Jasneet Sharma

Jasneet Sharma speaks to members of the local American Association of University Women branch at a recent meeting.

Special to the Town Crier

The local chapter of the American Association of University Women last week hosted a discussion on the threats posed by climate change.

Appearing via Zoom at the organization’s May 28 meeting, Jasneet Sharma, director of the Santa Clara County Office of Sustainability, outlined the negative spiral that begins with fossil fuel pollution and leads to higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, resulting in higher temperatures, followed by sea-level rise, extreme storms and wildfires, which in turn put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Sharma emphasized the local impacts of climate change, showing a map of what a projected 2-foot rise in sea level would mean in terms of flooded neighborhoods and highways in Santa Clara County. She noted that last year the county experienced 20 days of temperatures over 90 degrees, and reminded the audience of the smoke-filled skies from wildfires last summer and fall that kept residents housebound for days at a time.

A variety of resources are available through the county to help mitigate the effects of climate change, Sharma said. Goals include reducing emissions, improving community resilience, protecting the natural environment and eliminating health inequities. Steps toward achieving the goals involve greater use of public transit, availability of green and affordable housing, tree planting and water-wise landscaping. The Office of Sustainability maintains dashboards tracking progress toward each of the goals on its website at sccsustainabilityplan.org.

When Sharma invited audience members to share challenges related to climate change, a physically challenged

participant said that in the drive for water-wise landscaping and permeable surfaces, homeowners in her neighborhood are replacing sidewalks with concrete or stone pads separated by greenery. Such changes are difficult to negotiate in her wheelchair, meaning she can no longer easily visit her

neighbors.

Other challenges raised included how to prevent the invasion of exotic pests – ranging from viruses to fungi, insects and plants – which decimate the natural California environment. Sharma directed the audience to county resources that can help with pest control and landscaping problems.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Gary Hedden, president of GreenTown Los Altos, thanked the AAUW for donating a valley oak that was planted in Redwood Grove Nature Preserve May 29. A second tree is being donated by AAUW to Mountain View’s Canopy program.

For more information on the local AAUW, visit lamv-ca.aauw.net.