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2021’s Already Breaking 2020’s Fire Record

 July 13, 2021 at 10:23 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:01 California is extreme climate spurs, wildfires Speaker 2: 00:04 About 140,000 acres have already burned this year compared to only about 40,000 during the same period. Last year, I'm Speaker 1: 00:11 Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition, a critical look at the city's progress on the climate action plan. The city Speaker 3: 00:28 Did pass at the time in 2015, a very bold and forward-thinking climate action plan patted itself on the back for a couple of years. And now here we are trying to play catch up with all of the action that didn't happen, Speaker 1: 00:40 How black and brown communities are experiencing dangerous heat. And we talk about Shohet Otani his impact on major league baseball? That's ahead on midday edition, tens of thousands of acres are burning in California today. The largest wildfire, the Beckworth complex fire in Plumas and lessen counties has surpassed 90,000 acres and containment is at 46% Cruz faced extreme fire behavior. This weekend near the town of Doyle. When the fire created its own lightning investigators believe all the fires that make up the Beckworth complex were started by lightning. Joining me now to talk about California's wildfires is Los Angeles time staff writer, Hailey Smith, Haley. Welcome. Hi, thanks so much for having me. So the fire season this year is all ready, rivaling what we saw in 2020. What did you find in your reporting about how California has been impacted by fires in 2021? Speaker 2: 01:48 Right. So, um, 2020 was actually the worst wildfire season on record in California with about 4 million acres burned. But what the latest data indicates is that this year is already outpacing last year. So between January 1st and July 11th of this year, there have been about 5,000 fires compared to about 4,300 during the same period. Last year, similarly, about 140,000 acres have already burned this year compared to only about 40,000 during the same period last year. So this doesn't necessarily mean that this year will be worse than last year overall, but what it does tell us is that more fires are igniting earlier in the year and growing larger Speaker 1: 02:34 Haley. I mentioned the Beckworth complex fire at more than 90,000 acres, but there's also a nearly 10,000 acre fire burning near Yosemite national park. What can you tell us about the river fire? Speaker 2: 02:48 So the river fire started on Sunday afternoon and within just a few hours, it had swelled to 2,500 acres today, less than 48 hours igniting it's already at about 9,500 acres. And this behavior is similar to what we're seeing with fires across the state, which are swelling insides fairly rapidly because of the extreme dryness of the state's vegetation, which is essentially acting as, you know, food or fuel for these flames Speaker 1: 03:20 Wildfires seem like they've really been an unfortunate part of life and in much of the state for some time now, but what are fire experts saying about the impacts climate change is having on the size and scope of these fires? Speaker 2: 03:34 Well, one expert I spoke to put it very succinctly. He said climate changes, fingerprints are all over these fires. And what he meant is that a lot of the extreme weather that we're seeing in this state, you know, including these sort of record smashing heat waves and the ongoing and worsening drought are significantly contributing to this year's fire behavior. Um, the level of vegetation dryness across the state is at record lows for this calendar date. And it's at levels that aren't typically seen until late August or even early September. So the heat and the dryness are essentially acting like an oven turning so much of California's hillsides and grasslands and forests into essentially a Tinder for fire that can be ignited really easily and burn very intensely. Speaker 1: 04:27 And so how is this climate then re affecting California firefighters approach to fighting these massive wildfires? Speaker 2: 04:35 Yeah, as you can imagine, it makes them harder to fight. Um, when the fires are spreading so quickly and behaving so erotically, it can be really hard to find the right place to anchor operations and build out a perimeter, especially if embers are, you know, jumping containment lines and igniting spot fires and things like that. Um, the crews are also battling extremely high temperatures. Um, we've had record setting temperatures across the state in recent weeks. Um, there was a lot of coverage of that sort of record-breaking heat dome that simmered over the Pacific Northwest last month. So it's just really hot, hard conditions for these firefighters. And then on top of that, California's terrain is often really steep and Rocky. So they're having to hike up to these fires or attack them from the air. So they have a lot of challenges to deal with. Speaker 1: 05:27 Yeah. Well, we also know that human activity causes the majority of fires in California. What have you found in your reporting about the cause of some of the state's current wildfires? Speaker 2: 05:37 Yeah, so that is true. And interestingly, some of the current biggest fires burning right now have been ignited by lightning, um, which is something that's becoming more and more common, but I've also heard from several experts about how population growth in California is, um, you know, bringing people closer and deeper into the terrain and creating more occasions where it's easy for a fire to ignite. So, um, the human factor is definitely a big part of it. What made 2020s fire season? So extreme was actually this freak lightning storm that ignited, um, and set off several fires. We haven't seen that happen this year, but if it does, that's probably the thing that'll put us on par with last year Speaker 1: 06:20 And the largest fires are creating their own extreme weather conditions. Describe what's happening there. Speaker 2: 06:26 I know, right? So one effect of this extreme dry vegetation is that fires are burning really hot and growing really quickly. And not only are they, you know, crossing roads and bodies of water, but they're also strong enough to create their own sort of internal weather conditions like really strong winds, tornadoes, huge plumes of smoke, um, the sugar fire, which is part of that Beckworth complex. You mentioned generated a massive cloud that actually created its own lightning. And then the tenant fire near the Oregon border actually created its own fire world or, uh, you know, fire tornadoes. So we are seeing some really extreme fire behavior from these fires. Speaker 1: 07:11 Wow. I mean, how are these extreme weather conditions along with the already high temperatures affecting firefighters ability to fight these fires? Speaker 2: 07:20 Yeah. It just makes it more challenging for them. And, and every time, you know, they seem like they get a hold of a fire or they lay down containment lines. Um, they can't necessarily trust them because they can, you know, embers can jump those lines or the winds can whip up a Spotfire a couple feet or miles away. So it's just really, really difficult. And firefighters have said that fighting fire here is pretty much unlike anywhere else in the world. Speaker 1: 07:46 I've been speaking with Los Angeles time staff writer, Hailey Smith, Haley, thank you very much for joining us today. Sure. Thank you so much for having me. Speaker 4: 08:04 San Diego has ambitious goals in the fight against climate change, but it's not doing a good job of tracking its progress toward reaching them. That's one of the findings of an audit of the city's ambitious 2015 climate action plan. San Diego was in the process of revising the six-year-old climate plan. So the officials say a revised version of the plan will be more specific and include cost estimates of climate action programs. And joining me as KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew. Welcome. Hi Maureen. Thanks. Why was there an audit of the city's climate action plan? Well, the job Speaker 3: 08:40 Of the city auditor is to find areas that pose a risk to the city. Not just things like waste, fraud and abuse, but also just general performance issues with city operations, where are they not doing a good job and how could they be doing a better job? The climate action plan is legally enforceable, meaning that if the city does not meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets in the plan, it can be sued and then forced into compliance with the climate plan by a judge and by the courts. So that legal risk not to mention just the, the risks that climate change itself poses to the city with sea level rise, you know, extreme weather events, flooding, et cetera. I think those are all areas that made the climate action plan, a really valuable, uh, area for a performance Speaker 4: 09:27 Audit. Well, at the time the climate action plan was made in 2015. San Diego really was in the Vanguard of American city's response to climate change, but the audit has found some big shortcomings in how that plan has been used. Can you tell us about some of the findings Speaker 3: 09:43 Online in the audit report that I think encapsulates a lot of what, uh, this is all about, which is plans are only as good as their implementation. So yes, the city did pass at the time in 2015, a very bold and forward-thinking climate action plan patted itself on the back for a couple of years. And now here we are trying to play catch up with all of the action that didn't happen since 2015. So there are two big picture findings in the audit. The first is that the city departments lack accountability and oversight on their work to actually implement the goals of the climate action plan. They're not really keeping track of their progress toward those goals, nor are they regularly updating key decision makers like the mayor and the city council, even the public on their progress toward those goals. So as an example, the city is behind on reducing energy consumption in city owned buildings it's behind on increasing the sheriff commuters who choose a transit or biking or walking to work instead of driving a car by themselves. Speaker 3: 10:42 The recommendation to fix this shortcoming is that every city department that is responsible for the climate action plan is supposed to come up with an annual work plan. And those work plans then have to be approved by the city's sustainability department. And, uh, those departments also are supposed to designate a staffer who is the point person for climate action plan implementation. Whereas currently that sort of responsibility and accountability, isn't all that clear. The second finding in the audit is that the city just needs to do better. Fiscal planning. There's still no official estimate for how much the climate action plan will cost to implement. And so we can't track our progress and make sure that the city is spending what it needs to be without that estimate and without sort of timelines and roadmaps to implementation. Speaker 4: 11:30 And isn't also one of the suggestions that the city involve all city departments involved. How are they going to do that? Speaker 3: 11:38 Well, the city for a while was hosting what it called sustainability round table meetings. And this was meant to be a forum for cross departmental dialogue on how to achieve the climate action plan goals. So the same, the sustainability department is the main department that oversees the climate action plan. But the actual implementation happens across multiple departments, including public utilities, parks, and recreation, transportation, and stormwater planning, et cetera. The list goes on really across almost the entire city. So the audit report found that these meetings, the sustainability round table meetings could be more frequent. Only one meeting was held in 2019 and one meeting was held in 2020. So they're not happening often enough. And they also found that there could be more of a two way dialogue. So they found that the, the meetings that were held were often just presentations from the sustainability department to other departments, rather than a chance for those departments to present, to sustainability their climate action related initiatives and what they have going on. And for them to actually be held accountable for those goals. And what's been Speaker 4: 12:45 The city council's response to these points in the audit, they've Speaker 3: 12:48 Been largely supportive of the findings and the recommendations, all the recommendations were agreed upon by city staff. And they agreed to re implement the recommendations. Often the cases that when an audit comes to the full city council, there was a lot more discussion that happened at the committee level. So this particular audit went to the audit committee and the environment committee, a lot of the discussion happened there already. And the discussion at the full council was sort of a bridged, but basically what the city council wants to know is what are the budget decisions that we need to be making each year in order to meet our climate action plan goals? We still don't have an estimate. As I mentioned for the implementation of the plan and the city council also said, we need to make sure that sustainability, the sustainability department has the staff that it needs to actually achieve these new mandates of have more oversight and accountability. So all of these things are very important decisions that the city council needs to have input on. Speaker 4: 13:46 Finally, what's the reaction of environmental organizations to this audit. Speaker 3: 13:51 The environmental groups, I think are generally glad that the audit was done. And they're glad that they've brought more attention to this. They've been saying a lot of the exact same things that were in the audit report, uh, for many years now. Um, but I don't think that they're generally happy with the city's response specifically the timelines. So for example, uh, transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in San Diego. That's just people driving their cars and trucks, uh, but, and the city was supposed to come up with a mobility action plan, that details how they will transition away from car dependence and toward more sustainable transportation options like biking, walking, and public transit. So this mobility action plan is still three years away and that's, that will be then by the time it's presented nearly a decade after the climate action plan was adopted. So I think in a way this audit has just sort of made it even clearer and more, um, noticeable how far the city, how far behind the city is. And the advocates just aren't really seeing the urgency from officials that they feel is necessary. Speaker 4: 14:53 I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, Andrew, thank you. This is KPBS day edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Hyman as the summer heats up in San Diego. Not all city neighborhoods are experiencing the same hot temperatures, a new study from UC San Diego finds that low-income neighborhoods and communities with higher black, Hispanic, and Asian populations experienced significantly more summer heat sometimes to a dangerous extent. The disparity is baked into urban planning and density here in San Diego and in cities across the country. Joining me is Jennifer Burney, co author of the paper on heat in poor and minority communities in us cities. She's an environmental scientist and associate professor at UC San Diego. Jennifer, welcome Speaker 2: 16:00 To the program. Thank you for having me. How significant Speaker 4: 16:03 Was the temperature difference between wealthier white neighborhoods and lower income minority neighborhoods that you observed in your study? Speaker 2: 16:12 Yeah, so, um, this can be, uh, up to a degree or two Celsius between different types of neighborhoods. And again, cities tend to be on average, a warmer than their more rural surroundings. Um, one thing I'll say is that even in cities that are cooler than their surroundings, um, that happens in more desert areas and San Diego is actually a place that's a little bit cooler in our city than the surroundings, but even in cities with sort of urban cooling those, um, lower income and minority neighborhoods actually have less cooling than the wealthier whiter neighborhoods. And what are the reasons Speaker 4: 16:50 For that? What kinds of things cause these differences in temperature? Speaker 2: 16:55 Yeah, so at a very physical level, it's the structure of cities. So, so how we transform the surface of the earth when we urbanize, uh, actually changes the energy balance, uh, you know, what happens to sunlight as it, as it comes in and hits the surface of the earth. So we see, for example, if you have less vegetation such as, you know, you sort of clear native habitat to, to build a development, um, that vegetation provides cooling through evaporate, evaporation of water, evapotranspiration of water. And so, uh, you know, if you lose the vegetative cooling back in contribute to warming, um, if you have really high density buildings that trap heat, that's another factor, uh, depending on kind of the color, the reflectivity of the city, the materials that are used, those also affect this energy balance, um, as does just the density of people, uh, and sort of heat produced by in their activities. So those are the main factors, but that's not, I don't think that's really your question. That's kind of the physical story. The, you know, the sort of, how did this happen question, I think is really one about how urban policy and planning has proceeded occur across our country. So do we view access to green space as a luxury, or is it something that everyone should have access to these kinds of decisions about sort of who has access to what spaces and it's kind of sum total of urban policy? What Speaker 4: 18:18 Areas within San Diego county stood out to you in terms of these temperature disparities? Speaker 2: 18:24 Yeah, so we see higher urban heating in San Diego county in areas like Lamesa Rolando park, hell Cahone Tierrasanta, um, Kearny, Mesa, even thinking more coastally national city, you know, warmer than other similar coastal areas. So can people Speaker 4: 18:45 Look up how their area compares to those around them? Speaker 2: 18:49 Yes, they can. So we have built, uh, an app that is accessible to anyone with a web browser and an internet connection, and they can look up, um, any city in the U S and really their neighborhood, their, their census tract, um, within, uh, within a city and see how it compares to, um, surrounding areas within the county and, and nationally. So does Speaker 4: 19:12 Exposed to higher temperatures have consequences like in school Speaker 2: 19:17 Or work. So we know that humans in general, uh, respond pretty poorly to, to heat exposure. It's true that we can adapt to some extent, but high temperatures are really dangerous, uh, particularly for the traditionally vulnerable populations, kids elderly. And so, yeah, access to this kind of excess urban heating can be really dangerous from a, from a health perspective. Like we always think about this during heat waves, right, when this is kind of amplified, but this is also a slow moving phenomenon. So there's a direct kind of health impact. There also are less obvious productivity impacts. So we know that high temperatures are associated with, for example, children doing less well on exams in school, or with workers, uh, having lower productivity in a bunch of different ways. But, um, scholars have kind of recently been able to really measure it's something we all feel right. Speaker 2: 20:17 Less productive when it's happening, but it's really true. And it matters for the economy of the city. What can cities do to lessen these differences? I think the two big levers on the system are vegetation and sort of building structure and how buildings are able to sort of trap or, or not trap heat. Um, so, uh, on the vegetation side, really, I think thinking about vegetation as a cooling tool and making sure that we build in green really as a health, uh, almost as a health factor in our cities is one. And then really thinking about building design that allows for, um, cooling both within buildings, right? Sort of not, not trapping heat within buildings, but also, uh, buildings that don't trap heat in city corridors and things like that. So a lot of really interesting architectural and urban planning, uh, could go into how we think about our, our building structure as well. And Speaker 4: 21:14 How would you like to see the information in this study Speaker 2: 21:17 You, to me, the thing that jumped out with this study is that across all these different regions that have very different histories and very different geographies, you see this very persistent effect, right? So in particular that low-income communities and, um, black, Hispanic, and Asian communities are experiencing higher urban heating than their neighboring wealthier and wider communities. And so to me, that suggests really that we've built a world that is viewing kind of access to, to more pleasant, urban spaces as a, either an economic amenity or, um, unexclusive amenity. And I do think that the study points to the need for real rethink about how we're building our cities and, and how that structure could serve everybody more equity. I've been speaking Speaker 4: 22:12 With Jennifer Bernie co author of the paper on heat in poor and minority communities in us cities. She's an environmental scientist and associate professor at UC San Diego. Jennifer, thank you. Thank you among veterans homelessness as a problem with many causes and so far few solutions, but in Kansas city, one organization. And so replacing the traditional shelter model with tiny homes, and it's an idea that's spreading across the country. Chris hacks all reports for the American Homefront project. Speaker 5: 22:52 Christopher Perry served eight years in the Marine Corps. He saw combat in Iraq and got promoted a few times, but he struggled with what he later learned was PTSD and began abusing drugs and alcohol first, he lost his rank and then his livelihood kicked out with an other than honorable discharge. Speaker 6: 23:11 When I got out of the military, I just, you know, I, I started losing all my house, my cars, um, you know, stopped being able to visit with my kids. You know, I lost everything Speaker 5: 23:22 Describes the next 10 years of his life in four succinct words, Speaker 6: 23:27 Prison, drugs, homelessness, alcohol, Speaker 5: 23:31 But about a year ago, he found a place called the veterans community project. It's a nonprofit that has built a village for homeless veterans. Literally there are 49 tiny homes laid out like a miniature suburban neighborhood, each one, the size of a typical hotel room. So Speaker 7: 23:47 This house is just finished, getting, getting repaired from a guy, moving out and, uh, has been staged for a vet to move in next week. Speaker 5: 23:58 West Williams is the director of veteran services here, Speaker 7: 24:01 As you'll see every one of these is fully stocked with plates and cups and silverware. And, um, we'll have about two weeks of groceries when they move in. Speaker 5: 24:15 This is no shelter. The towels and bedding are brand new and they belong to the resident forever. Speaker 7: 24:22 The independence of not sharing a room with, with five or six or 50 people, um, really adds to that security and that, that peace of mind. And knowing that like when I'm here, I'm safe. Speaker 5: 24:35 William says the idea is to give residents a sense of ownership and dignity. But as a combat veteran himself, he knows many of the residents have experienced trauma. So the homes are designed from the ground up with security in mind. There's Speaker 7: 24:50 One way in, and one way out in the bed is here in the back corner and that's that's designed. So if, if they're laying down here in their bed, they don't have to worry about somebody sneaking up behind them. Speaker 5: 25:01 The village also has a community center and there are plans to build a campus to house other veteran service organizations, a sorta one-stop shop for veterans who may lack reliable transportation. Other cities have taken note in Sioux falls, South Dakota planning director, Jason Bieber's saw veterans community project as a model. When that city started thinking about where to house its homeless vets, they reached out and ended up becoming, Speaker 7: 25:28 I mean, I think it was always in our back of our mind as being the dream to partner with them and do one of their villages up here. But you know, never thought that that maybe would, would necessarily be a reality. Speaker 5: 25:40 They've identified a pot of land and hope to break ground. Soon back in Kansas city, Marine Corps veteran, Christopher Perry is getting his life back together. He's enrolled in community college and plans to move out soon. Eventually he wants to get licensed as a truck driver Speaker 6: 25:57 Was an amazing feeling, man. Um, when, when all those little tiny burdens are lifted off your shoulders, it really puts your head in a space man, where you, you can actually move forward instead of worrying about, you know, where, where you're not going to go. What's behind. Speaker 5: 26:14 In addition to Sioux falls, veterans community project has tiny villages plant in St. Louis and Longmont, Colorado. William says the group wants villages in eight cities by the end of next year, I'm Chris axle in Kansas city. This story Speaker 4: 26:29 Was produced by the American Homefront project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. Speaker 1: 26:48 There's an epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity in this country with 17% of children presenting that number is much higher for Latin X children with nearly 26% of them struggling with obesity. A new study is looking at how childhood trauma could be the culprit it's called the California initiative to advance precision medicine study at UC San Diego. Dr. Gary, Firestein the senior principal investigator on the project and block a Mellon dress. A co-principal investigator are joining us. Welcome to you both. Speaker 2: 27:22 Thank you very much. Good morning. Thank you, Gary. Speaker 1: 27:25 I'll start with you. The childhood trauma you are looking at in this study is what you're calling adverse childhood experiences. Can you explain to us what that is? Speaker 2: 27:36 Yes. So, um, during childhood, there are a variety of stresses that children can experience. And one of the things that we've learned is that these early experiences can have a long term consequences for health, whether it's related to a hunger abuse exposure to, uh, to, uh, individuals who are taking drugs or any of a variety of other types of exposures. And the surprising aspect of this is how longterm the consequences can be. And our goal is to try to intervene and prevent some of those long-term consequences Speaker 1: 28:17 And Blanca what causes these adverse childhood experiences? Speaker 2: 28:22 Yes. Um, like Gary mentioned, um, adverse childhood experiences are caused by abuse incarceration of a parent on stable living environments and emotional detachments from caretaker keepers. So this is really, um, uh, expansive traumatic events in the life of the child. And there is the link between childhood trauma that lead to chronic illnesses. And this case we're looking at toxic stress and how these type of adverse experiences, um, release an overabundance of stress hormones and how that impacts, um, the health and wellbeing of our kids and our communities. So really this study is, is transforming the way we view we talk and we treat obesity. It's understanding how trauma is often the underlying cause. And in San Diego county, we historically have done an amazing job at addressing childhood obesity through the obesity initiative and many, many other partners. But in this case, we're looking at root causes and how trauma and chronic stress contribute to the obesity problem. Speaker 1: 29:26 And I want to dig into those root causes more Blanca. I mean, why are so many Latino or Latin X children experiencing these adverse childhood experiences? Speaker 2: 29:35 Part of the way that we're looking at addressing obesity, it's looking at racial inequities in health disparities. And we know the statistics that, um, you know, 33% of our communities are overweight or obese. One out of three children are overweight or obese, and there's always health disparities among children and families with racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. So these inequities, um, are seen in our Latino students for instance, 43% of them, uh, were Hispanic students, um, in a study were overweight compared to white students with an overweight of, um, of 24%. So we, um, have not really addressed the root causes of these health diseases in this case, obesity. Um, so we're looking at children with TruSeq toxic stress, um, and how they live their lives in a constant state of fight and flight mode. So many times our kids that are suffering from the greatest health disparities are going through a series of traumas and they respond to the world from a place of constant danger and their brains are overloaded with, um, these stress hormones that, um, are enabled to function appropriately. Speaker 2: 30:49 So that's when we start seeing that many of our students fall behind, um, they can focus in school. Um, they, they have issues with, uh, relationships with, with their peers. Um, and with this, you know, we start seeing certain behaviors, you know, we, they turn to food or alcohol or tobacco or other things. And though they don't regard these coping methods as problems. Um, they see them as a way to obtain relief from these stressors. So that's what we're looking in this study. Um, you know, that obesity is not necessarily perceived as a problem, but a solution to toxic stress. Speaker 1: 31:26 Uh, and this question is for the, both of you while the, the money you received will go to help address the health problems caused by these adverse childhood experiences. Talk to me about how important it is to not only address the symptoms, but to really get to the cause of these problems. Speaker 2: 31:43 There are a variety of challenges to understanding and steadying and determining these root causes. There is a history, a long history of trust issues amongst the underserved, um, both, uh, for access to healthcare, but particularly, uh, research. Oftentimes there is, uh, a reluctance to participate. And so it makes it extremely difficult to try to, uh, study the root causes and then develop, um, answers and treatments that would be specific for individual populations. So one of the ways that we are trying to address this is by having a very robust community engagement component to this in order to begin to develop trust with the community, uh, and develop the interventions in collaboration with, uh, with the community in this way, the families, the participants and the community are our partners. And, and I, I also want to just go back to your, your question in relation to health. I do want to say that, you know, studies have demonstrated that high doses of adverse childhood experiences affects directly the brain development, the immune system, the hormonal system, and the way our DNA is read and transcribed. So individuals exposed to high doses of adverse childhood experiences and stress triple their lifetime risk of heart disease and lung cancer. And there's a 20 year difference in life expectancy. Do Speaker 1: 33:15 You think that systemic racism could be a cause of so much of this childhood trauma? Speaker 2: 33:22 Definitely. Um, as part of the childhood obesity initiative, we have made a commitment to look at obesity from an equity ratio lens. We know that, uh, we have not necessarily look at structural racism and how racism impacts our health and wellbeing. And there's definitely multiple studies, um, and multiple efforts across the country and in San Diego county to address racism and the health system and the academic system and, and the government institution holistically. So this is why we are super excited about this approach, because this is a community academic partnership, um, in collaboration with the Latino community and our criminal Torres and resident leaders are going to be sharing with us what their lived experience looks like. What are the social determinants of health that are impacting their health and wellbeing? We have some data set strategies to use technology so that the community could be uploading in real time, their lived experience, and that data set is going to be used to inform our interventions. So I am sure that racism and health disparities are at the top of that list. Speaker 1: 34:32 And Gary, as you all research this, how will your interventions be implemented within CUNY Speaker 2: 34:37 The interventions and the treatment will be provided by the community themselves, communities, themselves, particularly Promatores, uh, and the community clinics that this is not an example of where academic researchers are going to move into and into the community clinics and provide the care. This is a partnership where the community clinics, uh, and the community of self will be taking the lead. Uh, so, uh, um, it will really be the, the communities and the clinics themselves that will be providing the interventions that have been co-developed in collaboration with various agencies and community groups. Speaker 1: 35:26 I've been speaking with Blanca Melendez and Dr. Gary Firestein principal investigators on the California initiative to advance precision medicine. Thank you both for joining us. Thank you. Very you're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh as major league baseball fans gather in Denver today ahead of the league. All star game one player is drawing the attention of fans and commentators alike show. Hey, Atani has been selected as the American league starting pitcher, a feat made even more impressive given that he also leads the MLB and home runs. The two way athlete from Japan is having a breakout year and it's quickly solidifying himself as one of the greatest spectacles in professional sports today. Joining us with more on Otani is historical year is Jay Paris, a San Diego sports writer and author of the book show. Hey, Otani the amazing story of baseball's two-way Japanese superstar, Jay, welcome back to the program. Hi Speaker 8: 36:31 Jay. Thanks for having me always nice to be here. Absolutely. Speaker 1: 36:34 So you originally wrote this book back in 2019, when Otani was an emerging star. How has his standing in the league changed since then? Speaker 8: 36:43 Um, you know, he was a big star in Japan and he came over here in 2018 and was the American league rookie of the year had a pretty good year. Uh, but he got hurt and, uh, his, uh, wasn't able to pitch as much as he wanted to. Now we're seeing a, a fit show, Hey, Otani this is what he did in Japan. Maybe back in 2016 or so when he led the Japanese league and every category, and it took the ham fighters to, to their world series. So, you know, you look at them and if you saw Sasha, Hey, Pell play before, and you knew of his capabilities and his upsides, you would be amazed and stunned, but you really wouldn't be surprised, but the people are seeing them now for the first time. And like I said, he's been healthy. So he's been the hitting a lot, then pitching a lot, uh, been in the mix of things other people are seeing them at, and he blows them away. I mean, uh, the all-star game on Tuesday night show, Hey belongs on Saturday morning cartoons. That's the kind of character he is. He throws a ball a hundred miles an hour. He hits the ball 450 feet. He's among the fastest players in the league. So you put this all together and he's not a baseball player. He's a cartoon superhero, if you will. Speaker 1: 37:56 I mean, and I guess that speaks to why he's currently the subject of so much fascination within the sport. I mean, tell me some more about that. Yeah, well, Speaker 8: 38:03 I think it's also his global effect. Uh, you know, it's hard to gauge or to overstate how popular baseball is in Japan and how popular show Heyo. Tommy is. Remember Shohet was a star in high school. He threw the ball a hundred miles an hour when he was in high school. And the high school baseball tournament in Japan is on the level two, maybe the final four of men's basketball here at the collegiate level. I mean, it's a nationwide big deal and show. Hey, told everybody I'm playing in high school and I'm going straight to the majors. Well, the ham fighters drafted him, talked him into staying in Japan. And when he decided to stay in Japan and work on his craft at the very fine level of the Nepal baseball league, I mean, his popularity grew even more because he stayed home and stayed, stay in Japan. Speaker 8: 38:48 So when he did decide the time was right to go to the majors, to try this unprecedented feat of pitching and hitting at the highest level in the highest league. When he left Japan, he left with the nation on his back. Everybody roots for show hate. They stay up until two or three in the morning to watch his starts. If they have a survey with grandfathers asking who would they like their grandson to be it show hate. If they asked mom who would they like to see their daughter married it show, Hey, if it's a big brother asking who would like their little brother to be showing, it's just unbelievable that popularity and that bears itself out. If you're able to go to angel games, especially in Anaheim where the Japanese contingent and the fans are on a different level, a game when show, Hey, pitches is more of a party than a baseball game. Speaker 1: 39:36 And, you know, for people who are just really unfamiliar with the sport, can you explain why Otani is such a phenomenon in baseball right now? It'd Speaker 8: 39:45 Be like you starting your broadcasting career and right off the bat, they compared you to Barbara Walters. It'd be like the, a painter being compared to Michael Angelo. I mean, this guy is being compared to one player and one player over only, and that's babe Ruth, even people that aren't, uh, up on baseball or consider themselves a seam head to follow every, every pitch, everyone practically, everyone knows babe Ruth, this is who he's being compared to. These are the, uh, the accomplishments, the feats that he's surpassing, babe Ruth. I mean, we're talking 19, 19, that's a long time ago. This he he's matching something that hasn't been done in almost over a century. So I think it speaks to the significance of what he's doing, but also the significance of how rare it is. I mean, I don't know if he's going to be able to do this for five years. He may get hurt tomorrow, but this is one of the most historic baseball seasons ever in the game of baseball and major league history. So, you know, enjoy it right now. Will it last, nobody can tell you, but what this man is doing is absolutely amazing. How Speaker 1: 40:51 Rare is it for a player like Otani to come along more Speaker 8: 40:54 And more as the game evolves, the game grew, it grew into a specialization. You were a hitter, or you were a pitcher, you know, except for when you were a kid, you know, when you pick teams in Sandlot or, and literally very often the shortstop or the best hitter on the team is also the best throw or the best pitcher on the team. So in the youth level, uh, you know, literally pony league high school, if you will, you know, you can pitch in hit, but the competition is so keen in a game, which is built around failure. Remember the great Tony Gwen, he failed seven out of 10 times. They built a statue of him that illustrates how difficult this game is. So for D to be a player and to convince management, convince coaches, convinced teammates, Hey, I'm going to hit and pitch at the major league level. They look at you like you have a screw loose, no way. It's so hard just to Excel in one disciple of baseball, that to try to do it pitch and hit is unheard of. Speaker 1: 41:49 In addition to starting the pitching off for today's game, he also participated in yesterday's home run Derby. When is the last time something like that has happened? Speaker 8: 41:59 Uh, I think the year was 19. Never. Nobody's never had done the home run Derby, uh, pitched in and was the lead off batter. And it's not surprising his, his, uh, production in that home run Derby. He was with the angels, played in Colorado a couple of years ago and interleague play. And, and he was hitting the ball up in the triple deck up where nobody's ever hit it before. So the combination of his raw power with the baseballs flying at mile high elevation, he's really made for the home run Derby. And that's why so much fun as he's in it Speaker 1: 42:30 Has on Tony's success here in the major leagues, boosted the popularity of American baseball back in his home country of Japan or in particular, the, the popularity of the angels. Speaker 8: 42:40 Uh, absolutely. And you see it at angel stadium. You see it really where show plays nowhere, no matter where show, Hey, plays the major league baseball, a strong agent contingent of fans show up now where they fans before show, Hey, got here maybe, but I don't know. It certainly seems like there's a lot more fans with signs and blowing horns and, and, uh, people wanting to meet them. But I think Japan, it's, it's hard to overstate how popular baseball is in Japan and for them that's, that's like their number one sport is, is hard to believe for them to have the number one player in their number one sport and the significance of a Japanese man doing it, you know, in the U S and everybody just swelling up with that pride in Japan, it's increased the popularity for sure. And I think it has to mention the marketing angle too. There's a lot more Japanese advertisements, a lot more advertisements for Japanese products at angel stadium and radio on TV. So, so that reach that umbrella. What show has brought to America? I just continues to grow. Speaker 1: 43:42 I've been speaking with San Diego sports writer, Jay Paris, Jay, thank you so much for joining us, Jay. It always nice to speak with you.

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