STAY COOL Responds to Recent Media Coverage

In response to recent topics on climate change and the (lack of) action, STAY COOL Advisory Council members submitted the following articles that were published recently in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Feb. 24 2018
Don’t change habits, change transport mode

The reality is that we can’t change human nature or the “American Dream.” San Diego, like most American cities, has the liability of being a relatively young city that embraced the suburban lifestyle many generations ago.

What we can change is the fuel used to support our lifestyle. An electric vehicle (EV) becomes a vehicle to achieve this change. (Pun intended.)

We can drive EVs, as affordable ones are now coming to market. We can put solar on our roofs and use the sun to power our EVs. We can support penalties for pollution with significant gas taxes. Buses and other large vehicles can be electrified.

We are not going to transform San Diego into Copenhagen or Paris, but we can decarbonize our transportation.

Dennis Griffin
Carlsbad

Feb. 9 2018
Pruitt has shown he is unfit for his EPA job

Re “EPA Chief: Global Warming may not be bad” (Feb. 8): Scott Pruitt’s statement that global warming may not be a bad thing is beyond belief.

Americans who have experienced unprecedented flooding, wildfires and droughts would certainly disagree. If this much devastation can happen with 1 degree Celsius of warming, what should we expect in 2100 when we’re on track for as much as 5 degrees Celsius?

Recently, we’ve seen a White House staffer step down for allegedly abusing two ex-wives. What is the appropriate consequence for a cabinet member endangering the entire planet. It’s time for Pruitt to go.

Laura Schumacher
Bay Park

Response to County of San Diego CAP

Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar stated: “It’s important to remember that all CAP measures come with a cost, and at the end of the day, all of these costs are realized either directly or indirectly by our residents.” Interesting point.

By passing the ineffective, developer-friendly CAP, Ms Gaspar and the BOS are passing on an economic liability to our children and grandchildren to mitigate and adapt to a fiercely changing climate. Ask survivors of recent wildfires and hurricanes about the cost.

What price will we pay when natural resources become scarcer? What about the cost for heat-related impacts on public health?

These are called economic externalities. Ms. Gaspar and the BOS remain willfully oblivious to the financial burden they have given to 750,000 children in San Diego today. That is unconscionable and inexcusable.

Linda Giannelli Pratt
San Diego, CA

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For the Love of our Planet: A Feb. 14 Call to Action

The STAY COOL Advisory Council, under the leadership of Chair Bob Leiter and Linda Pratt, submitted the below letter to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for consideration at their Feb. 14 meeting on the County Climate Action Plan.

Voices in support of a more proactive Climate Action Plan are needed at the Feb. 14 public hearing. Attend the following meeting to share your comment in person:

Date: February 14, 2018
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Location: Board of Supervisors North Chamber
1600 Pacific Highway, 3rd floor, San Diego, CA 92101

Click here to learn more about the meeting or to send an email in regards to the Climate Action Plan.

STAY COOL’s letter to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors:

February 9, 2018

Kristin Gaspar, Chairperson
San Diego County Board of Supervisors
1600 Pacific Highway, Room 331
San Diego CA 92101

RE:  Climate Action Plan (Item 1, February 14, 2018)

Dear Chairperson Gaspar and Board Members:

STAY COOL for Grandkids (SC4G) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on the final draft County of San Diego Climate Action Plan (CAP), General Plan Amendment (GPA), and Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR), and other associated documents, which you are considering at your meeting on February 14, 2018.  SC4G is a non-profit organization of volunteer grandparents, elders and other citizens in the San Diego region dedicated to preserving a livable climate in the name of those too young to have a voice: our future generations. Along with other partner organizations in our region, we advocate for meaningful action on climate change and support policies that will have a lasting effect by reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions and protecting our quality of life.

Why It’s Important for the County to Adopt an Ambitious and Effective CAP

We believe that it is unconscionable for any of us to leave the burden of mitigating and adapting to climate change on the shoulders of young people. By continuing to delay significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we increase the likelihood of severe health impacts, food and water scarcity, and untold degradation of the quality of life for future generations. Additionally, we risk handing young people alive today a bill of up to US$535 trillion. This would be the cost of the “negative emissions” technologies required to remove atmospheric CO₂ to avoid dangerous climate change.  (Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions, James Hansen, et al, Journal of Earth System Dynamics, 18 July 2017.) Intergenerational equity is the heart of the lawsuit Juliana v. United States. The 21 plaintiffs, ranging in age from 10 to 20 years old, state that the federal government’s refusal to take serious action against climate change unlawfully puts the well-being of current generations ahead of future generations. So far, the courts agree. In November 2017 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the suit to go to trial. Judge Ann Aiken set a judicial precedent in her decision, ruling that climate change may pose an unconstitutional burden on younger generations.

We believe that the County Board of Supervisors has the opportunity and the obligation to support a robust Climate Action Plan with a measurable and accountable implementation strategy. There are nearly 750,000 children under the age of 18 currently living in the County who are depending on us. There is no time to delay.  

Major Comments and Concerns Regarding Final Draft CAP

We feel that many of the proposed strategies and measures that are identified in the draft CAP will be effective in reducing GHG emissions in the unincorporated areas within San Diego County, as well as reducing GHG emissions associated with County operations.  However, we do not feel that the final draft CAP documents respond adequately to several concerns that SC4G and other stakeholder groups have raised previously.  

The following are our major remaining comments and concerns on the final draft CAP.  

#1 The final CAP should include additional “Built Environment and Transportation” GHG reduction measures.

According to the Planning Commission staff report, “The County has limited options under its control for implementing transportation-based strategies and relies heavily on energy-based solutions to meet the County’s commitments.” We strongly disagree with this statement, in that the County has direct control over land use and local transportation system planning within the unincorporated area.  Specifically, there is no measure to specifically reduce vehicle miles traveled in newly planned residential development. According to the California Air Resources Board 2017 Scoping Plan, “CARB staff is more convinced than ever that, in addition to achieving GHG reductions from cleaner fuels and vehicles, California must also reduce VMT.” Yet despite of this imperative, the CAP provides a path for compliance for development in remote locations, which have intrinsically high vehicle miles traveled VMTs. Unless properly mitigated, these high VMTs will be permanent and ongoing and will undermine all other County efforts.

Our specific concerns and recommendations regarding this issue include the following:

  • On p. 3-14, GHG Reduction Measure T-1.3 (Updating Community Plans) appears to be a feasible measure, but clearer performance metrics are needed. The proposed performance metric (“update of 19 community plans”) is not sufficient; a section should be added to identify what criteria the County will apply to the community plan updates in order to ensure that the plans are leading to measurable GHG reductions.  In addition, the County should allocate adequate resources to expedite the completion of all 19 community plan updates; the proposed measure assumes that nearly half of the updates would not be completed until after 2030.
  • On p. 3-18, GHG Reduction Measure T-2.1 (Improve Roadway Segments as Multi-modal) should include a better explanation for how the County will integrate this with other CAP measures (e.g., Update Community Plans) and the adopted Regional Transportation Plan / Sustainable Communities Strategy, and how the prioritization for improvements can best implement the measure effectively. In addition, the County should commit to pursuing funding from all available funding sources, including available SB 1 funding, to plan and construct “Complete Street” projects in suitable locations throughout the unincorporated area.  The County should also commit to identifying suitable locations for “Green Street” projects, which combine the multi-modal aspects of “Complete Streets” with stormwater treatment and storm water re-use components that could qualify these projects for funding through Proposition 1 grants and other external funding sources that are intended to support local projects that improve water management.
  • On p. 3-20, GHG Reduction Measure T-2.2 (Reduce New Non-residential Development Vehicle Miles Traveled) proposes to reduce commuter VMT in new non-residential development in the unincorporated County by 15% by 2030.  It is our understanding that the County would implement this measure by adopting a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) ordinance that would apply to all new non-residential development.  However, the draft CAP does not explain how the County would monitor the effectiveness of this measure; this should be clarified.  Also, it is not clear why the County is not also recommending a similar measure for new residential development in the unincorporated County.  There are a variety of feasible means by which the County could require developers of new residential and mixed-use development projects to reduce VMT associated with their projects.  We would strongly recommend that the County consider such measures, which would likely lead to significant additional GHG reductions in the “Built Environment and Transportation” category.

#2 The County should reduce its reliance on a Direct Investment Program and should clarify how this program will be properly implemented.

On pp. 3-40 and 3-41, the CAP sets forth proposed GHG Reduction Measure T-4.1 (Establish a Direct Investment Program). It appears from the description of this measure that the County would allow “offsite” mitigation not only through “direct investment” credits from within San Diego County but also from any approved carbon credit providers outside of San Diego County. While the CAP suggests that all onsite mitigation measures would be applied before direct investment credits are used, the CAP provides no limits to how much offsite mitigation could be used.  We have serious concerns regarding whether this option might undercut other feasible local GHG reduction measures, which could offer significantly greater co-benefits to the communities that they serve.

Furthermore, according to the preliminary assessment of the Direct Investment Program (Attachments H3 and H4 to County Planning Commission staff report), we understand that there are potential projects in the unincorporated area that could align with existing carbon credit protocols and which have the capacity to reduce GHG emissions.  However, the County would still need to set these up and make sure they are properly funded and implemented, which is highly uncertain and could require significant County staff resources.

We are also still concerned that this measure is listed in the category of “Built Environment and Transportation,” the measure itself is not limited to projects that are directly related to GHG reductions in this category.  As a result, the CAP document overstates the actual amount of GHG reductions from this category that are likely to occur.

#3 The final CAP should include an analysis that demonstrates that its GHG reduction strategies and measures are consistent with the adopted Regional Transportation Plan / Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP / SCS) and other state and regional policies and plans.

We are still not clear from reviewing the draft CAP documents how the County is differentiating the GHG reductions that will be obtained as a result of its proposed “Built Environment and Transportation” GHG reduction measures from those transportation and land use planning factors that have already been assumed for the unincorporated portion of the County in the growth forecasts that were used by SANDAG in conducting its regional GHG reduction analysis for the adopted RTP / SCS.   It is important to ensure that the County and SANDAG are taking a coordinated approach to helping the San Diego region meet its SB 375 GHG reduction targets, and that the County’s proposed reduction measures are not simply a duplication of land use and transportation factors that are already assumed in the RTP/SCS. We would request that the final CAP documents specifically address these concerns.

#4 The final CAP should provide a better explanation for how future General Plan Amendments will be evaluated in relation to the adopted CAP.  

For example, we are not clear from our review of the draft CAP documents how the County will ensure that any future County General Plan amendments will not conflict with land use and transportation factors and/or assumptions for the unincorporated area that were used as the basis for the adopted CAP, and which were relied upon in SANDAG’s regional GHG reduction analysis in its adopted RTP / SCS.  We would request that the final CAP documents address this issue more clearly.

#5 The final CAP should include a firm commitment to the goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030, and it should also lay out the specific actions that the County will take to achieve this goal along with a specific timeline for taking these actions.

The Planning Commission agreed that the draft CAP’s goal of 90% renewable electricity by 2030 should be increased to 100%, and we support this recommendation. (see GHG Reduction Measure E-2.1) However, we see no indication of actions on the part of the County to set meaningful milestones that would ensure that the 100% renewable energy is achieved.  We feel that it is critically important for the County to lay out an overall strategy and schedule for achieving this goal as quickly as possible, and that it commit to begin implementing this strategy immediately.

#6 The final CAP should specifically address Social Equity issues and should contain specific commitments by the County to address these issues.

One of the key findings of the recently published San Diego Region Climate Action Plan Report Card https://www.climateactioncampaign.org/reportcard2017/ is that “The Region Needs Action on Social Equity.”  As discussed by the Climate Action Campaign (CAC) staff in this report, “Climate change does not affect all communities equally. Low-income communities of color are being hit first and worst by climate change because of a history of segregated housing, underinvestment in communities of color, and institutional racism that allowed toxic waste facilities and other hazards to disproportionately burden those communities. These impacts were not created by accident, and climate planning and policies need to be intentional about undoing them.”  CAC reviewed all of the existing local government Climate Action Plans in the San Diego region, and found that “four cities – San Diego, Encinitas, San Marcos, and National City – address social equity in their CAPs. San Diego and Encinitas call for the development of equity metrics and methods to track and report on equity in implementation.”   

We would strongly recommend that the County include a chapter on Social Equity in its final CAP, and that the CAP identify specific implementable actions to address social equity concerns, like the approaches taken by the cities of San Diego, Encinitas, San Marcos and National City. In addition, the County should take advantage of the full range of tools available to identify communities that shoulder a disproportionate pollution burden and are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including CalEnviroScreen 3.0, the Healthy Places Index, and the criteria used for San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Disadvantaged Community Planning Grants.

#7 The County should conduct further cost-benefit analysis of the proposed measures contained in the final draft CAP prior to removing measures that may raise concerns about housing affordability and economic competitiveness.

During the Planning Commission hearing, the Commissioners received testimony from the San Diego chapters of the Building Industry Association (BIA) and Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP) regarding the potential negative impacts of certain proposed GHG reduction measures on housing affordability and economic competitiveness.  Based on this testimony, several of the Commissioners expressed their concerns regarding these issues, and the final Planning Commission recommendation included the removal or modification of these measures.  

While we strongly support the goals of improving housing affordability and economic competitiveness in the San Diego region, we would like to see the County conduct a thorough and objective analysis of these issues.  Such an analysis should include the actual projected impacts of the CAP on housing affordability and economic growth.  At the same time, this analysis should include an evaluation of the potential benefits of the CAP on the regional economy, including housing, jobs and other economic factors.  In this way, the County Board of Supervisors would get a better understanding of the potential costs and benefits of its proposed CAP and could make better informed decisions.

Conclusions

We appreciate the opportunity to have participated in the County’s CAP planning process, including the review of the previous draft CAP documents, and we hope that our remaining comments and concerns as set forth above will be given due consideration by the Board of Supervisors.

We also wish to note that we have worked collaboratively with other stakeholder organizations, including Endangered Habitats League, Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, and Climate Action Campaign over the past few weeks in our review of the latest draft CAP documents, and we support the written comments that these organizations have submitted to you.

Please feel free to contact STAY COOL Advisory Council members Bob Leiter at rleiter9@cox.net or Linda Pratt at lgpratt@sbcglobal.net if you have specific questions regarding the comments contained in this letter.  

Best regards,

Bob Leiter
STAY COOL for Grandkids – Advisory Council Chair

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Year-End Thoughts from STAY COOL Administrator

Dear STAY COOL Community,

It’s that time of the year when I like to look back on our accomplishments and goals, and personally share gratitude for everything we have achieved. While it was a challenging year to be in climate action, I am still grateful I’ve been a part of the solution.

I’m proud of STAY COOL’s continued support of good climate policies – including more measurable and enforceable CAPs and the exploration of Community Choice Energy in local cities. We also started an impactful ocean climate science education program – one that I hope will live on to reach more students in the coming year, thanks to a grant from the Fletcher Family Fund to create a traveling trunk in partnership with the Climate Science Alliance.

Since I started with STAY COOL in 2014, we have educated more than 200 members through our 20+ events. I’m grateful to all of you, our STAY COOL members and advisors, for taking on the hard work involved with stemming the tide of climate change, even when the political will was waning.

This year-end reflection is especially poignant because my role as STAY COOL’s Administrative Director ends today. I am grateful to have formed strong friendships and learned much more about local climate action throughout these four years leading this fledgling action group of elders. I’ll miss the daily interactions with our supportive Advisory Council and with other like-minded advocates.

I am confident that the mission of STAY COOL will live on through our existing programs due to the dedicated volunteerism of our Advisory Council and the growing partnership with the San Diego Audubon Society. While this transition is personally bittersweet, it provides the best path forward for STAY COOL. I am hopeful about the continued growth of the organization.

I plan to stay engaged as I continue to advocate for a livable climate in the name of our future generations! My personal email address is sarahhuyettbenson at gmail.com if you would like to stay in touch.

For a cooler future,

Sarah Benson

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An Important Message from our Chair, Bob Leiter

Dear STAY COOL Supporter,

I am pleased to inform you about an exciting change in store for STAY COOL for Grandkids! On November 13, 2017 the San Diego Audubon Society (SDAS) Board of Directors voted to take over the fiscal sponsorship activities of STAY COOL as of January 1, 2018.

For more than four years STAY COOL has built a robust community in San Diego: you, our active and motivated coalition of elders. You are willing to speak out to limit the worst consequences of global warming, and we will continue to offer our support for these efforts. We are grateful for the leadership of SDAS Executive Director Chris Redfern and Board Chair David Kimball, both of whom have supported this new partnership. Our shared visions and similar missions will help STAY COOL remain focused on our goal of preserving a livable climate for future generations by engaging seniors in the San Diego region.

SDAS will create a restricted fund designated solely for STAY COOL’s projects, and all funds that reside with our current fiscal sponsor, Mission Edge, will transfer over to the new fund by the end of the year. If you wish to continue to support our outreach and education programs, donations* will be accepted through Network for Good, our secure online donation platform.

Our changes are bittersweet.  Unfortunately, the executive team has determined that we can no longer ensure the resources necessary to employ a staff member. As a consequence, we will with the new year become an all-volunteer organization.  We will lose our Administrative Director, Sarah Benson, who has done such an outstanding job for STAY COOL for the last four years. Sarah’s last day with STAY COOL will be December 15. Her dedication to our cause has been tremendous and her many talents will be sorely missed.

Our volunteer Advisory Council is growing. This month, we welcomed a new member, Linda Giannelli Pratt. Linda has built a professional career focused on community-based environmental protection, most recently as managing director of Green Cities California, a statewide nonprofit organization which serves local government leaders to advance more sustainable policies and practices. We are pleased to welcome Linda to our team! Learn more about Linda on our “Who We Are” page.

For any questions or comments about these changes, please feel free to give me a call at 619-261-6321.

Many thanks for your ongoing support for a cooler future,

Bob Leiter
STAY COOL for Grandkids Advisory Council Chairperson

* All gifts to the STAY COOL project are tax-deductible. Through December 31, 2017 the fiscal sponsor accepting donations on behalf of STAY COOL is Mission Edge, tax ID 27-2938491. If you prefer, checks can be mailed to Mission Edge at: P.O. Box 12319, San Diego, CA 92112. Please indicate your gift is to support “STAY COOL” on your check. Beginning January 1, 2018, tax-deductible donations to the STAY COOL project can be made directly to San Diego Audubon Society.

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Summary of our August 5 Climate Walk at Cabrillo

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

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

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

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

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

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A Wake Up Call

In response to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark Paris Climate Accords, STAY COOL Advisory Council Chair Bob Leiter submitted a shorten version of the following opinion editorial on June 4, 2017 to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

When President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would walk away from the Paris climate accord, concern for my grandchildren first came to my mind. Climate change is the biggest global threat to future generations.

We know from solid scientific data that CO2 trapped in the atmosphere leads to global warming, and 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that this warming over the past century is due to human activities.

These emissions remain for decades, ultimately passing the consequences on to our children, and our grandkids. Because of these man-made emissions, our planet is on a path toward more warming, rising sea levels, poor public health, extreme heat waves and droughts in the decades ahead. Here in San Diego, we have already experienced the devastation of drought and impact of wildfires.

All the indicators are going in the wrong direction. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest update to its greenhouse gas index, combined greenhouses gases in the atmosphere increased by 2.5 percent in 2016. Last year was the hottest year on record.

President Trump’s misinformed statements on Thursday, and the well-reasoned responses to them from leaders at the international, state and local level, point out the importance of education and outreach on this critical topic.  Our organization, STAY COOL for Grandkids, is one of many here in the San Diego region that is working hard to educate our youth and our elders on the threat of global warming and the practical solutions that are available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy or placing an undue burden on disadvantaged communities.

 The President’s decision was a wake-up call that none of us should ignore.

In addition, STAY COOL Advisor Laura Schumacher got this letter published in the June 6, 2017 issue of the Union Tribune:

Regarding “Pope, Trump discuss climate change” (May 25), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the administration is trying to balance addressing climate change against economic interests for Americans.

We don’t need to choose between the economy and climate change, if the administration would only look at the carbon fee and dividend solution proposed by Citizens Climate Lobby.

Studies show a revenue-neutral carbon tax, with 100 percent of the net revenue returned directly to households, will reduce gas emissions 52 percent below 1990 levels within 20 years while growing the economy and saving lives. This is the kind of market-based solution even Republicans can support.

Laura Schumacher
San Diego

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

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

April 13, 2017

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

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

Dear Assembly Member Cristina Garcia,

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Advisory Board Members of STAY COOL for Grandkids:

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

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Voting for our Grandkids

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

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

[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”right” width=”33%”]”We can personally take action that will benefit our grandkids. Voting with our dollars can start today with no delays.”[/mantra-pullquote]

Consumer Dollars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investment Dollars

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

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

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

Some examples are:

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

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

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

Article by STAY COOL member Dennis Griffin.  

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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: kids4planetearth.org
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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County Supervisors’ Vote Wednesday Could Encourage More Renewable Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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