Archive for November, 2017

Drastic and Soon

November 15, 2017

Appeared in DNews Nov 2017

    Thanks for the Nov 8 editorial about a recent federal report on climate change, you note it calls for “drastic action” “soon.” I decided to explore unpacking those words. I posed the idea for this letter on Facebook and learned that “drastic” is relative to a person’s state of denial.
This spring, in “A roadmap for rapid decarbonization,” Johan Rockström and others provided better definitions of those terms. They proposed that during the decade of the 2020s emissions must be reduced by half, and half again in each subsequent decade thru 2050.
I have been working steadily to reduce my direct burning of carbon, replacing natural gas appliances and two older cars with a Prius and an all-electric Leaf. Avista’s Buck-a-block program sells me wind power, avoiding the fossil fuel component in their fuel mix. None of this feels drastic.
Google found me a graph of U.S. carbon emissions from 1950 to 2015. Emissions under Truman were about half what they are today. In 1950, my newly married parents didn’t own a car. Moscow’s 1950 era houses tell us things were smaller and simpler here, too. 1950 predates the big build-up of the interstate highway system and air travel was limited.
“Drastic” for me would be to have no car, to walk, bike or bus around town. The impact of fewer cars would be less demand for roads and parking, with their many direct and indirect carbon footprints. I’d move closer to Main Street.
Your editorial the day prior suggested it’s time to finish widening U.S. Highway 95. “Drastic” in the eyes of some of our community would be to abandon that project entirely, eliminating the carbon footprint of its construction. “Drastic” would be to abandon the airport realignment which supports more flying.
When will we start to contemplate “drastic” actions?