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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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Message Points for San Diego CAP Public Comments

On Tuesday, December 15 the San Diego City Council will vote to adopt the city’s Climate Action Plan. Review the plan here.

Citizens, and especially STAY COOL members, are encouraged to show public support for this measurable, enforceable plan. Please consider attending the meeting on Dec. 15 to voice your support. Or, if you can not make it in person please submit a comment online here in the days before the hearing.

Not sure about what to say in your testimony? Here are some message points to get you started:

  • I am a grandparent (or parent) concerned about the likely risks global warming poses for our children and grandkids.
  • Climate change is a local government issue, just like education, good roads and crime prevention. When global warming affects our citizens, they will want to know what city hall has done to prepare for climate change.
  • I’m here today to commend the city for incorporating aggressive targets for greenhouse gas reductions in a climate action plan that will build in measurable, enforceable policies.
  • In San Diego, we value our quality of life; yet we are so vulnerable to global warming threats like a water storage, heat waves, sea level rise and poor air quality. We only have one chance to do this right. Let’s commit to leaving future generations with the same opportunity to enjoy our unique quality of life.
Bob Leiter at the November 30 2015 Environment Committee hearing on the San Diego CAP

Bob Leiter at the November 30 2015 Environment Committee hearing on the San Diego CAP

Additional message points from our partners at San Diego

  • Support the legally binding, Climate Action Plan with 100% Clean Energy for all; compact, mixed use development; and real alternative transportation options.
  • Get started implementing these right away; support the “fast track” implementation plan.
  • Ensure 2016 budget fully funds the Climate Plan’s implementation.
  • Support the new sub-committee of Environment Committee that will oversee the Climate Plan’s implementation (the committee will be announced on Nov 30 and will include CM Alvarez and public stakeholders).
  • Community Plan Updates must support the CAP and the City needs develop a CAP consistency checklist for CPUs.
  • The plan should protect the communities who are most impacted by climate change and create good quality, local jobs.
  • This is the fight of our generation! We must stop the pollution and climate craziness that threatens our families’ health, our beautiful city, our infrastructure, our wildlife, and our livelihoods!


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Community Choice Energy (CCE) – Offering Renewable Energy Choices

On Tuesday, September 1 STAY COOL will host an event on Community Choice Energy (CCE) featuring speaker Nicole Capretz, Executive Director of Climate Action Campaign, which advocates for clean energy choices.

What is CCE?

Community Choice Energy (CCE), provided for by AB 117 (2002), allows cities, counties, or groups of cities to pool or “aggregate” electricity customers to form a local agency to provide electricity services to their constituents. Also knownHow CCE Works Graphic as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), CCE gives communities themselves the power to purchase renewable energy on the market, build local clean energy generation, reduce energy demand, and set competitive rates on behalf of local residential and business customers. The existing investor-owned electric utility, which is SDG&E here in San Diego County, continues to deliver power to customers and provides standard services such as line maintenance, meter reading, and billing.

How does it encourage more use of renewable energy?

Community Choice Energy gives customers a choice in their energy provider. Cities and counties contract with a licensed energy service provider to purchase energy in bulk, build renewable energy generating facilities, and implement energy efficiency programs. This efficient public/private partnership makes it possible to get the greenest energy at competitive or lower rates. Each consumer is enrolled in the program unless they “opt out.” In other words, consumers can choose to buy electricity through the community choice program or stay with the investor-owned utility. The city or county keeps prices competitive—and affordable for low-income residents— while investing in renewable energy generation and energy efficiency with citizen oversight.

Who runs the program and what does a city need to do to get started?

A CCE program hinges on the establishment of a public administrative agency. This agency can conduct studies of potential demand-side and renewable generation resources, develop a plan for deploying such resources, and implement that plan over time through the appropriate procurement mechanisms and long-term power planning.

Cities can get started by creating a citizen-led oversight committee, conducting a feasibility study and building public support.

What are the benefits of CCE?

Analysts believe that a CCE system can provide competitive electricity costs, higher rate stability, and more and faster reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A local CCE program offers a choice of energy providers and creates competition that encourages clean energy innovation and improved pricing. Local control allows customers to help provide accountability on electric rates.

Furthermore, the development of these local assets involves local investments that bring economic development and clean energy jobs to the community. Today, millions of dollars leave San Diego to pay for electric generation. Over time, a local community choice program can buy increasing amounts of power from local sources, helping support local jobs and local economic development.

Has CCE been successful in other areas?

There are several successful Community Choice Energy programs currently operating in California: the City of Lancaster, Marin and Sonoma Counties. CCE is being actively pursued or considered in dozens of communities across California: San Francisco, South Bay Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterrey, Silicon Valley cities and many others. The city of Encinitas has formed a citizens committee and is currently exploring the pros and cons of a community choice program.

Attend our STAY COOL event on Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 5:30-7:30 pm in Del Mar to learn more about CCE. We’ll hear about successful case studies and learn about ways we can support local CCE programs. Contact Sarah at to learn more or to RSVP.

Answers compiled from the Climate Action Campaign and Local Clean Energy Alliance website resources



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Get to know our summer intern: Ana Reyes

This week we welcomed a new member of the STAY COOL team: Ana Reyes. As our summer intern, Ana will perform research related to Climate Action Planning in our communities, help expand our membership, conduct outreach to South County and will assist with a video development project. Learn more about this dynamic addition to our team:STAY COOL Summer 2014 Intern: Ana Reyes

Tell us a little about your background and why you are interested in global warming issues.

My name is Ana Reyes and I was born and raised in the North County area.  I grew up playing softball with San Dieguito Youth Softball Association and soccer with Lightning and AYSO.  I attended El Camino Creek Elementary, Oak Crest Middle School, and then the amazing San Dieguito Academy.  I just recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Geography and Minor in Public Policy and am back for the summer before I head for more adventures in DC!

Global warming and our earth’s changing climate is of interest to me because it affects people’s most crucial and basic rights and necessities, such as access to water, food, and good health.  Severe weather conditions also amplify problems and inequalities that already exist, such as air quality, affordable housing, and even job safety. I firmly believe that by addressing issues that are contributing to climate change, we can simultaneously make structural changes that make our way of life sustainable and also more equitable.

Why were you attracted you to the internship opportunity with STAY COOL? What do you most hope to learn?

I decided to work with STAY COOL as an intern because I am eager to learn about and dive into the issues of the place I call home.  What I appreciate about STAY COOL is that they focus on how climate change directly affects San Diego County.  Not only that, but STAY COOL aims to organize and empower the grandparents and senior population of San Diego to keep their local governments accountable for enacting policies that fight global warming.

What tasks are you looking forward to taking on in your role as an intern with STAY COOL?

I hope to be able to contribute to the organization as best I can! I am looking forward to researching policies (or the lack thereof) in each city so that the members of STAY COOL can stay informed on how to take action, whether it be by changing lifestyle habits or by engaging in political processes.  Doing this research gets me excited because I too can become more knowledgeable about how our local governments work. I can also learn from the people that go out of their way to be involved in local politics.  STAY COOL also hopes to come out with online videos — a project I am particularly excited for, because filming is always fun! Last, but definitely not least, I look forward to build partnerships between STAY COOL and organizations in southern parts of San Diego County.

What is one major accomplishment you hope to achieve this summer while employed with STAY COOL?

I really hope that I can help bridge communities — between STAY COOL and other organizations with similar missions, and even between our partner organizations and the broader community. I hope that with my language skills, I can help STAY COOL be as accessible as possible to the diverse communities of San Diego, and that these groups would be able to learn from each other about how people in San Diego are being affected by global warming.

How do you feel seniors can make a difference in San Diego when it comes to climate change action?

Generally speaking, seniors tend to have high voting rates and are more likely to participate in political processes, and those who are 65+ make up over 11 percent of San Diego County’s population, so seniors can make a HUGE difference in terms of how San Diego decides to address climate change. By attending city council meetings, or staying informed about local ballot measures and policies, seniors can encourage their friends, family, and community to engage actively in these decision making procedures. If seniors are able to come together, I really think that they can form a vocal and influential presence in the fight against global warming in San Diego.

What do you plan to do in the fall after your internship is complete with STAY COOL?

In the fall after my time with STAY COOL, I will be headed to Washington DC to work with National Geographic, where I will be working with the team that produces educational materials and resources for teachers.


As you can see, we’re lucky to have this stellar intern on board! Ana will be working with STAY COOL through mid-August 2014. Get in touch with her at

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Concerns of a Climate Scientist

What concerns me most about climate change now is the contrast between the apathy of the public and the troubling facts that we climate scientists have established. Most people are poorly informed about what our science has discovered, and most political leaders have done little or nothing to cope with the threat of climate change. In the United States, we also have the sad spectacle that almost the entire national leadership of the Republican party simply does not accept the most basic findings of mainstream climate science. In the 2012 US Presidential election, the topic of climate change was essentially ignored by both sides. Problems cannot be solved by pretending they do not exist, and future generations will not judge us kindly unless we accept the science and act quickly.

The mainstream media bear part of the blame for inadequately covering climate change. This topic should be recognized by everyone as a threat deserving high priority. The existential threat of climate change affects national security, economic prosperity, and the health and safety of people throughout the world. It should not be marginalized as a niche issue of interest only to a few people whom we label as “environmentalists.” Journalists should never make the mistake of framing the issue as a controversy – is man-made climate change real and serious or not – in which both sides deserve equal time. In addition, all of us need to realize that an effective and well-funded professional disinformation campaign has succeeded in confusing many people about the seriousness of the threat and the urgency of acting to limit climate change.

The plain fact is that what mankind decides to do in the coming years and decades will largely determine the climate that our children and grandchildren will inherit. To meet the very real threat of climate change caused by human activities, the political process must listen to the science and then must act. Humanity needs to decide collectively how much man-made climate change is acceptable. Science cannot specify what level of climate change is “dangerous.” That is a question involving risk tolerance, values, priorities and other subjective concerns. Governments will decide, by their actions or inactions.

We already have a tentative decision. Many governments have now adopted the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average pre-industrial temperatures of the 1800s. Given that goal, climate science can provide useful information about what actions are needed to give a reasonable chance of meeting the goal. The problem, however, is that the political process has done almost nothing to act, despite the information provided by the science, so the threat of climate change continues to become more and more serious as time goes on. Today the world has already warmed by almost half of the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit goal, and some further warming is already unavoidable.

We are already watching human-caused climate change occur. It is not only a problem for the future. It is happening here and now. The warming is just a symptom. Climate is complex, and warming has many consequences. Melting Arctic sea ice and rising sea level are consequences. Extreme weather events today occur in a changed environment. For example, Hurricane Sandy, which killed hundreds of people and caused some 75 billion dollars in property damage in 2012, occurred in a climate with higher ocean temperatures and more water vapor in the air than only a few decades ago. The heat-trapping gases and particles that humanity has emitted into the atmosphere increase the odds of severe weather events, just as steroids taken by a baseball player can increase the odds of home runs. Today we are seeing climate change on steroids. To limit global warming to moderate or tolerable amounts, the entire world must act quickly to reduce these emissions. That we have failed miserably to do this already is a great tragedy.

Recent research findings show that previous projections have not exaggerated the threat of climate change. Indeed, in several respects, they may have underestimated it. These findings include measurements showing that the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass and contributing to sea level rise. Also, Arctic sea-ice extent has decreased far more rapidly than the worst-case expectations of recent climate models.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the single most important of the heat-trapping gases that humanity emits into the atmosphere. Current global CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are now about 40% higher than those in 1990. Because some of the CO2 that we emit will stay in the atmosphere for many centuries, it is our cumulative emissions that matter. Best current estimates, based on continued “business as usual” emissions scenarios, are that global sea level rise may exceed 1 meter (about 3 feet) by 2100, with a rise of up to 2 meters (about 6 feet) considered possible. If today’s rates of emitting heat-trapping gases continue without change, then after just 20 more years the world will probably no longer be able to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

To have a reasonable chance of meeting this 2 degree Celsius goal, the science shows that global emissions of heat-trapping gases must peak soon and then start to decline rapidly, not in 50 or 100 years, but within the next 5 to 10 years, reaching near zero well within this century. Given the politically chosen 2 degree Celsius goal, the case for great urgency in taking meaningful actions to reduce emissions is a consequence of science, thus something based on facts and evidence. It is not an ideological or political choice.

If the world continues to procrastinate throughout the current decade, so that global emissions of heat-trapping gases continue unabated for another ten years, then we will have almost certainly lost the opportunity to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Instead, our children and grandchildren will be forced to cope with more severe climate disruption. The failure of humanity to take meaningful actions now has the effect of condemning future generations to suffer from our ignoring the problem. That would be a great tragedy, but it is the most likely result, unless we change our ways and act soon.

Richard C. J. Somerville
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

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by | May 13, 2013 · 11:56 pm