Why Seattle will stay dry when cities floods

By Tom Laskawy

by Mark Hertsgaard.

This post is adapted from Mark Hertsgaard’s new book Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth .

If you’re a Seattleite, come meet Hertsgaard at a Grist Happy Hour and see him talk about the book at Town Hall Seattle on Feb. 3, 2011.

As a father living in the era of global warming, I have my good days and my bad days. The bad days you can probably imagine. Writing this book has taught me more than I’d like to know about our climate dilemma: about how drastically our civilization must change course to avoid catastrophe, how stubbornly some people and institutions resist even minor shifts in direction, and how destabilizing the impacts that are already locked in are likely to be.

But I have good days as well, and these are usually inspired by stories that show that the climate fight is not hopeless after all. One of my best days came in June of 2008, when I went to Seattle to interview Ron Sims. As the chief executive of King County, Sims was the top elected official of a municipality that encompasses the city of Seattle, some of its suburbs, and the corporate headquarters of Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, and Boeing. Over the past 15 years, Sims had pioneered a fresh, farsighted, effective response to climate change that local governments across the United States and around the world were beginning to copy. He had linked his climate policy to a larger agenda of advancing social justice and pro-business economic development. And he had done this while remaining strikingly popular with voters, winning three straight elections by comfortable margins.

What most set Sims apart was the two-track climate strategy he employed. “We absolutely need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but we also have to adapt

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By Tom Laskawy| January 30, 2011
Categories:  Live

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Tom Laskawy

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