It never occurred to our grandparents, and in some case, our parents, that we could impact the weather. Climate was something no one could change. In Texas we often said that if you didn’t like the weather, wait five minutes, it will change. All that thinking has gone out the window.
Last year Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the City Council ordered a study to determine what climate changes meant for San Antonio. The mayor received the report and added an introduction to the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan acknowledging that as a result of our changing climate, we face a “future that is projected to have hotter temperatures, longer droughts, and more intense rain events.”
The path to finding solutions to our changing climate and its impact actually began with the Paris Agreement signed by Mayor Nirenberg in 2017. The Agreement “brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.”
By 2018 the environmental organization C40Cities, reported that “more than 70 mayors in America had committed “to develop and begin implementing ambitious climate action plans by 2020 and become emissions neutral by no later than 2050.” In addition, 815 cities signed the One Planet Charter “to reinforce their commitment and take continued actions” to include, for example, zero emission buildings thereby eliminating the use of fossil fuel energy to heat, cool, and light our homes and buildings. In addition, we must find ways to reduce the amount of trash we send to landfills or incinerators which contribute to the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
The climate change discussion has intensified over the last two months following the release of the draft report. Texas Public Radio reported that major decreases would need to occur in five categories: greenhouse gas emissions, dependence on carbon-based fuels, energy and buildings, transportation and land use, waste and consumption, water and natural resources, in addition to promoting climate equity which included people who are already socially vulnerable (for example, the elderly, the sick, and the poor).” As we have learned from the vast hurricane-related devastation in Puerto Rico, poor families cannot leave their community or homes, while wealthy families can move to luxury resorts or buy new homes when climate change impacts their Commonwealth.
San Antonio’s City Council members decided this week that the topic of climate change was of such importance that they would vote in the fall of this year on how and when the city will implement stricter regulations on carbon emissions which are currently the leading culprits in climate change.
The increase of storms and drought around the world have, in just the last decade, resulted in a rise of climate-related catastrophes. The authors of the San Antonio report took these warnings to heart. In the near future, the report noted, we could see a “significant increase in days with maximum temperatures above 100°F, a decrease in cool nights (those that reach temperatures below 80°F), less annual rainfall, and more intense storms.”
The City Council discussed some of the pro and cons of the recommendations and took note of the warning that climate change also meant “more severe storms, and increased flooding,” weather-related events that are increasingly occurring across America. In many poor neighborhoods of San Antonio flooding occurs annually because of poor flood controls and severe storms add to existing drainage problems. The same climate challenges, the report predicted, “will be magnified by our warming planet.”
San Antonio does not appear to be on track with reducing carbon emissions. Sierra Club local organizer Greg Harman wrote that “US industrial greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the rapid warming of the earth may have dipped slightly last year, but in San Antonio, they took a sharp jab skyward, according to numbers released last week by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
The San Antonio Current commented that the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan “which outlines a path for San Antonio to become climate neutral by 2050, has faced criticism from business interests, which argue the details are too vague and could decimate the city’s growth. Meanwhile, some environmentalists worry the proposal doesn’t go far enough”.
Brendan Gibbons of the Rivard Report wrote about
the climate plan noting that “To fulfill its city council’s promise to act on climate change, San Antonio must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.”
In essence, Gibbons noted, “within 30 years, CPS Energy would have to completely quit coal and natural gas…(and) San Antonio must have only electric or other carbon-free vehicles on its roads by 2050.” What happens if we don’t act or delay for decades a reduction of gases and pollutants? Likely we would see a rise in our home energy bills and days when heat and air quality would prevent us from outdoor activities and work.
Storms such as Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico would continue to wreak havoc on our homes and businesses.
Much has to be done to improve auto and truck emissions as well as increase energy efficiency that heats and cools our homes. Government regulations are only part of the solution to reducing the release of greenhouse gases. In the end, such goals require that we all find ways
to reduce our energy consumption. Among the things we can do now are: turn off the lights when we leave the room set our thermostats at reasonable temperatures, and buy energy efficient appliances, automobiles and trucks. To reduce waste and save energy, Austin just announced an offer to their residents for “free home composting and chicken keeping classes, and qualifying Austinites can even apply for a $75 rebate for the purchase of a home composting system or chicken coop.”
The City of Austin Utilities newsletter claims that “the average chicken can eat close to seven pounds of food scraps a week and can provide you with eggs, fertilize your grass and eat bugs in your yard.” The race to save the planet is on!