Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Rising Tide

The storms this week reminded us all how fragile Ventura is and how we must nurture our environment constantly in order to live here successfully -- and sustainably. High surf pounded the pier and damaged it somewhat; sinkholes appeared on Poli Street; and, apparently, a tornado briefly touched down in East Ventura.

So it's perhaps fitting that, earlier in the week, we had an event here at City Hall and heard from three people from the Ventura area who attended the recent Copenhagen climate change conference -- local teenage climate change activist Alex Loorz of Kids v. Global Warming, Sarah Otterstrom of the Ventura-based Paso Pacifico, which works on deforestation in Central America; and Andrew Dunn of the student-run UCSB Environmental Affairs Board. Unfortunately, Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia, who also went to Copenhagen, could not attend.

It was truly an inspiring evening. Many of us here in Ventura are familiar with Alec Loorz, a sophomore at El Camino High School, who has been a climate change activist since he was 12. But no so many of us in Ventura know of the work of Sarah Otterstrom, who has a Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis and is doing remarkable work in Nicaragua from her base here in Ventura.

All of the participants are ardent environmentalists and therefore were somewhat disappointed with the accord that resulted from Copenhagen. Nevertheless, all were optimistic about the future. Alec, as usual, reminded us that this is an urgent issue for his generation and called upon us to "have the course" to dea with the issue on behalf of "your children and grandchildren."

It's always easy to say that no individual's actions can make much difference -- why should we stop driving when China's building new coal-fired power plants every day -- but Sarah did a good job of pointing out that "the U.S. is extremely pivotal" in fighting climate change -- no worldwide solution can occur without us making a big effort. She reminded us that there is no single solution -- everybody, everywhere in the world, has a role to play.

Especially here in Ventura, where we are threatened with sea-level rise -- if not in my lifetime, then at least in Sarah's and Alec's. If you want to estimate for yourself how sea-level rise might affect Ventura -- depending on different levels of inundation -- check out this interactive map at the web site

Alec, Sarah, and Rick will all be recognized at Monday's council meeting (1/25) for their involvement at Copenhagen.


  1. I can't believe people are still so desparate to prove we humans are responsible for climate change on our planet. There is no REAL scientific data the proves we are the cause of global warming. Back in the 30's - 50's there was a 1/2 of a percent rise in glabal tempurature that they attributed to industrialization but no further rise has been documented from CONTINUED use of fossil fuels etc.

    America has taken HUGE steps already. How many cities are recycling today? How many families in Ventura City and County are careful about recycling their trash? their motor oil? their TV and computer monitors, their used paint and household chemicals? America is already making huge strides in its day to day usage and recycling. Can we improve? Yes we can, will we? Yes we will. But we don't need to be brainwashed and coerced into making changes. Give us more options to choose from along with facts and we can make our own responsible choices.

  2. I received several comments along these lines -- that humans have not caused global warming. In my view, it is irrelevant whether or not we are causing it ... it does appear to be happening. And it will require us to take steps to protect our community from a rising sea level.

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    Perhaps you missed the summary of Dr. Otterstrom's message:

    "She reminded us that there is no single solution -- everybody, everywhere in the world, has a role to play."

    I suspect if you were to look into the work that she's doing in Nicaragua, you'd have a hard time finding signs of brainwashing or coercion.

  4. The problem is, there is no way to stop the sea level from rising. The ice caps are melting, and as a result the sea level will rise. It has been happening for the past 12,000 years, and it has happened many times in the history of the Earth.

    But that doesn't excuse us from conservation. The City of Ventura and Ventura County both have excellent recycling facilities, we should be proud of the effort our leaders are making in this regard.


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