EditorialJust back from a global warming leadership conference at Robert Redford's Sundance (Utah) Village, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman is all fired up over opportunities she sees for intensifying Pleasanton's commitment to green building, energy efficiency and water conservation. The conference was the third annual gathering of U.S. mayors who are active in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which Hosterman attends. It was a bipartisan group of some 40 mayors representing a diverse range of communities, and took place as local, state and federal officials are becoming increasingly concerned about record-breaking heat and devastating floods in many parts of the country that are being blamed on climate change.
Mayor on right track in concern over global warming
Tuesday, as part of the approval of 51 new estate homes on the Kottinger Hills, Hosterman wanted stiff requirements imposed on future buyers to restrict their water and energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. She sees this development--called Oak Grove--with its multi-million-dollar homes as a prototype for major environmental changes she would like to make part of the city's new General Plan now being drafted and any future home and business building regulations. To his credit, Councilman Matt Sullivan, an outspoken environmental advocate who is pressing for energy and water conservation elements to be part of the new General Plan, got the mayor and other council members to hold off on specialized Oak Grove requirements until other committees and commission and city staff have had time to study the various options.
Even so, Hosterman has a point. There's increasing concern worldwide about climate change and its implications. At Sundance, speakers from government, universities and the scientific community reported that the earth's temperature already has warmed between 1 and 1-1/2 degrees Celsius. Most species and humans can survive comfortably if greenhouse gas emissions--which are believed to be the cause of global warming--increase from the present 385 parts per million up to as high as 445ppm, which would raised temperatures around the world on average about 3 degrees Celsius. But go much higher and changes could occur to make life much more uncomfortable. According to Hosterman, the problem with these forecasts is that global warming is creeping up on us much faster than scientists predicted, with glaciers melting at a worrisome pace that could threaten coastal cities much before 2050, the benchmark year the Sundance scientists said has been a target for making international changes to reverse the warming process.
Hosterman knows that as the mayor of a city with a population of 67,000, she can't do much to stop global warming. But Robert Redford, who has made it is mission to enlist the support of hundreds of mayors like Hosterman in this worldwide effort can reduce the carbon footprints in their own community--as Hosterman tried to do Tuesday in the Oak Grove development--they could have an impact. So look for Hosterman to push for local programs that would make solar a viable option for homeowners, water-saving devices and landscaping a citywide conservation goal and building codes that would do away with wood-burning fireplaces and mandate thermal pane windows on new homes and renovations. She also wants Pleasanton to chime in on national campaigns that can help us all breathe easier and feel better. Right now there are 40 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. with another 151 being planned. Whether we believe that global warming is fact or fantasy, coal burning along with other harmful emissions hurts us all, whether the emissions drift our way or affect us where we travel. Hosterman is on the right track in her effort to improve the quality of life, not just for Pleasanton but for the world as a whole. We share her passion.