My, How Life Has Changed – Reflections on Growing up in San Diego

By STAY COOL member Sue Randerson

Sue Randerson on Thanksgiving with her grandsons, Taylor and Cole completing a puzzle.

Sue Randerson on Thanksgiving with her grandsons, Taylor and Cole completing a puzzle.

I grew up in San Diego when it was a much smaller town than it is today. Cows grazed on grass-covered hills beside old highway 101, where University City is now. You could walk the beaches and find lots of seashells, and abalone and lobster could be found in chest-deep water.

Traffic was light. A drive from San Diego to Del Mar took ½ hour any time of day. Now the freeways are clogged for several hours every morning and afternoon, with cars crawling along at snail speed, and it takes an hour for the same trip. Imagine how many tons of CO2 are emitted by those cars.

Swimming in the ocean, finding shells and looking for sea creatures in kelp as well as riding horseback and hiking in the Cuyamaca mountains gave me a love for nature, and led to my becoming a docent at Scripps Aquarium and Birch Aquarium. After several years I was asked to teach an outreach program.

During that time I received training about global climate change for a new program at our Discovery Lab. I got to hear about the Keeling Curve and the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere since the Industrial revolution, and how it is increasing even faster now, from climate scientists like SIO Professor Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan. I was very impressed and read as much as I could about climate change.

For several years I taught a two-day program on climate change in elementary schools, with lots of hands-on activities. Meanwhile, I watched the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase year by year, from 315 parts per million (ppm) when Charles Keeling began his measurements on Mauna Loa in 1956 until now, when they are above 400ppm most of the time.

We are already seeing the effects of climate change, with series of giant storms, wildfires, ocean acidification which is affecting coral reefs and the ability of mollusks and other sea creatures to build their shells. We’re also experiencing the warmest years on record.

Sue participates in a City of San Diego public hearing on the Climate Action Plan on November 30, 2015

Sue participates in a City of San Diego public hearing on the Climate Action Plan on November 30, 2015

I want to do what I can to encourage our citizens and elected officials to do everything possible to halt the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The future of our grandchildren, and, even more, our great-grandchildren, will be bleak indeed if we do not succeed in reducing CO2 levels and halting the increase in global temperatures. That is why I joined STAY COOL for Grandkids as soon as I learned about it.

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