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

Sea level-rise adaption strategy developed for San Diego Bay.

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.


  • Paul B

    I have reported Silvian’s bogus link, which is a marketing scam, and recommend that others do so whenever they see it.

    Acid rain is largely caused by industrial SO2 emissions, which end up generating sulphuric acid haze, before being dissolved in rainwater.

    That is why global temperatures held roughly steady in the 1950s, and started increasing again when clean air acts came into force, reducing the amount of haze.
    References :

  • cicocg62

    You might also conjecture that with climate change, the higher frequency of water vapor in the atmosphere due to greater evaporation rates, would help deposit more compounds from the air as it rains. Like mentioned above, climate change (whether it’s happening or not) will not determine the chance of acid rain. That is contingent on the source of pollution which to a fair degree has been curtailed by emission regulation. If Congress or EPA gets on the ball, emission standards will only become more stringent with time.
    References :

  • jim z

    Paul and other alarmists suggest that human emisssions of sulfur compounds added acidity to the rain. This is true but it is also an exaggeration. Sulfur compounds also deflect some solar radiation. What isn’t true is that our emissions of sulfur caused the cooling in the 1940s to 1970s. There is certainly no proof of this and is simply wishful thinking on the part of alarmists. This is all part of the myth that climate is stable except and until humans emit something. Acid rain was a purported to cause deforestation. It was the big scare in the 1970s. The problem is it never did. It was an exaggeration. In that respect, it is very similar to AGW exaggeration.
    References :

  • saniya

    yup!! read this and understand

    Climate change denial is a term used to describe attempts to downplay the extent of global warming, its significance, or its connection to human behavior, especially for financial or other sectional interests. Climate change denial has been associated with the energy lobby, industry advocates and free market think tanks, often in the United States Some commentators describe climate change denial as a particular form of the general phenomenon of denial ism.The term is rarely used by those to whom it is applied.

    There is nearly unanimous agreement among climate scientists (see scientific consensus on global warming) that global warming is occurring and that there is a 90% or greater probability that it is due to human causes. However, political, economic, and public debate continues regarding the reality and extent of global warming and what actions to take in response. Numerous authors, including several scholars, have asserted that some conservative think tanks, corporations and business groups have engaged in deliberate denial of the science of climate change since the 1990s. On the other hand, some commentators have criticized the phrase as an attempt to legitimize skeptical views, and for injecting morality into the discussion about climate change

    The relationships between industry funded denial and public climate change skepticism have at times been compared to earlier efforts by the tobacco industry to undermine what is now widely accepted scientific evidence relating to the dangers of second hand smoke, or even linked as a direct continuation of these earlier financial relationships. Aside from private industry groups, climate change denial has also been alleged regarding the statements of elected officials.
    Meanings of the term

    Mark Hoofnagle, cited in the European Journal of Public Health as one of the developers of the concept of denialism, defines denialism as the employment of rhetorical arguments to give the appearance of legitimate debate where there is none, an approach that has the ultimate goal of rejecting a proposition on which a scientific consensus exists.[20][21]

    The August 2007 Newsweek cover story "The Truth About Denial" reported that "this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks, and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change. "As soon as the scientific community began to come together on the science of climate change, the pushback began," according to University of California, San Diego historian Naomi Oreskes.The article went on to say that individual companies and industry associations —representing petroleum, steel, autos and utilities, inter alia— formed lobbying groups to enlist greenhouse doubters to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact," and to sow doubt about climate research just as cigarette makers had about smoking research.[6] Newsweek subsequently published a piece by Robert J. Samuelson, who called the article "a vast oversimplification of a messy story" and "fundamentally misleading" because although global warming had already occurred, we "lack the technology" to unwind it, and the best we can hope to do is cut emissions. He argues that "journalists should resist the temptation to portray global warming as a morality tale… in which anyone who questions its gravity or proposed solutions may be ridiculed"

    Journalists and newspaper columnists including George Monbiot[8] and Ellen Goodman, among others have described climate change denial as a form of denialism. Several commentators, including Monbiot and Goodman, have also compared climate change denial with Holocaust denial,though others, such as conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager, have decried those comparisons as inappropriate and trivializing Holocaust denial.The self-described right-wingerand Institute of Economic Affairs member Richard D. North, notes that outright denial by climate scientists of the major points of scientific consensus is rare, though scientists are known to dispute certain points. He says, "It is deeply pejorative to call someone a ‘climate change denier’. This is because it is a phrase designedly reminiscent of the idea of Holocaust Denial …". He acknowledges that "there are many varieties of climate change denial", but says that "[s]ome people labeled as ‘deniers’, aren’t." Peter Christoff also emphasizes the distinction between scepticism and denial, he says "Climate change deniers should be distinguished from climate sceptics. Scepticism is essential to good science."

    The environmentalist writer and activist George Monbiot stated in his Guardian opinion column that he reserves the term for those who attempt to undermine scientific opinion on climate change due to financial interests. Monbiot often refers to a "denial industry." However, he and other writers have described others as climate change "deniers," including politicians an
    References :

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