Here’s an opinion editorial piece, co-authored by a long-term colleague, friend and community leader, Mike McDade, that ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune, about some of the work we’re doing at The Steve Alexander Group in collaboration with others throughout the region and the US.
Earth Day: Climate education is key to protecting our quality of life
By Michel Boudrias & Mike McDade
April 22 is the 42nd anniversary of what is often called the birth of the modern environmental movement. This is one of four essays in which San Diegans discuss the need for vigilance in environmental law enforcement, science, education and legislative action.
Every day we read something about the global effects of changes in our climate: Arctic snow melts and how they affect polar bears, marine transportation and oil exploration; Midwestern farmers experiencing changes in growing seasons; water shortages; and thousands of heat records in the U.S. in March. We are also beginning to feel these changes closer to home: In San Diego County, we experienced record-high temperatures, snow in the mountains and flood-generating rain in a span of three weeks. Changes are happening and we feel the effects in our collective regional “backyard.”
Climate education, leadership on climate adaptation and mitigation and concern for future generations are important issues for San Diegans. After all, we live in a region that imports most of its water and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean with communities and businesses affected by sea-level rise. History and trends clearly indicate the impacts of changes in our climate on these two resources alone. Understanding the science and impacts of these changes can help all of us prepare for the consequences, thoughtfully and carefully, and plan together for our future.
The San Diego Regional Climate Education Partnership is a team assembled from throughout San Diego County. Its mission: implement a research-based climate science education and communications program to increase knowledge about climate science among opinion leaders, decision-makers and their communities. Increasing climate knowledge fosters informed decision-making about adaptation to and mitigation of climate change impacts based on neutral, objective and verified climate science.
The partnership differs from other efforts in several ways.
First, the core of the education program uses regional climate-change science connected to regional impacts and focuses on what’s unique to San Diego. Increasing temperatures not only affect weather patterns, but impact our water resources, the intensity and frequency of wildfires, heat waves and Santa Anas. These affect our economy, public health and regional planning. Changes in the marine layer, ocean temperature and sea level all directly affect our coast and quality of life in San Diego. Team scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography are studying these phenomena, providing cutting-edge science to enhance the education program and allow for more informed, thoughtful decision-making.
Second, the partnership is working with community leaders and decision-makers in San Diego County. There are excellent programs to improve climate-science education in formal educational settings from K-12 to college. There is a gap in efforts and programs to reach others, particularly community and opinion leaders. The partnership is working with this group of leaders to determine what they know and want to know about climate change and its impacts on their agencies, organizations and businesses. The partnership has worked across multiple community sectors, designing projects that provide resources to meet their needs and relevant education opportunities for them and their communities to learn more about the science of climate change and the regional impacts that affect our quality of life.
Third, the partnership will develop and implement a model for regional climate-change education that can be used elsewhere in the U.S. Interviews with leaders, results of public opinion research and discussions with diverse audiences all indicate San Diegans want to take the lead in climate-change research and adaptation. We anticipate developing a model that can be used across the nation to improve the understanding of changes in our climate and identify the best ways to engage community leaders and the best practices to communicate information.
The partnership is a multidisciplinary team, including oceanographers and climate scientists from the University of San Diego and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, social psychologists from Cal State San Marcos, educators from the University of San Diego, Cal State San Marcos and The San Diego Foundation, experts from the Energy Policy Initiative Center and communication specialists from The Steve Alexander Group. An external advisory board of leaders in business, tribes, education, government, military, real estate and other sectors works with the team. These experts have been living and working in San Diego for decades. They understand the need for regional leadership that benefits our region’s economy and its quality of life.
The San Diego Regional Climate Education Partnership is answering the call to increase climate change knowledge. We believe our region depends on it if we are to protect and preserve our quality of life, not just for today, but for future generations.
Boudrias is an associate professor of marine science and environmental studies at the University of San Diego and project leader of the San Diego Regional Climate Education Partnership. McDade is a businessman and chairman of the partnership’s External Advisory Committee.
Climate change website launched
A multi-institution partnership focused on educating the public about climate change in this area formally launched its website Tuesday.
The San Diego Regional Climate Education Partnership includes marine and environmental scientists from the University of San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, experts from the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at USD, social and behavioral psychologists from California State University San Marcos, community planners from The San Diego Foundation, communication experts from The San Diego Foundation and strategic experts from The Steve Alexander Group…
Political infighting plagues Alpine panel
The Alpine Community Planning Group — the closest thing the small town has to its own government — has been marred in recent months by bad blood and infighting so fevered it has threatened to paralyze the panel….Some feuds spur efforts to limit the actions of those seen as troublesome. Other conflicts are settled at the ballot box or with the help of mediators.
Steve Alexander, who runs a La Jolla consulting firm that helps organizations improve their communications, said it’s important that public figures — as much possible — check their emotions and egos at the door.
“How do you deal with groups like this that spiral down in this fashion?” he said. “Don’t we all want to be in an environment where our views are honored and respected?”
If that sounds touchy-feely, he said, then he’s got a question for those at odds in Alpine: “How’s what you’re doing now working out for you?”…
University of San Diego Awarded Major National Science Foundation Grant to Develop Innovative Communication and Education Strategies to Advance Climate Science Literacy
Nearly $1 Million Grant, One of Only 15 in U.S., and Only University-based Award in California
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 16, 2010 -mThe University of San Diego (USD) announced today a National Science Foundation (NSF) major grant given to only 15 recipients nationwide who will take the lead in planning collaborations centered on increasing climate science literacy. Awarded under the NSF’s Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) program, these partnership grants are designed to connect climate scientists, learning science experts and practitioners to create innovative and transformative education and communication strategies with regional and national implications.
The lead scientist on the grant, Dr. Michel Boudrias of USD’s Marine Science and Environmental Studies department, stated, “The Climate Change Education Partnership award of almost $1 million will be used to develop a regional climate change communication program that promotes education, awareness, innovation and action.” The newly created San Diego Regional Climate Education Partnership will develop comprehensive strategic communications and education plans to increase climate science literacy, mitigation behaviors, and adaptation awareness in the San Diego region, with particular emphasis on the audiences outside formal school environments. The University of San Diego’s team for the project include scientists from Marine Science and Environmental Studies at USD and at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, policy experts from the Energy Policy Initiative Center at USD, social and behavioral psychologists from California State University San Marcos, strategic community planners from The San Diego Foundation and The Steve Alexander Group.
During the two-year project, the team will develop a comprehensive plan to engage communities in a productive dialogue on the impacts of climate change. The effort includes assessment of key opinion, community and business leaders to determine levels of climate science awareness and preferred policies and actions for addressing the impacts of climate change locally, statewide and nationally.
“We want to work closely with a broad spectrum of community leaders from across the region –- including elected officials, the Latino community, the real estate development community, and faith-based and tribal communities - to develop a communication and education program that reflects the views, values and perspectives of the region’s political, business and community leaders” Boudrias said. “The grant and potential follow-up awards can have a significant impact on developing responses to climate change that positively impact job creation, water conservation, housing construction, transportation, coastal protection and other areas that define the region’s quality of life.
“The University of San Diego is proud of this prestigious award and of the team assembled, which will help the region become educated about the impacts of climate change on our daily lives,” announced USD President Mary E. Lyons. “USD is humbled to aid the region and its leaders to think innovatively about how to promote economic health, sustain our quality of life and help us serve as a model for the rest of the country.”
San Diego’s elected officials also offered their support for the grant. “The city of San Diego welcomes the opportunity to participate in the University of San Diego’s program,” said city of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. “We know our citizens don’t have to make a choice between a healthy environment and a good economy, and they expect us to play a leadership role in ensuring we’re adopting good government policy to maintain the quality of life for our region while strengthening our economy.”
“This effort could not come at a more critical time,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts. “In my role as a member of the California Air Resources Board, I know how important it is that we work together throughout the region on air quality and emission programs. This award by the National Science Foundation, led by the University of San Diego, and including climate scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and social psychologists from California State University San Marcos, can help us address those issues as a region and also serve as a model for other communities across the state. I look forward to working with the team.”
While communication strategies and climate science education are keys to the success of this grant, the ultimate goal is to develop action plans that will benefit the region by promoting responses to climate change and its impacts on public health, water quality and supply, natural lands and other key areas.
The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic institution committed to advancing academic excellence, expanding liberal and professional knowledge, creating a diverse and inclusive community, and preparing leaders dedicated to ethical conduct and compassionate service.
Chartered in 1949, the university enrolls more than 7,800 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service.
Located on 180 acres overlooking the city of San Diego, Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the campus is a community treasure, with Spanish Renaissance-inspired buildings and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. USD offers more than 60 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university adds depth to education by inspiring students to grow spiritually, morally and socially. For more information go to www.sandiego.edu.
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR, STATE OF CALIFORNIA
For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 18, 2010
Steve Alexander Appointed to California Athletic Commission
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the following appointments:
Steve Alexander, 58, of La Jolla, has been appointed to the State Athletic Commission. Since 2000, he has served as president of the Steve Alexander Group, a public affairs company. Previously, Alexander was a regional director for Burson-Marsteller from 1997 to 2000, vice president of Stoorza, Ziegaus and Metzger from 1995 to 1997, president of the Steve Alexander Group, a real estate firm, from 1990 to 1995 and president of Westwind Real Estate Services from 1984 to 1989. He is a member of the International Association of Facilitators and International Association of Public Participation. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Alexander is a Democrat.