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Climate Action Plan; Review of "Shored Up"

Please sign Pacifica Climate Committee's online petition to Pacifica City Council, which is studying this issue:

Click Here to Sign

Ask Pacifica City Council to adopt the Climate Action Plan to steeply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

• There is scientific consensus that we must reduce emissions by at least 25 percent before 2020 to avoid catastrophic climate change.
• As a coastal city, Pacifica is especially vulnerable to sea level rise, stronger winter storms, and coastal erosion. Therefore, we must do our part to reduce emissions.
• The State of California has adopted strong policies to reduce emissions, and counts on cities to do the same.
• Nine cities in San Mateo County already have adopted climate plans. Another four, including Pacifica, have draft plans.
• A Pacifica task force drafted a climate plan in 2012. City Council has yet to act on it.

The draft Climate Action Plan is available on the city website. Also, click the link below to read Cynthia Kaufman's report on the recent local screening of Shored Up, a documentary on sea level rise.

Shored Up in Pacifica

Pacifica Climate Committee is a citizens group working on climate change issues in Pacifica. Info: Cynthia Kaufman at kaufman.cynthia13@riseup.net


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Yes, Councilperson Karen Ervin's statement about climate change is accurate. Her comment ("the science is strong") implies that there is some question -- however small -- about the science. There is no question that global warming is here, and it is a global emergency.

Ervin is also correct when she clarifies her position with these statements: "How much warming will occur, how high the sea level will rise, and at what rate these changes will take place—all are difficult to predict. These figures depend on many factors, including use of fossil fuels versus other sources of energy, population growth, and increasing energy usage in developing countries. As the models improve, predictions are trending higher than previously estimated; thus, additional changes in federal and state policies are anticipated."

Technically accurate, this statement is the same as saying "the measurement of the guillotine blade as it comes down on the neck, is close -- but not close enough. Soon, in about a half a second, we will be able to measure how close it is." But the last sentence will never be completed, because the guillotine has cut the vocal cord.

So too -- by the time it will be possible to state with 100% accuracy what the full effects of global warming are -- will we be unable to say or do anything that will stop the worst effects, as the forces in play are too strong for humans to stop or change at that point.

As strong as the guillotine blade on a neck.

Scientists and science-based professionals like Ervin are well aware of the data on global warming and understand why we don't have to wait until we can measure the exact "how much warming will occur, how high the sea level will rise, and at what rate these changes will take place."

For some reason, she seems to choose blaming it on a variety of other factors, rather than just taking the stand she says she has, and voting for a strong Climate Action Plan, one that includes RECO and CECO.

City Council is ignoring the reality of global warming.
City Council has passed the weakest possible Climate Action Plan.
If every city did its part, we would be able to avoid the worst effects of global warming. San Francisco, Berkeley, other cities have passed strong Climate Action Plans, including RECO and CECO -- and it is working well.
The City of Pacifica passed a Climate Action Plan that does almost nothing, has almost no effect on cutting climate change in Pacifica.

While it may be true that City Council members represent themselves, does council truly represent the City of Pacifica on the issue of global warming? Is it true that most Pacifica residents do not want to do their part to stop the worst effects of global warming?

Global warming is a huge problem of survival on earth -- a true planetary emergency. Acting otherwise is like the proverbial ostrich that stuck its head in the sand, hoping to avoid its problems.

Here's hoping City Council comes to its senses and effectively implements a strong Climate Action Plan.

Councilperson Karen Ervin is accurate, here: "How much warming will occur, how high the sea level will rise, and at what rate these changes will take place—all are difficult to predict."

There is nothing inaccurate there. But the statement does not indicate the inability to live life on earth that is imminent.

Union of Concerned Scientists share the science in great detail on their website

This is not just a matter of sea level rise, it is a matter of losing phytoplankton; these tiny animals create an estimated half of the oxygen on earth.

This is not just a matter of fires; it's clear that the fires in the west are increasing in number, size and duration due to global warming.

13 of the 14 hottest years on record are in this century

This is a matter of losing a livable place on earth, the only (as far as we can see!) water planet. Last year corn did not tassle over many acres in America's farm belt, Illinois. If this keeps up it won't tassle anywhere.

These and many other effects are related, and accelerating as each set of changes affects another set of changes.

The next generation of people 30 or 50 years from now will be asking, why didn't we do what we could?

Who is Pacfica that we can not implement an effective Climate Action Plan?

About Pacifica's Draft Climate Action Plan Initial Study/Negative Declaration.

Pacifica's plan is not up to par with San Francisco, Berkeley, and many other cities; it does not include upgrades when houses are sold, it does not include energy saving ordinances for homes or businesses.

Read more in the Mercury News:

Link to the Draft Climate Action Plan Initial Study/Negative Declaration:

Email comments to:

Tell them you want an effective Climate Action Plan - one that implements Residential Energy Conservation (RECO) and Commercial Energy Conservation ordinances (CECO). Those would require energy conservation upgrades during property title transfer.

And tell them that you would like to see the Climate Action Plan included in Pacifica's General Plan Update.

I appreciate Karen's explanation here. While I think that any concerns expressed about RECO could have been addressed with a reasonable cap, allowing it to be transferred to the seller, and letting previously made energy improvements count toward the cap, I understand that it was the least popular provision, and it's better to move forward with the rest of the plan than to drag the process out. I hope Karen will continue to post on Riptide; we need more communication like this from the council!

(Editor's Note: Hear, hear!)

First and foremost, I want to express my appreciation to those of you who attended the Climate Action Plan Study Session; it was very helpful to hear your concerns and feedback while considering this very important plan and the included goals. I also appreciate hearing your concerns on the blogs, by email, phone, or in the paper. Climate change, with the accompanying sea level rise, is likely to be the most significant geologic event that has occurred globally in human history. I understand its importance, as well as the seriousness of the situation that we, and all future generations, may face.

After the Climate Action Plan Study Session on March 5, City Council agreed to accept the Climate Action Plan as written with the exception of the Residential/Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinances (requires installation of energy efficiency measures during title transfer, based on sale price). Concerns expressed involved the significant cost to the seller or buyer, the length of time it would take to achieve the objective, and how it would affect the home buying process. There was interest in providing incentives (such as rebate programs) over mandates to encourage individuals to do this voluntarily. The remaining goals were all accepted as part of the CAP, and we will continue to explore strategies that further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In 2006, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Act, which sets the goal to reduce GHG emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Pacifica has set a goal of reducing GHG emissions by 35 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. While many cities are matching the state requirements, several cities have set higher goals than what AB 32 requires. No other city in the Bay Area has set a target goal higher than what Pacifica has set for 2020.

For anyone who is unsure how I stand on this issue, I want to clarify my position: Climate change is real and the science behind it is strong. How much warming will occur, how high the sea level will rise, and at what rate these changes will take place—all are difficult to predict. These figures depend on many factors, including use of fossil fuels versus other sources of energy, population growth, and increasing energy usage in developing countries. As the models improve, predictions are trending higher than previously estimated; thus, additional changes in federal and state policies are anticipated.

Going forward, GHG emissions will be measured in Pacifica at regular intervals and the Climate Action Plan will be modified as needed according to these numbers as well as regional, state, and federal regulations. Unfortunately, Pacifica has limited resources, and we cannot always do everything that we would be able to do in a perfect world, but we can strive to work together to find the best solutions and do the best we can with what we have, in the interest of all citizens and, so important, all future generations.

Oops -- almost forgot: "Public transit, public transit. We need public transit." (Councilperson Sue Digre)

We learned that 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are due to automobile traffic.

Yet Pacifica has no feasible public transit options for commuters to jobs just a few miles east and south of Pacifica. Jobs in the city can be accessed using buses and BART, it seems, but not to the east or south. This is a key component.

The stakes of not addressing global warming/climate change are really about the Earth losing water, food, and life -- not just "warming up" and getting some new beachfront property, as non-science-based folks seem to believe. This is happening faster than scientists thought through feedback loops that accelerate the processes.

Most council members have children, who at some point in the next 50 years will ask why their parents didn't do something when they could have.

I'm not sure what the hoopla (or is it ballyhoo? I always get those things mixed up) is all about. We just need to burn a few witches and sacrifice a few virgins and everything will be all right. It worked in the past just fine. And don't forget to clap your hands every morning to keep the elephants off your posies.

This is why Pacifica has been a day late and a dollar short for the past 30+ years.

I wasn't able to stay for the whole meeting. I share PB's concerns. This is the first such meeting on these issues and I fully expect that after learning more about our present place in history, the urgency of all of this will be more apparent to everyone. I accept Mayor Nihart's assertion that this meeting was only about compliance with what the state presently requires. We will all need to be pushing that envelope if we want human beings to remain part of the mix as the environment inexorably warms and changes. I look forward to further discussion, planning, and action on this very important issue and I fully expect that we shall very soon leave what the state presently requires in our dust. Our federal, state, and municipal governments are now about to either protect the monopolies of the rich and the powerful (something they can't actually do for long as our "economy" and lifestyle are presently self-destructing) or recognize the value of all life and what changes are essential to improve the likelihood of our survival.

City Council ignored the deadly imperatives of climate change:

- Claiming that "we're not leaders, and that's okay." (Mayor Mary Ann Nihart)
- Fearmongering that "the science is constantly changing!" (Mayor Pro Tem Karen Ervin)
- Worrying about "being overruled by the state." (Councilman Len Stone)
- Saying that "near term, it's pretty much done." (Councilman Mike O'Neill)

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