Why We Need to Take Action on Climate Change in San Diego

Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call for the need to deal with the climate change in San Diego County.

Editor's Note: The author's wife Emily Young oversees the San Diego Foundation’s Environment program.

With ongoing Hurricane Sandy cleanup operations and damage assessment being carried out on the Eastern Seaboard, it is easy for San Diegans to become complacent and argue that climate change can’t happen here.

But the impacts of climate change are already being felt here.

For surfers and ocean lovers, subtle but significant changes in our climate have already had a big impact on our coastline and even surfing conditions.

The dramatic oscillations in ocean temperatures, changes in weather patterns, increased Santa Ana conditions and increasing loss of coastline due to erosion are all things long-term surfers and ocean observers already see happening.

As a drought-prone region largely dependent on water brought in from outside San Diego County, we are vulnerable to increases in temperatures, prolonged drought and sea level.

Dangerous wildfires experienced in the past decade may be indicative of what people in San Diego and elsewhere can expect in the future.

The issue isn’t whether or not San Diego is being impacted by climate change. Our climate is already changing. The fundamental issue that we need to address is how we as a region will adapt and respond to our changing climate.

We can either bury our head in the sand and pretend that climate change is a hoax.

Or we can believe the streams of data assessed by climate scientists worldwide and in San Diego to understand that we have an obligation to identify solutions that can help deal with the changes that are happening now and forecast to come–before it is too late.

The time to deal with climate change in San Diego is right now.

Even if the cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emmissions that begins Wednesday is a huge success, pollution and the rammifications of climate change are global, so we must prepare.

Luckily the San Diego Foundation has provided a blueprint, San Diego’s Changing Climate: A Regional Wake-Up Call, for such a program and identified some of the ways in which our climate is changing now and is forecast to change.

The report evaluates how San Diego’s climate will change by 2050 if current trends continue.

Some of the facts listed in the foundation’s report:

  • We will see an increase in average annual temperatures of between 1.5-4.5 degrees.
  • The weather in November will often feel like September does (as I write this we are feeling mild Santa Ana conditions).
  • Summers will be even hotter than they are now.
  • There is projected to be an increase in sea level between 12-18 inches exacerbating the loss of beaches. Click here to see how sea level rise is expected to impact local beaches.
  • We will need 37 percent more water than we currently utilize even though our sources of water might shrink by 20 percent.
  • There will be an increase by 20 percent of the number of days with ideal conditions for large fires.

One thing that is important to mention—there is no real debate on the validity of climate science. That there is “debate” on the origins and consequences of climate science is due to campaigns financed by fossil-fuel companies opposed to any increased regulation of carbon-based energy. The impact of Hurricane Sandy illustrated to a nation why we cannot afford to wait any longer to address our changing climate.

It's not too late to take action. I sat on the city of Chula Vista Climate Change Working Group and was impressed by how a local group of business leaders, conservationists and scientists came together to adopt a number of common sense and low-cost strategies to reduce the impact of our changing climate (just planting more trees would help).

Planning for climate change is something that every city in San Diego County should undertake. Especially for those who live for our coast and ocean here in San Diego, it's something that we can’t afford not to do.

Serge Dedina is executive director of WiLDCOAST, an international conservation team that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. He is the author of Wild Sea and Saving the Gray Whale.

Things I Learned November 16, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Eric you're killing me on the no photos thing Serge won't answer I've given him four chances: http://lamesa.patch.com/articles/climate-change-san-diego#comment_5480275 http://lamesa.patch.com/articles/climate-change-san-diego#comment_5482441 http://lamesa.patch.com/articles/climate-change-san-diego#comment_5491137 http://lamesa.patch.com/articles/climate-change-san-diego#comment_5495970 Anyway Oh Noes! the sea is rising at 1.4mm a year at a constant rate just like it has done for the last 150 years in a hundred years it will be 5.5 inches higher time is running out what to do what to do?!?!?!?! http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/120-022_wismar_germany_sealevel_70pct1.jpg
Tom Yarnall November 16, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Please wake me a million years, or so, and tell me if it's warm or cold outside.
sheeple herder November 16, 2012 at 03:38 AM
When global warming didn't work, the powers that be, changed it to "global climate change." Guess the 4 seasons don't exist anymore? When China and India take this seriously, so will I.... I know we use the most oil per capita, but we have the toughest emmision regulations too.
S. Fulrath November 16, 2012 at 04:11 AM
We use more oil per capita, but are also far more productive per capita.
Jay Berman November 16, 2012 at 04:15 AM
We also have a large, open country we also like our cars and enjoy the freedom of being able to go where we please, when we please ... unlike much of the rest of the world ..
Komfort November 16, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Serge, why don't you translate this exhaustive research into Spanish, camp out at the border crossing and see how many cars from TJ turn around, go back to Mexico and have their catalytic converter reinstalled after you explain to them the damage they are doing? Nevermind, that would make to much sense for your purported concern. Let me know when my mandated solar tricycle is ready.
Things I Learned November 16, 2012 at 04:57 AM
FREE "UPLOAD VIDEOS AND PHOTOS"! Free All User Generated Content! ;-)
Shripathi Kamath November 16, 2012 at 06:42 AM
Nah, just recruits Mitt Romney. He can play bad cop, and some guy (Lindsey Graham?) can play good cop, and actually do nothing. They are already at this game: http://www.themindisaterriblething.com/2012/11/bad-copgood-cop.html
Komfort November 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Certainly the indigenous people, whose primitive lifestyle never harmed the earth, are so in touch with nature that they will do the right thing when it comes to saving the planet from evil carbon. " California Indian Tribes/Tribal Members Vehicles-the VLF is exempt when an Indian Certification is submitted with the application. See Chapter 6, New Vehicles sold by California Dealer for further information. Federally-Recognized Indian Tribe Vehicles (CVC §9104.5 and R&TC §10781.1)-the VLF, and all other fees, are exempt when an Indian Certification is submitted with the application. See Chapter 6, New Vehicles sold by California Dealer for further information" http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/reg_hdbk/ch3/ch3_11.htm Hmmm. Well not paying their fair share does mean they aren't smog checking their vehicles. http://smogcheck.ca.gov/pubwebquery/Ziparea/ZipLookup.aspx ?? Did they use magic to keep their emissions in the prescribed zip codes? No wonder they are so revered.
Serge Dedina November 16, 2012 at 05:01 PM
First--thanks for all the comments. Just as a note--I am writing this from my solar--powered black UN helicopter..but I have my wind-powered tricycle on standby. It is hard to argue with anyone who believes that thousands of scientists are working out an underground lair in order to promote a global conspiracy/hoax about global climate change. But whatever...people used to believe the earth is flat and some still do. The fact is there is a lot of simple things we can do to reduce energy consumption and our carbon footprint. Do we really object to planting more trees, increasing technological efficiency or even having more cars available that use less fuel. How about conserving water or even identifying ways to reduce the potential for large fires. Those are all things we can do in San Diego. Anyone who spends time in the outdoors rather than perched behind a computer screen immersed in conspiracy theories knows that our climate is changing. And anyone who doesn't believe that our highly polluting industrial civilization can't cause impacts to our climate and our planet is living their own self-hoax.
Things I Learned November 16, 2012 at 05:23 PM
You should not burn strawmen it is bad for Gaia. So can I post the pics or not Serge? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwwY9y6O3hw
Komfort November 16, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I, for one, do not think it is a "hoax" that cars come north from Mexico, with disabled earth saving emissions devices, and get very little scrutiny from the Bike Lane Gang. Tackle this very real problem and my support may come around.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Great Frontline documentary on this very issue: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/climate-of-doubt/ If you really care about learning about climate change, with interviews from both sides, watch this.
Komfort November 16, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Does PBS address the peaker plant mandate inflicted upon us planet lovers by the renewable energy crowd?
Steven Bartholow (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 06:10 PM
This documentary is focused on the debate between climate change deniers and the climatologists. Trying to settle some facts about whether things are actually heating up. It doesn't deal with solutions and laws attempting to combat climate change, which I agree is a very important aspect. But, I am tired of the argument about whether climate change is happening being obfuscated by arguments about "how horrible the attempts to deal with it are." They are distinct issues that need to be dealt with, but the first step is coming to terms with the fact that the earth is warming.
Jay Berman November 16, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Komfort - who needs grid stability when you have sunshine and hot air ?? It would most likely be better for the environment to have more baseline combined cycle natural gas plants than small peakers running all the time to pick up the slack when a cloud passes over or the wind slows down ...
Things I Learned November 16, 2012 at 06:30 PM
We know that it is a fair presentation of the debate because one side is called deniers just like holocaust deniers instead of skeptics like they are concerned about the quality of the evidence when none of the computer climate models have any historical predictive power and the policy prescriptions being advocated by the same people who were arguing this before we learned that climate changes because skepticism is not the hallmark of science.
Komfort November 16, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Emily Young November 16, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Local scientists from UCSD's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State University and the University of San Diego have found that our region faces challenges, like all others throughout the world, from the impacts of climate change on today’s communities and future generations. In the San Diego region, we are likely to face diminishing local water supplies, increased fire risks, and threats to human health from climate change by 2050. Working together and investing today, we can create and sustain a strong economy and a healthy environment. And in fact, recent public opinion surveys indicate that San Diegans throughout the region expect us to lead the state to address climate change. The San Diego Foundation, is committed to working with local government, business and the community through collaboration, philanthropic investment, and building trusted regional leadership to address climate change. Together, we can sustain our quality of life, our clean air and water and our health, and enjoy a vibrant, growing economy, not just for today, but for our children and all future generations.
Things I Learned November 16, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Sounds like Serge gave you the baton can I post the photos or not what's the problem if you are sure you are right this sounds like a vibrant collaboration invest philanthropically to sustain our children and future generations.
Batman November 16, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Ms Young, we don't even have a local water supply, to speak of. Almost all our water has to come in from the outside, pumped over the mountains by ELECTRIC pumps. If the price of electricity goes sky high the value of our real estate goes through the floor. A lack of affordable energy IS what threatens our's and our children's future quality of life.
Komfort November 16, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I would think that sending over 1million dollars to a Mexican company would make the author more willing to discuss what the impact of Mexican automobiles truly is on our micro-climate. http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/770/770536297/770536297_201012_990.pdf Is that 1mil every year?
Kevin George November 17, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Steven, you say "As for whether global warming is happening quickly or slowly- all recent signs seem to point to it happening more quickly than was recently predicted by most climatologists." How can you say that when the father of Global Warming,James Lovelock says: "The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened. The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now." Also: “The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising -- carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” That's the science per the guy who came up with whole theory, doesn't that account for anything? http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/04/23/11144098-gaia-scientist-james-lovelock-i-was-alarmist-about-climate-change?lite
S. Fulrath November 17, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Some of the leading eco-freaks (if they can derisively call me a "denier" I can use my terms too) recently quietly admitted that their has been no warming for the last 16 years. Betchya didn't hear that on any of the *BS lamestream media channels. They are so confused! As if the email scandal didn't blow away any shred of credibility...The "Hockey stick" is a fraud, as are many of their data collection methods. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2220722/Global-warming-The-Mail-Sunday-answers-world-warming-not.html
Jay Berman November 17, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Polar Ice Melting ?? WRONG ! http://cfif.org/v/index.php/commentary/44-energy-and-environment/1657-inconvenient-truth-antarctic-sea-ice-grows-to-record-size
Jay Berman November 17, 2012 at 01:45 AM
These scientists and institution get their funds for this research from government and interested private parties that stand to do very well by this scam. If they came out and told the truth, they would most likely lose their funding and their jobs ... just follow the money ...
Jay Berman November 17, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Could, should may ... maybe by 2050 ... blah blah blah .... the sun has cycles, the sun does not heat the earth a the same place, same intensity consistently, everything changes, everything is dynamic .. the Earth has always changed and it always will .. it will get warmer, it will get cooler ... the atmospheric content will always change over time .. Our air and water ARE clean ... and we have a limitless supply of water just to the west, we should have large desal plants here ..
Komfort November 18, 2012 at 10:23 AM
Yeouch!! http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/17/frontline-responds-to-complaints-about-oct-23-climate-of-doubt-here-the-rebuttal-to-frontline-that-pbs-ombudsman-wont-put-online/
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