Originally published April 19, 2013 at 3:16 p.m., updated April 22, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.
Scott Anders, Director of USD's Energy Policy Initiative Center
Lani Lutar, Executive Director of Equinox Center
From superstorms to persistent drought and sea level rise, many scientists say the world is now seeing the effects of climate change. It's a situation that might have saddened the founders of Earth Day 43 years ago. Many of them hoped that the event would inspire a global movement that would avert environmental disasters.
But there is also much to celebrate on this Earth Day 2013. People in San Diego are moving forward with plans and programs to conserve, improve and reduce our impact on the environment.
A number of those plans are highlighted in the Equinox Center's 2013 Dashboard report. The report provides a snapshot of the region's environmental health and quality of life issues.
Air quality in San Diego County continued to improve in 2011. The number of unhealthy days decreased from 19 to 13 from 2010 to 2011 and is significantly lower than Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Sacramento. But there is still room for growth. San Francisco only had one unhealthy air quality day.
Cars, trucks and buildings are the two areas where we see the most emissions from greenhouse gases, which contribute to poor air quality.
News on the water front wasn't so positive. Researchers found beach closures and advisories went up between 2010-2011. But the Dashboard report points out that, the 2011 blackout, which led to a sewage spill, may be largely responsible for the data.
There has been a major growth solar installations. In 2011, solar installations per 100 residents in the county increased on average by 46 percent compared to the previous year, due to substantial expansion of both residential and non-residential installations. San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the region's energy utility, reached its goal of increasing renewable energy sources to 20 percent of total sales.