Washington can't wait
January 13, 2022
Call it climate change, or global warming: we are seeing the effect of carbon we put into Earth’s atmosphere with our industrial emissions, traffic and razing of tropical rainforests. Warming is coming far more quickly than scientists predicted even a few years ago.
Top climate scientists are studying the relationship between global warming and extreme weather. Consider what we have seen in recent months:
■ Multiple tornadoes and thunderstorms that devastated the Great Plains and upper Midwest. The Dec. 15 tornado that left a 223-mile path of destruction resulted from the nation’s first December derecho, an ultra-strong storm system with “unprecedented access to very warm, humid air that flows northward,” the National Weather Service said.
■ The announcement that the demise of the West Antarctic Thwaites Glacier poses the world’s biggest threat of sea-level rise. The ice shelf that’s holding it back from the ever-warmer ocean could collapse within three to five years, raising sea levels by nearly 2 feet, scientists reported Dec. 13 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.
■ Eighty-nine large wildfires in Washington. The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center reported that 2021 saw more and earlier fires than 2020. The fires burned 3,346,713 acres in two seasons. That’s 5,230 square miles burned.
■ A deadly heat dome in late June that brought three days of temperatures in Western Washington ranging up to 110 degrees.
We can let fear and worry paralyze us or we can respond proactively to protect our planet from further climate disasters.
One of three Washington “can’t wait” measures before the 2022 legislative session, House Bill 1099, would require the state’s largest and fastest-growing counties and the cities within them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled. It would require entities covered under the Growth Management Act to plan for climate change mitigation and resiliency in order to address the adverse effects of climate change on people, property and ecological systems.
The League of Women Voters of Mason County supports the Washington Can’t Wait initiatives, which also include full funding of House Bill 1220 to ensure housing equity, and passage of Senate Bill 5042, designed to close the “vesting loophole” in the Growth Management Act so counties cannot expand urban growth areas into farmland and natural habitat. We cannot afford to lose more farmland to urban sprawl, and we need to maintain forests to sequester carbon.
The League of Women Voters believes climate change is a serious threat to our nation and our planet, and that individuals, communities and governments must continue to address the issue. Our elected officials and leaders at the local, state, national and global levels must take the need for carbon emission reductions and climate resiliency seriously. Each of us has a carbon footprint that we can choose to ignore or choose to reduce. We can act individually and together to stop our planet from changing beyond recognition, beyond livability.