Mill Creek can play a pivotal role in Earth Day 2017

Apr 21, 2017

Imagine the outrage if rising ocean waters were threatening to swallow the Mill Creek golf course. What if our air was so full of smog it was essential to wear masks every day? Earth Day will come and pass Mill Creek with little risk of these scenarios. What is significant is that the day will come with profound opportunities.

While much attention has focused on the negative news from the EPA, Department of Energy and the White House, the fight to save our environment marches on. Mill Creek residents may be active participants in saving the planet without even knowing it.

We are all part of a worldwide revolution of replacing our home appliances with energy saving products. We are buying products that use less energy. Some use products like the Nest thermostat. From the convenience of your cell phone, users can access the Nest to reduce your energy costs. The product uses artificial intelligence to "learn" and create an energy saving schedule for your home heating system. For added benefits, the Nest also communicates with doorbells, sprinklers, and security systems.

Projections for growth and power consumption in our region in the 1970s resulted in plans for the construction of five nuclear power plants in the state of Washington. Cost overruns, delays and legal challenges led to a default of over $2 billion in bonds. It was the largest default in U. S. history at the time.

So how did the region add new energy customers without adding these generating plants? Congress passed the Northwest Power Planning Act of 1980. The act required, "consideration of conservation as the preferred method to accommodate load growth in the Bonneville Power Administration Region." To this day, we enjoy rebates for insulation, LED lights and energy saving appliances from Snohomish PUD.

Does anyone replace old windows with new ones that are less energy efficient?

Recently, Elon Musk introduced a new roof tile that also happens to be a solar panel. Musk announced that his glass tiles are stronger than concrete, terra cotta, and slate. Musk promises his solar roofing system to "cost less than an equivalent roof when combined with projected utility bill savings." Will it be cheaper than wood shingles and composite paper tiles used locally? If not in 2017, the market is demanding these products and innovation are sure to deliver in the near future.

In addition to saving money, consumers can support a sustainable environment by eating local healthy foods. Local farmers' markets are close by. In return you get healthy fruits and vegetables to help you live a longer and  more healthy.

Believe it or not, we are all taking the road to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. With new appointments to the EPA and Department of Energy and executive orders, the  President has attempted to scrap the agreement. Fortunately a few individuals and documents on paper will not determine the success or failure of the fight for a clean energy future.

Ultimately, people in communities like Mill Creek will determine the success or failure of the environmental movement. This is not a revolution where it is up to someone else like a president or a bureaucracy leader to determine the course of our future on this planet. It is up to us, everyone.

A clean energy future promises more than energy savings on our appliances. A sustainable society that heals and protects our environment will be healthier. It will be safer too. The outlook for more powerful storms and longer lasting droughts threatens political stability where the crisis is greatest. The potential for a collapse of the food chain on water and land is still the direction climate change can take us. We are moving in the right direction, but we need to do more. We need to do it now.

Around our nation and around the world, cities, townships and municipalities have set goals for a future free of fossil fuels. Some are already there. Citizens in Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and King County have demanded action on the part of local elected officials. They are now part of the Compact of Mayors founded in 2016 and representing over 500 million people around the world who are committed to goals and working together to meet the challenges of climate change.

The communication age allows us to share what works in real time. This allows us to accelerate our progress like no time before us. As more cities set goals for eliminating the use of fossil fuels and creating sustainable communities we will stimulate more investment and more innovation.

We cannot rely on any one leader or we blame any individual. We must all be in this together. What if just one-tenth of this paper's readership contacted the Mill Creek City Council to ask for their target date for ending the use of fossil fuels? What if that same number of people requested that the city manager to investigate joining the Compact of Mayors? What if just 10 readers volunteered to join an advisory board to research ways the City of Mill Creek could move towards using clean energy and applying environmentally sustainable practices?

We will not get there tomorrow. It might take decades before our goals can all be reached, but, for now, we do have opportunities.

Happy Earth Day, Mill Creek. Hope to see you in Seattle on the April 22nd for the March for Science and in Seattle on April 29th for the People's Climate March.

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