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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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The Green New Deal Promises Peace and Progress. Will Nuclear Advocates Undermine it?


Harvey Wasserman

With Thanks to The Progressive Magazine

The environmental policy centerpiece of the Democratic House of Representatives is what’s now known as “The Green New Deal.” But it’s already hit deeply polarizing pushback from the old-line Democratic leadership. And it faces divisive jockeying over the future of nuclear power.

The Green New Deal’s most visible public advocate, newly elected twenty-nine-year-old U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, has laid out a preliminary blueprint advocating an energy economy meant to be based entirely on “renewable” and “clean” sources. According to a report in The Hill, fossil fuels and nuclear power are “completely out” of her plan.

Harvey Wasserman September 15, 2018 photo by Kriss Perras

By Harvey Wasserman

The draft proposal has ignited tremendous grassroots enthusiasm, with massively favorable poll readings, even among some Republicans. Substantial grassroots pressure has grown on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to form a Green New Deal Committee chaired by Ocasio-Cortez.

But on December 20, the Democratic leadership announced it will not support a separate House Committee on the deal. Instead, it will proceed with a panel on climate change, to be chaired by Florida Representative Kathy Castor, who has taken substantial funding from the fossil fuel industry. It remains unclear whether Ocasio-Cortez will even get a seat on the committee.

“The draft proposal has ignited tremendous grassroots enthusiasm, with massively favorable poll readings, even among some Republicans. ” Harvey Wasserman

But the grassroots push for a Green New Deal is clearly not going to go away. The youthful Sunrise Movement has vowed to fight for it, along with a wide range of others, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, a likely 2020 presidential contender.

The Green New Deal idea conjures visions of the vast “alphabet agency” programs birthed by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930s.

With unparalleled pageantry, New Deal Democrats put millions of Americans to work building roads, bridges, schools, libraries, museums, public swimming pools, local and national parks, and more. They proved that immense communal good could come from a solid government blueprint administered through a competent, well-orchestrated brain trust.

In contrast, the Trump Administration’s promise to deal with “infrastructure” has involved none of the above. While denying the disaster of climate change, its energy policies have focused purely on handing cheap fossil drilling leases on public land (and waters) to Trump cronies.

It’s also granted a $3.7 billion low-interest loan (added to $8.3 billion previously granted by President Obama) to private developers of the last two U.S. nuclear reactors under construction, at Vogtle, Georgia. Already years behind schedule and billions over budget, the project may soar beyond $20 billion and still never be finished.

The fate of the Vogtle plant underscores a nuclear war that will cut to the heart of the Green New Deal and the climate issue as it plays out in the new Congress.

Already, The New York Times, with its long history of reactor advocacy, has featured an op-ed by U.S. Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, advocating more nukes as a solution to the climate crisis. In an article running under a photo of a Chinese reactor under construction, Barrasso argues “nuclear energy is produced with zero carbon emissions.”

While denying the disaster of climate change, Trump energy policies have focused purely on handing cheap fossil drilling leases on public land (and waters) to Trump cronies.

In fact, nuclear reactors do emit trace quantities of radioactive Carbon-14. The fuel rods that power reactor are produced with significant carbon in mining, milling, and enrichment. They pump huge quantities of waste heat directly into the eco-sphere, operating far less efficiently even than coal burners. They yield large quantities of radioactive waste, directly related to nuke weapons production. And five of them (Chernobyl 4 and Fukushima 1-2-3-4) have blown up.

Reactor enthusiasts like Barrasso invariably conjure visions of a “new generation” of small, modular nukes, and other techno-variants like molten salt and thorium, alleged to be safe, cleaner and cheaper that the current fleet. But there are few tangible indications such alternative reactors can come on line anytime soon, or beat the price of wind and solar, which continue to plummet. The criticism that renewables are intermittent is also losing its sting as large-scale battery arrays are also dropping in price while rising in efficiency and capacity.

Barrasso also advocates the continued use of fossil fuels, with various pipeline-related schemes for storing and using the resultant CO2. “The United States and the world,” he says, “will continue to rely on affordable and abundant fossil fuels, including coal, to power our economies for decades to come.

These pro-nuke arguments are echoed even by some self-proclaimed supporters of the Green New Deal. According to a report from DataforEnergy, principally written by Greg Carlock, at least part of the Green New Deal should be powered by “clean sources such as nuclear and remaining fossil fuel with carbon capture.”

Such rhetoric will be tested by advocates characterizing atomic energy as “clean.” Their fight for new reactor funding may quickly engulf much of the Green New Deal debate.

So will the struggle over the 98 U.S. reactors still licensed to operate. As they age, they continue to deteriorate and embrittle. Opponents of nuclear power want them shut down before they explode; advocates argue that without them, more fossil fuels will be burned.

But such choices are made in corporate boardrooms, not even by the free market. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), owner of two aging reactors near San Luis Obispo, has already admitted it could replace both with renewable energy while burning no more coal, oil, or gas. If Green New Deal activists are to make a dent in our aging nuclear fleet, they’ll have to make sure the slew of reactors about to close is replaced by renewables, not the fossil fuels the utilities still own and love.

Finally, along with nuke power, the question of how to fund the Deal will be center stage. Mainstream proposals will focus on a new range of taxes.

But outspoken peace groups like CODEPINK are eager to move the money out of the military and into the social/infrastructure programs that can rebuild the nation. High-profile campaigns led by activists including Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin were integral to the shocking defection of seven Republican Senators to deny the Trump Administration funding to support the Saudi war in Yemen.

Activists must now argue the trillion-plus dollars we spend annually on arming the Empire should instead fund those wind turbines and solar panels at the heart of the Green New Deal.

Harvey Wasserman

Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman’s prn.fm podcast is Green Power & Wellness. His show, California Solartopia broadcasts at KFPK-Pacifica 90.7FM Los Angeles. His books include the forthcoming The Life & Death Spiral of US History.

ON THE WEB:

http://prn.fm/


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IPCC Special Report: “The Next Few Years Are Probably The Most Important In Our History.”


Special To Topanga Journal

In 2015, the Paris Agreement set a target of no more than 2°C global warming above pre-industrial temperature levels. A secondary target of no more than 1.5°C global warming was also set as an aspirational goal. Human-induced warming reached approximately 1°C above pre-industrial levels in 2017, increasing at 0.2°C per decade, according to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report released October 8, 2018. This means we’re half way to the catastrophic number of 2°C warming we as a human race have been warned about. The most significant part of the report is we’ve already as a global community reached a dangerous point with just the 1°C warming. We’re already seeing the effects on our global climate from a single degree of global warming pre-industrial levels. 

Kriss Perras headshot by Alan Weissman

By Kriss Perras

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, in the IPCC statement on the Special Report.

“You have an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, and you pout behind your privileged existence by using a $39 jacket to voice your displeasure. What a coward…” Lance Simmens

The authors of the landmark report said, warming greater than the global average has already been experienced in many regions and seasons, with average warming over land higher than over the ocean. Most land regions are experiencing greater warming than the global average, while most ocean regions are warming at a slower rate, say the writers of the IPCC Special Report. Depending on the temperature dataset considered by the Report’s authors, 20-40 percent of the global human population live in regions that, by the decade 2006-2015, had already experienced warming of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial in at least one season. 

“Temperature rise to date has already resulted in profound alterations to human and natural systems, bringing increases in some types of extreme weather, droughts, floods, sea level rise and biodiversity loss, and causing unprecedented risks to vulnerable persons and populations,” warns the writers of the IPCC report. “The most affected people live in low and middle income countries, some of which have already experienced a decline in food security, linked in turn to rising migration and poverty. Small islands, megacities, coastal regions and high mountain ranges are likewise among the most affected. Worldwide, numerous ecosystems are at risk of severe impacts, particularly warm-water tropical reefs and Arctic ecosystems.”

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Global Climate Change Vital Signs of the Planet, encapsulated in tree rings, ice cores and coral reefs are the global average temperatures over long periods of time. Those tree rings, ice cores and reefs show our temperatures have been very stable over our planet’s life, reports NASA. 

“They also show even the smallest change in temperature showed enormous changes in the environment,” reports NASA. “One such change was at the end of the last Ice Age when the Northeast United States was covered in more than 3,000 feet of ice, average temperatures were only five to nine degrees cooler than today.”

The second dire warning in the report is we have just 12 years left to keep 1.5°C warming from happening and avoiding environmental breakdown. Like dominoes, some things fall in an environmentally interdependent relationship, as in the jellyfish example. When the jellyfish’s predator disappeared due to warming oceans caused by climate change, jellyfish blooms started in those certain areas of the world. Science in the Special Report shows global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing the CO2 from the air, the Special Report warns. 

“Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics, but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, in the widely released statement from the IPCC on the Special Report.

The kind of changes the report speaks to are sci-fi in nature right now. Some the human community is already working on. Others are blueprint concepts that if these new technologies were brought out of the prototype stage and into working reality they’d be able to put unemployed people to work. Most Star Trek fans remember when the communicators looked like flip phones. They were just a prop and thought to be far-fetched futuristic ideas. Today we have flat touch screen phones far beyond the idea of a flip phone, technology arriving just a few years after the flip phone. It’s not such a huge step to bring some of these CO2 reducing concepts out of the blueprint stage and put them into practice. 

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I, in the widely released statement from the IPCC on the Special Report.

Scrubbing carbon out of the atmosphere is one solution among many possible solutions. It works on the principal of a sink, as in carbon sinks and pumps. It absorbs CO2 from the  atmosphere in a process called carbon capture, which is a method capable of removing more than 90 percent of CO2 from the atmosphere around power plants and industrial facilities like cement factories, according to the Center For Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). 

“The report makes clear we need to use all the tools at hand,” said Bob Perciasepe President of C2ES. “Even as we continue pushing as hard as we can on renewables and efficiency, we’ll need to rely heavily on other available and developing technologies, including nuclear and carbon capture, to achieve carbon neutrality. It’s not a competition – we need them all. Only through rapid innovation and deployment can we replicate in transportation and industry the encouraging progress achieved in the power sector.”

According to C2ES, there are almost two dozens commercial scale carbon capture projects operating in the world with 22 more in development. 

Pathways to keep warming below 1.5°C require net annual CO2 emissions to peak and decline to near zero or below, several sections of the IPCC Special Report state. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero would mean keeping cumulative CO2 emissions stable or making concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere fall. Merely stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations would result in continued warming beyond the stated limit. A dire warning in the report states, if starting emission reductions is delayed until temperatures are close to the proposed lower 1.5°C warming limit, pathways to keep warming below 1.5°C necessarily involve much faster rates of net CO2 emission reductions combined with rapid reductions in non-CO2 forcing, which also means the planet reaches the 1.5°C limit much sooner. 

According to the IPCC Special Report authors, “There is no definitive way to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This Special Report identifies two main conceptual pathways to illustrate different interpretations. One stabilizes global temperature at, or just below, 1.5°C. Another sees global temperature temporarily exceed 1.5°C before coming back down. Countries’ pledges to reduce their emissions are currently not in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.” 

The Special Report pointed out past emissions stating they alone are unlikely to raise global-mean temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, but past emissions do commit to other changes, such as further sea level rise.

The Special Report’s authors warn, “If all anthropogenic emissions, including aerosol-related, were reduced to zero immediately, any further warming beyond the 1°C already experienced would likely be less than 0.5°C over the next two to three decades, and likely less than 0.5°C on a century timescale, due to the opposing effects of different climate processes and drivers. A warming greater than 1.5°C is therefore not geophysically unavoidable: whether it will occur depends on future rates of emission reductions.” 

The authors of the report tell the world “climate adaptation” refers to the actions taken to manage impacts of climate change by reducing vulnerability and exposure to its harmful effects and exploiting any potential benefits. 

A survey released in September by the United States Conference of Mayors and C2ES in San Francisco points to mayors as a key force behind U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the growing effects of climate change, said Alec Gerlach, C2ES Media contact, in a statement. The survey found 57 percent of cities responding are planning for new climate actions in the coming year. 

“The effects on their cities, public health concerns, and cost savings are making low-carbon transitions an increasingly attractive option for cities – a bright spot for climate leadership despite the U.S. announcement of its intended withdrawal from the Paris Agreement,” said Gerlach.

The Special Report defines adaptation as taking place at international, national and local levels. 

“Subnational jurisdictions and entities, including urban and rural municipalities, are key to developing and reinforcing measures for reducing weather- and climate-related risks. Adaptation implementation faces several barriers including unavailability of up-to-date and locally-relevant information, lack of finance and technology, social values and attitudes, and institutional constraints. Adaptation is more likely to contribute to sustainable development when polices align with mitigation and poverty eradication goals,” according to the Report’s authors.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, in the IPCC’s statement on the Special Report.

ON THE WEB:

UN SR15 Report Take Action Page


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IPCC Report: “We’re Almost Out of Time” by RL Miller


Special To Topanga Journal

“We’re almost out of time.” A few weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report warning people about climate change. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) would require “rapid, dramatic changes in how governments, industries and societies function.” 

By RL Miller

Doesn’t global warming mostly affect the polar bears? Well, no. Global warming affects people. Sea level rise is the most clear cut consequence of climate change, but many more impacts — some of which are better understood than others — will begin to make themselves felt. To bring this home, scientists have “high confidence” that 1.5°C of warming would result in a greater number of severe heat waves on land. In addition, climate change is making California’s droughts worse. Southern California’s wildfire season used to be limited to the Santa Ana wind season of October until the first rains of November; now wildfire season seems to start October 1 and end September 30. Climate activists talk about people on the frontlines of impact — those who are affected most. While you might think that “frontline communities” refers only to the people in coastal communities such as Florida and the Arctic — and, yes, Malibu — the term also refers to everyone in California living in or near a wildfire corridor. That’s Topanga, among many other places.

“The costs of doing nothing are incalculable. The tiny city of Imperial Beach in San Diego County, populated mostly by Latino renters, is weighing the estimated cost of $150 million to retreat from the ocean against its $19 million annual budget. Beach cities, such as Malibu, will need to determine what, if any, City services should be provided to protect private property — or leave the property to be abandoned to the rising seas.” RL Miller

And whether or not the hills burn this year or the next year, the actuaries who write insurance policies are calculating the increased risk of wildfires. Premiums will go up, policies will be non-renewed or dropped, and homeowners will have to resort to the FAIR plan. It’s already happening in Northern California neighborhoods damaged by the October 2017 fires.

The costs of doing nothing are incalculable. The tiny city of Imperial Beach in San Diego County, populated mostly by Latino renters, is weighing the estimated cost of $150 million to retreat from the ocean against its $19 million annual budget. Beach cities, such as Malibu, will need to determine what, if any, City services should be provided to protect private property — or leave the property to be abandoned to the rising seas.

In short: yes, global warming does affect people. Every week or two it seems there’s a new report on a different aspect of life climate change will mess up. Barley shortages mean less beer and higher beer prices. Fewer insects limit agriculture. Shorter winters mean tick-infested deer and trees killed by bark beetles.

What can one person do? Global warming is such a, well, global problem. Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth suggested personal choices to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Plant a tree. Go vegan, or at least eat less meat. Fly less. Change a lightbulb, change the world. Yet carbon emissions continue to rise.

Science-oriented people look at the climate problem and imagine scientific solutions that generally fall into two categories: storing carbon and altering the planet’s chemistry. The technology for the first, commonly known as CCS (carbon capture and storage) is in its infancy; it’s expensive. The second involves the stuff of science fiction: giant mirrors in space reflecting the sun’s rays away from the atmosphere, equally giant hoses sucking the carbon and vacuuming it into space, vast deposits of iron filings into the ocean to changing the chemical composition of seawater.

Although climate change begins as a scientific problem, it becomes obvious to most people the solution is mired in politics. Solar and wind energy poll like Mom and Apple Pie, but their progress is being blocked for political reasons. Specifically, the Republican Party in the United States generally denies the scientific reality, while politicians of all stripes are not sufficiently visionary to make the drastic changes demanded by the science. One solution to climate change is to get political: vote deniers out. I’ve founded Climate Hawks Vote, an organization building grassroots political power for the climate movement, that aims to do just that.

This global problem requires more than voting every two years, and it requires a sudden drastic change. So it needs everyone to speak out with the talent they have. Artists: make art about climate change. Musicians: write and sing songs that will move the feet and the heart. Architects and contractors: design and build more dense housing closer to public transit. Actuaries: calculate the risks of an ever warming world. Run for office. Tell people who are running for office to do more — and ask them to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, declining campaign contribution money from the fossil fuel industry. To change everything, we need everyone.

Most of all, the climate problem requires hope to solve it. Although it’s easy to ridicule the mindset of Denial on the Right, those on the Left are just as prone to despair. There’s plenty of reason to find despair in the IPCC report, but also reasons to hope.

Here are the top three things to do to fight global warming locally:

  1. Drive an electric vehicle or otherwise reduce the carbon footprint of your commute to zero. 
  2. Get politically involved with an organization such as Climate Hawks Vote; vote on November 6, but stay involved after the election.
  3. Every morning, find a reason to hope.

ON THE WEB:

http://climatehawksvote.com


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


Array
  • 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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