A recent investigation into what happens to San Francisco’s recycling brought largely positive news: 81 percent of what residents deposit into their blue bins is recycled. That rate is among the highest in the nation. But the bigger picture of waste disposal in San Francisco is not so rosy. The city is far from reaching its ultimate goal of zero waste — and officials say it may never get there if manufacturers don’t change their ways.
City officials advised San Francisco residents to stay indoors wherever possible with the windows shut to protect against smoke from wildfires that has blanketed the region. On Wednesday afternoon, air quality was designated as unhealthy, though it has fluctuated. If smoke pollution deteriorates air quality to “very unhealthy,” the city will open respite centers, officials said in a press conference.
San Francisco may be edging closer to its climate goals with an ordinance requiring all new construction to use electric power rather than gas. But the next step down that road involves retrofitting old buildings — and it could add costs low-income residents can’t afford.
The last few years’ fires are all blurring into one for Jessica Tovar, an Oakland resident and advocate at the nonprofit Local Clean Energy Alliance, a renewable energy advocacy group. “I had an office that you could see the port of Oakland from, and in those times, you could not see the port because the smoke was so thick,” she said. Oakland was among the worst-hit cities when smoke from the 2017 Tubbs wildfires spread to the areas around San Francisco Bay, lowering air quality to levels comparable to Beijing, some of the worst in the world. As California’s fall wildfire season approaches, mask shortages mean Oakland residents are at risk of exposure to both coronavirus and to toxic smoke. Tovar, who frequently interacts with underserved Oakland residents, echoed the concerns of advocacy organizations that distribute masks.
Public Press Executive Director Michael Stoll talks with journalist Kevin Stark about Stark’s reporting that showed how local governments were slow in responding to the predicted effects of sea level rise on the Bay Area waterfront. “So I think the scientists were hesitant to get out and say you shouldn’t be building, but what they were saying is that you should be planning for the future in a way that recognizes that the water is going to rise, and you need to either learn to live with it, or you’re going to regret it.” — Journalist Kevin Stark
Greg Dalton, founder and host of Climate One, talks with Civic about facilitating productive conversations about the environment and climate change. Plus, a quick look at sea level rise on the San Francisco waterfront. “The lack of action on climate is not because of dearth of facts, there’s enough books and podcasts and radio shows and peer-reviewed journal articles. … there’s denial, many forms of denial.” — Greg Dalton
San Francisco hosted the two-day Global Climate Action Summit at the Moscone Convention Center. We gathered links to articles about the meeting and affiliated events, along with related climate news and research.
California officials are taking their first, tentative steps toward requiring cities to plan for severe sea level rise that scientists now say could conceivably elevate high tides by up to 22 feet by the middle of the next century. A state-funded study recommends that local planners adopt a risk-averse approach to permitting developments such as hospitals and housing in areas that have even little chance of flooding in the coming decades.