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“Wildfires in Our Changing Climate,” Movie Showcasing San Diego’s Regional Leadership Focus on Our Changing Climate, Premieres Today

Furthering the work of the report, “San Diego, 2050 Is Calling. HOW WILL WE ANSWER?” – a first-ever collaboration among community leaders and world-renowned scientists – the movie highlights regional efforts for maintaining San Diego’s regional quality of life by addressing the impacts of a changing climate on wildfire
 
Working with policymakers, business and community leaders, environmentalists and climate scientists, Climate Education Partners released Wildfires in Our Changing Climate, a new movie connecting the efforts of local scientists and regional leaders who are working together to maintain San Diego’s quality of life and strong economy by addressing the impacts of wildfire frequency and intensity due to the region’s changing climate. 
 
Joan Himmel, wife of former CBS News 8 reporter Larry Himmel, opens Wildfires in Our Changing Climate with her story, “We were in Oceanside and we had the news on. We saw the house actually burning down on the news… and we were both crying.” The Himmels watched this personal drama unfold on TV as their husband and father, the late newscaster, reported from the scene as the news cameras filmed their home being devoured by the Witch Creek Fire of 2007. Their story is shared by many who have lost their homes and businesses to wildfire in the past 15 years. 
 
“While fighting wildfires is inherently dangerous,” Southern Regional CAL-FIRE Chief, Thom Porter explains, “the construction of more homes in more remote locations makes it even more challenging and costly to protect lives and prevent property loss while safeguarding our firefighters. As wildfire conditions worsen in coming decades, we need to better integrate fire risk assessment into our land use planning decisions along and near the wildland-urban interface."
 
The recent Big Sur wildfire, for example, has surpassed $200 million in firefighting coasts, becoming the costliest to fight in U.S. history according to the Associated Press. Not only do wildfires have an economic impact, they have an emotional impact as well. 
 
According to Water Deeply, 4,636 wildfires in California have burned more than 200,000 acres this year. That’s more fires than this time last year and more fires than the five -year average. 
 
In Capital Public Radio’s broadcast, Scott Stephens, Professor of Fire Science at UC Berkeley and co-director of the Center for Fire Research and Outreach, comments on the new normal for wildfires in California. "Fire season in Southern California…it's a 12-month enterprise now," Stephens says. "Even in parts of Northern California, where we had traditionally very wet periods, we're seeing fires burning in January, December sometimes, which are just unfathomable 15 years ago."
 
At-risk communities, such as the tribal communities throughout the San Diego region, understand the risks. When wildfires hit, those located in these areas are exposed to the damages wildfires can cause. Native American Environmental Protection Coalition’s Executive Director, Jill Sherman-Warne adds, “The San Diego 2050 report was a great wakeup call for the tribes. Since that report was published, you have more tribes that are working on climate adaptation and mitigation.”
 
“Looking forward for the next 40 years we have really made a philosophical shift to a pre-fire kind of perspective. We are looking at everything we can do proactively to ensure that communities are safe and that lives are saved when we do have wildfires,” continues Chief Thom Porter, also featured in the movie. 
 
Wildfires in a Changing Climate features retired San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman and California State University, San Marcos Wildfire Research Program Director Matt Rahn. Both leaders have seen the shift in frequency and intensity of wildfires and are focusing on being proactive through new technologies and new laws, like maintaining defensible space. 
 
California’s 52nd District U.S. Congressman Scott Peters shares his perspective in Wildfires in a Changing Climate regarding the importance of San Diego region’s role as a national leader with the type of collaborative built by working together to protect the region’s quality of life in light of the changing climate. “Climate Educations Partners is an example of a collaboration that is happening in the San Diego region that really could teach some lessons to other places around the country,” states Peters. 
 
Wildfires in Our Changing Climate continues the work reported in “San Diego, 2050 Is Calling. HOW WILL WE ANSWER?” This report was released by Climate Education Partners and The San Diego Foundation in June 2014. Using a practical, solutions-oriented approach to the impacts of the region’s changing climate, Wildfires in Our Changing Climate and the 2050 Report balance up-to-date local climate science with thoughts and perspectives from leaders across a wide diversity of communities and sectors . 
 

 

Climate Education Partners has a website dedicated to its signature 2050 Report (www.sandiego.edu/2050), which includes a downloadable copy of the 2050 Report, as well as more information and research supporting the science included in the report. The site also includes a wide range of options for community leaders to consider in their climate planning and actions including other resources and economic briefs with focuses on health and water. Print copies of CEP’s reports are available by contacting Lia Bruce at 619.260.4600 ext. 2536 or lbruce@sandiego.edu
 
Climate Education Partners has focused its efforts on regional leaders so they can work together with scientists to discuss potential solutions and strategies to address the regional impacts from our changing climate. Climate Education Partners includes scientists and educators from the University of San Diego (USD) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, social and behavioral psychologists from the University of California San Francisco and California State University San Marcos, strategic community planners from The San Diego Foundation and strategic communication experts from The Steve Alexander Group. More information on Climate Education Partners is available at www.sandiego.edu/climate/
 
Wildfires in Our Changing Climate is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/5SLZ88Qngk4.
Additional movies created on this effort are available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/ClimateEdPartners .
 

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. In February 2016, USD launched the public phase of Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represents the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university and builds upon the strong philanthropic momentum achieved by USD in recent years. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.

Contact:

Liz Harman
eharman@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-4682