Blog » climate change
- June 26, 2012
At last, the final Ocean Beach Master Plan document is ready for viewing and download! Many thanks to everyone who participated in this groundbreaking effort, including community members, advocates and public agencies. Check back here for updates on our implementation efforts.
The viewer below allows easy zooming and page-turning to make this very large document readable. Click the "Expand" button below in order to see it at full-screen size. Then zoom in using the scroll bar (white circle) at the top left.
You can also download the whole document >> [70MB, 210 pages]
Unfortunately, we lack the funds to provide hard copies of the full document. If you would like one, stay tuned. We will be arranging a print-on-demand service where you can purchase a copy.
- May 9, 2011
On May 4 SPUR released a major report, "Climate Change Hits Home," that lays out what the Bay Area must do to start preparing for the coming effects of climate change. This project, a multi-year effort by a team of top climate scientists and government leaders, represents a turning point for SPUR. We have long worked to stop climate change, but now we are also addressing the reality that some climate change is inevitable, despite our best efforts. Even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases tomorrow, emissions already in the air would continue to warm the atmosphere.
By 2050, we'll have nearly eight times as many dangerously hot days as we did in the 20th century. Sea levels are expected to rise 55 inches by 2100. And we need to start readying our railroads, highways, water supply, public health infrastructure and energy grid for the changes to come. Ours is the first report to map out specific actions that Bay Area governments need to take to protect our systems.
News of the report has appeared on KQED radio, KGO and KRON TV and in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Bay Citizen and the San Francisco Examiner. We hope local government agencies will give our recommendations the same degree of attention.
- April 6, 2010BY ESTHER
In Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development, Joan Fitzgerald, director of the Law, Policy and Society Program at Northeastern University, showcases how some cities have taken the lead in creating policy that is mutually beneficial to both the environment and economic development. Ms. Fitzgerald spoke on this subject and introduced her book at SPUR, this past November 17th.
According to Joan Fitzgerald, it has fallen to cities around the world to embrace the challenge of sustainability, because national governments have failed to come to an agreement on a global policy. The lack of any significant outcome from the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last year serves to underscore the matter: you cannot effect environmental change without addressing the underlying issues of how that change affects disparate groups.
It is not surprising that San Francisco is one of the cities responding to the call to take these economic factors and questions of accessibility into consideration—you can read what SPUR has contributed in our report Critical Cooling: San Francisco can fight global warming through smart changes to local policy.
Fitzgerald agrees that cities are uniquely situated to make a difference due to population density and use of public transportation, to promote and benefit from green economic development in particular. She provides examples of policy from cities that have successfully addressed the interrelated environmental problems of global warming, pollution and energy dependence, with social justice, equity, and job quality in mind as well as policy from cities that have found the process more challenging. Fitzgerald provides a guide to help city and regional planners and policymakers move toward becoming “emerald cities.“
- February 25, 2010BY TESSA
Climate change is a global problem, and the San Francisco Bay Area is especially threatened. Around one thousand miles of shoreline frame the region, so we will be greatly affected by sea level rise and intensified storm activity.
Given our particularly risky situation, the Bay Area is on the forefront of climate change action. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Institute for Local Government have collaborated to release the San Francisco Bay Area Climate Action Portal, a web based tool designed to provide local governments with the resources they need to take action on climate change.
The site provides access to a wide variety of information including climate change policy, science and current news, inventory and statistical information, project examples throughout the Bay Area, and goals already accomplished. The portal also has an interface for climate change communication, linking people together for meetings, events, online discussion forums, list-serves, and blogs.
While attacking climate change may often require extremely site-specific strategies, there are many issues such as transportation that we need to approach as a megaregion. The Climate Web Portal allows Bay Area cities to learn from one another, while also helping local governments discover their own unique needs.
- December 18, 2009BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
A paper this week in what is arguably the world's most prestigious scientific journal, Nature, says that the last time the Earth warmed up as much as it will under climate change, sea levels rose about 8 meters. This means that global sea level rise over the coming decades may be about twice as worse as we thought. When we published two articles in the Urbanist last month on the topic of sea level rise, we reported that sea level rise might possibly be 5-7 m higher in 300 years, and very likely 1.5 m by 2100. (these were the most well-documented worst-case scenario numbers I could find).
This new paper - a great analysis here - says sea level rise is very likely going to rise 20-30 feet (6-9 m) if we hold temperature to about 3.6 degrees F higher than today. We don't know when we'll get these levels. We only know we'll be committed to them even if we somehow manage to slow down climate change.
As of today's proposals in Copenhagen, the temperature in 2100 is going to be 7 degrees F hotter.
- December 16, 2009- posted by Laura
SPUR's analysis of the cost-effectiveness of various options for local government to reduce carbon emissions has gotten around. Our evaluation showing that in San Francisco, a low-interest loan program to finance home energy efficiency retrofits would be more cost-effective than new incentives for renewable energy installations, was featured in an EPA presentation for local governments on how to use stimulus funding. The presentation is accessible on ICLEI's California Region site. And it looks like such a program is actually being proposed in San Francisco, modeled after the wildly-popular Berkeley FIRST.
- November 16, 2009BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
This Wednesday, join the Alaska Conservation Foundation for an evening with National Geographic photographer James Balog. Mr. Balog, an award wininng photographer for over 25 years, will share his groundbreaking work to capture the reality of climate change by photographing the world’s shrinking glaciers. Through time-lapse footage, Mr. Balog will share his efforts to design equipment, underwrite, and produce one of the world’s most convincing records of climate change. For more information (and stunning photographs), visit www.extremeicesurvey.org. Half of the U.S. coal reserves, by the way, lie in Alaska—making it a very important front line for stopping global climate change.
Event details: Wed, Nov. 18, Fort Mason Officer's Club, 1 Fort Mason, San Francisco
Program (Free, but RSVP required): 6:30-7:30 pm
RSVP: Lorraine Guyer, at email@example.com
, or call (907) 276-1917.
- October 26, 2009BY JULIE KIM
SPUR is thrilled to welcome Ken Caldeira, head of the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, to the Urban Center for a lunchtime forum.
Wednesday, October 28, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
Free for SPUR members. General admission is $5.
Location: SPUR Urban Center, 654 Mission St. (between New Montgomery & Third).
Renowned for his groundbreaking research on ocean acidifcation, Caldeira's been in the news this month for publicly chiding Superfreakonomics authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner for misrepresenting his research on geo-engineering as a substitute for agressive mitigation strategies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (In fact, while Caldeira knows a lot about weather manipulation--perhaps more than any other climate scientist working right now--he views it as a last resort, only to be employed once we are certain about its many risks.)
Here's a bio of Caldeira from an Oct. 22 post on the Guardian Environment Network (which republished a great interview conducted by Yale 360):Atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira first became known for his groundbreaking work on ocean acidification, a phrase originally coined as a headline for one of his papers. Of late, however, Caldeira's research has led him into the controversial area of geo-engineering — the large-scale, deliberate manipulation of the Earth's climate system.
Many scientists have shied away from the subject because they feel it is a wrongheaded and dangerous path to pursue. But Caldeira — who heads a research lab at the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University — has not been so dismissive, in part because his climate modeling has demonstrated that some geo-engineering schemes may indeed help reduce the risk of climate change. In fact, few scientists have thought harder about the moral, political, and environmental implications of geo-engineering.
Caldeira has become a focal point recently in the controversy surrounding the publication of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's SuperFreakonomics, the follow-up to their previous best-seller, Freakonomics. A chapter of the book that deals with geo-engineering and quoted Caldeira was circulated on the Internet prior to the book's publication and was widely criticized for its poor understanding of climate science and its cynical, contrarian perspective.
- October 8, 2009BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
A climate conference in Oxford concluded last week that whatever we can do to slow carbon emissions, it won't be enough to stop accelerated sea level rise. In fact, a German scientist who's widely regarded as one of the world's foremost experts on sea level rise, said his best guess was 1 meter this century (a lowball figure compared to the latest projections for California), and 5 meters in 300 years. Expect a lot of bleak climate news to be revealed over the next few months, as the world prepares for the U.N. climate change conference taking place in Copenhagen in December. The conference's web site is a great source of daily climate news from around the globe. And if you don't like what you see coming out of Copenhagen, try visiting Hopenhagen instead.
- August 13, 2009BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
Transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the fastest growing source of emissions in the U.S., and are currently responsible for almost 30% of the nation's total GHG output. A new ULI report, Moving Cooler, presents different strategies for making our transportation systems more sustainable. It proposes nine categories for improvement, including pricing/taxes, land use and smart growth, transit improvements, ridesharing, intelligent systems, and more. Going beyond other reports of its kind, it not only looks at the costs and effectiveness of different strategies, but considers them in various combinations. Although you have to buy the book, you can get an overview of its findings here.