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San Diego Congressional Leaders Discuss Climate Crisis

San Diego Congressional Representatives Susan Davis, Mike Levin, Juan Vargas ...

Credit: Campaign, Congressional and KPBS Staff Photos

Above: San Diego Congressional Representatives Susan Davis, Mike Levin, Juan Vargas and Scott Peters

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After years of virtually ignoring the issue, leaders in Washington — at least among Democrats — are directly addressing the climate crisis. Here are four of San Diego’s congressional representatives’ ... Read more →

Aired: September 16, 2019 | Transcript

After years of virtually ignoring the issue, some leaders in Washington, at least among Democrats, are directly addressing the climate crisis.

KPBS Midday Edition reached four of San Diego’s congressional representatives and asked the same questions about climate change.

Below are some of the responses from Reps. Mike Levin, D-Oceanside who represents the 49th District, Scott Peters, D-San Diego, who represents the 52nd District, Susan Davis, D-San Diego who represents the 53rd District and Juan Vargas, D-San Diego who represents the 51st District, which also includes Imperial County.

KPBS contacted the office of Congressman Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who represents the 50th District, and received no response.

Q: What effect will climate change have on your district?

Peters: There's three main effects in San Diego County. One is sea-level rise. One is more intense wildfires which we've seen I think over the past decade or so and one is water supply issues throughout the state California is going to be faced with water supply issues.

Levin: Well my district has 52 miles of coastline from La Jolla all the way up to Dana Point and all you have to do is take a look at the unprecedented sea-level rise and erosion of our coastline. Obviously we just had tragic bluff collapse. And we continue to experience issues around our bluffs.

Davis: So the district of the 53rd which is not coastal but very close to the coast. We also have thousands of canyons in the district. So fire, dryness.

Vargas: If you go to Imperial County and take a look at what can happen in that desert community with the rising heat, in the summers, in particular, I mean it might be unlivable depending on what we do or don’t do about climate change.

Q: What are you doing personally to mitigate climate change?

Peters: Well I drive an electric car and a hybrid car. I'm trying to upgrade the hybrid to an electric. As soon as some more are available. You know I'd like to tell you that my carbon footprint is low I have to fly to Washington once a week during the session. That's not easy. But you know things like not using so many single-use plastic water bottles know just watching my own behavior what I eat. Eating less meat. Those are the kinds of things that I could do that we can all do to help the cause.

Vargas: In my own life at home we've done a whole bunch of things. We've taken out all the grass from our home. We've decided to use a lot less water. We've changed down all of our bulbs and we use now LED lights. We do not use air conditioning, we don't have it. We were going to put it in and we decided not to because we think that uses too much energy and we live in San Diego we think that the climate's good enough that we don't need air conditioning. So I also try to drive less, commute with others when I can, carpool. Do all the things that I can try to do personally to save Mother Earth because I believe in it as does my family. I'm thankful that I have a 15-year-old daughter at home and she makes sure that we’re as conscientious as we can be.

Q: How do we achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050?

Levin: We've got to continue to innovate in research and development to try to figure out forward-thinking technologies things that are able to carbon capture and sequestration technologies as well as anything we can do to try to reduce our footprint. It's about reduction it's about adaptation as well. So we've got to be mindful of the fact that many of the climate impacts that are going to be felt are going to be felt until the second half of this century. But there are things that we need to be thinking about. How we build communities where we build communities. And particularly in an area like ours with a coastline like ours we've just got to be mindful of this each and every day.

Davis: Well it's a key goal. You have to have a goal. And it's been repeated in many ways actually that that that has to be out there. You know in California when we first started doing the car emissions I don't think we expected to reach some of those goals but we did. And now you know even car companies are telling the Trump administration, 'We're good with this. We can follow this.' I think we don't have to sort of divide ourselves over it over this urgency. I think we have to get behind what is having at least a galvanizing effort in educating as many people as possible. And then we have to assure as I've said to my constituents, 'I need you there for the tough times. I need you when there's some individual sacrifice here. I want you to help us with this.'

For analysis the impact of actions taken, or not taken, by leaders in Congress, David Victor, a professor of climate and atmospheric science at UC San Diego and author of the book “Global Warming Gridlock," joined Midday Edition on Monday.

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

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