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The Buck Must Stop 

by PAUL K. HAEDER & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he upcoming Washington legislative session holds some hope for those of us who want our state to tackle the massive challenges caused by climate change.





The Washington Environmental Council has developed -- and dozens of "environmental groups" have endorsed -- "Four Priorities for a Healthy Washington": Climate Action and Green Jobs; Local Solutions to Global Warming; Evergreen Cities; and Local Farms -- Healthy Kids.





Obviously, each state and every bio-region need to find local ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and encourage innovative jobs in the green building, farming, transportation and energy sectors. But the legislature can help.





Futurewise is sculpting a legislative measure to amend the Growth Management Act to make communities more livable. What is livable? Denser communities (less sprawl), better buildings and homes (more energy efficient), and less impact on global carbon dioxide levels through better design -- from transportation to landscaping choices.





Audubon Washington is promoting a bill which calls for more trees to be planted to address pollution and flooding caused by more people, more parking lots, roofs and filled-in wetlands and weather disruptions manifested by climate change.





The last of the four priorities is backed by the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network, which is seeking to eliminate the unhealthy diets of children in schools and support small and local farmers who grow fresh produce, make sustainably cultured cheese, and raise poultry, beef and eggs that don't have the huge pollution impact of those same foods coming from factory farms here and across state and international borders.





As someone who knows many of the people working on these bills, I can tell you that the originators and backers of these measures have the sincerest of motives and the science and economics behind them to easily explain their legitimacy.





Further, it's incumbent upon us in the Inland Empire to support these reforms by calling/ writing our representatives in support.





That being said, climate change will not be solved at the state level. Much bigger clubs have to be deployed to whack down this global Medusa.





Kyoto's a failure and so was Bali.





Part of the problem is systemic denial -- much of it coming from local people.





Global climate change can be easily understood by reading a few popular books like George Monbiot's Heat or The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery (Australia's 2006 Man of the Year).





I remember absorbing Elizabeth Kolbert's 2005 three-part New Yorker series, "The Climate of Man," whereupon she spent several months with scientists from every imaginable field possible and villagers living and working in the Arctic and Greenland. She wrote tens of thousands of words -- accessible and scary. Even the scientists studying warming up permafrost and sloshy inland Greenland ice fields were proverbially "freaked out."





Monbiot -- from London's newspaper The Guardian -- offers the bitter pill of what it will take to stop global damage from exceeding 5 or 6 degrees of temperature increases: a 90 percent to 100 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.





Soon. In 10 years. Unfortunately, his message is a tough antidote to swallow: "When you warn people about the dangers of climate change, they call you a saint. When you explain what needs to be done to stop it, they call you a communist," Monbiot said after Bali.





Many of the good-intentioned experts and prognosticators were at Bali. What did that summit bring us, other than the slow yawn of Al Gore pitching his dated PowerPoint truth of inconveniences and emissions trading? No Marshall Plan. No immediate global triage for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, curbing human population growth, mitigating for massive crop failure and water scarcity of biblical proportions that will catalyze water wars. Battles over H2O, west of the 100th meridian, here in Washington.





Every hour of the day, it seems, if one stays abreast of the global ticker tape of stories tied to energy, sustainability and climate change, we find ourselves faced with the inevitable product of a so-called "free world," "first world," "civilizing world" trapped inside its bubble of consumerism: our business leaders and political leaders just can't wrap their arms around the complexities of our aerial and planetary oceans' changes caused largely by humanity's activities.





We need to not only vote the bums out of office, but we need to put our bodies in the way of the bulldozers. We need to stop those Dick Cheney-loving oil, nuclear and coal conglomerates from breaking ground on their dirty energy industries.





We need to symbolically burn down Fox News and mainstream media outlets.





We need to stop the graft -- almost a billion dollars since 1990 have been given to federal politicians from logging, agribusiness, oil, gas, and coal entities.





Yes, support the "Priorities for a Healthy Washington." Baby steps. No brainers.





And start flushing out your co-workers, friends, family members, and any yokel off the street who come up with yet another ignorant line parroted from Fox or any of the corporate-owned news organs. Tell them: "Climate change is already occurring. Start reading these books."





As the New Yorker's Kolbert says: "History shows that the climate doesn't always change slowly; it actually can change fairly rapidly. What seems pretty certain is that there will be very noticeable changes by 2050 -- and some changes are likely to be very dramatic."





Paul K. Haeder is an SFCC instructor of composition and literature and member of a sustainability team at the college. Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge is his hour-long KYRS radio show, which airs twice a month, Wednesdays at 3 pm.

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