You’d certainly be forgiven for forgetting that today is Earth Day. With an unprecedented public health crisis relentlessly occupying our thoughts, a new daily reality governing our routines and interactions, and a looming economic crisis igniting our fears and anxieties, there is simply too much weighing on our tired minds. So, I’ll keep this message brief.
While you might not have remembered that today is April 22nd (I didn’t), or know that the first-ever Earth Day took place 50 years ago today, I want you to know that Carbon Washington has not forgotten our commitment to you and what we are fighting for. Recovering from this crisis is going to require bold action, innovative solutions, and renewed thinking about our economy and our way of life. It will require reaching across the aisle — even if that aisle is now the Wi-Fi connection between two faces on a monitor — and reaching out to folks in communities across our state who need it most, from Forks to Pullman and everywhere in between. (more…)
It has been less than two weeks since the 2020 legislative session came to a close, and yet it suddenly seems like a distant past. In that short time, the rhythms and realities of daily life have been altered in ways most of us have never experienced, and we are all left wondering what tomorrow will bring and worrying about loved ones with whom we cannot be right now. In this time of unease and uncertainty, we hope that those of you who can are staying home and staying safe. To those of you on the front lines of this crisis, working hard to keep the rest of us safe, healthy, and fed, we extend our sincerest gratitude to you and best wishes for your health and safety.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed not only our present circumstances, but also the way we think about the future and our role in addressing the new challenges it presents. It is going to take bold, decisive action to ensure that all Washington communities recover from this crisis and emerge from it more resilient to future shocks and disruptions to our economy and way of life. Carbon WA is committed to being a part of that process, and as we prepare for that work, we are staying connected to our communities and partners and supporting their immediate needs. (more…)
By William Pennell and Doug Ray
Published in the Tri-City Herald on Feb. 16, 2020
Bill Pennell is a former director of the Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Research Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In addition to his research, he has served as a scientific advisor to the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. Doug Ray is Chair, Board of Directors of Carbon Washington, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to net-zero carbon emissions in Washington State. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
It has been known for well over a century that human activities resulting in the emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and others) to the atmosphere have the potential for disrupting the Earth’s climate system. But until the latter part of the 20th century, such concerns were largely academic. The magnitude of the emissions and their contribution to the overall chemistry of the atmosphere were too small to be of consequence.
But by the 1970s and ‘80s, this situation was changing. Evidence began to accumulate that not only was the chemistry of the atmosphere being affected by human activities, but that the Earth’s climate was changing as well. (more…)
Klickitat Canyon Winery in Lyle, Wash., is proving that respect for nature is good business — and that vintners can care about both grapes and meadowlarks.
The winery was founded 30 years ago by Dr. Robin Dobson, whose main job is working as an ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service. When Dobson decided to retire from winemaking, his son Kiva took over the business.
“I grew up doing this,” Kiva says. “I also studied natural resources and biology. When Dad said he was done with the winery, I said I’ll give it a shot.”
Klickitat Canyon Winery is almost directly across the Columbia from Hood River, Ore. It includes 7 acres of grapes, 7 acres used for other crops, and 20 acres of oak woodland, which they leave as natural habitat.
The winery produces about 500 cases of wine per year. Those include Organic Estate Syrah and Organic Meadowlark Gold, which the winery’s website describes as “a lively wine sourced from our Meadowlark Vineyard. A blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, and Viognier that creates grapefruit flavors with hints of wildflowers and earthiness on the nose.” Other varieties are made with grapes from nearby vineyards.
One reason Kiva took over the winery was his desire to continue Robin’s approach to farming — which the pair calls eco-dynamic agriculture. “By reintroducing the native wildflowers and bunch grasses between the rows and around the periphery,” he says, “we strive to increase biodiversity as much as possible. As a result, our vineyard has become a continuation of the surrounding environment, as opposed to an oasis for non-native and sometimes harmful pests. We think of it as a form of agricultural habitat restoration.” (more…)
Since 2015, when Carbon Washington became the first organization in the U.S. to put a carbon tax on a statewide ballot (I-732), it has been an active participant in state government, working closely with concerned citizens and elected officials to pass meaningful and pragmatic climate policies that work for as many people as possible.
Under the leadership of Kyle Murphy, Carbon Washington has been at the forefront of climate action in the state. With a dedicated team of volunteers and a highly engaged base across the state, Carbon Washington has organized legislative action and ballot measures that led the nation, developed insightful policy analysis, and supported climate candidates who won close races. All of this has been done with a commitment to making a meaningful difference while generating broad support across Washington.
After nearly five years of leadership with Carbon Washington, Kyle is stepping back to focus on his studies as a second-year student at the University of Washington School of Law. Continuing the organization’s mission of increasing demand for climate action and fighting for smart carbon policies, Carbon Washington is pleased to announce the appointment of Jessie Martin as the new executive director.
Jessie brings more than a decade of diverse, cross-functional, leadership experience in the corporate, public, and non-profit sectors. Most recently, she served as executive director of Earth Economics, where she developed strategies to harness the power of markets to redirect capital toward nature-based solutions to urban and rural challenges. (more…)
Agriculture produces about 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. But 80 miles east of Seattle, a small farm along the Yakima River is proving that agriculture can store carbon in the soil, instead — in a big way.
Spoon Full Farm is jointly run by four determined young farmers who are out to grow produce and meat in ways that maximize their taste and nutrition — while strengthening and enriching the soil with large quantities of carbon.
One of those farmers is Mericos Rhodes. He was studying philosophy at Williams College in Massachusetts when he attended a lecture by an innovative cattle rancher. “He was running around on stage yelling about soil microbes,” says Rhodes, “and describing how rotational grazing of bison built soil fertility and massive stores of carbon in the Midwest. This guy really loved his life. I wanted what he was having.”
A few years later, Rhodes’ mom and stepdad bought what is now Spoon Full Farm. “I’d been serving the Kool-Aid of carbon farming to them,” he says. “After they’d owned the land for about a year, a few friends of mine and I moved out there and started farming.” (more…)
Inside Olympia: Biochar Roaring Back
Following a year of work by Carbon Washington, an important and innovative policy to promote the use of biochar is moving forward in the Washington state Legislature, clearing the first committee last week unanimously, opening possibilities for sequestering carbon and fortifying farmland.
Biochar, a form of charcoal produced from biomass sources like forest deadfall, offers several environmental and agricultural benefits. For instance, it sequesters carbon in soils for hundreds and possibly thousands of years while also decreasing the amount of fuel for wildfires. Agriculture benefits from the nutrients biochar infuses in the soil, which increases crop yields.