As a professional who has dedicated my career to stopping climate change, my reasons are straightforward – a healthy environment and a chance for future generations to live happy, prosperous lives.
As a veteran I have some more personal reasons.
During my time in the Navy I deployed twice to the Persian Gulf. I was lucky: I came back alive and physically, mentally, and emotionally whole. The same can’t be said for countless thousands of our service members – including some of my friends – who have lost their lives or are suffering from PTSD and physical trauma that will last a lifetime.
So when I go to work every day, it is not just to keep carbon emissions out of the sky and protect our climate. It's also because the less we depend on fossil fuels the less need there is to put our servicemembers in harm's way. A world free from oil and fossil fuel dependence will be a more peaceful, safe, and just world.
That’s why I’m proud that here in California, we continue to be on the front lines of the global fight against climate change.
For almost a decade, TransForm has been involved in pushing for successful implementation of AB 32, a state law that set an ambitious goal of reducing California's greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. One huge piece of that effort (and the focus of my job) is our work to ensure that funds from the cap-and-trade program are invested in making our communities more sustainable and fair. Billions of dollars from polluting companies are funding environmental projects around California (there are several in Long Beach) that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, improve public health, and protect some of our most vulnerable groups – veterans included.
Last week, I participated in the groundbreaking of the Anchor Place transit-oriented housing development here in Long Beach. It is partially funded by a $2 million award from California’s climate program and will provide affordable homes for veterans, comprehensive supportive services, and because of its proximity to improved transit service will also increase veterans’ access to jobs, education, and key facilities such as the VA hospital. In addition to these social benefits, it will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 28,000 metric tons and reduce gasoline usage by 3.2 million gallons.
Anchor Place is one of 36 projects in Los Angeles County that received funding in 2015 to help create affordable, healthy, transit-oriented communities. These projects (which received a total of $117 million) will provide jobs, enhance access to opportunity for veterans and other people, and improve our quality of life.
The Anchor Place project epitomizes the beauty of California’s climate program.
We are investing in a future where we can live without the threat of climate change. We are eliminating our dependence on resources that threaten national and global security and put our service members in harms way. We are honoring our veterans by serving those who have already sacrificed so much.
And we’re just getting started. Over the next year, more than $3 billion will be invested throughout California in a wide variety of projects and programs. But unfortunately this is not set in stone: unless the California legislature passes legislation to extend our efforts to fight climate change before 2020, these efforts could be in jeopardy.
Picture a future in California – and in Long Beach – with clean air, the best public transit, safe streets, trees and parks, and vibrant, affordable neighborhoods for all. Picture a world that is free from dependence on oil and conflicts over fossil fuels are a distant memory. This goal is within our reach.
Now is the time for our legislative leaders to extend our efforts to fight climate change, protect our communities, and secure a more sustainable and peaceful future.
Learn more about Anchor Place and the 36 other projects in Los Angeles County funded by California's climate program (or search for projects in your own city) at ClimateBenefitsCA.org.