By Jeffrey Meyer
With the recent release of a new United Nations report on the global impact of climate change, we are given still another chilling warning that we are facing catastrophe unless we accelerate efforts to confront this crisis.
The release of this report comes on the heels of a court decision rejecting the San Diego County climate action plan and the ongoing development of this state-mandated plan by the City of San Diego. It raises the stakes for everyone and compels us to reach higher and dig deeper for community solutions to this crisis.
The warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an urgent signal for our city and county officials to not only meet state laws on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but to explore higher standards.
The law establishing minimum requirements for these plans fall under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which was provided guidelines by our Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).
Critics still chafe at the impact of AB 32 and portray it as a symbol of legislators running amok over the poor and middle class. Their reasoning wrongfully centers on increases at the gas pump of at least 15 cents a gallon and how that will also impact fuel dependent businesses. Those living from paycheck to paycheck are doomed to suffer the most when climate change drives an economic collapse and profit-driven efforts to mislead them have succeeded in creating an immobilized electorate.
The new IPCC report says that climate change is set to inflict “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” on people and the planet unless carbon emissions are cut sharply and rapidly. This comes on the heels of a new government report released this year showing our nation will suffer $150 billion in economic damages every year that we fail to rein in rising temperatures. Still another recent report found that climate change will cost the nation up to $507 billion in property damages by 2100 if we fail to take action now.
The world and the U.S. political labyrinth suffer a debilitating inertia in dealing with climate change. Even with the new U.S.-China climate agreement the United Nations will likely be unable to agree to an effective climate change agreement in Paris next year. This is why our best efforts to deal with climate change may be through communities like San Diego. We have a capacity for imagining and producing extraordinary opportunities without the excessive bureaucracy embraced by nation states.
There have already been innovative community models developed by Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, London, Vancouver and Melbourne. It has carried to Shenzhen, which is leading the world on urban transportation and to Seoul, leading the world with green energy technology. This phenomena of change is creating new business opportunities and employment for these regions and it can for San Diego as well.
County officials need to return to ground zero and explore better ideas and options for its climate action plan. The appellate court ruling said their plan lacked detailed deadlines and measures to ensure emissions are reduced. If not for the lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club against the county, we would be without a credible county climate action plan. The City of San Diego is still in the adoption phase with its plan to meet mandatory targets and in light of the failed county plan they should reevaluate whether it will accomplish what is required or they could face a similar costly lawsuit.
Just meeting reduction targets set by CEQA and AB 32 is not enough. When they were set eight years ago, there was less known about timelines for adequate action to avoid the projected collapse of economic and ecological systems. This is a trailblazing opportunity for us and we should ask our elected representatives to model a new paradigm for communities to confront climate change and not just fulfill a state mandate.
Jeffrey Meyer is a Volunteer with SanDiego350, a team of San Diegans dedicated to raising awareness, developing leaders, and advocating for climate change action.
Save taxpayer’s money AND defund climate change and environmental destruction by ending the enormous subsidies and tax breaks for animal agriculture!
With 60+ BILLION food animals on the planet our best chance to mitigate climate change is to severely reduce consumption of animal foods. More than 1/3 of human induced warming is attributable to animal agriculture. Methane is 24 times more potent than CO2 but takes only 7 years to cycle out of the atmosphere. CO2 takes around 100 years to come out. Human pursuit of animal protein is the leading cause of methane release and a primary cause of CO2 concentrating in the atmosphere. Check the facts and act!
“As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable?”
“If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund
“A 1% reduction in world-wide meat intake has the same benefit as a three trillion-dollar investment in solar energy.” ~ Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy
There is one single industry destroying the planet more than any other. But no one wants to talk about it… http://cowspiracy.com
Nice article Jeffrey. What is your opinion on smart growth policies that seek to increase density near transit (e.g., SANDAG smart growth map: http://www.sandag.org/index.asp?projectid=296&fuseaction=projects.detail) and/or removing parking minimums at new development? These would both significantly reduce carbon output, versus our current model of pushing new housing to our exurbs and the resulting long commutes.
Despite an estimated 330,000 new housing units needed in San Diego by 2050, the readership here and on obrag.org are largely opposed to any new housing or increases in density, regardless of its proximity to transit. This is because their concerns about traffic and parking trump both the city’s housing crisis and addressing climate change. They also oppose reducing parking minimums at new development near transit, which would increase affordability and reduce emissions. Unfortunately, this liberal NIMBYism is a big obstacle to reaching the city’s progressive Climate Action Plan goals.
Doug Porter says
Dear Paul: One the basis of one article that you didn’t like you have consistently misrepresented the viewpoints of the SDFP, editors, readership and even the author of the article in social media and in deliberately provocative comments. We have published lots of articles on issues relating to development because we think it’s important for people to be thinking about these issues. And we will continue to publish more articles, some of which you might not agree with.
So read the the follow sentence out loud:
WE (SDFP) HAVE NEVER EXPRESSED A COLLECTIVE OPINION ON THE SUBJECT.
Do I need to repeat this that so you understand?
Now quit being a jerk.
PS–I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with disagreeing. I’m saying there’s something wrong with being disagreeable.