Award-Winning Santa Monica-Based Author Writes Novel on Climate Change 

Award-Winning Santa Monica-Based Author Writes Novel on Climate Change 

In her network news career, and in her home life, Susan Cope experienced up close the extremes of wildfires, extreme storms, and raging surf. Today, as a grandmother, this Santa Monican is bringing her experience to bear to create climate conversation across generations. 

Susan has written an award-winning, young adult novel, What on Earth. It’s the story of siblings who travel to the future and are challenged to understand how Earth, their friends, and their own neighborhood have been affected by a changed climate. With smarts, curiosity, and a touch of magic, they adventure into action. What will they do?

Susan Cope and What on Earth received the Green Stories Writing Novel Prize and The Prism Prize for Climate Literature. Find the award-winning novel in your local bookstore, or online by clicking here. Young and old readers alike are encouraged to find this book and talk about it. It is eye-opening!

After being asked what her favorite climate action is, Susan quotes, “I believe it will take everything all of us can do to avert climate disaster. Marching with students when Greta Thunberg visited, and showing up for SM Climate Action Corps and other climate events in Santa Monica, are public ways I show my climate concerns. Finding new ways to conserve energy is a quieter way. I advised an ecology club for many years, and have shared my thoughts with generations of students. Writing What on Earth? is my most important climate action so far. There is still soooo much to be done!” 

Putting Values Into Actions, Church Goes Solar

Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica is going solar! On the eve of Earth Day church leaders decided to fund the installation of a 7500-watt solar system that will save the church approximately $200/month in electric bills. A three-time winner of Sustainable Quality Awards for its green building retrofits, community education, and related efforts, UUSM members are elated to finally add renewable energy generation to their 1930s campus on Arizona and 18th St. It appears to be the first church in Santa Monica to do so.

UUSM has been engaged in a multiphase upgrade of all its buildings since it purchased the 1915 bungalow next door to the church in 2004. The upgrades, overseen by architect and Green Living Committee Chair Alison Kendall, began with moving the bungalow forward on its lot and retrofitting it with accessible bathrooms for classes and meetings. Moving the bungalow allowed space for a series of courtyards with stormwater detention facilities beneath. The retrofit of the 1960 Social Hall came next, adding a commercial kitchen and sliding doors to the courtyard. A final step has been a series of upgrades to install LED lighting and new technology allowing hybrid online and live services during the Covid pandemic. Each project integrates the latest in energy, water, and resource-conserving equipment and materials, with informational signage designed to explain the green features of the building to users.

While installing solar had been a long-term plan, finding a contractor to provide the relatively small system was difficult. After years of searching, the church was referred to Opulent Power Systems who offered an attractive bid. Moving quickly, Kendall launched a campaign to raise the needed funds for the project, as well as to obtain the Board of Trustees support for the project. The haste was motivated by the potential to secure soon-to-expire reimbursement rates that would be paid by the utility for excess power generated by the church, which will reduce the payback period for the system to an estimated 5.6 years.

Amazingly, six generous Green Living Committee members quickly stepped up, pledging $22,000 to fund the initial cost of installation. The strong donor support made the Board’s approval of the project equally rapid. All members realized that saving $200 in electricity a month will be an excellent investment, an example of wise stewardship of church resources AND of the Earth’s resources as well. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is expected to provide a 30% direct-pay rebate for such projects to non-profits, totaling over $7,000 for UUSM. These direct payments, never before provided to non-profits, will help many organizations install solar PV and energy conservation projects. The church also hopes to use IRA and other rebates to help offset the costs of replacing aging gas heaters in the church and social hall with “heat pump” units that provide clean, green, all-electric heating and cooling.

Years of climate activism by the church have paid off, made possible by congregational education, generous donors, government incentives, and a commitment to putting church values into practice. It was certainly a great way to celebrate Earth Day!

2023 CASM Climate Corps: Now Accepting Applications!

Apply Now

Climate Action Santa Monica invites high school and college students to apply for the CASM Climate Corps 2023 program.

Since 2016, Climate Corps have engaged in local climate action for an informative, fun and empowering summer confronting the global climate emergency. Climate Corps is a program of Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM) to engage in climate action in our local community for an informative, fun and empowering summer experience.

A primary partner of the program is the City of Santa Monica, which has integrated sustainability goals and rights into its laws, regulations, and operations through the Santa Monica Climate Action & Adaptation Plan. This plan aims to profoundly reduce greenhouse gases by 2030, and aims for the City of Santa Monica to be carbon-neutral by 2050. CASM Climate Corps members help bring climate policy and action to life in our local community.

In collaboration with our partner, the City of Santa Monica, Climate Corps ages 15 to 21 learn about and have real-world experiences in: 

  • causes and impacts of climate change
  • local sustainability policies and programs
  • communicating feedback to leaders.
  • engaging with and educating the community on sustainability issues.

If you have questions, email us at

2022 CASM Climate Corps Recap

21 youth completed our 2022 Climate Corps program!

We focused on the water system and drought adaptations, organics recycling, and building decarbonization. Corps surveyed at 7 farmers’ markets and created a digital campaign educating on water and drought.

Check out their work on @climatecorps on Instagram and @casmclimatecorps on TikTok.

Applications for our summer 2023 CASM Climate Corps will be available in January 2023. We welcome applications from all youth ages 15 to 21. The program is 5 weeks long during afternoons during SMC and SMMUSD summer sessions.

Don’t derail decarbonization with a narrow-minded solar policy

CASM has joined the 600+ organization coalition to Save California Solar.

The future of rooftop solar is at a crux with a vote in the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on in February that could end “net metering.” California has over 9 gigawatts of rooftop solar out of a total 23 gigawatts of solar, and we will need 3-4 times this amount by 2045 to achieve 100% renewable power per SB100. Santa Monica’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 aspires to 10x our current installed megawatts, partly by cracking the market in multifamily buildings. This will be impossible with the proposed policy that ends net metering for apartment buildings as well.

To displace gas currently burned for half of California’s electricity, solar power must be stored. In 2021, 89% of new, large-scale solar projects included storage, while that number is 15% and growing for rooftop solar.[i] Santa Monicans installed 30 systems with batteries in the last 2 years despite supply shortages. Importantly, three million electric cars using half their battery capacity could replace all evening fossil generation.[ii] “Vehicle-to-grid” is currently being piloted in Torrance and elsewhere.[iii]

The CPUC intended for its new “net billing” policy to incentivize storage,[iv] but it deals a blow to rooftop solar so severe that, with batteries or without, the industry and its 60,000 jobs are at risk. With the highest monthly solar fees in the country, the payback period for rooftop solar would rise to over 18 years, making it an uneconomic investment. For low-income customers, payback periods will lengthen slightly and then dramatically over four years as subsidies decline.[v] Solar sent to the grid earns “Avoided Costs” credits based on wholesale power values that fail to account for costs of adding new transmission lines and disregard other benefits that local generation provides.[vi]

When our community choice supplier, the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), imports cheap solar power from the desert, we pay the costs of transmitting it to Southern California Edison (SCE).[vii] A recent study estimated that maximizing rooftop and community solar would save Californians 2.3 cents per kWh or a total of $120 billion through 2050.[viii]  Extreme heat, droughts of hydroelectricity from the Pacific Northwest, and wildfires caused by climate change multiply the need for distributed systems that are more resilient. In a heat wave last July, a wildfire near a transmission line in Oregon nearly took down the California power system.[ix]

People are motivated to take responsibility for their carbon emissions and electricity reliability by participating in the shift to sustainable energy. The utilities and CPUC claim that rooftop solar shifts costs to everyone else, because power from remote solar farms is cheap at times when rooftop solar sites export to the grid.  However, twelve percent of California solar adopters in 2019 had incomes below $50,000, and an additional 29% had incomes between $50,000 and $100,000—up from 9% and 24% a decade earlier. Solar loans, leases, and power purchase agreements require no money down. If utilities will be provided guaranteed returns for building transmission while rooftop solar investors have their returns eliminated, we are squandering resources needed to reach our climate goals.

Rooftop solar doesn’t impact wildlife or native, public and formerly protected lands like remote solar farms do.[x] The Camp fire that burned the town of Paradise was caused by a breakage of a line on a high-voltage transmission tower. Recent studies have shown that deaths of migratory waterfowl at large solar farms increase during the fall migration because they get mistaken for lakes.[xi]

Electrification is essential for decarbonization. California requires rooftop solar on all new buildings and all new car sales to be electric in 2035. Santa Monica has incentives for all-electric buildings and to expand EV charging. Changes in electrical usage will come with buildings going electric and buying electric cars that people plan to charge with their own solar power.[xii] Giving up on the solar market as it becomes mainstream and begins to reach apartment dwellers will leave us all holding the bag of an outdated utility system less likely to decarbonize. The CPUC needs to propose a new, less narrow-minded plan to achieve an equitable and sustainable power system.

CASM has joined the 600+ organization coalition to Save California Solar. Take action here.


[ii] From Sunrun

[iii] Modeling in CA shows that 1200 kWh of EV battery storage per vehicle per year can be used to store and shift usage of renewable energy production:



[vi] Bill Powers testimony, and


[viii] and


[x] and


[xii] Forty percent of EV owners have or intend to install solar per California Vehicle Rebate Program survey

Thank You 2019 Donors!!

You made all the difference in our ability to exist in 2020. Thank you thank you thank you!! If you donated to us, you, yes you, are the reason we survived despite the pandemic.

Thank you to our 2019 donors:

  • Judy Abdo
  • Mudita Bahadur
  • Tara Barauskas
  • Bow Seat Awareness Programs
  • William Burrington
  • John D. and Teresa G. Calahan
  • James Conn
  • Barbara Filet
  • Gina Garcia
  • Anna Gibson
  • Nancy Greenstein
  • Cris Gutierrez
  • Kurt Holland
  • Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles – Doran Fund
  • Benjamin Kay
  • William Kelly and Tomas Fuller
  • Kathleen Kennedy
  • Katharine King
  • Dean Kubani
  • Robert Lempert
  • Levin Gruber Fund
  • Janet McKeithen
  • Dustin Peterson
  • Santa Monica DOG
  • Sarah Kilpatrick and Laurene von Klan
  • Kent Strumpell
  • Amy and Paul Sullivan
  • Linda J. Sullivan
  • Ali Tariq
  • Tatiana von Klan
  • Garrett Wong
  • Natalya Zernitskaya
  • Randall L. Ziglar
  • Marcia J. Zimmer
  • John Zinner

Looking Back at 2020 and Looking Ahead

In  2020, Climate Action Santa Monica, like everyone else, adapted and shifted gears. While we stayed focused on the climate crisis, we expanded our work on personal levels and organizationally to do what we can for undoing racism, helping our community through the pandemic, and rallying the vote.  

We hold most dear our commitment to youth — those who participate in our Climate Corps, coming up to its 6th year.  Despite budget cuts and lockdowns, we keep the program going.  No longer able to send the kids to public events for“climate conversations” we helped them build their own voice as advocates with the City, role models to their peers, and project leaders. They developed individual and team projects using social media, working in gardens, exploring solutions to extreme heat events, and more. We are thankful for support from the City of Santa Monica and Metabolic Studios/Annenberg Foundation, without which this would not have been possible.  

This difficult period also demanded that we stay on top of the numerous policy issues that  these times brought with them: for example, how to have safe socially distanced transportation. It was a busy time for policy.

CASM is proud to say that we are locally focused. Climate change must be addressed at the federal level, but what we do here at home is something that we can have more control over to make change. We are committed to helping Santa Monica be a leadership community that demonstrates that positive community supported change on behalf of a better future for the planet is possible.

We hope that you will support us as we move forward with LOCAL programs to reduce the city’s carbon emissions through policy, public engagement, and urban planning and youth leadership.

As we look ahead to 2021, our efforts will be focused on the following:

  • New clean energy technology – Solar, Electric Vehicles, etc.
  • Clean and Green Mobility
  • Expanding Climate Corps to a year-round, more robust program
  • Grow our team of Climate Enthusiasts!

More detail on our 2020 Accomplishments, to date, is below.

Thank you,

CASM Steering Committee

Donate to Climate Action Santa Monica

Your financial contribution makes our work possible and we appreciate your support.

2020 Accomplishments

Supported preservation of funding  and staffing for the most important climate change-related programs during budget cuts.

Supported and participated in development of amendments to the Bicycle Action Plan to provide additional protected Bike Lanes and help reduce Santa Monica’s transportation related carbon emissions.

Developed working relationships with mobility providers and innovators including Lyft, Spin, and the Zero Emissions Delivery Zone (project of LA CleanTech Incubator) for the purposes of expanding low-carbon mobility options. 

Fostered climate conversation through:

Worked to increase renewable energy availability and options through:

  • Solar Resources for Renters handbook with the City of Santa Monica
  • Solar for Condominiums Webinar co-hosted with the City of Santa Monica and SUNRUN Inc.
  • Formation of an Energy Working Group to evaluate and plan for energy related programs and initiatives
  • Recruited and supported 18 Climate Corps participants
  • Re-shaped the program for COVID safety to include year-round participation in climate education, career development opportunities and paid internships.
  • Supported team and individual projects including upcycling, gardening, creative communications, eco-art, climate games and urban heat island strategies
  • Hired new Climate Corps Coordinator
  • Created Climate Corps Handbook
  • Compiled data from more than 1500 Climate Corps survey encounters from previous years, with findings on transportation preferences, preferences for climate action and identifying communication strategies.

SAMOCAN (Santa Monica Climate Action Network)

Donate to Climate Action Santa Monica

Your financial contribution makes our work possible and we appreciate your support.

Electric Bikes – A Climate Solution. Your Voice needed 10-12-20.

Transportation is our city’s biggest opportunity and our biggest challenge for reducing our carbon footprint.  60% of Santa Monica’s Green House Gases (GHGs) come from transportation.  Thankfully, Santa Monica is a compact city with a rich variety of shops, services and entertainment within easy reach by bike, transit, scooter and even walking.  The average trip in Santa Monica is under 3 miles and relatively flat, very doable on a bike.

Electric bikes (ebikes) make this even easier, providing gentle assistance for getting up hills, dealing with headwinds or helping you get someplace quicker without breaking a sweat.  Lyft is bringing rental ebikes back to Santa Monica.  Shortly after Uber pulled the popular Jump ebikes from our streets earlier this year, Lyft acquired the system and re-branded it.  Soon, up to 500 Lyft ebikes will be available for rental here.

Photo courtesy for

Ebikes and scooters are super-efficient electric vehicles because they use only a tiny fraction of the power and resources of  full-size EVs, and of course they have no emissions.  Their light weight and small tires mean ebikes create barely any tire and brake dust, which are significant particulate pollutants that all cars produce.  And the battery pack in a typical ebike is less than 1/100th the size of a typical EV’s battery.  Talk about resource efficiency!  For those who prefer to own their own, most bike shops carry a variety of ebike models now.  Take one for a test ride!

Of course many people are reluctant to ride bikes because of concerns about sharing the road with motor vehicles.  Numerous surveys have found that a majority of people would be willing to use a bike more if they felt safe.  Thankfully Santa Monica has one of the best bikeway networks in Southern CA.  But even this has its gaps and challenges.

To take our bikeway network to the next level, Santa Monica is planning to add several new protected bike lanes throughout the city in coming years through an amendment to our city’s Bike Action Plan.  This will create a backbone network of low-stress routes, separated from cars, making travel by bike, scooter and ebike an even more inviting way to get around!  The Bike Plan amendment will be coming before our city council this Tuesday, October 12, 2020.  Learn more about the updated plan here.

Help CASM voice our support for the Bike Action Plan by emailing us at You can also email the council or phone in to voice your support directly. Contact info is here.

Mobility solutions are climate solutions!