Sep 29, 2019
by Tish Levee
California’s been a leader in clean energy for years; our higher standards for fuel efficiency helped raise standards nationwide and spurred the federal government to enact higher standards in 2015. Now the current administration has not only proposed repealing those higher standards, but on September 18th the administration canceled the waiver under which California’s had higher standards since the 1970s. Gov. Newsom and Attorney General Becerra declared California will fight back in the courts. This latest move by the administration is in addition to the many ways it’s turned the clock back on efforts to reign in the climate emergency, including 53 completed roll-backs of environmental rules with another https://tinyurl.com/y2mn3rf9 32 in process as of September 12th, according to the NY Times.
In June 2017, he said the US would exit our agreement with 196 other nations and the EU at the earliest date possible—November 4, 2020. In so doing, he ceded US leadership in the climate crisis and said that the US will no longer be part on any international solutions. The US is second only to China (which has over four times our population) in current greenhouse gas emissions at 15%, but what really counts is cumulative emissions—we lead with 27% of total world emissions between 1850-2011. It’s these cumulative emissions that have driven the climate breakdown we are now experiencing.
Several federal agencies — the EPA, the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy, the State Department, the Department of Transportation, and many others — have either been suppressing climate crisis communications or distorting the facts about it rather than giving us needed information to deal with this emergency.
In a survey of government scientists conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, hundreds reported being asked to refrain from communicating publicly about climate change.
Climate change has been omitted from research plans and report after report. Between 2016 and this July 25% of references to “climate change,” “clean energy,” and “adaptation” have disappeared from federal reporting while there’s been a similar increase of terms such as “energy independence,” “resilience,” and “sustainability.” One only needs to note that in May the Department of Energy rebranded fossil fuels as “molecules of freedom” and “freedom gas.” A lengthy report, “The New Digital Landscape: How the Trump Administration Has Undermined Federal Web Infrastructure for Climate Information,” available at https://tinyurl.com/y2mn3rf9, details this whole process.
OK, enough of my rant—I couldn’t hold it any longer. Here’s the good news—
Friday, September 20th, saw millions of young people—and their adult allies— striking worldwide for the climate before the UN Climate Action Summit in NYC. At the Climate March in 2014 before a similar UN meeting, 400,000 of us marched in NYC, joined by 375,000 worldwide. This will be much, much larger—the biggest climate action in history. And it needs to be, because the crisis is so much greater than only five years ago; then we were told we had 40 years to make the changes we needed to, last fall the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) gave us 11 years, and recent estimates are less! I’ll be joining the Global Climate Strike in Chico, as I’m going to be in Trinity County that weekend.
On September 17th the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution that many activists faulted as inadequate; while strongly affirming this, the Supervisors voted to pass it AND start working on a bold, meaningful Resolution for the future. Get involved and give your supervisor your input!
In January Luxembourg became the first country to offer free public transit for all, but several months earlier Dunkirk, France led the way as the first city to let everyone ride free. Ridership there’s increased 60% on weekdays and 200% on weekends. Could we do this here? Population figures aren’t that different: Luxembourg’s population is 614,000 versus Sonoma County’s 504,000. Dunkirk’s has 89,000 to Santa Rosa’s 175,000 (all 2017 approximate figures), so we could do something similar here. Wouldn’t that be great?
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