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 https://youtu.be/8YQIaOldDU8 ).

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 sarah@staycool4grandkids.org.

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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