Sierra Club: Redwood Chapter Webinar

Redwood Chapter Webinar: Alternative actions for faster climate cooling It’s agonizing to watch the slow pace of our response to global warming.

Carbon dioxide will take hundreds or even thousands of years to cycle out of the atmosphere after we stop burning fossil fuels, and converting to renewable energy requires major changes to our energy systems, houses, cities and transportation. All this takes a lot of time. So it was heartening to learn from an excellent Sierra Club webinar on March 9 that there is another, faster approach to tackling climate change. The webinar, presented by Linda Brown of the Napa Group, discusses the importance of reducing shortlived climate pollutants (SLCPs) The main SCLPs, methane and black carbon, decompose quickly but they are much more effective heaters of the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. As the webinar shows, focusing on keeping SLCPs and their heating effects out of the atmosphere has immediate benefits and can help to stabilize global warming at a lower temperature.

Black carbon is emitted from burning fuel and settles on snow, helping to melt the polar ice caps. It has largely been left out of climate action and greenhouse gas reduction plans but is thought to be the second largest cause of global warming world-wide. In California, tailpipe regulations are already reducing one of our largest black carbon sources, burning diesel fuel. Methane comes from decaying organic matter and from the natural gas and oil industries and is often not fully accounted for in inventories.

It is a very strong contributor to heating and also breaks down to carbon dioxide and water vapor which are left in the atmosphere as longer-term greenhouse gases. Reducing methane and black carbon emissions is as urgent as reducing CO2, and in the last few years, government policies have begun to move in this direction. Cuts in SCLPs will gain us more time to build long-term CO2 solutions, which right now are being implemented too slowly to stop significant warming.

Action: Watch the Redwood Chapter webinar online here:

Why invest more in the obsolete and polluting fossil fuel industry? Two new gas stations have been proposed in the south County. A new Safeway gas station in Petaluma is planned next to McDowell Elementary School which would expose children to exhaust fumes from idling cars and benzene in fuel vapor. Benzene is a carcinogen – it has been found in large amounts over 300 feet from gas stations, while this station will be only 60 feet from an on-site preschool. 

Action: To support the local group fighting the station see the page on Facebook called “Oppose the Petaluma Safeway Gas Station.” A sixteen pump ARCO station, car wash and convenience store has been proposed in a scenic corridor west of Cotati on Highway 116. It plans to use well water and is right on the edge of a community separator, land meant to stay undeveloped to leave green open space between cities. It had a pretty negative reception at the Design Review Committee in February, which suggested that it should disguise itself to look more like a barn or other rural structure, but this may not be the end of it. –SUZANNE DOYLE, SONOMA GROUP CHAIR