The Future of Climate Justice Begins with Knowledge of the Victims of Now

By Sophia Lee

Look at the bigger picture, not just in regards to our own futures affected by global warming, but physically bigger, as in its current effects around the world.

The phrase “climate change” seems so abstract nowadays, especially with political tensions and the Covid-19 pandemic still at a head. Our nation’s internal conflicts and priorities have made it easy for us to forget problems that more directly affect the bigger picture such as global warming. And by “bigger picture”— I don’t just refer to our own futures, I am referring to the people of now all over the globe who are currently victims of the adverse effects of climate change. 

Many seem to think that climate change isn’t a big issue now— but that it will be in a few decades, and thus, addressing the issue can be put off in place of more direct and personal problems. Those people likely don’t know that, according to Statista, “In the last few years, global temperatures have been consistently among the hottest on record. The global anomaly in surface temperature might be the cause of an increase in sea level, a decrease in arctic ice and the growing number of weather-related catastrophes, including storms, floods and droughts.”

And who do you think are the most affected by such natural disasters? According to Mercy Corps, “While everyone around the world feels the effects of climate change, the most vulnerable are people living in the world’s poorest countries, like Haiti and Timor-Leste, who have limited financial resources to cope with disasters, as well as the world’s 2.5 billion smallholder farmers, herders and fisheries who depend on the climate and natural resources for food and income.”

Meanwhile, industry critics of climate change claim that it is impossible to massively cut down greenhouse gas emissions without large financial and economic repercussions. However, according to The Center for American Progress, “There is no need to postpone greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The technology exists to reduce them through comprehensive application of energy efficiency, wind power, and solar power. For instance, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, concluded in a recent study that the ‘United States could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 3.0-4.5 gigatons of CO2 emissions using tested approaches and high-potential emerging technologies.’ This would equal a 40 percent to 64 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from today.” If one looks hard enough, there is massive space for improvement in regards to not only our countries, but also the world’s carbon footprint. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from America and China, and thus, the wealthier countries can make the greatest impact despite being virtually unscathed from the effects of climate change in comparison to the rest of the globe.

As a typical busy student with a vague but ultimately shallow view of climate change, I remember asking my teacher a question during my freshman year: “But when will climate change happen?” It wasn’t until I started to get more involved with climate justice and youth advocacy later on that I learned the current and far-reaching effects of climate change, especially in poor communities and areas targeted by natural disasters.

Now, I know for a fact that my former worldview was too narrow— and that ultimately, when I was asking that question, what I really meant deep down was, “When will climate change affect me?”

Targeting support for climate change through statistics and approximations of some abstract future where climate change puts the reader at a disadvantage is not enough. Remember: climate change activism is not just about science or self-interest, it’s a cause with a purpose that’s ultimately centered around saving people: you, me, and everyone around the world. I can’t think of a better way to appeal for climate justice than to let others know that climate change isn’t an issue of tomorrow, but is behind the end of many victims today.

Sources:

https://www.mercycorps.org/blog/climate-change-poverty

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2008/05/30/4369/excuses-excuses/

You Can’t Get Clean Energy From Natural Gas!

Pretty… toxic Picture Credit: Pexels

Originally published by the San Diego Free Press on January 26th 2018
By Edward Bergan / SanDiego350

In retrospect, branding the toxic gas that emerges from underground deposits as “natural gas” was a stroke of marketing genius. It sounds so, well, natural. But natural gas is much more like “organic tobacco” – harmful in any form.

The more experts study natural gas, the more evidence they find that this fossil fuel is inflicting great damage on our environment. It is damaging when it’s burned and damaging when it’s extracted from the ground. In fact, the extraction and burning of natural gas to produce electricity is a dirty process. This dirty process impacts the clean water and air we need to live. [Read more…]

Juliana v. U.S.: A healthy planet  –  worthy cause or a right?

Credit: Pixabay

by Ivanna Patton

The debate on climate change in the U.S. is taking an unexpected turn. New questions are being raised, not about whether a healthy climate is a cause the government should support, but rather a human right they must defend.

Twenty-one youths, in conjunction with Earth Guardians, say it’s a human right, and have sued the U.S government. Their case, Juliana v. U.S., has been pretty promising so far. Since its inception in 2015, it’s already become one of the most widely discussed lawsuits in the history of the environmental movement.

[Read more…]

SanDiego350 Climate Presentation at Lions Club – National City

By Mônica Prado, SanDiego350 

On August 31st, the SanDiego350 Presentation Team shared with members of a local Lions Club in National City what we can do together to solve the climate crisis. Presenters Nancy Cottingham and Beverly Harju explained what climate change is and how we, as individuals and collectively, can act towards reducing fossil fuels emissions.  The presentation was organized by Larry Emerson, a National City resident and SanDiego350 volunteer, with the support of National City Host Lions Club.

Nancy Cottingham presenting at National City Lion’s Club, Photo by Mônica Prado

[Read more…]

2017 People’s Climate March

by Celeste Oram and Mark Hughes

2017 People's Climate March

People marching in San Diego. Photo by Greg Lowe.

On April 29th, 2017, SanDiego350 and partner organizations put on our local version of the People’s Climate March. This march was held last in 2014 and around 1,500 people participated. This year, the goal was to double that number, but that’s not what happened. Instead, the rally and march drew over 5,000 people. A success by any measure, and that was matched by the tens of thousands across the country and across the world who took part in the collective march. There is no doubt our demands on our leaders to respect science in general and climate science in particular, to get in step with nearly all the rest of the world, was heard. Perhaps our voices were even loud enough to break through the walls that separate some people’s alternate worlds from ours. This is critical, because while our collective knowledge makes us powerful, our individual ignorance makes us dangerous. And one day’s march, no matter how many people take part, will not solve the problem. Only sustained presence, sustained demands, will impel our leaders to act on our demands and on the needs of our planet and the life it sustains.

–Mark [Read more…]

SanDiego350 Reports on the Science March

By Pat Masters, SanDiego350

Photo by P. Masters.

Last Saturday’s Science March drew fifteen thousand scientists and science enthusiasts, energized by attacks on science and the environment by the Trump administration. They turned out on Earth Day to march for science and evidence-based policy. The crowds jammed Civic Center Plaza and surrounding streets, their signs urging respect for science and support for research that finds cures, protects the environment, and underpins technology and innovation.

The March for Science started as a social media campaign and grew into rallies in over 600 cities around the world. Organizers spoke up for logic and reason and education. They emphasized the need for scientists to defend scientific discovery, the consensus on climate change, and fight for Planet Earth.

Reflecting intense concern over the administration’s dismissal of climate science, San Diego’s rally kicked off with Professor Ralph Keeling, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego – the climate scientist who is carrying on his father’s pioneering research on carbon dioxide measurements that track the rate of global warming. Keeling drew cheers from the crowd by declaring the debate on the reality of climate change “has been over for decades” and 97% of the published science calls climate change a “serious problem, … even that undersells it.” [Read more…]

PRESENT AT THE CREATION

By Ron Bonn, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 4/20/2017

You could say I was present at the creation.

Looking back in our lives, we rarely know exactly when something started. But regular television news coverage of man-made climate change, with all it implies, started on New Year’s Day, 1970.

Ron Bonn

Ron Bonn, courtesy of the author

The staff of “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite”: producers, writers, technicians; a couple dozen of us in all, were sitting around the newsroom waiting for something to happen—because nothing happens on New Year’s Day—when the man himself stormed in. “Goddamn it,” he said to us, “we’ve got to do something about this environment story.”

You might guess that when Walter Cronkite said, “Goddamn it,” things happened at CBS News. And what happened is that I, the science producer for “The Evening News,” was detached for eight weeks to “do something” about this environment story. Never before, to my knowledge, had a network spot news program paid that much attention to a non-breaking story. [Read more…]

Why I Am An Activist, #4

By Amy Knight, SanDiego350

It started when I began volunteering my Saturdays. It progressed when I got excited about giving up entire Saturdays. The feeling seemed all too familiar, but new. A laser-like focus, inexhaustible, melting hours away as if they were minutes. A flush of excitement came to my face whenever ice core records were mentioned.

Okay, maybe ice cores aren’t your thing. But, odds are that everyone has experienced these feelings in some way, about something. Perhaps it’s when floating on a surfboard, about to catch the next wave, or when about to take down a chess rival. It could even happen to some while tackling the intricacies of a tax return. If you’re getting a big return, that is…

I get that feeling when I’m teaching the science of climate change.

Amy teaching children about the ocean

Teaching children about the ocean. Photo courtesy of the author.

I didn’t magically wake up one morning and realize this was my passion. I realized it at 3:06 PM on a Saturday while listening to a University of Miami climate scientist explain the biogeochemical processes of ocean acidification. This was supposed to be my day off. Why was I here? Why was it transporting me so?

A year ago, I was teaching high school Psychology in Miami, Florida. My students were from predominantly low socioeconomic, minority communities sitting literally at ground zero for bearing the economic and social impacts of climate change. I’d spent the previous two years involved with Climate Leadership Engagement Opportunities (CLEO) outside of school hours, learning the science behind climate change and helping teachers incorporate climate change into their curriculum. The hours were long, the scientific concepts demanding, and the political climate in Florida somewhat short of supportive. [Read more…]

Climate Change and Faith: A Moral Imperative

By James Long, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the East County Magazine)

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

Dr. Ramanathan

Dr. Ramanthan makes his presentation. Photo by Greg Withee

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

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

[Read more…]

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

by Amy Knight, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press)

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

Aliso Canyon Leak

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

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