Climate Change Is More Than an Environmental Issue for San Antonio

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A young girl runs through the water before sunset.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

A young girl runs through shallow water at San Pedro Creek Culture Park before Sunset in July.

It’s no secret San Antonio is getting hotter. This summer was one of the hottest in recent memory, with sweltering days of triple-digit temperatures and resulting strains on our water supply.

A report released on Oct. 8 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that it’s only going to get hotter. The worst impacts of uncontrolled climate change are still avoidable, but only if we take immediate and aggressive action.

Climate change is a global problem, but its causes and impacts are local. According to a recent report prepared by UTSA, San Antonio’s summer maximum temperatures will increase by an average of 4 degrees by 2040 – and we can expect 24 additional days each year with temperatures above 100 degrees. Subtract three inches of rainfall annually, and our city’s future looks both hotter and drier.

These changes will impact our quality of life. A hotter, drier future may mean fewer days for our children to enjoy playing outside. It may mean shorter recess time at schools, fewer walks with pets, and less time enjoying San Antonio’s parks, greenways, and outdoor venues.

It may mean higher utility bills as air conditioners run longer, and our neighbors without air conditioning would be at greater risk of heat-related illness and mortality. Likewise, as rising temperatures increase the likelihood of droughts and wildfires, area farmers will face additional challenges to producing crops and raising livestock.

Climate change also affects our health – especially that of our oldest and youngest residents. In particular, rising temperatures increase the risk of harmful air pollution. When San Antonio experiences ozone alert days, many residents who suffer from respiratory disease must stay indoors or risk visiting an emergency room. A 2017 City-commissioned study revealed respiratory deaths will likely increase as ozone levels rise.

Additionally, climate change threatens San Antonio’s economy. Intense heat, drought, and strong storms – another consequence of a warming climate – disrupt supply chains, damage property and infrastructure, and results in missed work days due to employee health impacts. The hailstorm of April 2016, which caused nearly $2 billion in losses, is still fresh in our memories – as is Hurricane Harvey, the $125 billion disaster that devastated the Texas Gulf Coast last year and caused an unprecedented run on gas resulting in gas stations either without fuel or lines stretching for blocks.

The Valero on the corner of Josephine Street and Broadway Street is packed with cars, a response to rumored gas shortages across San Antonio.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Cars crowd the Valero gas station on the corner of Josephine and Broadway during a gas shortage in September 2017

Despite these predictions, there is good news. San Antonio is rising to the challenge of climate change by developing a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Our leaders, City staff, and residents have the ability, creativity, and community knowledge to develop solutions that work for San Antonians. Together, we can ensure that San Antonio remains a vibrant, thriving city for generations to come by forging our own path to climate readiness.

We’re not alone in taking action. We are among more than 400 U.S. cities who have committed to upholding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, an effort by 197 world nations to take immediate and aggressive action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

And we’re not starting from square one. San Antonio has already begun to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The city has prevented 170 million pounds of carbon emissions through the nonprofit Build San Antonio Green. Since 2007, Build SA Green has certified more than 6,600 homes for meeting its rigorous energy efficiency standards.

CPS Energy, which produces 22 percent of its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind, plans to generate half its electricity from these clean sources by 2040.

VIA Metropolitan Transit has transitioned 300 buses in its fleet from diesel to cleaner-burning natural gas and has just received a $2 million federal grant to expand its electric bus fleet. Local businesses have also made strides to reduce energy and water consumption. And all over the city, residents have begun exploring their own alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles, including carpooling, bussing, biking, walking – even scooting.

SA Climate Ready, a joint initiative of the City of San Antonio, CPS Energy, and UTSA, builds on these innovations by tapping into the expertise of a diverse group of community partners. These local experts have committed to advising the SA Climate Ready team on strategies for reducing San Antonio’s emissions and adapting the city to the effects of climate change

But they cannot tackle this challenge alone. We need you – San Antonio’s residents – to help us shape our plan. Your ideas will ensure that the plan reflects your priorities as we strive to keep our city strong in the face of climate change. Take action by visiting SAClimateReady.org, completing our survey, attending an upcoming open house, and sharing the website with your friends and family. You can also help spread the word on social media using #SAClimateReady.

Help us shape San Antonio’s climate solutions to ensure cleaner, more breathable air and a healthy future for generations to come.

 

7 thoughts on “Climate Change Is More Than an Environmental Issue for San Antonio

  1. I find it disheartening that climate-change deniers are shifting from ‘it’s not real, it’s a hoax’ to ‘there’s nothing we can do about it – we’re screwed anyway’. I disagree – we can (and must) do something! We’re smart people – we can definitely make a huge difference – if we stay positive and have the will.

    I just took the survey – takes less than 5 minutes.

    I appreciate CPS Energy’s and our city’s leadership in keeping resiliency and adaptation top of mind.

  2. The facts supping climate change haven scientifically proven to be false. The data was maliciously changed to support a premise. Aside from that, there is tremendous virtue in not polluting the local environment, and I tip my hat to CPS, etc. working cleaner and smarter is good stewardship.

    However, the real evidence proves the argument of climate change is based on falsified data. I challenge the author to really research it, while setting emotions aside.

    Use critical reasoning and do a logic test on the evidence in support of climate change. Just because you think it is getting hotter than ever is an opinion not evidence. Your article fails the logic test taught at most universities.

    • Literally the first link in the article is to most recent IPCC report. And the second is to a recent UTSA study. It’s good to be critical, but since we can’t be experts in everything, it’s not “failing a logical test” to trust those who’s professional lives are dedicated to studying a particular topic (in this case, climate change), especially when the vast majority of those people happen to agree on the basic argument (in this case, that the climate is changing, and average global temperatures are increasing).

    • Even Exxon Mobil believes that the science supporting climate change is true: “We have the same concerns as people everywhere – and that is how to provide the world with the energy it needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
      The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken to further quantify and assess the risks.

      ExxonMobil is taking action by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its operations, helping consumers reduce their emissions, supporting research that leads to technology breakthroughs and participating in constructive dialogue on policy options.

      Addressing climate change, providing economic opportunity and lifting billions out of poverty are complex and interrelated issues requiring complex solutions. There is a consensus that comprehensive strategies are needed to respond to these risks.”

      https://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/current-issues/climate-policy/climate-perspectives/our-position

    • The science of climate might be considered to begin with J. Fourier in 1830. He concluded from his experiments that the air exerted a moderating influence on the temperature, day vs. night for example. J. Tyndall’s experiments around 1860 showed that carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbed heat radiation (infrared light, we say today). In 1896, S. Arrhenius calculated that without CO2 the climate would be distinctly cooler and further that burning coal (oil wasn’t yet in much use) would increase the CO2 content of the air, thus the climate would warm. His calculation depended on the laws of physics that were mathematically described during that century and upon which the whole of our industrial civilization is based. The observational, experimental and theoretical basis for human-caused climate change is nearly 200 years old. In the 20th Century and since, 10s of thousands of scientists from all industrial and many developing countries have collected evidence from geology, paleontology, oceanography, biology, physics, chemistry, and more. All this evidence contributes to – and tests – the whole story. And the story is, it has gotten hotter and will get hotter still.
      The temperature records are only a portion of the story – an important portion but not be all and end all. And no, the records were not “maliciously” altered to support a premise. If they were, the massive amount of other evidence would conflict: the story is consistent. The “proof” of malicious change is itself a malicious lie, a vile deceit.

  3. Emphasis on Open Houses:

    District 1
    Thurs Oct 18
    5:30 – 7:30pm
    Eco Centro

    District 2
    Wed Oct 17
    5:30 – 7:30pm
    Schaefer Library

    District 3
    Thurs Oct 25
    5:30 – 7:30pm
    Mission Library

    District 4
    Tues Oct 23
    5:30 – 7:30pm
    Ozuna Library, Palo Alto College

    District 5
    Sat Nov 3
    12:00-2:00pm
    Bazan Library

    District 6
    Tues Oct 30
    5:30 – 7:30pm
    SA Food Bank

    District 7
    Sat Oct 13
    11:00-1:00pm
    Young Women’s Leadership Academy

    District 8
    Mon Oct 29
    5:30 – 7:30pm
    John Igo Library

    District 9
    Fri Nov 2
    5:30 – 7:30pm
    Urban Ecology Center

    District 10
    Thurs Nov. 8
    5:30 – 7:30pm
    NE Service Center

  4. Regardless if nature or man primarily causes climate change, we still need to be proactive in reducing man-made pollution, such as car air pollution.

    One way to reduce car pollution is with a Smart City Map, a map that makes it easier to walk or bike, not just for health exercise, but for reaching destinations.

    San Antonio’s 200 miles of integrated nature trails are growing. The trails are being integrated with safer sidewalks, with safer crosswalks, and with VIA bus stops.

    A tourist can now be walking or biking on a river-walk nature trail, stop at a restaurant, touch a nearby VIA bus-stop icon, and immediately display the bus schedule for that bus stop, on a mobile phone. VIA Bus Route 40 goes from the Alamo in central San Antonio to Mission Espada in southern San Antonio. See NatureTrailMaps.net for an example of this new SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) technology.

    This new SVG website technology just recently became browser friendly on mobile phones. SVG technology is ideal for a Smart City Map.

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