In Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Nat Bates and Corky Booze failed to support the City of Richmond proceeding with a Climate Action Plan. See below from Richmond Confidential (http://richmondconfidential.org/2013/03/20/at-council-meeting-protesters-call-for-tougher-treatment-of-assistant-city-manager/).
With Booze and Bates voting against, the council also authorized the city manager to work on a Climate Action Plan for Richmond, which would address the city’s preparation for climate change, bring the city into compliance with national standards, and serve as a starting point to apply for federal cap-and-trade grants.
Booze called the plan a waste of time, and said that potholes and dark streets in the city are higher priorities.
“Potholes are about today and tomorrow,” Butt disagreed. “This is about our kids and our grandkids. Sure, we’re going to spend a lot more money on potholes than we’re going to spend on this, but that doesn’t mean we just lay this aside and say it’s not a priority to us.”
The debate continued for more than 45 minute; at one point, Butt and Booze shouted their business credentials at each other across the dias [sic]. Myrick told the council he was disappointed that the conversation was so controversial. “It doesn’t need to be,” he said. “A climate action plan doesn’t ignore the community, it is for the community.”
The debate over climate change mitigation in Richmond garnered a mere four sentences in Richmond Confidential and no coverage from any other media.
With 32 miles of shoreline, much of it low-lying, Richmond is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, something in which the City Council should take a high level of interest. Although Nat Bates placed himself on the Obama ticket (Bates/Obama) in the last two elections, he obviously does not join the president’s concern about climate change. Only a month before Bates voted against a climate action plan, Obama said the following in his second inaugural address:
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
Following his strong statements in his inaugural address about the ripeness of the moment to address a changing climate, Obama outlined a series of proposals to do it.
Recognizing that the 12 hottest years on record all occurred in the last decade and a half, Obama said his most ambitious goal would be a "bipartisan, market-based solution," similar to the cap-and-trade system that died in Congress during his first term.(See related story: "California Tackles Climate Change, But Will Others Follow?")
But without legislative action, Obama threatened to act himself using executive authority. "I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy," he said. That will translate, White House officials said earlier in the week, to new regulations for existing coal-burning power plants and directives to promote energy efficiency and new technology research. (See related story: "How Bold a Path on Climate Change in Obama's State of the Union?")
The effort isn't one that can be stalled, he noted. Not just because of a warming planet, but also because of international competition from countries like China and parts of Western Europe that have gone "all in" on clean energy (Daniel Stone, National Geographic News, Published February 12, 2013).
Clearly, Bates and Booze don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe it is caused by human activity, but they are in disagreement with 97% of climatologists who are active publishers on climate change worldwide as well as our president, our governor, the United Nations and the majority of Californians. They are also in disagreement with most Richmond residents who overwhelmingly voted for Obama in 2012.
Unfortunately, however, Bates and Booze have lots of company from the 30% - 40% of general public nationwide (probably far fewer in Richmond) who remain skeptical and probably watch a lot of Fox News. So if you are one of those skeptics, I am unlikely to convince you, along with Nat Bates and Corky Booze.
However, here are some interesting facts that Bates and Booze would do well to study:
- AB 32 makes it California law and public policy to reduce greenhouse gases, and SB 375 provides incentives that direct future state funds to those communities that embrace climate change mitigation. Having a climate action plan is step one for a community to address climate change.
- Governor Jerry Brown said, "It's time for courage, it's time for creativity and it's time for boldness to tackle climate change." See the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research on climate change.
- In a January 21 interview with the Associated Press before the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon laid out his top priorities for 2013; at the top of the list was a global agreement on climate change. “The world is now experiencing unprecedented challenges . . . Climate change is happening – much, much faster than one would have expected,” Ban said. “Climate and ecosystems are under growing strain.” In response, Ban said, “I will do my best to mobilize the political will and resources so that the member states can agree to a new legally binding global agreement on climate change.” The Secretary-General also plans to have priorities that tie climate change mitigation to economic growth and sustainable development. “We have to have sustainable development . . . That’s our number one priority together with climate change.”
Climate Change is Top Threat according to the Commander of US Forces Pacific. According to the Commander of U.S. Forces Pacific (PACCOM), significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.”
Both Bates and Booze persist in invoking the “business community” to support their positions on climate change and other policies, as if they had some unique understanding of what “business” wants and needs and other City Council members, including me, don’t. What they mostly understand about the business community is that it is a source of tens of thousands of dollars of political donations. Ironically, I remain the only member of the City Council who is actually a “member” of the “business community” in Richmond. Every day, I go to work, supervise employees, market my services, make a payroll, meet a budget, and, hopefully, make a profit.
I am disappointed that the people of Richmond do not let these two dinosaurs know that they expect more from them. It would sure make my job a lot easier and get me home a little earlier on Tuesday nights.