By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two statewide ballot measures on which you’re about to vote were considered Wednesday night by our area’s biggest political organization, the 34th District Democrats.
And they got suggestions on how to take action on the climate crisis.
First, the ballot measures. In Seattle, they’ve been overshadowed by the City Council races, so you might not have heard much about them.
Referendum 88 will ask you whether to approve or reject a measure that passed the state Legislature, Initiative 1000, which would restore affirmative action, 21 years after a ballot measure outlawed it. The 34th DDs voted to endorse approval of R-88.
Initiative 976 is the latest car-tab-limiting proposal from Tim Eyman. Two high-level 976 opponents spoke: State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon said it would lead to – in this area – ferry cuts, bus-service “impairment,” and transportation infrastructure maintenance challenges. He acknowledged it was likely to be popular outside Seattle, so, “Every vote we turn out in this community (matters extra) … the way we defeat a Tim Eyman initiative is to run up the score in districts like the 34th.”
Also speaking against 976, King County Executive Dow Constantine, who added that 976 could be a threat to West Seattle light-rail funding. The 34th DDs agreed with the electeds and voted to oppose 976. Voting starts late next week, once your ballot arrives; the deadline is Election Night, Tuesday, November 5th.
Before the endorsement votes, the 34th DDs heard from a climate activist:
“Climate change is so big and so scary … it’s really hard to talk about it,” and that’s why many people don’t talk about it. So Connon started by asking attendees to pair off and, well, talk about it – for two minutes. The topic: Why you care about climate change.
Some then shared what they’d said. A woman said her love for Lincoln Park and the fragility of its wildlife motivate her. Another woman said she is concerned about the looming climate-refugee migration. Connon said 143 million people are projected to be displaced in three regions by 2050.
What is one thing somebody has done about climate change? was his next question.
A woman spoke of her young daughter’s love for orcas and politicians’ inability to take action. Her daughter’s generation, she said, teaches her – “they know what to do.”
Connon said youth give him hope. “Our crisis is grave, but in the last 12 months,” youth activism has taken center stage. New efforts like the Sunrise Movement and Green New Deal have emerged.
34th board member Chris Porter said that as a beekeeper, he’s been turning his yard into a wildlife habitat.
Individual behavior changes are great but, “The crisis is way past driving a Prius and changing your light bulbs … we need to transition away from fossil fuels in the next 10 years,” he declared.
Moving into his presentation, Connon first showed the correlation between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the temperature of the Earth.
Besides the climate-change effects you’ve probably hard of, there are others such as a 40 percent decline in Phytoplankton populations since 1970 – 50% of the world’s coral reefs dead or dying because of acidification. He said he’s a diver and “it breaks my heart to know there’s an entire world (underwater) dying” because of human misdeeds.
So what can you do about it? Connon ran down a long list of local groups doing a lot. His group “works toward climate justice by organizing people to make deep system change, resisting fossil fuels, building momentum for heathy alternatives; and fostering resilient, just and welcoming communities.”
He had a photo from the Shell No! “kayaktivist” protests centered in West Seattle waters four years ago. That fall Shell abandoned its Arctic-drilling plans. Locally, the Fossil-Free KC initiative was co-sponsored by Councilmember Joe McDermott. Connon talked about other local actions including protests at the Tacoma LNG site and Chase banks. “Just three US banks are responsible for 1/3 the world’s fracking funding” – US Bank, Chase, and Wells Fargo.
He talked about the Seattle City Council’s endorsement of a “Settle Green New Deal” and stressed that the world needs to be carbon-neutral by 2050 and “we need to be the leader on that.” He would “rather see us aim for 2030 and make it by 2040” but if we aim for 2050 “and don’t get there unti 2060 … we’re screwed, we’re really screwed.”
He pitched for the proposed natural-gas piping ban in new Seattle buildings, repeating that much gas is “fracked.” This policy alone would reduce Seattle’s climate pollution by 5%, he said. He also said 60% of homes cooking with gas stoves have indoor air quality problems.
He pitched for joining his group’s Civic Action Teams.
What else can you do? Connon’s suggestions:
Get involved with a climate activist organization
Join the Seattle for a Green New Deal campaign
Support Healthy Homes, Healthy Buildings (gas piping ban) policy by calling CM LisaHerbold
Donate to a climate justice organization
The 34th District Democrats meet 7 pm second Wednesdays most months; watch 34dems.org for updates.