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Scripps Scientist Who Advised Pope Is In Paris For Climate Events

Veerabhadran Ramanathan is pictured in this undated photo.
UC San Diego
Veerabhadran Ramanathan is pictured in this undated photo.
Scripps Scientist Who Advised Pope Is In Paris For Climate Events
Scripps Scientist Who Advised Pope Is In Paris For Climate Events GUEST:Veerabhadran Ramanathan, scientist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California have 30 researchers and students to the Paris climate talks. One of the participants is a squibs oceanography and atmospheric scientist Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan . Who will participate in several events as a scientist advisor for the holy city. He is in Paris now. I asked his reaction to the pope's comments that we have -- we need to save the world from what he described the limits of suicide. I have not heard that. Did that come from Pope Francis? It did That does not come as a surprise to me. I am representing Pope Francis and the summit. Part of the seven in the delegation. At the rate we are dumping our waste product in the atmosphere in the ocean, and in the land in terms of landfill. We are on a destructive pathway. The interesting thing about climate change sadly, but they are doing is not going to be disastrous for us but for generations to come. The affects we are talking about last centuries if not thousands of years. Just to get a quantitative backing to what you said Pope Francis said about committing suicide, we have already admitted to trillion of carbon pollution -- 1,000,000,000,000×1,000,000,000. If you don't do much about it, the [Indiscernible] will be added in the next 20 to 25 years. That is the disastrous costs we are pursuing. I was reading political -- it went to the pulpits -- pass on climate change. Some of the things the pope was looking into doing. In many ways it was all over the board. Was hard to get a sense of what was the overall policy the pushed by the Vatican. In the end, what do you think Francis -- what you think the Vatican is hoping to get out of Paris? This one thing which is resonating in our designation of six or seven -- we are taking very seriously that Pope Francis said. The cry of the earth is linked with the cry of the poor. We have left behind 3 billion people -- 40% of the planet. They are still living on 18th century technology, burning firewood downed -- for basic things like cooking. What we are hoping -- it is going to be an agreement amongst the leaders whether to have drastic or strong as the community wants is a different question. What our delegation is interested in is that we make sure we address this and truck generation equity most of the pollution is coming from the top of these people. The worst consequences is going to be expedients. What I call the bottom [Indiscernible] . We need to provide clean energy access to them so that they can cope with climate change the a unleashing on the -- we are unleashing on the planet. That is the underlying message. Is this about technology or is this about -- I know a lot of the developing countries are hoping that developed nations provide funding for things like preventing deforestation around the globe. Is that the thrust their? The richer more developed countries do something to eight the less-developed nations? I would put it in a slightly different way. The deforestation is a separate issue. What we need first -- the top 1 billion -- by the way the top 1 billion are [Indiscernible] of the planet. We need to fundamentally change our attitude towards nature. And towards each other. The natural resources are limited and we need to protect that. For the bottom 3 billion is not a question of providing funds or providing [Indiscernible]. It is about giving them energy access. Through clean technology -- renewable. Interestingly enough, it is much easier to provide solar energy and wind energy to the poor dental us. They don't need huge infrastructure. I'm going to have to let you go. You confident something will be worked out in Paris 1st Absolutely. The cooperation around -- among the nation I have never seen in any other previous meetings. It sounds good, I will let you get back to it. This has been Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan . Thank you so much for being on. The is what the Scripps Institute of oceanography. I am Steve Large with midday edition on KPBS. Markers the -- announced details of an ever century financing plan the is proposing for the June 2016 ballots. Estimated to bring in $4-$5 billion to fix San Diego's wealth and deteriorating ever century. Without raising taxes. How will this work and is it enough to get rid of the backlog of calling streets? Councilman welcome to the show. You just Erindale the details of this this morning. Before we get into the details of how it works, give me the notion here of what is the backlog right now? What is the problem you're trying to fix? We have never had dedicated funding set up for ever century. We will go year-by-year and put money together where we find it and do projects on a one off basis. We did not do a good job of long-term planning. We did not do a good job of long-term enhancing. That is what we are setting to accomplish with this measure. $35 billion worth of streets basically that need repairs was my Part of it but will he say ever structure remains streets and roads, sidewalks, storm drains, city parks and rec facilities, libraries conversations and police stations. All of this will be part of this was my Absolutely -- the city has 1500 building facilities including libraries and put police stations and fire stations -- we had just done a really poor job maintaining those over the years. We have a massive the third backlog of maintenance. Their couple different ideas about on issues using the sales tax -- at the county level, the city level. You say you can do all of this without raising taxes at all. How do we do that is my The idea -- I don't think we can go to voters and ask for more money. When we don't have a long-term plan any long-term mechanism by which we are dedicating money we are already getting. That is really what this measure is doing over the next 30 years we will have a dedicated funding source for ever structure projects. It will come out of existing sales tax, pension savings -- as well as just a natural general fund growth over the next few years. We have money coming into the city. The problem is city leaders have just never prioritized ever structure. That is what this will do a mandate from the voters the future city leaders have to prioritize infrastructure spending. If you don't need a tax increase body needs go to the voters? If we can just trust politicians to do the right thing, we would not be in this position will be are today. My predecessor generations of my predecessors chose to ignore infrastructure for the most part. That is why we are here today. A city that is nearly crumbling need us. What we need in place is a mandate from the voters saying we are not going to cross our fingers and hope they do the right thing. This Council is pretty good on this issue. This mayor has done quite a bit when it comes to prioritizing ever structure. We don't know 10 years that that will be the case. Is this basically putting into the city's charters -- the mayor's plan to pay 1000 miles of road over the next few years? Not a specific plan although I do support it. I believe we need to do that. Certainly streets and roads are the biggest complaints we get. Is about more than just streets and roads and sidewalks, police stations and fire stations -- and rec centers. These never had a dedicated funding stream. As a result they were built at one point and then not maintained very well. Now here we are today. Even so -- the mayors and some of your fellow Republicans on the Council they have been somewhat close to the plan. They have not jumped on board. I think the response has been very positive. We have in our release this morning a quote from the mayor a very positive supportive role. I believe once this gets through the ever century committee next week, I believe we are going to see strong support. How does this work? You don't raise the sales tax but this uses the sales tax. We're doing is capturing the natural growth that occurs over time as the economy expands. As the economy grows San Diegans still more morning -- more people are spending more money. You have a pretty good increase over a 30 year period in your sales tax. What happens if you are able to capture and secure some of that, you can say okay we're going to make sure a lot of that new money coming and organically is going to be set aside specifically for infrastructure. When you're doing something like a pond issue one of the advantages if you get the money up front. You can start on the projects immediately. This is not going to work this way. This is going to come in piecemeal over the next few years. Are you ever to do major renovation was my Absolutely. (For three years if you drop $1 billion in the city tomorrow the city could not effectively invest that money in ever such a. We're not set up for that level of massive capital spending. The appropriate section firms like to see that investment per Streets and roads with the probably do. That's why we look at the fact we're painting 300 miles of road this year which is more than 10% of the entire world in the city. 1000 growth over the next five cities. Streets and roads are the exception to that. When you do a fire station for example, if a you're building a new one you have to identify the land, assign a project, out of the neighborhood for feedback on what the design would look like. You have to actually award the contract to get a bill and operate and maintain it. A multi-your project. If you dump all that money and to fire stations tomorrow it will still take 5 to 10 years to build all the ones you want. Geiko outfit that the bond and have that money sitting around. And not be able to spin it was my On the other hand if you are already 5 billion and the whole -- is going to take another 30 years to clear away with a beer in the first maintenance build up over the next 30 years? We need to do a much better job. When you look at the priority of intercession in the budget. Even over the next two years since May up on her has been an office. We have done a much better job about prioritizing maintenance. Hired additional pothole close, higher cruise to go out and maintain city building facilities. We have to remember this is a problem that was created over many decades. We're not going to stop it overnight. Is not possible. It overnight. If the money is going to come and are you going to have enough money to ever get rid of the backlog and keep maintaining all of the infrastructure? We well. The reality -- if you gave us 1 billion today we cannot spin it. It's a story and I have used to spend hundred million dollars. That is a long time to spend not very much money. We're going to do in the short term is to defer our revenue program to provide gap financing so that we can actually accelerate those projects in the short term. Like couple -- there are a couple of bond proposals out there. The city one is not going to happen now? That is going to be off the table? And what about the county? That the city support that effort was my The SANDAG measure will be a sales tax increase of about one half a cent countywide. That is something that would require a two thirds vote next November. Two thirds vote as you know is very difficult to get. Particularly a tax increase. If that happens, the way we have designed the proposal is completely stand alone separate and independent of that. We would be in good shape whether it passes or not. If the SANDAG measure does not make it to the ballot and pass that is extra money we can use. Would you support it was my We don't know what it is. We know conceptually what they want to do it but we don't know where that money will be spent. They're going to put together a project list over the next few months. I look for to sing that lists and how it will billeted the city of San Diego. And make a determination from that. Where do you go from here on that was my The direction I hope will be for the city attorney to craft the actual language. The full Council for approval in January and then ideally on the June ballot. The whole notion of changing the city's charter to make this happen, this is the basic stuff of government? Does it rise to the level of putting it into the city's charter? Should not have to. That politicians for the last 30 years in the right thing we would not need this. The problem is they have not. You can certainly make the argument that the Council and the Mayor had the budgetary authority. The problem is they have not. We don't know if to in years from now if they will. This is a function of local government. The city politicians do not prioritize this I think the voters will have to tell them they have to. You mention a lot of things -- police stations conversations do we have the actual list of what it is you want to do with this money? We have a multiyear capital plan that is a five-year plan. Is certainly not everything. Is much better than anything we have had in the past. We had a pretty good idea of the streets and roads that need to be done. We do condition assessment so we know what the problems really are. We know where the for maintenance is. To start prioritizing this project. Over the next 30 years what is not going to be done if you're going to dedicate this number -- money to Wall Street and the researcher? That does not take money away from anything. This is just growth. We're not talking about cutting anything but moving for their going to secure funding for infrastructure and just force people to prioritize it that way. That is where we will leave it right now. This is been San Diego City Councilman about his plan to fund infrastructure without using additional taxes. Councilmen thank you for being on here. Date for having me. Again -- there is police and San Bernardino are responding to reports of an active shooter at a social service facility. There are reports of multiple victims and officers are working to secure the same. Barbers have been made. Police said they are looking for 1 to 3 sucked -- suspects. We will continue to update you. We will take a break and when we come back we'll talk about the Navy's plan to lessen its impact on marine life on the city of San Diego.

For Veerabhadran Ramanathan, or Ram, as he is known, the title Distinguished Professor doesn't quite do him justice.

In 1975, he discovered the greenhouse effects of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Then he found that non-CO2 gasses were just as harmful to the planet as CO2. And that was just for starters.

He predicted that by the year 2000, the world would start to feel the effects of a warming planet.

Ramanathan is in Paris for the climate talks, not only as a pre-eminent climate researcher, but as a climate adviser to Pope Francis. In 2014, he persuaded the pope to address the effects of climate change, particularly on the poor.

"The cry of the Earth in linked to the cry of the poor," Ramanathan said.

"The poor are living with 18th century technology, burning wood, dung for cooking." For the bottom three-billion, he said, "It's all about access to energy, clean energy." Clean energy, he affirmed, is actually cheaper and easier to install around the world than it is to build huge hydroelectric or coal-burning power plants.

When asked how receptive Pope Francis was to the idea of the Vatican becoming involved in the discussion of climate change, Ramanathan noted that even before he briefed him on the current dangers of a warming planet, the pope was well aware of climate change and was extremely positive about the idea of getting involved.