Mar 28, 2018
by Tish Levee
I’ve been thinking about Earth Day, remembering the first one in 1970. Gathering at the Laguna Festival of Arts grounds, holding my two-month old son, I had such great hope. We were finally going to really start dealing with the problems of the environment: pollution, energy use, and recycling! I was so excited about recycling, because I was always savings bottles, cans, and newspapers, and finally someone wanted them!
Looking back 48 years later, I am gladdened at how far we’ve come, AND I am saddened at all that we’ve lost.
Yes we have recycling—here in Sonoma County it’s curbside, but I know that isn’t true in other places. And our ability to produce things that need recycling, especially plastic, has far outstripped our efforts to recycle them. We’re taking steps to keep organic waste from being such a huge amount in our landfill. But zero waste is just one issue that matters to me.
What really distresses me is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and global warming. Since 1970 atmospheric levels of CO2 has risen 90%, to 408 ppm; 350 ppm is the level that scientists have said we can’t exceed without serious consequences. We’re seeing the consequences right now, as the Northeast sustains yet another huge winter storm, driven paradoxically by the warming of the Arctic. As we look forward to another hot year (every year in the 21st century has seen record-breaking heat, and it’s getting worse), we can look forward to possible drought, more fires, and hurricanes in the Southeast of increasing magnitude.
For the last month, I’ve been a member of the second cohort of the Climate Action Fellowship training at the Center for Climate Protection. Even with all the conferences I’ve been to, all the articles and books I’ve read, all the columns and articles I’ve researched and written, this class is a real eye opener.
In some ways, it’s been a very depressing class for me. But, at the same time, I’ve experienced so much hope. Being with others who’re as concerned as I, and especially so many young people who’re taking action to make a difference on climate issues, has been truly heartening.
There’s a lot of good news on the climate front. Although we’re definitely going to have to get used to a changed and changing world, we can still hope when we see how possible it is for us to change how we relate to that world.
The Center for Climate Protection just released its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) report for 2016, showing, that since the start-up of Sonoma Clean Power in 2014, electricity emissions decreased so much that Sonoma County’s overall GHG emissions were lower in 2016 than they were in 1990—even though the County’s population has increased. Following the lead of Sonoma Clean Power and Marin Clean Energy, there’re now eight otherCommunity Choice Energy programs in California, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Peninsula, and Silicon Valley, with at least three more coming online this year.
In the US, 99% of new electricity in the first quarter of 2016 came from renewable sources. Solar energy doubled seven times between 2000 and 2015; wind energy doubled four times in that period. It’s possible we can meet 100% of our electricity needs by 2027 or 2028.
I’m really excited that the Center for Climate Protection, and the Fellowship of which I am a member, are now taking on the transportation sector. As more renewable energy has become available, the electricity sector’s GHG have fallen, but the transportation’s sector have increased (in Sonoma County they’re larger than in 2000.) Moving to electric vehicles (EVs) quickly is one way to lower those emissions.
AB 1745, the Clean Cars 2040 Act, would mandate all new vehicles registered in California after January 1, 2040, be Zero Emissions. It won’t affect existing vehicles—no one will “come to take your cars.” While the Center’s launch party for AB1745 was March 22nd, you can sign a petition to move it out of Committee at https://tinyurl.com/yc6h5mn2.
Wishing everyone a Happy Earth Day—do something nice “For the Planet.”
© Tish Levee, 2018
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