The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
March - April 2007
Fighting a new problem with tried-and-true solutions
By Melissa Capria, San Francisco Department of Environment
Managing waste, reducing pollution, providing transit, and finding safe, clean, and efficient energy sources are core responsibilities of cities. They're also core climate protection measures, and climate change gives cities an urgent call to action and a new organizing tool to pursue these goals more aggressively than ever before. In San Francisco at the Department of Environment (SF Environment), we have begun to look at climate change as an umbrella for almost every service we offer - from commuter benefits to recycling, green building to renewables, urban forestry to environmental justice.
Each program area at SF Environment has been eager to work out how the climate challenge fits into its individual efforts. Working collectively as a department, we have a much more powerful approach to the problem. Climate change increasingly serves as a powerful motivator to the community and we believe it will enhance participation in environmental programs and services.
In addition to promoting specific programs, SF Environment is charged with outreach and education to other city departments and the community so that agencies, businesses, and residents realize that by acting collectively we can minimize the impacts of climate change and that the solutions are already part of our everyday lives.
Many environmental groups and city agencies are concerned about creating whole new campaigns to fight climate change - but to a large degree we who are doing environmental work don't need to change our focus, we just need to talk differently about our work.
It's true that "to stop global warming you have to change your behavior," but we emphasize the further message that "if you're doing environmental work, if you have an environmental consciousness, you're already fighting global warming." When we're doing what we do best, we're fighting global warming. We don't need new programs; we need new packaging of our programs, to help people see the connections between public transportation, recycling, resource efficiency, waste reduction - and climate change.
As daunting as it is to change public behavior, the solutions that we are talking about are already all around us. The trick for each of us is to discover our piece of the solution and figure out how to tell that story to the public. As all emissions are local, the solutions may be closer to home, as well.
© 2007 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
|EXPLORE, ENJOY AND PROTECT THE PLANET|