County joins 350.org’s global day of action in making climate change top of mind.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Current climate change research suggests sea levels could rise by as much 2 meters by the century’s end. That figure doesn’t mean much abstracted to a global scale, but when applied to the coastline near downtown Monterey, beaches shrink and walkways disappear.
These are the kinds of changes local environmental groups hope to bring into focus on Saturday, when Citizens for a Sustainable Monterey County and a handful of co-sponsors hold an awareness event called “Rise: An Interactive Interpretation of Climate Change.”
The function is just one of many happening on Saturday, Sept. 24, a day of action called “Moving Planet,” planned by the environmental organization 350.org. The goal: to get people moving without adding to carbon emissions.
Event organizer and CSMC member Jeff Condit thinks of “Rise” as a public art piece. He envisions people walking a 3-mile route – mapped using Geographic Information System technology – along what might be Monterey’s coastline after a 1-to-3-meter rise in sea level.
Students from Monterey Institute of International Studies’ sustainability club will be on hand to remind people of the effects of climate change by handing out placards with facts like this: Average global temperatures have risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, mostly in the past few decades.
During a recent walk along the planned trail under a darkening sky, Condit expresses concern the event might seem overly dramatic. “We’re not trying to scare people,” he says. “We want to think about these impacts and how we’re going to deal with them.”
To provoke a wide range of discussion, CSMC has lined up a number of speakers to fill attendees in on climate change developments.
County Supervisor Jane Parker gives her perspective as a climate-change-awareness advocate in government. Carmel City Council member Jason Burnett talks about his former role as an EPA official judging the health impacts of climate change as well as how issues are tackled locally. Local writer Dan Linehan tells all about his recent environmental work in Antarctica.
Moss Landing Marine Labs Adjunct Professor Larry Breaker hopes to convey some of the complexity of climate change to the community.
“What’s happening globally is not necessarily what’s happening locally,” he says. His talk takes a stab at explaining the specific changes taking place right here on the coastline.
Recently, 350.org fought its way into headlines by protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline that would bring Canadian oil to the U.S., an impediment to its mission of reducing atmospheric carbon levels. More than 1,000 activists were arrested for civil disobedience in Washington D.C., including Bill McKibben, 350.org’s founder and Middlebury College professor.
In a conference call with “Moving Planet” organizers, McKibben said he felt good about the protests.
“But mostly, movement-building can’t be about blocking things,” he adds.
Condit says today’s actions and policies should be about adaptation and mitigation. In Monterey County, he says, positive environmental change and grassroots action seem more possible than national reform.
“On the federal level, we’ve been slow to come up with climate-change solutions,” Condit says. “It’s been up to local communities to address the issues.”
“RISE: AN INTERACTIVE INTERPRETATION OF CLIMATE CHANGE” begins 10am on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Fisherman’s Wharf. A free community picnic and potluck at Del Monte Beach follows the hike. 415-571-6738, www.350.org.