Skip to main content

Alleged Poway Shooter’s Religious Beliefs, SDG&E Wildfire Costs, Bad Allergies

Cover image for podcast episode

A small evangelical Christian denomination is roiling over a letter allegedly written by the 19-year-old man charged with the Chabad of Poway shooting. Also, SDG&E is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on wildfire costs, Imperial Beach officials plan for sea level rise, “Nuclear Dread” lingers in the minds of Americans and why your allergies are bad this year.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:01 The Poway shooting. Suspect references Christian theology

Speaker 2: 00:04 SDG and e makes a last chance push for wildfire reimbursement. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh.

Speaker 1: 00:08 I'm mark Sauer for jade Hyman. This is KPB as mid day edition. It's Thursday, May 2nd or top story on mid day edition. The rabbi wounded during Saturday's deadly shooting at Habbat of Poway synagogue. Spoke today in Washington DC at the national prayer breakfast at the White House. Rabbi Israel Goldstein had this to say in the wake of the violence at his synagogue.

Speaker 3: 00:43 I was in the line of fire bullets flying all the way. My fingers got blowing off, but I did not stop. The Rebbie taught me. As a Jew, you are a soldier of God. You need to stand tall and stand fast and do whatever it takes to change the world.

Speaker 1: 01:04 Also, speaking at the prayer breakfast was Oscar Stewart, the army and navy veteran of the Iraq war who charged the shooter and chased him from the synagogue. Here's Stuart's comments. At today's per program.

Speaker 4: 01:16 We need to be strong as a, as a group of people that love God, whether you call him Mohammed, whether you call him Shivah, whether you call him your way, how sham, whatever you may need to be strong because that's the only way we're going to defeat evil and just in do not be afraid to be who you are. Be Proud and lift yourself up.

Speaker 1: 01:36 Fall out from the tragedy continues. A small evangelical denomination is roiling over a letter allegedly written by a 19 year old man charged with the Poway synagogue shooting the shooting. Suspect pleaded not guilty at his arraignment this week. He's held without bail on charges of killing one person and wounding for others at the synagogue. Chargers characterize it as a hate crime. The letter posted online, which was quickly taken down. It's causing serious soul searching among the leaders in the Orthodox Presbyterian church according to a story and today's Washington Post. Joining me as the reporter who wrote that piece, Julie's osmolar covers religion, faith and spirituality for the Washington Post. Julie, welcome to midday addition. Thanks for having me start with that seven page letter that it appears the shooter wrote. What core beliefs did he outline in it?

Speaker 2: 02:26 A lot of different beliefs, most of which are coming from white supremacist and antisemitic chat rooms and various online forums, but some of it is coming from Christian theology. Uh, some of what he talks about his about his own salvation and how he's saved because he's been selected by God, not because of his actions and about the martyrdom of various Christian figures throughout history, including talking about how the Jews killed Jesus as he puts it. He quotes from the New Testament. It's not just online hate rooms

Speaker 1: 03:02 and tell us about the Orthodox Presbyterian Church about why it was founded and some of its main beliefs.

Speaker 2: 03:07 His denomination, the Orthodox Presbyterian church is a fairly small denomination, about 300 something churches. It's been around a long time. It split from other Presbyterian denominations because it was concerned about the LG getting to liberal. It is a very conservative orthodox is in the name denomination and relevant in this case. It subscribes to a theology called reformed theology, which covers a lot of different denominations out there, many Presbyterian denominations and others. And this reformed Calvinist theology basically teaches that salvation, like the shooter apparently said in his letter is not up to you or anything you do, that God has preordained who will be saved and go to heaven. Their theology about Israel is also pretty interesting. A lot of evangelical Christians are tremendous fans of Israel and very, very supportive of the modern day state of Israel in part because they believe that the Jewish people need to be in the land of Israel in order to bring about the second coming in the end times. I Presbyterians by and large do not believe that they have what's called replacement theology. That means every time a promise to the Jews, as mentioned in the Bible, they think that the Jews have been replaced by the Christian Church and there's no relevance to the modern day state of Israel. There's no real role in history for the Jews anymore.

Speaker 1: 04:46 And uh, some OPC pastors you interviewed reacted powerfully to the news of the shooting at the synagogue here in Poway. What did they say?

Speaker 2: 04:54 They were heartbroken. They were very shaken to realize that this young man came out of their denomination and he's a church goer. He's there regularly and there there's some pastors who are saying, summer sang. Of course, look, this has nothing to do with Christian theology. We white supremacy is completely antithetical to Christian beliefs. Violence is totally against our beliefs, but there are others who were saying, look, if this man came out of our church, we need to look pretty closely at whether we're sending a message from the pulpit that really tells people that you can't be a white supremacist and fit in here.

Speaker 1: 05:32 Now the idea of if there were an act of quote radical Islamic terror, there would be calls to mod to a moderate Muslims to condemn the violence and beliefs behind that. Well, what about when the shooter is a conservative Christian?

Speaker 2: 05:46 That is for me, certainly it was a question in writing this story. Every time that there is an act of terrorism committed by someone who says he's acting in the name of Muslims around the world are called to answer for that. And others say, hey, they shouldn't be because these terrorists are way, way, way outside the mainstream. And it's a religion that believes in peace and loving your neighbors. And moderate Muslims shouldn't have to speak up for the craziest person who affiliates with them. And so the question is, well, this time when it's a bible believing Christian, should we say, hey, it's your turn. You've got to answer for this member of your community. Or should we say, hey, if Muslims don't think they should answer for this, then why should Christians and it's a hard line to walk.

Speaker 1: 06:39 Well, we should note the family issued a statement saying their sons beliefs horrified them. And members of the Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church express similar horror with the pastor hosting a discussion on the topic and offering support to a hub out of Poway. So, uh, that, that certainly was, was out there too as well.

Speaker 2: 06:58 Yes. The church community itself was completely shocked and horrified. And the manifesto even says, no, I didn't learn this from my family. They don't believe this.

Speaker 1: 07:10 Now, uh, do you think this tragedy will cause a meaningful debate within Christian communities or will this act be dismissed so that have a mentally ill person perhaps?

Speaker 2: 07:20 I think some of that debate is really already happening. I think just in what I've seen, especially online among evangelical pastors talking amongst themselves, this is really hitting a nerve. That debate is really out there talking about how the language that a preacher uses from the pulpit maybe needs to be reconsidered. For example, these, these are verses of the Bible that he quoted and this isn't unique to him. These are verses that have been used by any Semites for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The verses that say the Jews killed Jesus and various other verses that blame Jews very broadly. There are pastors now having discussions with each other saying, when you read that verse of the Bible out loud in your church because you're going through the Bible, you need to clarify it. You need to put that in some perspective and not just read these things, knowing that people can misinterpret them.

Speaker 1: 08:19 And this letter we're talking about a that circulated online right after the attack at a also contained grievances against Jews that had nothing to do with religion, right?

Speaker 2: 08:28 Yes. Lots and lots of this letter was racist, was any Semitic was not coming from Christianity. It was coming from a wide range of other sources

Speaker 1: 08:42 and Jews control the media and some of these uh, allegations, right?

Speaker 2: 08:46 Yes. It's full of a lot of accusations. I don't recommend reading it to. Okay.

Speaker 1: 08:56 And as we say, it's, it's been taken offline and I should note this young man was just a rained and charged this week and a trial is yet to come and certainly not convicting him or saying that the, this, this case is over with at this point.

Speaker 5: 09:10 It's barely begun. It's going to be a long criminal process, I'm sure.

Speaker 1: 09:15 Well, I've been speaking with reporter Julie's Osmo who covers religion, faith and spirituality for the Washington Post. Thanks Julie. Thank you.

Speaker 5: 09:36 San Diego gas and electric claims. It's constitutional rights have been violated by not being able to have rate payers pick up costs from the 2007 San Diego wildfires. SDG and e is asking the u s supreme court to take the case. The appeal involves $379 million in remaining wildfire costs. The utilities effort to get customers to pay. It's already been denied by California's Public Utility Commission and two state courts now SDG and a once the highest court in the land to weigh in. Joining me as San Diego Union Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald. Jeff, welcome to the program.

Speaker 6: 10:14 Hello, how are you?

Speaker 5: 10:15 Great, thank you. What is SDG and e's argument that this effort to recover costs is a constitutional issue?

Speaker 6: 10:23 Their position is that because they're required to pay the damages, that they should be able to recover the cost from rate payers. The doctrine is known as inverse condemnation and it's something that's used by governments and public agencies all the time. The utility thinks their position is that because they don't get a choice of paying the damages that they should mandatorily recover the cost from rate payers. As a course of doing business and delivering the electricity as required.

Speaker 5: 10:55 No. Didn't state investigators ruled that Sdg and e was at fault in those fires by not maintaining their equipment properly?

Speaker 6: 11:03 Yes. And that's been the, that's been illegal rub confronting the utility is that when they made their case to regulators, the regulators said, well that's a, a, an interesting theory, but no dice because your equipment caused the fires. They took their field, their commission was acting as a judicial branch at that point. They appealed to the state. Uh, the fourth district court, which is an appellate court. Those judges also said, uh, no, and then they appealed to the state Supreme Court. And, uh, the high court in California said No. So it's an interesting, um, legal position. I think that probably the reason they're litigating it so aggressively is because there's a lot more at stake down the road with future wildfire liability. Okay.

Speaker 5: 11:44 I want to talk to you more about that. I, and, and just to be clear, does SDG and e still maintained that it was not at fault and that their equipment did not cause those fires?

Speaker 6: 11:56 Uh, it's never as cut and dry. Yes, we did it. They paid two and a half billion dollars in damages. So if you count it as a, you know, as they paid the money, then maybe that acknowledges they were at fault, but they didn't never formally said we caused the fires. So no, they haven't acknowledged that it's their fault. Their legal position is that the fires were a natural event caused by, uh, a combination of uh, you know, unfortunate, uh, things that uh, that came together. Mostly weather the winds, the temperature stuff that's outside their direct control.

Speaker 5: 12:32 No, as you mentioned, this is $379 million involved in this dispute is actually a fraction of the costs that Sdg and e has already paid out over the 2007 wildfires. So just looking at it objectively, it's kind of a head scratcher as to why SDG and e is being so persistent in this issue and trying to get the u s supreme court to decide it. So what is the, what are the larger ramifications of this?

Speaker 6: 12:59 Well, the other two investor owned utilities, Pacific gas and electric. And Southern California Edison have both had in recent years, devastating wildfires that killed a lot of people and burned a lot of homes down and black and a lot of acreage. Uh, the same thing might happen in San Diego County and in the service area of SDG and e's in coming months or years. And so I think part of the, uh, thinking, uh, and this is speculation on my part, but what makes sense is that they're looking forward to liability beyond 2007 and what might, what might be coming, you know, in coming years as they continue to deliver electricity at a time when, uh, climate change is, uh, contributing to more wildfires.

Speaker 5: 13:44 How has the liability issue already excited SDG and e's bottom line?

Speaker 6: 13:49 Uh, well, they say that their insurance rates have gone up, that people are less willing to invest in the stock and that other costs are, uh, making it not as desirable and investment. So they need to think about the wellbeing of their company going forward. And they see this as a huge question mark that they're trying to answer and great certainty so that, uh, they're not jeopardized the way Pacific gas and electric is with this bankruptcy declaration earlier this year,

Speaker 5: 14:14 what kind of reaction have you heard from state regulators about this appeal to the High Court?

Speaker 6: 14:20 Well, they're pretty tight lipped on what they say. It's ongoing litigations. So you hardly ever get the parties to discuss openly what, uh, what they're thinking is they told me officially that they received the petition and it's under review. I pressed them a little further asking if they plan to respond, which is a big lift. I mean they have to do a lot of research and they have to present it in a specific format that's a unique to the US Supreme Court and uh, it's a big investment of time and resources. So they did not answer that question. It's not clear how many of the other related parties may respond. Also to try and sway the high court to a, reject the petition or not. So we'll see. Uh, we'll see as it goes forward. We should know later this year. What uh, what the Supreme Court decision is, whether they take it up, they uh, they take a very small percentage of the cases presented to them every year.

Speaker 5: 15:11 The chances of this one being taken are actually very low.

Speaker 6: 15:14 Well, the chances of any case being taken are very low. But uh, of course the petitioner in this case Sdg and e, they say this is a very important question that needs a federal resolution and the only way to get certainty is to have the high court consider it and make a determination. So like every petitioner, they think their cases a important enough to have this question decided by the Supreme Court. We'll see where it goes going forward.

Speaker 5: 15:37 I've been speaking with San Diego Union Tribune reporter Jeff McDonald. Jeff, thank you.

Speaker 6: 15:41 You Bet. You're welcome.

Speaker 5: 15:49 PBS midday edition scientists say there's no escaping rising ocean levels as the climate changes, that prediction is not lost on the officials in San Diego counties. Southern most coastal community. Imperial beach is already feeling the impact of rising ocean levels from our climate change desk. KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson has details.

Speaker 7: 16:13 Imperial beach year began with a king tide and a storm.

Speaker 8: 16:20 This is Cortez Avenue and back in January. This place was a mess. You can see over here the sandbags that they were using in part to hold back some of the sand and the water that was coming onto this street. If you look over here, these are the big rocks that are designed to keep the ocean off of. This property didn't quite work out that way. It just washed right over and brought with it sand and water. It looked like the ocean and just expanded that it was coming at us.

Speaker 7: 16:50 Serge Dudina is the mayor of imperial beach. We're just seeing a lot more things happening that we just never used to see me for. To Deena knows rising ocean levels are a problem for his community of about 28,000 he joined us to talk about rising sea levels but not where you might expect. This area is on the northern edge of the town and it's already feeling the effect of a rising ocean

Speaker 9: 17:14 where the south end of San Diego Bay, this is a a little inlet from the bay, which is a national wildlife refuge that connects to our storm drain system and then flows under Bayside elementary school, which is a steam academy. This was, this was still a wetland right here. So really what's happening with sea level rise and coastal flooding, it's the water's reoccupying the area that it used to flow through anyway and when you see the flood maps and IB, what you're seeing is water going to areas where it traditionally was, IB was really built on sort of a wetland and salt flat, so re really re nature's just coming back to reoccupied the areas that always wasn't.

Speaker 7: 17:49 Dina says Bayside Elementary. His future is uncertain because flood maps show this neighborhood could be mostly underwater if ocean levels continue to rise to Dina says it takes just a little stormy weather to make that happen. Now

Speaker 9: 18:04 25 to 50 mile an hour in northwest winds pushing water this way. At King tide heavy rain, we're getting heavier rains, a normal because of all the moisture in the atmosphere and so water starts going like you know, starts pushing this way. You get the whole storm drain system backed up and then you get start getting the rain flooding. Um, the neighborhood as well that's already happening

Speaker 7: 18:23 to Dina says the natural geography that is causing problems may also offer some solutions. He says there is still a buffer between San Diego Bay and the public property the school sits on. He says, turning that buffer into wetland habitat could help to Deena says it's something city officials are already talking about.

Speaker 9: 18:42 What can we do in a natural climate solution way? What are the adaptation measures that we can take? What are the restoration efforts we can take? Can we, can we sort of work with nature first and foremost and and see if we can minimize the, the risks that way. Right.

Speaker 7: 18:56 Dina sees promise in some of the wetland restoration. The U s fish and Wildlife Service has already done on the southern edge of San Diego Bay, but he's also realistic. He knows the ocean is capable of reclaiming parts of imperial beach and he worries about the rising water levels and how it will hurt the rest of his city.

Speaker 9: 19:15 This year we spent $15,000 on a dry on taking sand out of a national wildlife refuge because the federal government was closed. That's our junior lifeguard program for the summer. That means an underserved kids that don't have a lot of money, get free scholarships to go to the junior lifeguard program to spend the summer at the beach. Well, if we're spending all our money on on sea level rise and coastal flooding, we can't help our most underserved low income kids have a great quality of life and that's really important for me.

Speaker 7: 19:38 And wild quality of life is an issue at imperial beach. So is the city's economy. Visitors pump lots of money into the community when they drop in to enjoy the coast and beaches. Most of my teeth, gum from tourists. So Ramiro relies on tourists for his livelihood and literally to come to take a walk on the Pier Mosley while he doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about sea level rise, he does acknowledge and encroaching ocean could change everything, not just the shoreline.

Speaker 5: 20:11 Joining me is KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson and Eric Welcome. Thank you. Now what kinds of things is imperial beach seeing in these big storms that they haven't seen before?

Speaker 7: 20:22 I think the intensity of the storms is really what has increased the impact on on the shoreline there. And city officials, you know, they've had high surf there before, but not at this level. And the interesting thing about January was it was a a storm system that was creating high surf at the same time, if there was an astronomically high king tide. So you had those two things together, the kind of that window into the future. This is what it's gonna look like. If sea levels continue to rise and then you have a storm event, you can expect this kind of thing in the county. How does creating or restoring a wetlands environment help control the effects of sea level rise the way they were planning to help Bayside elementary? Well, if you look at where Bayside elementary is, it's right basically on the northern edge of imperial beach and the southern edge of San Diego Bay.

Speaker 7: 21:13 But the water doesn't come right up to the city, limits the waters a little bit away. Uh, there's upon there at the southern end of the bay that holds water. And if you look around the area, there is a river channel and then there's marsh and wetlands and what they're talking about, uh, and some of these, uh, adaptive measures is if you expand that buffer between the city of imperial beach and San Diego Bay, it'll be able to absorb some of this high wave action, uh, during storm events. It will be able to absorb some of the sea level rise that will push up the level of water in San Diego Bay. And so that they feel that by looking at those solutions, by increasing that buffer and kind of creating a space for the water to go when it rises up, that that'll be a way to keep it out of the neighborhood.

Speaker 7: 22:04 Has any kind of mapping been done to anticipate where imperial beach is most vulnerable to sea level rise? Sure. They've looked at flood maps, which is what a surge ahead on. They're being proactive looking at where the water may come and there's an interesting tool available online to people who are diligent. The US Geological Survey has done this for the entire state of California. They look at the coastline, they estimate how land will be affected. Uh, if there's one foot of sea level rise, two feet, four feet, six feet, 10 feet, and then they show you in vivid detail where the water will be. If the ocean level rises that much. And it's pretty clear to see when you get around six feet of sea level rise, which is what many of the climate scientists are saying is probably going to happen by 2040 or maybe before then.

Speaker 7: 22:58 Uh, then there are big impact, especially in a community like imperial beach, which is a low light and community. You know, it's not, they're not build up on a coastal bluff. It's right there close to the level of the ocean. Is that why they're serving as kind of a bellwether for the larger San Diego community when it comes to the effects of climate change they're going to feel at first because they're the lowest line community? I think the interesting thing about San Diego County and our 70 miles of coastline is the fact that every community kind of has a different issue to deal with, right? For Imperial Beach, it's that low lying community where the water will surround the city essentially and then try to creep its way into the city boundaries. You have areas like along Encinitas where they have the bluffs, so they're, they're concerned about coastal erosion. It depends on where you're looking. In San Diego County, there's a real variety of the, of the kinds of threats being posed because there's a real variety in the kinds of coastline that we're, we're talking about

Speaker 5: 23:57 what parts of San Diego's infrastructure could start feeling the first effects of sea level rise. What might break down first?

Speaker 7: 24:04 Well, it's the obvious thing, right? It's the thing that delivers a water away from the city. It's the storm drains, right? So you have storm drains that are designed to channel away storm water in the cities in San Diego County and then they have to carry that storm water somewhere. And it's usually to an ocean outfall, et Cetera, or maybe into mission bay, different places around the city. But if the, if the level of water where they're dumping it is rising, perhaps that storm drain won't have anywhere to, you know, it could be covered up by a rising level of a bay or the ocean. And then that storm drain has nowhere to go and it backs up and it pushes the water back into the city. So yeah, that's one thing that has to be looked at pretty soon. And imperial beach is already feeling the effects of that. They've seen that

Speaker 5: 24:48 given the intense environmental concerns and imperial beach, I guess it's no surprise the city has just enacted the strict just plastics band in the county. Can you tell us about that? Sure.

Speaker 7: 24:59 What they've done is they really kind of expanded some of the protections that were already in place. They had a pretty good, uh, polystyrene ban in place for the city of imperial beach. Uh, I think it was back in 2017 when they pass that they expanded it to limit single use plastic bags and any kind of a city related function or city activity or city vending job. Uh, and they've limited the sale of plastic utensils that are not biodegradable, just, you know, traditional plastic forks and spoons and straws and those kinds of things. Um, and I think that the logic behind that for imperial beach and officials is that they don't want to be the people that do bad things to the beach that they rely on so much. It's such a big part of their community. They don't want to be doing things in their daily life. That impacts the quality and the health of that, that beach, and that's, that's what's moving this forward.

Speaker 5: 25:55 I've been speaking with KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson. Erik, thanks. My pleasure.

Speaker 1: 26:05 A horrific explosion occurred at a Soviet Union nuclear reactor, a Chernobyl in April, 1986 the blast spread radioactive material across Ukraine, Belarus or Russia, and as far away as Scandinavia and western Europe, a five part dramatization of the tragedy starts Monday on Hbo and the series will no doubt enhance the already considerable fear of nuclear power reactors and what can go wrong. Yeah. At carbon free nuclear power has been part of the u s grid since the 1970s even now, one in every five kilowatt hours of electricity in this country comes from nuclear plants.

Speaker 10: 26:44 Joining me by Skype as part of our coverage from the KPBS climate change desk is Ahmad Abdulla of fellow with the UC San Diego School of global policy and strategy. Welcome a pleasure to speak with you, mark. The names Chernobyl Three Mile Island Fukushima have become almost synonymous with nuclear fallout disaster here in San Diego. Many feel the same way about the ill fated Santa No free plant. And these cases show what can go wrong, but start with the factual risks. How dangerous has it really been degenerate nuclear power in the U S and around the world compared with other major sources of energy, it has actually been remarkably safe and peer reviewed studies suggest that nuclear power has been among the safest ways of generating electricity. Obviously saying that it has led to fewer deaths and less illness than many other forms of electricity generation is not meant at least to dismiss or diminish the consequences of a potentially catastrophic accident.

Speaker 10: 27:44 So there is a rich menu of challenges that lead to negative perception of nuclear power among the public, but there are also persistent misconceptions about the technology and both of these limited sews and perception and public policy and politics. Of course, it's vitally important. Explain how you set about determining how this sense of dread among Americans is affecting decisions about maintaining or building new nuclear power facilities. While we recruited a large sample of Americans more than 1200 and we asked them all to build a national electric power system that could cut emissions in half by the year 2050. We gave them a number of technologies to do this and we gave them information about the risks and the emissions of each technology. However, only half of them were given the names of the technologies and question the other half got the information but they didn't get the names.

Speaker 10: 28:38 And we do this precisely to separate public attitudes to nuclear power and to two components. What we in the paper and you and your question just called it red component that is tied to the name of the technology and the associations that evokes and then a statistical component that we can reduce by building safer nuclear power plants. Okay. And what did your survey reveal regarding Americans' attitudes? Uh, about nuclear power? We get a very strong results. Respondents who saw the names of the technologies chose to deploy less nuclear power, 40% less in fact, and remarkably those who saw the name of the technology deployed nuclear power at about its current level, while those who didn't see the name, um, deployed systems where one in four kilowatt hour electricity. So a quarter of American energy or electricity came from that technology. So pretty dramatic what people feel about nuclear power when they know they're talking about nuclear power. Quite yes. Now how much do you think people really know about nuclear technology and how relatively safe

Speaker 1: 29:42 it is?

Speaker 10: 29:42 Well, there's an enormous literature on attitudes to nuclear power and opinion polling on the subject stretches back decades. But we live in a moment in history where these results have started to change not only because of climate change, which is a genuine crisis, but also because of people's attitude to governments, to expertise and to a number of other relevant factors. Previous work has shown that people living next to nuclear power plants tend to support the more than the general population. This could be because they know more about the technology and, and people who are trained in stem fields such as engineers also seem to support nuclear power more than the general population according to one recent study.

Speaker 1: 30:25 Okay. Well tell us what your research shows regarding the challenge of changing public opinion enough to allow new nuclear power facilities to be built.

Speaker 10: 30:33 Well, our work shows that promising to address, address the statistical risk of nuclear power is unlikely to automatically reduce, let alone eliminate the dread. For example, parts of the industry proposes that we develop a new generation of reactors that are even safer than the ones we currently have. But if the problem is in the perception and the name alone can dramatically limit the use of nuclear power, then it's unclear the extent to which this strategy could work. So our research diagnosis, the extent of the problem, and although we discussed potential prescriptions that ought to be investigated in a serious scientific manner, we don't claim to offer a solution.

Speaker 1: 31:12 And, uh, don't experts say that a climate change and clean energy, uh, it's gotta rely on nuclear power gotta be part of the portfolio, right?

Speaker 10: 31:20 Yeah. There has been a growing recognition over the past decade or so about the sheer scale of the challenge. So it's not just climate and energy experts who are in favor of deploying a nuclear power, but also some environmental groups have become not pronuclear but more ambivalent towards nuclear than opposed to it. Um, and it's good that there's this awareness, but at the same time, there's a need for self reflection among climate and energy experts because our results suggest that experts need to better represents reality when they're determining whether a technology can be deployed or the limits of its use. In the real world right now, the community uses either simple models to claim that nuclear is necessary or they impose carbon prices to make nuclear more competitive. And it's important to integrate insights from the social sciences, things about public acceptance, um, concerned about specific issues related to nuclear power that transcend just energy and economics. When you're dealing with this question

Speaker 1: 32:23 and the sense of nuclear dread that we've been talking about. Do we know if that extends in other countries that rely on nuclear energy some more than us? Actually,

Speaker 10: 32:32 yeah. I'm the exact study we're talking about here hasn't been undertaken elsewhere, but he has the gap between Greg and statistical risk does exist in different countries and it all depends on the institutional context and how people interact with government, how people view the climate, how strong the environmental movements in those countries are. So it would be actually interesting to compare these things across forms of government and across populations. Right. Well, I've been speaking with Ahmed Abdulla, a fellow with the UC San Diego School of global policy and strategy. Thanks Ahmed.

Speaker 5: 33:06 Thank you, mark. Let's go now to silicon valley where a former techies are crafting second careers for themselves as tech activists urging companies to make their products less addictive. In some circles, phone addiction has become a full on crisis with the detox camps and phone apps designed to stop us from looking at other phone apps. Kq Edis. Zoe Schiffer explores the latest of these manifestos,

Speaker 11: 33:44 the center for Humane Technology, a nonprofit focused on righting the wrongs of the tech industry has unveiled a new agenda to help tech companies prioritize their users, wellbeing over their constant attention.

Speaker 6: 33:55 And so that's the premise here is that we actually have to have humane technology that's first aware of human frailties. And that's, that's a whole different kind of design. It's like a magician's view of human mind instead of a, a economist view of the human mind,

Speaker 11: 34:08 whatever that means. That's the rector Tristan Harris. He helped lead the time well spent movement that prompted Google and Facebook to release screen time teachers. So we all know how many hours we spent on Instagram

Speaker 6: 34:21 and instead of saying, hey, let's just let people just compete for attention, let's change the currency. Let's make the currency something closer to time we'll spend or what will help people move, move their lives closer to their values,

Speaker 11: 34:33 and how might we change that currency while through subscriptions for one.

Speaker 6: 34:37 But right now, what are we getting for free? We're getting social isolation for free. We're getting downgraded attention spans for free. We're getting mental health problems for free, so free is the most expensive business model that we've ever created.

Speaker 11: 34:49 Harris also announced a new podcast and a humane tech conference in 2020 and while has intentions seem good, it's unclear how we're going to get people to pay for something they once got for free or how listening to yet another podcast will change the trajectory of the tech industry. Artists in Stanford, Professor Jenny O'dell, the author of the book called how to do nothing, says she for one, doesn't buy it.

Speaker 6: 35:12 Things like time well spent while they very well may free up time for someone and not probably be helpful for them. It doesn't touch assumptions like time is money and doesn't touch the idea that the life can be optimized.

Speaker 11: 35:26 Oh, Dell has a really simple solution to the tech crisis. Stop looking at screens and get outside.

Speaker 5: 35:33 That was [inaudible] Zoe Schiffer reporting.

Speaker 5: 35:50 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm mark Sauer. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh. We may not be fans of the Gray Chili's spring we're having so far, but one thing is doing is to tamp down allergens. Doctor say once hot, windy weather kicks up, we should experience a major allergy season in San Diego are heavy winter rains have led to super blooms and that's already affecting some allergy sufferers. Jeremy is Dr. Taylor Doherty, he's associate professor of medicine at Uc San Diego health and an allergist immunologist with a specialty in treating asthma and Dr Doti, welcome to the program. Thank you very much for having me. What are you seeing in your practice so far this season?

Speaker 12: 36:31 So this season we're seeing a lot of allergic disease, whether it involves the eyes or the nose, and this can be symptoms of stuffy or nasal congestion as well as itching, a puffy, swollen eyelids, sneezing, coughing. And one of the challenging aspects can be that some of these symptoms, especially the sneezing in cough, can overlap with some of the viral illnesses that are also still lingering around during viral cold and flu season. So I also see as Maddix that certainly during certain times of the year when their allergens are elevated, they also have more wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath.

Speaker 5: 37:11 What are you anticipating for the rest of this season for seasonal allergies?

Speaker 12: 37:16 I think that you alluded to some of it by mentioning that we have had some damp conditions over the past few months intermittently and that does several things. One of the things that it does is it allows of course the the vegetation leading to these blooms and we have potentially more intense Paulin seasons. And we also have with damp conditions, mold exposure that leads to respiratory symptoms in those patients that are allergic as well as some patients where it just causes some more irritant

Speaker 5: 37:48 respiratory effects. Can you briefly tell us why pollen and other substances cause allergies in our respiratory systems?

Speaker 12: 37:57 In terms of the actual response, what you have is a certain type of immune activation by things in the environment that you really shouldn't have activation too. So there's a molecule called Ige, which is a type of antibody that can be developed against uh, an allergen sake, a certain protein. And Cat or dust mite or Pollins that wanted, interacts with the allergen in the nose or the lung ends up releasing lots of products through mass cells, which are a type of allergy should sell that contains histamine and many other mediators that lead to some of the symptoms that I mentioned. Our children more susceptible to seasonal allergies than adults. Yes, they are in terms of prevalence, the exact mechanisms are unknown, but definitely in adolescent, um, ages as well as in the 20s. It is not uncommon to grow out of allergies. However, um, I see mostly adults and there's certainly a large persistence of allergies.

Speaker 12: 39:00 In fact, about a third of the US population has at least hay fever type symptoms and sensitization, um, which can actually be in half the population population if you test for the sensitization to allergens. So yes, that's more common in children. However, certainly still very common in adults as well. Why do older people develop allergies to pollen after they've never had them before their whole lives? The sort of Dogma that the teaching is that you develop these early on and then they persist or not. And that's just simply not true. I mean, we're seeing adults that develop food allergy with similar mechanisms that I mentioned in terms of the ige molecule and, and certainly also seeing adults with the amount of moving between different cities, different climates, as well as the, uh, potential contribution of climate change over the last decade or two that could increase pollen counts as well as duration upon seasons as well as affect the allergenicity of the, of the pollens.

Speaker 12: 40:03 Well, we all know the common symptoms of allergies, runny nose, sneezing, congestion. Are there other symptoms of seasonal allergies that suffers? Can Experience? Absolutely. And in some of these are secondary effects. One of the aspects that's underappreciated is the fact that many patients with allergic rhinitis, um, can also develop secondary bacterial sinus infections or even chronic sinus disease. So the Sinus is, are these air spaces within the skull. And if those get impacted with bacterial infection, um, and there are unable to drain properly due to allergies, then the, you can absolutely be predisposed to more sinus infections. The other issue that's underappreciated is the fact that patients with allergic rhinitis or the nasal hayfever type allergies are unable to sleep as well. And this has been studied extensively and we all know that the lack of sleep can affect many aspects of uh, the human body's functioning.

Speaker 12: 41:05 And certainly one aspect would be just fatigue, severe fatigue throughout, you know, trying to wake up in the morning and you're already taking anti-histamines which can worsen fatigue in many cases, but the allergies themselves have led to a poor sleep cycle. Yeah. How effective are those over the counter allergy pills that are so heavily advertise this time of year? Yeah, absolutely. We see, we see commercials all the time for them and many if not most are over the counter now. Which um, you know, is something important to point out that we have pills like anti histamines and then we also have nasal sprays which include the nasal corticosteroids or nasal steroids sprays. And given the fact that many of these used to be prescriptions, I think it's important to talk about the fact that the nasal steroids are used best when used daily, chronically at least for a month to see if they help. And it's not clear from the advertising or when you buy them at the store that you get those type of instructions unless you're carefully reading the labels. So you know those are more preventative, chronic use, whereas the anti histamines, um, really are an as needed. Now some people need them every day, so they take them every day. And, and as many people know, there's many different varieties of these anti histamine pills. Some could make, some patients sleepy and others they barely notice them at all. Other than getting some relief.

Speaker 5: 42:35 Doctor, what lifestyle advice do you have for your patients who are suffering from allergies? Should they stay indoors with the AC on?

Speaker 12: 42:42 It depends on the allergen exposure. So if in the, you know, for instance I'm in San Diego and we have a lot of house dust mite allergic individuals and because you know we do have pollen, but not to the extent that some of the other places in the country do, we might have patients that really tend to have perennial or year round allergies to dust mite in that. In that case, staying indoors, perhaps in there an environment may not be always the best thing to do. However, for the pollen allergic patients, then you know, absolutely it's reasonable to try to avoid times during the day when there's high pollen counts to keep the windows closed, to make sure that the filters are changed and appropriately placed. With regards to air conditioning and Hepa filters, for those who are dust mite allergic, we also recommend encasement covers that are zipped that go over the mattress, the box spring as well as the pillow and have their linens washed in hot water once a week. So that will be completely different advice than what you would give somebody who's just Paul and allergic.

Speaker 5: 43:47 I've been speaking with allergist immunologist, Dr. Taylor Doherty, associate professor of medicine at Uc San Diego health. Doctor Dougherty. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 13: 44:00 Yeah.

KPBS Midday Edition podcast branding

KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.