Opinion

Turning the tide on climate change | GUEST VIEWPOINT

BY ERIKA SHRINER

From recent headlines we know that the news on climate change is not good. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment reports and the collapse of massive portions of the Antarctic ice sheet reveal that climate change is underway and is accelerating at a faster rate than previously predicted.

Our governor has called climate change the moral issue of the ages.  Will we stand by as the burning of fossil fuels destroys our future or will we come together and work for real solutions to the challenges of climate change?

In Washington state we have both much to lose and much to gain depending upon the decisions made today. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification, wetter winters and warmer, dryer summers will create an environment that completely changes our landscape, our quality of life, and threatens our health and safety as well as our economic well-being.

But we also have a unique opportunity. Governor Inslee has announced a climate plan for our state and joined with Oregon, California and British Columbia to create a united effort to combat climate change. This Pacific Coast Collaborative encompasses 53 million people and a gross domestic product of over 2.8 trillion making it the world’s sixth largest economy.

Contrary to what the fossil fuels industry would have us believe, greening our economy creates expanded and lucrative opportunities for both large and small businesses and fosters the creation of more and better jobs. The University of California reviewed 15 studies of the job creation potential of various energy sources and found that renewable energy generated more jobs than fossil fuels. Coal, the leading cause of climate change, and natural gas create substantially fewer jobs than either wind or solar. A recent study commissioned by the Sierra Club found that switching to climate friendly energy sources would be a huge plus for our state’s economy and employment.

The bottom line is that this state and its climate partners could create a model for the rest of the country as well as the world for combating climate change while creating a stronger, greener economy in just a few years.

But governors, scientists and energy experts can hardly accomplish this alone. What is needed is a public educated on the facts and an all out movement to fight against climate change and for a green economy.

We’d like to start something important on Bainbridge Island from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 28 in the main hall at IslandWood. “Turning the Tide on Climate Change” is an event meant to inform and inspire our island to play a significant role in ending our use of coal and other fossil fuels and help build a green future.

Our speakers are Washington First Lady Trudi Inslee, Phil Rockefeller, Northwest Power Planning Commissioner, Seth Ballhorn from the Sierra Club’s National Beyond Coal campaign and Kellie Stickney, Bainbridge Island’s community engagement officer.

The event is being presented by the Sierra Club and Coal-Free Bainbridge. Co-sponsors are the Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce and Sustainable Bainbridge.

There is no charge for the event and a reception with refreshments will follow the formal remarks.

Given what is at stake, it’s hard to think of a more important place to be on May 28.

For additional information, email coalfreebainbridge@gmail.com.

Erika Shriner is co-chair of Coal-Free Bainbridge, a project of the Sierra Club.

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