Category Archives: Events

STAY COOL Launches Partnership with Faith-based Environmental Stewardship Team

The Peace and Justice Ministry of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Poway recently launched an Environmental Stewardship Team (EST) with a focus on the Climate Crisis.  Bob Leiter, who is on the STAY COOL Advisory Council and is also a member of St. Bart’s Church, offered to help the EST to develop an overall strategy for organizing activities that would be interesting to church members and to the community as a whole.  Following a couple of well-attended video presentations on climate issues, on February 4 St. Bart’s EST and STAY COOL co-sponsored a public forum on “Planning for Climate Resilience: Wildfires and Flooding.”

The STAY COOL Events Team, led by Peg Engel and Laura Schumacher, worked with St. Bart’s EST members to organize and publicize the event.  During the public forum Dr. Jim Randerson, a climate scientist at UC Irvine, provided an excellent overview of the scientific research that demonstrates the impacts of climate change on wildfires and flooding in Southern California.  Following Dr. Randerson’s presentation, Bob Leiter, a retired urban planner, provided a “planning and public policy” perspective on climate resilience issues in San Diego County.  Bob then introduced Terri Sorenson, coordinator for the Poway Neighborhood Emergency Corps, who talked about the PNEC and its role in helping the community to prepare for local emergencies such as wildfires and floods.

According to Parth Domke, the coordinator of St. Bart’s EST, the speakers “were extremely skillful and engaging in sharing their knowledge of the science analyzing the climate crisis and the ways in which San Diego communities can – and should – manage the necessary adaptations for climate resilience.   The presentations themselves spoke volumes about the existential threat of climate change. The work that we are all doing in terms of education and action is so critically relevant and necessary.

We had a good crowd, probably around 40 people attending.  The question and answer period was engaging with many thoughtful questions and perspectives.  People came from several different organizations, all committed to the issue and its resolution. People’s energy and focus were evident, and many stayed past the time to talk and network with others.  It was very successful in so many ways!!”

STAY COOL is continuing to work with the St. Bart’s EST steering committee to help organize future programs and activities.  We would like to continue with these kinds of partnerships and we welcome your inquiries or suggestions!




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STAY COOL for Grandkids is committed to presenting the latest research on climate change and its impacts on the San Diego region. In October 2019 we presented a forum in Solana Beach that highlighted recent research on the effects of climate change on our region’s ecosystems and our built environment, with a focus on wildfires and flooding.  Our speakers also discussed ways in which we can develop plans and policies and implementing actions to make our communities more resilient to these impacts. 

On February 4, 2020 we will be co-sponsoring another forum on this topic with St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church Peace and Justice Ministry in Poway.

Click here to RSVP on Eventbrite.

We will have two featured speakers: 

  • Dr. James Randerson, Professor of Earth Systems Science at UC Irvine, will provide an overview of his research into the effects of climate change on wildfire risks in California.
  • Robert Leiter, FAICP, who has been involved in local and regional urban planning in the San Diego region for more than 30 years, will present highlights of a recent report published by the American Planning Association (Regional Water Planning for Climate Resilience) which he co-authored.  This report highlights the potential impacts of climate change on the San Diego region, including increased risks from wildfires and flooding. 

The speakers will also discuss ways in which regional and local governments in the San Diego region can proactively deal with these impacts.  Pursuant to California Senate Bill 379, local governments are now required to update the “Safety Elements” of their General Plans, to address the projected impacts from climate change on natural hazards such as wildfires and flooding.  The law provides an overall methodology for preparing these plans, and defines the roles of local, regional, and state agencies in this process.

Date and Time- Tuesday, February 4, 2020 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM 

Location- St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 16725 Pomerado Road, Poway 92064.

For more information, contact:

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About our Sept. 10 tour with Dr. Jeff Severinghaus

Have you wondered what it is like to be a climate science researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography? Thirteen of our STAY COOL members had the opportunity to join Dr. Jeff Severinghaus for an in-depth tour of his laboratory and learn more about his work. 

Dr. Severinghaus is a professor of geosciences in the Geosciences Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His current research interests center on using trapped bubbles of gases contained in ice cores to track changes in ancient climate. Severinghaus’ team study historic temperatures at an ice core sites on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and Greenland.  He is the recipient of several awards, most recently, the 2011 Claire C. Patterson Medalist of the Geochemical Society, an award given annually for a breakthrough in environmental geochemistry. 

The tour took place on Tuesday, September 10th. Participants learned the science behind how ice cores are used to measure greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations hundreds of thousands of years ago. The ice bubbles are like a snapshot telling us what the atmospheric concentration of carbon was at the time the ice formed.  Some of the ice cores contain air that was trapped more than 800,000 years ago. The isotope Carbon 13 helps us tell what the source of the carbon was (See Isotopes: Fingerprints in climate change). 

We stepped inside a freezer which was very cold, small, and if you are prone to claustrophobia, very stressful! This area housed all the ice cores that are awaiting further analysis. 

Dr. Severinghous remains hopeful about our ability to combat global climate change. He used the analogy to sewage treatment. In 1750, the British thought that installing sewage treatment would break the economy. As we know, it did not do that AND we could not imagine life without a treatment process for this waste. Carbon dioxide is also a waste, and economists know that mitigation and adaptation will not break the economy. 

Funding is often a challenge for scientific research, and measuring carbon in ice cores is no exception. Dr. Severinhaus’s work is currently funded by the National Association of Scientists. 

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Our next STAY COOL member event: “Protecting coral reef and intertidal zone marine communities for future generations”

Our next STAY COOL member event will be held on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at the Engel Home: 701 Hoska Drive, Del Mar CA 92014.

Dr. Jennifer Smith, an Associate Professor in the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at UCSD-Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will be STAY COOL’s next guest speaker.  Please join us on Wednesday April 17 to learn about how researchers are studying and using research to protect coral reef and intertidal zone marine communities for future generations.

Dr. Smith is recognized world-wide for her research on coral reef and shoreline tide pool ecosystems.  Her laboratory focuses on understanding how humans impact marine ecosystems and developing strategies for saving these ecosystems for future generations.  In addition to her extensive research on coral reefs around the world, Jennifer was recently awarded a grant from the California Ocean Protection Council to create 3D models of the intertidal zones off the California coast. The data obtained will be used to project how sea level rise, ocean warming and acidification and other consequences of climate change will affect these unique ecosystems. 

Light appetizers will be provided, along with soft drinks and wine. The event begins with networking and our guest speaker will begin her presentation at 6 pm with time for Q&A afterwards. To RSVP for this event, please email

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Summary of “San Diego’s Climate Action Leadership: Leading the Way for Our Nation!”

Climate Education Partners (CEP) recently hosted an event, San Diego’s Climate Action Leadership: Leading the Way for Our Nation!, to highlight the ways in which our region is undertaking some of the most ambitious and innovative efforts nationwide to both reduce polluting emissions and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The event was meant to mark the end of CEP, a National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between the University of San Diego and Cal State San Marcos, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, The San Diego Foundation, Steve Alexander Group, and UC San Francisco. The collaboration was aimed at understanding the local impacts of climate change and how San Diegans – and the leaders that represent them – perceive these impacts and how to address them.

Climate Education Partners used their research findings from local climate scientists, social psychologists, interviews with local “key influential” leaders, and public opinion surveys, to develop educational materials, communications strategies, and options for advancing local solutions to climate change so that the region’s leaders in government, business and the community could make informed decisions about the future.

The event featured elected and other officials from federal, state and local governments that have been engaged in policy and planing related to climate change, including:

April Boling, Board Chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos, Chairman of the Board at Port of San Diego
Assemblymember Todd Gloria, State of California’s 78th Assembly District
Kim Kawada, Chief Deputy Executive Director at SANDAG
Congressman Scott Peters, California’s 52nd District
Councilmember Cori Schumacher, Carlsbad City Council

“Collaborative, innovative, dynamic, prepared, concerned and eager to lead” were the answers given by the panelists when asked how they were feeling about the current state of climate action in the region. The program also featured an overview of Climate Education Partners’ new community toolbox, insights from polling data findings, and a quick share on what the CEP members are doing next.

Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director at the University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute, noted that CEP has laid the foundation for the Institute to launch a new Environment Leadership Hub, to build the next generation of strong leaders and organizations working across sectors, to protect our environment as part of sustaining our economic prosperity and quality of life.


This article was contributed to the STAY COOL blog by the University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute.

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STAY COOL Members Walk through Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary

By Laura Schumacher

On April 28, I joined a group of STAY COOL members for a guided walk through the Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary, a 785-acre preserve near Lakeside owned and maintained by San Diego Audubon. Its mission is to preserve in as complete and natural a state as possible a prime area of coastal chaparral and riparian woodland.

Silverwood was one of the most pristine nature preserves in San Diego. Then the Cedar Fire hit in 2003, turning Silverwood into a “moonscape.” But walking through this preserve 15 years later, we saw first-hand how nature regenerates itself. The area is almost completely recovered.

Silverwood’s resident manager, Phil Lambert, was our guide pointing out native plants, animals and history along the trail. He knows the area intimately after 23 years and explained how the various plants and trees responded to the Cedar Fire. At one point, Phil suddenly stopped talking and looked up at the sky. We all shifted our eyes upward to see a flock of white-throated swifts circling above. “The swifts are migratory and they return to Silverwood every year,” Phil explained. “Today is their first day back and I’ll record this sighting in my log.”

Comfortable benches and wood-stump tables for bird-watching.

On the walk, we learned both the good and the bad about wildfires. Wildfires can help by adding nutrients to the soil, clearing debris and enabling seeds to germinate. But the Cedar Fire was of such intense heat that some native plants and trees that usually survive wildfires were severely damaged.

After crossing a beautiful hand-made wooden bridge, we reached the Observatory – a shaded area with wooden benches with binoculars laid out. We all grabbed binoculars and sat down to observe birds coming to enjoy a meal on the hanging feeders some distance away.

Nine-year old Aurelia gets friendly with a Striped Racer Snake while her grandfather, STAY COOL member Jay Hanson, looks on.

We saw California Scrub-Jays, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Hooded Orioles, California Towhees, and a Cooper’s Hawk.

Then Phil brought out some of the resident snakes for a close-up view.

Walking through Silverwood reminded us all of the beauty and complexity of San Diego’s native chaparral. For those who missed the walk, Silverwood Wildlife Preserve is open to the public every Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm (Closed August and September).

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Our March member meeting: Tracking regional progress

Members who attended our general meeting on March 29 were introduced by Mikaela Bolling to a great online resource – The San Diego Regional Quality of Life Dashboard. The Dashboard measures trends throughout the region to track a central theme: Is our quality of life improving?

Mikaela is Project Manager for the Equinox Project at the Center for Sustainable Energy. The Equinox Project has been publishing annual Dashboards since 2010. Now the Dashboard is entirely online, where you can dig down into the supporting data. After a brief history and introduction, Mikaela reviewed findings of particular interest to those of us concerned about how our region is responding to global warming and preparing for climate change.

Dashboard indicators include assessments of air quality, cross-border economic and environmental issues, progress on climate action plans, economic prosperity, renewable energy, electricity consumption, housing, land use, transportation choices, electric vehicle sales and infrastructure, VMTs, waste disposal, water quality and water consumption.

Check it out!

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Meeting Recap: The Lesser Known Consequences of Ocean Deoxygenation and Ocean Acidification

Thank you to the 35 attendees who joined us on March 1 to hear from Dr. Lisa Levin. As a deep sea biologist, she spoke to us about her research on how climate change is affecting the ocean.

The ocean covers 70% of the earth’s surface with an average depth of 3,800 meters. The ocean holds most of the habitable volume on earth…and most is deep sea! About fifty years ago, researchers began to recognize that carbon emissions were altering the oceans.

The ocean is our planet’s most important climate mitigator. The ocean has absorbed more than 93% of the heat resulting from CO2 emissions. The ocean absorbs 26% of annual CO2 emissions.

This has created a deadly quartet of stressors on the ocean, says Levin. They are: global warming, sea level rise, declining oxygen levels and ocean acidification.

A warming ocean holds less oxygen – this is a major consequence of global warming. The ocean has lost 2% of its oxygen since 1960s, but not uniformly. Low oxygen areas are expanding, especially in the in the tropical and subtropical ocean areas.

We will continue to see large die-offs and food webs in decline. Fish distribution will be smaller. Called “habitat depression,” fish get pushed into shallower water, making them more vulnerable.

The greatest threats to biodiversity will come from the intersection of climate change with direct human activities. Where pH declines are greatest is where corals are most common and bottom trawling is prevalent. As oceans take up CO2, pH goes down making the water more acidic and oceans loose carbonate ions. When pH declines we see a loss of shellfish, corals and other pteropods, the basis of the food web.

So, what can we do about it? Dr. Levin offers five main take-aways:

  • Embrace the ocean as a major climate mitigator – keep it healthy
  • Manage for multiple stressors with an ecosystem-based approach
  • Accelerate ocean observations
  • Raise ocean literacy globally
  • Engage the next generation


At our meeting, we also heard from Kids 4 Planet Earth.

They have a goal to send 1 million letters and postcards to the White House from children across the nation to highlight the importance of addressing climate change. Here’s how you can help:
1. Have kids you know write letters to President Trump
2. Send the letters or postcards before Earth Day (April 22, 2017)
3. Register:
4. Take a picture of the letter and post on social media
5. Spread the word: share this campaign with your church group, a mom’s and kids’ group, a teacher or school group!
Read more about this ambitious project here.

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December 8 STAY COOL Event Summary – Honoring Dr. Somerville and Addressing Uncle Pete

At our meeting on December 8, we honored and welcomed Dr. Richard Somerville for his early and ongoing efforts to explain climate science clearly to the public, presenting him with a Grandkids’ Climate Defender award.

We were honored to have Dr. Somerville share his insights on recent global climate developments at this event. Considering the upcoming holidays, he spoke about how to handle that family member who is a climate change skeptic. Dr. Somerville calls this contrarian “Uncle Pete.” After all, most of us have at least one family member who holds this belief that climate change is a hoax. (To read the article that Dr. Somerville wrote about Uncle Pete, click here.)

Despite what Uncle Pete thinks, 97 percent of scientists agree on the fundamental facts, that climate change is human-caused by the burning of fossil fuels. As Dr. Somerville said, “The world is warming. It’s not a hoax. We measure it. The warming did not stop in 1998. All the warmest years are recent years. 2016 will be the warmest year on record. 2015 is second. 2014 is third. The atmosphere is warming, and so is the ocean. Sea level is rising. Ice sheets and glaciers are shrinking. Rainfall patterns and severe weather events are changing. Climate change is real, and serious, and happening right here, right now. And it isn’t natural. Human activities are the dominant cause of the climate changes we have observed in recent decades.”

So, why won’t many climate change contrarians accept the fundamentals of climate change? For skeptics like Uncle Pete, climate change is not a science topic. It is, for them, he argues, simply an opportunity for government to create rules and regulations that interfere with free markets and diminishes the personal freedom of individuals. This view has nothing to do with science. No argument based on just the science will change Uncle Pete’s mind.

However, climate science tells us that doing nothing will cause devastation. In the decades and centuries ahead, coastal cities will become abandoned because of rising sea level. We’ll see destabilization of governments and vast numbers of environmental refugees. Locally, climate change will increase drought and this will result in more intense and frequent wildfires. The changes to our ocean will put a strain on our tourism and fishing industries. We’ll also see impacts on agricultural, public health and air quality.

A new presidential administration may be able to reverse some good environmental policy, but Dr. Somerville also spoke about the good forces on climate change action that will continue. He believes there are solid reasons for optimism. One reason is economics. The open market is betting against fossil fuels – coal companies are going bankrupt, and in many cases renewal energy created by solar and wind is becoming cheaper than energy from fossil fuels.

It is becoming clear that decarbonization is increasingly driven by market forces, not command from the federal government. For more on this topic, read Salon’s article titled “Renewable energy is here to stay: The industry has grown up, and it’s too big to kill.”

Also, energy policy in the US occurs mainly at the state level, not at the federal level. California, for example, under the Clean Air Act, has its right to set its own standards for fuel economy and vehicle emission standards. And historically, other states often follow California’s standards. We also set our own building codes and energy efficiency standards. (California has pledged to generate half the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.)

Thank you to the 30 members for attending this event on December 8 and for supporting the mission of STAY COOL for Grandkids and helping to raise more than $1,200 for our programs in 2017.  Click here to learn more about our 2016 Year in Review.

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Join us on October 6: SANDAG’s Sales Tax Ballot Measure A Does it Do Enough to Keep San Diego Moving Forward?

STAY COOL for Grandkids has teamed up with partners Engage Encinitas and North County Climate Change Alliance to offer a moderated forum on the SANDAG Half Cent Sales Tax Initiative (Measure A on this November’s ballot). Please join us on Thursday, October 6, 2016, 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the Encinitas Library: 540 Cornish Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024.

In July, the board of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) approved the final version of a ballot measure called “Measure A: San Diego County Road, Repair, Transit, Traffic Relief, Safety and Water Quality” to increase the countywide sales tax by a half cent.

The tax is expected to raise $18.2 billion over 40 years to fund transit, freeway improvements, bike networks, preserve open space and other community projects. It will need approval from two-thirds of county voters to pass on Nov. 8, 2016.

Politicians and community leaders from both sides of the aisle have vocalized support for the tax measure, saying it is a good compromise that will fill some of the region’s most pressing needs. Public transit would get the largest share of the revenue the tax would generate (42%). The second-largest share of revenue would fund local infrastructure projects. Freeways would get about 14 percent.

However, a group of environmental and labor organizations called the San Diego Quality of Life Coalition object to the measure’s funding of general-purpose freeway lanes and say it will not do enough to relieve traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of our communities.

STAY COOL has not taken a position on Measure A. We hope you will join us at this forum to help answer some tough questions about the half cent sales tax and how it will (or will not) support greenhouse gas reduction and environmental protection in San Diego County.

The Oct. 6 forum will be moderated by the League of Women Voters (North County chapter). We will hear from these two panelists:

In support of Measure A
Lesa Heebner, Solana Beach Councilpersonphoto_heebner_web
Lesa is has been a Solana Beach resident since 1976. She was first elected to the council in 2004 and has since served three terms on the council, including three terms as mayor in 2007, 2011 and 2015. She led the successful grassroots effort to redesign the Coastal Rail Trail and has been involved with the redesign of Fletcher Cove Park and Fletcher Cove Community Center.

In opposition of Measure A
Jana Clark, the Cleveland National Forest Foundationjanaclark_cropped
Jana is on the board of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the plants, animals and other natural resources of Southern California mountains. She instructs Environmental Studies courses at De Anza College and is passionate about the natural world and environmental activism.

This event is free. Check in begins at 5:30 pm and the moderator will begin the program at 6 pm. Please RSVP here to let us know if you will attend.

For questions, contact:

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