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State to measure emissions from wildfires in maintaining climate goals

 October 21, 2022 at 2:46 PM PDT

S1: California wildfires emerge as a leading source of greenhouse gases.

S2: You have it happen year after year and you can see how intense the wildfires are. And you can see how frequent they are.

S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday edition. Search , Edina reflects on his term as mayor of Imperial Beach.

S3: This is not anywhere else. You got to be cool and funky and grassroots and community. And that's what works here.

S1: And a new amphitheater marks its opening weekend at UC San Diego. That's ahead on Midday Edition. California's groundbreaking efforts in the last two decades to reduce carbon emissions seems to have been undone by one season of raging wildfires. A new study by climate researchers finds that the record breaking series of wildfires in 2020 released twice the amount of emissions then were saved by carbon reduction efforts. Since 2003 , up until now , emissions from wildfires have not been taken into account when assessing the progress of the state's carbon reduction efforts. But they may soon be included in California's climate projections. Joining me is Rajendra Sahota , deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board. And Rajendra , welcome to the program.

S2: Good morning and thank you for having me.


S2: And then that target was set. It was to focus on the root cause , which was let's reduce those emissions from those sectors. What we didn't know in 2006 was that the impacts of climate change would be more intense and more frequent in the next decade. And so when you fast forward to 2015 , 2016 , 2017 , you have one year of bad wildfire emissions and you're like , Oh my gosh , we're seeing the first major symptom of climate change in California. But then you have it happen year after year and you can see how intense the wildfires are and you can see how frequent they are. And that is now the new norm along with the droughts.

S1: The U.N. climate panel now says all sources of emissions must be considered in efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.

S2: And that was the 2020 target , which we achieved years before we were mandated to. But in that climate change scoping plan , we now include wildfire emissions , forest natural landscape emissions and the industry and fossil emissions that have always been present in our inventory crop does post both wildfire emissions and the fossil fuel side emissions. But right now we are planning for carbon neutrality in 2045 , but that means working with intention to change some of our sustainable management practices , allowing wildfire to happen in a managed way to mimic what would happen in a natural cycle and also continuing to reduce the fossil fuel emissions that we have in the in the economy.

S1: We all know that we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by things like driving electric cars and cutting oil production. But how do we stop this new kind of massive wildfire in California forest management ? We'll release carbon anyway into the atmosphere.

S2: So right now we have a buildup of excessive carbon in our forest. That is not a natural state for our forests. We also need to do some fire management. And so Cal Fire local agencies will be working to think about how to target that and in some instances how to manage some of the existing fires that we know will happen to make sure that we're not really managing to always put the fire out , but to make sure that it is helpful to reaching a natural state in those landscapes. There are regions that absolutely need some attention right now , or otherwise they will continue to have these large , large impacts in carbon emissions.

S1: One of the long term effects outlined in the study is after these climate driven wildfires , the trees that store carbon dioxide are often not growing back. Isn't that regrowth essential to carbon capture in the future ? Absolutely.

S2: But I think we need to also recognize that when we have a wildfire in California , it doesn't wipe out all the trees in California. It wipes out a region where the fire happened and we've had more regions with wildfires. And those may continue , but we still have a significant amount of forest in California that it continues to remove carbon from the atmosphere even today. And regrowth will happen. And we know it won't be automatic. It's a very different timescale and I think that's maybe part of the reason that we just have to acknowledge that we're going to see a longer time for our forests to go from a wildfire source. Overall sink in the economy , even though today they are still pulling carbon out of the atmosphere.

S1: I have been speaking with Rajinder Sahota , deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board. Rajendra , thank you very much.

S2: Thank you.

S1: Imperial Beach residents will welcome a new mayor to City Hall next year , eight years after winning his first term in office by just 43 votes. Surge DNA is stepping down and returning to his environmental activism roots. KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson has details.

S4: The Imperial Beach Library holds a special place in surge to Dana's heart. The mayor grew up in the old library , spending a lot of time there. So renovating this building has been a centerpiece of his effort to renovate his hometown.

S3: Everybody got it. You don't need to make it fancy , but you need to make it accessible , colorful , warm and friendly and a resource for everybody.

S4: County officials , businesses , community advocates all brought in and spent millions to turn this community hub into something special.

S3: And it helped us fuse everything that we did in Imperial Beach over the last eight years to really renovate and just restore this beautiful dynamic. We have an Imperial beach , the ocean and the community and doing things that make the city better for every every part of the city. And that's what this is about.

S4: Energy and ability to build coalitions exemplified how San Diego's southernmost beach community changed during his tenure. Businesses invested in the beach town's front door. The pier is a fixture and the surrounding area exudes life , too. Dina implored those with resources to invest in the city , not just their businesses.

S5: He's been a great voice for the city.

S4: Kim Frink is an Imperial Beach resident , so.

S5: He's very much , I would say , an activist , mayor.

S4: Frank says. Passion for community building and grassroots organizing put him at the forefront of her effort to open a co-op grocery store in a city that didn't have a supermarket when he took office. But there is one issue that dominated Dina's two terms in office , Frank says. It's cross-border sewage.

S5: It's a serious public health issue , an environmental disaster , and it's really impacts people's lives , you know ? And yet , I know in the time that I've been here , the number of days that it's closed has really increased.

S4: Dina has pushed hard to fix an environmental disaster that has pummeled Imperial Beach for both of his four year terms. In 2018 , the city sued the federal government and an emotional Dina took stock.

S3: It's been a long fight. And you know what ? Me and my kids and our community has been suffering from me personally. I'm very emotional morning. For me , vivid memories of taking my kids to the emergency room.

S4: That lawsuit focused attention on the issue. Other South County governments joined. So did clean water groups to Deena lobbied federal , state and local officials for a solution. As he watched the problem get worse. In April of 2020 , he chided public officials for not acting.

S3: The river flowing that you want a river should be zero gallons a day. During dry weather today , it is 60 million gallons a day. That's a minimum flow. The entire sewer system of Tijuana has collapsed.

S4: The first major break came in 2018 , when $300 million was included in the USMCA trade deal. Giardina lobbied officials at all levels of government. By November of last year , federal officials crafted a $630 million plan to deal with the issue on both sides of the international border. Earlier this year , Mexico promised to add $147 million to fix Tijuana sewage issues. A solution is finally in sight. Indefatigable David Gibson is the head of the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

S6: Never ceasing constant. And that's what I think that's took This issue has been going on for a very long time. So what was different about it now ? I think Surge offered that kind of perspective to elected officials in Mexico as well as in San Diego , in California and Washington , D.C..

S4: Gibson says Dina's drive and passion for a safe place to surf off the coast of Imperial Beach fueled the change. It finally has the South County beach town in reach of reopening ocean waters for recreation. And Cardenas says the journey was uniquely Imperial Beach.

S3: This is not anywhere else. You got to be cool and funky and grassroots and community , and that's what works here.

S4: Four people are running to replace the incumbent , and whoever the next mayor is will find themselves surfing into Deena's wake. Eric Anderson , KPBS News.

S1: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. On our weekend preview , contemporary dance , 17th century music and a new outdoor amphitheater. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon. Evans and Julia , welcome.

S2: Hi , Maureen. Thanks for having me.

S1: Well , the new UC San Diego Epstein Family Amphitheater opens this weekend with a wide range of performances. Tonight is the official opening night with the San Diego Symphony. There's a sold out show with indie band Death Cab for Cutie. That's on Saturday and on Sunday , a free community festival.

S2: That's part of the university's vision of this new entrance text. It's right off the blue line trolley , and that amphitheater will hold about 2500 people. And more than half of that is in lawn seating , which still feels really intimate. And UCSC students also will have access to pretty steep discounts and a lot of times they'll be reserved blocks of free tickets just for students. Tonight , like you said , is the San Diego Symphony. They're performing music by composers that are connected to UC San Diego. There's Lala Yang and a thoughtful starter , and Stephen Chick will play percussion on a piece by Rand Steiger , which also has 16 other percussionists scattered around the amphitheater. And that's tonight at 730. Death Cab , of course , is sold out. But I will tell you about the free event on Sunday that starts at 11 and runs all afternoon into the evening. During the day , the Salsa society will run some salsa dancing lessons. Young Lions , Jazz Conservatory will perform , and the La Hoya Playhouse , an animal cracker conspiracy , will have a giant puppet parade. That's from there with that was festival work. And then in the evening , local R&B singer Kahlil Nash. He'll perform a set and hopefully some prince covers because he is leading into a film screening of Purple Rain. That's the 1984 film. Sunday's event is free and you don't even need a ticket or a reservation. You just show up. It's right off the blue line trolley at the UCSC Central Campus Station.

S1: Now , Malakoff dance company has one weekend left of their every day dances to production. This is a departure from the type of show Malakoff usually puts on. Tell us about this.

S2: Yeah , it's part of what they're calling their Mahler Shock Evolution , where longtime founder , their artistic director , Jon Mahler , shock. He's gradually taking steps to retire. They're usually a single choreographer company with just a few guest choreographers here and there. But for this show , they're using nine local choreographers. And John Malakoff is one of them. And another of the choreographers is Levine , a rich. And she is one of the emerging artist residents that are currently at work at Arts District Liberty Station. Her piece is called Cul de SAC Pairs. It's a new piece. It's for five dancers , and it's set to a song by Kendrick Lamar called United in Grief that opens his latest album. And I talked to Rich about why she picked this , and she said she was drawn to the way Kendrick starts with this laundry list of all the stuff he's been going through since his last album with this chaotic buildup in the music.

S1: Tell them , Tell them , Tell them. Tell them you're.

S6: I've been going through something. 1885 days. I've been going through something. Be afraid.

S5: What is a gene ? A man is going to a man in his village within an hour. What is a woman there ? Really ? Her body may get better. Or killing her.

S2: That's what the last two years this felt like , probably for so many people. There's a line in there where he says , The world that I live in is a cul de sac. And so that's what makes me think about a cul de sac where you as a.

S1: People , we get caught.

S2: Up in our own mess and it feels continuous and spiraling and.

S5: There's no. Escape.

S2: Escape. But possibly there is. Shaking.

S6: Shaking.

S5: And moving like , what am I doing ? The flip of my time through the Rolodex and don't show myself in my life , in my music. The wedding I'm in is a code.

S2: And the entire concert should be about an hour. There's four shows left this weekend every evening at 730 and a matinee on Sunday at 230.

S1: And in visual art , a few outdoor art installations are happening this weekend from the city of San Diego's Park social Arts program. And Julia. There are a few that people can participate in.

S2: There's actually two projects from Park Social that are happening at the same park. It's Hilltop Community Park and Rancho Penasquito is back. Haverstraw and Katy Garishly and will have another of their community photo labs for what they're calling the floating photo studios. It's a camera affixed to a kite and people can fly it and snap an aerial photo of the surrounding area. They've partnered with that Agile project and the Tech Workers Coalition to study counter-surveillance and the way that aerial photography is used. But it's also a way for the community to participate in this kind of photography archive of the neighborhood. And also at Hilltop Park is Kenan. Art stands the Honeycomb harmonies , which is this interactive musical playground. The photo lab is from 2 to 5 on Saturday , and the musical installation will be the same day from 2 to 6 and then across town outrageously. A few weeks ago , the artist duo known as Brian and Ryan , they installed two billboards directly into the lake. They've had a kind of this arts residency at the lake this whole time since May , making many art activations and gathering community myths and histories of the lake. My favorite of the billboards is a painted scene of a sunken old VW bus. It's kind of the suggestion that there might be a shipwrecked bus at the bottom of the lake. As far as I know , there is not. But these billboards will be on view through November 4th and you can see them any time the park is open , which is 6:30 a.m. to a half hour before sunset. And while you're there , look for some of their other installations. They have branded sticks and carved trees , stamps or or words spelled out at the shore.

S1: Finally , let's bounce back to the 17th century local historical music ensemble Bach Collegium will perform a few shows this weekend.

S2: And as you might know , this ensemble has a particular interest in what they call historically informed performances of chamber music , whether instrumental or choral , including using early music instruments when they're called for. The show is a study of 2/17 century English composers John Barlow and Henry Purcell. It's called Blow by Blow , and they will perform two choral works by John Barlow and this piece , Purcell's Instrumental Music from the Faerie Queene. And this is actually Bach Collegium performing in a handful of years ago. The performances this weekend are Saturday at seven at All Souls Episcopal Church in Point Loma and Sunday at seven at the Greek Orthodox Church in Cardiff.

S1: You can find details on these and more arts events or sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS arts newsletter at KPBS dot org Slash Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thank you.

S2: Thank you , Maureen. Have a good weekend.

A new study by climate researchers finds that the record-breaking series of wildfires in 2020 released twice the amount of emissions than were saved by carbon-reduction efforts since 2003. This comes as the state’s Air Resources Board will update its metrics to include wildfire pollution in maintaining California’s climate goals. Then, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, is stepping down and returning to his environmental activism roots. And finally, our weekend preview features contemporary dance, 17th century music and a new outdoor amphitheater.