Communities are at the forefront of aclean energy revolution
WHY WE MATTER
Climate change is no longer an abstract future threat; it is here now. We are experiencing it in our daily lives, with reduced snowpack, extended drought, more wild fires, and extreme weather. These impacts are hurting communities and straining our budgets as the need for expensive disaster response grows. The impact of climate change is hitting much sooner and harder than many of us ever imagined. We need to work together to address this climate crisis and ensure a safe future for our children.
With crisis comes opportunity… COMMUNITIES ARE AT THE FOREFRONT OF A CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION happening around the globe as government leaders, businesses and community members collectively embrace clean, renewable power like solar and wind, to replace dirty fossil fuel power. Increasingly, people are asking their city leaders to develop and act on ambitious and sustainable energy, infrastructure and climate plans; and community and business leaders are seeing the social, political, and economic benefits of doing so.
Menlo Park is thriving, but also choking — the vibrancy of our community is threatened by traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing and too few convenient alternatives to driving. The good news is that the same measures that we take to address climate change can make our community strong, healthy and a great place to live. Here in Menlo Park, we’re uniquely situated to pull together bold new ideas, innovative technology and proven sustainability measures to solve community problems and create a healthier, more vibrant city.
A Climate Neutral Menlo Park
A Climate Neutral
Eases Traffic Congestion
Diverting just ten percent of traffic during rush hour can cut the gridlock to get everyone moving – safe bike routes, bike shares and better public transit options can do this.
Increases Community Safety
Safe routes to school, and safer sidewalks and bike routes will bring more people out into public places, making the city safer for everyone
Strengthens Disaster Preparedness
Solar microgrids and home solar systems coupled with battery energy storage and electric vehicles can ensure safety and resilience if the power goes out.
Sparks Appropriate Economic Development
Sustainability and innovation attract 21st century businesses and top talent by setting Menlo Park above other towns
Protects Civic Heritage
Green development standards create more walkable, people-friendly communities, with more trees and amenities that celebrate iconic downtown public spaces.
Helps Protect Our Community Environment
Contributing to a more stable climate can help mitigate sea level rise from the Bay, severe storms and drought, and loss of birds and other wildlife.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Our climate is changing in ways that will have enormous impacts on our planet’s people, ecosystems, cities, and energy use. Average global temperatures are likely to rise by another 2° to 8.6°F by 2100. Average global air temperatures are already about 1.5°F higher on average than they were at the start of the 20th century, and have risen another 1°F over just the last 30 years. Most experts agree that the changes are caused by humans, largely from emissions of heat-trapping gases released to the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned (and also when they are extracted and refined). Carbon dioxide is the most significant of these gases – CO2 levels are at their highest in about 650,000 years. If we take aggressive action to reduce emissions, the temperature change could be modest. If we continue business-as-usual, however, the amount of change will be substantial. For more resources on the science of climate change, see the world’s pre-eminent scientific body, the IPCC.
What are the likely problems we face from climate change if we continue down the path of business-as-usual? Scientists overwhelmingly agree that environmental, economic, and health consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue, including:
- Melting glaciers, early snowmelt, and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages and increase the risk of wildfires.
- Rising sea levels will lead to severe coastal flooding.
- More extreme weather including intense heat waves and flooding will harm public health and damage agriculture and fisheries.
- Coral reefs and other ecosystems will experience severe habitat and species loss.
- Asthma, infectious disease and allergies will become more common due to higher levels of air pollution, the spread of pathogens and mosquitoes to more areas as they warm, and increases in pollen-producing weeds.
MENLO SPARK CAN STAKE OUT A CLIMATE ACTION MODEL TO REACH ZERO CARBON emissions, to usher in our clean energy future and a sustainable lifestyle. Our city is home to some of the top intellectual and innovating talent in the world. Achieving these goals has the potential to not only address climate change and phase out fossil fuels, but also to capture those energy dollars traditionally exported elsewhere and reinvest them locally. Most importantly, we believe Menlo Park can and should commit itself fully to being a leading U.S. community in clean energy, sustainable transportation and infrastructure – a climate action leader. Working together as a community to address climate change, we can also find new paths to protect our civic heritage while embracing the community development that helps us all prosper.
WE SHOULD – WE CAN – AND WE WILL put our innovative culture and top minds to work on the most pressing social and environmental challenge of our time. We will lead by example.