How did you get involved in environmental politics, in general, and this job in particular?
I had an interest in politics from a very young age. I was the kid who, for some strange reason, liked C-SPAN. And the environment has always been a passion of mine, so the two made a good fit. I’ve worked for the broader PIRG network, of which Environment California is a part, ever since college.
How easy is it to talk to politicians in California about global warming? Any surprises about who has been receptive and who hasn’t?
Most of the politicians I interact with are as concerned, as I am, about the threat of global warming. To me, the most remarkable thing is the way those who have been opponents of action on global warming are now pushing their agenda under the pretense that they care about solving climate change. So we have the Chamber of Commerce arguing that the state should avoid adopting direct regulations on polluters, and instead rely only on market programs, because direct regulations will supposedly be costly, and therefore cause other governments who are watching California to shy away from taking action.
If you had to summarize one concept about global warming the most people have a hard time understanding, what would it be?
Many people don’t understand that we are not doomed. It is a bit of a balancing act in grappling with the magnitude and urgency of the problem, while at the same time offering hope. And while we don’t have all the solutions to global warming figured out, we have far more solutions than we are currently using.
People assume that to solve global warming, we need to pray for the world’s best scientists and the world’s best inventors to come to our rescue. I truly believe the biggest thing holding us back is politics. We’d be a lot closer to solving global warming if more politicians stood up to Big Oil, Big Coal and every other industry that is standing in the way. When people understand that, they realize we are not doomed, we just need to organize and engage in politics.
What is the most promising legislation this session?
As many people know, the transportation sector accounts for over 40 percent of California’s global-warming pollution. Consequently, the most important way for the Legislature to compliment AB 32 and help the state meet our 2020 target is by tackling transportation-sector emissions. I’d like to see legislation to provide funding for alternative fuel research [N