Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places in the world, often described as a Shangri-la. Rarely can you find a place set between mountain and sea as livable.
Yet, despite the climate-caused wildfires, floods, mudslides and rains we’ve experienced, it’s easy, because of the idyllic nature of our home, to avoid relating to climate change and its impacts.
Nevertheless, the City of Santa Barbara is preparing for climate change sea-level rise and, while all of our environmental organizations are responding to global warming, there are two — the Community Environmental Council and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby-Santa Barbara Chapter — that have provided road maps for all of us to participate in fighting against the overheating of our planet.
While some climate scientists are predicting a 43.3-inch rise in California sea levels by 2100, the California Coastal Commission says that, in the past century, the global mean sea level has increased by 7 to 8 inches because of climate change.
Given current trends in greenhouse gas emissions and increasing global temperatures, the commission says, the sea level along California could rise by some 10 feet by the year 2100. Both predictions include Santa Barbara.
In response to this warning, the Santa Barbara adopted a Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan and Vulnerability Assessment that recommends mitigation measures like berms, floodwalls, relocating infrastructure and new flood-conscious building codes.
The plan’s predictions are alarming. They include landslides at Shoreline Park; more beach erosion at LeadbetterBeach; storm flooding at Cabrillo Boulevard, Cliff and Shoreline drives and Highway 101; loss of sandy beaches along our coastal bluffs from beach erosion.
Sea level rise is not a hypothetical. The mitigations should be enacted forthwith.
A U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report earlier this year found that not only was this the hottest summer ever, globally, the world is likely to surpass the coming 1.5 C (2 F) climate tipping point by the early 2030s, after which basic components of the Earth’s systems will be irrevocably altered, creating climate disasters so extreme that people will not be able to adapt.
The Community Environmental Council and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby have created approaches all of us can participate in that specifically focus on fossil fuel emissions, the main cause of global warming.
The CEC has developed a collaborative greenhouse gas emissions approach for addressing fossil fuel emissions for our region, including Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties that all of us can participate in.
The nonprofit organization is assisting homeowners, other nonprofit organizations and businesses to make it easier and more affordable to install solar power and energy storage battery systems; advocate for Santa Barbara County’s solar ordinance amendments that streamline sustainable development; drive less, by ride-sharing, trains and bicycles around town; and contribute to stakeholder meetings through testimony as developers plan the first floating offshore wind farms in California.
The CEC’s goal of carbon neutrality across the tricounties is spot on. It has correctly identified fossil fuel emissions as the main cause of global warming, and collective action by citizens as the antidote. We should all support and participate in it.
While the CEC urges all of us to “vote the environment,” the Citizens’ Climate Lobby takes it a step further by focusing on an economy-wide carbon fee and dividend, through legislation at the national level.
CCL-SB is part of the national Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which empowers people to exercise their political power in fighting climate change. The organization supports the federal passage of a national fee on carbon with a dividend to citizens that would reduce America’s fossil fuel emissions by 50% by 2030.
This approach would impose a carbon fee at the point of extraction and forward the payments to households as monthly dividends. Research shows that a carbon fee that sends carbon cash-back payments to households will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but improve the economy and create jobs.
As Santa Barbara inevitably confronts climate change, we should support those organizations, like CEC and CCL, that provide both solutions and the opportunity for citizens to participate in the fight against global warming.
We should also support the city’s adaptation plan to protect us from sea level rise.
Our world has changed, so should our actions.