You can make a difference to the hurt being caused by climate chaos and the great extinction event, in your town or your city! How? Reuse, repurpose, and recycle this information. You can push your local politicians to act. It will make a difference!
This is the letter for week 87 of a weekly climate strike that went on for 4 years in front of San Francisco City Hall, beginning early March 2019. For more context, see this story. For an annotated table of contents to see topics for all the strike letters, see this story. Meanwhile…
STRIKE FOR THE PLANET
What have you been doing for the last 87 weeks?
This week: A Summary For Winter.
I’ve now been striking for San Francisco’s survival for 87 weeks. I have gathered up-to-date, accurate information on the wide range of problems we are facing and given that information to you. I’ve pointed you to possible solutions for every problem presented, including legislative language, costs, and people and municipalities to contact. My goal was to make acting on the information as easy as possible, and make crystal clear the consequences of not acting.
So, what have you accomplished in the last 87 weeks?
- We finally got you to pass a partial ban on methane infrastructure, though only in new or substantially remodeled city buildings.
- You instituted Slow Streets, and some of the long-planned street calming and traffic safety measures are finally being built.
- There is some dense housing/no car planning happening in some neighborhoods for low and moderate income families.
- There are more EV charging stations (531 currently).
- And you published some reports, plans, and assessments.1
And that’s it. Pretty underwhelming. Heavy on words, light on actions. It’s not a lot.
Meanwhile, has SF’s peril changed in the last 87 weeks?
- We’re farther away from Vision Zero than ever as pedestrian and bicyclists’ deaths have soared, even during the pandemic.2, 3, 4, 5
- There’s been a huge increase in plastic pollution6, including locally.7
- There’s been a massive decrease in sustainable practices8, 9 despite having evidence since March that plastic is NOT safer than paper or cardboard.10
- Our air quality is abysmal for longer periods, and this trend will continue for 100s of years.11, 12
- We’re in a megadrought13, and our water is badly, universally polluted.14
- SF continues destroying natural habitats (via lights15, 16 and plastic17, 18) even though there is little natural habitat left.19, 20
- We are facing a massive increase in homelessness just around the corner.21
- And we’re in the middle (with about 8 months to go) of the first but not the last pandemic of the Holocene extinction event22, 23, 24, a pandemic that shows how badly we’re doing on environmental justice issues.25
So there’s a LOT of work to be done, and almost no time left in which to do it. And that lack of time — that was your choice.
What has to happen starting in the next two weeks if we’re going to survive?
- We have to secure local, renewable sources of energy and water immediately. If we don't have those, it’s game over. What we have now, with Hetch Hetchy and PG&E, is neither local nor secure, and definitely not renewable.26
- We need to start growing our own food and making arrangements with local farmers that extend far beyond just farmers markets. Please note: capitalism got us into this problem, so more capitalism will not get us out of this problem.
- We need to focus on nature-based solutions27, like the bioswales sitting half-done along Sunset Blvd, but much more, more widespread, and more clearly nature-based (so no plastic liners, for example).
- We need to create great diversity and modularity or independence in our systems.28 Diversity increases the chances of survival when the environment changes; this is basic evolutionary biology, and applies to any complex system, like a city.
- We must forge strong, mutually beneficial connections to rural areas of California so that we have an interest in their survival and they have an interest in ours. This local network will make us stronger and give us a greater diversity of options when trouble comes.
- We have to get everyone involved in this project.29 Now.
This isn’t going away.
There are 2 weeks to start the big actions that’ll make it possible to survive.30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 In a little over a year and a half, we have lost 10 years time in which to act. The U.S. has now been out of the Paris Agreement for 49 days, and every day out is making our situation worse. What are you waiting for? A return to “normal”? There is no going back, and if you don’t start acting, there is no future either.
1. All from “San Francisco Climate Milestones”. SF Environment. Accessed 22 December 2020. https://sfenvironment.org/climate-milestones.
2. Lew Van Blois. “Pedestrian Traffic Deaths Rapidly Increase Due To Less Law Enforcement”. Van Blois Law. 21 December 2020. https://www.vanbloislaw.com/blog/2020/12/pedestrian-traffic-deaths-rapidly-increase-due-to-less-law-enforcement/.
3. Michael Toren. “Pedestrian Deaths in San Francisco Reach Three in Last 30 days”. SF Weekly. 19 March 2020. https://www.sfweekly.com/news/pedestrian-deaths-in-san-francisco-reach-three-in-last-30-days/.
4. “Traffic Fatalities”. City Performance Scorecards: City and County of San Francisco. Accessed 22 December 2020, most recently updated with August numbers. https://sfgov.org/scorecards/transportation/traffic-fatalities.
5. Roger Rudick. “Driver Kills Pedestrian at Gough and Geary”. StreetsBlog SF. 12 August 2020. https://sf.streetsblog.org/2020/08/12/driver-kills-pedestrian-at-gough-and-geary/.
6. Damian Carrington. “Microplastics revealed in the placentas of unborn babies”. The Guardian. 22 December 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/22/microplastics-revealed-in-placentas-unborn-babies.
7. Rob Fladeboe. “‘COVID Trash’: Masks, gloves wash into SF bay”. KRON. 19 November 2020. https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/covid-trash-masks-gloves-wash-into-sf-bay/.
8. Dustin Gardiner. “SF to lift ban on reusable shopping bags amid complaints about waste”. Chronicle. 26 June 2020. https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/San-Francisco-to-lift-ban-on-reusable-shopping-15367571.php.
9. Hannah Davis and Sophia Quast. “Green in a global crisis: a look at the effects of the pandemic on waste production”. The Carletonian. 23 December 2020. https://thecarletonian.com/2020/11/14/green-in-a-global-crisis-a-look-at-the-effects-of-the-pandemic-on-waste-production/.
10. Rosie McCall. “This is How Long Coronavirus Can Survive on Plastic, Cardboard and in the Air”. Newsweek. 16 March 2020. https://www.newsweek.com/coronavirus-survive-plastic-cardboard-air-1492489.
11. Pippa Neill. “California faces record levels of air pollution due to wildfires”. Air Quality News. 10 September 2020. https://airqualitynews.com/2020/09/10/california-faces-record-levels-of-air-pollution-due-to-wildfires/.
12. Joseph Serna. “Changes caused by worsening wildfires in California forests will last centuries”. Los Angeles Times. 21 December 2020. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-21/worst-california-wildfire-season-has-altered-forests-for-centuries-to-come.
13. See Strike letters for weeks 1, 20, 52, and 82.
14. Lynne Peeples. “‘Forever chemicals’ pollute water from Alaska to Florida”. The Guardian. 22 December 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/22/forever-chemicals-pollute-water-dozens-of-sites-in-every-us-state.
15. David Lorenz. “San Francisco Light Pollution Map”. from Light Pollution Atlas 2016. 2016. http://www.cleardarksky.com/lp/SanFranCAlp.html?Mn=meteorites.
16. Salvador Bara, Costis Bouroussis, Anika Jägerbrand, Andreas Jechow, Travis Longcore, James Lowenthal, Mario Motta, Pedro Sanhueza, Luc Schlangen, and Sibylle Schroer. “Report of the Bio-Environment Working Group”. Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias.. 5-9 October 2020. https://owncloud.iac.es/index.php/s/WcdR7Z8GeqfRWxG#pdfviewer.
17. David Romano. “Artificial Turf in Golden Gate Park”. Richmond Review/Sunset Beacon. 10 October 2019. https://sfrichmondreview.com/2019/10/10/letter-to-the-editor-artificial-turf-in-golden-gate-park/.
18. Marjie Lundstrom and Eli Wolfe. “Fields of Waste: Artificial Turf, Touted as Recycling Fix for Millions of Scrap Tires, Becomes Mounting Disposal Mess”. Fair Warning. 19 December 2019. https://www.fairwarning.org/2019/12/fields-of-waste-artificial-turf-mess/.
19. Jimmy Tobias. “The Extinction Crisis Devastating San Francisco Bay”. The Nation. 21 April 2020. https://www.thenation.com/article/environment/extinction-san-francisco-bay/.
20. “Ecosystems”. SF Environment. Accessed 23 December 2020. https://sfenvironment.org/ecosystems/overview/ecosystems.
21. Karen Attiah. “The evictions crisis is coming. We have barely begun to face it.” The Washington Post. 19 December 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/19/evictions-crisis-is-coming-we-have-barely-begun-face-it/.
22. Jeff Goodell. “How Climate Change Is Ushering in a New Pandemic Era”. Rolling Stone. 7 December 2020. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/climate-change-risks-infectious-diseases-covid-19-ebola-dengue-1098923/.
23. Sommer Brokaw. “Future pandemics will be worse without major strategy shift, study says”. UPI. 29 October 2020. https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/10/29/Future-pandemics-will-be-worse-without-major-strategy-shift-study-says/6741603982747/.
24. Rob Jordan. “How does climate change affect disease?” Stanford Earth. 15 March 2019. https://earth.stanford.edu/news/how-does-climate-change-affect-disease#gs.os2bc1.
25. Katherine Bagley. “COVID-19 worsens the role environmental injustice already plays in marginalized communities”. PBS News Hour. 12 May 2020. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/covid-19-worsens-the-role-environmental-injustice-already-plays-in-marginalized-communities.
26. Please, just go to the past Strike letters. I’ve covered these topics extensively on multiple weeks.
27. Lauren Oakes, Sarah Olson, and James Watson. “Preventing pandemics, global warming and environmental degradation all at once”. CNN. 22 April 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/22/opinions/pandemics-global-warming-linked/index.html.
28. Adam Frank. “Coronavirus and climate change: The pandemic is a fire drill for our planet’s future”. NBC: Think. 27 March 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/coronavirus-climate-change-pandemic-fire-drill-our-planet-s-future-ncna1169991.
29. Through documents like the one described here, for starters: “Creating a Model Climate Resilient City”. U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. 14 June 2017. https://toolkit.climate.gov/case-studies/creating-model-climate-resilient-city.
30. Matt McGrath. “Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months”. BBC News. 24 July 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48964736.
31. Heather Smith. “Climate Change: Even Worse Than We Thought”. Sierra. 8 October 2018. https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/climate-change-even-worse-we-thought-ipcc-report.
32. Michael Grose and Julie Arblaster. “Just how hot will it get this century? It’s worse than we thought”. Phys Org. 18 May 2020. https://phys.org/news/2020-05-hot-century-worse-thought.html.
33. Amelia Urry. “The scientist who first warned of climate change says it’s much worse than we thought”. Grist. 22 March 2016. https://grist.org/science/the-scientist-who-first-warned-of-climate-change-says-its-much-worse-than-we-thought/.
34. Rafi Letzter. “Today’s Climate Change Is Worse Than Anything Earth Has Experienced in the Past 2,000 Years”. Live Science. 25 July 2019. https://www.livescience.com/66027-climate-change-different.html.
35. John D. Sutter. “Vanishing”. CNN. Accessed 30 June 2020. https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2016/12/specials/vanishing/.
36. Peter Castagno. “Biodiversity Loss Worst in Human History — 1 Million Animal Species Risk Extinction”. Citizen Truth. 6 May 2019. https://citizentruth.org/biodiversity-loss-worst-in-human-history-1-million-animal-species-risk-extinction/.
37. Kristen Callihan. “Earth’s Currently Ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction Is Worse Than We Thought”. OutwardOn. 7 August 2017. https://www.outwardon.com/article/earths-currently-ongoing-sixth-mass-extinction-event-is-worse-than-we-thought/.