Nicholas Martin
Nicholas Martin
Program Director

Challenges in Discussing Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada

For the past three years I have been working on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction projects throughout the Sierra Nevada. My involvement in this work has led me to a better understanding of the relationship between a community’s actions and the emission of GHG’s. Through the development of GHG inventories for local governments from Mariposa County to Nevada City, it has become intuitive for me toCOMM NM Blog Image2 2014 01 correlate activities such as driving a car, heating a home, and even placing garbage in a receptacle, to emitting a certain amount of GHG. And even more, it has become apparent that there are many possibilities for reducing the amount of GHG’s that are the result of our daily activities. However, through my work I have found that this intuitive connection is not always well understood among members of our regional communities.

Upon completion of our inventories, we present our report to a city council or a county board of supervisors. In these presentations, there is always opportunity for the public to comment on the presentation. More often than not, this public comment period is filled with passionate opposition to the work that we are doing and to the elected officials that are in support of that work. These comments sometimes turn personal, putting me into a position where I’m forced to defend my own character and beliefs.

I don’t feel comfortable in these confrontations and admittedly take many of these comments personally. It just seems so clear from my perspective: I COMM NM blogImage 2014 01am presenting a set of data that has been rigorously reviewed and is a result of a science and protocol that I believe in. It is not always perfect, but it is the best tool that we have available to us right now to quantify our impact on the environment … and there is simply no getting around the fact that we do have an impact. Doing our absolute best – imperfect though it may be – to understand what’s happening is the first step in the process of debating and defining how we should respond.

In the end, we need a combination of education and understanding. As an organization, Sierra Business Council respects that people are passionate about their way of life and constitutional freedoms. At the same time, we need to help our communities understand that there is significant science connecting the dots between the emission of GHG’s in our daily activities and negative impacts to our health and environment

There exists a set of common values among Americans that includes the desire to live in a free and healthy community. With freedom, however, comes responsibility. I believe that by collaboratively finding ways to reduce our GHG emissions without reducing our freedoms, we can achieve those common goals.


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Kitti St John commented on Jan 09, 2014
Hey...nick...tell them..DONT SHOOT THE MESSENGER...! You are only presenting empirical scientific evidence...forewarned is forearmed...I want to know what your analysis is...we are in deep trouble...and this shouldnt really be news to the average person...and if it is the first time hearing this !
Sargealent Krupke Barritt commented on Jan 09, 2014
Why is it now called "Climate Change?" Did someone finally discover that "Global Warming" is a myth?
Allen Vogel commented on Jan 10, 2014
The polluters is china. And we are paying them.
Kitti St John commented on Jan 10, 2014
Sooo...danny...really...? People fear "policies"...more then...climate change...? We are in worse shape then I realized...wouldnt that be nice if our germane issue was a policies change...? Seriously...we could have commitees...debates...put it to a vote...pass a bill...take polls...put it on the ballot...
Sonja Labosky Cupler commented on Jan 10, 2014
Human beings are a plague and a scourge upon Mother Earth, right?
Danny Lapin commented on Jan 09, 2014
A lot of opposition associated with GHG inventories and other climate change readiness efforts stems from people seeing a problem shoved in their face. I think people fear policies more than climate change itself. I think implementation-oriented efforts geared towards community members and county/city planning staff should be added to the mix.
JP George Nagel commented on Jan 09, 2014
Let's All Help! Wilderness Institute. org. Santa Monica Trails Council, or Any Volunteering Makes a Difference!