27 November 2016

In the Heat of the Polar Night

As the lights go out for the winter in the Arctic, something strange and terrible stirs.

Despite the onset of polar night (24 hours of darkness), temperatures in the Arctic have soared to 36 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Additionally, Grist points out that Arctic sea ice has hit an all-time low for this time of year. The video below explains both issues:

We already know that global warming disproportionately affects the poles. Put simply, the Arctic and Antarctic will experience a greater degree of warming relative to other parts of the planet. Some estimates put the polar temperature increases at 12 degrees warmer than usual. This most recent news from the Arctic suggests those predictions might prove optimistic.

The stunning 36-degree increase over normal temperatures, and the equally shocking flatlining of sea ice production indicates a major change has come to our planet. We've already heard whispers of it in storms, droughts, glaciers, the oceans, and more. However, it's rumbling to life right now in the Arctic. We don't have to wait to see if this is a big moment. We know it is. Natural cycles, badly warped by human influence, have shifted into a startling new force and altered our world in dramatic ways.

In the polar night, that unfamiliar force stalks us, and when the lights come on and we open our eyes, we'll find ourselves confronted by its horrific visage.

20 November 2016

Under One Roof

In Tesla's vision of a sustainable future, everything comes together under one roof.

Best known until now as a maker of high-end electric cars, Elon Musk's company moved us last month toward what he called a "seamlessly integrative" way of life. Teaming with another Musk venture, SolarCity, Tesla unveiled home and vehicle options that combine to fuel a completely solar-powered way of living.

As you can see from the video below, Tesla and SolarCity bring together car and battery technology with an innovative new approach to roofing and solar panels to revolutionize electricity generation and consumption. 

The solar roof provides the key to Tesla's integrative life. For the most part, the car and battery technology already existed. Tesla simply revealed advanced forms of its previous power-storage batteries. However, by integrating roofing and solar panels and connecting them with a home battery pack and an electric car, Tesla gives people a smart, purposeful, and function power system. The system can power an entire life with sustainable energy and empowers people by putting the solution to their energy needs under their own roof (or more accurately, in their own roof). For more information on these products from Tesla, click here.

These latest advancements from Tesla have blown the roof off both the way we think and the way we consume energy.

11 November 2016

One Bird, One Voice

I am one bird. I am one voice. That is all. That is enough.

For many, the 2016 election brought frustration, fear, anger, and sadness. I too felt some of those things during a Democratic primary in which what was fair, right, and smart seemed disregarded. Watching the Democratic Party's insiders control the process tore at my sense of fair play and stabbed at my core values. However, by the end of the election, I felt much different because, for the first time, I took to heart the understanding that I am one voice.

During the summer, I stepped back from the election and concentrated on enjoying the things most important to me: nature, family, and home. Outside of the political whirlwind, I discovered peace in being a single voice. I realized that all I can do is do my best, be informed, and make sound decisions. I can't control others or let my life hinge on their decisions.

Because of my hard-won, new perspective, fall 2016 went much differently for me than any general election since I became a voter. After a few months of living with that perspective, I realized that half of October had passed without my becoming drained or overwhelmed by the general election. When the results came in, I was cool and calm in the knowledge that I had done my best.

Rather than dwelling on the negative, my mind gravitated toward what I thought had been the best parts of the election. At the top of that list, sat a bird. During a primary rally in Oregon, a female house finch landed on Bernie Sanders' podium in a powerful moment of hope and life. The bird later became known as Birdie Sanders. If you never had the chance to see Birdie in action, you can watch her below:

That bird, that podium, that moment: That is the image I choose to take from this election, and given my personal breakthrough over the summer, it's not really surprising that it came back to me in the end. With it, I will walk away from the 2016 campaign holding on to the two most powerful things I know: nature and my ideals. They give me my heart, my joy, my indomitable spirit, my unbreakable will, and my sense of direction. They are who I am and what I do. I leave the rest to others and those others to their own choices.

I am just one bird, and all I can do is use my single voice in the hope of making the planet a little better in my own way.

04 November 2016

It's for the Birds, for Our State, for Ourselves

I'm not sure where this blog entry will put me on the spectrum of environmentalism, but I know where I stand on global warming.

On this year's ballot in Washington state, voters have the opportunity to decide whether to pass Initiative 732, which calls for instituting a carbon tax in the state. I previously blogged about the effort to put the initiative on the ballot in this post. I even collected signatures in support of the initiative during summer 2015, a time when Washington blew away heat records on a daily basis.

Mount Rainier and some of its receding glaciers.
When I-732 earned enough signatures to reach this year's ballot, I felt happy. That happiness faded when I saw several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, line up against the initiative because they felt it didn't go far enough in addressing global warming. I wondered where that put me as an environmentalist.

As I considered the points of those opposing the initiative, I thought of the reasons I had supported it in the first place. I concluded that my environmental perspective required me to vote for I-732, and last week, I sent in my yes vote. Below are a few reasons why I voted yes.

I voted for I-732 because I saw the corpses of starved seabirds wash up on the Washington coast in August 2015.

I voted for I-732 because I saw the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier melting away in the July 2015 heat.

I voted for I-732 because I saw Washington state, the place I love more than any other on the planet, dry up, bake, and burn last year.

I voted for I-732 because the Pacific Northwest is part of me, a part I couldn't bear losing.

In the end, I didn't vote as an environmentalist. I voted for birds, my state, and myself. I hope those are good enough reasons, and I hope other Washingtonians will find their own reasons to vote yes on I-732.