Climate Action Urgency: Testimony to Del Mar City Council, November 1

I am a surfer, a beach lover and an OB/GYN physician, and Del Mar has been my home since autumn of 1975. I have been active with climate change since 2007, shortly after reading an article from Scripps Institution of Oceanography called, “The end of the world as we know it.” In 2013, I left a busy practice to focus my energies on helping to solve this crisis; I have led the Sustainability Advisory Board in Del Mar and currently serve as Chair of the Public Health Advisory Council of the Climate Action Campaign, working to unify the growing voice of doctors around the health risks of climate change. 


I’ve seen a number of changes since my involvement began; there is now worldwide scientific consensus around the reality of man-made climate change. The dangers to human health have become well known; the most vulnerable include children, the elderly, the poor and minorities, and pregnant women and their babies. Far from overstating the risks, the scientific community has not anticipated the speed at which the climate crisis would unfold – which is not good news. Next, public opinion has shifted away from denial across the US, more closely aligning with our obvious and alarming reality. This last change has exposed the legions of people “aware and concerned” about this existential threat who believe they’re doing enough just because they recycle a bit more or bring a reusable bag to Whole Foods.


As I write this the world is gathered in Glasgow at COP26 to confront this scourge upon nature. Government leaders are likely to come up short of what is needed yet again, but this is not entirely their fault. There are simply not enough of us, and I do literally mean you and I, that are actively changing how we live, willing to make meaningful sacrifices, and demanding real change from our leaders, to prevent future generations from inheriting an unlivable world.


I’ve always been proud to call Del Mar home, not just because of the natural beauty here, but because of our community’s values: we honor science, shared responsibility, and the preservation of nature over the built environment. We need our City Council to honor those very values at this dangerous time. They must reach beyond easy or popular half-measures and, having asked for our vote, lead us to safety. 


Recently, as we faced the devastation brought by the coronavirus, the most important moral question was, “What can I do to help?” Getting vaccinated was something many of us did primarily for this reason. Applying this same question to our climate crisis, the answer is, we need to act decisively and now. It is vitally important for our Council to approve all of Deputy Mayor Worden’s climate action recommendations, which will also help protect everyone’s health and preserve this place we love.  


We are running out of time and every one of us is called to action.