With our 10th anniversary approaching, and planning for our January 2011 gala in full swing, we here at Bay Nature should be in a cheery mood. However, the main topic of conversation as I write this in late August has been the funky weather: two straight months of foggy days, occasionally interrupted by a few hours of cool, breezy afternoon sun. While gray days are normal for a Bay Area summer, we usually get a few hot days in the mix. So far, not this year. So we complain and plot occasional trips east to soak up some sun.
But for all the complaints, we actually have it very good here. First of all, as of August 20, the Bay Area hadn’t had a single “Spare the Air” day, a first since 1991. Compare that with Russia, suffering through its hottest summer on record. Hundreds of forest fires sparked by the unusually hot, dry weather made July a virtual “Spare the Air” month for Moscow’s residents.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the same high pressure ridge causing Russia’s drought produced the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, where floodwaters covered an area the size of Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium combined, displacing millions.
While scientists are generally reluctant to attribute particular meteorological events to climate change, the WMO says the Atlantic Ocean’s record high temperatures undoubtedly contributed to this extreme weather.
I am not a scientist, so I am willing to say that this summer is a warning that climate change is here and now. And it is deadly, and not very good for jobs and the economy either (just ask the farmers in Pakistan and Russia). The explosions at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia and the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico are the deadly consequences of having to drill ever deeper into the earth to feed our addiction to fossil fuels.
These are important things to keep in mind as we vote this November on whether to suspend California’s landmark greenhouse gas legislation (Prop. 23) and whether to elect a governor and senator committed to fighting climate change.
But after casting our votes, should we in the Bay Area just huddle together under the protective blanket of our summer fog to keep the unpleasant global realities at bay? If only that were possible! In truth, we have our own stories of messing with Mother Nature and having to deal with the consequences. Just look, as we do in this issue of Bay Nature, at the destructive ecological impact of introduced wild turkeys and feral pigs.
We can also look at the instructive case of habitats under the surface of San Francisco Bay, which have suffered from two centuries of not-so-benign neglect. But now an exemplary coalition of public agencies, research institutions, nonprofit groups, and private volunteers–supported by public bond dollars–is coming together to study and restore these hidden ecosystems. While restoring the Bay won’t stop climate change, such collaborative and innovative initiatives set an example of how we can make a difference locally and globally.
It is this kind of local story with broader significance that Bay Nature has been committed to telling for the past decade. Given the state of the planet in 2010, it should be clear how important this type of intelligent and committed nature-based journalism is, even more so now than when we launched in 2001. That’s why we are asking you to make sure that Bay Nature keeps going strong in its second decade.
There are three ways you can help. First, you’ll soon receive our annual fundraising appeal; please respond generously so we can expand coverage in the magazine and improve our online services. Second, consider sharing Bay Nature with the people you love for the holidays; our discounted gift subscription rates make it really easy! And finally, please join us for our 10th Anniversary Gala on January 22, 2011. I promise that when we fill the room with Bay Nature’s friends in January, it will be a lot hotter and even more fun than a foggy beach in August!
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Veteran environmental activist, writer, editor, publisher, educator, and coastal wetlands scientist Phyllis Faber has made countless contributions to the Bay Area environmental movement.