Blue Angel blues
The Blue Angels returned to Seattle last week, and with them came the inevitable deluge of digital ink as boosters and detractors engaged in online flame wars arguing that the planes are either a delightful summer tradition or an ecological horror show promoting the military industrial complex.
On the one hand, the Blue Angels are a marvel of engineering and flying prowess. According to the U.S. Navy, the planes fly as close together as 18 inches during the “Diamond 360” maneuver where four pilots fly in a tight formation in a circle.
On the other, the planes are very loud, scaring pets, harming people with PTSD and ticking off those who see them as an expensive, destructive military recruitment tool. They also exude serious carbon emissions, a particularly salient fact as climate change takes center stage in presidential debates (thanks, Inslee).
The Blue Angels flew their last show of the Seafair event on Aug. 4, setting up the countdown for next year, when the city will likely have the same argument, all over again.
Photoshoppin’ for support
A new political action committee, Moms for Seattle, released a series of political mailers over the past few weeks that purport to show a Seattle on its deathbed.
In the first, a swing meant for a toddler sits empty in the foreground. In the middle ground a blue tent lies partially open, blankets protruding from its entryway. Behind, a second tent is backed up against a wall that is covered in yellow graffiti.
“This isn’t how people should be living, or where children should be playing…” the flyer reads. “All of Seattle’s residents deserve better.”
As a group of Twitter users quickly discovered, however, almost everything in the flyer appears to be fake.
The tents were cut out of stock photos available for purchase. On Aug. 1, political consultant Heather Weiner took a video from the same vantage as the park, which she posted to Twitter — there were no tents and no graffiti.
In a Facebook post responding to the online detective work, the Moms for Seattle group said that the images were “illustrative of what people see every day all over our city” and that the group was “careful not to use real photos of people experiencing homelessness” because
“[t]o do so would be exploitive.”
Of course, it’s good not to exploit images of homeless people. It’s up to Seattle voters to decide if the fake images are an avenue to exploit them.
Climate in crisis
The planet, as Bill Nye so eloquently put it, “is on fucking fire.”
On Aug. 2, we were flooded with images and video of a river running through Greenland as 11 billion tons of ice melted in one day when temperatures shot up to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Massive flooding ravaged the Midwest, and the city of New Orleans is under threat not from a hurricane, but from a swelling Mississippi River that could top the 20-foot levees meant to protect the city.
Washington and much of the Pacific Northwest is fire prone — as of press time, the Left Hand Fire blazing in Yakima had scorched 3,406 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire was 92 percent contained as of Aug. 4.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration backed out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, tried to lower emissions standards for new vehicles and is actively promoting the use of coal, one of the dirtiest sources of energy that we have.
It’s not great.
Even as the federal government has shirked its duties to fight climate change, however, U.S. cities are stepping up. According to a new report, Seattle is one of the leaders.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its City Green Energy Scorecard, and Seattle came in third under Boston and San Francisco. The rankings are based on “city policies and programs that save energy, promote renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the report.
Seattle has greenhouse gas reduction goals and strategies to mitigate “urban heat islands,” which are places in urban areas where temperatures are warmer than rural ones due to human activity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a “heat island” with 1 million people in it or more can be between 1.8 and 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than nearby rural places.
The city also excelled in energy efficiency, the use of renewable energies and transportation policy, according to the report.
To a degree, the report grades on a curve. Seattle was in the top three with 70 out of 100 points overall. Highest-scoring Boston was in that range with 77.5 points overall.
The nod to Seattle’s climate-friendly policies comes at a time when Washington’s record on emissions is being thrust into the public eye because of the laser-focus of Gov. Jay Inslee’s presidential bid on climate change.
Of course, the governor isn’t helping matters. According to The Seattle Times, he has been zipping around the country by plane for a significant amount of time between March and the end of July, spewing emissions all the way.
Representative Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) became the first openly LGBTQ woman to be elected state House speaker on July 31. She will formally ascend to her position in January 2020.
“To have an openly LGBTQ woman in one of the most powerful roles in government can be transformative for the state of Washington,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, in a press release.
With the election of Jinkins, all three state houses on the West Coast of the continental United States will be led by openly LGBTQ people. The other two are California President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek. All three are Democrats.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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