People’s Climate March in Wilmington

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The communities clustered around the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach face higher health risks due to contamination than any other part of LA.  With diesel trucks, heavy machinery, oil refineries and industrial waste all causing impacts on the local enviroment, the people who live in this area have suffered from the effects of toxic air, toxic water and toxic soil.  They’re getting it from all sides.

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Thousands of people showed up for the march.

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A shot of the crowd with the stage in the background.

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This sign caught my eye.

So the People’s Climate March had a special meaning for the folks who live in these communities.  Last Saturday, April 29, there were demonstrations in cities across the US, and here in LA protesters congregated in Wilmington.  They started with a rally in Banning Park, and then marched to the nearby Tesoro Refinery to voice their fears about increased levels of contamination.

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Even protesters gotta eat.

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And they gotta check their cell phones.

Jane Fonda and Robert Kennedy, Jr. both showed up at the rally to talk about the importance of protecting the environment.  Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán gave a fiery speech, railing against the injustice of subjecting low-income familes to hazardous levels of contamination.

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The crowd gathered in front of the stage.

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Spirits were high.

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Representative Nanette Diaz Barragan lays it down for the crowd.

It does seem crazy that at a time when the vast majority of scientists agree on the dangers of climate change, the US government is doing everything it can to roll back environmental protections.  But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen politicians put corporate profits above the public good.  Which is why we have to keep reminding them that they were put in office to serve us.

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Protesters getting ready to march.

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It took a while to get things started.

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Lots of folks carrying umbrellas.

Marching is good.  Staying engaged with your elected officials is even better.  This is going to be a long fight, but we’ve won before, and we can win again.

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Tesoro Refinery

Protest to Save the Planet

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The vast majority of climate scientists agree that climate change is a threat and that it’s caused by human activity. But the White House is determined to ignore that threat, and has taken steps to back away from agreements the US has signed to reduce global warming. On top of that, the new administration has proposed to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by almost a third, and roll back regulations designed to protect our air and water.

But scientists are fighting back. Last Saturday was Earth Day, and to push back against Washington’s assault on the environment a broad coalition of academics and activists organized the March for Science. All across the country Americans gathered in cities big and small to speak out in favor of protecting the planet.

When I got off the subway at Fifth and Hill the streets were already packed.

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The street was jammed when I arrived.

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Glad to know it was okay to take photos.

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Even Hello Kitty fans turned out to protest.

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The sidewalks were so crowded it wasn’t always easy to get around.

I could hear people speaking over a PA in Pershing Square, so I headed over there. The crowd was so thick I couldn’t get near the stage, so I wandered around and snapped a few photos.

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I couldn’t get near the stage in Pershing Square…

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…so I made my way through the throng…

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…to another part of the plaza…

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…where I ran into Santa Claus.

Here are a few signs that jumped out at me.

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My favorite sign of the day.

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The scariest sign of the day.

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The most honest sign of the day.

Finally the march got started. A huge crowd headed up Hill Street and then over to City Hall.

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The crowd getting ready to march.

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Protesters made their way up Hill Street.

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Another shot of the march.

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And yet another shot of the march.

Earth Day is over, but the fight is just starting. We need to speak out loudly against policies that put profit ahead of the planet. To learn how you can get involved, visit the March for Science web site.

March for Science

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Fire Season

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Saturday morning I went outside while it was still dark. As I walked past an overhead light I looked up and saw a stream of tiny particles drifting down to the ground. It was ash. I knew there was a fire somewhere.

It wasn’t until later in the day that I found out the fire was in Santa Clarita. I was in Burbank, and looking toward the north you could see a massive, dark, grey cloud spreading across the sky.

A view of the sky over Burbank on Saturday.

A view of the sky over Burbank on Saturday.

The older I get, the more uneasy I feel during the fire season. I’m not worried about my own safety. The most destructive fires generally happen far away from the center of the city. What really scares me is knowing that thousands of acres and millions of trees are going up in smoke. Tune in to the news and you can see raging infernos sweeping across California’s hills and mountains. Sometimes it feels like the whole state is on fire.

I just mentioned how uneasy I felt during the fire season, but I should have said “seasons”. In California there are actually two periods when fires are likely to burn. The summer season, when high temperatures dry out our forests, and the Santa Ana season, when hot winds drive fast-burning blazes that generally threaten coastal areas. In recent years, both of these periods have grown longer, and the fires have grown larger. See this article from KCET’s web site for more details.

California Has Two Fire Seasons, and Climate Change Will Make Both Worse

The sun seen through smoke from the Santa Clarita fire.

The sun seen through smoke from the Santa Clarita fire.

There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests that the hotter, drier weather we’ve been experiencing for years now isn’t just a drought, but that the climate in the Western US is changing. Snow packs have been declining for decades, and warmer temperatures are causing the snow to melt earlier. This is one of the reasons that our summer fire season has grown longer and more destructive.

If climate change is a factor in causing more large scale fires, this is doubly disturbing, because these fires also release huge amounts of carbon into the air. More carbon in the atmosphere accelerates climate change, which scientists believe will lead to even hotter, drier weather, which will lead to more intense and more destructive fires. This article from Berkeley News summarizes the findings of a study conducted by the National Park Service and UC Berkeley.

Wildfires Emit More Greenhouse Gases than Assumed

Watching thick, dark smoke billow across the sky on Saturday was scary. But what’s even scarier is what will happen in the years to come if the scientists are right. The evidence has been mounting for years that our addiction to fossil fuels will cause irreversible damage to the planet. We’ve made some progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California, but we need to do a lot more. Otherwise our skies, and our future, will continue to grow darker.

A view of the sky from Riverside Dr. on Saturday.

A view of the sky from Riverside Dr. on Saturday.

Climate Change in LA

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Now in the our third year of drought, it seems pretty clear to me that the climate in LA is changing. We’re getting far less rain than we used to, and the fire season is getting longer and longer. Of course, the same thing is happening all over California and throughout the Southwest. And from the reading I’ve done, it seems that the vast majority of scientists now agree that climate change is related to human activity.

Later this month in New York, the UN Climate Summit will take place. World leaders attending the summit will discuss what measures their countries can take to combat global warming. Honestly, I’m not optimistic. After years of debating this topic, we’ve made very little progress, and the consensus in the scientific community is that things are only going to get worse.

To put some pressure on the politicians, people are taking to the streets all over the globe to call attention to the very real dangers that climate change poses. Here in LA, there’s an event on Saturday, September 20. I’m going to be there. For more info, here’s the link….

Building Blocks Against Climate Change

If you’re not in the LA area, there are events happening around the globe. The link below will take you to a page that shows events all over the world.

People’s Climate Mobilisation

The UN has extensive information on climate change available on their web site.

UN Climate Summit 2014

I know there are people out there who are still skeptical about climate change. And if it turns out twenty years from now that the scientists were wrong, then you can all laugh at people like me and call us gullible fools.

On the other hand, if it turns out they were right, I don’t think anybody will be laughing.