Reflections on Refugio

If you don’t want to read this long piece please sign these two petitions!

1. Santa Barbara City Council: Divest Now.

2. Governor Brown: Ban Fracking Now.


The oil spill happened, but you already knew that! We’re mad and sad and we’re organizing. What did you expect!

Why We Exist As 350 Santa Barbara

Part of our goal 2 ½ years ago in forming this group was to bring more fire to the community with a particular emphasis on climate justice.

Becca had read Bill McKibben’s Terrifying New Math article, and Colin and I had just got back from an intensive direct action training with Tar Sands Blockade in Houston, Texas. We each agreed that the environmental community here was much too sleepy for how serious the climate crisis is. We wanted to wake people up by bringing some grassroots take-it-to-the-streets energy, so we did!

Admittedly, we came off at times as as needlessly oppositional. I showed up to a county planner’s commission meeting dressed up as Darth Vader, pretending to be in support of an extraction project because it was “evil.” On my speaking slip I wrote that my name was “Darth Fracker.” Silly I know, but the point was to “rock the boat” of the “don’t rock the boat” culture here through humor and creativity.


We brought a lot of energy to a lot of events, such as the Climate Rally on July 27, 2013 and the Draw The Line rally we had on September 21, 2013. This is where our now famous 90 foot pipeline was born, which has been featured in the New York Times, and has been used at multiple rallies in California.

Santa Barbara Draws the Line with a 90' Pipeline!

Santa Barbara Draws the Line with a 90′ Pipeline!

SB Pipeline 2

We attempted to educate the community about climate change being a social justice issue that impacts some people more than others on the global scale.


And of course, we helped form a coalition called the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, which took on Big Oil directly through a ballot initiative that tried to ban extreme oil extraction in our county.


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Chevron and their buddies spent over $8 million to defeat the fracking ban, outspending Water Guardians 20-1, resulting in a pretty bad loss. Alas, the most carbon intensive form of oil extraction in the world lives on in Santa Barbara County (cyclic steam injection, AKA steam fracking).

But the war on extreme extraction in California has really just begun. In February we helped get 2 buses full of people from Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to Oakland to demand Governor Brown ban fracking. That was the biggest climate march California has ever seen, and it was led by our indigenous brothers and sisters at the frontlines of this global crisis. We were 8,000 people strong, and we had a great time up there.





Governor Brown will cave in to our demands eventually, and every signature on this petition helps — so please sign.  

In between then and now, Becca was hired by Food and Water Watch to continue efforts to ban the most extreme forms of energy extraction. She was even hired as a consultant with the World Business Academy to bring 100% energy solutions to the community. Colin has been working on GIS mapping projects linking the spatial and racial relationships between oil and gas development sites and proximity to schools. I’ve been mostly working on my graduate program to become a mental health professional and working two jobs, so I haven’t had as much time available to dedicate to this work…

But then…

The Horrible, Horrible Oil Spill


You probably know the details by now…

Over 105,000 barrels of crude oil mixed with Benzene and other dangerous chemicals ruptured out of a pipeline owned by Plains All American on May 19, 2015. It has been killing marine life daily, from SB to LA.


Some people in the community got out to the Gaviota coast in a totally volunteer, DIY capacity and started cleaning up. Some of them, who did work to stop the gang injunction in Santa Barbara last year, started their own new group called End Oil Now. They got national news!  

Some who were impacted by the 2010 BP spill in Louisiana wrote this open letter to them to warn them of the health effects of handling oil.  

Divestment activists in the Bay Area then brought to my attention the fact that the retirement funds our city relies on have over $100,000,000 invested directly in Plains All American! In total, the state retirement funds CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC Pension System have over $500 billion invested in dirty energy companies. So I decided to replace the time I had been spending ocean swimming (giving that up for a while) to rekindle the city divestment conversation.  

So city council members… can you pass a resolution urging the state retirement funds our city relies on to divest? (Sign the petition here.)

Thanks if you came out to the ultra-positive #standinthesand rally last Sunday and, lots of respect if you instead chose the American Indian Movement healing ceremony at the Mission denouncing Junipero Serra at the same time. It’s too bad when important events conflict like that…

And……….. as always…………….. onward!!


350 Santa Barbara

Help us pass Measure P!


Help us make sure Measure P passes in November!

Over the last few months 350 Santa Barbara members have been part of a county-wide coalition aiming to ban fracking and other extreme forms of oil extraction in our region. This coalition, called the Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, successfully gathered enough signatures to put the ban on the November ballot. The ban is now called Measure P, and if it passes we will have successfully prevented a massive expansion of dangerous oil drilling techniques in our county.

If Measure P doesn’t pass, we can kiss all our local energy conservation efforts goodbye. The sheer scale of this prospective oil boom would more than double our county’s carbon emissions, effectively canceling out everything we have done to reduce our carbon footprints as individuals.

Measure P may be the most important political issue regarding climate change in our county’s history. If you want to see Measure P pass, help us get out the vote for November.

SB County Water Guardians File Initiative To Ban Fracking


For immediate release
March 18, 2014

Filing is first step to protect County residents’ health, environment and local resources City of Santa Barbara – Today, Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, a grassroots group of concerned local citizens, filed a notice of intent with the Santa Barbara County Registrar to circulate an initiative petition within the County of Santa Barbara to protect the County’s air, water, and health by prohibiting land uses related to fracking, cyclic steam injection and other high-intensity petroleum operations.

As oil companies plan to expand the use of high-intensity petroleum operations to extract oil and gas from the Monterey Shale and other formations across Santa Barbara County, public concerns grow. Chemicals involved in many of these operations are associated with serious health problems such as cancer and birth defects. The increased emission of air pollutants has been tied to a greater risk of asthma attacks and reduced agricultural yields. At the same time, the threatened proliferation of new wells threatens the County’s famed scenic vistas, robust tourism industry and quality of life.

Expanding high-intensity petroleum operations will also compete with agricultural and public uses for Santa Barbara County’s limited water supplies. With reports of groundwater contamination in four states related to these operations, Santa Barbara’s local farms and wineries could be devastated if a well casing fails or wastewater is mismanaged. Activities associated with these advanced drilling practices have also been linked to increased seismic activity, which is concerning for a County that sits on a number of active fault lines.

“Using these technologies, the petroleum industry would gain increased access to oil resources lying below our homes, farms and natural areas,” said Rebecca Claassen of Santa Barbara County Water Guardians. “The impacts and risks associated with high-intensity petroleum operations are too great for Santa Barbara County residents to accept.

In order to protect local resources and interests, we want to prohibit this land use before it further endangers human health and the environment in Santa Barbara County.”

The initiative will protect the health and environment of Santa Barbara County by amending the Santa Barbara County Comprehensive Plan and related codes to prohibit the use of any land within the County’s unincorporated area for fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations. The initiative includes provisions to protect vested rights and constitutionally protected property rights.

Upon the County Registrar’s certification that proponents have secured the requisite number of signatures on the petition, the Board of Supervisors can elect to adopt the initiative or put the measure on the ballot for voters to decide this November. The measure is widely supported by a broad coalition of Santa Barbara community groups and environmental organizations.

Measures to ban fracking and high-intensity petroleum operations have been adopted in New Mexico, Colorado and New York, to protect public health and safeguard natural resources. In California, residents of San Benito County are also circulating an initiative petition to ban high-intensity petroleum operations in that county. The San Francisco law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, which has extensive experience in land use and environmental issues, and attorney Nathan G. Alley of Limestone Law & Policy Advocates drafted the Santa Barbara measure.

Santa Barbara County Water Guardians is a growing coalition of concerned parents, professionals, farmers, students and others opposed to fracking and other high-intensive petroleum operations that threaten our water quality and supplies in Santa Barbara County.

We invite supporters to come to an April 5 kickoff party and to join our roster of hundreds of volunteers who will be gathering signatures to qualify our initiative for the November ballot at:

10 Important Climate Change Facts: Untangling Bob Hinnrich’s Climate Denial

We have nothing against free speech, but we do have a problem with dangerous misinformation being presented as fact. This was the case on December 19, 2013, when against the objections of many, Chair Jim Richardson invited climate change denier Bob Hinnrichs to present what he called, “a scientific look at global warming data” to the Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District Board — the entity responsible for regulating emissions in our county.

Many unbiased scientific experts on climate change are living and working in our area who could advise the board, but Chair Richardson who is also Mayor of Solvang, chose to invite a denier with no background in climate science. Mr. Hinnrichs also did not disclose his ties to the fossil fuel industry.  He is co-founder of a gas detection company (Pacific Advanced Technology) that sells to the oil and gas industry.

There is a lack of logical consistency in Mr. Hinnrichs’ arguments. (It is both getting warmer and not getting warmer. CO2 both is and is not a greenhouse gas.) His goal seems to be to confuse the issue and cast doubt on all facets of climate science. Below we clarify some of the outrageous and misleading information presented to the APCD Board on December 19.

For a quick overview of main indicators of climate change, please review the NASA website.

Below are 10 important facts to know about climate change.

1. 97 out of 100 climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. 

From NASA blog:

Several independent surveys find 97% of climate scientists who are actively publishing peer-reviewed climate research agree that humans are causing global warming. On top of this overwhelming consensus, all National Academies of Science around the world endorse the consensus view of human caused global warming, as expressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).Movements that deny a scientific consensus seek to cast doubt on the fact that a consensus exists. One technique is the use of fake experts, citing scientists who have little to no expertise in the particular field of science. The OISM Petition Project cited by Mr. Hinnrichs claims 31,000 scientists disagree with the scientific consensus on global warming. However, around 99.9% of the scientists listed in the Petition Project are not climate scientists. The petition is open to anyone with a Bachelor of Science or higher and includes medical doctors, mechanical engineers and computer scientists.

2. The principle finding represented by Mann’s “hockey stick” – that the warming trend and temperatures over the last few decades are unprecedented over at least the last 600 years – has been verified and strengthened over time.

An independent assessment of Mann’s hockey stick was conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (Wahl 2007). They reconstructed temperatures employing a variety of statistical techniques (with and without principal components analysis). Their results found slightly different temperatures in the early 15th Century. However, they confirmed the principal results of the original hockey stick – that the warming trend and temperatures over the last few decades are unprecedented over at least the last 600 years.

Since 1999, there have been many independent reconstructions of past temperatures, using a variety of proxy data and a number of different methodologies. All find the same result – that the last few decades are the hottest in the last 500 to 2000 years (depending on how far back the reconstruction goes).

 3. Scientists have ruled out solar radiation as the cause of recent global temperature changes. The sun has actually contributed a cooling influence in recent decades.

It’s true that solar radiation has caused temperature changes in the past as we moved from ice ages to warmer periods, but this is not going on right now.  Mr. Hinnrichs’ claim that the sun is the cause of recent warming has been debunked so many times that one geophysicist  (Ray Pierrehumbert) said the solar argument is, “a coffin with so many nails in it already that the hard part is finding a place to hammer in a new one.” 

The charts Mr. Hinnrichs uses are from Willie Soon who has received over $1,000,000 from petroleum and coal interests since 2001 and frequently speaks at climate change denial events.

In reality, over the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been moving in opposite directions. The sun has actually contributed a slight cooling influence in recent decades (Lockwood 2008).

Annual global temperature change (thin light red) with 11 year moving average of temperature (thick dark red). Temperature from NASA GISS. Annual Total Solar Irradiance (thin light blue) with 11 year moving average of TSI (thick dark blue). TSI from 1880 to 1978 from Krivova et al 2007 (data). TSI from 1979 to 2009 from PMOD.

4. Sea level rise is accelerating and poses a direct and imminent threat to Santa Barbara

Mr. Hinnrich’s claim that sea level increase has been constant is demonstrably false as sea level rise is accelerating. The deliberately misleading chart he used was also from Willie Soon.

From 1880 to the early 1900’s, sea level was rising at around 1mm per year. Throughout most of the 20th century, sea levels have been rising at around 2mm per year. In the latter 20th century, it’s reached 3mm per year. (Skeptical science)

Projections for our area is that we could see up to 5 feet of sea level rise this century. We would lose our beaches – critical for our tourist economy. Bluffs would retreat 270-525 feet; cliff-side housing and amenities like Shoreline park would be gone, and our airport would be under water. (City of Santa Barbara Sea-Level Rise Vulnerability Study)

Global mean sea level from 1870 to 2006 with one standard deviation error estimates (Church 2008).

 5. Arguing that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas is like arguing about gravity. This is settled science.  

Mr. Hinnrichs presents a red herring in arguing that carbon increase follows a temperature rise. Of course in past natural cycles when the sun caused warming, that warming happened first – by definition. The sun warmed the oceans which then released CO2, which then caused more warming. However, even in that case, such as during the last glacial-interglacial transition, about 90% of the global warming occurred after the CO2 increase. (Skeptical science)

Regardless, that’s not what’s happening today.  Temperature increase is following the increase in CO2. CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is increasing at a frightening rate. It’s now at a level (400 parts per million) higher than it’s been in 800,000 years.

We’ve only begun to see the temperature increase that is the inevitable result of that level of CO2 in the atmosphere. We’ve only begun to see the disasters – the floods, fires, droughts, crop failures and species extinctions that will be the result of the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Waiting to see how catastrophic it will get before we act is insane.


This shows carbon dioxide concentration and temperature over past 800,000 years. We’re now at 400 ppm, unprecedented in human history. We’ve only begun to see the temperature impacts of the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere as it takes time for the radiative forcing to heat the oceans. If we do not reduce emissions over the next couple of decades, we’ll reach 600 or more ppm and face the risk of run-away global warming that we will not be able to contain.

 6. It is getting warmer. It is NOT getting cooler. 13 of the hottest years ever recorded have occurred in the past 15 years.

Mr. Hinnrichs’ claim of a recent “cooling trend” is a dead giveaway that he is not interested in presenting facts.

The 2000 to 2010 period was the warmest decade on record so far. All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and 2013 continues the underlying, long-term warming trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998. (World Meteorological Society)

According to NOAA, the globally-averaged temperature for November 2013 was the highest for November since record keeping began in 1880. November 2013 also marks the 37th consecutive November and 345th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The first 11 months of 2013 tied with 2002 as the fourth warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature of 1.12°F (0.62°C) above the 20th century average of 57.0°F (13.9°C). The margin of error is ±0.18°F (0.10°C). (NOAA)

Scientists have drawn direct connections between extreme  weather events around the world and global warming. For instance, researchers at the University of Melbourne calculated that the devastating heat wave and fires in Australia last summer were 5 times more likely because of global warming. (Livescience)

image (1)

To show a “cooling trend”, you have to cherry-pick your data like crazy.

7. Climate models have already predicted many of the phenomena for which we now have empirical evidence. Climate models form a reliable guide to potential climate change.

Mr. Hinnrichs’ claims that it’s hard to model the climate, the UNEP was wrong about climate refugees and that global cooling would be more serious than warming are all beside the point.

According to the World Health Organization, although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative. Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. (WHO)

We are seeing the impacts of climate change in increased deaths from disease and disaster now. For instance, 4 million people were displaced recently by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippians. (NY Times)

The climate models, far from being melodramatic, may be conservative in the predictions they produce. For example, here’s a graph of sea level rise:

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Sea level change. Tide gauge data are indicated in red and satellite data in blue. The grey band shows the projections of the IPCC Third Assessment report (Copenhagen Diagnosis 2009). Here, the models have understated the problem. In reality the events are all within the upper range of the model’s predictions. All models have limits – uncertainties – for they are modeling chaotic systems. However, all models improve over time, and with increasing sources of real-world information such as satellites, the output of climate models can be constantly refined to increase their power and usefulness.

8. 90% of glaciers are in retreat. Arctic sea ice is at record lows.  

The answer is not only clear but it is definitive and based on the scientific literature. Globally glaciers are losing ice at an extensive rate (Figure 1). There are still situations in which glaciers gain or lose ice more than typical for one region or another but the long term trends are all the same, and about 90% of glaciers are shrinking worldwide (Figure 2). (Skeptical science)

Figure 1: Long-term changes in glacier volume adapted from Cogley 2009


Figure 2:  Percentage of shrinking and growing glaciers in 2008–2009, from the 2011 WGMSreport

Arctic sea ice grows and shrinks seasonally, with an annual minimum in September. In 1979, when satellites first measured it, September Arctic sea ice extent was roughly equivalent to the area of Australia. Since then it has declined by about a third, equivalent to losing Western Australia – outstripping all projections. (Skeptical science)


(Image sourceCopenhagen Diagnosis.)

(Image sourceNational Snow and Ice Data Center.)

9. Warmer air holds more moisture. There is 4% more moisture in the air over the oceans than there was 30 years ago. This means both more rain AND MORE SNOW.

Mr. Hinnrichs claim that record snowfall is inconsistent with a warming world betrays a lack of understanding of the link between global warming and extreme precipitation. Warming causes more moisture in the air which leads to more extreme precipitation events. This includes more heavy snowstorms in regions where snowfall conditions are favourable. Far from contradicting global warming, record snowfall is predicted by climate models and consistent with our expectation of more extreme precipitation events. (Skeptical science)


10. Climate change is increasing the intensity of hurricanes, causing more floods and extreme precipitation events, increasing the severity of droughts and fires, acidifying the ocean and putting entire ecosystems at risk. This is the standard consensus view.

All areas of the United States are being affected. Just read the 2013 Federal Climate Assessment report for a summary of the extreme impacts of climate change.

No one has claimed that there are more lightening deaths due to climate change and consensus is that impact of climate change on tornadoes is unknown so Mr. Hinnrichs irrelevant graphs of these are beside the point.

In Santa Barbara County, climate change poses a direct threat to our economy. Our largest crops, strawberries and wine, are temperature sensitive and could be wiped out. (Mercury News)

Our businesses and homes are at risk from fire. We are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and drought, and our freeway can be cut off by flooding.

Even if there was much less certainty about human-caused global warming than there is, the existential threat is so great that it would make sense to reduce emissions simply as insurance.

That change needs to happen now. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.

Santa Barbara County’s Global Warming Hall of Shame

Santa Maria Energy has been placing full-page ads in local papers objecting to the fact that County Supervisors required them to offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions. They think it’s “unfair” they don’t get an unlimited license to pollute for free and pass along the costs to the rest of us.

We are experiencing the impacts of climate change now. We are seeing more intense and deadly storms, record-breaking fires and droughts, spreading tropical diseases, heat waves and rising seas. The oceans are more acidic affecting the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest and people’s livelihoods. Our local agricultural economy and our children’s future are at risk.

What is “unfair” is that people are suffering and dying today from the impacts of global warming, including 5600+ people from one of the largest storms ever recorded in the Philippines, and Santa Maria Energy is quibbling about a sixty cent per barrel cut in their profits.

What is “unfair” is that Santa Maria Energy is threatening politicians for taking a modest step to limit greenhouse gas emissions, even though according to polling by the Public Policy Institute of California, 81% of Californians want oil companies to reduce emissions.

The Santa Maria Energy project will be one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the County, generating over 87,000 tons of emissions per year, or the equivalent of adding 17,000+ cars to our roads. The recent decision by County Supervisors requires the company reduce or purchase offsets for emissions above a 10,000 ton per year threshold. The cost for them will be peanuts, an estimated half-a-million bucks a year out of $110 million a year in revenues.

The politicians who should be “judged in the court of public opinion” are not the Supervisors whose decision Santa Maria Energy doesn’t like, but the politicians who went out of their way to advocate for Santa Maria Energy’s right to pollute for free — some even outright denying global warming.

That dubious list includes:

Steve Lavagnino, County Supervisor
Peter Adam, County Supervisor
Michael Bennett, Mayor Pro Tempore Goleta
Jim Richardson, Mayor of Solvang
John Linn, Mayor of Lompoc
DeWayne Holmdahl, City Council of Lompoc
Frances Romero, Mayor City of Guadalupe
Alice Patino, Mayor Santa Maria

The majority of County residents want our Supervisors to ensure oil companies are operating safely, paying for their pollution, and held accountable. They do not want politicians who are in the pocket of the oil companies. Santa Maria Energy’s call to action is a blatant attempt to buy our elections and will be resisted.

HIGHLY BIASED JOURNALISM: 85 Percent of Santa Barbara News-Press Opinions Favor Fossil Fuel Industry

Santa Barbara, October 20, 2013 –

On her website, Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McGraw says, “To do our job right covering local issues and regional governments, we must report without bias and we must be balanced in our coverage. We must uphold the truth; it is essential to the integrity of the News-Press. That is our unalienable right under the First Amendment; it is also our moral duty.”

Climate Group 350 Santa Barbara analyzed three months of syndicated and guest opinion pieces published in the Santa Barbara News-Press regarding energy issues. The group discovered that 85 percent of syndicated or guest opinion pieces printed in the last three months regarding the fossil fuel industry presented arguments in favor of expanded drilling, fracking, a California “shale boom,” the Santa Maria Energy project, or expressed opposition to increased taxation of oil companies. During the same period, 80 percent of published opinions about the renewable energy industry were negative

News-Press Favors The Fossil Fuel Industry.

News-Press Favors The Fossil Fuel Industry.

News-Press Opposes Renewable Energy Industry.

News-Press Opposes Renewable Energy Industry.