Summary of our August 5 Climate Walk at Cabrillo

Thank you to the 30 attendees who joined us on Saturday August 5, 2017 at the Cabrillo National Monument for our special Ranger-led Climate Walk hosted by ecologist Alexandria “Alex” Warneke. Alex is also the Science Outreach Coordinator for the Cabrillo National Monument and is an active leader with the Climate Science Alliance – South Coast, where she guides the innovative community outreach programs.

Alex shared her first-hand insights about climate change impacts on the biodiverse 160 acres that make up Cabrillo National Monument. She explained about the important native plant species, and the animals that depend on these natural habitats. She challenged our group to think about: what happens when these plants experience drought? How about the mammals and reptiles that live in this habitat: considering the area is isolated (surrounded by water on three sides and a Navy base on the other) where can they go if they can’t find enough food or water? How about slow moving and vulnerable marine life: will they be able to adapt quickly enough to the changing ocean temperatures, sea level rise or acidification?

Among the many important animals here, there are foxes, bats, lizards, birds and diverse marine life. There are two pairs of nesting peregrine falcons and recently four chicks were born. A success story: after being gone from the park for a hundred years, the local California Gnat Catcher made a comeback just three years ago. Did you know, there are five biologists on staff at Cabrillo National Monument?

Alex and her team at Cabrillo also monitor and protect the rocky intertidal zone commonly known as the tide pools. Cabrillo is a great place to spot migrating grey whales or view California sea lions. There is a NPS monitoring station, tracking ocean pH levels and water temperatures. Alex shared with the group the impacts that our oceans will experience from climate change, discussing sea level rise and ocean acidification. Tip: if you want to visit the tide pools, plan your trip in the winter when the daytime tides can be low enough (-.7’) for viewing.

Thank you to Alex for her dedication to climate change science and for her unique ability to explain complex concepts in a simple, non-scary way all while making it fun for the kids. Click here to learn more about the Cabrillo Education Climate Kids program that teaches school children about ocean acidification. Questions for Alex? She can be reached at Alexandria_warneke@nps.gov.

STAY COOL Shows Support for Assembly Joint Resolution 9, The March for Science

STAY COOL is sending this letter in support of California’s State Assembly and the March for Science Assembly Joint Resolution today:

April 13, 2017

To: The Honorable Cristina Garcia
Chair, Natural Resources Committee
California State Assembly

Re: Support for Assembly Joint Resolution 9, The March for Science 

Dear Assembly Member Cristina Garcia,

On behalf of STAY COOL for Grandkids, we are pleased to provide our strong support for Assembly Joint Resolution 9 (AJR 9), which affirms California’s commitment to scientific research, science education, and science-based policymaking.

STAY COOL for Grandkids is a membership organization of grandparents, elders and other citizens in the San Diego region dedicated to preserving a livable climate in the name of those too young to have voice: our future generations. Along with other partner organizations in our region, we advocate for meaningful action on climate change and support policies that will have a lasting effect by reducing emissions and securing our quality of life. We are writing today on behalf of the 245 San Diego County members of our organization.

We are alarmed by recent efforts of a non-scientific organization to send classroom materials disputing the scientific consensus of climate change to every public school science teacher in California and around the nation. One of STAY COOL’s premier programs is to bring graduate students from Scripps Institution of Oceanography into middle school classrooms to educate them on the science of climate change and its impacts here in San Diego.

We now must stand up for independent, rigorous scientific research and stand against those who would seek to discredit the scientific community. In doing so, we stand for the shared truths that enable our grandchildren’s future to be protected.

Sincerely,

Advisory Board Members of STAY COOL for Grandkids:

Robert A. Leiter, STAY COOL Chair and grandfather
Marty Eberhardt, Vice Chair and grandmother
David Engel, Founder and grandfather
Peg Engel, Founder and grandmother
Dennis Griffin, retired engineer and grandfather
Nicola Hedge, Director of Environmental Initiatives, The San Diego Foundation
Sue Randerson, retired teacher and grandmother
Laura Schumacher, Executive Board Member, San Diego Unified Council of PTAs
Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director for the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Institute (NPI),
University of San Diego

Voting for our Grandkids

Thanks to the antiquated Electoral College the popular vote did not match the voting result in the recent presidential election (Nor did the 2000 election for that matter).  This results in the US going in the wrong direction on fighting climate change at a time when aggressive action is needed.

But we have a more effective way to vote, that is more straight forward.  Voting with our dollars is a way to show our values and make a real difference.  Voting with our dollars can effectively give our Grandkids a vote and a voice in determining their future.

Consumer Dollars

We still have a choice when we spend our consumer dollars.  We can boycott companies and products that do not meet our values.

When purchasing a major item we need to consider the environment impact over the life of the product.

Also consider durable products that will last rather than throw-away products that are designed to be replaced in a relatively short period of time.

A vehicle purchase has an associated carbon footprint that is locked in for a decade or more.  Admittedly all vehicles have a carbon footprint associated with their production, however the variable is the carbon footprint associated with its operation.  An EV can have a useful life of several hundred thousand miles with a greatly reduced operational carbon footprint.  The total cost of ownership of an EV is significantly less than the cost of ownership of an equivalent internal combustion vehicle as well.

CCE (Community Choice Energy) although a great idea, is now hamstrung by the utilities’ ability to actively market against CCEs thanks to a recent decision by the CPUC. This action also lead to San Diego County’s recent decision to defer considering CCE to some future time.  Deferring action to the future is a threat to our Grandkid’s wellbeing.  But we already have an interim option to choose 100% clean energy. It is called Arcadia Power and you can choose clean power today using renewable energy credits.

The dollars we spend on groceries also have an influence on the environment that our grandkids will inherit.  Studies conclude that animal agriculture has a bigger negative impact on the environment than the transportation sector.

Investment Dollars

The theme of many environmental groups has been to divest from investments in fossil fuels.  If we are successful in reducing our use of fossil fuels those investment would prove to be financially bad investments.

Installing Residential Solar Panels can provide local clean renewable energy while yielding an effective return of 10% or more.  And it is good for the economy.

Impact Investment is a popular term for socially responsible investment.  It means investing in companies and products that are good for a sustainable environment.

Some examples are:

  • Solar Mosaic – Direct investment into small renewable energy projects
  • Wunder Capital – Invests in solar projects
  • Green Backer – Green bond fund
  • Open Energy – Innovative debt financing solutions and unique marketplace lending model opens the door to attractive investment opportunities.
  • Clean Capital – Solar project investing can be a safe and effective investment that provides predictable yield each year.
  • ETHO and SPYX  – Are index funds with No Oil Exposure.

We are starting to realize that waiting for government policy to become favorable for clean renewable energy takes so long that it is effectively inaction. Favorable energy policy may never happen considering the current political environment.

We can personally take action that will benefit our grandkids. Voting with our dollars can start today with no delays.

Article by STAY COOL member Dennis Griffin.  

County Supervisors’ Vote Wednesday Could Encourage More Renewable Energy

By Tyson Siegele, SanDiego350
Note: this article was first published on February 11, 2017 in East County Magazine

This coming Wednesday, February 15th, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will vote on implementation for some or all of the San Diego County Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan (CREP). Many of the steps outlined in the plan save the county money and promote a healthier environment, but one particular piece of the plan could do more to promote clean energy and lower costs than all the rest combined: Community Choice Energy (CCE).

CCE, also referred to as Community Choice Aggregation, is a program that gives consumers an additional choice in electricity provider. In the past, all power has been sourced by the local utility, in monopolistic fashion. This approach, of course, does not tend to produce the lowest costs. Under a CCE program, the local utility will have to compete with alternative energy electricity generation, and the consumer will be able to choose who supplies his power, thus breaking up the monopoly.

The cities/regions in California that have adopted CCE programs have seen reductions in the cost of electricity offered. Not only that, but consumers can choose between electricity packages that can range from 30% to as much as 100% renewable energy. In some cases, even the 100% greenhouse gas free option is cheaper than the standard utility offering. This is because, for the last few years, wind and solar have been the two cheapest forms of new electricity generation, even without subsidies. Better yet, wind and solar costs are still dropping.

The first step toward setting up a CCE for San Diego County is a feasibility study. This is what the county supervisors are voting on this coming Wednesday. To contact them regarding your opinion on whether CCE should move forward, call or write:

District 1 — Greg Cox — 619-531-5511, greg.cox@sdcounty.ca.gov

District 2 — Dianne Jacob, Chair — 619-531-5522, dianne.jacob@sdcounty.ca.gov

District 3 — Kristin Gaspar — 619-531-5533, kristin.gaspar@sdcounty.ca.gov

District 4 — Ron Roberts — 619-531-5544, ron-roberts@sdcounty.ca.gov

District 5 — Bill Horn — 619-531-5555, bill.horn@sdcounty.ca.gov

Thank you to Tyson Siegele from SanDiego350 for allowing STAY COOL to repost this article.

Tyson Siegele, a SanDiego350 member, is an architect who works to promote sustainable design and clean energy. Recently he created ButItJustMightWork.com, a residential clean energy handbook, to chronicle things to do as well as things to avoid on one’s path to zero emissions.

2016 in Review – a Message from STAY COOL’s Administrative Director

The year was a productive and inspiring one for me and for STAY COOL. In 2016 we exceeded 200 active elder members, with more than 120 of those attending one of the 6 events we hosted, or joining us on our educational hike, or participating in a march or tree-planting press event, or raising their voice on local climate change policies through letter writing or in-person testimony. I’m especially proud of the new programs we implemented that allow STAY COOL to connect with children – those members of the future generations we are working to protect.

Because of our partnership with the Water Conservation Garden, we developed “Ms. Smarty Plants™ Cools the Climate” – a presentation that more than a thousand schoolchildren saw this year after it launched at Balboa Park on Earth Day. The Garden expects to reach more than 50,000 children next year.

We worked with young students to create art with ocean climate messages and provided SIO graduate students with the art to bring to the Marrakesh climate change conference in November. Last year, we did the same and the U.S. State Department used the art in one of its negotiating sessions.

We strengthened our partnership with the Climate Science Alliance, and developed a science-based education program to teach 6th graders and older about climate change impacts on our ocean. Through this partnership, our outreach to public schools exposed more than 250 students to hands-on science experiments, personal stories from early career scientists and inspiring art projects.

Our youth programs are unlike any other program currently offered to students in our region…and we’ve seen those students gain the knowledge they need to become well-versed in climate change, while also providing motivation for them to become environmental stewards.

In 2016 we engaged more than 30 individual donors – a first for STAY COOL. We also were successful in attracting a Community Enhancement Grant from the County of San Diego. And in just a month, we have raised $4,000 to help continue our Youth Engagement programs in 2017.

In the coming year, we have a committed donor, whose funds will cover half our operating budget. These funds will support our elder climate education events, along with our important outreach and advocacy work. But we need to raise more than $21,000 to continue our innovative youth engagement programs.

Many of STAY COOL donors shared their reasons for contributing. They said they were donating because they “believe in this organization” and one said “doing my small part in helping to raise awareness of the climate crisis, and corrective action to counter where possible.” Many donors said they were donating to honor their children and grandchildren. And one said, “now more than ever this is the most important issue of our time.”

Thank you for your continued involvement with STAY COOL in 2016 and your personal commitment to help preserve a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. While 2017 will bring with it new challenges, there are many reasons to be optimistic about local action on climate change. As Dr. Somerville said at our December 8 event, “We are at a critical crossroads. We still have a chance of limiting climate change to a tolerable level, a level that offers some hope of successful adaptation. Our window of opportunity is still open.”

Thank you for all you do,

Sarah Benson
STAY COOL Administrative Director

In response to the Nov. 1 “Another reason to say no way to SANDAG’s Measure A” by the U-T Editorial Board

By David Engel, STAY COOL for Grandkids and Michael Beck, Endangered Habitats League

It’s high stakes election time and your mailbox is stuffed with conflicting ballot arguments. How should you vote on Measure A? The Union-Tribune has taken a “no way on A” position, largely based on a theory that self-driving cars are the future, reducing the need for public transit. That seems unlikely to us – public transit will remain critical to efficiently moving large numbers of people in the coming decades, regardless of such futuristic fantasies. Here’s why two of San Diego’s leading climate and conservation groups ask you to vote “yes.”

Climate change: Measure A would fund the most effective transportation plan in California to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), significantly exceeding state reduction targets for 2020 and 2035. Yes, that’s right! It would place us in the number one spot among the 15 regional transportation planning agencies in California in reducing polluting and global warming GHGs. How does it do that?

First, it commits $7.5 billion, nearly 42% of the funds raised, for public transit. You may have heard that Measure A is a “more freeways, one-person car centric” plan. Not true. While substantial funds will keep local streets and roads repaired, only 3.4% of the measure will be spent on freeways. By any measure this is a big shift towards getting people out of their cars and into public transit. The central project of Measure A is a new $4.4 billion trolley line from San Ysidro to Kearny Mesa. This will be a huge help getting South County residents to job centers, and relieve the nightmare I-805 commute.

Bus, trolley and train service will be expanded with nearly $798 million committed. This will mean more frequent buses and trolleys on high-demand routes as well as new rapid bus routes, making bus and trolley travel more accessible and convenient. Measure A also adds new train stops at Camp Pendleton and Del Mar Fairgrounds, and new bus rapid transit lanes connecting county-wide workers to jobs. And having local money available for transit means San Diego will be eligible (and competitive) for Federal matching funds.

Active Transportation: $540 million will be invested in bike and pedestrian improvements including bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, and underpasses that separate trains and trolleys from bike and pedestrian crossings. These improvements not only provide options to get around your neighborhood but invest in the essential neighborhood system connectors within the overall transportation system. And they reduce GHG pollution.

Wildlife Conservation: Measure A would provide $2 billion in funding for science-based open space and wildlife conservation for the region. This funding is desperately needed right now to protect over 100 threatened plants and animals and their habitats in the San Diego region. Among the species in dire need of this funding are golden eagle, quino checkerspot butterfly, coastal cactus wren, and western pond turtle.

Simply put, a “no” vote on Measure A guarantees more traffic congestion and growing global warming pollution for you, your children and your grandkids. It also means less open space, less wildlife habitat and fewer wildlife species for you and all future generations to enjoy. Quality of life in San Diego County will take a devastating hit.

A “yes” vote on Measure A quantifiably ensures a ‘best in the state’ reduction in climate change impacts, creates urgently needed new and improved public transit, and literally, unprecedented wildlife conservation funding. These are the progressive, environmental, verifiable facts – not just our opinion or futuristic speculation.

We urge you to make the right choice on Measure A and support a cooler, cleaner and happier future for your children and grandkids. Climate change and wildlife species extinction is happening now. We do not have time to waste, and may never get another chance to take this giant step forward.

Introducing STAY COOL’s Newest Advisory Board Member: Dennis Griffin

Dennis Griffin is a grandfather who is concerned about climate change and protecting future generations. He is active with several local climate change action organizations. Dennis spent years as a proactive manager in the facilities management field, where he oversaw complex facilities relocation, upgrades, and build-outs. Dennis holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BSE) and National IMG_4037University (MBA).

STAY COOL recently asked Dennis about his insights on climate action:

Q: Why did you first get involved with environmental/climate change issues?
A: I originally went to college to study meteorology and oceanography but got distracted by the excitement of the aerospace industry and changed majors. About 10 years ago I became aware of the magnitude of the problem of climate change, after reading the book “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler. Although the book is more social commentary than science, it was the catalyst for me to do more investigation into climate change.

Q: What motivated you to become a “take action” participant versus someone on the sidelines?
A: Once I realized that our policy makers were doing very little to address this critical issue, I knew that individuals had to take action.

Q: When it comes to climate change consequences, what are you most concerned about?
A: My biggest concerns are that as a society, we have waited too long to take significant action and our actions continue to be too slow to make the necessary changes.

Q: Tell us about some of the personal actions you’ve taken to reduce your own carbon footprint or advocate for meaningful climate action.
A: I am “walking the talk.” We put solar on our home almost six years ago. Almost five years ago we replaced a gas guzzler with a Chevy Volt. Hopefully we will soon be driving an all electric Tesla Model X. (I have been a reservation holder for two years and am currently waiting for my vehicle to be produced.)

I have offered to pay to have solar installed on my kid’s homes, (If and when my kids can afford homes as they both live in the Bay Area) In the interim, as renters, my daughter buys her power from Marin Clean Energy and my son buys his power from Arcadia Power. Both companies are clean energy providers offering a higher percentage of clean energy than the local utilities. I’ve also influenced several friends to install solar on their homes.

Q: What do you hope for STAY COOL to accomplish in the coming year? How do you plan to guide the organization as our newest Advisor?
A: Action is critical and people need to be realistically educated on the significance and consequences of abrupt climate change. The urgency with which we need to take action cannot be overstated. As Admiral Herring recently said to us, “We need to be having the adult conversation.” And somehow we need to involve our influential media in the conversation on a consistent basis. STAY COOL’s focus on grandkids gives these innocents a voice and motivates us as grandparents to do everything we can to leave them with a healthy environment.

Note: Dennis contributed to the STAY COOL blog earlier this year, read the article here.

 

STAY COOL Update / Elders Can Help Bring Climate Change Education to Our Schools

STAY COOL has been reaching out to elders on climate change action for more than three years now, so we thought it would be a good time to summarize our mission and also share an update about our exciting new program focus on youth engagement.

STAY COOL’s mission is to speak for those too young to have a voice regarding climate policies: our children and grandchildren.  We create action on climate change issues in the San Diego region through four areas of focus:

  • Empower grandparents and grandchildren to be passionate and informed voices on global warming;
  • Engage members in educational events about a climate action topic, then convert interested elders into “take action” participants;
  • Activate our base to provide policymakers and elected officials with credible support on climate issues and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Connect the collective wisdom of elders with San Diego’s youth through environmental education programs.

This final approach – that is, connecting the wisdom of our members with youth on climate change education – is a new endeavor for us.  Science Magazine recently reported a study showing that, although most U.S. science teachers include climate science in their courses, they do not have a deep understanding of the issues, and most students only receive about 1 to 2 hours a year on climate science education.

As we have reported in the past, STAY COOL has partnered with the Water Conservation Smarty-PlantsGarden and their “Ms. Smarty-Plants” character to create an entertaining and educational climate action presentation targeting elementary age children. This program will launch with an event at EarthFair in Balboa Park on April 17. We have a goal to find funding to take the program to schools in 2016-2017.

Last fall, we worked with graduate students at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) to take children’s artwork to COP 21 (the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Paris). We were inspired not only by the masterpieces from the kids, but also by the leadership talents of SIO graduate students. We believe their passion and knowledge about our oceans could provide SIO Students with Artworktremendous inspiration and guidance to younger students.  As a result, we are working to develop a pilot project with SIO graduate students to present ocean climate science to public middle school science classes.

Finally, we have recently partnered with Climate Science Alliance’s Climate Kids to support climate education outreach in Del Mar & Carlsbad elementary schools.

Are you passionate about bringing more climate science to schools? Do you know of a school (elementary or middle) that may be a good candidate for a pilot program? Our outreach efforts will need the support of our members to be successful.  Please get involved! Email: sarah@staycool4grandkids.org.

Grandparents can take action against climate change

Article by STAY COOL member Dennis Griffin.

 

As Grandparents we need to wage war on the devastating effects of climate change. We can support organizations that reflect our values.

However this can prove to be a long and laborious task. (And as grandparents we know we may not have a lot of time left.)

We can also take tangible steps toward combating climate change through action. These actions mean “walking the talk”:

  • Install solar on our roofs
  • Drive an electric car
  • Take low carbon vacations
  • Divest ourselves from fossil fuels by changing our investments to show our environmental values
  • Share our concerns about the future with our children and grandchildren (Other demands on their time and attention may be keeping them uninformed.)

 

In addition we can gift our children and grandchildren, not only with money, but with our values:

  • Pay for the installation of solar on their homes
  • Financially influence the transportation choices they make
  • Set an example by living a simpler lifestyle and encourage them to do the same
  • Pry them from their electronic devices and introduce them to the wonders of nature.

Dennis’ grandson enjoys nature.

 

As grandparents we also run into an unusual situation when we reach our 70th birthday. If we have funded retirement accounts during our working years we find ourselves faced with having to take money out of these accounts. This new-found income can allow us to take tangible steps toward supporting our energy saving decisions, whether it be for ourselves or our family. It is an opportunity to add to our environmental legacy and reinforce our values.

Article by STAY COOL member Dennis Griffin.

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.