Freezing weather with light snow flurries greeted about 200 climate activists gathered on the steps of the state Capitol noon Monday to demand the state Legislature get serious about climate change.
The climate rally unfolded four hours after the highest predicted tide of 2013 in Budd Inlet. Climate activists draw attention to the winter high tides, calling them a precursor of a future shoreline under siege from sea-level rise. The irony of Mondays cold weather compared to a global climate that is heating due to a carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere was not lost on the crowd, or some of the speakers.
Climate and weather are two different things, Olympia-area environmentalist Paul Pickett was quick to remind the bundled-up crowd. Climate is long term and weather is what happens daily, he said.
Urgency embroidered with anger and despair permeated the so-called Climate Crisis Rally timed to the first day of the 2013 legislative session.
Urgency because the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to build: Roughly two-thirds of the carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere the past 100 years is still there. The rest is in the ocean, Pickett said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just reported that 2012 was the continental United States' hottest year on record. Further, the latest draft report on United States climate change effects paints a picture of increased droughts, coastal erosion, sea-level rise, weird weather, melting glaciers and intense wildfires.
Anger over a political system that is slow to respond to the climate crisis, including a recent presidential campaign in which both major party candidates avoided the topic like the plague and stepped all over each other portraying themselves as coal-friendly in pursuit of coal-country votes in swing states such as Ohio.
We need to channel our anger into action, Pickett said. Weve got to stop feeding our addiction to fossil fuels. Despair that decisive action, moving forward wont keep the planet from heating up far into the future, leaving a mess for todays children and grandchildren.
The rally focused on efforts to thwart construction of a Whatcom County coal export terminal to ship coal from the Rocky Mountain states to fuel Chinas coal-fired power plants. The public has until Jan. 21 to voice what it wants studied in an environmental impact statement for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. For more on the environmental review, visit www. eisgatewaypacificwa.gov .
Midway through Mondays rally, about 70 activists crossed the street to the steps of the Temple of Justice, grabbed red placards and eventually formed a human mural that spelled out: NO COAL.
Another speaker was The Evergreen State College geography professor Zoltan Grossman. He suggested that shipping ports and terminals used by the fossil fuel industries to move equipment, raw products and fuel are their true Achilles heels.
Look no further than the Port of Olympia, he told the climate activists. One of the ports newest commodities is a type of ceramic sand shipped from China, unloaded in Olympia, then moved by rail to oil drilling sites in North Dakota. Its used to prop up or frack the earth deep underground to release the oil.
We can expose this and do something about it, he said. Say yes to port jobs built on a more sustainable future and no to the import and shipping of fracking supplies.
Seattle folk singer and social activist Jim Page entertained the shivering crowd with his rewrite of the Woody Guthries Depression era ballad, This Land is Your Land. The refrain in Pages This Land goes like this:
It aint my land and it aint your land
could be a rich land, but its a poor land
cause of the few that hold it in their tight-gripped hand
so that it dont belong to your and me.
Turns out the Monday high tide of 16.9 feet fell about a foot short because of the high pressure system parked over South Sound. When atmospheric pressure is higher than normal, it compresses the marine waters and lessens the impact of a high tide.
A 16.9-foot high tide predicted in mid-December topped out at 17.6 feet due to the presence of a low pressure system over Western Washington, which allowed the water to expand.
Atmospheric pressure aside, South Sound is expected to experience sea-level rise of 3-22 inches by 2050 and 6-50 inches by 2100, according to University of Washington climate scientists.
The higher the number, the greater high-tide flooding in downtown Olympia would be. In response, city officials are considering a range of strategies, including new pump stations, tide gates and sea walls. Together, the measures to counter the tides could cost tens of millions of dollars.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444 email@example.com