Willie L. Brown, Jr.
- Location: CA 94111
- Marching Since: October 27, 2005
Global warming is real, and presents a direct threat to our survival. A United Nations’ scientific panel estimated that sea levels around the world could rise three feet over the next five decades. The impact would be devastating for San Francisco, where major infrastructure—from airports, housing developments, freeways, ballparks, railroad tracks, and sewage treatment plants—would be submerged under water.
During my years as Mayor of San Francisco, we met the issues associated with global warming head-on. We set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, far more aggressive than the Kyoto Protocol, calling for 20 percent under 1990 levels by 2012. And in order to meet this goal we put an ordinance in place requiring all light duty city vehicles to run on alternative fuels, enacted a “green building” ordinance that established high levels of energy and resource efficiency standards for city buildings, installed one of the largest municipal solar panels in the nation, launched energy efficiency programs to help the city’s small businesses, and created the nation’s largest food recycling program, which turns food scraps into organic compost, thereby reducing methane gas emissions from landfills.
But going all out for greenhouse gas reductions is as much about national security as it is about protecting our environmental quality of life. We need to champion renewable sources of energy if we’re going to break our dependence on foreign oil. No terrorist or hostile government can take control of the sun and the wind, and rogue industries can’t manipulate the price we pay.
And when Washington isn’t providing leadership, it’s critical for local governments to step in. That’s the true meaning of acting locally, but thinking globally. If humankind is ever going to stop global warming, we’ve got to get started now.