SodaCanyonRoad | Napa County has 'heads in the sand' over climate change


Napa County has 'heads in the sand' over climate change
Lisa Hirayama | Mar 30, 2022 on: Watershed Issues

On Feb. 28, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said that climate change is impacting the world much faster than scientists had anticipated. There's a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future on this planet.

It says we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because if we don't, it's going to be catastrophic.

On March 18, a report came out that the eastern Antarctic ice sheet was 50 to 90 degrees above normal temps and scientists are stunned. This is the coldest location on earth, and that week it experienced an episode of warm weather that has never occurred before.

Parts of eastern Antarctica had seen temperatures hover 70 degrees above normal for three days plus, and at the same time, the Arctic had temperatures 50 degrees above normal. Researchers are likening the Antarctic event to last June's heat wave in the Pacific Northwest which scientists concluded would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.

Reports have now come out that the 450 square-mile eastern Antarctic Conger ice shelf collapsed in mid-March during the heat wave. The loss of a shelf can allow faster movement of the glaciers behind it which can lead to more rapid ice sheet loss and greater sea level rise.

These are "canary in the coal mine" reports, and we should be heeding their warnings.

Given that ominous forecast, how does Napa County justify allowing over 14,000 mature oak trees to be cut down to plant vineyards on Walt Ranch?

Those destroyed trees and the carbon they sequester can never be replaced. How profitable will those vineyards be in 10 to 20 years when Napa will be too hot to allow those grapes to thrive?

There are already reports that Napa Valley may become less suitable for premium wine grapes as our climate changes. 2021 was the world's 6th hottest year on record and those trees need to be protected now in this global climate crisis.

Yes, I know it's private property and plenty of people will tell me to buy Walt Ranch if I want to save those trees ?" that's their mantra. My response: why are multi-millionaires who claim to be concerned about the environment so driven to do such environmental destruction all in the name of wine, which they already have plenty of?

On March 24th, the Register published "Napa County raises red flags on groundwater." For the last five out of seven years, the county has already exceeded the sustainable yield of 15,000 acre feet being pumped out of the subbasin. The watersheds help replenish the subbasin if we have rain, but we're now heading into another year of drought with no signs of it letting up during this time of mega drought.

Again, why do multi-millionaires want to destroy the watersheds that we need to replenish the subbasin for all of Napa Valley?

The Napa Schools for Climate Action's presentation by Emily Bit at the March 8 Napa County Board of Supervisor's meeting told us that one mature oak tree can store 1.3 metric tons of carbon in its trunk, branches and roots. Students with Napa's Resource Conservation District Acorns to Oaks program found that out of 5,525 acorns planted over eight years, only 936 seedlings have survived (17% survival rate), and all those combined only sequester half the carbon of one mature tree.

Napa County is claiming that 17,582 seedlings will make up for the more than 14,000 mature oaks that will be destroyed on Walt Ranch. By my calculations, those seedlings will only replace 9.5 mature oak trees, and that's only if every one of them survive, which isn't reality.

The county's greenhouse gas numbers are absolutely inadequate and amount to fake mitigation, especially under current environmental conditions.

Tell me how the amount of carbon 9.5 oak trees will sequester equals the more than 14,000 carbon sequestering trees that will be destroyed for vineyards. This doesn't even take into account the carbon sequestration that was lost in the more than 50,000 acres of oak woodland habitat that was damaged or destroyed in the Atlas and LNU wildfires.

Now, more than ever, the County's Planning Director and Supervisors need to take immediate action to respond to the undeniable fact that climate change has created a "house on fire" emergency in Napa Valley.

Emily and her classmates are the generation that will inherit this planet from us, and they already know that we must stop killing our old oaks. They're asking for Napa County's help, and the county knows what it needs to do.

We have eight years left to get down to net zero emissions annually to stop the worst effects of climate change. We can't plant our way out of this. Tough decisions need to be made now. The planet is on fire, and Napa County is sticking their heads in the sand.

NVR LTE version 3/30/22: Napa County has 'heads in the sand' over climate change