Sweating My Way Through a Meeting with the Lt. Governator
Yesterday, I attended a Palo Alto City Council special session with Lt. Governor John Garamendi. The topic was climate change, a topic near and dear to my heart, and I'm sure many others'. Mr. Garamendi framed the topic in terms of making sure our children and grandchildren don't have to pay for our generation's mistakes. I think most of the attendees there already had grandchildren, as there were only a handful of people who looked like they were my age. I'm guessing the rest of you weren't lucky enough to have your kids go to their mother in law's house for the day!
Garamendi mentioned a bunch of times how wet it might be east of 101 when our kids grow up. He and the council discussed how important it was to bring along our neighbors in the fight against climate change, and reminded us that our neighbors span from East Palo Alto to Mexico. His main point was that climate solutions need to be monetized so they become subject to real market forces that will help push new technologies through. He was very clear on the need for government subsidies to help vet new technologies to get them to a level that the market can then naturally support them. For example, wind energy is fast approaching the cost of coal. Overall, I learned a lot. Palo Alto sure is doing a lot to reduce our collective carbon footprint, and Garamendi was very complimentary, even suggesting that we sell Palo Alto's green concept to other cities.
I thought I'd just stay for a little while, then go, but mid-way through, I got a bee in my bonnet about speaking at the session. I got really nervous and sweaty when I got the idea, even though I've spoken in City Council at least a couple times before. I wrote out my point, which was that there doesn't seem to be a central point of contact for all the people like me who would like to help with climate change, but can only do it on an ad hoc basis. Acterra, our local environmental organization does have many programs anyone can do for one day or as a longer-term project, but the city doesn't have any formal way of using volunteers. A little investment in a dispatch person (i.e. an HR Volunteer Coordinator) might go a long way in extra volunteer hours to extend the city's climate change efforts. I felt partnering with the Parents Club of Palo Alto, the Junior Museum, and with the Palo Alto Enjoy class offerings might be a way to reach out to parents and to educate kids on climate issues.Continued on the next page