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May 14, 2013 at 7:15 AM
Two environmental milestones worth noting
Virtually all of the scientific community is in agreement on the global path toward major climate change. Even the handful of climate-change deniers will want to note the news out of Mauna Loa, Hawaii.
The New York Times last Friday reported researchers atop the volcano on the Big Island measured a carbon dioxide level not experienced on the planet for millions of years. Yes, millions of years. The heat-trapping gas passed 400 parts per million, a threshold that speaks to steady movement toward a much warmer place to live, with all the hostile consequences.
Efforts to change behavior close to home and across the nation were celebrated Monday, with the 15th anniversary of Climate Solutions. As Executive Director Gregg Small told a packed ballroom at Seattle’s Westin Hotel, gathered for an annual breakfast fundraiser, it is the organization’s belief that solving the climate crisis and economic prosperity go hand in hand.
Climate Solutions works with business, agriculture and cities to develop clean energy strategies for the region, and to nurture legislation and environmental practices that can be shared across the country. As Small told his audience, bold, pioneering leadership will not come from the other Washington.
Gov. Jay Inslee was warmly received by an audience of kindred spirits. Keynote speaker Tom Steyer, co-founder of Next Generation, emphasized the importance of aligning policies and environmental realities with the broadest coalition of interests. Acid rain was crushed by a business community engaged by the right legislation, Steyer said. Next Generation invests in energy research, energy solutions and building strategies for environmental protection.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the earth’s civilized population lived with a carbon dioxide level in a range that topped out at 280. Passing beyond 400 has consequences that human civilization will feel in the impacts, in Steyer’s words, on food and water. Washington state has already experienced the impact on oyster populations.
Climate change is not something out there in the future, but something we are experiencing now.