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…]

Lonely? Try Talking about Cow Flatulence

By Bellamy Dryden

This past Saturday, April 29, I celebrated an important milestone with 5,000 strangers at the Peoples Climate March in downtown San Diego. After that same march in 2014 I adopted a vegan diet, cold turkey, so to speak. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Three years later, I’m healthier and happier.

2017 People's Climate March

2017 People’s Climate March. Photo courtesy of SanDiego350.

What better way to celebrate than with a perfect stranger holding a sign that says “Cow Farts are Destroying the Planet”?

I changed my diet for two reasons. One: it’s an easy and useful way for me to help combat climate change. Two:  it meant that I would never, ever, EVER have to eat a cricket burger with a side of mealworm “fries.”

Why not celebrate such an important day with friends and family? Well, I’m the only environmental vegan in my circle. Besides, my family and friends are far flung, so we use Facebook to keep in touch. The friends and neighbors I see in real life like me just fine, but online, it’s really lonely being the dietary outlier, the green sheep, the tree-hugging vegan. [Read more…]

SanDiego350 Attends Earth Fair

By Amy Van Schijndel, SanDiego350

On Sunday, April 23rd, 2017, San Diego’s 28th annual Earth Fair was held in Balboa Park, and it drew more than 60,000 visitors. It is the largest free Earth Day-related event of its kind. The event included environmental issues such as lowering our carbon footprint, climate change, and what to do with our recycled “trash.” Along with Earth-friendly education, the fair provided live entertainment, parades, and plenty of shopping. SanDiego350 hosted three booths that were scattered across the park. Our intent at the fair was to promote not only climate action but the People’s Climate March, which will be held on April 29th.

SD350 Volunteers

Volunteers at one of the three SanDiego350 booths.

One new area to visit this year was Cannabis Village. Hemp can help reduce our carbon footprint. It can be made into many different items including clothes, medicine and building materials. FlippySocks creates a gym sock with a wallet (Sock Wallets™) made out of organic hemp, bamboo and recycled cotton. Elixinol sells Edibites for pets made of hemp oil for health and wellness. Hemptique creates shoes, beanies and a variety of merchandise from hemp made in Romania.

Another section in the park was the Reuse and Repair Area. Malia Designs fights human trafficking by selling purses and wallets made in Cambodia from recycled Cement bags. EarthWell Refill, in North Park, takes clean, empty containers and turns them into refillable bottles of soaps, body care and household cleaners. Habitat for Humanity Restores sells…”new, used, discontinued and surplus building materials and home furnishings…to help build new Habitat homes and divert…materials from landfills.” San Diego Earthworks teaches how and what to recycle which is beneficial since Earth Fair pledged to reuse and recycle all trash thrown away Sunday (termed Zero Waste). [Read more…]

San Diego’s April 29 Climate March: Why It Matters

By Mark Hughes, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 4/27/2017)

In the recently published book, The Knowledge Illusion, authors Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach assert something rather disturbing: we rarely think for ourselves. Instead, we patch together our understanding of the world by taking a bit from over here and a bit from over there. If they are correct, it’s pretty easy to see that it’s whose bits we incorporate  that create our worldview (the IPCC or Trump? Hmm.)

Pipelines Leak

Photo courtesy of SanDiego350.

One effect of this absorptive scheme is that we fall into the illusion of thinking we know a lot about the world, when in truth much of what we think we know resides in other people’s heads. A simple example is the zipper. How well do you understand it’s workings? A scoff-able question, no? After all, you likely use them daily. Okay, so try listing all the steps of just exactly how a zipper works. Yeah, me neither. Expertise regarding zipper operation and manufacture exists in someone else’s head; hardly any of us could make one if our child’s life depended on it.

Next point: it’s clear that societal advancements happen at wildly varying rates. The discoveries of penicillin and the polio vaccine resulted in rapid and near universal uptake throughout the population. The abolition of slavery? Taking a bit longer. All three advances improve people’s lives, so why the difference in adoption rates? You may think you know the answer, but before you speak, consider the zipper. [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…]

Popular Republican Mayor Praises Community Choice Energy

By Tyson Siegele, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press

A staunch supporter of Community Choice Energy gave the keynote address at a March 10th forum organized by the Climate Action Campaign. Since clean, renewable energy is one of the main benefits of Community Choice Energy (CCE), you might think the speaker would be a long haired hippy prone to singing kumbaya. Not at all, not even close. The proud Republican Mayor of Lancaster, California, Rex Parris, provided an enthusiastic endorsement of CCE, lambasting the high prices of utility power and praising the savings gained through Community Choice.

Rex Parris and Clean Energy Innovation

Parris

Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris – Source: City of Lancaster

The people of Lancaster first elected Rex Parris in 2008. Since then he has been re-elected 3 times including in 2016 when he received 67% of the vote. One of the main ways he achieved such strong support was by turning Lancaster into a clean energy mecca. The biggest win in terms of jobs was bringing Build Your Dream (BYD) electric bus manufacturing to the city. BYD is an electric vehicle heavyweight. In 2016 it built more electric cars than any company in the world, and did so by a large margin. The Lancaster facility does not get as much press as Tesla, but it is ramping up activity in a similar fashion. Soon, in addition to buses, Lancaster will begin providing electric trash trucks and other heavy duty vehicles.

Electric vehicle manufacturing is just one piece of the pie in Lancaster. Parris was also instrumental in reducing permitting times for rooftop solar and introducing building codes requiring rooftop solar arrays. The city was the first in California to require rooftop solar on all new buildings. Better yet, Lancaster hopes to soon be able to announce that it has become a zero net energy community. That means it aims to produce more renewable energy within city limits than its total energy consumption, a goal it has been working toward since 2011. Accomplishing that has involved new and innovative building codes, creative public/private partnerships, and most importantly Community Choice Energy. [Read more…]

The Rise of Corporations as Climate Change Allies

By Nicola Peill-Moelter, Ph.D., SanDiego350

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 4/6/17)

There’s a new category of climate and environmental champions appearing just as the federal government is fading into the background: corporations. While we’ve been conditioned to think of corporate sustainability programs as greenwashing, evidence of real action is mounting, motivated by consumer and investor demand, and real threats to and opportunities for businesses. I know this because I’ve been working inside the belly of a corporate beast for eight years now as its environmental sustainability officer.

Republic of Cloud

Graphic courtesy of the author

My company is in the “Internet cloud” space, developing software-based services that are accessed via the cloud (public Internet). Our customers are the world’s Global 1000 companies as well as young startups, spanning all industries. Electricity consumption, the associated carbon emissions, and electronic “waste” from the annual decommissioning of thousands of servers are our main environmental impacts, similar to many other companies providing Cloud-based services, like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. To put things into perspective, if the Cloud were a country, it would rank 6th between Russia and Germany in global electricity consumption, as illustrated in the graph to the left. It’s one of the fastest growing industries, surpassing the airline industry in terms of energy consumption and carbon emissions. My company’s globally-distributed network alone annually consumes the equivalent of 25,000 U.S. households in electricity. On the bright side, the Internet has and continues to replace more energy-intensive and material-intensive activities. It enables us to read, shop, listen to music, bank, work and socialize with less material consumption and without getting into our cars. In fact, a study by McKinsey & Company found that the efficiency gains from the Internet far exceed its impacts. Nonetheless, in the face of climate change and dwindling natural resources, it’s important that all industries and companies reduce their environmental impacts. [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…]