Time to cast away stones

July 13, 2023


These words are the title of Stephen Kaltenbach’s fountain sculpture outside the Sacramento Convention Center where the Pacific Wind Farm Summit was held in May 2023. Carved in the water fountain stones are these three questions; What have we thought? What have we wrought? How are we loving?

How do these questions reflect on the sign of the times? We who live in Morro Bay are at a point in time where our decisions and actions are going to have significant effects not only on our community but to generations of Californians to come.

What have we thought?

In 1958, Dr. Keeling from the San Diego Scripps Institute, started to record atm.CO2 (in parts per million ppm) at Mauna Loa, Hawaii and established the Keeling Curve. Atm.CO2 has increased by an average of 1.88 ppm per year over the past 43 years (1979-2022), however, the growth rate has accelerated to an averaged 2.4 ppm per year during the last decade (2012-2022). Note (1 ppm translates to 2.13 gigatons of carbon in the atmosphere.)

In 1965, the U.S. president at the time was Lyndon B. Johnson. LBJ’s Science Advisory Committee drafted a report titled “Restoring the Quality of our Environment.”

As well as detailing the very direct ways that human society was polluting air, water and land, the report contained an entire section discussing carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, which it poetically described as “the invisible pollutant. The report noted that “through his worldwide industrial civilization, man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment,” and that this will modify the heat balance of that atmosphere to such an extent that marked changes in climate not controllable through local or even national efforts could occur.” (From Adam Levy, Knowable Magazine regarding LBJ’s Report)

On Jan. 28,1969, an oil rig off the Santa Barbara coast had a blowout that caused oil to leak out at an estimated rate of 210,000 gallons a day causing Santa Barbara beaches to be befouled with tar and dotted with dead and dying oil-drenched birds. President Nixon visited Santa Barbara and stated; “What is involved is something much bigger than Santa Barbara” he continued, “What is involved is the use of our resources of the sea and the land in a more effective way, and with more concern for preserving the beauty and the natural resources that are so important to any kind of society that we want for the future. I don’t think we have paid enough attention to this. We are going to do a better job than we have done in the past,” he promised.

On Jan. 1, 1970, President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into law which required federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of proposed major federal actions prior to making decisions. Also in 1970, then California Governor Ronald Regan signed into law the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The baby boomer generation was in full swing in the late 1960’s and 70’s. We enjoyed a booming economy, where gas was cheap, cars were big and powerful and college affordable. Meanwhile, the “invisible pollutant,” atm.CO2 was about to get supercharged

In 1965, what LBJ’s Science Advisory Committee ‘thought’ was going to happen is happening right now in 2023.

What have we wrought?

In 2006, I was invited to the 1st American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Conference on Water Quality, Drought, Human Health and Engineering, hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). During the 3-day Conference presenters showed scientific data and projections of an extended drought and intensity and frequency of wildfires in the western part of the United States. The discussion extended to the effects of extreme weather events on human health and society. Also present, were panelist representing some innovative technology to help adapt to the new projected norms.

This inspired me to write the ‘Blue Carpet Treatment Water Management plan’, an oceanic care plan that elevates the value of natural blue carbon sinks and would establish the first internationally recognized BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) in the United States, to be located right here in the Morro Bay Estuary. In 2010 The Blue Carpet Treatment Water Management plan became part of President Obamas White Papers.

In the past few years, Californians have witnessed weather whiplash in the form of urban heat zones, extended drought, wildfires, flooding from atmospheric rivers causing overburdened waterways to overflow into communities and surcharging of storm and sewer collection infrastructure. What the boomer generation wrought on the future generations cannot be undone.

Meanwhile, the generations following us boomers are facing an existential crisis that we must take some accountability for. The simple facts are that the global atm.CO2 is rising at such a rate, that the United Nations IPCC report states that we will almost certainly sail past the semi-safe 1.5 climit set in 2015 by the Paris accord. With the ocean absorbing about 30% of the atm.CO2 released in the atmosphere, the chemistry of the ocean is changing resulting in Ocean Acidification. So, What have wrought will be paid for by those we leave behind.

How are we loving?

In 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the California Ocean Protection Act (COPA) which created the OPC. My wife and I have attended OPC meetings since 2005 and one thing that has remained constant was science-based decision and policy making. In the past few years, Governor Newson responded from one end of the State to another witnessing firsthand the devastation to communities caused by prolonged drought, wildfires, and flooding. Under Governor Newsom’s leadership the OPC have integrated the social implications of extreme weather events on public health and safety into science driven research and development policy recommendations.

The offshore wind farm endeavor is much bigger than just achieving a decarbonizing goal. It is bigger than facilitating a sustainable active funding source for coastal communities to address the challenges of climate change; it is a way for us to start healing as a state and a country. We need for the California Republicans to focus on promoting favorable business policies for California’s renewable energy program. The California Demarcates must understand the urgent need for action and should support the Governor’s efforts to expedite projects that will help get California off fossil fuel dependency; in addition, focus on creating public-private partnerships that will help fund the social needs of their respected communities.

So, how are we loving?

With respect to warnings based on climate science, history shows that the boomer generation actions have not been what I would call very loving when it comes to considering the generations that follow. Our continual addiction to fossil fuels and the resulting wars and global environmental degradation are only compounded by a willful ignorance to the sign of the times.

We have arrived at a crossroads in time where united we can move towards a direction where innovation, collaboration and cooperation can foster hope or we can stagnate and bog down any new progress with policies that ensure that those vested in the status quo continue to prosper.

In the past, Morro Bay had sustainable funding from a carbon polluting, once thru cooling power plant. Now, Morro Bay is poised to play a key role in helping California lead towards a renewable energy future. That future would bring an active, sustainable funding source to the city in the renewable energy market. Morro Bay being a safe harbor should provide facilities for offshore wind farm maintenance personnel and be a hub for first responders in event of emergencies.

So, my fellow baby boomers, what have we left behind?  One thing i do know we have not left behind, is the luxury of time for our kids to act?

Richard Sadowski is a 20-year resident of Morro Bay a mechanical engineer and a former Morro Bay Planning Commissioner.

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This is what the younger generations are being taught, blame some group so you can feel better about yourself. The boomers did the best they could with the systems and knowledge in place at the time. Now it is up to his generation to find solutions to the problems they view as important, just as the boomers did. Then when they are retired they can listen to their ungrateful children blame them for all of the then current problems.

Wow, this guy is such a boomer hater. Weird. Overlooks all the great environmental accomplishments of boomer generation. Overlooks boomers developed the very techologies he says are the solution. It’s dumb to place the blame for a problem many generations — globally, not just in US — have contributed to by calling out a single generation. The “problem” began in 1750; it’s not just love of polluting cars that’s to blame. This hatefully obsessive focus detracts from any merits of his argument.

Hey, if he’s not actually an engineer, maybe he’s not a boomer either. Not that it matters.

Well, he worked designing rocket launchers for the government at Vandeberg, and they seemed fine with his engineering credentials…

We do not know why 70% of North American megafauna died out after the last ice age.

We do not know why the last ice age ended.

We do not know why the last ice age ended with such rapidity.

We do not know what caused the medieval warm period.

We do not know what caused the little Ice Age, nor the warming period after that that we are currently still experiencing.

We cannot control the climate.

Airborne plant food is not pollution.

I found an interesting Time Magazine article by Justin Worland. It waswritten back in 2015, but still seems to apply. Among other things, it says:

‘Around the world, people with higher levels of education are more likely to understand climate change than their less-educated counterparts, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Using data collected by Gallup from 119 countries, researchers found that education level was a key determinant of climate change risk perceptions in 62% of countries around the world. But all bets are off when it comes to education and views of climate change in the United States, along with a select few English speaking countries. Political party and ideology predicted views of climate change in the U.S., not education alone. (Information on political ideology and climate change beliefs was not available for countries outside the U.S.)

“[For Americans] just having higher education does not mean that you understand or accept the science,” says study co-author Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. “[Americans] who have attained higher education are better at cherry picking evidence that seems to validate what we already believe.”’

More recent surveys indicate that in nearly all European countries, a significant percentage of the people consider climate change a major threat, with the U.S. lagging way behind. Does this have anything to do with the oil, gas and coal industries? Is it Americans’ love of their cars? Is it a unique part of American culture to refuse to believe anything that it would be inconvenient to believe?

The key phrase here is “died out”. Climate change deniers will be proven wrong when we all die. We seem to forget that key part. Yes, climate has changed naturally over time but EVERYTHING DIES. Mostly deniers are bad at math, dealing with large numbers, like the amount of gases we create and the size of the atmosphere is difficult but it’s still finite numbers. Deniers seem to think thr atmosphere is too big to change.

Anyone want to bet on how fast the ocean ecosystem can collapse? When that goes we go.

There is a simple matrix that shows our options, four of them, difficult to describe in text. Three options have a good outcome, one does not, we are heading in that direction.

What’s the worst thing that could happen by addressing pollution? We make people other than the oil companies rich….

I find no one named Richard Sadowski to be a licensed mechanical engineer (or for that matter any other kind of licensed engineer) by the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Not licensed = not an engineer. May have a bit of a credibility problem here. Why claim to be that which you are not? You can still write about your opinion without the apparently false claim.

Sure, he’s lying. Has to be. Probably a communist, too.

That’s redundant.

Engineers offering their services to the public directly require a license. If you are not doing that, but have the appropriate education and training, you are still an engineer even without a license You just can’t work at it in the public sector. You could, however, work for the government. You might also be a retired engineer.

I agree with a portion of what you say. However, “offering their services to the public directly” is not the threshold to unlawfully using a title reserved by the California Business and Professions Code. By simply professing to be a mechanical engineer (as he did here) is the threshold of unlawful conduct. Also, retired engineers would show up in search results.

Section 6732 of the aforementioned code states “It is unlawful for anyone other than a professional engineer licensed under this chapter to… in any manner, use the title… “mechanical engineer,” … or any combination of these words and phrases or abbreviations thereof unless licensed under this chapter.” Section 6739 provides and exemption for federal employees, saying “…employees of the United States of America practicing SOLELY (my emphasis) as such… employees are exempt from registration under the provisions of this chapter.” Finally, Section 6734.2. states that when he simply “PROFESSES (my emphasis) to be a mechanical engineer”, Mr. Sadowski has (in my opinion) committed an unlawful act.

Possibly he’s retired and no longer paying his fees to California to be a registered engineer in their eyes.

Wow, long diatribe. I suppose it was well researched by using studies that agreed with his position. I mean, how could you NOT agree that large amounts of Co2 were spewing from the, arguably, largest active volcano on the planet, Mauna Loa?

It seems to pass over the “We’re in for another Ice Age by 1980!” and “The world population will all die from famine by 1990!”. Did I mention we all died in 2012, according to Al Gore’s internal combustion engine?

It’s also funny, nobody in the global warming camp ever mentions the world population be roughly half of what it is today, in 1930. Industry was far less than half as large or predominant across the globe in 1930. Yet, high temps and drought were enough to scour the land, from the Mississippi to the west, and Texas to well above the Canadian border. Dust storms from the American midwest, blanketed New York city.

I just don’t seem to recall anyone blaming Co2. Back then, they called it what it has always been called…..weather.

I suppose it was well researched by using studies that agreed with his position.”

Pretty easy to find, considering 97% of climate scientists believe we are experiencing man-made climate change. The other 3% are either kooks or working for the fossil fuel industry.

Wow, I haven’t seen that old “overwhelming consensus” card played in a while. In the history of science there has been a lot of overwhelming consensus right up to the point some Copernicus, Newton, or Einstein ended the conventional wisdom and replaced it with a new understanding.

WOW I due feel we should integrate different forms of energy to our lives but wind turbines in the ocean does not seem to be worth the price. Go down to the waterfrom take a look at all the structures and you see decay just from the mist and sit in water it’s worse. The US has made great progress in saving the planet as some call it but Mexico ,China and many others do nothing and we get poorer they get richer I would be more concerned about China waging war against us which would make climate change first mean nothing

I agree floating giant wind turbines 20 miles out in open ocean is a terrible idea.

I don’t claim to be an engineer but have 32 years of experience in marine construction and maintenance.

Ice ages run in 100K year cycles. The last ice age ended 10K years ago. So after an ice age ends, should we expect a few thousand years of warming? Science is fun!

Deep thought…… meet little thought.

News flash; Dull bulbs don’t understand wet bulb.

Heat is a number 1 killer. Floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, cold, etc do not come close. We shouldn’t be so self assured of our continued existence during this next period.

Outstanding letter!