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California’s cap-and-trade system undermining state’s climate goals

 February 17, 2022 at 3:25 PM PST

Speaker 1: (00:00)

California's cap and trade system is flooded with unused pollution permits.

Speaker 2: (00:05)

One credit equal to 2,500 miles of driving. There are 321 million credits sitting in that bank.

Speaker 1: (00:12)

I'm Andrew Bowen with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. The pandemic appears to be delaying routine cancer screenings.

Speaker 3: (00:28)

We really just wanted to look at the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on timely diagnosis of cancers at our institution at the Moore cancer center,

Speaker 1: (00:37)

A chilling report details. What happened to deported Iranians who sought asylum in San Diego and a high school in city Heights goes all in on eSports. That's ahead on KPBS midday edition California's signature gram to reduce greenhouse gas. Emissions is in trouble companies like oil refineries and utilities have amassed an alarming number of pollution permits under the state's cap and trade system. And a panel that advises state regulators says the mountain of unused credits to burn fossil fuels is jeopardizing California's ability to meet it. Climate goals. Joining me to talk about this story is Kathleen Ronan reporter for the associated press Kathleen. Welcome.

Speaker 2: (01:30)

Thanks for having me

Speaker 1: (01:31)

Just how much pollution permits have these companies amassed?

Speaker 2: (01:35)

Sure. So they have 321 million saved collectively. And just to put that in some context, one pollution credit allows for emitting the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon dioxide. And so one metric ton of carbon dioxide is about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions that an average car, a sedan would emit driving 2,500 miles. So one credit equal to 2,500 miles of driving. There are 321 million credits sitting in that bank.

Speaker 1: (02:07)

So more than 800 billion miles driven by cars, the equivalent pollution could be omitted by these companies quite a bit. Uh, do we know why these companies would purchase pollution permits and not actually use them?

Speaker 2: (02:20)

Sure. So it is allowed under the law. I do wanna stress, they, they haven't done anything illegal here. So there could be a couple of reasons. One, um, these companies have to buy their credits and then they basically cash them into the state every three years. So they could buy credits thinking they're gonna emit one amount and then they could actually emit less than they planned. So this may have happened. Um, during the pandemic, we saw a rapid decrease in economic activity. And so that actually in the short term lowered emissions. So that could be one reason that companies have some of these, um, allowances sitting around. Another reason is purchasing more than you need is as one expert describes to me a great way to hedge against, um, inflation or price spikes in the cost of these credits. So if you buy more than you need, now, you can put them in your bank so that you don't have to buy as many later when the cost of the credits goes up because over time, the goal is fewer credits are made available. So the price them goes up, which would spur lower emissions. So those may be a couple of reasons that companies have these credits, um, in the bank,

Speaker 1: (03:27)

The report warning about this issue came from a panel of experts that advises the California air resources board, which is the regulatory agency that oversees cap trade. How has air resources board responded to this report?

Speaker 2: (03:42)

Sure. So this, um, this committee was actually appointed by lawmakers and the governor. So they also, they serve as advisors to lawmakers on this. Um, as well, the air resources board says that they're not concerned about this. They don't share, um, you know, the alarm bells that this committee is raising. They say that, you know, they have enough means and enough tools to deal with an oversupply of credit. So one thing that happens is if a credit just sits on the auction market for 24 months, it will be taken away from the market. And they also note that the state has a lot of other ways to spur companies to reduce emissions. They just don't see this as the same level of concern as this outside committee does.

Speaker 1: (04:25)

Remind us how cap and trade works.

Speaker 2: (04:28)

That is a great question. And I will try to give the most easily understandable version possible. So cap and trade is basically a carbon price market. And so under cap and trade, any company that participates and these companies that participate, give Amit roughly 75% of all of California's greenhouse gas emissions. So covered companies make up a large portion of what we're emitting. And under this program, they have to buy allow, well, they have to buy, obtain or trade allowances, um, equivalent to what they want to emit. So, as I mentioned, every three years, they've gotta pay up. They've gotta say, here's what we admitted. Here's what we're paying. Now the goal of cap and trade is that overall the cap of allowances available declines over time. And so as it declines over time, as fewer allowances are available, they're going to become more expensive because they're scarcer. And the idea is that this will spur companies to lower their emissions because they don't wanna be paying more money to emit.

Speaker 1: (05:31)

And how essential is the cap and trade program to California's overall climate policy?

Speaker 2: (05:37)

That kind of depends on who you ask. But I will say at, in 2017, which was the last time that the air board had to write what they call a scoping plan, which sort of examined all of California's efforts to meet its climate goals. They pegged cap and trade as responsible for roughly 38% of the emissions reductions that the state would need to make. Now they're in the process of rewriting. One of these plans and, um, a key leader at the air board told me that they think that this new plan will show cap and trade responsible for less of California's emissions goals. But we'll see that later in the spring. So we will know then, and I would remind you that the biggest goal that California's trying to reach right now is we're mandated by law to bring emissions 40% below 1990 levels. By 2030,

Speaker 1: (06:26)

Some environmental advocates have been critical of the cap trade system from the beginning. Why is that?

Speaker 2: (06:33)

So cap and trade is a Q way of reducing emissions. So under cap and trade, we don't say, Hey, oil refinery in this Los Angeles neighborhood, you must reduce your emissions by 15%. We just say economy wide, all of the covered emitters are the goal is for them to collectively reduce their emissions over time. And so what a lot of environmental justice advocates have argued is that this program doesn't really do anything for people that are living next to oil refineries, or other entities that are emitting greenhouse gases and other pollutants, because it's not mandating that any individual entity reduces its pollution load. And so they really feel that to kind of, you know, in setting these broad economy wide long term goals, it sort of leaves these communities that live in the shadow of some of these polluting entities kind of on their own and still struggling with, um, pollution.

Speaker 1: (07:32)

Is there an alternative that advocates say would be, uh, more effective at both reducing in pollution in, in specific locations and the overall emissions of the state of California.

Speaker 2: (07:46)

There are a lot of alternatives and California has a lot of other policies that aim to reduce emission. So there are rules that require utilities to procure more renewable power. There are rules around making, um, rotation fuels cleaner and what some environmental groups advocate is that we should, you know, do away with cap and trade. And instead, um, mandate direct emissions reductions on these different companies. Now, the likelihood of that happening, I don't wanna say it's slim, but I will note that, you know, cap and trade was just REA a few years ago, it's set to run until 2030. So it would take a significant effort to just completely do away with cap trade. The hope by environmental groups is as we write more prescriptive laws that require companies to reduce emissions in other ways, cap trade kind of becomes less important.

Speaker 1: (08:38)

All right, I've been speaking with Kathleen Roan who covers climate change and the environment for the associated press. Kathleen, thanks for joining us.

Speaker 2: (08:46)

Thanks for having me.

Speaker 4: (08:57)

Virtual doctors visits, no elective surgeries warnings to stay away from hospitals. They were all part of the pandemic as the healthcare system used. Most of its resources to battle COVID 19. Now a new study says disruptions in ordinary healthcare had consequences researchers at UC San Diego say their new study shows during the first year of the pandemic. More people were being diagnosed with late stage cancer rather than cancer in its early more curable stages. The study attributes that to people delaying ordinary health screenings, joining me as Dr. Jade, uh, clinical fellow in hematology and oncology at the U C S D school of medicine, and one of the authors of the research Dr. Zo. Welcome.

Speaker 3: (09:44)

Thank you so much for having me

Speaker 4: (09:46)

Now, your research finds that there really wasn't an increase in overall cancer diagnosis between 2019 and 2020, but there was a difference in the stages of cancer being diagnosed. What were those differences?

Speaker 3: (10:00)

Yeah, I just wanted to give a little bit more background before I kind of go into the differences, but we really just wanted to look at the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on timely diagnosis of cancers at our institution at the Morris cancer center. And just to give a little bit more background on about that with cancer staging, it usually consists of stage one through stage four and, um, stage one is considered early stage, which is often curable. Whereas, um, unfortunately with stage four, it's a late stage when the cancer has metastasized, meaning it's spread outside of the organ of origin and it's considered are incurable. So we were particularly interested in looking at breast and colon cancer. Since these are two types of cancers that are often detected early at early curable stages through screenings, such as, uh, with mammograms and colonoscopies and comparing between 2019 before the COVID 19 pandemic and 2020 after. Um, we did see that there was a rise and late stage stage four breast cancer and colon cancer. Whereas, um, on the other hand, we saw a decrease in early stage cancers.

Speaker 4: (11:10)

And how much of a increase in stage four cancers did you see in breast and colorectal patients

Speaker 3: (11:16)

With color of cancer? Um, we saw a numeric, but it wasn't statistically significant, um, likely due to just a lower number of patients who were presenting. So, um, in 2019 there were about 17, almost 18% of stage one colorectal cancers. Whereas in 2220, we saw, um, teen 0.6%, which had gone down and similarly vice versa with stage four colorectal cancer. We saw that had increased from about 7% up to almost 20%. And similarly we saw statistically significant increase in stage four breast cancers presenting in 2020, which was, uh, it went from 2% to over 6%.

Speaker 4: (12:02)

Can you elaborate on the differences in outcomes for patients who come in with a stage four cancer as opposed to a stage one?

Speaker 3: (12:09)

Yes, absolutely. So generally for the most part with stage one, it's very early localized usually can be for the most part curable, um, generally surgically and unfortunately with stage four, at this point, the cancer has already spread outside of the organ of origins, such as outside of the breast for breast cancer or outside of the colon for colon cancer. And in those cases it's considered incurable. We can still provide treatment, uh, what we call palliative treatment in order to try to prolong survival as much as we can and to improve symptoms. But at that point, the cancer cannot be cured.

Speaker 4: (12:52)

Why did you conduct this study? Was there a general feeling among doctors that they were seeing sicker patients because of the pandemic?

Speaker 3: (13:00)

Yes, that is actually what prompted us to look into these numbers was anecdotally, we had noticed many patients were canceling doctors visits, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic canceling or postponing C ages. I have even gotten questions from friends and family regarding these questions about whether or not to postpone their preventative care and, and postponing their primary care physician visits. And I really had to counsel, you know, close, um, loved ones about the importance of continuing to, to see their physician and continuing with all of these, um, necessary medical procedures.

Speaker 4: (13:38)

Did you also actually study if the number of routine cancer screenings actually went down during that time period?

Speaker 3: (13:45)

We actually have not looked at those numbers, but that is definitely, um, something that would be interesting to look into.

Speaker 4: (13:52)

There were some limitations to the study that your research is acknowledged. The cause of the increase wasn't determined. The numbers are just from one center. The number of colon cancer patients in the study was very low and people getting second opinions were also occluded in this study. So they could have been originally diagnosed with a, uh, stage one cancer. So can you say these numbers really in DEC a trend

Speaker 3: (14:17)

It's really hard to say based on all these limitations, whether or not to take this at face value, but based on what we've seen, actually looking even into the numbers of, uh, 20, 21, this is a continuing trend. So we can't quite pinpoint specifically the reasoning behind we, this is an observational study where we're purely looking at the numbers, but clearly, uh, there is this very significant trend that we're seeing since the pandemic started

Speaker 4: (14:46)

Now, what do you think people should take away from this research?

Speaker 3: (14:50)

I think that this really highlights the importance of preventative care, uh, specifically, you know, going in to see your primary care physician, um, at least once a year, and being sure that you follow the guidelines and getting your colonoscopies and getting your mammograms, um, because it's really important once we we're able to really identify these cancers at an early stage and we have a good chance of curing your cancer. Whereas if we, you know, wait too long until it becomes, uh, a stage for cancer. And at that point, uh, it can be a really tough, uh, situation to treat.

Speaker 4: (15:30)

I've been speaking with John Jade. So a clinical fellow in hematology and oncology at U C S D school of medicine, and one of the authors of the research. We've just been talking about Dr. Zo, thank you so much.

Speaker 3: (15:42)

Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1: (15:49)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Andrew Bowen in with Maureen Kavanaugh. The us asylum system failed asylum seekers from Cameroon deported from the us in 2020. That's according to a report by human rights, watch the group spoke with dozens of people. Some of whom requested asylum at the San port of entry when their cases were denied and they were sent back to their country. They faced imprisonment, torture and other abuse at the hands of the Cameroonian government. Joining me now to talk about what happened is Kate Morrisey, a reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Kate, welcome,

Speaker 3: (16:25)

Thank you for having me

Speaker 1: (16:27)

And a warning to our listeners that the details of this report are upsetting Kate human rights watched tales, the experiences of several asylum seekers who are deported to Cameroon. One of them is a woman who is only identified as mercy. Can you tell us what happened to her?

Speaker 3: (16:43)

So mercy was very careful in how she had packed her belongings. When she found out she was going to be deported back to Cameroon. And yet when she arrived, their government officials had somehow accessed, um, documents from her asylum case and used those documents in persecuting her. At that point, she was taken to a military facility where she was imprisoned. She was tortured there. She was raped. She was repeatedly interrogated about what she told the us government. And she recognized the details that they were asking about as things that she had told a us asylum officer, supposedly in confidence towards the beginning of her case. So this, this was an instance in which the government of Cameran was actually able to get information, the, the asylum case of this person and use that case in order to harm them after they were deported.

Speaker 1: (17:42)

You've done a lot of reporting on the us asylum system, remind us how it's supposed to work for people like these Cameroonians.

Speaker 3: (17:50)

The basic is that if someone is likely to be harmed in their country because of specific things like their nationality, race, their, uh, religion political opinion, or, um, membership in a social group, and that harm is either caused by the government itself or by a group that the government cannot or will not control. Then we are supposed to offer them some form of protection, um, asylum, as, as we, we sort of talk about it a lot as journalist is a, is a specific form of protection that is actually, um, discretionary, which means the judge can, uh, make some determination about whether the person has what they call good moral character, and whether they, they should be given asylum, which gives a path to a green card, but there are their forms of protection that we don't talk about as much that are mandatory, that it does not matter. Um, what that person's history is that if we know that that person is likely to be tortured, if we send them back to their country, we cannot send them back. And so those don't get talked about as much, but it's those, those several forms of protection together that make up what we think of as asylum when we sort of talk about it and, and all of them working together are supposed to prevent these kinds of things from happening

Speaker 1: (19:21)

Attorneys for these asylum seekers warned us officials that their clients would face imprisonment and violence if they were sent back to Camero. And that's what happened a court to these interviews. So why were they deported?

Speaker 3: (19:34)

They were deported because they, uh, lost their cases either. Um, and it, and in different situations, it was at different steps in the process. So at that time, when you presented at the border and said, I'm a afraid to go to my, my country, I'm afraid to go home. We would, um, first have a, a, an initial screening interview with an asylum officer. That's known as a credible fear interview. And so some of the people, um, didn't pass their credible fear interviews. And in a lot of those cases that has to, to do with this policy that the Trump administration had implemented, that said, if you had passed through another country between your country and the United States, that you could not request asylum in the United States without first trying to do that in the country that you had passed through. And so for somebody coming from Camero, you passed through a dozen countries on your way to the United States.

Speaker 3: (20:41)

And so a lot of people were caught up in, in that policy when it was in effect. And so they were denied even at that initial stage, before they were able to present the full evidence of their cases, others were denied, um, later on in the process, I think it's, it's worth noting that each individual person in the asylum system has to prove the conditions that they are fleeing. So let's say that there are two people from Cameroon who have cases before a specific immigration judge, and the first person is able to really clearly explain, look, judge, this is what's happening in my country. This is what's happened to me. This is what's going to happen if I go back. And the judge says, okay, that makes sense. You, you get asylum. If the second person who sees the judge right after that, isn't able to explain that the judge can't use the information they learned.

Speaker 3: (21:33)

In the other case to grant the case. Like each person has to completely explain the situation in a way that lines up with these very complicated asylum laws. And so it's very difficult to win your case, even if you have a very strong case. And I think that's, what's so, um, important about these Cameroonian cases is that they are very sort of textbook asylum cases. They are fleeing political persecution on behalf of their government. They're, they're not as complicated as for example, some of the cases we see coming out of central America and yet they were denied and, and deported to harm

Speaker 1: (22:14)

What led these people to flee Cameroon in the first place.

Speaker 3: (22:19)

In a lot of cases, it has to do with the ongoing persecution of Anglophones that's. Um, the, the English speaking group in Cameroon, part of Cameroon is French speaking or Francophone, and part is Anglophone and the Francophones are in power. And so they have for a long time persecuted the Anglophones. And, um, several years ago, the Anglophones particularly, um, you know, attorneys, journalists, folks in those sort of, um, intellectual positions, uh, began protesting the way that they were being treated by the government and the government responded very violently. And so, um, since then, it's, it's just been an escalation of, of persecution, very serious human rights violations happening to Anglophone. I, and so a lot, a lot of people who have faced that persecution have fled.

Speaker 1: (23:15)

There are also some descriptions in this report of Camero asylum seekers being restrained by immigration and customs enforcement agents. Tell us about that.

Speaker 3: (23:26)

That's building off of actually previous reporting that, that we did based off of a complaint that was filed, um, several months back about this device known as the wrap, uh, which ice has used to restrain people in the process of, of putting them on deportation flights and what the folks who experienced it or witnessed it described sounds like, um, the device is not being used in the way that it was intended by the manufacturer. So according to this, this device sort of wraps around your, your legs and your arms and, and is supposed to hold you at a 90 degree angle so that you're seated with your legs straight in front of you. And the way that, um, people described being put into this thing, their heads were actually their heads and their chest were actually pulled down, down towards their knees so that they were in a much more angled position as opposed to sitting up straight.

Speaker 3: (24:32)

And that caused a lot of injury. Um, some people were held in these positions actually on the flights, like they stayed in the device hours and hours and hours, um, and, and are still experiencing, um, you know, pain in their backs and, and different places because of, of having to hold that position for so long. Um, some of them equated the position to torture as well. And so that's explained in, in depth, in this, in this report and, and builds off of reporting that that previously came out, um, when a group of advocates put together an official complaint to submit to the department of Homeland security saying like this happened, this isn't how this is supposed to work. Can you investigate this? Um, and we have, uh, heard about this, this device being used on deportations to several countries. And, and as far as I know, the I identities of the people being deported were black Deportes, they were black people being deported to, to their countries. So it's not, not specific to Cameroon in all cases, but something that we did hear about, um, quite a bit with these Camero and deportation flights that happened,

Speaker 1: (25:44)

This type of treatment is obviously deeply distressed for people who are asking for protection from violence. What impact did that have on these asylum seekers and how they view the United States?

Speaker 3: (25:57)

That was actually one of the, the pieces that the, the researcher who put this report together told me was, was one of the most difficult things for her to hear when she was talking with the people who had been deported to Cameroon, um, prior to coming to the United States. So many of them had these really, um, sort of built up images about what the United States was and what it stood for. And this idea of the United States is a place that champions human rights, that champions, freedoms, that champions democracy. And so when they found themselves being persecuted, they went to that place, that place that they thought of as the place where they would be safe, because that place is the place of, of human rights and, and, and all of these things and their, their image of what the United States is as a country was just crushed by these experiences. There's, um, a lot of quotes in the report expressing this disillusionment with the United States and just feeling so, so broken and hopeless because the one place that they thought would protect them, the one place where they thought they would be safe, turned around and harmed them as well.

Speaker 1: (27:15)

The report asked for the us to reconsider the asylum claims of these deported Cameroonians. What has been the Biden administration's response to this report?

Speaker 3: (27:26)

I haven't heard much from the Biden administration. Um, the report does detail some, some preliminary responses that they received, um, from some of the different agencies that were involved in the deportations. I think most notably, uh, the department of justice, which houses, the agency that runs immigration court. And so that agency said that they would, you know, look into these findings and that they, you know, would investigate what happened. It's not clear really, um, how in depth that investigation is how far along it is when it's going to be, what, what public information is going to be available once it is done. Um, but they at least said that they would look into it. Um, as far as the agencies who are responsible for, for immigration detention and deportation, um, we didn't get as much of a from them.

Speaker 1: (28:27)

All right. I've been speaking with Kate Morrisey, a reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Kate, thanks for your reporting. And thanks for joining us.

Speaker 3: (28:35)

Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: (28:49)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Andrew Bowen with Maureen Kavanaugh. Lots of people adopted dogs during COVID 19. And lots of people got used to letting those dogs run freely at parks and school fields. But now KPBS reporter Claire Traer says a new program is aiming to put those dogs back on a leash with costly citations for dog owners,

Speaker 5: (29:12)

Sierra Dockery spots him from the parking lot, a loose pit bull running around a fenced in basketball court. She parks her SUV and hops out, especially

Speaker 6: (29:22)

The basketball courts. There's a couple signs that I see right now that mandate and dogs have to be on a leash. So we'll go make that contact.

Speaker 5: (29:31)

The dog's owner is not happy to see Dockery. This is your

Speaker 7: (29:34)

Dog. Yeah. Do you mind just putting mom on a leash really fast?

Speaker 6: (29:37)

I'm gonna enter the basketball court area.

Speaker 5: (29:40)

Dockery listens to the woman with a calm and gentle demeanor, but stays firm. She writes a ticket which could end up costing her almost $300. Good

Speaker 8: (29:50)

Job. Good job. You're doing a great job. Helping families and friends.

Speaker 5: (29:56)

Just another day at the office for Dockery, who looks a lot like a police officer in her tight bun, Navy blue uniform and utility belt, but her employer, isn't a police department. It's the San Diego humane society. She's part of a new park patrol enforcement program. The humane society started in 2021 to address a pandemic era problem. The number of scoff law, dog, owner ballooned during COVID.

Speaker 6: (30:23)

And then once they reopened, I feel like people kind of flooded back to the parks and beaches. Um, and people had that love of outdoors. Once again,

Speaker 5: (30:31)

The humane society is now giving out about 200 citations a month. That's a fivefold increase from early in the pandemic, about a third when to parks and Pacific beach and ocean beach, and Dockery says they pay special attention to school fields.

Speaker 6: (30:48)

Some specific joint uses have become, let's say like unofficial dog

Speaker 5: (30:53)

Parks, that creates problems with dogs, digging holes, or leaving poop that kids step in.

Speaker 6: (30:59)

And then of course, with off leash dogs, there's always that risk of someone being attacked, a dog being attacked, someone being

Speaker 9: (31:05)

Bit, and all the sudden, you know, this dog, you know, jam on hair.

Speaker 5: (31:10)

That's exactly what happened to Hernandez. Three year old daughter, Alba at trolley barn park in university Heights,

Speaker 9: (31:16)

Wind up in the hospital. Uh, she was traumatized.

Speaker 5: (31:21)

Alba had to get stick and now struggles with a deep fear of dogs. People insist their dog is friendly and well behaved, but Alba doesn't know that it

Speaker 9: (31:32)

Really change, you know, our whole family dynamic, right. And the way, um, we spend our free time because we really, again, couldn't come here. You know, because again, dogs were only, and then just going to any other park, we found that, um, it happens the

Speaker 5: (31:52)

Same on a recent Wednesday evening. Several dogs run freely at a field in allied gardens. That's also being used for kids soccer and baseball games. Marty Marcus led it's his dog, Ellie off leash. And she barks and runs in circles as he talks

Speaker 10: (32:08)

For the most part, people come down here, do control their dogs. Um, yeah, mine is barking a lot. She wants to run and play. And yes she did has bumped into you a few times. But outside of that, most of the dogs down here are reasonably well behaved.

Speaker 5: (32:22)

Marcus says he does about getting a citation.

Speaker 10: (32:25)

Dogs still needs exercise. And there are very few dog parks in the area there.

Speaker 6: (32:31)

This dog's digging a hole actively

Speaker 5: (32:33)

Back on her patrol, Dockery rolls through a busy park and spots. Two people watching their dogs run off leash.

Speaker 6: (32:41)

Um, they're looking at it and not doing anything.

Speaker 5: (32:44)

She drives up to the young couple hops out and writes them each a citation.

Speaker 6: (32:49)

Do you know of a few dog parks in the area? Yeah. Okay. Cuz yeah, there's like one literally down the street. It's about three minutes from here. Keith,

Speaker 5: (32:56)

The couple cheaply accepts their three, $300 tickets and promises. They won't break the rules again. Claire Traeger, K PBS news.

Speaker 4: (33:16)

They're not an Olympic category, at least not yet. But eSports have been growing in popularity. Yes. We're talking about video games organized as a team sport and the pathway they can provide to scholarship opportunities. K PBS speaks city Heights reporter at Jacob heir takes us to the new gaming facility at Hoover high school.

Speaker 11: (33:41)

An already thriving eSports team got a recent upgrade at Hoover high school, not in a video game, but in real life, the club has a brand new space on campus dedicated to competitive gaming and it's fully stalked with highend computers, gaming chairs, headphones, and a lot more.

Speaker 12: (33:57)

I'd say the most popular game that's running on right now, at least in this eSports is still rocket league, super smash bros and Ballant

Speaker 11: (34:06)

Club captain in Hoover high school, senior Henry Kawa says the new room is a huge improvement from before.

Speaker 12: (34:13)

Honestly, it's been amazing. I remember I first joined the eSports club here at Hoover during my sophomore year and we kind of have like a little, uh, underground, I would say dun area. And we usually play on the school computers. We never kind of had that, uh, luxury of trying to build one

Speaker 11: (34:32)

For every sports team. There was a coach for Hoover high school's eSports club. It's Jack Wetzel who also runs the robotics club and teaches math. And in computer science at the school he's been in charge of the program since 2016.

Speaker 13: (34:46)

I think eSports is, is, is just any digital sport. And it ranging from anything from chess to these competitive first person shooters. But if I was gonna say what it is here at Hoover, it it's really a community. And it's it's about student having a safe place where they have likeminded people to collaborate and, and be friends with

Speaker 11: (35:07)

Hawaii, says eSports, provide him an escape from real world difficulties while spending time with his friends, which has been a challenge since the pandemic

Speaker 12: (35:15)

For my sophomore year, I was pretty lonely. I would say during the pandemic, uh, didn't really have anything to do talk to. So I would always just play games and having social interactions on there.

Speaker 11: (35:26)

Hoover high is just one example of the blossoming eSports scene in San Diego. San Diego state is about to launch a new certificate program called business of eSports, which is open to people of all ages. Newton Lee will be one of the professors he sees e-sports in line with social media platforms, but says they offer competition for all and are more inclusive than traditional sports.

Speaker 14: (35:48)

It doesn't matter if you're black or white or a kid or, or old man or old woman physical, disabled, or, you know, physical strong for is strong. They all can compete in the same game. To me, that is really truly amazing. You cannot see that in any fiscal sport.

Speaker 11: (36:05)

Wetzel says the new room is just the start. They already have competition set up with other schools from around the area and he plans to try to make eSports a lettering sport in high school,

Speaker 13: (36:15)

High school e-sports league is the, the national, um, organization. That's helping gather everybody together. And they're the ones that actually host those games. And then from there, they, the colleges are looking on those websites to see which teams are scoring highest, which ones are doing well through the competitions. Um, and then on top of that, there's actual scholarships from high school e-sport league

Speaker 11: (36:38)

Professor Lee says the future of eSports is very bright. In fact, he sees the new SDSU eSports program and other similar educational offerings as a gateway into the science technology engineering and mathematics fields.

Speaker 14: (36:52)

So it makes them especially high school students. More curious about, well maybe, you know, I'm not going to professional game, but I can design your hardware or, oh, I'm really good in art. I can do animation. So that's something that they may not have thought of if there are no

Speaker 11: (37:10)

ESports professor Lee says one of the biggest challenges for the eSports industry at the moment is the need to introduce more women. But he says as it will be difficult because of a number of players creating a toxic environment for women in online gaming circles. That being said, there are efforts underway, such as creating more collaborative and less violent video games to bridge the gender gap and open the virtual door on eSports to all

Speaker 4: (37:38)

Joining me as K P S city Heights, reporter Jacob air Jacob. Welcome.

Speaker 11: (37:43)

Thanks for having me on

Speaker 4: (37:45)

Give us an idea of what the e-sports club looks like at Hoover high. Is it like a bunch of kids in front of the TV in the living room or is it different?

Speaker 11: (37:54)

Well, it's, it's different from what you might envision playing video games at home. It's actually really high. They have a full gaming setup with about a dozen computers, fully equipped for gaming. What that means is extra fast processing top of the line, headphones, keyboards, mouses. And of course those iconic gaming chairs and the students I spoke with said it exceeded any expectations they had about the space. They were really amazed at the room.

Speaker 4: (38:18)

And one of the gamers mentioned that they have more opportunities in this new space.

Speaker 11: (38:23)

Yeah. Club captain Henry Wang was actually referring to how oftentimes gamers who have the money or the financial ability try and build their own setup, uh, and create their own computers to improve their gaming experience. Huang was saying that because his teammates couldn't previously afford to do that since this new room was built, they've really been able to capitalize on that. But because before they were just playing on standard school computers,

Speaker 4: (38:47)

Tell us more about the games being played at the club who chooses them, is it the coach, the players?

Speaker 11: (38:52)

So the games are really anything off through what's called high school e-sports league. That's the league that oversees all high school competitions across the country. And then in a few other countries around the world as well, there are games as standard as online chess or sports games, but then there's also other offerings such as Mindcraft and a handful of first person shooter games, um, char more notable, something like call of duty, uh Valant or Fortnite. Some of the games that aren't offered in this high school e-sports league are still popular, but they're played in non-high school team competitions. A good example of that would be super smash bros.

Speaker 4: (39:30)

How far has Hoover gotten in trying to set up e-sports competitions with other schools?

Speaker 11: (39:35)

So coach Jack Wetzel told me that the team is currently in the midst of training for a match against one of the other schools in San Diego who does have a full eSports program. And if I recall correctly, that's Mira Mesa high school Hoover's team also has previously played in state and sometimes Countrywide tournaments, which they also trained for. Um, and they plan to do that in again this season. So those, those are held through the high school eSports league with the games that we were just talking about.

Speaker 4: (40:02)

Now, we all know that athletes, um, have a pretty high social ranking in high school. What about eSports players? Are they regarded as E jocks?

Speaker 11: (40:13)

Um, I have not heard that term before, but I will tell you that the vision of the club is really to kind of create a safe space for all who want to join. So compared to a traditional sport where you might have like a, so a social standard or something to live up to, I don't think these eSports players see themselves quite the same way, at least yet. Um, some may proudly even call themselves nerds. But the big thing that the club does do at Hoover high school is create a community there's over 30 plus high school students at one point or another who come in and out to, to join this club. And they're now friends, uh, in and outside of that room.

Speaker 4: (40:51)

Then there's the problem about girls and young women often being locked out of the eSports world. That is a huge issue. Tell us more about this toxic environment. That's keeping girls out.

Speaker 11: (41:03)

It really is a huge problem. Long term SDSU business of eSports professor, who I spoke with Newton Lee. He told me that men who are causing these toxic online environments should be punished in one way or another for their actions, but the, by getting more women into the eSport space and then having other men stick up for them online, the added solidarity will hopefully help drown out those voices of the bad apples. Lee also said that adding more collaborative rather than competitive games should draw more women into the eSports sphere. And that also popularizing games that aren't as violent might help too, is what he told me.

Speaker 4: (41:39)

Are there girls involved in eSports at Hoover high?

Speaker 11: (41:43)

There are the Hoover high has actually started an all women Valant team, which is a first person shooter game. It's kind of a cross between call duty and Fortnite. Um, and the reason they did this is to try and encourage girls to join the program and feel support from other young women around them. That way they're not having to face some of these toxic online environments on their own Hoover also plans to create more programs like it in the future is what coach Jack Wetzel told me for other games. And then keep building on that. Going forward.

Speaker 4: (42:15)

SDSU, you told us is offering a new certification program on the business of eSports. What could someone do with that certificate?

Speaker 11: (42:23)

From what professor Lee told me that program really opens the doors to all aspects of the eSports industry. So what, what someone might consider just, you know, to be competitive gaming, that's not true is what he's telling me. This includes animation architecture and game design music scoring for video games and then creating the actual hardware and software needed for computers or even marketing. It seems like a good opportunity to explore eSports and figure out which part of the industry is best for your career path.

Speaker 4: (42:51)

How are parents reacting to this new emphasis on eSports?

Speaker 11: (42:56)

So I can only give you the example of what club captain Henry Huang told me. And he said that coming from an Asian family, his parents have a hard time grasping that he wants to create a career in eSports. He told me they want him to take a more traditional route in school, but he's gonna do whatever it takes to keep pursuing his passion.

Speaker 4: (43:14)

All right, then I've been speaking with KPBS city Heights, reporter Jacob air, Jacob. Thank you.

Speaker 11: (43:20)

Thank you.

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