Today's post is written and contributed by Yeves Perez. Yeves is the founder of the Eco Investment Club and is a vocal proponent for green building. We have been in communications the last few weeks as he gets ready for his GreenMeet in New York on November 19th discussing the topic "Where Green Dollars Fund The Green Movement." Perez, a resident of San Diego, expressed his concern for those families affected by the fires in Southern California and wanted an opportunity to write about green building in such a way as to help with the rebuilding process. This post will be the first in a 5-part series that will take a look at the opportunity for green building, not only in Southern California but in other areas of our country and world where building, re-building, or new construction is taking place. As many people continue to cope and contemplate their next step, this becomes an excellent opportunity to talk about the benefits of green building. It is with sincere respect for those affected by the fires in Southern California that I post this article.
Contributed by Yeves Perez, founder Eco Investment Club (email)
As the world witnesses the most devastating wildfires in California’s history, the citizen’s who have endured this tragedy have “absolutely” decided to rebuild their homes, some within hours of watching them burn to the ground. The air quality is thick from the fire’s rage, viewable from space, unhealthy to breathe. However, from the ashes of this disaster, the residents of Southern California are faced with an incredible opportunity to join the fight against Global Warming by rebuilding “Green”.
Local news reports estimate that there were close to 1,500 homes destroyed and countless damaged, hundreds of thousands of acres obliterated, and many commercial, agricultural and recreational businesses lost, all of which caused property damage claims to be as much as $1 billion. Only time will tell what the final damage will be and the concern of rebuilding in "high fire zones" must be taken seriously. Climate experts are warning that these increasingly destructive Fire Storms are part due to Climate Change and they are predicted to get worse (Firestorm Animation).
Just as scientists are predicting stronger hurricanes, I find it absolutely fascinating that on October 23rd, with the world's attention on "Fire Storm 2007," NBC Nightly News began broadcasting their startling story "Is Global Warming Bringing More Fires?" At about the same time, a United Nations panel predicted that because of global warming, there will be more severe wildfires in our future. Make no mistake that the effects of Global Warming in San Diego are real, and Global Warming will continue to be blamed for the severity of the weather related disasters that occur here. I know because I this is where I live and I have firsthand experience. I’m fully aware that our region has been facing a water shortage crisis while experiencing record setting temperatures and long consecutive periods without rain. I agree that the Santa Ana winds have been around forever and that the 70 – 80 MPH winds do cause fires to accelerate beyond control. However, there are some who do not believe that we are facing a “Climate Crisis”, and suggest that the winds are the sole culprit. Does this theory explain why the local terrain is the driest it’s been in 90 years? I think it’s evident that our region is experiencing a very serious “Climate Crisis”, which has played a significant role in the amount of devastation we’ve seen this year.
Where's The Proof Of Climate Change In Southern California?
While the truth of Climate Change and other climate related irregularities in Southern California have been frequently published, residents may have ‘listened’ but have failed to take action. Perhaps the warnings have been overlooked as residents continue to enjoy the “Country’s best and beautiful” weather year round with an average daily temperature of 70.5º (21.4 degrees Celsius). The proof of changing weather patterns playing a major role in these wildfires is in the warnings. On March 4th, 2007, Robert Krier, a San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE Staff Writer, posed the question, “Is global warming making our local weather weirder?” and reported the following:
- In 2001-02, San Diego got just 3.02 inches of rain. That was the driest year in the city's rainfall history, which dates to 1850.
- In 2003, the city set a record for most consecutive days – 181 – without measurable rainfall. The Cedar and Paradise fires began at the tail end of that dry spell.
- The next year, 2004, the city went 182 days without rain.
- When that record dry spell ended Oct. 17, 2004, the atmosphere did a 180. San Diego got its wettest October ever, with 4.98 inches. The year's total was 22.49 inches, making it the wettest since 1940-41.
- On July 22, San Diego's official high hit 99 degrees, a record for the date. Escondido (112 degrees), El Cajon (113) and the Wild Animal Park (114) had their hottest days ever recorded.
- In January, San Diego's official temperature dipped to 35 for the first time in 44 years, and inland readings fell to as low as 12 degrees in Campo. By Feb. 5, the atmosphere had reversed course, and San Diego set a record daily high of 83.
Amy Leurs, a climate-impacts scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, cited a study published in the journal Nature that found it was very likely that human influence at least doubled the risk of the European heat wave of 2003, which killed an estimated 35,000 people. Regardless of global warming's role in current weather oddities, climatologists stress the need to realize the extent of our vulnerability. ‘These extreme events remind us of how important climate is to our way of life,’ Leurs said. ‘We need to be aware that these extremes are likely to increase,’ and a recent study by Scripps and Anthony Westerling, a fire climatologist at the University of California Merced, concluded that wildfires in the West have increased in severity and frequency because of global warming.” Link here.
On 11/12/2003, the USA Today reported:
Warmer, windier weather and longer, drier summers would mean higher firefighting costs and greater loss of lives and property, according to researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Forest Service.
‘Fires may be hotter, move faster, and be more difficult to contain under future climate conditions,’ Robert Wilkinson of the University of California, Santa Barbara, School of Environmental Science and Management, said in a federal report on the impact of climate change on California. ‘Extreme temperatures compound the fire risk when other conditions, such as dry fuel and wind, are present.’ Where fires once burned without doing much damage to property, Californians have now built homes and entire subdivisions — a problem starkly illustrated by the Southern California blazes.
There are plenty of lessons to be learned, said California Resources Secretary Mary Nichols, (then continued) ‘Certainly in the future we cannot allow construction quite so close to the (fire) zone, and we should create larger buffers’ such as the irrigated greenbelt that helped keep fire from Los Angeles County's Stevenson Ranch while other communities were in flames, Nichols said.” Story link here.
Then 3 years later on 11/14/2006, the USA Today published the following:
Global warming could stoke ferocious wildfires that will be more difficult and costly to fight and might drastically alter the environment in parts of the world, some scientists warn. Approximately 1,000 scientists and forestry officials who gathered in San Diego for an international wildfire meeting that began Monday urged policymakers to consider the effects of global warming when managing wildfires.
The 2006 wildfire season in the USA has been the most severe — and expensive — on record with more than 89,000 fires scorching 9.5 million acres, according to the National Inter-agency Fire Center. The U.S. Forest Service spent $1.5 billion fighting those fires — about $100 million over budget. Wildfire season typically peaks in late summer and early fall. Climate change is already being blamed for a longer fire season and some even predict the possibility of a year-round fire season.” Story link here.
What does Southern California do now about Global Warming? Rebuild Your Homes and Businesses...GREEN!
Similar to the reasons of driving a hybrid or electric car, the main motivation to build and re-build “Green” is to reduce the carbon footprint and preserve natural resources. Rebuilding Green reduces CO2 emissions, conserves and protects natural resources, and contributes to an overall healthier indoor environment. By building green, people become part of the SOLUTION!