June 28, 2013

Climate Change is Undeniable

Climate change is no longer debatable and our President agrees. This week, President Obama gave a speech that laid out what many of us have known for a long time and committed to actions that we’ve already been pushing for. But to have the nation’s leader back it with such strong words is monumental.

He outlined three major actions to look forward to.  In order to tackle the ever-growing challenge of global warming, the President said we need, “a plan to cut carbon pollution; a plan to protect our country from the impacts of climate change; and a plan to lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate.”

“So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late,” the President said. “And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.”

California has been leading the way in making changes that reduce pollution for a number of years, although there is much more progress to be made. 

Locally, organizations like ClimateCorps Bay Area are sending out trained participants to teach businesses and communities to reduce their carbon footprint. The participants join forces with Bay Area cities to carry out green initiatives. Through analysis and recommendations, as well as assisting with implementing programs, the CCBA has been very successful in reducing greenhouse emissions across the Bay Area. 

One of the biggest contributors to carbon pollution is transportation with the Bay Area emitting at three times the world average, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.  An astounding 40 to 50 percent of these emissions come from the transportation sector. 

Luckily, Bay Area cities and environmentalists are teaming up to combat the smog and work toward promoting viable clean alternatives to driving. Bike and car sharing programs are popping up at a rapid pace. For every vehicle off the road that’s an estimated 26 pounds less of carbon dioxide spewing into the atmosphere!

Solar incentives have also been successful. Santa Cruz County has its own solar initiative that, when coupled with state and federal rebates and credits, can reduce equipment and installation costs by up to 50 percent. Going completely solar for all electricity would be the equivalent to removing 1.37 cars from the road. 

President Obama is right. It is definitely time for everyone to move beyond “is this happening?” and on to “what are YOU going to do about it.” The ocean takes in nearly half of human-made carbon emissions and is absorbing 80 to 90 percent of the excess heat generated by the greenhouse effect. Everyone needs to get on board before our ship has sunk.

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