If you have had any concern over the changing climate and the extreme weather events that have been making headlines you have probably felt frustration over not being in a position to challenge the big corporate polluters. The good news is that we are more in control of carbon pollution and its effect on the climate than most people realize.
People like you and I actually emit nearly twice the carbon pollution than industrial America. We also pollute in a manner that is hard to capture. We are non point source polluters. NPSPs. That means the pollution we emit comes from a variety of source points like individual cars or lawn mowers or woodstoves. Our source points are so spread out and numerous that it would be impossible to capture or cap what we emit. Where as a corporate polluter will usually have a single stack or source point that could be capped and sequestered.
We know there are cleaner ways to run the world’s industries but until we can afford a corporate takeover and finance the industrial change-over to clean energy we can only work on our own solutions. I find it very empowering to know that individual education and efforts can reduce nearly two thirds of the world’s carbon pollution. Whether it is by using alternatives to fossil fuel transportation or reducing our home energy consumption or limiting the distance a product we consume travels to the cash register we can make a huge difference. Here are ten ideas you could employ:
- Reduce your travel emissions by riding a bicycle. Using the transit system or trading in the gas guzzler for an electric vehicle.
- Reduce your home energy costs by turning down the thermostat or buying a programmable thermostat. Choosing a smaller more efficient home. Switching to LED lighting. Turning off all electric devices when not in use.
- Shopping Local, buying products that are being manufactured closer to home or have been offered for reuse. Shopping at local businesses near where you live. Smaller businesses with smaller carbon footprints.
- Eat locally grown food. Join a Community Supported Agriculture subscription. Join a community garden group or P Patch. Turn your yard into your own food supply.
- Plant trees! Trees eat carbon dioxide and in return release oxygen. Most trees have been removed to make room for our cities. Please replace them.
- Support government and non government organizations that offer alternatives to the archaic fossil fuel era. We can fast track our independence from fossil fuels.
- Reduce all forms of consumer waste. Buy bulk! Buy what you need. Buy what will make you less of a carbon non point source.
- Recycle: This is where we show what gains we have already accomplished. Good Job NPSPs.
- Compost: Another area where great strides have been made.
- De-carbonize your image. Our image is important to us but is it a bigger is better image that we should strive for. Is the bigger car, bigger house, wealthy-enough-to-be-carbon-foolish image the one that matters? Imagine yourself at one with a carbon neutral earth.
* Stu Hennessey is a board member of Sustainable West Seattle and is an active cyclist and member of Spokespeople. Stu operates and owns Alki Bike and Board in West Seattle’s Admiral District.
The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board is accepting applications for new members to help make walking in Seattle safer and easier. The volunteer board, which was created by Seattle City Council in 1993, plays an influential role in implementing Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan.
The board advises the Mayor and City Council, participates in planning and project development, evaluates policies and makes recommendations to all city departments including the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Currently they are looking for candidates to fill three positions. Board members are frequent users of the city’s pedestrian network, and represent a variety of ages, levels of mobility, walks of life, and areas throughout the city. Members must be Seattle residents, and may not be city employees. The board meets the second Wednesday of each month from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at City Hall on Fifth Avenue between James and Cherry streets. Board members serve a two-year term.
According to David Goldberg, current chair of the Pedestrian Advisory Board, “Seattle has declared an ambition to be the ‘most walkable city in America,’ and is embracing a goal to make our streets among the safest in the world. The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board can play a key role in holding ourselves accountable for these aspirations while meeting the needs of all residents, regardless of age, income or ability.”
The City of Seattle is committed to promoting diversity in the City’s boards and commissions. Women, young persons, seniors, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, persons of color, and immigrants are encouraged to apply. Interested Seattleites should submit a resume and cover letter explaining their interest via email by January 5, 2015 to: Howard Wu at email@example.com.
For more information, call Howard Wu at (206) 684-3902, or send e-mail to the address above.
Improving the West Duwamish Trail will cause closures of Fifth Avenue S and S Portland Street in South Park for a period of several days beginning Monday, October 20. The street improvements will include paving and drainage.
The Seattle Department of Transportation will close the intersection of Fifth Avenue S and S Portland Street in the South Park neighborhood to vehicular traffic starting Monday, Oct. 20 for approximately two to three days.
Traffic on Fifth Avenue South between South Holden and South Kenyon streets will be restricted to local access 24 hours per day. A detour route using Seventh Avenue South will be available.
SDOT is constructing an extension to the West Duwamish Trail on the south side of S Portland Street from West Marginal Way S to Eighth Avenue S. The project also includes installation of a new storm drainage system and new paving on S Portland Street.
Work on this project began in July and is expected to be completed by the end of the year, weather permitting.
The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board is accepting applications for a new member to help make walking in Seattle safer and easier. The volunteer board, which was created by Seattle City Council in 1993, plays an influential role in implementing Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan. The board advises the Mayor and City Council, participates in planning and project development, evaluates policies and makes recommendations to all city departments including the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
Currently they are looking for a candidate to fill one vacant position and serve out the remaining period of this term, April 1, 2015. Once completed, this board member will have the option to be reappointed. Typically, board members serve a two-year term, with an opportunity to serve a second term. They should be frequent walkers of a variety of ages, levels of mobility, and walks of life, and from areas throughout the city. Members must be Seattle residents, and may not be city employees. The board meets the second Wednesday of each month from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at City Hall on 5th Avenue between James and Cherry streets.
According to Devor Barton, recent chair and current board member of the Pedestrian Advisory Board, “A walkable community benefits everyone, and offers more advantages than any other form of transportation. Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board members work to make our community healthier, our streets safer, and our neighborhoods more livable.”
The City of Seattle is committed to promoting diversity in the City’s boards and commissions. Women, young persons, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, persons of color, and immigrants are encouraged to apply. Interested Seattleites should submit a resume and cover letter explaining their interest via email by October 27, 2014 to: Howard Wu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, call Howard Wu at (206) 684-3902, or send e-mail to the address above.
“It’s been a long summer so far and many of our daily bicycle commuters have not found the time to work on their bicycles or take them into a local shop. We are coming to the riders to make ourselves more available,” Stu Hennessey said. Stu is owner of Alki Bike and Board, founder of DIY Bikes, and a Sustainable West Seattle board member.
The West Seattle Tool Library and DIY Bikes are projects of Sustainable West Seattle.
Join your neighbors and family on Sunday, July 13, for the West Seattle STP bike ride.
You’ll bike wind up back at the West Seattle SummerFest GreenLife area. Riders should assemble at 9:45 am to sign in for a 10:00 am ride start. Meet at Hamilton View Point Park, 1351 California Way SW – this is right at the end of California Avenue SW in the North Admiral neighborhood.
The ride is a 9.5 mile easy pace ride via low traffic streets from SW Seattle Street in the Admiral Neighborhood to SW Portland Street in the Fauntlee Crest Neighborhood.
Experienced, certified ride leader Stu Hennessey will keep the group together and ride at a social pace. No one left behind. Ride continues on from SW Portland to California and Alaska (the West Seattle Junction, that is) to join the West Seattle SummerFest and Greenlife. Social pace, families welcome, group stays together and no one gets left behind.
Free! No fee, no t-shirt, no medal, and no bagels with peanut butter, but we stop at a fabulous festival with street food vendors, live bands, arts and crafts! And we have stickers!
Helmets required. This is a Cascade Bicycle Club registered ride. Riders under 18 years of age must have a parental consent release form, riders under 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent and riders under 8 years must be on an assisted vehicle, trail-a-bike, cargo bike or in a bike trailer.
In a Climate Changed World: Chapter 2 – By Andy Silber
September 11th, 2035
Space City, New Mexico
I take my last breath of REAL air. Sure, I’ll still be breathing nitrogen, oxygen and trace amounts of most everything else. Eventually it will be made by plants. Or we all die. But never again will I breathe “Earth air”. Never again to see an Earth sunrise or sunset or an ocean. I doubt I’ll even see a lake, but there is some hope for that.
I board the space plane to take us to our home for the next 6 months. The Martian Exploration Program (MEP) calls it the Orbital Transfer Vehicle, but everyone else calls it The Ark. But no animals, though later trips will be bringing eggs and maybe even live animals. Just humans for now, 2 by 2. Mating pairs. Chosen based on our skills, genetic makeup, diversity yada, yada, yada. Oh yeah, political connections and money don’t hurt. We’re supposed to be the best of the best, but many of the most impressive people in the training program just disappeared. One day they’re part of the program, the next they’re gone.
[see author’s note at end][read Chapter 1][Read Chapter 3]
It is amazing how quickly this all happened. When the northern bog fires started in 2027, we all realized how bad things were going to get. We cut CO2 emissions to near zero, but the atmospheric levels didn’t drop. If we put out the fires, then we’d get methane, which is worse, so we let them burn. But the more they burn, the warmer they get, the more the methane thaws and the more the world heats.
Then the jellyfish took over the oceans. Fish stocks collapsed. The GMO kelp and plankton has reversed the trend, so we’re not going to suffocate. The kelp is processed into something resembling chewy tofu called MariFu, which is only a slightly better name than what everyone calls it: Soylent Green. The pH levels in the ocean are slowly returning to normal and we are all hopeful that healthy oceans will return. But for now, the oceans have stopped absorbing CO2. That’s part of the reason atmospheric levels aren’t dropping.
Ever since humans finished colonizing Earth we have dreamt of moving to Mars. Venus is too hot, the Moon too small, but Mars, there’s hope there. We just have to terraform it: create an atmosphere we can breathe, or at least walk around in short sleeves. The CO2 that has caused such wreckage on Earth would be perfect for the job. Too bad we can’t just carry half of our atmospheric CO2 and methane with us.
Then someone had a brilliant idea. We were already mining asteroids for precious metals; how about water, a powerful greenhouse gas, for Mars. We might get some methane as well. A robot fleet was sent out to the asteroid belt to nudge icy planetoids onto a collision course with the Red planet. Three have already struck and two more should hit before we land. The humidity in the air has increased from near zero to that of Antarctica in the winter, the lowest found on Earth. By the time we arrive, it should be close to Katmandu in the winter. Still no oxygen, but warmer nights and more comfortable “space suits”. From this point on, the meteors will all strike on the unpopulated side of the planet. Some day we might want to mine the minerals from them, but for now we’re just happy to have the water.
Our settlement is named Ylla, though some of the geekier among us call it Terminus. They’ll be 500 of us living in temporary structures while we dig a more permanent home. That’s what I’ll be working on. I think troglodytes might be a better name for us than astronauts. The Martian rock will protect us from the cold and radiation. Since Mars has no magnetic field and a thinner atmosphere than Earth, the surface gets much more particle radiation from the Sun than Earth.
There is lab equipment, shelter, food, water and fusion reactors there already. Solar power isn’t great on Mars since the solar irradiance is one-quarter of Earth’s. We’re bringing enough fuel for 30 years with us. By then we should figure out how to get more locally.
Our underground village will have greenhouses for air and food and to treat our sewage, research labs, bedrooms, communal kitchens, and a medical clinic. It will also have a nursery. No kids for now, but once our warren is complete, we’re expected to breed.
I’m not sure how I feel about raising kids in a cave, but I know I don’t want to do it here. Over the last 10 years people have been moving to higher ground. Refuges are everywhere. Some places are pretty horrible, like the mountains between Bangladesh and India or Egypt. The most interesting are the 2nd wave Afrikaans, refuges from The Netherlands welcomed to South Africa by the black government: one side gets capital and highly educated workers; the other a home above sea level. Since the US has large amounts of land above sea level, we’re doing OK, but the maps look funny with Florida missing. The food system is highly stressed. The North American breadbasket has moved north, the Sahara desert has expanded south. Scotland is an up and coming wine region, though the melt from Greenland is weakening the Gulf Stream and that is likely to reverse to warming trend in Europe.
Once our village is complete, we start working on the home for the next wave. The plan is 500 more colonists every year, until…who knows. An interesting thing we’re bringing is a constitution. For the first five years we’ll be run like a forward operating military base with command being MEP headquarters in Lima. For the following five years we transition to self-rule and a Parliamentary system with a preferential voting system. It’s assumed that at some point we’ll have to be totally self-sufficient, no one knows when.
A critical mission is figuring out something, probably a GMO algae, that can live on Mars and make oxygen. That’s where my wife, the biologist, comes in. She was part of the team that worked on the GMO plankton. I know she’s why we’re on this ship. The hope is they can create one that can spread across the globe and form the basis of an ecosystem. Then they’ll focus on something that can eat the algae plus other plants. I’m hoping we quickly get to a grass or something a cow can eat, because I’m not wild about the idea of being a vegetarian for the rest of my life.
Dam safety briefing. You’d think after 18 months in the training program we could skip the safety briefing. Has anyone in a space plane every used their seat as a floatation device. We’re taking off from New Mexico and headed east. By the time we’ve over a body of water bigger than a pool, we’ll be10 miles up and moving at Mach 3. Time to buckle up and head to our new home.
I’m trying something different than my previous blog posts here. Rather than describing current technologies or policy questions or what I think we should do, here I’m delving into speculative fiction: what do I think might be in store for us if we continue on our current path. This is definitely not a best case scenario, but I don’t believe it’s the worst case either. On a scale of 1 (your grandchildren are going to live in a world that resembles “The Road” ) and 10 (Technology will save the day and it’s not too late), I’d probably give this a … now that would be a spoiler.
I’m writing this in installments in the spirit of Dickens and Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. Unlike them, I’m not a great writer, so I don’t expect to win a Nobel, Pulitzer, Hugo or a Newbery. But maybe this will be made into a mini-series on SyFy. Also, for fans of classic science fiction, I’ve thrown in some references or out-right theft.
I hope you enjoy the first piece of fiction that I’ve written that wasn’t assigned in school. – Andy Silber
The first Saturday in June is traditionally an excellent weather day in Seattle and a perfect time to discover, celebrate, and learn about trails in the city as part of National Trails Day. This year, Seattle Parks and Recreation, together with community partners such as the Student Conservation Association, are coming together to raise awareness around trails and to restore and maintain them.
“National Trails Day is a time for Seattle to celebrate and enjoy their trails by engaging the public in not only the recreation side of trails, but also restoration,” said Parks Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams. “With more than 100 miles of trail in the city, there is always some place for you to explore. Our trails are enjoyed by all for everything from forest restoration, transportation short-cuts between neighborhoods, and plain old walks in the park.”
Seattle Parks and Recreation will celebrate National Trails Day with restoration projects at the following parks on Saturday, June 7th:
- Discovery Park – Hidden Valley Trail
- Fauntleroy Park – Forrest Court Area
- Frink Park – 31st & Jackson Entrance
- Cheasty Mt. View – 28th Avenue Trail
Parks is also encouraging Seattleite’s to get out in the parks and explore the trails in their neighborhood park and tell others by using the hashtag: #SEATRAILS on Twitter.
TO REGISTER & VOLUNTEER:
- Visit: www.seattle.gov/parks/ntd.htm
- FaceBook: www.facebook.com/SeattleParksTrails
- Email: email@example.com or
- Call: 206-684-4122
The Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB) is accepting applications for new members to advise the City on the concerns and needs of the growing bicycling community. The volunteer board, which was created by Seattle City Council in 1977, plays an influential role in implementing the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan. The board advises the Mayor and City Council, participates in planning and project development, evaluates policies and makes recommendations to all city departments including the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Board members serve a two-year term, with an opportunity to serve a second term. Current members represent all types of cyclists and skill levels, from casual weekend riders to year-round commuters. Members must be Seattle residents and may not be city employees. The board meets the first Wednesday of each month from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Seattle City Hall, 5th Ave. & James St. downtown, in the Boards and Commissions Room, L280.
Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council are committed to promoting diversity in the city’s boards and commissions. Women, youths, seniors, persons with disabilities, sexual minorities, and persons of color are encouraged to apply. Interested persons should submit a resume and cover letter explaining their interest via email by June 6th to firstname.lastname@example.org with “SBAB” in the subject line. Interested persons without internet access may call 206-684-7583.
To learn more about the board or join the mailing list for agendas and other board updates, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/sbab/default.htm.