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San Diego’s Climate Change Crisis: From The Climate Change Desk #CoveringClimateNow

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This week, KPBS is joining more than 220 news organizations worldwide in covering climate change to bring home the urgent need to confront the realities of a warming planet. Midday Edition talks to four local congressional representatives about the impact of climate change on their districts. And, the changing climate means more wildfires for San Diego’s backcountry, how one family is rebuilding after the Witch Creek Fire and preparing for the future. Plus, humans are the driving force of climate change, but population control remains controversial.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:01 This midday edition special is part of covering climate. Now it's a global collaboration to strengthen coverage of the climate story. I'm Maureen Cavanagh and I'm jade Hindman. This is KPBS mid day edition.

Speaker 1: 00:23 It's Monday, September 16th. It used to be an inconvenient truth. Now it's a fact of life. Climate change is no longer about the future. It's affecting us here and now. But what can we do to confront the challenges of a changing climate and what can we do to stop making it worse? Well, this week, KPBS PBS is joining hundreds of news organizations from across the globe to bring home the realities of a warming planet. Today, Mid Day edition is dedicating the entire show to the subject. We begin with KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson giving us a glimpse of how the climate crisis touches different corners of the San Diego region.

Speaker 2: 01:05 The threat of wildfire is a fact of life in San Diego, but a fire season that used to spend the late summer and early fall is now year round. That means bigger risks and higher costs for people like Amy Quinland who makes the back country or home.

Speaker 3: 01:20 So, uh, we kind of during the dry season have to kind of get up during the night and go outside and check and see if there's anything. So I'm paying attention to what's happening. It's always, always kind of in the back of your mind.

Speaker 2: 01:34 This mindset is the new normal says David Victor or UC San Diego professor and an expert on climate change policy. The protective measures we take to protect structures, houses in the middle of the forest, um, communities that have been burned, uh, protect them against, uh, against future fires that might involve simple things like much bigger firebreaks. It might involve much more active identification of fires early on. And then next thing you know, you're in effect managing the entire, at least woody ecosystem because of your concerns about fire. When Pine Valley Resident Major Robert Langston signed up for California as Army National Guard, he knew his duties would include dealing with the impacts of fire. He didn't know it would be almost his entire job. Men and women with the guard are not only deployed to manage evacuations during wildfires, they're now fighting fires and building firebreaks.

Speaker 3: 02:29 Our level of support has been increasing. We've provided more support to, uh, especially while on fire. So from a firefighter perspective, I mean, you know, for whatever reason, yeah, fires are getting more and more intense.

Speaker 4: 02:43 San Diego

Speaker 2: 02:44 counties, climate change impacts don't end at the forest edge. They're also felt up and down the coast. Carlsbad's aqua farm is a small hatchery that's been selling oysters and mussels to restaurants for 50 years. Production manager, Matt Stinky says acidification caused by warming oceans devastated the industry a decade ago

Speaker 5: 03:03 when ocean acidification hit the Pacific northwest. Um, they were reporting a 90 to 95% failure in their normal production. And you ended up with a lot of farmers who had open space to grow things and they are unable to buy seed. And that problem persisted for a few years.

Speaker 2: 03:19 The threat is becoming more dire. Dan Kn, a researcher with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography says, the warmer water is in essence choking off the food supply a warmer the oceans get, uh, the less oxygen it can can, uh, accommodate and, uh, low oxygen is, is not good in general for ecosystems at the southern edge of the county in Imperial Beach, the urgency is sea level rise. Coastal flooding is something California as beach community has always dealt with, but sea level rise expert Robert [inaudible] says it's getting worse. Rising sea level, we'll take a chronic problem, shortage of sand and she how bad it can get by just flooding the beaches on top of it that are already sand starved. Imperial beach lifeguard, Captain Roberts, Dave now grew up surfing in IBS waves. Now it's his job to protect residents and property when waves wash into city streets,

Speaker 6: 04:22 climate change that they've been talking about it for the last, yeah, five, 10 years. You know, when you've been hearing more and more about possible climate change and sea level rise and, and, and now we're actually seeing the impacts. Um, it's real.

Speaker 2: 04:38 As these stories unfold, it'll become even more apparent that San Diego is in the grips of a climate crisis. Eric Anderson, KPBS news

Speaker 4: 04:51 [inaudible]

Speaker 7: 04:57 after years of virtually ignoring the issue leaders in Washington, at least among Democrats, are directly addressing the climate crisis. We reached four of San Diego's congressional representatives and asked the same questions about climate change. Here are some of the responses from Democrats, Mike Levin, district 49 Scott Peters, district 52 Susan Davis, district 53 and one Vargas district 51 first, what effect will climate change have on your district? Here's congressman Scott Peters.

Speaker 8: 05:30 There's three main effects in San Diego County. One is sea level rise, one is more intense wildfires, which we've seen I think over over the past decade or so, and one is water supply issues throughout the state. California is going to be faced with water supply issues.

Speaker 7: 05:45 Congressman Mike Levin,

Speaker 8: 05:47 well, my district has 52 miles of coastline from La Jolla all the way up to Dana point and all you have to do is take a look at the unprecedented sea rise and erosion of our coastline. Obviously we just had a tragic bluff collapse and we continue to experience, uh, issues around our bluffs.

Speaker 7: 06:07 Congresswoman Susan Davis.

Speaker 9: 06:09 So the district have the 53rd, which is not coastal but very close to the coast. Um, we also have thousands of canyons in the district. So fire, uh, dryness,

Speaker 7: 06:24 congressman Juan Vargas.

Speaker 10: 06:26 If you go to, um, imperial counting, you take a look at what can happen in that desert community with the rising heat. Um, in the summers in particular, I mean, it might be unlivable depending on what we do or don't do about climate change.

Speaker 7: 06:39 Second question. What are you doing personally to mitigate climate change? Congressman Scott Peters?

Speaker 8: 06:46 Well, I drive an electric car and a hybrid car. I'm trying to upgrade the hybrid to an electric as soon as some more are available. Um, you know, I'd like to tell you that, uh, um, my carbon footprint is low. I have to fly to Washington, uh, once a week or, you know, when, uh, during the session, um, that's not easy, but you know, things like, uh, not using so many single use, plastic water bottles. Um, you know, just watching my own behavior, what I eat, eating less meat. Um, those are the kinds of things that I can do that we can all do to, to help the cause.

Speaker 7: 07:17 Congressman Juan Vargas

Speaker 10: 07:19 in my own life at home, we've done a whole bunch of things. We've taken out all the grass from our home. We decided to use a lot less water. We've changed out all of our bulbs and we use now led lights. We do not use air conditioning. We don't have it. We were going to put it in. We decided not to because we think that uses too much energy and we live in San Diego. We think that the climate's good enough that we don't need air conditioning. Um, so I also try to drive less commute with others when I can, um, Carpool, do all the things that I can try to do personally to, uh, to save mother earth because I believe in it as does my family. I'm thankful that I have a 15 year old daughter at home and she makes sure that, uh, we're as, um, you know, we're as conscientious as we can be.

Speaker 7: 08:10 And the third question, how do we achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050 congressman Mike 11.

Speaker 8: 08:18 You've got to continue to innovate in research and development to try to figure out a forward thinking technologies, things that are able to cap carb, carbon capture and sequestration technologies as well as anything we can do to try to reduce our footprint. It's about reduction, it's about adaptation as well. So we've gotta be mindful of the fact that, uh, many of the climate impacts that are going to be felt aren't going to be felt until the second half of this century. But there are things that we need to be thinking about how we build communities, where we build communities, uh, in particularly in an area like ours where the coastline like ours, we've just to be mindful of this

Speaker 7: 08:56 each and every day. Congresswoman Susan Davis.

Speaker 9: 09:00 Well, that's the key goal. You have to have a goal. And, and it's been repeated and in many ways actually that, that, that, that has to be out there. You know, in California when we first started doing the car emissions, I don't think we expected to reach some of those goals, but we did. And now, you know, even car companies are telling the Trump administration, we're good with this. We can follow this. I think we don't have to sort of divide ourselves over over this urgency. I think we have to get behind, um, what is having a, at least a galvanizing effort in educating as many people as possible. And then we have to assure, as I've said to my constituents, I need you there for the tough times. I need you when there is some individual sacrifice here. I want you to help us with this.

Speaker 7: 09:46 We contacted 50th District Representative Duncan Hunter's office to have him participate in answering the climate change questions. He never responded to our request.

Speaker 11: 09:58 Uh,

Speaker 7: 09:58 we'd like to follow up now by analyzing the impact going forward of actions taken or not taken by leaders in Congress, the executive branch and the courts. David Victor is a professor of climate and atmospheric science at UC San Diego and author of the book global warming, gridlock, he spoke with KPBS round table host Mark Sauer.

Speaker 12: 10:21 Professor Victor, welcome. Well, it's great to be with you. Well with the window rapidly closing on humans. Chance to avoid climate catastrophe. Who is responsible to take action to mitigate climate change?

Speaker 10: 10:33 Well, ultimately this is something that requires all of the industry, all people everywhere in the world to take action. And that's one of the reasons why we haven't made more progress so far. So really hard problem of, of collective action, building international agreements, getting countries to line up. Uh, and um, right now we're still early days in that process.

Speaker 12: 10:52 And what actions specifically must political leaders take in the u s and across the globe?

Speaker 10: 10:58 Well, the single most important thing they can do is send a clear signal that companies and individuals need to reduce their emissions. And right now that's signals not credible. And so frankly, most people are just doing what they, what they did before and continuing to emit. In fact, the emissions are going up almost 3% a year.

Speaker 12: 11:13 Now, if political leaders fail to act, what can be done?

Speaker 10: 11:17 Well, individuals can take some action. There are roles for protests, um, market actions and things like that. But it's very hard to see how this problem's going to get solved without governments acting. And it looks here in the United States. The lack of action by the federal government has led the states to do a lot more. And so I think you see all around the world, all this kind of clutching and gearing and efforts to figure out how we would compensate for the fact that many national governments aren't doing enough.

Speaker 12: 11:42 We've seen political action, special young people, the walkouts, and we're going to see more, again, coming up here at the end of this week. Is that going to be effective to get political leaders, elected leaders to act?

Speaker 10: 11:53 It's hard to say. Uh,

Speaker 12: 11:54 the action by the youth has been growing. It's raising a lot of attention. Attention is what we need, so it might have an impact. My guess is that the much bigger impacts are going to come from companies demonstrating how you're going to reduce emissions and themselves putting pressure along with the youth on governments and I think what's really interesting about the climate issue as you see more and more of those companies doing your back or that you talk about some companies that are leading the way and innovations and being leaders in trying to mitigate climate change. How effective is some of their efforts been so far?

Speaker 10: 12:26 Well, they're testing lots of different technologies. It's been a lot of progress in electric power sector because of switching away from coal towards natural gas. Now adding renewable energy efficiency. Also, I would say the power sector is probably in the lead right now. A lot of interesting things happening in the oil and gas industry where these are companies that are very good at handling gasses, including carbon dioxide, which is the main cause of climate change over the longterm. So they're testing technologies to capture that carbon dioxide and put it underground. Very expensive, still early days. So those are the seeds of technological progress that I think are going to be essential to really making a dent in emissions.

Speaker 12: 13:02 Now, recent polling suggests a majority of Americans, especially young adults, believe humans are fueling climate change. Why does it seem so many leaders are still out of touch?

Speaker 10: 13:12 Well, I think leaders are also looking at costs. They're looking at other priorities. All this is not cheap. Um, when you look at the United States polling data, while the overall figures suggest that the public is concerned about this, they believe humans are to blame. Uh, in the middle of that polling data, there's a big split between, uh, Democrats and Republicans, especially a far right Republicans. So it's hard to get all the political parties joined up. And that's one of the reasons why we're seeing action in the states. Mostly along the Democrat dominated coasts and a little and much less in the middle of the country, which tends to be dominated by rural interests and by, uh, harder, right? Republicans.

Speaker 12: 13:50 Now the climate change issue suddenly seems to be getting a lot of attention after being mostly ignored for years. Are you encouraged by plans being put forth by Democrats and by the debate we seem to be having finally at the national level politically

Speaker 10: 14:04 I'm encouraged, but I've seen it before in 2008, 2009 we saw legislation go through the house, not so much in the Senate. Um, so I, I'm encouraged at this time. Maybe it'll stick, but there are a lot of other political priorities and, and things that, that people are worried about and, and climate is one of those topics that requires sustained longterm attention. If like healthcare,

Speaker 12: 14:23 do you think I might take a dominant victory by Democrats, for example, to really wake up the other party and wake up everybody to the urgency of this?

Speaker 10: 14:32 Yeah, that could help. But a dominant victory by the Democrats will also wake up people in a lot of other topics as well. I think the moderate wing of the Republican Party knows that the party is really far behind on this topic and needs to get its act together. But they're just hard having a hard time getting traction inside the party.

Speaker 12: 14:49 Now, how confident are that human beings can actually address this crisis in meaningful ways and what are we in future generations facing? Should we fail?

Speaker 10: 14:59 Well, I'm confident in the longterm, uh, this problem is going to get addressed through technological change. There are a lot of ways with technology to reduce emissions. Getting the politics and the policy right are really hard. But I'm confident in the long term. In the short term, the difficulty of this issue means that we're in for a whole lot of climate change and so that means the impacts, some of which we're seeing already, more extreme fires, uh, impacts the national eco systems, melting glaciers. All that's going to get worse, probably a lot worse before it gets better.

Speaker 12: 15:27 You've been working with this and studying this for such a long time or is there anything you'd like to leave our listeners with regarding climate change?

Speaker 10: 15:34 I think the key thing to remember about this is this is ultimately a global problem. The emissions are mixed around the entire planet in the atmosphere into the oceans. And so while the United States can do a lot more, US emissions are only 13% of the global total. California is less than 1%. So we've got to have a foreign policy strategy, uh, and a foreign policy strategy in the states that want to be leaders in this area that takes what we're doing United States and in other countries and multiplies it around the world so that the entire globe's emissions come down.

Speaker 7: 16:04 That was David Victor, professor of climate and atmospheric science at UC San Diego and author of the book global warming gridlock. He spoke with KPBS round table host Mark Sauer.

Speaker 4: 16:18 Um,

Speaker 7: 16:25 and our climate change special continues with a trip to San Diego counties back country. Higher temperatures mean less snowpack mean California's forests are dryer for longer. Scientists agree, this chain reaction begins with climate change and ends with an increased wildfire danger. KPBS reported Clare Traeger sir visited a Ramona couple who lost their home to fire in the past, but they're committed to staying.

Speaker 3: 16:53 That wind hit us, uh, at about 120 miles per hour. Wind with fire.

Speaker 13: 17:00 Pete Beauregard squints in the morning sun as he thinks back to October 22nd, 2007

Speaker 3: 17:07 and it came head on and it was like a blowtorch. It just cut, uh, everything to the ground. It was a two story house.

Speaker 13: 17:17 His home in Ramona burnt down in the witch creek fire, which spurred half a million evacuations and destroyed more than 1000 homes.

Speaker 3: 17:26 The fire was so hot that, you know, after we went in and, uh, we, you know, we saw our granite counters on the ground. We could, like, I tried to pick it up and it just crumbled in my hand

Speaker 13: 17:38 despite their devastating loss. Beauregard and his wife, Amy McQuillan loved the back country too much to leave it. They built a new home right next to the spot where their old one burned down.

Speaker 3: 17:50 All right, well, I love this place. It's like Amy says, it's spiritual. I mean, I put a lot of my life into it. You know, a lot of tragedy, a lot of great times, you know, here,

Speaker 13: 18:01 but they have paid a high price for staying in a home that's so special to them. In 2007, their insurance was around $1,500 a year. Last year it was $55,000 a year. A warming world has made life become much more expensive for a lot of people in rural areas susceptible to fires. That includes insurance and other costs. Says David Victor, uh, climate scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Speaker 2: 18:31 The protective measures we take to protect structures, houses in the middle of the forest, um, communities that have been burned, uh, protect them against, uh, against future fires that might involve simple things like much bigger firebreaks. It might involve much more active identification of fires early on. And then next thing you know, you're in effect managing the entire, at least woody ecosystem because of your concerns about fire.

Speaker 13: 18:56 He says in the future, the back country might end up like the coast affordable to only a few.

Speaker 2: 19:02 I think some people who live in that environment are willing to spend huge resources to protect themselves with bigger firebreaks, with different kinds of materials, with private, uh, uh, fire services, which are now emerging, including connected to the insurance industry. And so if you're willing to pay for it, I think people could actually last a long time out in that environment.

Speaker 3: 19:23 We always still have to be on guard.

Speaker 13: 19:24 Thomas shoots is a spokesman for cal fire. He says fire season used to be just that a season. Now it's basically year-round.

Speaker 3: 19:34 We saw that the Thomas Fire, uh, we saw the lilac fire. These fires are happening. Um, uh, traditionally or you know, around the holidays

Speaker 13: 19:42 in the last year and a half, California has seen six of its 10 worst fires ever. And last year's fire season was the deadliest and most destructive on record. But the San Diego region hasn't seen a big fire since 2007, and shoots worries that could lead to complacency.

Speaker 3: 20:01 I hope it doesn't take a catastrophic fire to really drive it home.

Speaker 13: 20:05 But despite the risk shoots wouldn't say people like Pete and Amy should leave the back country

Speaker 3: 20:11 if they're willing to, to leave. Uh, when the time comes, then you know, they, they have the right to do what they want. Come this way. Walk this way

Speaker 13: 20:22 back at home in Ramona, Pete and Amy cleared brush from around the house and made their home completely air tight. This helps keep it cool and Beauregard says protected, but they're airtight home creates additional worries. It's hard to hear or smell what's going on outside

Speaker 3: 20:42 during the dry season. Have to kind of get up during the night and go outside and check, see if there's anything.

Speaker 13: 20:49 Always, always kind of in the back of your mind. And joining me is KPBS investigative reporter Claire Triglyceride. Claire, welcome. Thank you. This question about whether to stay or go from the back country is becoming a more and more urgent one from a lot of people because of both the wildfire risks and the home owner's insurance costs that you were talking about. The people you profiled say they love where they live, but did they tell you anything about the questions they faced about whether to stay or go? Yeah, it sounded like there was maybe a little bit of a disagreement between the husband and wife over whether there was a question to stay or not. Um, the husband Pete Beauregard says he really doesn't struggle. He's committed to staying. They've invested a lot in their home. Um, they've built it exactly the way they like it. So I imagine that it would be really difficult to think about leaving, but it sounded like his wife, Amy McQuillan was a little more torn.

Speaker 13: 21:46 Um, her daughter lives in Portland, Oregon, so she says she sometimes thinks about maybe moving there, but then she did say that it feels like no matter where you go, there are climate change impacts. Like last summer they were visiting her daughter and the air was filled with smoke because of the fires in Oregon last summer. So, so yeah, it's hard to escape anywhere. That insurance increase you mentioned is astronomical from $1,500 a year to 55,000. How can they afford that? Well, I'm not sure that they can because now there, there are these programs. Um, the fair access to insurance requirements are fair plan that they said that they use. And it sounds like it's, um, almost like Obamacare maybe for home insurance where, um, it's a program that allows people who have riskier, uh, situations, home insurance situations, um, and they have trouble getting home insurance.

Speaker 13: 22:45 Uh, because of that they can buy into this pool like a shared market plan. Um, it doesn't get state funding but they can all buy into it and it gets basic, provides basic insurance. And so they use that. Is there a chance that they may not be able to get insurance at any price in the future? I'm not sure because the other issue that they talked about is, um, it's not, not a problem for them, but for their neighbors who have a mortgage, I think that requires you to have home insurance. And so they told me that some of their neighbors are finding their mortgage lenders are just enrolling them in these, uh, skyhigh insurance programs saying, Oh, you can't find your own insurance but you have to have insurance so we're putting you in this. So I think if you have a mortgage that's an issue that will be a big problem for people.

Speaker 13: 23:34 What does the new Beauregard McQuillan home, what does it look like? It's, I mean, it's really beautiful. Um, I kept saying it felt like a museum inside because they have really a sealing it so that it's air tight. So even though we are there in Ramona in the middle of the day, it was really hot outside, but it was nice and cool inside. And then it was so quiet and clean. They said that keeps a lot of the dust out because it's so air tight and sealed. And then they've built all of these environmental kind of innovations into it. They had these little sensors in the walls that would tell their central computer system, someone is walking into this room. And so it might cool that room a little bit, a little bit. And then you know, not work on cooling the rooms that no one was in. And then they had solar panels, they had their own a wind turbine and high energy efficiency appliances, all of that.

Speaker 13: 24:28 What about hardening it against wildfire? Right. So they have the, their doors and windows were extremely thick and then they have really insulated walls, which is both to control the temperature but also, um, they feel like we'll, we'll protect them, protect the home if there's another fire. You know, it's not only the people who live in the back country face a bigger threat from wildfire, but many fire experts, people that we've had on this show have said that more people living in these back country areas pose a risk to the entire community because most wa wildfires are caused by human activity. And yet the cal fire spokesman use you spoke with says he's okay with people living anywhere they want to. Well. Yeah, I mean I feel like he said he didn't want to tell anyone not to be in the place that they love.

Speaker 13: 25:18 It seems like it would be a very controversial position to start saying we are going to require everyone to leave their homes, leave this area. I think prohibiting future development and construction is maybe like would be seen as more of a reasonable stance to take, especially if you're building a big development where there isn't a lot of easy in and out so he needed to evacuate people. That could be a problem. Um, so cal fire, it seems like they're really just focused on, for people who are living out there, clearing all the brush around their house, you know, making the house defensible and doing it in a safe way. The cal fire spokesman said sometimes fires are actually started by people who are clearing brush because they might do it in the middle of the day and have a spark in and start a fire. So they want to make sure people are doing it safely.

Speaker 13: 26:07 Now, this story is part of our week long series here and KPBS on climate change and [inaudible] you spoke with some local teenagers about their feelings about climate change. What did you hear? Yeah. Um, I mean I feel like no one is more impacted by climate change than, than the younger generation. So, um, I went out and interviewed some, some local middle schoolers and high schoolers and a 17 year old Carlsbad resident Aribel Meyer. She attends the Grauer school in Encinitas where they have this campus wide pledge to reduce their environmental impact in their personal lives. She addressed something you often hear, which is, you know, what one person does won't really make a difference.

Speaker 14: 26:47 The mentality that I think a lot of people have is maybe some people, like if I do something like say, using less plastic in the long run, it's not gonna make a big difference. It's just me. I'm just a single person out of millions. But if everyone had that mentality, then nothing would change.

Speaker 13: 27:06 I mean, I just felt like even though these kids are feeling the greatest impacts, they're also, they still have hope and are actively working to make a difference. So that was actually, it was great to hear that. Okay. I've been speaking with KPBS investigative reporter Claire Chartis or Claire. Thank you. Thank you. Tomorrow reporter Eric Anderson visits and oyster hatchery in Carlsbad that's battling the impacts of a warming ocean. You can find all our stories at kpbs.org/climate change.

Speaker 15: 27:36 Okay.

Speaker 7: 27:40 Well as we just mentioned, the cost of insuring homes and fire prone back country areas is skyrocketing and in addition to that, homeowners are sometimes finding they've been dropped from their coverage altogether. That's leading to a looming insurance crisis. Joining us with more on this new trend is Amy Bach, she's executive director of United Policy Holders, a consumer advocacy group. And Amy, welcome to the program. Thanks so much for having me. What can you tell us about the scale of the problem? Are People being priced out and losing insurance for these properties up and down this state?

Speaker 15: 28:16 Yes, there is definitely, uh, a looming crisis in some areas and a full blown crisis in other areas of the state already.

Speaker 7: 28:26 You know, if these homes have just always been in wildfire prone areas, why would the rates all of a sudden change so dramatically? Well that is a

Speaker 15: 28:37 very good question. And we have a regulatory system in place in California that's supposed to prevent a wild swings like what we're seeing. So something is definitely awry here. The, that we certainly understand insurance companies being nervous about wildfires. We've had some bad ones in recent years and the predictions around climate change are, are scary, but that should not, uh, that doesn't explain the skyrocketing rates. I mean, we could see rates going up a little and some people getting non-renewed, but we're seeing a lot of people getting renewed and we're seeing really big increases. So that's something's out of whack.

Speaker 7: 29:18 Now in some instances, a homeowners are just simply being dropped from their insurance. How could that happen?

Speaker 15: 29:25 Um, well the m comes as a surprise to people that it's not really the relationship that they thought they had with their insurance company. And a lot of people will say, but I've been with this company for 20, 30 years, why would they suddenly drop me? Well now you're, everyone's learning that, that they can, that the insurance company is free to when your policy comes up for, for renewal, usually one year intervals that if they, as long as they give you 45 days written notice that they're not going to renew you. They're perfectly within their rights to do that. Um, even if nothing has changed on your end and that's that the law lets them do that. So, um, that's part of the situation is, um, that's the reality.

Speaker 7: 30:11 So if a homeowner, let's say, who has a home in a, a fire prone area, ha. If they find that they've been dropped from coverage, what other options do they have to ensure their home

Speaker 15: 30:25 causation is putting out? Oh, we have a tip publication dropped by your insurer, where to go for help in California. And we have a four step process we suggest, but the primary one is shop is as quickly as you can and contact an independent agent for the most options. Meaning an agent that can sell you more than one insurance company's product. And if you strike out shopping on your own and we give, we also have a tool we offer that's um, the, again, just a way to, to find an agent that can help you. Um, if none of those options work, then you have something called the fair plan, which is a, uh, government private industry program. It's, it's a, it's a, it's basically a partnership with between uh, the state and insurance companies and, and they have to take you if you, um, apply. So you ha you always have that as a backup.

Speaker 7: 31:17 We just heard a, that fair plan be described as Obamacare for insurance. And I wondering actually how does it work and does it provide good coverage?

Speaker 15: 31:29 Not a perfect analogy because you know, Obamacare was said, okay, these are the essential benefits that have to be in a, in a plan, if we're going to call it health insurance. The, the coverage that you get through the fair plan is very limited. And all it is is fire coverage. It doesn't cover theft, it doesn't cover water. It doesn't cover liability if somebody sues you. So it's really only one part of the protection that you want to have on a home. So it really is supposed to be a stop gap. It's really supposed to be what we had before Obamacare, which is like the high risk plan for people who are having trouble getting insurance cause they had a preexisting condition. So again, the fair plan is there so that there's some option so people don't lose a home or so people can sell a home.

Speaker 15: 32:15 But again, you know, in the fair plan is, is certainly a much better than nothing option. I mean it's there. We don't, it's not like we need a new plan. That plan is it, it works. It's just that it isn't the, um, level of protection that, that you really want for your asset. And so again, it's supposed to be a place where you, you stop in when you can't find anything else and as soon as you can find something else, you get out. That's, that's really how the fair plan was designed to work. It was never supposed to be as good as, as you know, they were never supposed to sell coverage that would be as good as what you could buy in the private market.

Speaker 1: 32:54 How else would you like to see the state respond to help homeowners? I would like

Speaker 15: 32:59 to see the state implement a version of what we've called the rap or rap project, which is the wildfire risk reduction and asset protection project. Basically create a kind of a program where homeowners can get technical information and support to, to make their homes more wildfire resilient and then get some sort of credit or, or some kind of official recognition that they should qualify for insurance. So we're going to have to have some legislative fixes here because, because we, you know, w we call on the insurance industry to fix this problem. You say, okay, you, you want to stay in, you want, you like the private market, you want to be free, but then you gotta fix this problem because if you don't want to be regulated and you want to be free to drop people on 45 days, notice it. There has to be. You have to you the insurance industry has to step forward and partner with cal fire and communities all around the state on PR, on facilitating risk reduction. So you can't just run away from the problem by dropping your clients and raising your rates, get involved. Insurance Industry. Get involved in helping you partnering, not just punishing your homeowner clients.

Speaker 1: 34:16 I've been speaking with Amy Bach, executive director of United policy holders. Amy, thank you. Thank you. When we talk about climate change, one controversial solution that comes up is population control. The idea is slowing population growth could curb carbon emissions and ensure resources and the environment stay viable, but not everyone agrees with that perspective. Some say it has consequences. Jade Sasser is an associate professor of gender and Sexuality Studies at UC Riverside. She spent more than a decade studying the topic and put her findings in a book called on infertile ground from one jade to another. Thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 14: 35:03 Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1: 35:05 So the focus of your book is where reproductive rights, women's rights, race and climate change all meet. In what ways do all of these issues intersect?

Speaker 14: 35:14 Well, the primary way that their interests acting right now is with this whole issue of weather and how addressing population growth would be a good way to prevent or reverse the effects of climate change. Those that make that argument are a part of a long lineage of people who argue that are global population. A growth rate is a direct driver of large scale environmental problems. So this is everything from air pollution, water pollution, food shortages, food insecurity, uh, and more recently issues like climate change. The argument tends to go that those with the highest birth rates should have the strongest interventions to reduce those birth rates. And those with the highest birth rates tend to be the poorest. Um, whether it's the poorest in a local community, the poorest in a nation or the poorest in the world.

Speaker 1: 36:14 Hmm. And so what do statistics show in terms of those birth rates and countries that are producing the most greenhouse gases? It countries

Speaker 14: 36:23 that are producing the most greenhouse gases are the countries with the lowest birth rates. And so this is why trying to address population growth in order to address climate change, it just doesn't work. It's not the number of people on the planet that is causing the problem, but what's causing the problem of climate change is the way that we structure our economies around fossil fuels. So the extraction, the production, the use of oil, of natural gas, um, uh, fossil fuels in general. This is what has been driving climate change for decades. It's not simply the number of people on the planet

Speaker 1: 37:04 and yet there is, there's at least one study out there that suggests having fewer children is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And along with living without a car and avoiding airplane travel. How do you respond to that?

Speaker 14: 37:17 So at the time that I was doing the research for my book, which was, it began in around 2009, 2010, there was a group of scientists that were really concerned with making this link between population and climate change. And they wanted to produce scientific evidence to show that this was in fact a direct link. A lot of what they did was they produced these projections of the future. So, um, I don't know if you are the listeners have ever seen these growth curves that depict where our population will be in their future or where, you know, the global, uh, temperature will be in the future, but it's always this smooth curve that goes up and up and up. And the thing is a projection is not a forecast of what will actually happen. It's not a prediction. It is a forecast of what might happen if certain conditions are met.

Speaker 14: 38:17 And there are many ways that you can ask questions that can produce a forecast. But I'm saying all of this to say that when we see this scientific evidence that's based on forecasts of future population growth and future greenhouse gases, these are not actually predictions of what will in their future, their possibilities if certain kinds of conditions are met. In terms of the question of unsustainable population growth, yes, we do have unsustainable population growth, but it's unsustainable because, um, it's a reflection of the gross inequalities that people are living with, uh, in dire poverty. So d do you think family planning could be one tool to address climate change? Well, here's the thing again, the countries that are producing the highest rates of being missions are those countries that have the lowest population growth. So let's look at the u s and China. These are the two countries that produce the most greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Speaker 14: 39:14 These two countries have two of the lowest population growth rates in the world. China has a fertility rate of 1.62 which means that the average couple will have 1.62 children over the course of their lifetime, meaning they will not replace themselves. The United States. More recently we've seen these statistics. We are at an all time low with our birth rates in this country. We are down to 1.72 and the numbers haven't been that low in many decades in this country. Um, yet these are the two countries that produce most of the greenhouse gases. So what I'm saying is if we distributed more contraceptives in the u s and China, it would not have an impact on climate change because it wouldn't mean that we would be emitting fewer emissions. Why is the idea of population control so seductive to so many groups of people? I think it's seductive because it seems like it just makes sense.

Speaker 14: 40:12 It sounds like common sense. If there is a growing number of people and a not growing a share of resources that those people need to live on, it makes sense to believe that those people will overrun those resources. But what that doesn't take into account is the endless ways that human communities tend to innovate through science and technology and also just doesn't take into account movement. People Migrate, people move into new spaces, people adapt and change their practices in terms of resource consumption. So the simplistic framing that says that more people will consume more resources in the same way and therefore deplete the earth. It just isn't based on actual facts. However, I do want to say that you have to look at this issue of scale. So if you're talking about population growth in a local scale and a local community with local context, then sure population can grow to a size where it's unsustainable in terms of a use or a depletion of local resources, but it's not the case on a global scale.

Speaker 14: 41:26 So if not population control, what would your solution be to climate change? My solution to climate change is to change the ways in which we extract and use energy. I think it has become really, really clear. This is no longer an era where we can rely on fossil fuel production. We really need to turn to alternative energy sources, wind, solar. Um, I think China in fact is the leading investor nationally in alternative energy production because the Chinese government understands that relying on fossil fuels a, it's just not sustainable. Where, you know, some argue that we have already reached peak oil in terms of how much oil we're pulling out of the earth, but it's also just not sustainable in terms of wanting to breathe clean air, um, and turn back the tide on climate change. In order to do that, we really need to develop sustainable, clean energy solutions.

Speaker 1: 42:27 I've been speaking with Jade Sasser, associate professor of gender and Sexuality Studies at UC Riverside and author of on in fertile ground. Jade, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you for having me.

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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.