Weekly Reading: Climate Is Back

Articles and images this week remind us of one thing: climate change is real, and it is happening now. First there was the confirmation that 2012 was, indeed, the hottest year on record for the continental US.  (Of course, The Onion had the most sardonic headline). But, the seriousness of climate change was brought home by several images out of Australia, where a massive, extreme heat wave has caused the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to adjust the color spectrum on their temperature map, adding magenta at the top representing 129 degrees Farenheit.

The heat wave has contributed to scorching forest fires have driven families into the water seeking refuge (Image via AP):

And soil into the sea:

Fortunately, this week there has also been a lot of hope.

UW's own Dr. Howard Frumpkin offered an inspiring opinion piece in The Seattle Times, a new report from the National Academies recognizes climate disturbance as a cause for more extreme disasters and advocates for a softer approach to risk-mitigating infrastructure, and, in real, concrete action, the City of Seattle has become the first City in the country to pledge divestment from fossil fuel investments as part of's Do The Math campaign. And the City has a new climate mitigation and adaptation blueprint, as part of the Green Ribbon Commission's, which our own Brice Maryman served on, Climate Action Plan.

One of the adaptation strategies the City recommends includes more adoption of low impact development as part of a comprehensive suite of adaptation strategies. Fortunately, the newest edition of the Low Impact Development Technical Guidance Manual for Puget Sound was just released to help Seattle and other Puget Sound area cities implement LID strategies. Our own Kathy Gwilym served on the Technical Advisory Committee, providing particular expertise on porous/pervious pavements and bioretention facilities. And to fund green infrastructure, the NRDC suggests that this is going to be a big year for sustainable infrastructure financing.

All of this reminds us that, now more than ever, we need people taking ideas and turning them into a more hopeful future. It's hard work, as this commiserating presentation from Rilla Alexander attests, but "without the doing, the dreaming is useless."