the scale of a climatic apocalypse? We are an overpopulated speciesthat has outgrown the carrying capacity of the earth. Without our technology, mass communication and a worldwide distribution system of resources, we may revert to the savage.

EVIDENCE OF POLITICAL CORRUPTION/PARTY DYSFUNCTION

Campaign contributions from big oil impact whether our elected representatives will end fracking in this state. Gov. Brown has strong ties to fossil fuel companies and utilities that may have hampered his ability to take a stand on fossil fuel extraction in the state. Recently the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution stating they will no longer accept donations from fossil fuel companies.

“Fossil fuel corporations are drowning our democracy in a tidal wave of dark oily money; they have deceived the public about the impacts of climate change, fought the growth of clean renewable energy, and corrupted our political system,” the resolution reads. Individual Democratic Party candidates are not required to follow suit, but the example is set.

Now it is up to the people (us) to raise our voices to demand this same standard be upheld by candidates running for elected office and those already in elected office.

Where do you stand?

There is no neutral position. To do nothing is aiding the perpetrators of climate destruction. Inaction means you are siding with the polluters who are sentencing all life on this planet to extreme suffering.

Do something — and do it now! Join others who are willing to fight for climate justice and be part of the solution. The sacrifices we all must make will seem trivial if we are successful in saving our beautiful home and her inhabitants.

If you intend to fight for life, attend the September 8th Rise for Climate March, San Diego, contact Gov. Brown, and sign Brown’s Last Chance Petition.

Originally published by the San Diego Free Press on August 17th, 2018.

About the Author

Stephanie Corkran, MA, is an anthropologist who works in medical research at UCSD and a volunteer of SanDiego350. She is a Coast Guard veteran who enforced environmental law and responded to oil and hazardous material spills, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She supports a vision of social justice that considers the needs of all life, human and non-human.