Petaluma Mayor David Glass reports on Sundance Summit on Global Warming
Petaluma July 13, 2005I was honored to have been one of 46 Mayors to have attended the first annual conference on Global Warming at the Sundance Summit this week. After attending 16 hours of meetings hearing global experts on the subject these are my thoughts.
The challenges facing our world were made clear by scientists, doctors, energy consultants, and political experts. Former Vice President Al Gore gave a passionate presentation talking for more than an hour about the science, the facts, interjecting humor, and ultimately advocating for the Mayors to take leadership on this Global Issue and advocate for a National Policy. His speech made me wish the entire country could have seen it. This was a man that completely grasps the issue, and his analysis of the critical need to succeed in combating Global Warming was substantiated by many hours of expert testimony. Gore's opening remark stated "We are managing Planet Earth as if it is a business in liquidation." His closing remarks however were more optimistic telling the Mayors this is the issue of your lifetime and "failure is not an option."
The consequences of failing on this mission could mean a loss of Salmon in all of Sonoma County. It could mean diseases such as asthma, lime disease, malaria and Nile disease becoming more prevalent. The failure to address carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere could drive up pollen counts by six fold according to Dr. Paul Epstein the associate director of Harvard Medical School. This would lead to respiratory diseases, increased costs in health care and a much poorer quality of life. Dr. Heidi Cullen a PHD in Climatology for the Weather Channel stressed the dangers of increased weather disasters such as hurricanes, and draughts.....however the good news was the lead time that science is providing is giving us an opportunity to deal with this issue.
The danger of not acting is that we will see carbon dioxide levels increasing at a rate that will lead to climate changes so swift that we may not be able to adapt to those changes. The sea levels could rise due to melting ice in the Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland. The oceans could increase by as much as 6 meters according to many scientists. A twenty inch rise in sea level would mean a loss of 500 square miles of California would be lost to the ocean. Some of that loss would take place right here in Sonoma County.
The good news is that current technology exists that could reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent and with a concerted effort, the Mayors conference concluded, the emissions could be reduced by the 60 percent threshold scientists believe would mitigate the problem.
Virtually the entire world of science is in agreement there is a problem. The problem can not be solved without the United States as a part of the solution. The United States currently is responsible for 22 percent of the total carbon emissions. The Kyoto Accord called for 7 percent reduction below the 1990 level of emissions. The United States remains the only leading country failing to sign the agreement. This is unacceptable.
Fortunately California, under Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan is going to be a leader in cutting emissions. The governor has a target of reducing emissions by 80 percent between now and 2050. The quickest route to emissions reductions is improvements in the gas mileage of automobiles. California's entire Congressional delegation of Senators and Representatives should stand behind the Governor's goal and insist the United States develop a comprehensive National Policy to address the issue of Global Warming.
As a practical matter that will mean dictating improved gas mileage for all cars sold in America, both foreign and domestic. We have the technology. We should insist on its implementation sooner rather than later In addition to cleaner cars we can capture wind energy. At the very least wind energy for hydro electricity when draughts make it impossible to create clean hydro electricity. Too often at the present time the substitute is fossil fuel based electricity as the alternative which only adds to the problem.
I would hope every community in Sonoma County and the State of California would make it a priority to develop a Global Warmth Strategy. In the words of Governor Schwarzenegger...."The Debate is Over. We know the science, we see the threat, and the time for action is now." Americans have always been able to rise to the occasion when they understand the objective, the urgency, and the consequences of inaction. The need to cool the planet is clear. It will protect our food supply, health, and our quality of life. Indeed, in many parts of the world it will mean the difference between life and death. It is much better to take action now rather than wait and be proven wrong.
The final analysis of the conference was the realization that there is sufficient information to act now and make sure we get the job done for our kids, and their kids. I hope every reader will join me, the other 45 Mayors at the conference, our Governor, the United Nations, and the other 7 Countries in the G 8. One lesson I have learned in politics is if the people lead the leaders will follow. Together we can make the difference.
Telos Project © 2003