Fighting Climate Change Deniers at the Local, State, and Federal Level

Together, we made a lot of progress on addressing climate change in the Bay in 2016, and Save The Bay is committed to intensifying the fight in 2017 and beyond.
Together, we made a lot of progress on addressing climate change in the Bay in 2016, and Save The Bay is committed to intensifying the fight in 2017 and beyond. Photo by Dan Sullivan.

It’s a new year, which in the case of 2017 means a new Congress and a new administration in Washington, D.C. Many of us in the Bay Area have a palpable sense of unease about what the impending changes in the federal government mean for the Bay and the environment more broadly. And on no issue is this concern felt more deeply than the fight to address climate change and its impacts.

Environmental advocates in the Bay Area – and California as a whole –  are determined and prepared to advance this fight, and we at Save The Bay are doing everything we can to ensure that climate change remains front and center in regional, state, and federal agendas over the coming years.

Here is what we are doing to make this happen:

On the local level

As the Bay Area rapidly grows in the coming years, we can help ensure that the growth happens in a way that minimizes the impact on the Bay and adapts to climate change. This is the aim of our new Bay Smart Communities Program, which promotes investment in green infrastructure, low-impact development, transit-oriented development, and increased affordable housing along the Bay. These “smart growth” components have a number of significant climate change-related benefits, including:

  • Reducing vehicle emissions and harmful pollutant runoff into the Bay by building higher density housing – particularly affordable housing – and commercial developments near public transit, allowing people to work in the same communities in which they live, thereby facilitating decreased vehicle use;
  • Conserving fresh water and slowing the flow of rain water by building “green streets” and plumbing systems that filter pollution from rain water and provide opportunities for its capture and local reuse; and,
  • Increasing urban green space, which enhances recreational space, encourages people to walk or bike instead of drive, and reduces urban heat islands that lead to higher local energy consumption.

On the state Level

We are fortunate to live in a state that has led the nation in the fight against climate change. Gov. Jerry Brown and our state legislature have already committed to pursuing continued aggressive action regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C. In 2017 and beyond, Save The Bay will:

  • Build on the success of Measure AA by advocating for additional state funding to match our regional investment, allowing for more Bay restoration that will protect the ecosystem while also safeguarding shoreline communities against climate change-induced threats like flooding due to sea level rise;
  • Build on the success of landmark 2016 climate mitigation legislation by advocating additional policies that further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and provide communities – particularly low-income communities and communities of color, who suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change – with the resources to minimize these emissions and improve public health, safety, and quality of life; and,
  • Support other climate resiliency legislation to benefit the Bay, including bills dealing with stormwater management, green infrastructure investment, allocation of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund monies, and water allocation and storage.

On the federal level

Despite what we expect to be a more climate-change skeptical and anti-environment leadership in Washington, D.C., over the next few years we will be more aggressive than ever in asserting the importance of federal environmental protection laws, regulations, and strong action on climate change. Already, we have:

  • Opposed the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), citing his record of fighting EPA action on climate change and opposing enforcement of the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Protection Act – all vital laws that we rely on to help protect the Bay and its ecosystem, particularly in the face of climate change;
  • Urged our state’s newest U.S. Senator, Kamala Harris, to actively oppose Pruitt’s nomination in her capacity as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; and,
  • Discussed with our congressional partners the importance of creating a new federal program for San Francisco Bay restoration, including robust funding to match regional and state investments, both to ensure that the Bay ecosystem is protected into the future and to create a framework for addressing the growing threat of sea level rise and other climate-induced changes.

Together, we made a lot of progress on addressing climate change in the Bay in 2016, and Save The Bay is committed to intensifying the fight in 2017 and beyond.

In Memoriam: Harold Gilliam

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Harold Gilliam was a pioneer of environmental journalism, and was one of the original 10 who were present in the Berkeley living room where our organization was conceived in 1961. Photo: Russell Yip, The Chronicle.

Harold Gilliam passed away last week at the age of 98, a giant of environmental journalism who essentially established the field, at least here in the Bay Area.  After Save The Bay co-founder Sylvia McLaughlin passed away at the beginning of this year, Harold was the last living person of the 10 who were present in the Berkeley living room where our organization was conceived in 1961.

Harold was a brilliant writer, and a sweet man who loved nature and inspired others to see and love it through his words.  He chronicled our movement from that initial Berkeley meeting to its many victories in his newspaper columns and books, in speeches and interviews, and in the 2009 “Saving the Bay” documentary that is still a pledge week favorite on KQED-TV.  Harold made numerous appearances at events for us in recent years, always inspiring us with his recollections of past battles and interpretations of what they would mean for the future, and we honored him with our Founding Member Award in 2010.

Harold learned his craft from the best after serving in Europe in WWII, attending the Stanford Writing Program under Wallace Stegner. Initially hired as a copy boy for the “San Francisco Chronicle,” he wrote for that paper and the “San Francisco Examiner” for 30 years. In addition to columns covering industrialization, habitat destruction, Bay fill and global warming, he also authored dozens of books on San Francisco, its environment, and even its weather.

His first book on San Francisco Bay inspired Kay Kerr’s invitation for him to join the organization’s first meeting with her, Sylvia McLaughlin and Esther Gulick, David Brower and other conservation group leaders in January of 1961. He was dubious the effort would go anywhere, but years later he recounted how the three ladies overcame great odds and deep doubts to mobilize a grassroots movement that saved the Bay from being destroyed.  In 2007, as he chronicled the daunting challenges of climate change, he wrote:

It would be absurd to compare saving the bay to saving the Earth, which will require revolutionary changes in the way all of us on this planet live and work, but it should give us courage and perspective to remember the first environmental activists, who didn’t realize that what they were trying to do was impossible. (How the Bay Was Saved)

Gilliam frequently credited the success of the Save The Bay movement for inspiring other efforts beyond the bay itself, here and around the country:

In a time when many Americans feared that their lives and their environment were at the mercy of forces over which they had no control, the save-the-bay success proved that ordinary citizens were not powerless as they confronted the juggernaut of rampant technology and the political clout of giant corporations. It affirmed that they could win against the most formidable opposition.

Inspired by that example, residents of other regions organized their own grassroots campaigns to turn back the bulldozers. The traditional American conservation movement, which had been focused on saving wilderness, broadened into the burgeoning environmental movement, concerned with urban as well as rural areas — and ultimately with the Earth itself.

He wrote for long enough that he got to describe environmental battles as they happened, like the effort to protect redwood trees in a national park (1966) — and then decades later to inform those enjoying the trees that they were still standing because of a tenacious battle to save them (1982).  He wrote about San Franciscans fighting against more freeways plowing through Golden Gate Park and Fisherman’s Wharf (1965) and the Chronicle reprinted that column in 2012 when few residents could imagine that was ever proposed.

When San Francisco International Airport proposed filling two square miles of the Bay for reconfigured runways, Harold noted Mark Twain’s observation that history doesn’t exactly repeat itself, but it rhymes.  He predicted the public’s love for the Bay would again defeat a developer’s plan to fill it, as San Francisco voters faced a ballot measure giving them the power to approve or deny filling:

San Franciscans have the opportunity to exercise the same kind of people power that broke the tyranny of the bulldozers three decades ago. Other shoreline cities and counties may follow suit, placing ultimate decisions about the entire bay in the hands of the people.  And the rhymes of history will be confirmed.

Five years ago, Chronicle urban design writer John King wrote about Gilliam’s lasting impact on San Francisco and the Bay Area:

Without people like Gilliam who fought hard to keep San Francisco and the Bay Area distinct, treasures we take for granted in many cases would be lost. It’s not chance that 1.3 million acres of this region now are protected open space, for instance. It’s because of a shared realization in the 1960s that, to quote a Gilliam column of the time, a concentrated effort of this sort “would preserve for our descendants a share of the superb natural environment enjoyed by our own generation.”

But King also noted Gilliam didn’t dwell on the past – he saw that our region has a psyche that makes us take on challenging causes in part because we have done so before and succeeded.  Gilliam called it the “San Francisco psyche … this frame of mind that says innovate, take risks, improvise. You won’t win every battle, but you’ll win the important ones.”

Thank you, Harold, for inspiring me and so many others with your words.

Read Chronicle columnist Carl Nolte’s obituary for Harold Gilliam here.

 

A #GivingTuesday message from Jaime Redford

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As a documentary filmmaker, conservationist, and proud Bay Area resident, experience has taught me that when we focus on hope and solutions, our society is capable of great things. You and the Save The Bay community are proof of that.

Measure AA passed earlier this year because more than 70 percent of us here in the Bay Area stood up to restore our wetlands, and to make it better and healthier for everyone. And just weeks ago, Californians stood together to ban the plastic bag in our state once and for all by passing Prop. 67. Save The Bay and supporters like you are making climate change and other environmental issues personal — by talking about what’s happening in your backyards, by meeting people where they are, and by bringing people together to protect this magical place. And that’s inspiring to see.

As we travel to see our loved ones for the holidays and with #GivingTuesday right around the corner, I put this video together to share why I believe our Bay community is so important. The inspiring work of Save The Bay, and the hope and optimism of supporters like you, is more critical now than ever.

I hope you’ll take a minute to watch my video. Thank you for being a part of this movement, giving all you can as we work toward solutions for people, wildlife and the planet.

Sincerely,

JRedford

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Jamie Redford

Save The Bay Supporter and Fairfax Resident

Our Bay Area Kids Are Saving The Bay!

Dig in your hands, move ‘em about, and voila, an earthworm is winding through your muddy fingers! You’re 7 years old and grinning as wide as a crescent moon. “Loooook, Mom!”

Excitement for nature is not hard to imagine at age 7. We are amazed by everything! And why shouldn’t we be? The world is one incredible place, and there are so many ways to explore (and get muddy).

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Save The Bay’s Executive Director David Lewis, (front center) was once a student at The Nueva School. We are grateful to the current students of The Nueva School and Stevenson PACT Elementary for their fundraising efforts for the Bay.

Inspiring a love for nature at a young age is one of the most important things we can do for the next generation, because that love lasts a lifetime. During our early years, we begin to understand how the environment impacts us and how we impact it. This understanding often spurs a desire to protect the places and creatures we love, from the bugs in our hands to our gorgeous local marshlands.

Two groups of remarkable kids in the San Francisco South Bay and Peninsula have recently demonstrated their love for the Bay by raising money to protect it.

An ambitious group of third graders at the Nueva School in Hillsborough recently raised more than $500 through their unique farmers’ market fundraiser. And at Stevenson PACT Elementary School in Mountain View, the second-grade class has also raised over $500 through their craft sale. All of us at Save The Bay feel honored to receive these hard-earned donations, and we’re truly inspired by these young people’s initiative and passion for the Bay.

Stevenson’s second graders decided to support Save The Bay after hearing about our work through a student presentation. At Nueva, the third graders watched the documentary “Saving the Bay”, highlighting San Francisco Bay’s ecological importance and the threats it faces every day.

“The students learned that oil and plastic pollution can cause harm to birds and other wildlife, and can drastically pollute the Bay,” says Lisa Hinshelwood, the third graders’ Social Emotional Learning teacher. She believes that her students were motivated by a real concern that the Bay they know today won’t be around when they get older.

These second and third graders know that their donations will allow Save The Bay to preserve and protect our Bay by restoring wetlands with native plants, reducing pollution in the Bay, and campaigning against reckless shoreline development. We’ll also keep nurturing a love of nature in middle and high school students, through our award-winning restoration education programs.

From all of us at Save The Bay: a huge THANK YOU to the spirited kids of the Nueva School and Stevenson PACT Elementary! Your love for the Bay and your teamwork inspires us all, and we adults will never stop learning from you.

FUN FACT! 

Save The Bay’s Executive Director, David Lewis, attended The Nueva School before it moved from portable classrooms in Menlo Park to the Crocker Mansion in Hillsborough in 1971. In fact, quite a few of Save The Bay’s supporters have a relationship with the Nueva School as alumni, staff and parents. Check out David’s fourth grade class photo above!

David recalls, “A lot of my time at Nueva was spent outdoors, learning about and through nature. We went to Lake Lagunitas at Stanford to catch tadpoles and mosquito larvae, camped at Mt. Madonna, and visited a working farm. Those outdoor experiences influenced my interest in the environment early on.” 

Three Unique Ways to Get Involved with Save The Bay

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A group from Annie’s Homegrown comes to volunteer with us at our MLK Shoreline site.

We are all aware that saving our Bay takes precious time and resources to ensure that the next generation will be able to enjoy the beauty and lifestyle that we have come to love. We are also probably equally aware that volunteering and financially supporting Save The Bay are vital ways to get involved with the organization and to support the Bay. I want to take a moment to tell you about three unique ways you can also get involved with Save The Bay—they are less obvious than volunteering and donating, but are just as important and meaningful.

1. Take Action.

Help eliminate toxic tobacco litter from entering our Bay and polluting our water, harming wildlife, and costing taxpayers millions to clean up.

Sign the petition today to call on your city to pass an outdoor smoking ban that would stop cigarette butt litter at its source.

2. Tell your neighbor.

The work to continue to protect and restore San Francisco Bay is ongoing, and the more people we have in our community working together, the greater chance we have of making a real impact. Talk with your neighbor about the importance of Bay wetlands and pollution prevention, and share ways that they can contribute.

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates to share with your friends, family and colleagues.

3. Become an advocate for us at work.

Whether you are a part of a small or large office, being an advocate for Save The Bay at your place of employment, not only educates others about the importance of saving the Bay, but also allows for our network of communities to grow and ban together. You may be able to leverage matching gifts or company grants to protect and restore the Bay.

Learn more about our Corporate Bay Savers Program.

These are just a few of the ways to get involved with Save The Bay. Please know that the Bay and everyone here appreciate all of the little things that each of you do for our environment! If you have a unique way that you help out the Bay already, let us know in the comments section. Thank you to all of you who continue to make the Bay Area a special and sustainable place to live!