A Letter to Clallam County Candidates
By Melanie Greer
On April 29, 600 people came out in the rain on a chilly day to express their desire to see climate change taken seriously on the Olympic Peninsula. This was not just a one-off event. This signaled a movement. People who came out will come again and ask those running for local offices to state-for the record–where they stand.
Action on Climate Change is as much a local issue as it is a national and international issue. The current national government expresses an unwillingness to be proactive in preparing for, and minimizing, the effects of climate change. The greatest achievements, worldwide, have occurred because local governments and communities have decided to take the issue seriously and get ahead of the curve. This puts the ball in our court, or your court if you want to be part of the government making these decisions.
Clallam County Commissioners are currently considering climate action at their level. This means now is the time for the cities and the port to do the same. Coming together in joint efforts can mean a more integrated approach to climate action. Multi-stakeholder approaches increase the likelihood of obtaining grants to help defray the costs. In addition, there is a state regulation, RCW 70.235.070, that requires jurisdictions to reduce emissions to the 1990 level by 2020.
Jurisdictions who do not comply risk loosing access to certain types of state funding and grants.
Some of the issues you need to consider include the change in weather patterns. Predictions are that our winters will be wetter with more heavy downpours and summers will be dryer. Wetter winters mean more flooding and washed out roads. Dryer summers mean less water for farmers to irrigate crops and more forest fires. Reduced snow-pack means less water in the rivers that provide our drinking water and warmer river temperatures. Warmer river temperatures can prevent salmon from spawning. Ocean acidification will affect other food sources such as shellfish.
So I ask you, candidate, running for Port Angeles city council, what will you do to help the city prepare for our changing climate? Is the current sewer system enough to handle increased rainfall in winters? If not is there a cheaper way to address the problem which could double as a way to save water for summer? Is there consideration of an off-channel resivoir such as they are doing on the Dungeness River in Sequim?
What will you do to help reduce the city’s emissions–its carbon footprint?
How will you help us prepare for the new low-carbon economy?
And to you, person running for Port Commissioner, the Port of Port Angeles is located in one of the most at-risk locations in the city, according to predictions of sea-level rise. As port commissioner your job will be to protect and prepare the port so that it becomes profitable today as well as 50 years down the line. What will you do to help the port prepare for the changes that are inevitable? What will you do to help reduce the port’s carbon-footprint? How will you help prepare the port for the new-low carbon economy?
What new jobs may be created by becoming proactive in our preparations?
Note, I did not ask if you believe humans are responsible for climate change. We no longer have time to waste creating controversy where there isn’t any. If you choose to take the position that humans are not responsible for climate change, be prepared to answer for why you are ignoring 97% of climate scientists. Would you go skiing if 97% of scientists agreed there was a high risk of avalanche? How do you account for even Exxon-Mobile urging the President to remain committed to the Paris Climate Accord?
Who votes for a person unwilling to face the facts, ignoring reality? We need someone who will help put us in sync with`our changing future.
“Melanie Greer is an environmentalist and activist located in Port Angeles, WA. She has a Master’s degree in Environment and Community with a focus in Sustainable Food Systems from Antioch University Seattle and holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. Melanie’s academic interests include building community for a just and sustainable future. Melanie was the planning committee chair for the recent Olympic Peninsula People’s Climate March held in Port Angeles. She has a long history of activism spanning over 20 years and has attended protests in at least four different countries.