"Climate change science has not changed in the way Councilwoman Alessio would like us to believe. Let's stick to credible sources on science, not talking points from the climate change denier's briefing book." -- Kathleen Connell, PhD, sustainabiltiy expert and former NASA astrobiology science founder
By Miriam Raftery
Upated May 1 to add comments from Mike Bullock and data from a climate change paper he authored.
April 30, 2015 (La Mesa) – At La Mesa’s City Council hearing Tuesday, Council heard a report detailing the city’s progress on reducing its carbon footprint in order to reduce climate change.
Councilmember Kristine Alessio then stated, “The science has changed behind climate change in the last ten years. Maybe at some point we need to reconsider being part of the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Change Protection Agreement.” Here audio clip here: http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/blgb31acb1/Alessio-ClimateChange-Kristine.mp3
Likening the agreement to “religious dogma,” Alessio then then scoffed at the idea that “cutting greenhouse gas emissions in La Mesa is going to make one difference anywhere.”
Her comments drew swift responses from a climate change expert and and from the city’s former mayor.
Professor Kathleen Connell, PhD, is the CEO and Founder of the Green Startup Institute in San Diego and has chaired the Sustainability Alliance of Southern California. A founder of astrobiology science and senior scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, she has received the NASA Public Service Medal and is an expert on sustainability issues who has advised the White House, California local governments, and the private sector.
She told East County Magazine that while science does change and progress through peer-reviewed studies, “Climate change science has not changed in the way Councilwoman Alessio would like us to believe. Let’s stick to credible sources on science, not talking points from the climate change denier’s briefing book.”
Dr. Connell then provided these facts on climate science. “NASA’s climate watch, Vital Signs of the Planet, shows that as of March, 2015, NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) reported that the climate change trend is increasing, as the rise of heat trapping gasses in the atmosphere continues…The trend has been clear for many decades, and the trend that matters has not changed, except to move upwards.” See for yourself at http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide.
Mike Bullock, a retired satellite engineer and leading environmentalist in San Diego who has served as chair of the San Diego Sierra Club's Transportation Committee, called Alessio’s statements “ridiculous.”
He forwarded an Air and Waste Management Association report he authored on the climate predicament which he says is caused by massive quantities of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere that becomes trapped.
The California Governor’s Executive Order S-3-05 is similar to the Kyoto Agreement, based on greenhouse gas reductions recommended by climate scientists for industrialized nations back in 2005, which included lowering CO2 emissions by 2050 to 80% of 1990 emission levels.
But the situation has worsened and even those ambitious targets are now not enough, according to Bullock’s report. A new mandate, California’s AB 32, imposed a cap and trade program to move up the timeframe to 2020 instead of 2050. California is on track to meet that second target, says Bullock because “world emission levels have, for most years, been increasing contrary to the S-3-05 trajectory.
That means that California “if it is still interested in leading the way to human survival, must do far better than S-3-05, going forward,” Bullock states. His report concludes darkly that if we fail to achieve these goals or they turn out to be too little, too late, the consequences are dire. A report in the Nation stated that, “ “A recent string of reports from impeccable mainstream institutions-the International Energy Agency, the World Bank, the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers-have warned that the Earth is on a trajectory to warm by at least 4 Degrees Celsius and that this would be incompatible with continued human survival.”
Moreover, Bullock’s report cites data indicated that lags in replacing fossil fuels with clean energy have “put the world on a pace for 6 degree Celsius by the end of this century. Such a large temperature rise occurred 250 million years ago and extinguished 90 percent of the life on Earth. The current rise is of the same magnitude but is occurring faster.”
Former Mayor Art Madrid signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agremeent on behalf of La Mesa, becoming the first mayor in San Diego County to do so. The Council adopted the agreement at the Mayor’s urging in 2007.
ECM asked Madrid for his response to Alessio’s proposal to undo his achievement. Madrid retorted, “Just consider the source of who is making those asinine remarks.” He noted that Alessio has also opposed regulation of electronic cigarettes or “vaping” devices. (The Councilwoman lit up and smoked from her Council seat as a protest to efforts to protect public health by restriction e-cigarettes.)
As for La Mesa’s progress on its climate action plan, the report revealed that the city has targeted reducing greenhouse gas pollution in 12 areas. The planning department has prepared a climate action plan funded by SDG&E’s Emerging Cities Program with a draft due for release in May.
La Mesa had a 71% increase in solar photovoltaic systems last year. The Council adopted two new Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, Hero and Figtree; Hero financed 32 completed projects.
La Mesa has a recycling rate 40% higher than the state required last year and collected over 80 tons of recycled material, with help from EDCO.
Through its downtown village streetscape now in progress, the city is also encouraging use of transit, walking and bikes as alternatives to vehicles that emit green house gas emissions. A natural gas fueling station will be completed in La Mesa in July. La Mesa’s public works department has also installed devices on vehicles to reduce idling and improve fuel efficiency.
In addition, the city recently participated in the Earth Day fair in Balboa Park to promote its Climate Action Plan and other sustainability programs – all actions that could be rolled back if Councilwoman Alessio’s proposal to withdraw La Mesa from the U.S. Mayors Climate Action Program moves forward.