Climate protection: Vote ‘no’ on 2117

Map courtesy Clean and Prosperous Institute.

This fall, when you get your ballot in October, you will get to vote on who will be the President of the United States. You will also get to vote on Initiative 2117. Vote “no” on 2117.

Initiative 2117 would stop current laws that require cleaner air. Currently, we have laws that put limits on how much global warming pollution Washington state can release. With our current laws, Washington state will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90% over the next 26 years.  That is what 2117 wants to mess up. It wants us to go right on polluting and adding to global warming.

I-2117 would stop a lot of projects that make it easier and cheaper for us to stop greenhouse gas pollution. To see a list of the projects it would kill, check out the Risk of Repeal map. The Risk of Repeal map lists the projects that depend on the laws that 2117 is trying to destroy.

The map above is an image from the Risk of Repeal website. It shows the locations of 1,187 projects that would be ruined if I-2117 passed. Many of the projects are charging stations for people who live in apartments to easily charge electric cars. The electrification of our ferries would be killed by I-2117, along with programs to restore and protect rivers, lakes and streams, and programs to reduce wildfire danger. The list of over 1,000 projects goes on. You can see the full list at the Risk of Repeal website.

As you might imagine, lots of organizations are calling you to “Vote No on 2117”, just like I am. They are listed on the No-on-2117 website.

So far, the 260 organizations asking you to vote “No” include the Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium, the Washington State Medical Association, Washington State Catholic Conference, AAA Washington State, St. Mark Lutheran Church, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Bethany United Church of Christ, Quinault Indian Nation, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Microsoft, League of Women Voters of Washington, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Amazon, REI, Washington Machinist Council, Washington Education Association, United Auto Workers Region 6, the Washington State Labor Council, the Washington State Building and Constructions Trade Council, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington Prescribed Fire Council, Vancouver Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Teamsters 117, the Suquamish Tribe, Spokane Audubon Society, SEIU 775, Sammamish Valley Grange, Methow Valley Citizens Council, the Hoh Tribe, HDR Engineering, the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Yakima Valley, the American Institute of Architects Washington Council, Climate Protection Northwest, the American Farmland Trust, and many more. Those organizations disagree about a lot of things. But they all agree that you should Vote “no” on 2117.

Do your part. Vote “no” on 2117.

Is this because of global warming?

This summer, we have had beautiful weather around Puget Sound. Things have not been so nice elsewhere: 1,300 people were killed by heatstroke in Mecca last month and 125 people were killed by heat in Mexico since March. It’s been 104 degrees in Philadelphia, 113 degrees in Phoenix and 107 in Fresno. There have been wildfires in California and New Mexico, and widespread flooding in North Dakota and Minnesota.

As reporters share news about heat waves and flooding, they usually omit that global warming is the likely culprit. Part of what is going on is that climate scientists used to say they couldn’t make any conclusions about specific events.  They could tell what was going on in a decade, but not last month.  That has changed.

Recently, climate scientists have developed techniques to figure out how much global warming raised the chances of specific events. These techniques are called “Attribution Science.”  Attribution Science is kind of new, and we don’t yet have great ways to talk about its discoveries.

Here’s an example: The June heat wave was the sort of thing that had about a 2% chance of happening each year (about 1 out of 60). Attribution scientists have found that, because of global warming, that probability was 35 times higher this year: about 58%.

Does that mean that burning fossil fuels (like gasoline and natural gas) and releasing greenhouse gases caused the heat wave? Almost certainly.

To understand what the attribution scientists are saying, consider this situation:  A magician says she can guess the next card. She guesses ace of spades, and pulls out an ace of spades. The magician explains the trick: she added the aces of spades from 70 other decks to the deck and shuffled the cards before she did her “magic” trick.

Before she added the 70 new cards, the chance of an ace of spades was 1 out of 52 (2%). After the magician added the 70 new aces, there were 71 aces of spades, and 122 cards.  The chance of an ace of spades had gone up to 71 out of 122 — and 71 out of 122 is 58%, just like the probability of June’s heat wave with our warmed globe. When the magician pulled a card, did she get an ace of spades because she added those cards?

It’s the same question as “Did the heat wave happen because people burned oil, gas and coal?”  Burning oil, gas and coal lifted the chances of the heat wave from 2% to 58%, just like how the card trick chances were lifted by adding 70 aces of spades to a deck.

Did adding the cards cause the magician to pull an ace of spades? I think the answer is “almost certainly.” Of the aces of spades in the deck she pulled from, 70 were aces she added, and one had already been there. Chances are that the card she drew was one of the aces she added. In the same way, burning gasoline, natural gas and coal added 70 heat wave cards to the deck that only had one before.  Chances are that the heat wave would not have happened without our having burned oil, gas and coal.

Condolences

If you had family killed or sickened on Hajj this year, or overwhelmed by flooding or heat waves in Mexico or the U.S., I’m very sorry for your loss. If we stop the change in climate change, we will be able to set up new structures and procedures so this kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore. The way to stop the change of climate change is to stop burning gasoline and natural gas. If we don’t stop burning fossil fuels, the temperatures will get higher and the floods will get deeper, and I doubt we will keep ahead of them any better than we do now.

One strong step to stopping greenhouse gases, and stopping the change of climate change, is to vote “No” on Initiative 2117.

— By Nick Maxwell

Nick Maxwell is a certified climate action planner at Climate Protection NW, teaches about climate protection at the Creative Retirement Institute and serves on the Edmonds Planning Board.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.