Democratic Debate, Census Citizenship Question, Decreasing Carbon Footprint
KPBS Midday Edition / June 27, 2019
What were the major takeaways from the first Democratic presidential debate? Also, the Supreme Court has blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 U.S. Census, district elections were supposed to increase diversity but in San Diego the results are mixed so far, KPBS’ “Historic Places” explores the first people of the Kumeyaay Nation and how one man stopped flying on airplanes to reduce his carbon footprint.
Speaker 1: 00:00 The raise for 2020 began last night with the first of what will be many Democratic candidate debates. 10 candidates took the stage. Senator Elizabeth Warren, former representative Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Governor Jay Inslee, representative Tulsi Gabard, former representative John Delaney, former housing and urban development secretary Julio [inaudible]. Representative Tim Ryan and Mayor Bill De Blasio. It was definitely a full house. The issues discussed included immigration, healthcare, economic inequality, some discussion on climate change, but not a lot about President Donald Trump. Joining me to analyze last night's debate are will Rodriguez Kennedy, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party. And we'll welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. Marine. And joining us by Skype is Reuben. Never read a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writer's group. Reuben, welcome. Thank you for having me. Now we'll, what stood out to you during the two hour debate last night? Um, well I think, uh, one of those stand out performances was Lillian customer, the former health and human services secretary of Miriam Antonio, San Antonio. Um, I think his performance was definitely above expertise expectations. I think Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker did had strong performances and what also stood out is that we have a lot more candidates than we probably need to for that type of format. And Ruben, did you see a contrast to 20 fifteens debate with 17 Republican candidates?
Speaker 2: 01:33 Yes. You know what? It's going to be interesting, I think when you've got 10 candidates on stage one night, another 10 candidates tonight, really when you boil it all down after commercials and all the moderators in their commentary, there's been an analysis this morning that each of the candidates only had nine or 10 minutes. What they need to do in that short time period was to show commander the issues, tell their story, and preferably draw a contrast with someone else on stage. And I would agree with will Julio Castro by all accounts did that no sooner had the curtain fallen. Then the new republic had its story out headline Julio on Castro wins the debate. I spend about an hour on Twitter and it was one social comment after another on social media saying Castro had come off the winter. So I think had a very good night and a and Democrats in general, some of them at least accomplish the goal of getting noticed.
Speaker 1: 02:21 We have a clip of a former housing secretary, Julio Castro. Here. He is answering a question about what he do with regard to u s immigration policy. If he were president today,
Speaker 3: 02:32 if I were president today, I would sign an executive order that would get rid of Trump's zero tolerance policy, the remain in Mexico policy and the metering policy.
Speaker 1: 02:42 And that was Julio on Custo. Well, oh, what did you think about the stances on immigration that you heard last night in the debate? I think Holian customer who again comes from Texas where the, this issue like San Diego is very, um, important. I think you could sell that he had the strongest command of that issue. Particularly he on numerous occasion was referring specifically to a Paul to policies that he would enact or remove, um, as, as president should he be elected. I believe the policy he cited was section 13, 25, um, which he then challenged the other candidates to either sign on or to commit to repealing that policy. I think that's very important because that I think he was the only candidate who was doing that specifically on the immigration issue. Well, you surprised Reuben, uh, about how much attention was paid to the issue of immigration.
Speaker 2: 03:36 Not really. If you take a look at what we've been talking about in the news business for the last two weeks, two months, uh, and for years on end, the terrible picture we saw the AP picture that everybody's talking about and the drown father and daughter, it's clearly top of mind. It's ironically one of the things that the right wingers and the left wingers both agree on that we have a crisis on the border. The, the left sees it as a humanitarian crisis, the right season as a, as a security crisis. But clearly it is an issue that is top of mine. And I think I agree with will that one of the things that Julio did effectively, he speaks as a lawyer. This is the guy who went to Harvard law school and he just beat on Beto O'Rourke for not doing his homework and literally hit bet though in his soft spot, which is, hey pal, you can only get so far in life on grants and good hair. You know, you gotta do your homework and Bethel got caught flat footed. So I think that was a very effective moment.
Speaker 1: 04:28 One of the things Beto O'Rourke and Julio and Castro and one other candidate agreed on is that they should be speaking Spanish.
Speaker 4: 04:37 This is heath, almost [inaudible] persona in Westboro. Democrazia situates you want to order his inacceptable Eso. It was too. Lando port precedented style to me though.
Speaker 1: 04:47 So Ruben, what's the strategy behind that?
Speaker 2: 04:50 If I go back all the way to 1988 during the Democratic convention, Michael Dukakis speaking Spanish, Latinos have always wanted as part of the democratic coalition to be acknowledged, uh, preferably by both parties. But at least by Democrats to say that we're part of the coalition speaking Spanish can be an overture in that regard. Last night it was a bit over done. Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke and Julio Castro all spoke some Spanish. I've heard from a lot of Mexican Americans who feel that when you cross the line it becomes more like pandering a if it's not sincere or seen as sincere. Um, but it's, it's still a nice gesture and it's important that somebody, you know, make an acknowledgement to this important part of the Democrat coalition.
Speaker 1: 05:29 Robin, do you see anything about the messages last night that could appeal? Well, I won't say to Republicans, but to independence.
Speaker 2: 05:36 Not a lot. I mean there is the same sort of push in the Democratic Party now that there was in the Republican party four years ago, the Republican Party sprinted to the right with positions that were far out of the mainstream, a and far too reactionary for many Americans. And now the Democratic Party is likewise doing the same. Not many people are prepared for what Julio on Castro talked about, you know, government funded abortions for transgender women, independent of whether or not I agree with that or you agree with that. It's hard to sell that in Iowa and Michigan and Wisconsin where they're talking about, you know, Lunchbucket issues. It's significant to me that the person who's leading the polls still with Joe Biden by a healthy margin, uh, and Biden is someone who is seen as more on the moderate and conservative side of the party. So the Democratic Party is in a very peculiar place right now. I write a lot about how the Republican party is a mess, a disaster area. But the same is true for will's party. The Democratic Party doesn't know what it wants to be right now. It can't quite figure out whether it wants to look backward with the Mueller report and Russia interference or look forward. I would simply like to see something from the Democratic Party about addressing economic issues in the rust belt states that they lost to Donald Trump and I haven't seen it yet.
Speaker 1: 06:49 Okay. So that's what Ruben would like to see a guest tonight as Biden, Sanders, Harrison booty judge, and the others at a have a second debate. What would you like to see? Well, well, I disagree with a lot of that. I think Democrats do have a message for the environment when we're talking about a green economy. Um, we, we know that Elizabeth Warren basically has a plan for everything including, uh, her, her keystone issue, which is economic issues. Um, so I think, uh, it's important to pay attention to those, but in these smaller debates we're not getting as much focus on any one issue. So that's why you're not hearing it. I think when we narrow down the candidates, you will hear more of that. Um, in terms of what I would like to see, um, I, I want to see a little bit less of the sort of buzzwords and the sort of a focus on what exactly, um, their proposals are.
Speaker 1: 07:37 There's a lot of communication about values and, and, and telling stories. Um, which is good from an organizing perspective, but not exactly good from a political perspective in terms of reaching out to Americans across, uh, the middle of the country. So I guess we would have find some agreement there, uh, with me and Ruben. So if they could focus a little bit more on that, that would probably be helpful. But with this type of, with this many candidates and that small of a timeframe, it's really difficult to do that. Okay. Gentlemen, I've been speaking with will Rodriguez Kennedy, who's chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, and Reuben never read Tay Syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. I want to thank you both very much. Thank you for having us. Thank you.
Speaker 1: 00:00 In wrapping up its latest term, the US Supreme Court ruled to block the Trump administration citizenship question on the 2020 census, at least for now, it's a case of elected officials in California. We're watching closely as the state was one of dozens that challenged the addition of the citizenship question in court. You're as attorney general Javier Bissera reacting to the ruling regardless of what the Supreme Court does, regardless of what this Trump administration continues to try to do, let's count, make sure we count you. Meanwhile, the high court also upheld partisan gerrymandering. We're going to get into both of those decisions on what they mean with Glenn Smith, a constitutional law professor at California Western School of law. Glenn, welcome back. Thank you. The ruling on the census citizenship question. Case a is a complicated one. The Supreme Court blocked the question in part because of the government's explanation for why it added the question in the first place. Can you tell us more about what the majority said and it's opinion?
Speaker 2: 01:01 Yes, it is a complicated case. I had to do a chart. There's basically six issues and the different justice go different directions. Essentially what a majority of the court, and it shifted said was that just based on the normal considerations that an administrator thinks about in terms of what policy to adopt or not, this was not an irrational policy. It was acceptable, but because the sole reason given by the secretary turned out to be inconsistent with the facts and it was he, it was a pretext. He was coming up with an excuse of helping the Justice Department when in reality was motivated by something very different that it would be sent back to the lower court, which would then give the, in theory, the Census Bureau a chance to come up with a new explanation. But that's going to be very, very difficult in terms of the time constraints.
Speaker 1: 01:51 So if the Supreme Court fell to the explanation from the Commerce Department was insufficient, why didn't they just vote against having the citizenship question on the census? Why kicked this back down to lower courts?
Speaker 2: 02:02 Well, it's a great example of how the Supreme Court responds to lower courts. What the lower court did was it remanded as the name goes, the issue back to the census department, giving them a chance to fix the problem. That's just a standard response that courts do when they reject the decision. It's not that this decision could never be made under the right justification, but because the current justification was inadequate, it sent it back and the court agreed with that. What was inadequate about the justification yet as the court explains in great, great length and as the pages of of decisions by the District Court said, um, basically the argument made by the secretary, the justification was that the Justice Department needed data to enforce the voting rights act. But when they looked at it, voting rights act was an excuse that they tried to come up with later. Not something that was a sincere by the justice department. So bottom line, looking at a lot of facts that supreme court agreed with the lower court that the explanation was made up and not a legitimate explanation based on a real request from another department.
Speaker 1: 03:14 Hmm. So the case now goes back to the lower courts. That's the southern district of New York, uh, where they will consider what plaintiffs call newly discovered evidence. Uh, so what evidence will be considered?
Speaker 2: 03:26 The, uh, evidence consists of some, a memorandum from Republican operative who may have contacted the Trump administration, which may show more of the partisan justification for this decision that Republicans were trying to deliberately undercount potential democratic voters and gain political advantage. And that's somewhat been, um, emphasized by testimony to a representative Cummings, um, house committee. So there's a lot of evidence to suggest that this was a partisan political move, not any kind of legitimate policy choice within the commerce secretary's discretion.
Speaker 1: 04:06 Remind us why the census is important and what the implications of the citizenship question could be for a state like California.
Speaker 2: 04:14 Well, had the court gone the other way, California, like other, like New York and other states with substantial, uh, Latino and immigrant populations would have potentially lost representation in the House of Representatives or, and would have had districts drawn in a way that made it harder for Democrats to elect members to the house. So it would have made it harder to repeat what happened. Uh, in 2018, which is the house majority becoming democratic and and being the body that pushes back on the administration.
Speaker 1: 04:50 And so the Census Bureau said it needed a decision by July 1st on the question in order to start printing forms. So is it clear to you whether this means there won't be time to add the question in time for the 2020 census
Speaker 2: 05:03 clear? It is. This is a very strong word, but I think it's, it's very likely that this means that although there is in theory a remand to the Census Bureau to see if they can justify it. I think this train has left the station partly because the administration itself, as you said, got the Supreme Court to take this on an exceptional early review because they said there's this deadline for them to turn around and say just kidding. And then to try to come up with an explanation that somehow undoes all of these bad facts is a real tall order.
Speaker 1: 05:39 The court also upheld partisan gerrymandering. What's the significance of this decision?
Speaker 2: 05:44 It's a very, very significant decision. It means that the federal courts will not be a place that people who have been victimized by partisan gerrymandering, that is the majority party in a state manipulating the districts in order to give themselves more power than they ordinarily would earn politically, that the courts, federal courts are not going to be a place to go to remedy that. So it really puts the onus on Congress, states, the voters and others to try to remedy the problem of gerrymandering. The courts are not open for that business anymore.
Speaker 1: 06:18 Okay, so I have to ask, can you trust a congress to do that? Wow.
Speaker 2: 06:24 That's the main argument by people that think that this is an issue that courts should not have gotten out of the very strong dissent by Justice Kagan and three others saying, obviously you can't trust the political process to fix itself. And so the courts need to be an arms length, less political body to intervene in those situations and protect our voting rights. And so it's a major loss of the most, a political body. I'm not saying courts are not political, we all know they are, but they're at least institutionally set up to be able to avoid the rankest of partisan politics and to, to have them take themselves out of that. Because this is a non justiciable political question. Is, is a big loss.
Speaker 1: 07:14 I've been speaking with Glen Smith, a constitutional law professor at California Western School of law. Professor Smith. Thank you very much. You're very welcome.
Speaker 1: 00:02 As you heard earlier in the show, the u s supreme court has decided not to decide on the constitutionality of gerrymandering election districts, but California is very much involved in creating local voting districts that bring as much diversity into government as possible. All but five cities in San Diego County have switched to district elections where voters choose their own district council member instead of having the entire population vote on all the council members. That change is aimed at increasing diversity in city leadership. KPBS investigative reporter Claire Treg is her found. That hasn't always happened.
Speaker 2: 00:42 Yeah. Congratulations. I'm so clay did. So when is the due date? Okay. Early November, Escondido City Council woman. Consuelo Martinez is making the rounds in a busy neighborhood park. It won't be hot then. It'll be nice. No, it's tough to get through. The whole summer he chats with a young couple eating ice cream then stops by a group gathered at picnic tables for a birthday party. She can't walk a few feet without running into someone she knows. Yeah. I don't talk about perfect timing. I'm like, I always run into people at the park and that's the point of council districts to have someone like Martin. Tina's represent her neighbors. Escondido used to elect its council members citywide, but in 2014 the city drew a district map and created one district that had a very slight majority of Latinos. Four years later, Martinez was elected in that district, but she wouldn't have run without district elections because campaigning citywide was too expensive. The representatives would be spread out and therefore you would have attention high. You would have attention being given throughout the city. In her first six months in office, Martinez moved to city council meetings to 6:00 PM, so working people can attend and got a water treatment plant slated for her district. Moved to an industrial area. One of her constituents, daisies, Evolla says Martinez makes her feel like she's being heard
Speaker 3: 02:08 now that there's someone in office that like understands like the struggle of like a um, being born in minority and like being raised as a minority. Like I feel like she just has like a better input.
Speaker 2: 02:20 Before Escondido had council districts. There was one Latina on the city council and three white men. Now there are two Latinas and a democratic majority, but in other cities, switching to district elections has an increased diversity. KPBS did an analysis that found five of the 10 cities that switched to district elections and have had elections have not seen increased diversity. Three of those councils are all white. Another four cities have boosted their Latino representation and Carlsbad now has one non white representative for district elections. To increase diversity, you need certain criteria, including that the city actually draws districts that have a significant minority population. That's according to Douglas Johnson, the president of National Demographics Corporation, which helps cities draw district maps.
Speaker 4: 03:17 It actually needs to be, yes, diverse, but a pocket. It has to be kind of geographically concentrated
Speaker 2: 03:22 and even if you have districts and minority candidates run, you still then have to win the election. That means you need a viable minority candidate. Johnson says Modesto finally drew districts after a long legal battle
Speaker 4: 03:36 and no Latina ran. Well, one ran, but he had a myspace page that was half. Why? I love Sandra Bullock movies and half. Why I'm running for city council. We're over 50% Hispanic and that's good deed on. Now, what type of businesses are you going to get?
Speaker 2: 03:52 Ed Gallo stands in a busy shopping center in Escondido that's filled with Mexican restaurants and a market catering to Latinos. This used to be his district. He lost last year to Consuelo Martinez, but he says other minority candidates such as council woman, Olga Diaz were able to win seats in city wide votes.
Speaker 4: 04:12 How did that happen? I can tell you how it happened. She worked hard again because that's what it takes.
Speaker 2: 04:18 He worries. Having Council members represent individual districts means they won't be looking out for the good of the city.
Speaker 4: 04:25 You're involved in the entire city and every decision you make doesn't just involve people in your additionally get involved. Everybody in the city
Speaker 1: 04:32 making sure that uh, the east part of Escondido is not forgotten, was very, it's very, it's still very important to me. It can swell. Consuelo Martinez says her role is to look out specifically for her district. She says before she was elected, no one was doing that. Joining me now is KPBS investigative reporter Claire Traeger, Sir and Claire, welcome. Thank you. Now some of the cities that have switched to district elections have done so only after they were threatened with a lawsuit over voting rights. Tell us more about that.
Speaker 2: 05:02 Great. So, so most of the cities that switched locally and really actually across the state did so because of lawsuits either from the ACLU and the Mexican American legal defense and Education Fund. They've threatened to sue some cities under the California Voting Rights Act for not having elected bodies that represent the diversity of their cities. So district elections, those lawsuits argue would really increase diversity on city councils by giving minority populations a chance to elect someone who represents just they're part of the city. But then there are other lawsuits that have been brought by Kevin Shankman, who's a Malibu lawyer who has been suing cities up and down the state and earning millions in legal costs when he wins, we should add. And I actually, I talked to him and he said that so far the results on whether forcing cities to switch to district elections, whether that's actually increased diversity, the results on that have been mixed.
Speaker 2: 06:01 So he said he actually hadn't anticipated all of the obstacles to increasing diversity such as the cities actually need good district maps, um, maybe more organization among the minority communities in, of course they actually need viable candidates to, to run. But he said that he felt like even switching to district elections has kind of boosted that community grassroots organization in some places. Now, besides ethnicity, there are other kinds of diversity. Do the lawsuits address them? No, they don't. The lawsuits are just focused on ethnicity, but it's interesting because yeah, there is a lot of diversity. For example, the San Diego City Council, it switched to districts way back in 1988 but now, you know, it has five white council members, one Asian, one African American and two Latina. But it also has a big diversity of religions, um, people from the LGBTQ community age range, uh, lots of things, but those aren't reflected in the lawsuit.
Speaker 2: 07:03 Okay. So do all cities of a certain size need to hold district elections? No, not necessarily. They just have to abide by the California Voting Rights Act. And that says that cities can't have an election system that prevents minority groups from electing candidates of their choice. So a court can find that holding the citywide vote keeps minority communities from electing someone to represent them, but they also could find a district system if the districts aren't drawn correctly to create maybe a district that has a majority of minorities in it. They could also find that that violates the California Voting Rights Act. But so far any city that has tried to resist switching to district elections in court, no city has one. Um, and if courts find against the city, they have to change their election system and pay those legal fees. Um, so now cities don't really even try in court.
Speaker 2: 07:58 You know, you spoke with several constituents in Escondido that we heard from. They're very grateful for the change to district elections, but what if any, are the downsides to district elections? Sure. I mean, first of all, it may not work. Um, if the city doesn't draw a map that actually creates districts with a majority of minorities, they may not be able to elect a minority candidate. Though again, they can be sued if they don't draw a map that way. And then as I mentioned in the story, you need viable candidates to actually run viable candidates from the minority community. And, and then some argue that districts may mean that city council members are really only focused on their own district and won't care as much about the good of the city as a whole. And there's an argument that if maps are drawn where minorities are too concentrated in maybe one or two districts, it could actually in the long term limit the chances to elect even more diverse city councils. As you know, the minority community might grow in that, in that city.
Speaker 1: 09:00 That's a good point that you make about the candidates emerging because I remember when the city of San Diego created district nine, which is a majority minority district, only one minority candidate emerged during that first election cycle and the white candidate won by a landslide. Can it take a while for a community to fight itself politically after this kind of a change?
Speaker 2: 09:22 Yes, definitely. I think using even that example by the next election in district nine there were several, I think actually all the candidates in San Diego city council, district nine were Latino and obviously now Georgia Gomez who represents the ditch district is Latino, so it can just take time for communities to maybe build a good grassroots organization and field candidates and help them win. Even in Escondido, which I focused on in this story, Consuelo Martinez, she first ran in 2014 in the first time that there was a district and she lost narrowly and then four years later she had more money, more organization. There was also a big blue wave overall in her city and then she won. So I'm in tomorrow story, I'll focus on El Cahone, which switched to district elections in 2018 but they haven't really had a chance yet for those districts with sites, significant minority populations to vote
Speaker 1: 10:18 and that's tomorrow coming up in part two of your district elections feature. Thanks Claire, so much for talking with us. Thank you.
Speaker 1: 00:00 The buzz and travel stories this summer can be boiled down to a word over tourism. Millions of travelers around the move each day from Europe to Yosemite, from Hawaii to ant Arctic and of course on freeways throughout California. All of this burns fuels spewing huge amounts of greenhouse gases, but one of we all traveled a lot less. Peter Kalmus is a climate scientist based near Los Angeles. He wrote a book in 2017 about his personal quest to decrease his carbon footprint. It's called being the change live well and spark a climate revolution. A big part of the change for him was cutting out conventional travel as part of coverage from the KPBS climate change desk. Kalmus spoke with round table host Mark Sauer by Skype.
Speaker 2: 00:49 Well, in 2010 you began a journey to decrease the amount of greenhouse gas emissions you were creating. What was the impetus for that? You know, when I was a graduate student in New York City, I started learning about climate change. I was studying astrophysics at the time, but I got more and more concerned about it as I learned more and you know, I couldn't believe that this wasn't a story at the top of the headlines every day and that people were seemed like they didn't really know about it and they weren't really doing much about it. And so eventually it dawned on me that one thing you know I could do was to reduce my own emissions. As my awareness grew, the feeling I had about my own emissions, my sense of not wanting to anymore, it got stronger and stronger. So I naturally started looking for ways to reduce and when I started figuring out where my emissions were actually coming from, to my surprise at that time, 75% the rounds of my ambitions were from air travel.
Speaker 2: 01:45 So you haven't flown in a plane since 2012 what is the avoiding flying look like in your own life? Well, my parents live in Chicago. I'm in Los Angeles, so about once a year. That means a 4,000 mile trip either by train or by driving for several years. I would do that trip in a car that ran a waste vegetable oil. It was sort of a hobby of mine, milk, Mercedes. And then late last year I actually purchased an electric car, a Tesla. So in December, December and January we, my family and I did the trip over the mountains in the winter time in the Tesla and it worked totally fine. How did you find places to charge it along the way? Uh, well on all of the freeways right now, by every hundred miles, there's a supercharger from Tesla. So it's, it's actually quite easy. Um, it takes a little bit longer.
Speaker 2: 02:35 Um, you know, to get a 100 miles of charge right now it takes about 15 or 20 minutes, uh, to get 200 miles of charge if you need that, it's more like 45 minutes. So you have to stop for lunch or dinner or something longer than that than stopping for gas. Obviously you a little bit longer, but, but you have more breaks and um, you know, you kind of have this break to look forward to. So it was actually kind of nice and understand, even skipped, uh, going on a trip to Paris with your family. How did that, how'd you come to that decision? You know, my family doesn't fly that much. I think my waste is taken only maybe two plane trips in the last four or five years. Um, this was something they'd been planning for awhile and really wanted to do. And I, I was sad not to be a part of it, but my sense of urgency about climate change has gotten so strong that that even a family trip to Paris isn't enough to get me on a plane.
Speaker 2: 03:22 I mean, this is just, I see ecosystems breaking down. Um, I see a species struggling, you know, I see, uh, ice sheets melting away and heat waves getting worse and, um, you know, uh, sort of political ramifications from climate refugees and it's all breaking my heart. So it just wasn't, you know, it broke my heart to miss that trip with them, but it wasn't, it didn't rise to the level of getting me on a plane. Now, critics may say that your individual trainers are moaning the much we need systemic changes which are respond to absolutely. I feel so strongly about that myself. But when you think about it, what can we as we are individuals, that's just the fact, each one of us. So what can we do as individuals to push for that systemic collective change that we desperately need? Um, so as an advocate, as, as a scientist who speaks out about climate urgency, I think my message is made much, much stronger by my decision to use less fossil fuels.
Speaker 2: 04:25 So that's one among very many ways that I pushed for, uh, this cultural shift that we need. The, the collective action will only happen. And once that happens, I think it'll happen pretty quickly. So I'm optimistic in that sense, but it will only happen once the public has a strong enough sense of urgency and that's going to take a cultural shift. So you're literally walking the walk. I mean, you ride your bike around, you're walking places, you're doing public transportation, anything to avoid the burning fossil fuels. By the way, we all jump in a car as individuals and a lot of that stuff that I do, I absolutely love. For example, riding a bike, it's my main form of exercise and I just feel super happy when I'm on a bike. I would completely do that the same way. Even if there wasn't any climate breakdown happening and the car culture has been ingrained for a century in places like southern California.
Speaker 2: 05:13 How can that reasonably be changed? Well, I'm, so, cars are interesting, especially when you look at them and really relative to airplanes because there is sort of a path forward through electric vehicles where you can at least imagine some semblance of a carton free car culture. You know, I think there's other problems with the car culture. There's just too many cars on the road. It causes our cities to be too spread out. So maybe the personal car, and it's also incredibly expensive to own a personal vehicle the way we do. I mean, most of those cars are just sitting was at the time, so we may be moving away from that. But airplanes, there's no similar kind of technological paths towards Carbon Free Ava. You know, some, some technological optimists might disagree and say that electric planes are on the horizon, but I don't know fuel planes yet.
Speaker 2: 06:02 Right? So the problem with biofuels is there's just not enough of it. You can certainly run airplanes on essentially vegetable oil like I was doing with my old 1984 Mercedes, right? Maybe, maybe algae. But it just takes an incredible amount of this stuff. And right now we don't have the capacity to make that much fuel. And then the problem with batteries and airplanes is the energy density just isn't there. I think, you know, it's almost maybe a factor of 10 to go, um, that, you know, the, the energy density, that amount of energy get per unit mass of the kerosene is just so much higher than what you get from batteries in a car. It's kind of wonderful to have that mass load on and you get this wonderful handling from having the battery down there. But in an airplane you have to lift that up into the air.
Speaker 2: 06:46 And so it doesn't make sense energetically. Now if our listeners want to decrease their own carbon footprint in terms of travel, what do you recommend? So in terms of travel, um, you know, almost anything you do except maybe driving a very large SUV by yourself is going to be better than getting into a plane. So the main thing is probably to, you know, substitute a vacation on the other side of the world with something closer. So if there's something in your state or in a nearby state that you've always been kind of thinking would be kind of fun to explore and do maybe a road trip and you know, maybe fit your whole family into the vehicle, then you're going to have a substantial carbon savings. That way, the bus actually, um, you know, if you can, if you can stand being on a bus, the bus is the best.
Speaker 2: 07:34 Uh, from a carbon emissions point of view, the best thing that you can take transportation wise, right in coach and a train is roughly half as much commission as this riding coach in an airplane in this country. So we have a ways to go to decarbonize our train system in Europe, for example, they've, they've made significant inroads there are, you know, because you can obviously electrify trains in a way that you can't electrify airplanes or that we haven't so far been able to electrify airplanes. All right. Well, Peter Calamus, thanks for joining us today. Thanks for having me, mark.
Speaker 1: 08:04 For more from the KPBS climate change desk, visit kpbs.org/climate change.
Speaker 1: 00:00 The 10th season of the KPBS series, historic places with Elsa Saviah just wrapped up this season. The series corrected the historical record of the first people of the Kumiai nation and how San Diego came to be 250 years ago. A culture very much alive was revealed. Here's a clip from episode one of historic places featuring Stan Rodriguez of the Senate Isabelle tribe.
Speaker 2: 00:24 It was still a vast majority of Coolni high who carried on in their own native traditions. And to this day there are still [inaudible] who carry on it, the traditional culture of religion. They're singers, there's people who dance, there's people who still speak the language
Speaker 1: 00:43 host Elsa Savia joined us to share more about her experience making the show. Elsa, welcome. Thank you for having me. You are 10 seasons in and the first episode you explore who the first people of the Kumiai nation in southern, in Baja, California, Mexico are, uh, and how long they've been in the region. Tell me about why you wanted to tell their story. A lot of people don't even know about the [inaudible] people. And that's why, um, it's important to tell their history. They've been in the region, uh, for 12,000 years and beyond. And we say beyond, because it could be longer. Many people believe that they've been here from the very beginning. And so to think of that and put that in perspective, it just, you know, it's, it's Kinda hard to think about because we don't know. So that was important for me to tell people their history and the fact that they'd been here for so long.
Speaker 1: 01:35 And when you put that into perspective, just the last 250 years is really just a blip in history. Um, exactly. You know, but still the Kumi I have survived even outside of the, the European influences. What's been key for them in doing so, what they've told me is that they banded together. They've preserved as best as possible, their language, their Birdsongs, their traditions, their foods. Um, they have so much knowledge of science, of medicine, of astrology, of, uh, trading within the different, uh, shambles. The communities before the influences arrive. And they have incredible knowledge about ethnobotany. So talking to them, it's just I, it just incredible to learn so much knowledge from them. I wonder how does the Kumiai People's perspective of history about the encounter with Europeans and the missions differ from what's been taught in schools and even celebrated. Yeah. And you know what, um, they want to tell their history from their perspective and it's because, you know, we find that when we're telling history, everybody has a different point of view, right?
Speaker 1: 02:42 It depends what that person experience and that's how they're going to view history. And so a lot of their history has not been told. Um, they also feel that a lot of the mission side, the, the religion, the Catholic religion, the Spanish and the mission history has been told over a thousand times and it's only in the history books. Their history is not as elaborated in the history books. And that's one of the reasons that they really wanted to work with us and tell their history. And in episode three, you talk about why some call Presidio hill near Old Town San Diego's last city or the Machu Picchu of San Diego. What's the history there? Well, that's an incredible area. There's so much history that has been buried. Um, what happened during the span or the Mexican period? The uh, mission of course was abandoned. The missions were secularized, but then during the Mexican period, that's when the missions were abandoned and that's what happened at Procedural Hill.
Speaker 1: 03:42 People don't know the extent of the buildings that were erected were founded and built by the indigenous people. A lot of them from Baja, but also a lot of the Kumiai people built all that. They did the hard labor, they did the hard work and you know, some other really, um, awful things happen to them. Uh, as we mentioned in the series, they had to, you know, go through whipping floggings. Um, and there was forced labor. That's how they see it. That they couldn't leave the missions once they were baptized and the company, I didn't understand that that was all foreign to them. And so to know that they couldn't leave the mission and, uh, they had to work and that they couldn't go back to their, um, villages. And so a lot of that is part of that history that people don't know. But what's interesting is that it evolves because it was 51 years.
Speaker 1: 04:36 And so what happens in the beginning is, um, father who Neupro Sarah comes with 200 people, many of those from Baja and a few Spanish people and they settle San Diego and they, the Spanish call it settle and the [inaudible] people call it an invasion or an encroachment of their traditional homelands, their traditional territories. And so it have that a procedural hill evolves through the years. And so at first it's, it's just the mission, but the mission is actually moved five years later because there's so many, um, rapes by the soldiers against the women, the Kumeyaay people, um, the women. And so they had to move the mission. And also because the water wasn't sufficient enough to plant the crops. So they moved the mission to where it's currently now in mission gorge. And so procedural hills, incredible. Because it is the most preserved, um, mission site in all of California.
Speaker 1: 05:29 And so if you were to uncover it, you would find just incredible things. The footprint. Um, there's also a cemetery there that a lot of people don't know about and I believe there's about 220 people that are buried there. Um, some Baja, um, natives, uh, Spanish soldiers who are actually, there were the Baja soldiers, but we're under the Spanish rule. And so there's just so many incredible stories that people don't know. And I think because it is buried underground that it's kind of forgotten. There's still so much to uncover from our perspective that we could tell so many more stories and we'd love to continue to tell more stories from procedural hill and talk about the different perspectives because there were so many different people that came to procedural hills. So there's incredible stories there. I've been speaking with Elsa Savi, a host of historic places. You can find her show anytime as she says any place, right? Yes, as long as you go to kpbs.org and also our m severe productions.com website. Elsa, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.