Friday, September 29, 2006

What I Didn't See

There was an article about new car models coming out in this morning's Seattle times. I looked closely at it.

I've been feeling guilty about my car. It's a Honda CR-V, so it gets 20-something plus mileage, and it's only three years old and paid off. I thought about hybrids when I bought it, but the only one I liked was the Prius, which had a long wait, and we had a family-pass-down emergency where my son needed my car (or at least a car), and so the Prius wasn't going to work.

The next car I buy will be hybrid or other alternative fuel.

My usual pattern would be buy a car, pay it off quick, and keep it until it starts dropping parts on the road or someone needs it. That should be at least six more years with the CR-V (which is a great car), but I already cringe at driving a regular car. I mean, how can I write about global warming and drive a gasoline car?

This fall, we're re-doing old windows. That cost (high) will make changing cars impossible for a little while, and should reduce our energy use. That's something. But the new windows won't stop me from feeling guilty - their cost will just restrict my choices.

What I didn't see in the Seattle Times article was a single alternative fuel, hybrid, or electric car.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Great News!

Glen Hiemstra, who has been my futurist mentor at, has offered to post here as well from time to time. Like me, he is concerned about climate change, and while will sometimes feature articles about global warming / climate change (the topic may shape much of our future), this is a more casual and intense place to talk about it. So watch for Glen's periodic posts here - he's a great writer, speaker, and thinker.

Seattle Area: Leadership

Seattle Times article this morning: "Mayor urges Seattleites to Help Slow Climate Change" by Arlene Bryant.

Yesterday's entry was about Ron Sims on NPR, and today's is essentially an article about Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels climate change mitigation plans. Mayor Nickels helped drive the US movement for large cities to embrace Kyoto in spite of federal dilly-dallying. That pretty much makes him a global warming hero, in my book.

Mayor Nickels and Ron Sims are both strong personalities. It's beginning to sound they see a lot of political capital in a gently co-operative competition on climate change. I hope so. The importance of local action is the subject of my most recent article on global warming.

Tips readily available on the City of Seattle web page, Climate Action Plan section, by the way.

So that's local. Seattle. I can see it from here. Some times I actually visit. I work for a smaller city, which is even more local in some ways. Our Council has signed up to do this same thing, and I know we are, for example, investing more in alternative fuel cars. It might be fun to gather up all that data and get it on the web page. And from my workplace, which is truly involved (but maybe every other workplace is, too, in some way), we come to home. I notice my blackberry charger is still plugged in. The least I can do is unplug that right now. This was one of the tips on the credits from Al Gore's movie.

There, now I feel better. Every little bit helps.

Sometimes it seems hard not to feel a little guilty just for being human.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Transportation and Global Warming

I heard a discussion on NPR with Ron Sims, the elected head of King County (which includes Seattle, Washington). He was being questioned about transportation options, particularly plane to re-do some major roads like the bridges between Seattle and the Bellevue and the Alaskan Way viaduct. In all cases, he pushed hard for building public and alternative transport - new lanes for high occupancy transport, particularly buses, and bike lanes. The justification that he used was universally global warming. He meant it - a local politician with a big budget demanding that we do the right thing on transportation.
The talk was cut off to allow for a traffic report, which was fairly dismal.
I was listening on my way to a meeting, where everybody drove separately (we all came from very different places), and the traffic was a major source of conversation.
This is going to be a tough one. Ron Sims is insisting that little new money go into roads for single occupancy vehicles, and he's right. We're going to have to figure out how to be personally creative in a region that has little truly excellent public transportation.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Worry about a beautiful day

It was sunny and warm today. I sat out on the grass at Bellevue City Hall, enjoying lunch with three co-workers from Kirkland (we were all at an emergency management conference there). Walking back into the building, one of the women said she loves the pretty day, and the unusual clear weather for Washington State. Then a touch of unease crept into her voice as she said something like "I know it's probably global warming, and I don't want that to happen. I worry about it so much."

It felt like she was slightly afraid of the beautiful sunny day.

Monday, September 25, 2006

CNN articles, and a conversation over lunch

Today, what catches my eye is a CNN article that says the Earth may be the warmest its been a million years. The article suggests the area of the ocean that is home to the El Nino's is the hottest, which may presage more extreme El Nino's.
I also had a pleasant lunch conversation over sushi today with a friend, and mentioned this effort. He immediately brought up the idea of the tipping point, and we discussed the possibility that particular events could cause large changes. Some examples are the melting of the permafrost in Alaska or the Greenland ice sheet.
There is a related article that I missed before on CNN that suggests we may be approaching the weather patterns of the dinosaur age, an event likely to contribute to mass extinction. A startling phrase in that article reminds us that these weather patterns disappeared before most life here now evolved.
To me, the most striking observation of the day was from my friend, who said "We don't have the kind of global consensus we had over CFC's." That's an interesting thought. The ozone hole has become smaller since we banned CFC's. We need some consensus.
My reply suggested that there may be more consensus than we think - most of the people I know believe that global warming is happening and would be happy to sacrifice at least some to help stop or mitigate it. The challenge may be figuring out what, exactly, to do.
What do you think?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bark Beetles, encouraged by warmer weather, cause heavy fire damage in Washington

A Seattle times front page article, Forest was Easy Prey for Raging Tripod Fire, by Hal Bernton, suggests that bark beetle damage to forests, encouraged by warmer winters, contibuted heavily to the worst fire year in Washinton State for 22 years.
I have some experience here - on an overnight high-country horse ride earlier this year, the outfitter and guide showed us the rising elevation of spruce bark beetle infestation and worried out loud about fires.

The Idea Came From a Character....

The idea came from one of my characters. Which means from the little lizard brain that isn't always rational but drives creativity.

Why not record what I hear, read, and see about global warming / climate change all in one place?

Global warming is not a new thing for me to think about. I've written two articles for on the issue:

Global Warming: Local Solutions

and, in 2002,

Global Warming

My futurist mentor, Glen Hiemstra, wrote about it as one topic in his new book, Turning the Future into Revenue. He actually emphasizes it quite a bit, but after the book was done, he told me he wished he'd said more. Watch for upcoming articles from either of us.

I'm sensitized to news about global warming / climate change and want to share the news I hear - so posts here will be simple links to news, anecdotes of stories, and occasional stray thoughts.

Feel free to add your own stories in the comments.