This isn’t something to read, but if anyone has been curious about what really went on at Standing Rock and what it was like there, a documentary produced by a group of Washington veterans is premiering this Sunday at the Seattle Transmedia and Independent Film Festival. Tickets available here. (Full disclosure: my husband is one of those veterans, and he contributed both some footage and an interview to the film. Yes, we will be there.)
On the energy front, solar power is going great guns this year, with China on pace to install record amounts for the second year running, a new report showing that adding energy storage for solar is a more cost effective way to meet electricity demand than building new natural gas plants, and the development of a new solar cell that is almost twice as efficient as those currently on the market. In other climate news, a coalition of American tribal leaders has committed to upholding the Paris agreement, and a state-of-the-art, emission-free, solar/wind/hydrogen-powered boat has just set off on a six-year worldwide voyage to demonstrate its technology.
On the conservation front, a group of scientists in Minnesota is attempting to build up the climate resilience of the northern boreal forest by planting hundreds of cold-loving pine trees in dispersed “strongholds” which are expected to remain cooler as the rest of the state warms. Meanwhile in Wyoming, a recent study found that a live bobcat is worth over $300,000 in revenues for the state, while a dead one killed for its pelt barely tops $300. It’s the tourism, stupid.
Bike share is back in Seattle with Spin and LimeBike coming to town! And Spin, the first of the two to launch, saw 1,000 riders in the first two days. Here’s a handy guide on how to use the systems and where to park (both systems are dockless) from Seattle Bike Blog.
A Delaware-sized iceberg that just broke off of Antarctica, and our obsession with eating meat is partly to blame. Yes! Magazine’s Erin Sagan shares her reaction to the iceberg and brings a much needed reminder of why food policy needs to be a bigger part of the climate change conversation. Sagan’s article reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran Foer:
We can’t plead ignorance, only indifference. Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into the popular consciousness. We are the ones of whom it will be fairly asked, ‘What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?’
Speaking of animals, let your jaw drop to Audubon’s 2017 photography contest winners.
In a world where one of America’s major political parties refers to everything as fake news, should we be surprised that major supporters of said political party are the ones actively working to generate fake news on local TV stations throughout America? Take Seattle’s local KOMO News, which is among the TV stations that have been purchased by Sinclair Broadcast Group, a media giant with hard-right leanings. Sinclair is forcing local affiliates such as KOMO to run content created by the national organization, and the content looks a lot like unrepentant propaganda.
An example of the propaganda that Sinclair is bringing to local TV stations across the country is “Bottom Line with Boris.” As Crosscut has reported, Boris Epshteyn is a former Trump surrogate with no journalistic experience and even less journalistic integrity. Sinclair is forcing KOMO to air Epshteyn’s so-called political analysis three times per week during prime time news.
CNN breaks down how the current President’s new FCC appointee is allowing Sinclair to expand its holdings in ways that the previous administration had tried to reign in. The New York Times has an article on this disturbing development that includes a map of the stations Sinclair owns—you know, so you can warn your friends and family. Rolling Stone, Politico, and John Oliver have also covered it. It seems that with “fake news,” as with many other things, we should be most suspicious of the people who doth protest too much.
As you may know, Sightline has been writing about pernicious parking requirements that push up housing prices, amplify sprawl, and worsen traffic for years. This week, Vox released a helpful video summing up the effects of these hidden parking rules. Spoiler: We all pay for parking spots. Even people who don’t own cars. (-_-)
Today, still unbelievably to me, marks my last day with Sightline Institute. For four-and-a-half years, this brilliant, kind, curious, good-humored, and storied group of people has been a second family for me, a still-slack-jawed-at-mountains Chicago transplant who has been grateful to call Seattle home for the past five years. Hopefully, I will call it home again in not too long, but for now, I’m off on a good long bike ride (yep, seriously).
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So, a plug for myself as I pedal off, if you’re at all interested in following my coastal (and hopefully also inland Cascadia) wanderings, I’ll be writing here and there at serenalarkin.com and adding bits and pieces via social media as well. Not too much, of course: I’ve heard that Pacific Coast is a looker, and I don’t want to miss a single vista. (I’m a bit behind on posting so far, by the way, but hope to catch up soon.)
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a poem from one of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood (hat tip to Kristin E.):
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.