Smoke from the Woolsey Fire as seen from Santa Monica.

With the Camp and Woolsey fires, Santa Monicans stepped up and engaged. We opened our homes to evacuees and their pets. We made donations. We prepared, fearing the worst. We watched smoke billow over the horizon, breathed bad air and listened for breaking news. Just miles from the blaze, we worried. Could wildfire happen here? In many of us the baseline dread that is now widespread about climate change intensified.

Struggling with these feelings and the conclusions of recent scientific reports, we begin to acknowledge that this drama is playing out in our lifetimes, that the kids we drop off at school today will suffer its consequences. We are challenged to answer questions not only for ourselves but for the kids. How bad will it get? Will we do anything about it?

The good news is that if we want to, we can. Before us is one of the greatest opportunities ever to keep people healthy and out of danger, and to protect countless species and habitats. Psychologists tell us that one of the healthiest ways to face calamity and its stress is to acknowledge problems and take action. In doing so, we find community and feel connected. We no longer feel alone, but empowered. Our kids relax, too, knowing that we adults are focused on the situation.

We are fortunate to live in a community where meaningful action is happening. Santa Monica is implementing an ambitious Climate Action Plan. We must, however, get on board as individuals and take advantage of options for change that are available to us.

What are some of these? First, get electricity from renewable sources! What do you need to do? Nothing. Beginning in February, thanks to a recent City Council vote, Santa Monicans will receive 100% of their electricity from renewable sources through the Clean Power Alliance. Costs will be modest and capped, making this affordable for just about everyone. You may opt for less renewable energy if you like, but going with 100% is the most significant action you can take with the least amount of effort!

Second, switch your lighting to LED bulbs. They use significantly less electricity than traditional bulbs. They will lower your electricity bill and they last a long time. How about giving LED bulbs to friends for the holidays?

Third, if you own a home or property, install rooftop solar. It costs some money up front, but will immediately reduce your electric bill. Many of us donate to environmental causes. Think of solar as a donation to the planet.

Fourth, invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle. Better still, take advantage of the biking and other mobility options now available. In Santa Monica, transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions.

If you want to do more, volunteer or contribute financially for the victims of the fires, but also to beat back climate change. There are many opportunities including Climate Action Santa Monica, a local group. Taking this step may provide you more peace and kinship over the holiday season.


Steering Committee, Climate Action Santa Monica:

Cris Gutierrez

Katharine King

Judy Abdo

Laura Gillette

Amy Rand Sullivan

Kent Strumpel

Talia Tinari

Laurene von Klan


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