The Gristle

Paradigms in Collision

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

PARADIGMS IN COLLISION: In the afterglow of the holiday, a major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies presented the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will cripple as much as 10 percent of the American economy by century’s end.

“The report, which was mandated by Congress, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth,” the New York Times reported.

In plain language, the assessment lays out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment, including record wildfires in California, crop failures in the Midwest and crumbling infrastructure in the South. All told, the report says, climate change could slash up to a tenth of gross domestic product by 2100, more than double the losses of the Great Recession a decade ago.

“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” the report authors assert. “The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur. Americans increasingly recognize the risks climate change poses to their everyday lives and livelihoods and are beginning to respond.

“Climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action,” the authors assert. “Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change.”

“The scientific community has spoken clearly and unequivocally that climate change is a present and growing danger to our nation, our economy and our way of life,” Washington Gov. Jay Inlsee said in response to the report. “Our president is adding to that threat by refusing to confront reality,” in response to the president’s continued insistence that the assessment from his own agencies is a hoax.

“The majority of Americans support climate action, and the majority of Americans will soon be represented by governors who are committed to combating climate change,” Inslee said.

Despite Inslee’s chipper assertions that states are stepping up to address a global transition to a carbon-free future, Washington voters signaled a different sort of ethos as they firmly rejected the state’s historic effort to price and reduce carbon emissions at the polls in November.

Public opinion polling on the eve of election showed a slight majority approved of Initiative 1631, a measure that would have required businesses to pay a fee for the carbon they emit. On election night, the measure failed in a 13-point loss.

“Over the years I’ve watched polling get sucked into this prediction business,” pollster Stuart Elway told the Seattle public media firm Crosscut, which sponsored the polls. “It was never designed to be.”

And yet, you’d expect polling to provide some measure of prediction of the actual values expressed by voters—otherwise, what is the point of them?

Crosscut performed an admirable post-election postmortem on their own polling and found some notable crosstabs.

“Even as a liberal policy measure, I-1631 did not consolidate enough of the liberal vote, securing 43 percent of the vote overall,” Crosscut reported. “Tellingly, it did not capture the electoral support won by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, who received about 59 percent of the statewide vote.

About one in four Cantwell voters did not support I-1631.

“Remarkably,” Crosscut found, “this vote gap can be observed in every single county,” with I-1631 underperforming by about 15 percentage points.

It’s a trend that held true in both Whatcom and Skagit counties, where Cantwell secured nearly 60 percent of the vote, yet I-1631 failed to gather commensurate support (the measure did pass in Bellingham precincts).

“Climate policy is not dead in the state of Washington. But as a policy instrument, the carbon tax does not enjoy the popular support required to pass on the ballot,” Crosscut analysts concluded. “Washingtonians have voted it down twice, as the conservative ‘revenue neutral’ Initiative 732 and as the liberal ‘revenue positive’ measure I-1631.”

Certainly there are other means to reduce carbon pollution, although few are as simple and elegant as voluntarily taxing ourselves as encouragement to pollute less. But equally certain, the failure of I-1631 sends a confusing message to Olympia, where a strengthened Democratic majority in both houses prepares to work with the governor on the issue next session.

But it is going to require more than lukewarm policy and uncertain support even among progressives to meet the challenges of climate change.
“While Americans are responding in ways that can bolster resilience and improve livelihoods,” the authors of the federal report suggest, “neither global efforts to mitigate the causes of climate change nor regional efforts to adapt to the impacts currently approach the scales needed to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.”

“The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid,” the report authors warn.

We’ve entered a brave new world—without the bravery.

FCC Advent
Past Columns
Leftover Turkey

November 21, 2018

The Divisions Between Us

November 14, 2018

The Map is the Territory

November 7, 2018

Climate Kids

October 31, 2018

What The Market Won’t Bear

October 24, 2018

As Above, So Below

October 17, 2018

As Below, So Above

October 10, 2018

A Civil Disagreement

October 3, 2018

Zombie Pipeline

September 26, 2018

Too Little, Too Late

September 19, 2018

Open Secret Disclosed

September 12, 2018

Consent of the Governed

September 5, 2018

Let the People Decide

August 29, 2018

3-in-1 Oil

August 22, 2018

A Deeper Dive

August 15, 2018

Blue Wave Stalls Offshore

August 8, 2018

Mountains of Our Efforts

August 1, 2018

Vote

July 25, 2018

Events
Today
The Giving Tree

10:00am|Village Books

Winter Wear Drive

11:00am|Upper Skagit Library

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

MVHS Holiday Concert

7:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Valley Crafters Holiday Bazaar

10:00am|Deming Presbyterian Church

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Gifts from Our Gardens

12:00pm|Healthy Connections Room

 BHS Showstoppers

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Jazz Jam

5:30pm|Illuminati Brewing

Astronomy Meeting

7:00pm|Whatcom Educational Credit Union

Spanish Brass Christmas Concert

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

The Best Bad Things

7:00pm|Village Books

Noel Noir

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Annie

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

History Holiday Open Mic

7:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Village Books
Tomorrow
The Giving Tree

10:00am|Village Books

Winter Wear Drive

11:00am|Upper Skagit Library

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Valley Crafters Holiday Bazaar

10:00am|Deming Presbyterian Church

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Annie

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Noel Noir

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Wild Things

9:30am|Connelly Creek Nature Area

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

Hot Cider and Cool Art

10:00am|Morgan Block Studios

Drayton Harbor Shell-abration

4:00pm|G Street Plaza

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Story Time with the Grinch

4:00pm|Village Books

Tasting and Tour of Lights

5:00pm|Eagle Haven Winery

Saving Christmas Town

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Dances of Universal Peace

7:00pm|Center for Spiritual Living

Reeb Willms and Caleb Klauder

7:00pm|YWCA Ballroom

A Charlie Brown Christmas

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Eager Beaver

7:00pm|Village Books

My Three Ghosts, LOL-apalooza

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Northwest Ballet Theater presents The Nutcracker

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

2018 Gift Guide Stomp
Saturday
The Giving Tree

10:00am|Village Books

Winter Wear Drive

11:00am|Upper Skagit Library

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Valley Crafters Holiday Bazaar

10:00am|Deming Presbyterian Church

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Annie

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Noel Noir

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Hot Cider and Cool Art

10:00am|Morgan Block Studios

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

Story Time with the Grinch

4:00pm|Village Books

Tasting and Tour of Lights

5:00pm|Eagle Haven Winery

Saving Christmas Town

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

A Charlie Brown Christmas

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Northwest Ballet Theater presents The Nutcracker

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

My Three Ghosts, LOL-apalooza

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Bellingham Childcare and Learning Center

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Eaglemont Golf Course

Coast Salish Winter Festival

9:00am|Lummi Gateway Center

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am| Depot Market Square

Gingerbread Houses

10:00am|Semiahmoo Resort

Holiday Craft Bazaar

11:00am|Deming Library

Mostly Magic with John Walton

11:00am|MBT's Walton Theater

Sleighbells RIng

12:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Fairhaven Winterfest

12:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Seasonal Side Dishes

1:00pm|Chuckanut Center

Comet Sense Signing and Talk

2:00pm|Studio UFO

Port Tasting

2:00pm|Siefert & Jones Wine Merchants

Arts and Ales Holiday Market

2:00pm|Aslan Depot

Altai Kai workshop and concert

2:00pm|Alternative Library

Bellingham Community Chorus Holiday Concerts

2:00pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Noel Ensemble

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

Bowman Bay Holiday

4:00pm|Bowman Bay

Firehouse Holiday Party

5:00pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Tamale Dinner Fundraiser

6:00pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

A Holiday Wish for Paco

7:00pm|Blaine Performing Arts Center

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

Blue Adobe Comedy

7:00pm|Blue Adobe Bar

see our complete calendar »

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