A coalition of Ventura County citizens met with local United States representatives to talk about global warming — first at Lois Capps’ (D-Santa Barbara) office on June 12, and then at Elton Gallegly’s (R-Simi Valley) office June 13. The group presented more than 700 signatures in support of two global warming bills.

The two national bills (authored in large part by California legislators) are the Senate \”Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act\” and the House \”Safe Climate Act,\” also known as S.B. 309 and H.R. 1590 respectively.

Many citizens are becoming alarmed about climate change and are working on lowering their household energy consumption. City and county officials struggle with the magnitude of a practical response. State legislators are crafting and passing emissions cuts. And now, the call to action has reached the halls of Congress.

Bipartisan H.R. 1590 contains language such as \”… by 2050, roughly 25 percent of animal and plant species will be committed to extinction,\” and, \”With only 5 percent of the world population, the United States emits approximately 20 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.\”

Both bills mandate an 80 percent annual reduction of carbon emissions in the United States, to be achieved incrementally, over the next 43 years. Supporters chose to focus on these two bills, because they go hand-in-hand with the scientific community’s assessment of the goals and the time frame needed for an effective response.

There are many other climate care policies and actions which the citizen group also supports. The goal is to encourage legislators to pass strong national policy to slow the oncoming train of climate change disasters.

Capps’ and Gallegly’s staff each provided ample time for presentations from the diverse group representing churches, small businesses, parents, off-duty and retired Navy personnel, and Ventura Climate Care Options Organized Locally (VCCool), a local global warming action group.

Topics ranged from concern for children to a military report commissioned in 2007 entitled \”National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,\” which labels climate change as a \”threat multiplier\” due to displaced populations and water shortages.

Given the small window of opportunity to avoid the climate change tipping point, the group urged prompt action. Citizens also underscored additional benefits of safe climate policy, such as bringing quality, clean-energy jobs to the district and improving international relations.

At Capps’ office, Carla Castilla reaffirmed that Capps is an active supporter and co-sponsor of H.R. 1590. The talk quickly turned to strategy and local actions with the possibility of an event to raise public awareness about current legislation in the fall. Castilla expressed her appreciation of active citizen involvement. An ongoing, positive relationship is anticipated.

Brian Miller of Gallegly’s office was also in agreement that climate change must be addressed. Miller indicated that Rep. Gallegly has not taken an official position. The group hopes to hear back from the representative after he receives the petitions, reports and other materials.

Miller said he was hopeful that progress toward global warming goals could be met by incentives to industry. On the other hand, it was pointed out that the tobacco tax and our recycling program are examples where strong policy was key to a successful outcome. All in attendance agreed that with the magnitude of this problem, there is no level of government that should not be involved. The group was excited at the prospect of a new dialog, and offered support in any way that would be helpful to further pro-active climate change policy.