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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 12, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Northwest flooding

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Chris Joseph Taylor / The Seattle Times

All signs point to water along Jackson Gulch Road off Interstate 5, just north of Highway 530 near Stanwood.

Destructive behavior

Editor, The Times:

After reading Danny Westneat’s column Sunday [“The beaver just can’t leave river,” Times, Jan. 11], I wanted to scream. The latest example of why Karl Marx said capitalism cannot survive is provided by the federal government underwriting those who continue to choose to live in floodplains.

We are voluntarily writing yet another chapter in our collective epitaph when we allow such programs, enabling the misguided to practice destructive behavior.

— Joseph Faulkner, Gig Harbor

Escape the excess

With a keen interest I read the column in Saturday’s paper titled “Steps we should take before the next flood” [Dan Siemann, guest columnist, Jan. 10]. There are two main points in this piece.

On the later point, it goes without saying that the current and well-established policy regarding federal flood insurance is flawed. Through the law of “unintended consequences,” it has greatly reduced the risk incurred by those who chose to build, live and work in the floodplain. Therefore, over the past few decades we have seen an enormous expansion of both residential and business growth in these vulnerable flood-prone areas. To this point, I agree there needs to be a significant change to this policy to reverse this costly and risky societal behavior, and move people to higher ground.

Regarding the first point about global warming, the assumption that the use of “cap and investment,” the so-called carbon-credit system, is the best solution overlooks the fact that it unintentionally allows for the worst of polluters — the producers of vast amounts of released carbon dioxide — to continue that course as long as they are willing to pay someone else to “do the right thing” and reduce their use. In basic terms, this type on policy allows affluent businesses and individuals to pay the less affluent to be their proxy in lowering their carbon emissions. This is an example of our unique, American need to live in excess, the elitist idealism that we are deserving of whatever excesses we can afford.

A better approach is for every individual and business to be held accountable for their own contribution to the reduction of waste and excess. Let’s have the leaders of our society, elected officials and affluent members, lead by example.

Rather than pay our neighbors to do the right thing for us, let’s take a serious look at our carbon footprint and associated consumption of precious resources. Let’s hold each other accountable for reducing the footprint we all are responsible for.

Some simple, although painful, steps in the short term:

Shut down the use of coal as a source of power in the Pacific Northwest, where it is by no means our only option.

Raise the tax on all petroleum-based fuels to force the research and development of less impactful options.

Easier steps for the individual are to drive less, ride the bus whenever possible or stop buying mega-houses where, in many cases, the occupants have five or 10 thousand square feet each.

Buy local produce that has not been shipped or flown in from South America.

Park the gas-guzzling vehicles like the Hummer; sport-utility vehicles are not required for travel from the hills of Redmond or Issaquah to your job in Seattle or Bellevue.

Turn off lights, bring your own cup to work and, for that matter, a plate and silverware too.

The list is short if we all just stop the maddening rush to collect “stuff,” and apply our collective brainpower to the simple and powerful philosophy: reduce, reuse and recycle.

— James Becker, Fall City

Song of agreement

Thanks to The Times and the writer of a very informative article on the repeated flooding of our area (“When disaster becomes routine,” page one, Jan. 12). In the words of songwriter Joni Mitchell, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

— Tom Likai, Shoreline

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