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Posts published in “Climate Change”

The End of the World as We Know It: Mass Extinction 6.0


Molly Basler

Special To Topanga Journal

The Earth experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now. Yes, you heard it correctly, “living through now…” We are 50-percent into the extinction process, 50-percent of our land based species will be extinct in this century.

An extinction means complete annihilation of all life forms on the Earth. The planet will survive and renew itself as it has for millions of years, but we do not have that luxury. We will be destroyed.

Club awareness day, Thursday, March 28, 2019, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California. (Victor Noerdlinger/Corsair)

By Lance Simmens

Global Warming is like a horror film. A horrific scary “Friday the 13th” horror film, but instead of Jason being the monster, we are. We have brought global warming upon ourselves. We knew what we were doing was going to cause catastrophic consequences, but we did “it” anyway. We just kept using more and more dirty energy, because the people in power, driven by greed, couldn’t stop themselves. They put people, the planet and all Her inhabitants in harm’s way. Now we have to figure out how to save ourselves.

“An extinction means complete annihilation of all life forms on the Earth. The planet will survive and renew itself as it has for millions of years, but we do not have that luxury. We will be destroyed.” Molly Basler

Times Up by Graphic Image Artist Andreas Häggkvist: Swedish visual artist raising awareness about Earth & endangered animals through art
Times Up by Graphic Image Artist Andreas Häggkvist: Swedish visual artist raising awareness about Earth & endangered animals through art

There really is NO compromise when it comes to global warming. To help save ourselves, and life and the world as we know it, we must make drastic changes. Actually, life as we know it has changed already in the last few years. Look at the fires, the destruction of life and property, floods, storms, climate refugees, droughts, the increase in Earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures, the sea level rising where entire land masses are swallowed up. Global warming is not coming, it’s HERE! 

There are three very pertinent questions in regard to the climate crisis: Must we Change? Can we change? Will we change? It is up to us to create change and leave the planet a better place for future generations.

The good news is, and yes there is good news to the story of global warming: we got ourselves into this mess, we can get ourselves out, but we must take ACTION now!

The Green Dream is, we must change the way we have been doing things. We must get out of our selfish ways, open ourselves up to a clean Green Dream world, and as we help ourselves, we help our fellows and all the species that thrive and survive on Mother Earth.

It’s not just changing lightbulbs, it’s changing EVERYTHING. If you can, buy an electric car, put solar on your house, never use plastic — plastic is fossil fuel — no more plastic bags at the grocery store, bring your own, carpool, ride your bike, wash your items in the wash machine in cold water, hang your clothes to dry, go vegan or less meat and dairy, plant trees, have a garden and compost, reuse, recycle, consume less, try not to shop on line because it is very carbon intensive to have products shipped to your door, the packaging itself is detrimental to the environment and the trucks that drop these packages off….the never ending cycle of amassing carbon and creating more waste with excess packaging. Shop local at your farmers market and support the local farmers that grow organic, VOTE for candidates that are climate warriors and DO NOT take CONTRIBUTIONS from FOSSIL FUEL companies or people. Use green companies and green cleaning supplies and printers and companies that give back to the people and the planet and love your Mother, like no other because there is NO PLANET B.

ON THE WEB:

http://mollybasler.com


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Overnight Full Closures of Topanga Canyon Blvd (SR-27) Next Week


Special To Topanga Journal

Motorists should expect full closures of Topanga Canyon Blvd (State Route 27) the week of April 8 through April 11 from 10:00pm to 5:00am, said the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in an announcement. The closure will take place from the Pacific Coast Highway to Grand View Dr., near Jalan Jalan Imports, for an emergency repair and restoration project of the slopes after a winter of hard rains that have eroded the embankments along SR27 in Topanga. 

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Lance Simmens

Photo Courtesy CalTrans

There have been multiple rock and debris slides here that have shut down the highway for full and partial closures many times for days over the winter and spring.

There have been multiple rock and debris slides here that have shut down the highway for full and partial closures many times for days over the winter and spring.

CalTrans warns traffic will be diverted to Malibu Canyon, the 101 and Las Virgenes as alternate routes. Motorists should expect long delays and are strongly advised to use these alternate routes or avoid Topanga Canyon Blvd altogether. The Town of Topanga is still open for business during the closures. Motorists can access Topanga from the Valley side of Topanga Canyon Blvd to visit the businesses of Topanga.

Drivers can check traffic conditions before they leave by visiting the Caltrans Quickmap

CalTrans states the work is weather permitting.

ON THE WEB:

http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov


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Climate Change A sonnet By: Miranda Robin


Special To Topanga Journal

hues of green and blue, colors of land, of sea, and sky

fragile structure filled with knowledge of educated hope 

storms brewing, sea levels rising and we know why 

climate is changing and denied by a small orange dope

Miranda Robin

By Miranda Robin

the conversation is here, the dialogue is now 

heat waves and health risks, irreversible sadness 

extinction real, saving lives essential, help presents how 

working together to better the worlds immediate madness 

“temperatures escalating water ranging from drought to flood…” Miranda Robin

temperatures escalating water ranging from drought to flood

this is a reality, a fact, watching coastal populations before us die 

water dwindles, some ignore, concerned humans out for blood 

the discussion is clear, forward momentum, no longer a silent sigh  

ice is melting matching the beat of the heart, we know the planets worth 

she opened her arms to our dreams, protect our magical mother earth 

ON THE WEB:

https://climate.nasa.gov


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Surfrider Foundation: Our Ocean and Coasts are at the Center of Climate Change


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  • Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, Coastal Preservation Manager, Surfrider Foundation

Special To Topanga Journal

Since the height of the industrial revolution, humans have been emitting pollution at unprecedented rates. Pollutants known as “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and act like a “heating blanket.” The amount of GHGs in the Earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to how much, and how fast, the earth warms—and thus, how much our climate changes.  

Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

By Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

The world is already witnessing climate change impacts such as record-setting temperatures, catastrophic hurricanes, melting ice sheets and glaciers, flooding, drought, increased forest fires and other extreme weather. Climate change is predicted to bring more intense storms and increased sea levels.1 Our local coastlines are being impacted in several ways: 

“The ocean is 30% more acidic than it was in 1750. Drastic changes in ocean chemistry are detrimental to marine life, including the impairment of crustaceans’ abilities to form protective shells.”                                Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

Photos Copyright 2018 Jeff Herrera

  • Shrinking beaches: Scientists predict sea levels could rise up to six feet by 2100.  An increase this large will swallow beaches—impacting public access, recreation, healthy ecosystems, and community infrastructure. In addition to sea level rise, increased storms will also chip away at our beaches. 2
  • Pollution: More rain can result in sewage overflows and urban runoff cascading into the ocean. In addition, sea level rise and coastal inundation can overload and undermine wastewater infrastructure—causing malfunctions that result in more pollution. 
  • Ocean Acidification: Over 25% of carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels is absorbed by ocean water.3 As a result, high concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing the oceans to acidify at rapid rates. In fact, the ocean is 30% more acidic than it was in 1750.4 Drastic changes in ocean chemistry are detrimental to marine life, including the impairment of crustaceans’ abilities to form protective shells.
  • Surfing and other recreation: Rising seas will contribute to extreme tides that will impact how waves break. In areas where the seafloor is sandy and flat (a beach break), the wave may break further inshore, thus changing the size and shape of the wave. In areas where the seafloor is uneven and rocky (a point break), higher sea levels will inundate the break, leaving less area for the wave to form and increasing the possibility that the wave might not break at all.5  In addition, ocean temperatures and ocean acidification are killing corals around the world; and in places where surfing is formed by coral reefs those surf spots will go away. Of course, diving experiences will certainly be impacted as reefs die and biodiversity is compromised.  
  • Damaged infrastructure: Sea level rise and increased storm activity will damage community infrastructure (homes, roads, municipal buildings, etc.).  As communities become more aware of the impacts of climate change on their beaches, they may choose to employ reactionary response measures, such as building seawalls, which can greatly impact beaches, ecosystems and actually exacerbate erosion.  

Just last week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report concluding that drastic climate change impacts are now expected to occur much faster than previously predicted – as soon as 2040. Even if humans manage to keep the Earth’s temperature from increasing by 2 degrees C (the magic number assigned by scientists to avert dire consequences), major impacts will happen regardless. 6

While predictions about climate change are daunting, there are several actions we can all take to mitigate and adapt to climate change. For example, the Surfrider Foundation is encouraging local communities to support renewable energy efforts such as “Community Choice Energy” where citizens can dictate what type of energy they want to fuel their community—purposefully weaning off fossil fuels.  

Other mitigation efforts include installing “Ocean Friendly Gardens” to trap greenhouse gases in the soil. In addition, we encourage local communities to improve coastal resiliency by restoring dunes and wetland—building a stronger buffer against storms and rising seas. However, one of the most effective measures communities can take is to proactively plan for sea level rise and extreme weather events by improving local land use plans, zoning regulations, and rebuilding standards. We no longer have the luxury of continuing to rebuild in areas that have repetitive flood and storm damage at the expense of nature and taxpayers. 

Communities should also call upon their elected officials to implement meaningful climate change policies at the local and federal levels. For example, Surfrider has an action alert asking the Trump Administration to honor the Paris Agreement which aims to curb climate change. We also have an action alert urging elected officials to reform the National Flood Insurance Program so taxpayers are not spending money on rebuilding in harm’s way and communities are incentivized to rebuild in “climate-smart” ways.  

Finally, there are many actions people can do on a personal level to curb climate change, such as to carpooling, using mass transit, walking or biking to destinations and buying a low carbon vehicle. In addition, people should limit or stop purchasing plastic—plastics are made from petroleum products (i.e. fossil fuels) and take a tremendous amount of energy to create and dispose of. It is estimated 29 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the manufacturing and final disposal of plastic goods. Upgrade your light bulbs by replacing incandescent light bulbs with more efficient fluorescent or LED lights. Weatherproof your home to reduce drafts and air leaks by caulking, using insulation and weather stripping to save energy. 

Another fun way people can help bring awareness to climate change is to ride a Smartfin. The Smartfin is a surfboard fin with sensors that measure multiple ocean parameters including temperature, location, and wave characteristics (and in the future, it will read pH levels related to ocean acidification). Using the data collected with Smartfin will help scientists to better understand trends in ocean warming, acidification and mobilize our communities to act and combat problems caused by climate change. 

If we all work together and proactively plan ahead we can help avert climate change impacts and protect our wallets. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every dollar invested in preparedness and resiliency saves six dollars in costs down the road.7  We owe it to future generations to be proactive with climate change so they don’t suffer our consequences.  The time to act is now!

  1. Environmental Protection Agency http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/basics/facts.html 
  1. The Physical Science Basis. Final Draft Underlying Scientific-Technical Assessment. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/

3       IPCC Climate Change Report https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf

4 Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170127112942.htm

5       Climate Change May Flatten Surf Spots https://phys.org/news/2015-02-climate-flatten-famed-surfing.html 

6 UNIPCC https://www.thenation.com/article/1-5-to-stay-alive-says-landmark-un-climate-report/ 

7 Pew Charitable Trust: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2018/01/11/every-$1-invested-in-disaster-mitigation-saves-$6 

ON THE WEB:

https://www.surfrider.org


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The Topanga Creek Watershed Committee  & Thoughts on Climate Change

Special To Topanga Journal

Climate change has a direct impact on Topanga Creek and the waterways it drains into, most notably the Santa Monica Bay. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal projects that sea levels may rise anywhere from 11 to 52 inches by 2100, depending on how much heat-trapping gas we emit. That could be detrimental to Los Angeles’ coastline and Topanga Beach. As the planet warms, seawater levels will rise, ice sheets will melt and water levels will change, flooding beaches in some areas and causing drought in others.

Lighthouse at Sea Level Rise by Johannes Plenio
Lighthouse at Sea Level Rise by Johannes Plenio

Changes in rainfall may alter when and how much sediment washes down rivers and creeks. Topanga Creek out to the sea may experience changes related to sea level, seawater temperature, and other ocean dynamics, contributing to the erosion of beaches. Studies that model these complicated processes have shown that climate change may alter where “erosion hotspots” occur along the California coastline. For Los Angeles this could also affect coastal infrastructure, including two wastewater treatment plants, two power plants, and the Port of Los Angeles.

I Am Earth by Loe Moshkovska
I Am Earth by Loe Moshkovska

By Jessamyn Sheldon

A lack of rain and high temperatures are also exacerbating wildfires in our region. The combination of low humidity, sparse precipitation, dense and dry brush, and Santa Ana winds are a huge threat to Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains. Five of the 20 worst fires in California history have occurred since September, when 245, 000 acres in Northern California burned. Topanga is especially susceptible to this type of threat due to a high density of dry brush within and surrounding the canyon. More wildfires and hot days could lower air quality.

Woolsey Fire 2018 photo by Kriss Perras
Woolsey Fire 2018 photo by Kriss Perras

Because preserving water quality is essential to protect both human populations and natural ecosystems, it is imperative to assess these impacts, and to develop strategies to adapt to the upcoming changes and mitigate their effects on our watershed. Topanga Creek used to be an integral part of the Canyon’s landscape and ecosystem, but the drought has led to Topanga Creek remaining unusually dry and inhibiting the birth of endangered steelhead trout and tidewater goby.

The mission of the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee is to refine and develop consensus-based, voluntary watershed-protective measures and strategies that effectively minimize negative impacts to the watershed and all who inhabit it. The Watershed Committee is inclusive of all stakeholders in the watershed and is free and open to all interested community members. Historically organized according to a Coordinated Resource Management Plan (CRMP), our grassroots organization continues to ensure that all participants have an equal voice in the process.

Topanga Creek is the third largest drainage basin into the Santa Monica Bay and manifests the greatest biodiversity. We have not yet lost our Creek, and the goal of the Committee is to see that not only is it protected, but also enhanced so that it can once again support endangered steelhead trout and other important residents of the Canyon. Topanga Creek is classified as an interrupted stream, and the Topanga Watershed covers approximately 12,748 acres (18 square miles). 11,082 acres are undeveloped or held by state and federal park agencies as part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Climate change is an all-encompassing global issue. The consequences will not discern between political boundaries or economic class. It is a global problem that has been slowly coming to the forefront of societal considerations. The global temperature has risen significantly each year as humans continue to industrialize without consideration of consequences. Studies have shown that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has doubled since the 1960’s. The reason climate change is an inevitable global concern is that there is a prevalence of inaction and skepticism among far too many across the world.

One big problem that exists today is that government views immediate economic gain as being more important than the steady increase in global temperature. A majority of big businesses are tied in problematic ways to politicians and governmental organizations. Money has often served to corrupt political systems, including in some of our most vaunted democracies- places that are supposed to consider people over profit. This hard truth has led individuals to take matters into their own hands; both 2017 and 2018 have been remarkable years for profound, yet peaceful, protest. This surge in individuals voicing their concern has occurred in conjunction with Donald Trump’s time in office. Trump has entered office and swiftly set back environmental progress in the United States. He actually announced on his fourth day in office that he intended to expand fossil fuel production and roll back a raft of some of our most important environmental regulations, including the Endangered Species Act.

The truth is that climate change is real. Nine out of ten scientists devoted to studying climate patterns agree; it’s undeniable. Sea glaciers are melting at a tremendous rate. Climate change is causing an increased air temperature, causing moisture levels in air to increase in some places while reducing moisture in others. The effects of these extreme ecological changes have already begun to affect plants and animals in places that are now either too hot or too cold for what they can evolutionarily manage.

The monetary stability that exists in energy production is a direct result of the scalpel taken to regulations intended to protect resources and natural landscapes. The disregard towards ecological protection is a growing concern for the public because, if changes are not made within energy production, society will be faced with major loss. Alternative clean energy is a huge and growing market. Energy alternatives are necessary for humans to shift dependency off non-renewable fossil fuels that worsen climate change.

Local grassroots momentum and lobbying efforts play a necessary role alongside regulation efforts because the reality is that often policy regulation will not be enacted soon enough to solve the problem. That is why the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee was created, to protect our community from these overarching political policies. Local actors require a consensus in order to demand action from the government. Regulations by themselves are not enough to create major change, however. You need people and businesses to want to do the right thing of their own accord.

The facts are irrefutable; global sea levels are rising. Plants and wildlife are dying off with all the stress from heat and drought. Rising temperatures create agricultural fragility and directly affect environmental and public health. Public participation is crucial to spread awareness and initiate change, because politicians manifest change only when the public rises up and demands it.

There is a very real risk of a global catastrophe if global warming is left unchecked. Potential international resource concerns, such as oceanic acidification leading to the mass death of coral and plankton, which is the basis of the Earth’s food chain, along with the collapse of the tropical rainforests, and the melting of ice sheets, could cause a cataclysmic rise in worldwide sea levels. The population is growing steadily; in half a century, the world population has grown from 3 to 7 billion. The industrialization of agriculture and the food system has been one way that many countries have tried to sustain the growing population. But industrial agriculture comes at a steep climate cost.

From an economic standpoint, carbon fees would go back to citizens, meaning that if businesses did not become more energy efficient and start converting to green energy, they would become less competitive and lose market share. The assumption that we must choose between the economy and a safe climate is false. A carbon fee that returns revenue to households could actually stimulate the economy and spur job growth in the clean technology sector because a comforting reality is that consumers dictate the economy. Once these changes are implemented and succeed, more nations would adopt the system and global demand would bring green technologies to mass market faster, driving down costs and making the transition to a green economy easier for everyone.

Climate change presents a direct threat to security through its effect on the infrastructure that stabilizes our nation’s security. A majority of Americans support taking action to address the threat of global warming, but due to great opposition from officials in Congress, legislation to address climate change has yet to be implemented.

ON THE WEB:

https://topangacreekwatershedcommittee.org

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