Sustainable Ballard provided a vivid look at the impact of rising sea levels on Seattle at Golden Gardens Park on April 14, the National Day of Climate Action.
About 30 people stood at the current high-tide line on Shilshole beach with bamboo poles marked with ribbon at two, five, and 23 feet, indicating the rising waterline global warming has already and could continue to produce over the next 50 to 100 years — if present trends persist.
“It’s so much more than the water,” said participant Deborah Barnes. “We’re here to get focused on what our government needs to do.”
This event was one of a multitude to take place at more than 1,400 iconic locations in all 50 states, in efforts to persuade Congress to pass laws to help reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050, beginning a new movement for the 21st century.
Event organizer Andrea Faste, who works with environmental group Sustainable Ballard and in cooperation with national group Step It Up, launched the project because she’s “tired of marching and rallying” and wanted to do something unique to register opposition to climate change, while promoting community-based solutions.
“I think it’s great because it’s a local thing,” said Ballard resident Anne Siems as she watched her young daughter hand out fliers to passing observers. “Local action has a big impact; it’s personal and at the human level.”
Climate change in Puget Sound may be more gradual than in other parts of the world. In Alaska, natives are relocating villages as the tundra under them thaws; the low-lying South Pacific nation of Vanuatu is being evacuated; and in Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands, an inch’s rise (thought to be caused by higher sea temperatures, since water expands as it warms) has displaced thousands due to coastal farms becoming too flood-prone and acidic from the saltwater.
“It’s going to be a long battle,” said Faste, noting the recklessly slow pace of government action in conjunction with what she refers to as the “fast cars and whiskey mentality” of Americans. “You can always have better and more of it,” she said, “but now we have to choose.”
Thanks to Al Gore’s campaign against global warming and to climate scientists and activists across the country, the impact of human activity on the environment is becoming common knowledge.
The demonstration ended with a discussion of practical alternatives such as biking and carpooling, biodiesel in cars and furnaces, buying locally grown food, and redoubling efforts at recycling. If implemented in everyday life, efforts like these could significantly cut down on the carbon emissions that are proven to make massive changes in global atmospheric chemistry.
Events continued throughout the day as close to 1,000 people marched, chanting and carrying signs, from Occidental Park downtown to Myrtle Edwards Park, where a rally and solutions fair ensued, featuring speeches by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, County Executive Ron Sims, U.S. Rep Jay Inslee (D - Bainbridge Island), and other public officials.
“People are recognizing that a collective will can make a difference,” said Faste, “and we are now insisting.”
Sustainable Ballard is a community-based effort for making the northwest Seattle neighborhod carbon-neutral: www.sustainableballard.org. Through regional organizing, Climate Solutions works for “practical and profitable” answers to global warming: www.climatesolutions.org.
Tell your representatives that climate protection is important to you. To find your state senator and state representatives contact information, go to: http://dfind.leg.wa.gov/dfinder.cfm. For members of Congress, go to http://thomas.loc.gov.
By ANGIE JONES, Contributing Writer