A demand that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors act to halt global warming and deny proposed oil developments in northern Santa Barbara County set up a potential clash of supervisors’ ideologies at the June 4 meeting.
After hearing those public comments, 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said she intends to introduce a resolution to support a Green New Deal at that meeting.
But 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam said he found some of the discussion disturbing, predicting a split vote on the resolution and a discussion he isn’t looking forward to.
During general public comment, several young people asked the board to fight global warming and support the Green New Deal.
“We’ve arrived in this fork in the road where if we continue to ignore the climate crisis by prioritizing profit over people, my generation and those after me may not be able to raise children in a livable world,” Alina Salinas said.
“So, members of the board, you should be doing everything in your power to oppose these greedy forces for the sake of our species and our planet,” she added.
The youths were joined by members of an environmental book club who called global warming a “wicked problem” that will turn the Earth into a wasteland, and they delivered copies of a book titled “Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace Wells to each board member.
Club members criticized the county for spending thousands of dollars processing applications for fossil fuel projects in Cat Canyon while other counties have banned such new developments.
Hartmann told the speakers the board couldn’t unilaterally reject all oil projects but had to act as judges for each individual project on its own merits, but she agreed with their concern about global warming.
“There is a huge, looming threat,” Hartmann said. “We can be in denial, and we can move quickly from denial to despair. And we have a very narrow window in which to act.”
Citing reports about how global warming will impact the U.S. military and intelligence communities, Hartmann added, “The facts are clear. What we do about it remains to be decided.”
First District Supervisor Das Williams generally agreed with Hartmann.
“I was very moved by the comments said today,” Williams said. “I remember that acute pain in your heart that comes with a burning when you know something is wrong in the world.
“And I encourage you to use that fire of the heart, that burns in you as it does in me, as fuel for action, both in terms of political advocacy but also something much, much harder,” he told the speakers.
Williams challenged them to do that “something much harder” — change consumer demands that are driving up greenhouse gas emissions.
Fifth District Supervisor and Board Chairman Steve Lavagnino agreed with Williams’ challenge to change consumer demand but noted people who protest issues like global warming drive their own cars to the protests.
“I hear a lot of people talking about it, but I don’t see many people doing anything about it,” he said.
Adam advised the book club members to read “Enlightenment Now” by Steven Pinker, adding, “That might change some of your opinions.”
He also said he was saddened by the speakers’ comments.
“I understand youthful exuberance, and it’s a good thing,” he said. “But you know, the world has never been a safer place. … Lifespans are longer, people are healthier worldwide … and I’m telling you there’s never been a better time on this planet to be a human.”
Apparently addressing fellow board members, Adam added, “We’re so far off on my position and your position, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree and just have a 4-1 or a 3-2 vote.”