In Houston we are witnessing a once in 500-year flood event, again. In the ten years from 2000 to 2010 the US experienced 15 significant flooding events. In this decade we’ve already seen 23. Both major and minor flooding events have increased steadily over the last several decades. Even if we stopped emitting carbon pollution today, the severity of the flooding will continue to increase. So it’s obvious that they way we managed flooding in the past will no longer work.
My latest blog post is written in the style of my story “A Dinosaur’s Last Roar“, but it takes place in the past (last week to be exact) and is nonfiction.
August 4th, 2017, Seattle, WA
I’ve lived in Seattle for over twenty years, and I’ve never seen it like this. The typical weather on this date is a pleasant 77 ºF with blue skies and 40% humidity. Today the temperature peaked at 93°F and would have been hotter, but smoke from 1.2 million acres of burning forest in British Columbia has blocked out the sun. It’s the second worst forest fire year on record for BC, and it’s supposed to get worse before it gets better. The haze reaches as far south as the Oregon border. We’re hoping that it doesn’t impact the viewing of the total eclipse of the sun later this month, which is much less exciting if you can’t see the solar corona through the smoke.
This post was originally published in 2010 on the 1Sky blog. I didn’t foresee fracing, so my predictions related to Peak Oil haven’t come to pass. Most of the rest (e.g. the challenges of nuclear, the growth of EVs, wind, and solar) have been on the mark. Even most of the links were still good.
The other day I was watching a collection of old Schoolhouse Rock songs with my son. On came “Energy,” which I probably hadn’t seen in 30 years. This video was made in 1978, and I was surprised how timely it is today.
This post was originally published with Sustainable West Seattle in February 2011.
The latest rankings show that the poorest county in the Country is Ziebach County, South Dakota. Two Indian Reservations make up this very rural county with a population density of 1.3 people per square mile (as compared to 816 people per square mile for King County). This is a place where more than 60% of the people live at or below the poverty line (a family of four making less than $22,000 a year).
I believe that I-732 will reduce CO2 emissions in Washington State and in reasonably low-cost fashion. I support it and encourage you to support it as well. But will it do enough? Almost certainly not.
In an earlier post, I said that I-732, the proposal on the Washington State Ballot to create a revenue-neutral carbon tax, is “a very right-wing policy (which doesn’t necessarily make it bad)”. Since I wrote that, I bumped into the author of I-732, economist Yoram Bauman, while taking a walk in Fremont. He said something that I found interesting, that he thinks I-732 is a moderate proposal, halfway between the right and the left. I disagree, and I’ll explain why here.
There are people who still believe that the earth is flat. They have theories and web pages. There’s even a Facebook page. They draw maps with the north pole in the center and a great wall of ice on the edge (i.e. Antarctica). They have explanations for the seasons that would imply that the seasons in Australia and Canada are the same. They come up with complex theories to explain eclipses and conspiracy theories to explain NASA missions. So they have theories and explanations for everything, it’s just none of it makes any sense or is consistent with detailed observations. And it’s all much more complicated that the heliocentric world view, but for some reason they prefer to believe that the world is flat.
There’s been a lot of ink spilt about the CarbonWA proposal to introduce a carbon tax in Washington State. Most environmental groups are part of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy and are not supporting I-732, which is somewhat surprising. After a short search, the only long-standing organizations I could find that support I-732 were Audubon and Sightline (for those who want a more in depth analysis, I strongly recommend Sightline’s three part series). My goal here is to give a brief description of I-732, describe why some people don’t support it, and give my personal thoughts to its strengths and weaknesses. My conclusion is I think you should vote for it (unless you think that climate change isn’t real, in which case, go jump in a lake that used to be a glacier).
When I wrote “The Dinosaurs’ Last Roar” (available for $1 at amazon.com as an e-book) one of the plot points was that sea levels were rising much faster than predicted, mainly due to loss of ice from Greenland. New data from the CryoSat satellite supports other data that might have been frighteningly prescient.
I wrote a collection of connected short stories and published it on Kindle as The Dinosaurs’ Last Roar. Normally it sells for the low, low price of $1, but for this week, in celebration of getting this blog going, I’ve lowered the price to the lower, lower price of $0. The deal only lasts until the July 22nd.