Thousands of King County residents came together last week to demonstrate local alternatives in the worldwide effort to wean the planet off fossil fuels. “Undriver licenses,” stand-up paddle boats, bikes with heavy duty trailers and organizing to stop coal from being shipped through the Northwest to China were all part of the action. Organized by 350.org under the banner, “MovingPlanet,” the county joined 177 countries in the global day of action.
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With Green Acre Radio, this is Martha Baskin. How are you moving the planet beyond fossil fuels? It’s a question people asked themselves and their leaders in a worldwide day of climate action this week, called Moving Planet. Susan Andreson, with the United Church of Christ is working to establish a national center for environmental justice. But first, she says, it starts with her. Andreson signed up for an undriver License.
Julia Field is the founder of undriving.org. “We are making undriver licenses for people to make a pledge to reduce their car use in the coming months in a way that might work for them.” The fine print on this license reads: walk, bike, transit, carpool, skip the trip.
Knox Gardner is already a convert. The only wheels he uses are the ones for his bike and two more for a trusty light weight trailer attached to his bike. He hauls just about everything, groceries, compost. “It works great. It’s a little tough on the hills. But you know you just bike slowly and you’ll get to the top.” Two years ago the car Knox shared with his partner broke down. “And there was a really great program the city of Seattle had where they would send you $200 bus ticket and Zip car membership and some REI gift if you would pledge to not drive a car for a year.” The program is now called “Walk Bike Ride” a major initiative of Mayor McGinn. Incentives to get you out of your car include $100 for Zipcar or REI, $175 for a birthday party at the Children’s Party. Go to seattle.gov/waytogo..
Why the push to rally for energy and transportation alternatives? Because the planet has already reached the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, say organizers, 350 parts per million. “Unfortunately we are at 392 parts per million right now and rising fast.” LeeAnne Beres with Earth Ministry kicks off the climate rally. A key focus is to stop a plan by coal companies Peabody Energy and SSA Marine, to ship 48 million tons of coal from Wyoming through Bellingham’s Cherry Point export terminal to China. Alex Epstein with Fuse, the largest progressive organization in the state: “We want to send a strong message to Gov. [Chris] Gregoire as well as Commissioner [of Public Lands Peter] Goldmark that the people of washington don’t want more coal infrastruture.”
K.C. Golden with Climate Solutions tells the crowd coal has long been gone from Puget Sound’s energy supply. “And it’s working great isn’t it. The shower is still hot. The beer is still cold and you can flip on your light switch and contribute nothing to global warming in Seattle. It works. It’s fine.” Legislation this year mandates that TransAlta, the state’s sole coal plant, transition half its power off coal by 2020 and the other half by 2025. Add this to negative public opinion, says Golden, and coal companies have come up with what he calls a crazy scheme — load coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin onto trains and send it through Idaho, the Columbia River gorge and up the coast.
“Right through the Sculpture Garden, past Golden Gardens, the Edmonds ferry dock up into Bellingham and build a giant new coal port so they can ship it to China where it will be burned and incinerate the planet every bit as effectivly as if we’d burned it ourselves.” The environmental community’s response? “It’s simple. it’s two letters: n-o. We’re not going to do that. Well the coal industry wants you to believe there’s nothing you can do. Well I'm here to tell you we can do this!” But it’s going to take a lot of people power to win the fight, says Golden.With that crowd is urged to sign postcards to Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. Goldmark has the final say on whether public aquatic lands can be used as a staging area to export coal. The global day of action on climate change comes to an end. The work to move the planet away from fossil fuels lies ahead. For organizations involved in Moving Planet Seattle go to kbcs.org or greenacreradio.blogspot.com.