By Anne Tolch, Vice Chairperson, Sustainability Alliance of Southern California
September 21, 2011 (San Diego) -- For many years there was the assertion that smoking posed no danger to our health, but we now know the science community was right. It also took a while to figure out that acid rain really posed problems. Fortunately, our society has implemented policies to address these serious issues. The same is true for climate change. In the end, we will work together to solve it.
What climate change skeptics such as Santee Mayor Randy Voepel may not realize is that reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will provide many other benefits. These include creating good jobs and cleaner air, saving money for businesses and families, and strengthening national security. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also help protect farmers’ harvests and food supplies from drought, as well as reduce risks of devastating wildfires and floods.
As we fight to solve the climate change crisis, here are some benefits to our region and our nation:
Jobs: With California’s leadership to address climate change, we have seen $11.1 Billion in investment into clean energy technology (source: Cleantech Group) and 500,000 jobs for our citizens (source: CA Department of Employment).
Clean air: Less dependence on fossil fuels means cleaner air and better health. Fossil fuels create particulates that get into our lungs and cause diseases that most significantly affect our children and elderly citizens. 91% percent of Californians live in counties with failing air quality grades due to fossil fuel use according the American Lung Association’s 2010 State of the Air Report.
Savings: Energy efficiency and conservation can save money for your family and your business. To lower costs and demonstrate good environmental stewardship, Target stores, for instance, recently implemented energy efficient lighting in their refrigerated and freezer sections.
National security: We can increase our national security when we stop funding outside entities that dislike our way of life. Every day the United States sends $1.15 Billion to other countries for oil. That’s $420 Billion per year that we’re sending to countries that, at minimum do not share our interests and at worst, despise us. By developing renewable energy sources and parts in the United States we can build our own economy and create more American jobs!
While we consider the benefits of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, please also consider the negative impacts of climate change that are already causing worldwide economic problems and human suffering.
Reduction in grain harvests: From 1981-2002, drought and flooding caused a decline in global grain yields by 40 million tons a year, a trend from which we have not recovered.
Increase in fires: The total acreage lost during this year’s wildfire season rose to 7.7 million acres nationwide, about 1.5 million acres above the 10-year average and close to the record season of 2006. In San Diego County between 1900 and 2000, no decade recorded more than 200,000 acres lost due to fire. Just in the nine years between 2000 and 2009, however, 800,000 acres were burned.
Increase in floods: In 2010 abnormal flash floods struck the U.S. in Rhode Island, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma which resulted in property loss and tragic deaths. This was predicted in a climate change report commissioned by the Bush Administration in 2007 and released in 2009 which warned that the United States would see greater incidences of severe weather and heavier rainfall due to climate change.
Regarding Mayor Voepel’s response to our organization’s recent invitation, which was published in East County Magazine’s article ‘Santee Mayor Trashes Climate Change Group’ (http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/7264)
We should be thankful for Mayor Randy Voepel and Miriam Raftery, editor of the magazine, because their actions lead to many responses and this exchange. Mayor Voepel took the time to write a candid response to organizers and Miriam was brave enough to challenge that response. Without both of these people, we wouldn’t be having this dialogue. This is especially important because open dialogue and mutual consideration are key elements for us to move forward as a nation and as a people.
For those who want to know the truth on climate change 1) Do your research 2) Follow the money 3) Examine the science.
Thank you for supporting our event ‘Moving San Diego to a Clean Energy Future’ which is dedicate to reducing dependence on fossil fuels, increasing clean energy generation, and creating local clean energy jobs. Activities begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Balboa Park. For the full schedule and more information: http://www.sandiego350.org/.
By working together, we can achieve great things.