The Kibitzer


Fight Climate Change with Radical Collaboration

By Billy Fried


One thing traveling does is give you an appreciation of where we live. Summer is divinely mild here, but a broiling hell everywhere else. June was the hottest month ever recorded. The earth is on fire, and whether or not you like the current administration, their head in the sand denial of climate change and subsequent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is easily their biggest and most unforgivable crime against humanity. While the rest of the world has committed $100 billion to saving the planet, the U.S. has put up zilch.

I would like to thank my fellow columnist (and president of Laguna Beach Republicans) Emil Monda for acknowledging the problem is real. But I would also like to address his condemnation of the Green New Deal as economically unfeasible, and too dependent on wind and solar energy instead of nuclear.

The Green New Deal is a stimulus package to address both climate change and economic inequality. Does it shoot high in seeking to guarantee a job and living wage to every American, plus healthcare, education, affordable housing, and access to clean water and healthy, affordable food? Of course. It’s nothing if not aspirational, but certainly emblematic of what this country is capable of. However, it’s a toothless resolution—not legislation.

But just imagine if we put the power and resources of our government and education system into green tech, something that could become the biggest and most important industry in the world (instead of oil). Think of the jobs it would generate, and the leverage that would be lost by many hostile but oil-rich nations.

One of the goals of The Deal is to make 100 percent of our power grid zero emissions by 2030. And this is where Emil believes renewables fall short and we should reopen San Onofre and other nuclear power plants because the risks are “infinitesimally” small. But is the environmental disaster of Fukushima that nearly caused the evacuation of Tokyo, or the 4,000 deaths from Chernobyl, acceptable? And do we believe the U.S. is incapable of a similar blunder, especially when the retrofit of San Onofre’s turbines failed after one year, producing a radioactive leak? And if nuclear waste storage is so harmless, why have all 50 states rejected San Onofre’s request to move their 1,000 pounds of humanity-ending waste currently stored precariously in a tsunami and earthquake zone with 3 million nearby inhabitants?

If we are really intent on reversing the effects of climate change, energy is but one sector of the carbon reduction effort. We must also focus on transportation, buildings, industry, food consumption and land use.

And this is where we can make a very real difference on a local level and in our daily lives through “radical collaboration,” as Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo calls it. We need to think global, but act personally by, for starters, reducing our waste, as landfills are a major emitter of methane. It starts with truly separating our waste into recyclables, and composting organics. Also to “upcycle” edible food waste to needy recipients, and demanding elimination of single use plastic, which is acidifying and killing our oceans.

We can take back energy production from greedy utilities and start our own local company from sun, wind and water, as a majority of small towns in Germany have done. We can replace our old light bulbs with energy efficient LED’s, switch to solar wherever possible. We can reduce our consumption of beef, thereby reducing the amount of cattle belching methane into the environment. And of course we can and should plant more and more trees, hopefully edible ones at that. Trees are a huge sequester of carbon. Laguna can also make a huge shift in transportation, which accounts for 20 percent of the carbon. The city and our citizens can switch to zero emission vehicles. We can also build a dedicated grid of bike paths, like so many other cities are doing, and focus on ridesharing, crowd sourcing, and more public transport.

Speaking of which, have you noticed a group of fat tire, electric bikes touring the streets of Laguna? That would be La Vida Laguna’s new fleet of 12 peddle-assist bikes conducting “back roads” tours of Laguna. What a great way to see this place. And they are an absolute delight to ride. The technology and range have improved, while the prices have dropped. So just imagine what our little town would look like if every household had them and used them when commuting downtown. We’d be healthier, friendlier, less addled by traffic and lack of parking, and our buildings and streets would be much cleaner.

I encourage you to do something radical and go test an electric bike today at our local merchants Laguna Cyclery and the Electric Cyclery. Or take a tour with us. Let’s transform Laguna into a friendlier, healthier, less congested, bike friendly town that relies on renewables instead of irreversibles.

Billy Fried hosts “Laguna Talks” on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on KX93.5 and can be reached at [email protected].




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