Over 30 regional civic, health, labor, environmental, faith and business organizations have joined together to stage San Diego’s response to the 350.org call for an international day of action for climate change on Saturday, September 24, 2011. Hundreds of similar events all over the world will be held that day with the goal of sending a strong message to elected leaders that climate change is real and will dramatically diminish the quality of life, prosperity, and happiness for current and future generations.
According to the coalition, while people around the world have already made personal lifestyle changes to combat climate change, to really solve the problem, governments need to restrict carbon emissions through legislation. They also feel that the US has the responsibility to lead in the international effort.
The coalition’s demands of their elected representatives are a mix of key local and national policies, including: ensuring that the 40-year Regional Transportation Plan (to be approved in November) reduces carbon emissions sufficiently; allocating more funding for public transit and bicycle transportation, rather than more roads; putting a price on carbon emissions; investing locally in clean energy and clean energy jobs; and supporting the US signing international treaties to bring carbon dioxide back down to 350 ppm.
There are two main events on Saturday, September 24th:
- EarthKeeping: an Interfaith Dialogue (10-11 am, St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Avenue, Guild Room): An interfaith panel featuring various religious leaders on the ways local faith communities are in tune with the Earth’s needs.
- March and Rally (11 am – 1:15 pm, Balboa Park – meeting on the park side of 6th Ave between Laurel & Juniper): the group will march with banners through the park and hold a short rally on the lawn by the Hall of Champions Sports Museum. The rally’s speakers include – Congressman Bob Filner, Mayor Lesa Heebner, regional energy expert Bill Powers, Citizens Climate Lobby President Marshall Saunders, and Reverend Beth Johnson. The rally begins about 12:30 PM.
Additionally, four organized bike rides will lead to the events.
Why is the group focused on 350? The tipping point for the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million (ppm). Until humans started extracting carbon based energy from coal, gas and oil, the earth maintained 275 ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, keeping the planet warm enough to sustain a healthy exchange of gasses in the carbon cycle for all life. Scientists have determined that 350 ppm is the maximum level to avoid the most dramatic impacts of climate change. Currently, we’re a bit over 390 ppm, and rising by about 2 ppm per year.
Climate change impacts are already in evidence and the likely impacts if we fail to act are really unthinkable. NASA photos show a polar ice cap receding by about 39% from it’s boundaries of 1979. Ocean levels are rising and coral reefs are breaking up from the chemical imbalances. Here in San Diego, a recent report by the San Diego Foundation anticipates frequent flooding in low lying areas like Mission Beach by 2050, more frequent and intense wildfires, and, a hotter and drier climate.
According to speaker Bill Powers, author of “San Diego Smart Energy 2020” and the San Diego Sierra Club representative on SANDAG’s Regional Energy Working Group, “There is no question that San Diego County could reduce its carbon emissions by at least 50% by moving to a distributed energy model and increasing the percentage of renewable energy sources in the mix.”
And Solana Beach’s Mayor Lesa Heebner, another speaker, is already working on it. “As Mayor, I am proud to have signed the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement on behalf of the City of Solana Beach, and to have taken concrete steps toward reducing the city’s carbon footprint, including raising the percentage of waste that is diverted from landfills from 50% to over 63%, switching to organic practices and drought tolerant landscaping, and adopting Green Building Incentive Programs. I want to let other cities know that climate change is real, that it requires action from city hall as well as our residents and businesses, and most importantly, what you do will make a difference!”
RSVP and take the pledge to reduce your carbon footprint today. Also join the event on Facebook.
Additional information about the events can be found at the website www.SanDiego350.org.