Climate Change Rally and Speakers Event

Nov 22, 2015

This event was organized by Michael Gasser and Santa Cruz, bringing together speakers on various aspects of climate change, to educate climate activist workers from many different communities in Santa Cruz, including Citizen's Climate Lobby and UCSC. I volunteered to speak on the science of climate change - the latest findings and studies - and physics limitations on policy actions which may make a difference for future climate. The rally began at Calvary Church across from the Nickelodean Theater downtown, and continued up Pacific Avenue, across Water Street to San Lorenzo Park, where the speakers engaged an audience of about 350 people.

Kent Strumpell is doing a state-wide bike tour gathering and presenting ideas as well as fund-raising for Citizen's Climate Lobby, ahead of the Paris Summit

Young people are not inclined to mince words - how refreshing! I was really encouraged to see a big show of force from young people today - since I so often see only gray-hair veterans of the '70's environmental movement at climate and Sierra Club meetings.

A big grain of truth here

Marching along Water Street

If Big Oil CEO's and their paid politicos can't be moved by what they're doing to all the World's children, the most innocent among us - they are truly damaged people unfit for responsible positions in society

UCSC and their Climate Justice organization came out in force

I spoke about the latest climate science, explaining that even ending all CO2 emissions would not result in lowering temperatures, and that equilibrium sea level, when reached for today's 400ppm CO2, is about 80 feet above current sea level, (we'll be under water here).

On policy action, I urged a million-person march on Washington DC, to force lawmakers to enact Tax-and-Dividend, and stiff trade sanctions against countries not initiating their own Tax-and-Dividend

A photo from the pedestrian bridge on which hung banners for the Santa Cruz Climate Action Network

Notes I made for my talk are here.

Near the end of my talk I explained the absolute need for a massive transformation of our energy infrastructure towards solar, wind, and perhaps even nuclear - at which point a small but vehement anti-nuke group shouted me down. After leaving the stage, I was acosted and asked in an accusing manner how much the nuclear industry was paying me for spreading their agenda (!) This is nonsense! I responded straight up that this person knew nothing about me, I am paid nothing for anything I say at these events, and that I remain open-minded about any energy sources which dramatically lower our carbon emissions, including the newer designs for nuclear power plants which are much safer than the old light-water reactors and which do not have the liabilities of e.g. 3 Mile Island and Fukishima. Nuclear power has both plusses and minuses, and it is not clear which wins out long term in this complex question. Nuclear has the advantage that is it always-on, like carbon-fired power plants of today, and very unlike solar and wind power. This requires much less new infrastructure for grid distribution and load balancing. Breeder technology can reduce nuclear waste by a large fraction, and reduce its radioactivity time to a few centuries vs. the tens of thousands of years for waste from light-water reactors of today. Security for nuclear materials, and clean sources for tritium for breeder reactors remain significant problems. Even more, is the issue that the most rapidly rising source of CO2 pollution today is the 3rd world - Are the nuclear experts of the US and other 1st world countries willing to help countries like Iran, Yemen, Vietnam, and Egypt go totally nuclear in their power generation? Not likely! The permitting time for nuclear power plants today is upwards past 10 years, and their cost is rising rapidly at the same time that solar and wind are dropping, and can be put in in very little time. However, it requires well more than an area the size of Texas 100% covered with solar cell material to power our world today - far more if the 3rd world insists on living like Americans. I'd hoped that rooftop solar might provide the lion's share, but that doesn't look cost-effective compared to utility-scale solar. An eventual role for nuclear seems reasonable, even though that day might not be immediately. No sane person would accuse former head of Goddard Institute for Space Sciences Dr. James Hansen of being a dummie, a sell-out, or anything but 100% devoted to solving climate change, and he's convinced nuclear power needs to be a part of our eventual solution. That should give any Greenie pause to put down the placards and THINK, instead of react knee-jerk fashion. It's really unpleasant for me to have to be acosted by both the anti-nuke dogmatics, and also the pro-nuke dogmatics (as indeed I have been!) as being a sellout to the other side, when in fact I'm attempting to be as rational and informative within the limits of my knowledge and reading as possible.There is a certain element on the Green side that just seems to be knee-jerk afraid of anything having to do with nuclear power, seeing mushroom clouds where they don't belong.

UCSC's Center for Creative Ecologies has a nice source for some of the speeches given at this gathering here.

For more on current climate change - the Politics and the Science of Climate and my lower division course at Cabrillo College Astro 7 "Planetary Climate Science" , which is both UC and CSU transferrable as a lab science.