The 2018 Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that “curtailing warming to 1.5°C, a safe level to stabilize the climate, will require an unprecedented transformation of every sector of the global economy over the next 12 years.” We are now in the last decade we have to make this transformation.
It is widely recognized that the current pace and scale of national, regional and local climate action is not sufficient to stabilize the climate to avoid irreversible global warming leading to substantial damage to the environment, human health and species loss.
The necessary transformation in our personal lifestyles, business activities, use and conservation of natural resources , is possible if we collectively and individually make preserving a habitable planet our highest priority.
There are government programs that claim to be effectively addressing the climate crisis which often fall short of the transformation of economic activity necessary to achieve the required reduction in greenhouse gas ( GHG) emissions. In 2017 River Watch prevailed, in a CEQA lawsuit, in overturning the Sonoma County Climate Action Plan for failing to adequately account for GHG emissions from long distance travel associated with global wine distribution and tourism. Especially at issue was emissions from long distance air travel.
Air travel results in extremely high levels of GHG emissions per passenger. Reducing our air travel is something we can all do individually. It is important to consider that our local economy, dominated by tourism and wine export, is predicated on ever increasing air travel. The County is planning a major expansion of our local airport.
A more climate friendly economy would focus more on local food production and locally serving businesses. We also need better public transit, bike and pedestrian alternatives to getting around by automobile. In addition to these changes in public policy, following are measures we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint:
- Reduce consumption- reuse, repair and recycle rather than purchasing new products unnecessarily. Consider the life cycle of products you buy, try to buy products with the least packaging. Support the local economy, buy local whenever possible. Buy food produced locally in season, grown with the least amount of chemicals. None of us will be perfect. Just keep these factors in mind when you make your choices
- Make your home more energy efficient. Keep your thermostat set at a reasonable level. Seal and insulate your home. Be aware of excessive water use. Use LED light bulbs. Sign up for the Evergreen program with Sonoma Clean Power or a comparable community choice aggregation agency in your community. “Evergreen” means all your power comes from wind, solar or hrydro- no fossil fuels. It is only slightly more expensive.
- When you need to replace your utilities, stove, heater, water heater- switch from natural gas to electric. If you have all electric utilities and you get all your electricity from renewable sources, as in an Evergreen program, your home is fossil free. You can also explore the cost/benefit of solar panels.
- Support tree planting projects. Trees are a major source of carbon sequestration, removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
- Be mindful of unnecessary auto travel. Walk or bike more when feasible. Serve multiple needs in one shopping trip. Support transit, use it when feasible and support transit projects. Consider an electric vehicle for your next car. Their range is increasing.
- Reduce personal air travel.
- Eat less meat, especially red meat. Raising and feeding cattle is a major cause of deforestation.
- Organic gardening.
These are some of the measures we can adopt to do our part for the climate.