Build Wisely, Protect the Environment, and Fight for the People

Last Friday, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict hosted a conversation on climate mitigation and resilience, featuring a panel of local actors and activists committed to combatting the effects of climate change.  Susan Wickwire (Seattle 2030 District), Hodan Hasan (Got Green), Kelly Hall (Climate Solutions), and Edie Gilliss (City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment) joined our steering committee and members of the public to share their perspectives on the work being done in the field, the impact on our region, and what we can do as a community to make a difference.

Much of what was shared was good news: while pulling out of the Paris Accords sent a strong message to the international community about the U.S.’s lack of commitment to combatting climate change, many local organizations had already been working beyond Paris’ admittedly modest goals, and more states and businesses have now felt compelled to step up to fill the gap left by the federal government. Agencies, departments, and organizations are also increasingly working together and sharing knowledge – understanding the interplay and interdependencies of much of their work and project goals.

We also discussed how climate change has/will affect the Seattle area directly.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we will still see rising sea levels of up to two feet, an increase in temperatures and forest fires, and a dramatic decrease in air quality.  These effects will most heavily affect people already facing other challenges – those with limited financial resources, people of color, and other minorities feeling the push of displacement especially in the south Seattle region. To combat this, Hodan Hasan from Got Green, stressed the need for conscientious planning when addressing climate change mitigation and adaption strategies. For example, while an expanded and improved transportation and light rail system can decrease our carbon footprint and increase connectivity for a community, it can also contribute to displacement by making those same communities more desirable (read: expensive) places to live.

The general tone of the morning was that we are lucky to live in Seattle – a city with so many natural resources, with a progressive stance on climate change issues, and with a culture that so many people want to be a part of.  Yet as we grow, it is our responsibility to preserve these aspects of our city – to build wisely, to protect our environment, and to fight to keep Seattle a place where people of all incomes and backgrounds can thrive.