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San Diego Environmental Activists Welcome Obama’s Climate Change Action

Photo by David McNew / Getty Images

Above: Warming temperatures are expected to cause sea levels to rise by as much as 3 feet over the next few decades.

President Barack Obama announced today a sweeping national plan to address climate change.

He laid out a series of mandatory actions, including the first-ever national regulations to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, and an increased production of renewable energy on public lands.

"I love that he's talking about it and getting serious," said Masada Disenhouse, a climate change activist and leader of SanDiego350.org, a group of volunteers who work to increase awareness of climate change and advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Disenhouse said she's concerned about Obama's plan for more renewable energy on federal land and hopes he's talking about solar.

"Here in San Diego where we're so close to the desert and we've seen some of the impacts of large renewables, we'd prefer to see rooftop solar and parking lot solar rather than disturbing wild areas that cannot be replaced," said Disenhouse.

Disenhouse said she wishes Obama would have put a cost on carbon and expressed more immediacy.

"I think he could have conveyed a little more strongly the urgency of the situation and how few years we have left to really get our greenhouse gas emissions down," Disenhouse said.

"We’ve already increased .8 degrees Celsius, and scientists estimate that we have another .8 degrees in the pipeline already from the amount of carbon we’ve put in the atmosphere in the last several decades. So we’re already at 1.6," she warned.

Two degrees Celsius has been the threshold to avoid climate change’s catastrophic effects, including rising sea levels, increased fires, floods, severe storms and heat waves.

Disenhouse believes there’s still time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and turn things around. She said San Diego is doing a lot of things right.

"We’re number one in rooftop solar," she said. "We’ve got something like 23,000 home installations in rooftop solar and we have potential for a lot more."

Disenhouse hopes San Diegans will take a cue from the president and get involved in preserving the environment.

"I'd like to invite people to join either our group or another group to really push elected officials to work this problem out."

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