Santa Monica Faces the Inconvenient Truth

I went to the Santa Monica Film Festival last night to see An Inconvenient Truth. It was the very last night of the summer Movies on the Pier, which I think is one of the coolest things about Santa Monica. I love that they have the screenings in such a unique setting. I missed it, but my friends who went to the Muppet Movie last month assure me it was lots of fun.

Before the movie started though, there was a panel on global warming, and a presentation on ways that Santa Monica is working to end the problem. And the City of Santa Monica Environmental Protection site lists many ways in which Santa Monica is working to encourage a change in the habits of its residents, and trying to set an example as a more sustainable community. I’m really proud to live so close to a small city that is trying so hard. My favorite item on the list, just for creativity points, was “zero waste Farmers Markets” – use of biodegradable picnicware at the market on Sundays. Santa Monica has actually managed to shrink its biological footprint (the amount of resources it needs) in the last fifteen years – which is not an easy feat.

Inspired by this, I went looking for the City of Los Angeles environmental page, and found the Public Works site here, as well as the official City page here. L.A. is not quite as eco-active as Santa Monica, but then, it’s got an awful lot more to worry about than a small, wealthy, oceanside community. Their global climate change page is under construction, so I can’t find out what measures the City is taking – aside from labeling the Metro buses as the largest clean air fleet in the nation – to step up to the challenge. But I think that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is especially important in Los Angeles, if only because we live in a microclimate which traps pollution over the city.

More on local action after the jump – and, later today, I’ll be posting about an event that can REALLY decrease contributions to global warming.

I think that much of the effort towards global warming can be affected by what we do in our own communities though, even if it’s a factor that takes place halfway around the world. For example, forests are burned every year to clear land for cash crop use around the world, which not only adds pollution to the atmosphere, but also takes away the trees that would reduce the CO2. But we’re really lucky here, in that we’re a big city with a population to support specialty stores, which sell fair trade and ethically produced crops.

In addition, we’re in an agricultural region, so we have farmers markets that supply locally grown crops, which reduces the pollution produced by the vehicles that bring food in from halfway across America. Buying locally produced fruit eliminates the fossil fuel pollution generated by the truck that brought in a truckload of apples from, say, Washington. That sort of action’s not that much more expensive, and it is more readily available in Los Angeles than in, for example, small town Texas (trust me, these are much more difficult options in Amarillo, TX, than they are in L.A.) And the most popular farmers market in Los Angeles seems to be in Santa Monica.

I’ve always been big on sustainability, which is one of the reasons I held off on seeing An Inconvenient Truth: because I figured it would just depress me to see a movie focused on the same things I’ve been trying to explain to people for most of my life. But I realized, there’s a lot of sustainability movements in the city of L.A. that just need a little push, and a little support, to get going. And if Santa Monica can set the example, maybe more small and medium sized cities will follow. And in the meantime, we’ll all just keep plugging bike events here on the blogs.

2 Replies to “Santa Monica Faces the Inconvenient Truth”

  1. One of the easiest and simplest things that you can do to reduce your ecological footprint: Replace as many of your light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. You make back the cost of the bulbs in the longer lifespan of the bulbs (or even make a profit if you buy them at the dollar store or Ikea), and you’ll dramatically cut back your electric bill. When I first discovered these bulbs (15 years ago!), just by replacing the two lights I used the most, I saw my electric bill drop dramatically (although that was before the days of always-on computers and the like).

  2. ^Regarding the compact fluorescent light bulbs, if you buy them, you need to dispose of them safely (due to chemical hazards)….like batteries, don’t throw them away.

    I love the futurama scene with the ice cube.

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