Category Archives: STAY COOL Meeting Summaries

About wildfires: a summary of our Oct. 11 STAY COOL event

STAY COOL for Grandkids is committed to bringing cutting edge information about climate change and its impacts. On October 11th, we presented a forum that highlighted current research about changes to our land-based ecosystems – particularly with regard to wildfires – that are resulting from climate change, and appropriate planning policies that could properly address these impacts. We had two featured speakers: Dr. James Randerson, Professor of Earth Systems Science at UC Irvine and Robert Leiter, who is a member of the STAY COOL Advisory Council. Robert Leiter has been a leader in local land use planning for more than 30 years, serving as the Planning Director for the cities of Escondido and Chula Vista, and for SANDAG, the regional planning agency for San Diego County.

Dr. Randerson led the presentation with an overview of the effects of climate change on California wildfires. He highlighted one recent research project which concluded that “… a 1°C increase in daily temperature in the Sierra Nevada increased the probability of ignition and burned area by about 20% during 2001-2018.”  

Overall, Dr. Randerson summarized what we know about climate change and California wildfires as follows:

  • Summer temperatures are rising and will continue to rise, causing fuels to dry out faster.
  • The warmer temperatures will increase the probability of ignitions.
  • Fires that are ignited will grow more quickly and burn more area.
  • We can expect more intense summer fire seasons over the next few decades.
  • Precipitation may change by a smaller amount, there is some evidence that the north coast will get wetter, but southern Sierra and Southern California will get drier.
  • Climate is likely to become more variable from year to year, with both dry extremes and wet extremes becoming more common.
  • Santa Ana winds are likely to get drier, but they may not become stronger or more frequent.
  • The precipitation season may become compressed so that we get more rain in December and January, and less during fall and spring.

Robert Leitner’s talk provided an overview of a recent report published by the American Planning Association Regional and Intergovernmental Planning Division.  While the report looked at a variety of impacts on ecosystems in the San Diego region that are expected as a result of climate change, the focus of this presentation was on the increased frequency and severity of wildfires.

He then discussed the ways in which regional and local governments can address these impacts in the context of updating city and county General Plans.  Pursuant to SB 379, local governments are now required to update the “Safety Elements” of their General Plans, taking into account the projected impacts from climate change on natural hazards such as sea level rise and wildfires.  The law provides an overall methodology for preparing these plans, and defines the roles of state, regional and local government agencies in this process.

Following the presentations, Randerson and Leiter fielded several questions from the audience, and discussed ways in which an informed public can help to make sure that these issues receive the attention that they deserve.  STAY COOL will be hosting another forum on this topic in Inland North County in February 2020; stay tuned for details!

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March 9 STAY COOL Meeting Summary – Dr. Bekkar on Climate Change and Public Health

Thank you to the 28 people who attended our STAY COOL meeting on March 9 featuring Dr. Bruce Bekkar. Here is a summary of his presentation on climate change and the implications on public health.
GlobalTempIncreaseGlobal temperature has been increasing significantly, leading to an amplified hydrological cycle, or what some are calling “extreme weather on steroids.” The incidence of extreme weather events has tripled since the 1980s.

More than 90% of the retained heat in our atmosphere has been absorbed by the world’s oceans. Rising ocean temperatures are fueling extreme weather conditions. Once such example is Patricia, the monster hurricane that hit Mexico in fall 2015.

Additionally, a giant algae bloom in the Pacific that stretches from Santa Barbara all the way to Alaska is causing alarm for ocean scientists, and threatening marine species. Roughly half of all marine life is threatened due to warming oceans, while more than 70 percent of coral reefs are in jeopardy. Warming oceans also affect our public health, not only because of amplified storms, and the stress that comes with them, but because the impact on seafood. (To read more about how ocean algae can lead to a condition commonly known as “amnesic shellfish poisoning” in humans: click here)

Heat waves are becoming more intense and frequent due to climate change. More than 650 deaths were linked to the California heatwave of 2006 and five years ago more than 55,000 died in Russia’s heat wave and resulting wild fires.Extreme Weather Health Impacts

Every 10 degree increase in daily apparent temperature above the local average results in more hospitalizations and deaths – specifically, an increase of 6.3 percent in respiratory admissions and 4.9 percent increase in cardiovascular admissions and a similar rise in mortality. Poor air quality from wildfires and high ozone pollution is increasing respiratory and cardiac health problems, and already causing death in regions around the world. One example is in China where annually hundreds of thousands of deaths can be linked to poor air quality.

Allergy sufferers beware: global warming is increasing and extending the pollen season. And now, some scientists believe that smog may even be linked to obesity (click here for the article Dr. Bekkar cited on the pregnant rat study).

Tropical illnesses, such as West Nile Virus and the Zika virus, are finding an expanding habitat due to warming climates. In California, there were more than 40 deaths due to West Nile Virus in 2015- 5 in San Diego.

We can also expect food shortages because crops can’t adapt quickly enough to extreme weather changes. Pests that harm crops tolerate the changes much better and are destroying more crops.

It’s our most vulnerable populations, our children and elderly, as well as the chronically ill and poor, that will suffer the consequences. Bill McKibben points out that the the poorest people in developing countries will suffer the most- an “environmental economic apartheid.”  Climate change is an imminent threat to children’s health, with over 85 percent of impacts expected on children five years and younger according to the WHO. The Lancet, the British medical journal, recently declared “climate change is a medical emergency.”

However, there is hope. We have far exceeded predictions for renewable energy usage in our country and around the world and the price for wind and solar power continues to drop. The solar energy industry now employs more US workers than that for oil and gas extraction. Moreover, there is an opportunity to gain more political commitment on climate change policies since these issues are clearly affecting global public health, and those populations we most want to protect: our grandparents and grandchildren.March 9 STAY COOL Meeting

Also at our meeting, Carl Yaeckel told us about Citizens’ Climate Lobby, who advocates for climate action on a national level. They are working toward legislation that would levy a fee on fossil fuels and distribute revenue to US households. To learn more about CCL, you can participate in a free conference call, held every Wednesday at 5 pm. Learn more:

Sandy Atkinson shared details about the Sunday, May 15 EcoFest event in Encinitas at the Coastal Roots Farm. Learn more:

Finally, STAY COOL needs volunteers to help at our upcoming EarthFair booth on April 17. We also need grandparents and grandkids to walk in the parade that day at Balboa Park. Please email Sarah at if you can spare an hour or two to join us.

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November 4, 2015 STAY COOL Meeting Summary – Speaker Len Hering

Thank you to the 24 attendees who joined our member meeting on November 4th. We heard from Rear Admiral Len Hering, USN (retired), Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy, about effects of global warming on national security and energy planning.IMG_0517

Our speaker’s opening slide showed that, like many of our members, Hering’s focus on the future is motivated by his brilliant and beautiful grandchildren.  He also shared a short, inspirational video in which Morgan Freeman describes the world we want for our grandchildren (available at ).

Hering’s Navy experiences and background led to a passion to educate people on how and why we must use resources in a more sustainable way.  He is a meteorologist and oceanographer by training and has an advanced business degree. Over 30 years in uniform, he traveled to 63 different countries and sailed every sea. He wore many hats, most notably working to establish alternative energy technology at all levels in Navy facilities. After the Navy, Hering took a VP position at the University of San Diego, where he initiated sustainability measures that led to USD’s installing the largest solar system of any private campus in the country and a comprehensive water abatement project.  He now heads the Center for Sustainable Energy, a key player in our region’s progress toward energy security.

The Navy is actively pursuing new technologies to “green” its fleet and incorporate alternative, sustainable fuels.  A primary driver is that the cost of energy needed to complete Navy missions is becoming more volatile and less secure. Beyond that, Pentagon strategists have called climate change itself an “accelerant of instability.” Navy Admiral Sam Locklear made headlines a couple years ago when he said the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region is climate change. Extreme weather events, sea-level rise, desertification and flooding displace populations and create social instability. (An example is in Syria, where severe multi-year drought exacerbated by global warming led to social unrest, mass migration and war).

The Center for Sustainable Energy is a San Diego-based nonprofit that works with policymakers, officials, public agencies and businesses throughout our region to advance sustainable energy programs. It provides technology and management expertise, training and education, and technical assistance in clean transportation, distributed generation, building performance, energy efficiency, energy storage and renewable energy.  Solutions include renewable energy technologies such as solar, biomass and geothermal, biofuels and electric fleet development, and energy storage.  Examples of CSE programs include electric-vehicle readiness plans, standardizing PEV batteries, supplying shade trees, and incentives for solar installations on multifamily housing. Last month Hering represented CSE at Mayor Faulconer’s announcement of long-term contracts to put solar energy installations on 25 City-owned sites and commended the City’s staff and elected officials for their efforts to make the region “cleaner, greener and more efficient.”

Hering’s work has led him to feel there is urgent need for “adult conversation” about the environmental crises we face. He reviewed devastating world-wide consequences of wasteful consumption, and reminded us how choices we make – about lightbulbs, vehicles, food and packaging, as well as where and how we get power – affect our impact on Earth’s finite resources.

Action Item:  One way STAY COOL members can contribute to the “adult conservation” about global warming is through popular media.  Forums like Letters to the Editor are still important indicators of public concern.  Every headline is an alert to leaders about the issues their constituents and customers care about.

Our colleagues in Citizens Climate Lobby have developed an excellent letter-writing tutorial.  Please download the tutorial here: Letters to the Editor Guidelines (PDF).  And then give it a try!  Select a relevant article about climate change in the coming month and add your thoughts to the discussion.  When you do submit a letter, please let us know about it by emailing a copy to

Coming up:  Save the evening of Thursday, January 14 for our next member meeting.  It will feature Anthony Jackson, USMC Major General (retired) and former head of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, speaking on how global warming is affecting our parklands and national security plans.

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September Meeting Summary – All About Community Choice Energy (CCE)

Thank you to the 28 STAY COOL members and guests who joined us for our meeting on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. Our featured speaker was Nicole Capretz, Executive Director of The Climate Action Campaign. Formed in February, 2015, The Climate Action Campaign is the leading local climate action watchdog group, working to ensure that our communities are reducing emissions and preparing for climate change. Nicole, with her small team, works tirelessly with elected officials, staff, volunteers and other citizens to advance climate action policies.

One important policy for reducing emissions through greater use of clean energy is called Community Choice Energy (CCE). CCE 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 known as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), CCE is like a “hybrid” public/private partnership that gives communities the power to purchase renewable energy on the market, build local clean energy generation, reduce energy demand, and set competitive rates. The existing local investor-owned electric utility, 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 CCE Works Graphic

The Climate Action Plan for the City of San Diego sets a goal to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2035. So a key question is whether SDG&E will help us meet this 100% clean energy goal? Presently, 63% of the electricity supplied by SDG&E is from gas-fired power plants. And SDG&E seems to still be focusing on new gas-power infrastructure, recently pursuing a $629M natural-gas pipeline project and new gas-fired power plants in Carlsbad and South County. CCE is a more certain way to fast track investments in renewable energy sources, and move us away from fossil fuel energy.

Nicole shared that CCE system can provide competitive electricity costs, higher rate stability, and faster reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A local CCE program can be more responsive and could offer customers more money for installing roof-top solar. CCEs bring economic development and clean energy jobs to the community. Communities that have already implemented CCEs are meeting their Climate Action Plans and emissions reduction goals without raising electricity costs. The bottom line: CCEs can result in lower electric rates with a higher renewable energy content. Click here to read a “Fact Check: True” article on this topic from Voice of San Diego.

CCA Growth in CAThe time is right for CCEs – existing market prices for electricity are low and there is an excess supply through 2020 or later. Cities may choose to run a CCE in-house, or there are companies that can provide a turn-key approach. Currently, there are low entry costs, with some cities seeing start-up payback in 6 to 12 months.

The success of existing California community choice programs in Marin and Sonoma County, have drawn notice from other communities to consider offering community choice. According to Nicole, 20 counties are investigating prospects on behalf of more than 100 other municipalities. Solana Beach is currently doing a feasibility study and Encinitas is also looking into feasibility. The City of San Diego has completed a Technical Feasibility Study and they are putting out a “request for proposal” for a Validation Study.

But there is resistance from the utilities. Recent Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) amendment proposals submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission regarding Senate Bill (SB) 350 would limit the ability of local governments to launch Community Choice programs. These changes would hamper local decision making and increase fees. Nicole asked STAY COOL members to call or email Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins about our opposition to all IOU-sponsored amendments to SB 350.

A Steward of Creation was Among Us
Also at the meeting, member Dr. Tom English spoke about his recent trip to Istanbul to present the Steward of Creation Award to Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Orthodox Christian Church. Bartholomew is the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians and a long-time leader on creation care practices. He was awarded the Steward of Creation Award by the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care, an interfaith organization that regularly represents environmental positions before the US Congress, the White House and other government agencies. Past recipients include Tom himself, Bill McKibben and James Hansen. Dr. English is seen here with his wife Jan (both standing to the far right):


Find Your Inner Lobbyist!
At the end of the evening our members engaged in writing letters to submit to their U.S. Congress representatives. This was in coordination with Grandparents Climate Action Day on September 10, 2015. On this date, the Elders Climate Action organization will take a delegation of a hundred elders to meet with elected officials on Capitol Hill to lobby for climate action.

Want to add your letter to this campaign? Read the below key message points and either send your letter to your congressional rep, or email it to Be sure to mention September 10 is Grandparents Climate Action Day.

Don’t have time to write a letter, or would you prefer to join the online Elders Climate Action petition? Sign it here:

Letter writing help: key message points for letters to congress in coordination with Grandparents Climate Action Day, September 10, 2015:

  • I am a concerned grandparent and urge you to take bold action on climate change / global warming, in the name of our future generations.
  • We are already experiencing the warning signs of climate change. I have personally witnessed these changes in my life. Such changes include:
    • More extreme weather including longer droughts, as we have seen here in California, less frequent rains and intense heat waves
    • This extreme weather has resulted in devastating wildfires
    • More intense heat waves and less nighttime cooling also puts vulnerable people (such as elders and children) at risk from health impacts.
    • Especially in San Diego we are experiencing rising ocean levels, worse flooding, warmer average ocean and surface temperatures, and ocean acidification.
    • Disappearing glaciers, melting ice caps and snow fields are all evidence of the impacts of global warming.
    • Mass extinction of animal species because they cannot move fast enough or adapt soon enough to the changes in their habitat.
  • These challenges can be addressed if we act decisively and quickly. Our top climate scientists warn us that we need to bring CO2 levels in our atmosphere back down to 350 parts per million (ppm) or lower. We are currently at 400 ppm and rising by 2-3 ppm annually.
  • There are three ways we can implement action to help avoid catastrophic climate disruption:
    • I urge you to support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. This Clean Power Plan will work to fast-track real action in our nation – action that will cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change.
    • Please make binding, international agreements to combat climate change at the UN Paris Climate Summit this November/December. Before this conference, the United States must commit to major greenhouse gas reductions and then negotiate for similar commitments from nations around the world.
    • One such climate change solution is a Carbon Fee and Dividend, a revenue-neutral policy proposal that will encouraging transition to a sustainable energy economy while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions.
  • I am concerned about the world we are leaving for our grandkids. The costs of not acting now will mean larger costs to meet the adverse effects of climate change in the future. We can’t afford not to take action now.
  • We are all “grandparents” to future generations – it is our duty to take action for the sake of a livable planet.

Where to Send Your Letters Congressional Reps:

49th District – northern coastal areas of San Diego County, Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad and Encinitas, as well as a small portion of southern Orange County and Camp Pendleton
The Honorable Darrell Issa
1800 Thibodo Road, #310
Vista, CA 92081

50th District – Escondido, Temecula and north east section of San Diego County
The Honorable Duncan Hunter
1611 N. Magnolia Ave., Ste 310
El Cajon, CA 92020

51st District – city of San Diego, southern portion of the County including Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and parts of Imperial County
The Honorable Juan Vargas
333 F Street, Suite A
Chula Vista, CA 91910

52nd District – coastal and central portions of the city of San Diego, including neighborhoods such as Carmel Valley, La Jolla, Point Loma and Downtown San Diego; Poway and Coronado
The Honorable Scott Peters
4350 Executive Drive, Suite 105
San Diego, CA 92121

53rd District – from I-5 and Balboa Park on the west, through Mission Valley to East County, and continuing south to Chula Vista
The Honorable Susan Davis
2700 Adams Avenue, Suite 102
San Diego, CA 92116

Final Note
Save the date for our next meeting: Wednesday, November 4 featuring Admiral Len Hering, USN (Ret.), Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy. RSVP to

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June Meeting Summary Featuring Cleantech San Diego and Sustainable Investing

Thank you to the 30 members who joined us on Tuesday, June 9, to hear from Jason Anderson, president and CEO of Cleantech San DiegoCleantech San Diego has been working for more than seven years to position the greater San Diego region as a global leader in the cleantech economy. The organization’s mission is accelerate clean technology innovation and adoption of sustainable business practices for the benefit of the economy and the environment. More than 100 local businesses, universities, governments, and nonprofits are members or work with Cleantech to advance their mission.

So how has Cleantech San Diego achieved progress over the last seven years? The organization helps to foster collaborations across the private-public-academic landscape, working with the region’s six universities and more than 80 research institutions along with countless non-profit organizations. One program offered by Cleantech San Diego facilitates introductions by allowing tech start-ups to “pitch for partnership” in front of San Diego’s tech leaders.

Jason also leads advocacy efforts to promote a “Smart Cities” initiative with partners that encourages investment in the San Diego cleantech economy. The organization has focused energy recently on advancing bio renewables; helping to create the next fuel to become competitive with petrol. Cleantech’s K-12 School Sustainability Strategy program works with San Diego County’s 45 school districts to implement energy saving and sustainability measures.

The regional achievements that have resulted because of this work are impressive. Currently, there are more than 850 cleantech companies and San Diego is ranked number four in a National Cleantech Leadership Index (up from number 11 in 2012). Forbes ranks San Diego the nation’s number one best place to launch a startup and we are ranked among the top ten cities in the world aiming for 100 percent clean energy.

Jason mentioned that San Diego was the only U.S. city chosen to be profiled in a National Geographic 50-minute documentary on “World’s Smartest Cities.” View a copy of the program online here.

San Diego is regionally focused, but globally competitive. We are also small enough to get things done; but large enough to make a difference. Because we have established science and tech industries, and our innovation is fueled by a collaborative culture, San Diego is uniquely positioned to become the globally recognized leader in clean technologies and sustainable business practices. When asked, Jason shared with meeting attendees that they can help advance cleantech development by simply talking about and advocating for greater investments. You can help raise the level of awareness that cleantech benefits the economy and also the environment.

Click here to view a PDF of Jason’s presentation: CleanTechSlides_JasonAnderson_June92015
Our second speaker, Judith Seid, a certified financial planner and President of Blue Summit Wealth Management shared how you can you make personal actions to divest from fossil fuels and become more socially responsible with your investments. Often called the “double bottom line,” when you invest from the heart, you can still expect to get returns and support a cause.

A growing number of colleges and universities, cities, counties, religious institutions, and other institutions are committing to divest from fossil fuels in one form or another. This list includes Stanford University (divesting from coal) and the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and San Monica. Many religious organizations have made progress to divest from fossil fuels and there is a growing movement to divest the Vatican. (Look for Pope Francis’ Encyclical on climate change to be released on June 18.)

Judy shared with attendees the common myths associated with “green” investing. One such myth is that returns on sustainable, responsible investments will be lower. But, investing in line with your social and environmental values does not mean sacrificing portfolio returns.

Click here to view Judy’s handout and slide presentation: SustainableInvestingSlides_JudithSeid_June92015
STAY COOL in the News

STAY COOL, along with other elder climate action groups, were featured in a blog post by Ellen Moyer, Ph.D. on Huffington Post titled Elders Take Action on Climate Change. It’s a must-read!
Action Items

On Monday, June 22, the day before Citizens’ Climate Lobby is on the hill to lobby for climate action, you can participate in Congressional Climate Message Day. Plan to call your member of congress or senator to register support for action on climate change. CCL has put together an easy to say script and provides links to online resources for finding your elected officials.

Save the date to participate in Grandparents’ Climate Action Day in Washington D.C. September 9-10, 2015. The Elders Climate Action group, based in the Bay Area, is organizing this event to ask our government leaders to take bold action on climate change. Learn more:

San Diego residents needs to raise their voice in support of smart transportation planning now.  San Diego Forward, the SANDAG long range plan is in draft stage and the final community workshop is scheduled for June 18 in North County (learn more here). Comments on the draft plan may be submitted via, directly through email at, via telephone at (619) 699-1934, and through the mail: Attn: Regional Plan. SANDAG offices at 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA 92101. Want message points? Email for suggestions.


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Sea Level Rise at our March 4 Meeting

Thank you to the 36 members who attended our March 4 STAY COOL meeting on Sea Level Rise and thank you to speakers Dr. Reinhard (Ron) Flick and Dr. Sarah Giddings (both from Scripps Institution of Oceanography) along with Nicola Hedge from The San Diego Foundation Environment Initiatives.

We learned from Dr. Flick that mean sea level rise (MSLR) is currently increasing about 3 mm/year (this amounts to about a 1/8 inch annual rise). While this doesn’t seem significant, the rate at which we are experiencing MSLR is increasing and future factors, such as polar ice melting and oceans warming will increase MSLR. Other factors such as extreme tides, wave run-up, storm surges and El Niño/La Niña will increase MSLR fluctuations, resulting in coastal flooding. According to researchers, sea level is expected to rise nearly three times faster between now and 2050 than it did in the prior half century. To put this in perspective, by 2050, what once was the “hundred year flood” occurrence may occur every year.

Infographic courtesy of Climate Education Partners

Infographic courtesy of Climate Education Partners







Dr. Giddings shed light on what sea level change will mean for our coastal gems: our lagoons, estuaries, bays, marshes and other natural waterways – we have nearly 20 of these treasures along San Diego County’s coastline. These natural beauties are already threatened by contaminants from “urban drool”, health concerns from mosquito borne diseases, invasive species and impacts on organisms from hypoxia and acidification. Sea level change will amplify these challenges and will result in more impacts from flooding, high sedimentation, and changes in lagoon water temperature, all of which will affect marine ecosystems.

Along San Diego County’s 70 miles of coastline, we know that sea level rise will affect not only our quality of life and our natural ecosystems, but will also have impacts on wastewater/storm water management, transportation systems and coastal businesses & housing. Nicola Hedge, TSDF, presented a summary on sea level rise mitigation and adaptation actions already happening in San Diego and findings from the Focus 2050 report (link). In 2012, TSDF teamed up with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability to develop a Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy (link) and have since involved the Port of San Diego, five member cities, the airport and other experts. Many government agencies and cities are developing strategies now that will help us adapt to our rising seas. For example, in the current draft of the San Diego Climate Action Plan outlines adaptation as one of five bold action plans.

Dr. Flick reminded us that now is not the time to panic – we have perhaps 30 or more years  to institute adaptation plans for the worst of coming changes. But we do need to begin planning now for future sea level rise impacts.

Upcoming Events
STAY COOL members have multiple opportunities to get involved in these upcoming events:

Action Items

Haven’t signed our Member Declaration yet? Join our growing list of active members who have signed the commitment and you’ll receive a free t-shirt.

The City of San Diego is conducting its environmental review of the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The process is governed by CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and this phase is the Notice of Preparation (NOP). The city is seeking input from the public on what kinds of policies they should analyze and which alternatives to include. The current draft CAP is located on the City’s website:

Written comments are due by Friday, March 20 – email and reference “San Diego Climate Action Plan IO No. 21002571.” Email us to receive suggested message points.

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Field Trip! Recap of Feb. 19 “King Tide” Visit to Scripps Pier

Blog post by Peg Engel. 

Nothing’s better for conveying a natural history lesson – and when the subject is sea level rise, no location could be more informative than our own Scripps Pier in La Jolla. On Thursday, February 19, during a “king tide,” STAY COOL members were treated to a field trip – a tour of the pier with researchers from UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO).

Group2Our Administrative Director, Sarah Benson, put together a great program with SIO coastal-studies faculty Dr. Ron Flick and Dr. Sarah Giddings. We met at La Jolla Shores just before the morning’s high tide and walked the shoreline north to the pier, while our guides explained the significance of “king tides.” This is a popular term used to describe periodic peak tides that occur when the earth, moon, and sun are specially aligned. Coastal erosion, flooding, and damages occur in California when storm waves and surges and El Niños coincide with king tides. For more about king tides and astronomical relationships that produce them, see these graphics on the SDUT website.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Fabula

Photos courtesy of Lisa Fabula

At 9 am on the day of our tour, the tide was 6.3 feet higher than average low tide. Our group experienced this first hand as we waded through surf to reach the far side of the pier. Once out on the pier, we were distracted by great views of breakers and dolphins, but eventually turned our attention to the pier’s real purpose – data collection. What is now the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier was first built in 1914, and tide measurements have been collected since 1924. Today SIO shares pier data with the public online.

Over the last century, sea level in our region has risen 6-7 inches. Since 1993, the rate of sea level rise has doubled, and it’s still accelerating: sea level is expected to rise nearly three times faster between now and 2050. With higher sea levels, our shoreline communities will be more vulnerable to beach loss and coastal cliff erosion during heavy storms. According to The San Diego Foundation’s “2050 is Calling” report (, we could see what is currently a 1-in-100-year extreme coastal flood occur as frequently as every year by 2050.


Infographic courtesy of Climate Education Partners

Infographic courtesy of Climate Education Partners

Directing attention back to shore, we noted how much at-risk property and infrastructure are publicly owned. Besides damage to coastal homes and businesses, we can anticipate costly damage to transportation byways, ports, airports, schools, and military centers.

At our next STAY COOL member meeting, Dr. Flick will present some of his research in more detail, including studies on the Ross Ice Shelf. Please join us next Wednesday – March 4th – to learn more about SIO research, and to explore what can be done about anticipated impacts to ecosystems and coastal infrastructures due to sea level rise. Click here to download the STAY COOL March 4 2015 Event Announcement (PDF) or email for more details.

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December Meeting to Focus on San Diego’s Climate Action Plan

In September, 2014 San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer released his draft of the San Diego Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP aims to benefit both San Diego’s environment and its economy by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, creating new jobs and improving San Diego’s quality of life.

San Diego September 2014 Climate Action Plan DraftSo what are the strategies and how will they be enforced? Will San Diego still be at the forefront of climate action? How will our citizens and future generations benefit from these actions?

At our December STAY COOL meeting, we will discuss the answers to these questions and more. We’ll hear from Nancy Bragado, the Deputy Planning Director with the City of San Diego. She’ll share with us details of the latest CAP draft and the projected emissions reduction targets. We’ll learn how the plan will improve public health, reduce waste, encourage transit use, enhance water quality and increase local, renewable energy supply.Nancy Bragado, City of San Diego Deputy Planner

Nancy is currently overseeing the City’s Long-Range Planning Division, with responsibilities including community plan updates, transit-oriented development master plans, multi-modal mobility studies and plans, preparation of a new Climate Action Plan, and ongoing General Plan implementation. She has over 25 years of planning experience including managing the City’s General Plan Update.

Qualcomm_QWestRoofPVOur supporting speaker is Gail Welch, Senior Sustainability Manager with Qualcomm. Qualcomm is known for its leadership on sustainability, with many honors received for their Gold-LEED campus site. We’ll hear how Qualcomm’s Corporate Sustainability Program has established itself as a role model and is encouraging other companies to follow suit.

This STAY COOL meeting will take place on Tuesday, December 9, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm in Del Mar. The event is free and beverages & heavy appetizers will be provided. RSVP to for more details and for directions to the event.

Attendees can participate in the City of San Diego CAP adoption process – at this STAY COOL meeting, you’ll learn when and how to participate. We hope to see you on December 9th!

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Stay Cool 4 Grandkids | Meeting with Dr.Kennel

Thank you to the 31 STAY COOL members who joined us for our bi-monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 24 at the Engel home in Del Mar. We welcomed guests Dr. Charles F. Kennel, Director Emeritus, Vice-Chancellor, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), and Pastor Tom Theriault from Solana Beach Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Kennel shared insights about “the most significant conference” he has ever attended, the joint workshop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences titled “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility.” The workshop was held at the Vatican May 2-6, 2014 and Dr. Kennel was one of 43 attendees, 10 attendees coming from SIO.Stay Cool with Dr.Kennel and Assembly

This was the first time the Vatican brought together many of the world’s most prominent scientists and social scientists, including several Nobel Laureates, to examine the relationship between humanity and nature. The attendees explored the theory that we are in the Anthropocene era – a new geological era where humankind has affected every geological system on the planet, has caused changes in our global climate, world-wide biodiversity collapse, habitat fragmentation, long droughts, ozone depletion, global air pollution, deforestation, desertification, retreating glaciers, disappearing polar ice, sea level rise, and other lasting impacts.

Because of the intertwined crises of poverty, exclusion, and the environment, the countries least responsible for human-caused climate change and those least able to adapt will suffer the most. As U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon acknowledges, climate change is “the greatest threat facing humanity.” The attendees of the workshop agreed this is a defining issue of our lifetime.

So, can we sustain a stable, prosperous, and equitable society and a stable, supportive environment at the same time? At the end of the day, a society that treats the environment well will survive. No one country is able to do it alone. Both developed and developing countries must come together to work towards a harmonized global solution. “We have no right to be pessimistic.”

Dr. Kennel left the workshop with the optimism that “a healthier, safer, more just, more Stay Cool with Dr.Kennel and Popeprosperous, and sustainable world is within reach, but the greatest challenge lies in the sphere of human values.” Attendees of the meeting articulated that “progress on climate, energy, equity, education and conservation of living resources will be driven by values and faith more than data and predictive models.” As Walter Munk, at 96 one of great oceanographers of modern times, said, “This requires a miracle of love and unselfishness.” (As quoted by Andrew Revkin, New York Times Dot Earth blog.)

Click here (Science Magazine Article PDF) for a relevant article titled “Pursuit of the common good; Religious institutions may mobilize public opinion and action” by Partha Dasgupta and Veerabhadran Ramanathan that appeared recently in Science Magazine. Dr. Ramanathan is a STAY COOL community supporter and these two authors were the co-chairs of the May workshop at the Vatican.

Following Dr. Kennel’s presentation, we heard from Pastor Tom Theriault from Solana Beach Presbyterian ChurchStay Cool with Dr.Kennel. Dr. Tom English (a STAY COOL member) approached Pastor Tom many years ago and opened his eyes to the messages of faith and their connection to protecting the earth. He realized, “God put me on the earth to preserve it. He gave me the brain power and heart to protect it.”

Tom then formed the Creation Care program, consisting of about 6-12 dedicated people within the church. Believing that “a small rudder can change the course of a big ship,” they organize preaching and teaching programs related to sustainability and environmental issues.

In addition to developing “Creation Care” Sundays around Earth Day, the team has focused on banning plastic bags, offered a summer youth program, partners with nature organizations, have held forums involving the community and hosted a low-emission transportation showcase. The Creation Care program has helped to reduce the carbon footprint of the church by replacing light bulbs, using efficient appliances, eliminating plastic water bottles and using only compostable cups. What a wonderful example of how a small group of dedicated individuals can change minds, and change lives!

Contact Tom at tom @ for more information about the Creation Care program at the Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. For further reading, Tom recommends: The Green Bible.

Now Showing: STAY COOL Videos

We’re going viral! View our new member videos online. Thank you to those of you who made these videos possible, especially our summer intern, Ana Reyes and several of our featured members including Marty Eberhardt, Sue Randerson, Bob Leiter, Caroyln and Cliff Colwell and David and Peg Engel. Please share these videos with your networks. We’re rolling out a plan to release these videos in the coming month.

Upcoming Events – Announcements from Our Members

Citizens Climate Lobby Monthly Meeting – Oct. 4
The next meeting of Citizens Climate Lobby will be on Saturday, October 4th, at the home of Peg Mitchell in San Elijo Hills, San Marcos. Come by for a morning brunch at 9:30 am and then stay to hear our national speaker, Adam Browning, co-founder and executive director of Vote Solar, at 10 am. Please RSVP to Peg at and you will receive directions and further details.

Help with the Scott Peters Campaign – Oct. 2 and 5
Rep. Scott Peters has been good for the environmental movement in the House of Representatives. During his first term, Scott introduced and cosponsored numerous bills that work to combat and mitigate wildfires, natural disasters and other damaging effects of climate change. Peg Mitchell, on behalf of SanDiego350, is seeking volunteers who will be willing to phone bank for a few hours for Scott Peters, on Thursday evening, Oct. 2 from 6 to 8 pm at Peters Campaign office in Kearny Mesa. We will also be walking precincts for him on Sunday morning, 10 to noon on Oct. 5. Can you volunteer a few hours to help make this a reality? Please email Peg at if you can volunteer.

San Diego 350 Introductory Meeting – Oct. 9
Feeling the need to get involved with another climate action group in San Diego? San Diego 350 is hosting an introductory chat for new members on October 9 at 6:30 pm in San Diego. Learn more.

Chula Vista Climate Action Public Forum – Oct. 14
Chula Vista City’s Climate Change Working Group will be hosting a public forum on October 14th at the Civic Center Library Auditorium (365 F Street) from 5 – 6:30 pm. The forum will feature a presentation by Dr. Emily Young on reviewing the impacts from the region’s changing climate and opportunities to manage it. The forum will also provide the community with an opportunity to provide feedback on the Climate Change Working Group’s draft recommendations to help reduce Chula Vista’s carbon footprint. The first 20 attendees will receive a free indoor water/energy savings kit! For more information, please contact the City’s Conservation Section at 619-409-3893 or

San Diego Housing Federation Conference – Oct. 15
TransForm Executive Director Stuart Cohen will speak on a panel titled “Cap-and-Trade 2014 – What’s Next?” to discuss the creation of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, and how we can continue to make the case for affordable homes as a greenhouse gas reduction strategy. Register online for the October 15, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. conference.

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July 15 Meeting Summary Featuring Jim Stone

Meeting Notes from July 15, 2014 STAY COOL Member Meeting

We welcomed 25 guests at this meeting held in Del Mar at the Engel home.

Emily Young gave an update on The San Diego Foundation’s Focus 2050 report. It is a follow-up report to the first of its kind assessment of climate change for the San Diego region. The report examines how we can help prepare our region for climate change and what we can expect by 2050. Some key findings include:
• In the next 40 years, San Diego temperatures are expected to increase more than twice as fast as they have in the past 40 years. We will see more days of extreme high temps with longer and more frequent heat waves and less nighttime cooling.
• Our water demand will increase by a projected 46 percent by 2035 but scientists are expecting a 12 percent decrease in our water supply.
• By 2050 we could experience 5 to 24 inches of sea level rise. The 1-in-100-year coastal flood will perhaps occur every year.
• The number of homes lost annually to wildfires has doubled since before 2000. In the future, we are looking at hotter and drier climate which will increase the frequency and severity fires; also resulting in more poor air quality days.
Download or read the Focus 2050 report here.

Jim Stone from Circulate San Diego presented background about Circulate and the San Diego General Plan called San Diego Forward. Click here to view Jim’s presentation: CirculateSD Presentation for Stay Cool July 2014.
• The mission of CirculateSD is to create excellent mobility choices and vibrant, healthy neighborhoods. It resulted as a merger of WalkSanDiego and Move San Diego just four months ago.
• In San Diego, 46% of our carbon emissions come from transportation. The community’s Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) aims to reduce emissions from land use and transportation. It should better connect new housing and jobs with transportation alternatives. By locating housing and jobs closer to transit lines and in walkable communities, we will reduce emissions.
• Walking and biking to destinations is the most economical choice, and comes with positive public health outcomes that have an indirect economic impact as well.
• The region’s population is expected to grow by about 1,000,000 people by 2050 and that the economy anticipates there will be 500,000 additional jobs. A key question is how and where do we locate all those people and all those jobs to maximize a sustainable future?
• To accommodate a million new residents, our region is projected to develop about 350,000 housing units between now and 2050. However, we only have about 4% of our land as developable space. Future growth will happen in existing neighborhoods, as compact infill development.
• In San Diego in 2011 the first statewide SCS was adopted. The Air Resources Board set the targets for SANDAG GHG reductions 7% in 2020, and 13% in 2035. SANDAG showed it could meet these goals, but the GHG numbers backslid when modeled to 2050.
• The main components of the SCS include: compact land use, increased transportation choices, transportation demand management, transportation system management and pricing policies.
• AB 32 required CA GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and Schwarzenegger’s S-305 calls for 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. To achieve this, it will require huge changes in energy storage and consumption patterns, in addition to the Land use and transportation changes.
• SANDAG is trying to achieve these goals through the 2011 plan actions:

  • Allocated $2.58 Billion for Active Transportation (over 40 years), with $200 M in first decade
  • Conserved 50% of Region for Open Space
  • 80% of new growth planned within ½ mile of transit
  • Adds 156 new miles of light rail
  • Adopted Policy Commitments including: transit oriented development, complete streets and safe routes.

• SANDAG is currently in the development plan phase of the 2015 RTP San Diego Forward.

How can STAY COOL members get involved and become agents of change?
• You can get involved now in the San Diego Forward involvement process. They need to hear the voice of citizens who support transit, smart growth and transit oriented development. All too often, they only hear the “NIMBYs”.
• For example, during this process, Circulate was successful in getting health into the equation.
• Be specific when making asks of SANDAG. Circulate asked for early action funding for Active Transportation and SANDAG changed it to Bike Master Plan only.
• Remember, politics matters. Get community group members together (bike coalitions, grandparents, church groups, etc.) and take them to meet with a member of SANDAG board. Educate them about what matters in the general plan. Should elected officials there is support for smarter choices. We must develop political champions for infill, (in addition to Active transportation) to be successful.
• Stay engaged with the San Diego Forward process. Attend the mobility workshop on August 4. Learn more here:

Laura Schumacher with the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs shared their efforts to advance climate change education in our schools.
• The council is taking up a resolution for the California State PTA to consider climate change a children’s issue and urge its councils to advocate for climate change action. Click here to view the resolution PDF: PTAClimateChangeResolutionDraft.
• If anyone has any suggestions to improve our resolution or make it more scientifically accurate, please contact Laura and she will share all feedback with the Resolution Study Committee.
• Laura needs support from the scientific community and is looking for a scientific advisor. Contact Laura at
• When they submit the Resolution to the State Resolution Committee in the fall, a letter of support from STAY COOL would be helpful – what could be better than a coalition of PTA parents and grandparents!?! Stay tuned for more information about how to help.

In STAY COOL member news:
• Review and sign our member declaration to receive a STAY COOL T-shirt. Our declaration is a statement of our concerns and hopes for our children and grandchildren in the face of climate change. It represents our ideals and desire to prepare for and help mitigate against the negative effects of climate change. View it here.
• Volunteers are needed to attend and represent SC4G at the Environment Committee (Formerly Natural Resources and Culture) meeting on Wednesday July 23 at 2 pm. View the agenda here:
• Help the County better plan for severe heat events due to climate change. Complete the San Diego County OES online survey and include the following point, “Severe heat events and threats to public health due to climate change and global warming should be taken into consideration.” The 5-minute survey can be found here:

Save the date for our next meeting on Wednesday, September 24 featuring Charles Kennel, a past director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO).

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