Inaugural Climate Salon Helps Usher in a Consequential Year

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Deborah Knuckey leads off the Bay Area chapter’s first-ever climate salon.

This piece was published in shorter form in the February 2020 newsletter of the Bay Area Chapter of the Climate Reality Project.

On January 22nd the Bay Area chapter held its first-ever climate salon at marketing firm Kiterocket’s SF outpost. Titled Predictions & Hope, this inaugural salon aimed to, in the words of chapter co-presidents Steve Richard and Wei-Tai Kwok, “share fun or bold predictions that we’d like to make for the upcoming decade, reasons for hope, and effective methods of coping while we wait for the changes we need.”

It was inspired programming for the first of these TED-style talks, given that we’re entering a tumultuous year that will define whether the US moves to boldly stem the climate crisis or sinks further into the swampy muck now lapping at our literal and figurative shores. Let’s start the year with some hope, shall we? Over 30 folks found that notion promising enough to show up and hear four speakers spin their tales.

Leading off was Deborah Knuckey, sharing an overview of her recently-published Medium article “The Unraveling: Five Predictions for the Decade the Climate Comes Undone,” which I encourage you to read in full. In brief her predictions are: climate denial will die, even if confusion replaces it; exploration of fossil fuels will end; the insurance industry will re-focus economic decisions by making risk unprofitable; investors will drive innovation by choosing emerging technologies with strong returns; and – ah! – hope happens. Her talk featured difficult truths calibrated with faith in how market forces will re-shape our approach to the challenge at hand.

Next up was filmmaker/writer Kristin Tièche with “Rolling Revolution: How Bikes Can Shape the Future of Cities, Transportation, and Climate Change.” Around 40% of California’s CO2 emissions come from the transportation sector, and Tièche believes the best tool to reduce that number, particularly in urban areas, might be gathering dust in your garage – your bicycle.

She stressed that for cycling to reach its true potential in helping mitigate climate change, city and state planning must include bike-friendly infrastructure. Given that ~72% of trips under three miles are made via car, she believes ensuring that people feel safe and supported to use bikes instead would go a long way to getting them out of cars much more frequently. Tièche encouraged us to start by replacing a few car errands with cycling instead – thus leading by example.

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Steve Schaefer does his EV boogaloo

Hewing to the transportation theme, Steve Schaefer presented “Electric Boogaloo: The State of EV’s and What’s Coming Down the Road.” Schaefer, who’s been writing about cars since 1992, was inspired to quit his gas-powered car after completing Climate Reality training in 2018 and, going forward, review only electric vehicles in his car blog. He aligned his musings on whether we’ll see mass adoption of EV’s with Mr. Gore’s familiar approach – must we, can we, will we.

To the first of those, must we…uh, yeah. Can we? Schaefer argued that EV’s and some hybrids are a big part of the picture, poised as they are to capitalize on charges that use ever-cleaner electricity. Will we? That question “is the bugaboo of this boogaloo,” as he put it. Old habits die hard, yet he urges folks to consider the multiple non-fossil fuel options when shopping for new wheels.

Finally, whimsy and radical hopefulness ruled as Brett Walter regaled us with ‘Milestones: 2020-2030 – A Path to 50% Emissions Reduction.’ Awakening in 2030 from a “grief-induced coma” he finds that the US is actually meeting its emissions reduction goals – thanks to the Bloomberg-Klobuchar administration. CRP co-chairs Richard and Kwok are in prison due to an act of civil disobedience gone bad – but don’t worry, they’re organizing there, too.

We were regaled with a whirlwind of benchmarks quickly reached by new leadership – the immediate declaration of a national climate emergency and a first State of the Union address clearly laying out the big picture. The UN jumps in to broaden the plan globally in June ’21, and two months later the US leads again by signing into law the ‘National Electrify Everything Act’ (I guess we took back the Senate, too). Lo and behold, by 2022 global emissions are finally going down instead of up, and the planet is on a trajectory to right itself.

“That’s the end of the story,” Walter intoned. “And the beginning.” Which also felt like an entrée to CRP Bay Area climate salons going forward, as we blend tales of reality and hope in the service of inspiring the kind of change we all want to see.

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February Salon: Inspiring Businesses to Accelerate Climate Action
February 25, 2020, 6-8 pm
Kiterocket
811 Sansome Street, San Francisco

March Salon: Climate Justice
March 4, 2020, 6-8 pm
Kiterocket
811 Sansome Street, San Francisco

Author: paulaonpoint

I live in Oakland, CA and am a native of Trenton, NJ. I love everything about the ocean, especially friendly whales. I'm a warrior in the fight to protect and restore Planet Earth. And I'm a cat person, as Ziggy and ZuZu can attest.