California Assembly Makes Earth Day Statement
Press Release Date: April 22, 2010
The California Assembly voted today to honor the state’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the integrity of our shared oceans by passing Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 17. Introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco/San Rafael) and Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica), SJR17 reaffirms the legislature’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases in California to 1990 levels by 2020. The measure was presented on the Assembly Floor by its principal coauthor Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Monterey). The Senate passed SJR 17 on September 9, 2009.
SJR 17 calls on the federal government, and specifically the US Environmental Protection Agency, to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and persevere in its commitment to addressing global climate change and ocean acidification. As a supporter of SJR 17, Oceana sees today’s vote as another step forward in protecting the health and welfare of the world’s oceans.
“As we celebrate Earth Day, it is important to recognize the role our nation must play in reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change,” Leno said. “This resolution not only solidifies California’s commitment to the preservation of our planet, but also encourages the federal government to continue its efforts to mitigate global warming, which threatens human health and our fragile ecosystems around the world.”
“Once again California is leading the way in recognizing the significant impacts human behavior has on our oceans,” said Oceana attorney Whit Sheard. “Each step we take in curbing greenhouse gas emissions is a step toward protecting ocean resources and sustainable communities for future generations.”
Implications of climate change include sea level rise from melting of the Greenland ice sheet, ocean acidification, more frequent and intense storms, accelerated coastal erosion and increased flooding among others. In particular, we are already seeing the profound impacts of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem and species such as polar bears and walrus. These impacts are well documented by scientific evidence and observations by Native people who rely on these ecosystems for a traditional subsistence way of life.
As explained by long-time ocean advocate Ted Danson, “ocean acidification is the biggest threat our oceans face right now. The oceans can no longer absorb as much carbon dioxide as we are pumping out without changing the pH balance which makes it too acidic for corals to form their calcium structures. When you wipe out the bottom of the food chain or the nurseries that the corals make, you have a huge impact on the world’s fisheries.”
Today’s legislative decision to memorialize California’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases is a great way to celebrate Earth Day, said Danson.