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September 21, 2016

Climate change, clean technology, the economy and jobs. While you wouldn't know it from the presidential campaigns, great gains are being made in the clean energy economy. An August 8, 2016, report by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), “District Economic Facts From Climate Policies (California),” assessed the economic impacts of climate policy on each of California’s assembly districts. E2 says that $37 billion has flowed into the California cleantech economy since 2006, resulting in 500,000 jobs. This makes clean energy the fastest growing industry sector in the state, and California is the fastest growing economy in the country (tied with Oregon but California’s GDP is bigger). In a March 2016 report, “Clean Jobs America,” E2 determined that on the national level the U.S. now has 2.5 million clean energy jobs. A related story in GreenTechMedia asks why the mainstream media doesn’t seem to know clean energy jobs are growing rapidly in America.

Water innovation. Water continues to be of concern in the west, but the innovation economy is stepping up to the challenge. From low-flow showerheads to collecting water from the air, innovators are gaining ground. Some examples:

  • Nebia has developed a low-flow showerhead (.7 gallons per minute) using jet engine technology that gives a great shower.
  • Skywell has a system that can capture up to 100 gallons each day from the air. Ambient Water is developing a similar system in with UC San Diego.
  • Envi has devised a system to wash cars at your location without water, using a natural product, and you call for the service with an app.
  • Hittite Green Solutions uses waste heat to treat seawater and industrial waste water and can produce between 25,000 and 75,000 gallons per day.
  • MillerCoors has reduced the amount of water needed to make a barrel of beer (31 gallons) from 3.88 to 3.01 barrels.
  • The West Basin Municipal Water District has developed a multi-faceted water recycling program that develops five different types of water from groundwater replenishment to an ultrapure project for Chevron.
  • The Orange County Sanitation District’s Groundwater Replenishment System is the world’s largest purification system for potable use, recycling waste water and injecting into an aquifer for use by the Orange County Water District.
  • By 2030, the City of San Diego plans to recycle enough water to provide 53 million gallons each day and to supply that water directly through its reservoir system.
  • The San Diego County Water Authority is supporting the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and developing projects that use lower cost solar and wind energy to pump water uphill to a storage reservoir. Later in the day, it sends the water downhill to a hydroelectric plant and sells the energy at a profit.

Is a true multi-party system in the works? Could the rancor in the Republican Party and the push and pull between the two wings of the Democratic Party make it likely that one or more new parties will emerge after the elections?  Could moderate Republicans and Democrats come together as a middle-of-the-road party? Will there be a Trump Party if the Donald doesn’t win in November and traditional Republicans are able to take back their hijacked brand? Will Bernie Sanders lead a new Progressive Party given that the non-profit Our Revolution has formed, led by his former campaign manager? Evangelicals (think Ted Cruz) and Tea Party activists (Ron Paul) are other potential groups that could form parties. Even the Libertarians are gaining strength that could be a factor if the U.S. system becomes truly multi-party rather than a two-party system. See my May 16 story in Huffington Post about this subject.

Climate change and global civil disruption. The fighting in the Middle East has no end in sight, but international leaders are failing to recognize the role that climate change has played in that part of the world and will play elsewhere as climate impacts grow. The drought that began in Syria in 2006 resulted in the country becoming a net importer of wheat when previously it had been an exporter. More dangerously, 1.5 million people from farm communities migrated to camps outside of cities, most with no jobs, making them susceptible to recruitment by the Islamic State. See my story in Fortune addressing the issue and what could happen in other parts of the world as climate change creates drought, sea level rise, extreme storms and other impacts.

Trade benefits San Diego, the U.S. and Mexico. While trade and Mexico are both volatile topics on the campaign trail, San Diego, the U.S. and Mexico all continue to benefit from trade. The Wilson Institute says that forty cents of every dollar the U.S. spends to buy manufactured goods from Mexico comes back to the U.S. through the logistics chain. Every Toyota Tacoma in the U.S. is made in Tijuana, and on September 14 Toyota announced it plans to invest $150 million in Tijuana to make 50,000 more Tacoma pickups each year. This comes on the heels of the September 12 announcement by ICON Corporation that it will build a facility in Tijuana to manufacture composite airframe components for the company’s A5 aircraft, creating 1,000 jobs.  This is all part of the annual $6 billion in cross-border trade between Tijuana and San Diego. See my April 30 story in Huffington Post about trade benefits.

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Carl Nettleton


Carl Nettleton is an acclaimed writer, speaker, facilitator, and analyst. Nettleton Strategies is an environmental policy firm that specializes in oceans, all things water, energy, climate, and U.S./Mexico border issues. Carl also founded OpenOceans Global, a non-profit linking people to the world's oceans. He serves on the national and California advisory councils for Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national, nonpartisan group of business owners, investors and others who advocate for policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. He is also active with the international Eye on Earth initiative and other business and environmental organizations. He regularly writes for the Huffington Post, the Independent Voter Network (IVN), and other publications.


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