Showing posts from January, 2017

Environmental Issues: Washington State Climate Change Update

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information recently released updated climate summary reports for each of the fifty states, looking at how climate change has affected each state, and projecting future changes as global temperatures continue to warm. As is to be expected, the news isn't good.

I perused the summary report for Washington state to see how conditions and projections may have changed since I reported on the 2014 National Climate Assessment nearly three years ago. Here are the three "key messages" of the updated climate summary:
Key Message 1: Mean annual temperature has increased approximately 1.5°F over the last two
decades. Winter warming has been characterized by a far below average number
of occurrences of extremely cold days since 1990. Under a higher emissions pathway,
historically unprecedented warming is projected by the end of the 21st century.  Key Message 2: Rising temperatures will lead to …

Wanderings: First Day Hike at Saint Edward State Park

For the fourth New Year's Day in a row, my husband and I headed out to one of the fabulous Washington State Parks for a First Day Hike in the chilly winter sunshine. In previous years, we've visited Deception Pass State Park, Wallace Falls State Park, and Cama Beach State Park. Thirty-two state parks hosted official First Day Hikes this year. Although Saint Edward State Park wasn't one of them, we decided to revisit this familiar and favorite place for a leisurely hike, knowing these trails were still within the ability of my nearly-six-months-pregnant, tired, achy body.

With temperatures hovering right around freezing and the previous night's trace of snowfall still an icy crust on the ground, we bundled up in the car and then made a brisk beeline for the South Canyon trail. There were just a handful of cars in the parking lot, and I could count on one hand the number of people we passed on the way down the cold and shaded trail, greeting each with a jubilant "H…

Environmental Issues: Light Pollution

Growing up, I lived high on a hill above the Snoqualmie Valley, where most nights the lights from the prison in Monroe suffused the night sky with the orange glow of perpetual sunset. The glow was particularly noticeable on overcast nights, when the cloud ceiling dispersed the orange light over even greater distances. At the time, I had no idea that what I was seeing was, in fact, pollution. Light pollution.

While light seems an innocuous thing (and in the case of the prison, a necessary thing), when it occurs at the wrong time of day or year, in too great a quantity, in the wrong color, or without direction, light can be a harmful thing for the environment, for wildlife, and even for humans.

Impacts on the environment
Light pollutes the night sky, and energy used to produce the light can pollute the air and atmosphere with carbon emissions, since much of the world uses fossil fuels to produce this energy. Our climate is changing and earth is warming due to humanity's carbon diox…