Recently, CLCV staff gathered together for our annual "Thanksgiving" photo. We share it as a sort of postcard to our members to say "Thank you" for all the things our members do throughout the year: calling lawmakers, sending emails and signing petitions, posting on social media, attending town hall meetings and other events, voting for environmental champions, and yes, donating to support our work.
I admit, it can be tough to feel grateful when there's so much bad news out there. Particularly since becoming a parent, bad news feels more intensely personal, and I worry about the world our kids will inherit. It's easy to lose track of all the things there are to be grateful for, so for your reading pleasure I present: 5 Things to Be Grateful For: California Edition!
1) California's Election Results
Bucking the national trend, champions for the environment who earned CLCV's endorsement won in races up and down the state, including a clean sweep of the statewide races. With Congress gridlocked on everything from creating more national parks to doing anything at all about climate change, California's continued leadership on environmental protection and progress is more important than ever.
2) Parks and Rec
Speaking of parks... our regional, state and national parks and monuments in California are the envy of the world, and they do more than sit there and look pretty. Among other things, they provide us with clean drinking water, habitat for our wildlife, tourism dollars for local communities and recreation opportunities for us all. President Obama recently designated Point Arena Public Lands on the Northern California coast and the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California as two of our nation's newest national monuments.
Parks and open spaces are critical for the health of all of California's diverse communities. For exampple, underserved youth credit Yosemite National Park for fueling their passion for conservation and improved leadership and literacy skills. "The magic happens every time one of us wants to give up, but no matter how steep that hill is we express words of encouragement for our team. We have built trust, kindness and integrity, and together we have overcome many challenges," said Salvador Meza Lemus, a high school student who this year participated in a 40-day immersion program in Yosemite's backcountry.
3) Whales Rebound
Who doesn't love whales? The California Blue Whale weighs as much as 190 tons and grows to a length of 33 meters, making it the largest animal on earth. They live primarily along the California coast, but have been spotted as far north as the Gulf of Alaska and as far south as Costa Rica. In September, researchers reported that California blue whales' population has returned to sustainable levels. Scientists say this is the only population of blue whales to have rebounded "from the ravages of whaling." Instead of being pushed to near-extinction like other whale populations, California blue whales are recovering "because we took actions to stop catches and start monitoring," say researchers.
4) Home-Grown Climate Solutions
Yes, I already mentioned this in item #1, but it's worth saying again how important it is that our state leads the nation on climate change solutions. And we never accept the status quo -- once we make progress, we start thinking about how we will make even more. Along those lines, check out this recent open letter from 164 climate scientists and economists to the CA State Legislature and Governor Brown, calling for a strong greenhouse gas emission reduction target for the year 2030 in California.
5) Cleaner Air
People throughout California are breathing easier thanks to policies to reduce pollution. A major air quality study released in early October showed that Southern California's air is getting healthier, and cancer-causing pollutants have dropped by more than 50 percent on average since 2005, when the South Coast Air Quality Management District last extensively monitored air quality in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
So there you have it... not an exhaustive list by any means, but some pretty darn important only-in-California things to be grateful for.
Oh, and one more time... thank you for all you do to support environmental progress and leadership in our Golden State. None of it is possible without advocates like you, and for that we are truly grateful.