Washington back yards bursting with climate change | Guest Column

Cherry trees began blooming at the start of December this year, and it wasn’t isolated to just that species. There were fresh blooms on rhododendron, rose, dahlia, azalea, daisy, viburnum and spring groundcover, well ahead of their normal March-April ranges. We no longer have to wait for the signs of climate change to be evident. The proof is in our back yards.

Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barack Obama and even Donald Trump have all acted on the climate change reality whether by investing in America’s renewable energy infrastructure, passing clean air laws, dedicating their lives to the task or by requesting sea wall permits to protect their golf courses from the rising sea levels of climate change. Washington’s own seaside tribal communities are experiencing the rising tides first hand, as they are even now being forced to relocate to higher ground.

Walmart, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, REI, Whole Foods and many more USA corporations are going 100 percent green powered or investing heavily in renewable energy. Just this week, Google proudly announced that they would be 100 percent green powered in 2017 (three years ahead of their original 2020 target) and they vow to do even more, while challenging others in the private sector to take bold steps. Even Exxon now believes the threat of climate change is clear and warrants action.

NASA astronauts and rocket scientists, the very same who would protect us from cataclysmic “meteors” (both figuratively and literally) are warning us that the lights are flashing red along with their climate scientist counterparts. We listened when they warned us on acid rain and installed scrubbers on the coal plants. They warned us again when a hole in the ozone layer appeared, and Ronald Reagan quickly cut CFC gas emissions in response. And now, they are again telling us exactly what the issue is, which emissions are causing it and what we need to do to stabilize the crisis. Take a look at http://climate.nasa.gov…but do it quickly, because the incoming Trump administration promises to cut NASA’s climate change assessment funding and is appointing prominent client deniers.

Nearly every nation of the planet, 200-plus countries (many with their own scientific climate panels), recently made an unprecedented planetary agreement in the Paris Accord. They agreed to cut carbon swiftly and steeply, for the sake of humanity. With the USA producing 25 percent of the problem, we can’t step to the side and expect other countries to pull our weight for us. In times of crises, the United States of America used to be leaders, we used to seek out innovation and new growth markets. We didn’t back down from the fight in World War I or during World War II. But in the World War on Carbon, will we tell the planet that we are abandoning them?

The thermometer on your back porch can not lie, it does not have a party preference or play politics, and the data points do not care if you believe in them. My temperature gauge matches the local weatherman’s and The Weather Channel’s forecasts, season after season, as the readings climb upwards. Our American climate scientists, who are bi-partisan and not corporation-tied, are very truthfully warning us that our country, our waters and our planet’s average temperatures are rising. Even contrarian reports now acknowledge that climate change is real, and man made carbon is causing it. By most accounts, we have already crossed all safe thresholds. There is no room for inaction when the stakes are as high as “stabilizing the harm already done” and “game over.”

In terms of faith, the Catholic popes went carbon neutral a decade ago, and the Vatican is powered by solar panels. Christians are called by the Bible to not only be good stewards of the planet, but to protect the weak, poor and young and Interfaith Climate Teams now abound. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessica Alba, Robert Redford, Pharrel Williams, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, Emma Thompson, Don Cheadle and many more celebrities are also standing up as ambassadors to educate and speak out, in shows like “Years of Living Dangerously” and in public.

If you want to do your part to stop climate change, you are in excellent company. And even a few simple actions can have an immediate impact. This is not out of our control, it took me four days to go carbon neutral with the trade in of an SUV, some extra carbon offsets and a few simple switches. Now, I’m helping my employer, congregation and neighbors reduce their carbon output as well.

Simple steps that you can take:

STEP 1: Go 100 percent green power through your energy provider.

Most power utilities now offer some sort of green power program…give them a call and ask. Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy can get you to 100 percent green powered often for as little as $5/month. If your home is already green powered; help your office, congregation, or school get there. You can’t tell which exact electrons you will get off the power grid (renewable or coal), but your investment dollars will be going to clean, green energy generation in Washington state.

STEP 2: Recycle and compost.

If you live, work or go to school somewhere without a recycling or composting program in place, you can still take part on your own, or help to implement change.

STEP 3: Eat less meat, especially beef.

The methane release from cattle is a serious problem for America, and the water needed to produce even a pound of beef is staggering. If you can go vegetarian or vegan, it’s even better.

STEP 4: Invest in high efficiency.

Anytime you upgrade or purchase something, get the most efficient model you afford. The extra cost will often pay for itself in energy savings over time. Getting a new car? Get the highest mpg hybrid or electric car you can. A new fridge, washer or appliance? Look for EnergyStar ratings and low energy use. Need a new water heater or furnace? Consider the latest technologies that are fossil fuel free…geothermal, heat pumps, and on-demand water heaters.

There was a time when climate change was in our future. Unfortunately, we have already crossed that threshold. Climate change is now our reality, for better or worse. Talk about climate change often. Act on climate whenever and wherever you can. And when the next carbon tax bill rolls around. Vote for it, and tell everyone you know to do the same. If action on carbon emissions reduction can’t come from the top, let it bloom from our own back yards.

Redmond resident Rachel Molloy has two decades of climate change awareness under her belt, including time as a non-partisan student representative of Iowa State University at the United Nations Den Hagg Climate Summit (COP6) in 2000. She also helped host President George W. Bush when he spoke at the Iowa Energy Center’s Biomass Energy Conversion Facility in 2001, where she worked as a design assistant.