Thanks to the visionary leadership of our local elected officials, Sonoma County is taking precedent-setting action to address global climate change. Last year, all nine cities and the County pledged by resolution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This year, all completed inventories of the emissions associated with their municipal operations buildings, traffic signals, streetlights, fleets, employee commutes, water, wastewater, and solid waste. Sonoma County is the first in the nation to have met these milestones. The next step is to set emission reduction targets, develop a plan for achieving them, and implement emission-reduction actions.
Every year, the operations of Sonomas nine cities and the County put nearly 90,000 tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, according to results of the just-completed emissions inventory. This represents a volume of gas a mile in diameter and about 12 feet thick. Put another way, if garbage trucks could haul this greenhouse gas away, it would take 14, 783 trucks. The City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma account for about 87 percent of the total amount, while the other cities combined equal the remaining 13 percent.
People often ask, With a huge global problem such a climate change, what real difference do Sonoma Countys actions make?
There are a number of local benefits. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions means reducing energy use from fossil fuel. This saves money, cleans the air, and helps build more livable communities. We also can take pride that our local governments are doing the right thing.
Beyond the local level, trailblazing action inspires other communities to see new possibilities, and encourages them to take bold action, too. Already there are over 550 cities and counties around the world that have also pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, led by the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives.
Local governments exert great influence over the production of atmospheric pollution through zoning and building codes, for example. Taken together, cities and counties have an enormous overall impact. In the U.S., the importance of local action is especially critical because it partially compensates for our national leaders failure to act.
Many exciting opportunities exist to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, replacing selected energy inefficient equipment used for municipal water and wastewater operations can save up to $320 for every ton of greenhouse gas reduced. Cow-powered climate protection can, using proven technology, convert the gas from the 30,000 milking cows in the North Bay to energy. These cows emit approximately 170,000 tons of equivalent carbon dioxide every year.
Polls show that most Americans believe that global climate change is happening and that its grave. We want our leaders to take action. We also want a simple explanation of what causes the climate to change. The one that researchers said tested best is, Global warming is caused by a manmade blanket of carbon dioxide that surrounds the Earth and traps in heat.
Because we cant see, feel, smell, or taste it, we have difficulty realizing that greenhouse gas exists, let alone is a serious problem. However, greenhouse gas is real waste. Reducing greenhouse gas pollution provides a key gauge for charting a course to a sustainable future.
Common American values ingenuity, responsibility, stewardship enable us to develop and apply practical solutions to prevent, not just adapt, to global warming. Energy, like spirit, is the invisible, essential life force that affects every part of our lives. Energy is the nexus between the economy, environment, and security. If we get energy right, many significant benefits will follow - for ourselves and for future generations.
The below reports are in pdf format. Size, number of pages, author and a summary of content are listed next to each title.
Presented as part of a project administered by the Sonoma County Waste
Telos Project © 2003