Event: Coastal Washington, the Oil Industry’s Sacrifice Zone

I'll join Grays Harbor area leaders for a free community forum on oil trains.

Washington State is on the front lines of oil transport by rail. The ten oil train explosions in the last two years and the numerous oil spills on Washington’s coast are reminders that there are devastating consequences when it comes to transporting oil. Ten new proposals have emerged in just the last year to ship crude oil by train to Northwest refineries and port terminals.

On June 10th, I’ll be in Hoquiam with several area leaders for a free, public forum …  read more »

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Weekend Reading 5/22/15

How poverty impairs your mind, exposing Port secrets, a Duwamish River rap, and more.
Original illustration by Nina Montenegro of ghosttide.com.

Kristin

As if we needed more evidence that poverty is really, really bad: it impairs your mind. Great. Now you can’t pay your bills or put food on the table and you are dumber, to boot. Hey, I have a good idea: let’s give everyone in the richest country on earth a basic income, which will save money on all the band-aids we currently use to plaster over the simple problem that we don’t distribute wealth very efficiently,  …  read more »

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How Climate Denial Derails Scientists

Scientists downplay findings to avoid "alarmist" stereotype. Rebuttals can reinforce deniers' claims.

Mostly, I recommend bypassing the climate “debate” altogether. There’s no actual debate so even debunking it gives it undeserved credence. But that’s just it: doubt and denial are more than just states of mind; their perpetuation is strategic. An eye dropper of doubt has proven more potent in stalling action on climate change than an ocean of scientific warnings.

Sometimes it’s good to call attention to this kind of strategy in order to undercut its power.

Because we do wind up wasting lots of time and energy on denial.

In my line of work, there’s even an obsession with measuring it. I’m talking about polling voters’ “belief” in climate change. John Oliver described this practice best: “It doesn’t matter! You don’t need people’s opinions on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking if 15 is bigger than 5, or ‘do owls exist?’, or ‘are there hats?’…The only accurate way to report that 1 in 4 Americans are skeptical of global warming is to say that a poll finds that 1 in 4 Americans are wrong about something.”

Now there’s a study out that shows that climate change denial is taking a toll on scientists—and science.

First, scientists feel significant pressure to hold back. The study found that they often downplay future climate risks to avoid being labeled “alarmist” by vocal deniers. Read more »

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No Taxation Without (Proportional) Representation!

Explained with the aid of some tasty fruits and veggies.
Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

If you put your money in a vending machine and punched in the number for trail mix, but it instead gave you a pack of gum, would you use that vending machine again? Unfortunately, voting in North America is often not so different from this vending machine. In the United States, most voters vote Democrat, yet the Republicans control Congress. Voters ask for trail mix but keep getting gum. In Canada, about 35,000 Conservative voters can elect a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) to represent them, but it takes more than ten times as many—over half a million—Green voters to elect a single Green MP.

This is not how it’s supposed to work. Second US President John Adams believed the legislature “should be in miniature, an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them. … [E]qual interest among the people should have equal interest in it.” In other words, the legislature should proportionally represent the people Read more »

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How the Big Apple Boosted Small Donors

And how Seattle’s Honest Elections initiative could do it even better.

How Shell Manipulates Washington State Politics

The Polar Pioneer isn’t the company’s only disruptive presence.

Weekend Reading 5/15/15

NW oil plans can be stopped, a new rideshare app, empathetic rats, and more.

We Can’t Fix Anything Until We Fix Democracy

Getting to the root of the problem.

A Sea Change for Weathercasters

Trusted messengers on climate and weather move from the denier camp.

Event: Oil Trains in Anacortes

Discussing the facts on oil trains in Skagit County.