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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

September 10, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Inslee assails ‘climate agnostics’ in speech at UW conference

Americans who remain neutral or indifferent on the subject of human-caused global warming are just as culpable as climate deniers, Gov. Jay Inslee told a gathering of climate researchers at the University of Washington Wednesday.

Citing a parade of studies showing looming climate impacts on oceans, birds and human health, Inslee said no one should remain on the sidelines any longer.

“This is the thing that continues to shock me: that not everyone is convinced of the need of action. And I am not just talking about climate deniers who have a frontal denial, an explicit denial of climate science. Climate agnostics, climate inactivists, climate pacifists. People who are not engaged in this. That passivity is equally lethal to the prospects of our grandchildren.
Those who shrug their shoulders and say that they don’t know if this is man made or aren’t sure we can do anything about it, even if it is real. That inaction is just as dangerous as the inaction precipitated by the pessimists who fan the flames of climate denial, who are pessimistic about our ability to defeat this beast and use technology to beat this.”

Inslee said those who want to take action on climate change are the optimists in the debate. “The optimists are going to prevail in this fight,” he said. Inslee made the remarks in a keynote address to the 5th Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference.

The Democratic governor also urged scientists in the room to step outside their “comfort zone” and get more publicly involved in the debate. “There is no more credible group of people than people in this audience today,” Inslee said.

As he is fond of doing, Inslee peppered his speech with sports analogies, calling the UW “the Superbowl of science on climate change” and likening the fight against the destructive impacts of global warming to defending a home court. “Not in our house!” he said.

Inslee chided state lawmakers for passing carbon reduction targets several years ago but failing so for to pass a mechanism to achieve the targets. The state needs more than an “empty, vacuous promise,” he said.

Inslee has appointed a task force to develop a market-based carbon-reduction plan, such as a cap-and- trade system or carbon tax, which he intends to send to the 2015 Legislature. The reception for that plan in Olympia is far from certain, since key Republicans have questioned the need for action. But Inslee’s speech drew a standing ovation from the audience of climate academics Wednesday.

Comments | More in Governor, State government | Topics: climate agnostics, climate change, global warming

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