Eight Chapters, Thousands of Members, One Voice

Inclusive Decision Making

A vibrant and engaged community is more likely to be safer, healthier, resilient, more economically sustainable and economically robust. Civic input has a profound impact on the policies that drive the decision making process in all neighborhoods and communities in California.

Civic input is highly valued by elected officials, in part, because the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946 codified the process for public participation in terms of regulatory rule making. This means elected officials are required to solicit public input. But that is not the full story of why elected officials seek civic input and appreciate high levels of public participation.

MLK Park OaklandThe key reason decision makers love for residents to be engaged at the very beginning and through every step of the decision making process is that it provides ownership to the community. MLK Park in Oakland is a great example of this notion. The soccer/football fields are 3 years old and are still in pristine condition. Since the community designed it, they take care of it.

The current model in many communities throughout California relies on a ‘traditional’ set of tools to engage residents, among these more traditional tools, public surveys, visioning workshops, town hall meetings and public hearings are most frequently used. In theory, these numerous tools all sound like fine engagement strategies, but anyone who has sat through one of these traditional meetings knows…well…that they are not always fun. Moreover, they are often scheduled inconveniently, making it difficult for the community members to show up. Hence, this model of public participation processes can be exceptionally disengaging, even for those who care deeply about the issues involved.

Cities throughout California have identified this problem and begun to move to a more digital form of engaging readily available, they are often challenging to locate and understand. More usable interfaces are needed, as well as broader web-based on the record communication between governments and citizens. Simply put, the power of networks and the web have not reached their full potential, yet. social media icon images

The time has come to transition from yet to now. In doing so, the public participation processes ought to be reformed to accommodate more extensive and effective participation pertaining to all community stakeholders. Making the engagement process fun and more effective through the use of creative civic engagement tools is the next watershed breakthrough in community decision-making.

By introducing more public participation opportunities, decision makers and organizations alike can offer communities the opportunity to find the most appropriate method of involvement and participation for each individual stakeholder. This can be done by using innovative visual-art techniques, social-networking, smartphone apps, computer simulation games, exhibits, music, performances, festivals and community gatherings to engage residents and spur them to share their thoughts on civic issues.

Creating simple, engaging, and easily available updates fosters a greater possibility and likelihood of ongoing participation. This is extremely important when implementing statewide policies, such as SB 375 the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008.  As the implementation of state policy rolls out, tools such as ISEEED’s Streetwize platform presents a significant opportunity to digitally engage residents, especially youth!

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Streetwize, as well as a myriad of other software programs, such as Community PlanItNeighborhland, and Texizen, offer residents the ability to connect to their local governments. An added benefit of utilizing digital tools, such as these or others, is that they ought to allow residents and decision makers the ability to benchmark building and neighborhood performance data. This fosters an implementation process that ensures outcome-based approaches

While the digitizing of civic engagement creates opportunities for expanded public participation in the decision-making process, this does not mean that a complete tradeoff ought to be made. Yes, communities should carefully examine what technological tools are available to spur civic engagement. Notwithstanding, they should also continue in-person meetings for those residents who prefer talking in person. The prime goal ought to be to increase stakeholder participation, not trade one input segment of our communities for another.

Designing Resilient Food Systems

Current environmental conditions are catapulting community resilience to the forefront of the public agenda.  Because of climate change, extreme weather conditions have made food security not just a problem faced by the “Third World” (IPCC, 2007), but now an impending issue faced by all members of the globe.  Unsustainable water consumption, pollution from nitrates and pesticides, as well as GHG and particulate matter air pollution have become widespread and resulted in adverse, cumulative impacts.

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Thankfully, legislatures have recognized the need to incorporate innovative food production systems into urban settings and are finding ways to stimulate this sector. In 2014, California passed AB 551 permitting counties to establish “Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones.”  These zones allow private property owners to receive property tax incentives in exchange for restricting the use of their property to urban agriculture for 10 years.  Additionally, San Francisco recently opted in to the AB 551 program and passed a land use and economic development ordinance that further “connects City residents to the broader food system.”  There is no question that this new policy environment will enable local food production to proliferate throughout the Bay Area as well as in other cities that opt into the Incentives Zones initiative.

However, legislatures are not the only ones who recognize the need to change common practices.  One innovative response driven by agricultural entrepreneurs is taking root in the urban setting. These community-oriented actors are working to localize food supply chains using aquaponics.  Their hope is to create resilient and sustainable food systems with minimal environmental impacts.  For them ‘business as usual’ is off the menu.

AquaponicsTraditionally, there have been two main barriers to efficient urban food production; insufficient yield to meet local demand and the inability to financially break even.  According to Aqua Gardens Family Farm, a leading aquaponic grower in Northern California, the advantages of aquaponics over conventional practices address these barriers.  Aquaponic systems yield 4 to 10 times more produce per acre than field grown methods and, because of the contained nature of aquaponic systems, have lower operating expenses and use significantly less resources.

Given the many positive environmental benefits associated with aquaponics, such as 90% less water consumption and zero water and air pollution, when compared to conventional agricultural practices, Aquaponics is clearly the sustainable food production system for the future.  Hopefully, given the shifts in public policy, such systems will go from being innovations for the future to the reality of today.

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Strategic Growth Council affirms its role as lead agency implementing cap and trade revenues for sustainable communities

By Amanda Eaken

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Amanda Eaken, Deputy Director, Sustainable Communities, San Francisco

“We definitely know both in statute and because of agreement among the Council that the Council will retain all important authority over this program and all responsibility for the success of this program.” – Mike McCoy, Executive Director of Strategic Growth Council, July 10, 2014

From the standing room only turnout at last week’s Strategic Growth Council (SGC) meeting, you would never have guessed we were smack in the middle of summer vacation season. The meeting was convened to discuss the new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC), a recently designated recipient of some of the proceeds from California’s cap and trade program.

Supporters of California’s landmark sustainable communities and climate law SB 375 cheered this new program, as it represents the first permanent source of funding for implementing the Sustainable Communities Strategies that regions around the state have developed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under SB 375. The AHSC program received $130 million of cap and trade proceeds in the 2014 fiscal year, and 20% of all cap and trade revenues in following years (total estimated at several billion per year). Eligible uses of the AHSC funds include: affordable housing and transit-oriented development, transit, active transportation, complete streets, farmland conservation, planning to implement Sustainable Communities Strategies, and other programs and projects designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions by reducing car travel.

With an aggressive timeline to deploy funds, the Council is already starting to act.

In advance of the hearing, responding to some concerns about the Council’s proposed action to delegate implementation authority of the AHSC program, Senate President pro Tem and author of SB 375, Darrell Steinberg, sent a letter to Council Chairman Ken Alex. This letter makes clear that:

1) the Council should lead on ranking projects and distributing funds;

2) regional agencies charged with implementing SB 375 should play an active role in selecting the best projects for their regions;

3) the fund guidelines should be reexamined and open to revision after this first push to deploy funds; and,

4) the focus should be on GHG reductions.

During the Council meeting, good discussion clarified the Staff’s recommended action and provided greater specificity to the roles of the Council and supportive state agencies. An amendment to the Council’s action was made, clarifying that the Council will retain authority and coordinate the technical and administrative support from the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), the CA Natural Resources Agency, and the CA Department of Conservation (referred to in the chart below as “implementing agencies”). Council discussion—though no amendments to the motion—also affirmed their agreement with Steinberg’s other key points, namely 1) the MPOs will be key partners in fund distribution, 2) the Council fully expects to revisit these guidelines and implementation decisions after the first round, and 3) the mandate to reduce GHG emissions through this program is abundantly clear and was several times reinforced.

Councilmember Laird explained the collaborative effort under the Council’s leadership: “We’re reserving all the high-level decisions here. They are not being surrendered in every way, but for the expertise that our staff doesn’t have, or the capacity, or the breadth–that’s where you’re doing it [pointing to a HCD representative] within the overall direction or approval of the Strategic Growth Council.” The chart below presented by Council staff illustrates this point:

 

We are pleased to see the Council commit to a thorough public outreach process to develop the guidelines this summer. We had initially reacted that any decisions about which agency should be charged with implementing this program should follow rather than precede the public outreach process, but we are sympathetic to the goals of getting the funding out the door to communities expeditiously.

The breadth of possible projects, potential for innovation, and guarantee of greenhouse gas emissions reductions within this program is tremendous. We look forward to working closely with the Council, HCD, the Natural Resources Agency, the Dept. of Conservation, stakeholders, and other supportive agencies as they develop fund guidelines for this first round of cap and trade dollars and get money flowing quickly towards the best projects.

Source: National Resources Defense Council

Meet the Green Apple Day of Service team

By Hannah Debelius

Published on:
29 Jul 2014
Feature image:

The Center for Green Schools is thrilled to introduce six new organizers for Green Apple Day of Service 2014.

The Green Apple Day of Service, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, gives parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments through local service projects.

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Source: USGBC Nationals – All

A Citizen Radiation Monitoring Workshop at NRDC

By Bemnet Alemayehu

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Bemnet Alemayehu, Project Scientist, Nuclear Program, Washington, D.C.

The Washington DC office of NRDC hosted a two-day workshop on April 21st and 22nd, 2014 entitled bGeigie Nano Detector Assembly and Radiation Field Mapping of Washington, DC. The workshop was the first event in NRDC’s citizen radiation monitoring project, funded by a Discovery Grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundation. The workshop was led by Safecast and by IMI International Medcom, Inc.

The goal of the workshop was for participants to learn and to network about citizen radiation monitoring, to assemble a bGeigie Nano detectors (an award-winning Safecast design for a hand-held Geiger based radiation detector), and to hold a radiation field mapping exercise in Washington, DC using the newly-assembled radiation detectors.

The workshop participants represented non-governmental organizations— BEST/MATRR , Beyond Nuclear , C-10 , GA WAND , Greenpeace, IEER, NIRS, Riverkeeper, SRIC, and UCS, academia— Princeton University Program on Science and Global Security, and the federal government— DOE/NNSA and DHS/DNDO.

On the first day of the workshop, presentations on Safecast’s mission and work, and on how to assemble the bGeigie kits, were given by co-founders of Safecast Pieter Franken and Sean Bonner, and Joe Moross. International Medcom CEO Dan Sythe also presented on his decades of work supporting citizen radiation monitoring and designing and building hand-held radiation detectors. Participants then got to work, soldering and assembling the bGeigie radiation detectors from kits.

The radiation detector components are soldered onto a printed circuit board, and include four microcontrollers—the Arduino microcontroller that holds the Safecast firmware for the device, a data logging microcontroller to record measurements to the bGeigie’s SIM card, a GPS microcontroller to pinpoint the location of the radiation measurements, and an organic light emitting diode display. The bGeigie detectors are powered by a rechargeable battery and enclosed in a water-proof and shock-resistant Pelican case.

 

By the end of the first day, 17 bGeigie Nano radiation detectors were assembled successfully, and the group gathered on the roof of NRDC’s building at 15th Street NW where the detectors could get clear GPS satellite signals.

On the morning of April 22, a sunny spring Earth Day in Washington, DC, participants headed to the National Mall with their assembled bGeigie detectors to perform a radiation field mapping exercise starting at the Capitol Building and walking west across the Mall to the national monuments. The bGeigie detectors were sensitive to the natural radiation given off by the massive granite construction at these sites.

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The conclusion of the workshop consisted of participants practicing how to upload their bGeigie radiation measurements to the Safecast database (at http://api.safecast.org), and the group heard presentations on citizen radiation monitoring from NGOs located in Massachusetts, the Tennessee River Valley and New Mexico. Earlier that day the group was also briefed on the DOE/NNSA aerial monitoring in the aftermath of Fukushima by Dan Blumenthal.

We at NRDC learned a lot from Safecast, from International Medcom and from the groups participating in our workshop. The Fukushima Daiichi accident three years ago created an urgent need by citizens for timely, accurate radiation measurements in Japan, and Safecast formed in response by volunteers using open-source components and software to generate freely-available open data, now with over 17 million logged measurements. We at NRDC are eager to continue with this work to explore ways that technology and social networks can inform and empower individuals with data on radiation in their environments.

Source: National Resources Defense Council

Fulfilling California’s Responsibility to Provide Clean Water

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Photo Credit: Kings County Official Website (http://www.countyofkings.com/)

By Kacey Bills, MPP 2014

When I was a child growing up in Fresno, California, beach weekends were common over the blistering summer. My family always headed to the Central Coast on I-5, making a halfway pit stop in Kettleman City to get chocolate milkshakes. My anticipation for the sugary treat would be at its peak as we drove past the Waste Management and California Aqueduct signs along the highway. The proximity of a waste landfill and a major water source was peculiar to me. That mental image coupled with the lack of visible housing from the freeway made Kettleman City seem like one giant truck stop.

I recently read an article by the California Report describing the concern of Kettleman City residents over the expansion of the Chemical Waste Inc. Hazardous Waste Landfill.[1] When I learned of the controversy over the private company offering to pay Kettleman City’s $500,000 water debt pending the project’s approval, my childhood curiosity about the small town was transformed into an adult fascination.

Kettleman City is representative of many small farming communities in the Central Valley, with the population being predominately Latino, low-income, and with English as a second language. Water supplies in these communities have been proven to contain unsafe levels of chemicals, such as arsenic and nitrogen.[2] With many of the residents of these communities living below the poverty line, tax revenue to provide the necessary infrastructure for clean water is limited. Kettleman City has been attempting to provide safe water for decades, and has accumulated over $500,000 in debt in the process. People in these communities spend a disproportionate amount of their income on water and sanitation (20% compared to the national average of 0.5%).[3] Governor Brown has attempted to deal with this issue by signing AB 685, “The Human Right to Water Bill,” which specifies that all people are entitled to clean, safe, and affordable water.

That bill clearly establishes the state government’s responsibility to provide clean water, and yet Kettleman City officials must choose between the lesser of two evils: Either agree to the landfill expansion and afford clean water from the California Aqueduct, which flows within 3 miles of the town, or oppose it and attempt to get state grant funding. With clean water established as a basic human right, it seems exploitative for water to also be used to extort the support of townspeople for a project that they might oppose.

“The Human Right to Water” Bill is considered in the 2014 California Water Action Plan, one of the targets of which is to “provide safe water for all communities.” The state hopes to achieve more equitable access by encouraging collaboration across agencies and local governments.[4] The legislature is relied upon to allocate funds for communities in need. It is likely a standard grant process will be used to determine where the funds will go. Grant writing requires the hiring of technical experts, which is unaffordable to many disadvantaged communities. Furthermore, processes may take years to be implemented, and even longer to become an effective force for change in ensuring clean water systems.

Access to clean safe water in California is not equitable.[5] In 2010, the UN released a special report on California’s inability to provide safe drinking water to its residents. It stated that over 250,000 California residents do not have access to safe drinking water and must purchase bottled water.[6] With the mean income in these communities only $14,000 a year, water is a major expense. A 2011 study by UC Berkeley found smaller water systems in California have higher percentages of Latinos and renters receiving drinking water with high nitrate levels. Data proves what is easily observed on a drive through the Central Valley. The people who work to feed the world are at risk of being contaminated by the resource that gives them a livelihood: water.

Investigations by the California Department of Public Health and Environmental Protection Agency have shown no conclusive evidence to suggest Chemical Waste Inc. has contaminated the water supply in Kettleman City.[7] Conclusive evidence would require identification of the toxic substance in the environment, as well as proof of the pathway to an individual’s body. It’s common for scientific studies on contaminants to never lead to conclusive evidence. The company may never be proven responsible for the high levels of toxic exposure in Kettleman City, but it doesn’t mean that a community should negotiate a contract over a basic human right.

Kettleman City is already exposed to a wide range of toxic chemicals. The town should be spared the expansion of one of the largest hazardous waste landfills in the country and have its water debt paid off through state water funds The residents should have affordable access to the clean water from the California Aqueduct that flows directly past them. A responsible government should not force citizens to over-pay for a resource it designates a basic human right.


[1] Plevin, R. (2014, February 3). Kettleman City Weighs Toxic Dump Expansion Against Funding for Clean Water. The California report. Retrieved February 8, 2014, from http://www.californiareport.org/archive/R201402030850/b
[2] California Water Boards. (2013, January). Communities that Rely on a Contaminated Groundwater Source for Drinking Water. Retrieved from http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/gama/ab2222/docs/ab2222.pdf
[3] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque. (2011, August) Retrieved From http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/18session/A-HRC-18-33-Add4_en.pdf
[4] California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Food & Agriculture. (2014, January). California Water Action Plan. Retrieved fromhttp://resources.ca.gov/california_water_action_plan/docs/Final_California_Water_Action_Plan.pdf
[5] Balazs, C., Morello-Frosch, R., Hubbard, A., & Ray, I. (2011). Social Disparities In Nitrate-Contaminated Drinking Water In California’s San Joaquin Valley. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(9), 1272-1278.
[6] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque. (2011, August) Retrieved From http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/18session/A-HRC-18-33-Add4_en.pdf
[7]California Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Public Health. (2010, December). Investigations of Birth Defects and Community Exposures in Kettleman City, CA. Retrieved fromhttp://www.calepa.ca.gov/EnvJustice/Documents/2010/KCDocs/ReportFinal/FinalReport.pdf
 
reprinted with permission of The Policy Forum at Mills College.

FEMA Promises To Revise State Disaster Planning Guidance To Require Consideration Of Climate Change Impacts

By Becky Hammer Becky Hammer, Project Attorney, Water Program, Washington, DC Earlier this month, NRDC got encouraging news from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about its intentions to update its guidance for state hazard mitigation planning: the agency will be revising the guidance to more explicitly require state governments to consider the impacts of climate change and prioritize preparedness. A revised draft from FEMA is expected to be available for public review and comment as early as this summer. State governments prepare these hazard mitigation plans in order to assess their risk of natural disasters and to identify and implement actions they can take to reduce those risks. Once FEMA has approved a state’s plan, the state is eligible to receive federal funding to carry out pre-disaster mitigation projects that are designed to build resilience and reduce vulnerability. While federal regulations require the plans to consider the risk of “future events,” FEMA has thus far not required state plans to take account of the projected impacts of climate change. Not surprisingly, most states consequently develop insufficient plans that leave them unprepared for the more frequent and severe disasters that climate models predict, including flooding, drought, and other extreme weather events. In order to address this problem, NRDC petitioned FEMA in 2012 to require states to consider climate change impacts when developing their plans. FEMA responded to our petition a few months ago. As I blogged about here, FEMA declined to amend its regulations to make the obligation for states to consider climate change impacts more explicit, but the agency did state that all future guidance for state mitigation planning would “incorporate elements of climate change, as appropriate.” The week before last, a few of my NRDC colleagues and I met with FEMA officials to discuss their plans to implement this promise. We were excited to hear directly from FEMA that the agency is already moving forward with revisions to its state mitigation planning guidance, known as the “Blue Book.” Once finalized (after a draft is issued for public review and comment this summer), the new guidance will apply to plans developed in 2015 and onward. FEMA officials told us that they have two main goals for the revised guidance:

  • Making sure states comply with the existing regulatory requirement to consider the risk of “future events,” including consideration of the effects of climate change on disaster risk.

FEMA has committed to make sure that states are considering data about the projected future effects of climate change when they perform their risk assessments. By ensuring that this current requirement is adequately enforced, FEMA will be helping states increase their preparedness for disasters. As part of this revision to the guidance, FEMA will have to decide which data the agency will require states to consider, and what states should be doing with that data when writing their plans. Many state emergency management officials are not accustomed to dealing with data that are expressed in terms of ranges and probabilities. As a result, FEMA will need to provide additional support for the transition to this new approach by developing new tools that states can use to better incorporate climate data into their plans. FEMA must also make sure that the risk assessments embodied in the plans are written in such a way that they can be “operationalized” into specific actions that states can take to reduce disaster risk.

  • Making sure states revise their plans in response to changing conditions.

States are required to update their plans every three years. Even still, sometimes a severe or unexpected hazard event can demonstrate that a state’s plan is out of date – and needs to be improved – by showing, for example, that the plan’s assessment underestimated the risk or failed to include relevant mitigation actions. Events like these should trigger state actions to re-examine and update their plans as appropriate. FEMA intends to strengthen oversight of the plan update requirements in the revised guidance. Ensuring that plans are updated promptly to reflect the most current information is critically important, especially in a changing climate when the frequency and severity of disasters are constantly evolving. Some states are already seeing changes in the hazards they’re experiencing, but their plans are focused on assessing the problems and risks of the past. To build resiliency in our communities, we need to plan with an eye towards future challenges we know we’ll have to face with climate change. We look forward to working with FEMA on the new guidance and to seeing the revised draft this summer. We’re hopeful that it will provide helpful information to the states, empowering and enabling them to better prepare for future disasters.

Source: National Resources Defense Council

Coal's fantasy island: carbon pollution its "one and only"

By Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson, Chief Economist, Climate and Clean Air Program, Washington, DC

A front-page story in the New York Times (January 23, 2014) recently highlighted increasing concerns companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, and other major corporations are having about the growing threat of climate change to their bottom line. Corporate executives and business leaders are seeing droughts, crop shortages, extreme weather and other effects of carbon pollution affect their supply chains, resources, and financial risk.

Unfortunately, the coal industry didn’t get the memo that carbon pollution is a problem. This week, a coal-industry front group released an embarrassingly bad report claiming that carbon pollution will benefit society. The report from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is an attempt to rebut the federal government’s “social cost of carbon,” which estimates the damages to our health and economy from each ton of carbon pollution.

Here’s the “analysis” in a nutshell:

  • Assume that all past wealth was created by energy and the CO2 pollution that went along with it (a very silly assumption, more below)
  • Assume that this must also be true today and going forward
  • From this, assume that total global GDP/total global tons of emitted CO2 = benefit per ton of CO2 = a supposed benefit of $2,400 per ton of CO2 emitted in 2010
  • Compare this to the government’s carbon pollution damage estimate of $33 per ton CO2 (the “social cost of carbon,” or SCC) in 2010
  • Claim that you have now shown that reducing one ton of CO2 emitted from coal combustion will reduce your income by $2,400, for only $33 in reduced climate damages

Yes, you read and interpreted that correctly:

  • ACCCE is claiming that we can only get $2,400 worth of economic growth if we emit a ton of CO2. Cleaner competitive alternatives do not exist.
  • ACCCE is claiming that only one thing creates wealth in our society: energy. Apparently other natural resources (e.g. land, water, minerals, etc.), science, entrepreneurialism, labor, and innovation are irrelevant…not to mention a stable climate.

The coal industry ignores the fact that the transition from dirty to clean sources of energy is cost-effective today, even as clean energy technology costs radically decline. We can reduce carbon pollution with energy efficiency and harness renewable energy like wind and solar. ACCCE presents a false choice; there is no reason we can’t capture the benefits of (cleaner) energy and a concomitant growing GDP while also limiting carbon pollution.

And is it only energy that has made us rich?

Page 1 of introductory economics textbooks teach us that there are three basic factors of production needed to create wealth: land, labor, and capital. ACCCE takes one subcomponent of this formula, “energy,” from our stock of natural capital, and claims it is the source of all wealth. In so doing, it ignores the fact that the ever-increasing stock of man-made capital accumulated over time also relied upon these three main factors of production.

ACCCE’s neglect of basic production theory allows it to deny that carbon pollution threatens every component of our health and economy —from land (e.g. drought, flooding, and fire impacts on its quality), to man-made capital (e.g. extreme weather’s impact on residential and commercial buildings; on energy, water, and transportation infrastructure), to labor (e.g. pollution and extreme weather impacts on workers’ health, productivity, and availability), to natural capital (e.g. drought, flooding, and extreme weather impacts on water supply).

In other words, carbon pollution threatens the entire stock of wealth accumulated over the industrial revolution, and every input to production. Losses are real and mounting: in 2012 alone, floods, crop damage, drought, wildfires and other climate-related disasters cost our country $140 billion, with about $100 billion covered by U.S. taxpayers. The damages will increase for our children and grandchildren if we don’t limit carbon pollution today.

Did we use fossil fuels to create wealth in the past? Yes, but that’s entirely beside the point. CO2-emitting fuels were indeed used to create the wealth we have today. But now the resulting accumulation of carbon pollution in the atmosphere is creating an increasingly unstable climate that threatens to ruin it all. We have alternative sources of energy. We would be crazy not to deploy as many as we can of them.

The New York Times got the overall story right by quoting companies like Coca-Cola who are dealing with the real costs of climate change—not ACCCE’s fantastical world of carbon pollution benefits—as they try to obtain clean water and other ingredients for their products.

Still, even as a foil for more realistic industry voices, the Times should look more carefully at the source and analysis before giving a platform to ACCCE’s crazy claims. ACCCE is an association funded by coal mining companies like Peabody and coal-burning utilities like AEP and Southern Company–all of their reports tend to deny carbon pollution is a problem. But it is impossible to make this argument in any credible or ethically responsible way—analyses aimed at doing so should be regarded as highly suspicious and carefully vetted before given any voice.

Source: National Resources Defense Council