Jay Inslee

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is studying possible solutions to climate change.
Image: Thomas Sorenes via Flickr CC

We continue to hear about the earth heating up and polar ice caps melting.  We hear that we will soon be turning into “Water World,” and we’ll all grow fins and gills.

No matter what, it’s becoming harder to deny the fact that global warming is real.  Now what?  With all the doom and gloom, people want to know what can actually be done about it.  Should we all stop driving cars?  Should we all switch to solar powered toothbrushes?  What’s the cure?

Washington state, with a legislative panel, is looking into multiple solutions to come up with global warming solutions. They are working with the Science Application International Corp. (SAIC) of Virginia, as a consultant, to sift through possible options.

Gov. Jay Inslee realizes the importance of tackling these issues due to the way it affects Washington’s economy and quality of life for residents.  Specifically he is looking at how climate change and acidification will cost Washington $10 billion by 2020.  This is “due to increased health costs, smaller snow packs to feed irrigated croplands, greenhouse gases acidifying the ocean and killing shellfish larvae in Washington’s waters, higher temperatures raising the risk of forest fires, and higher sea levels pushing more salt water into coastal water treatment plants. Today, the Earth’s oceans are 30 percent more acidic than they were in the 18th century. That figure is expected to reach 150 percent by the end of the 21st century.”

bright green idea

We need to find sustainable solutions to climate change.
Image: Shutterstock

Some possible global warming solutions that have been studied include emissions trading programs, carbon taxes, power production, transportation measures, industrial processes, reductions to wastes that create greenhouse gases, and water conservation. Then, SAIC targeted solutions that are most relatable to Washington’s direct issues.

While all of the possibilities have merit, SAIC recommended looking more closely at cap-and-trade, energy efficiency efforts, ways to increase public transit, British Columbia’s carbon tax and cap-and-trade approaches to limiting emissions.

So, what are these, exactly, and what do they do?  Everyone knows what it means to increase public transit and energy efficiency, but they may be fuzzier about cap-and-trade.

Basically, cap-and-trade gives a limit to the amount of emissions a company or industry can produce.  They can purchase or sell emissions credits to other companies if they know they will produce more or less. This is scalable to small organizations or up to entire countries.

Only time will tell if and how the options will be implemented.  It’s something to keep an eye on in the future.