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With Karen Wickre and Tess Vigeland

Down To Earth

Another Green Monday

“This is what change looks like.”

After an impassioned speech from President Obama and all the votes were counted, the Health care bill passed 219-212. (View a cool map that breaks down which representatives voted for and against.) But the struggle for health care reform has dominated news and trumped climate change coverage. Some have even wondered why climate change was left out of the debate considering the health impacts. Matthew Nisbet at American University is a strategic communications specialist who focuses on science, the environment and public health. He sat down with Grist for an enlightening interview and below is a brief excerpt:

Q. So, the ongoing, high-profile debate over healthcare reform is a great opportunity to start a contextual discussion about climate change; a kind of "teachable moment" to explain how climate change has very tangible and very personal health consequences. Are there other "teachable moments" out there, in disciplines other than healthcare, that the climate community should target?

A. The White House has been pushing climate change as an economic issue. Insurance companies, businesses and others have added climate change to the criteria by which they make decisions about health and health coverage. There's going to be a trickledown effect. The fact that climate change is a criteria is becoming institutionalized and will, down the road, influence members of these organizations and the wider public and begin to be reported on in the news media. [Stories about climate change] will stretch beyond the science and environment beats, and become part of the health and business beats and constitute more of the political coverage.

But one area not getting enough attention is the focus on how the faith-based community is responding to climate change; not just religious communities discussing climate change as a moral issue, but also ethics experts at universities discussing the ethical implications of climate impacts. The idea that climate change is one of society's leading moral and ethical dilemmas is under-communicated. There's some work on the part of ethicists to try and engage journalists about how to cover these questions substantively. There's an opportunity for environmental leaders, scientists, and public health leaders to partner with religious leaders [on this issue].

After the jump are a few stories you might've missed.

It's a step... though moving away from petroleum all together is what we really need.  The City of Spokane announced last week  that the city’s 1,400 vehicles will now be running on re-refined motor oil, a product made from waste oil.  In a story that appeared in the S-R, Gene Jakubczak, Spokane’s fleet services director, said re-refined oil performs as well or better than motor oil made from virgin crude, and using it reduces U.S. reliance on foreign imports while conserving fossil fuels.  Read more HERE.  

Now THIS is a green building.  A proposed Seattle building called the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction has developers eying for it to be known as Seattle's greenest building ever.  The six-story office building the Bullitt Foundation plans to build at 15th Avenue and East Madison Street would use less than one-third the electricity consumed by the average building — and would generate as much power as it consumes, would rely almost exclusively on the rain that falls on the roof for its water, would treat and reuse on-site everything that's flushed down its toilets and poured down its drains, would have no more than six parking spaces — all reserved for a fleet of hybrid or electric cars, and would be designed to last 250 years.  Read all about the building HERE.

Please President Obama - NO NUCLEAR.  Despite all the flack our President is taking right now, we're about to add to it.  Mr. President, nuclear energy is not the path you need to put us down to solve our energy needs and our energy independence. But please, listen to what an expert says.  A few weeks ago, The Oregonian ran a great op-ed piece penned by Lloyd Marbet, an Oregon political activist, and Greg Kafoury, a Portland attorney.  Here's our favorite reason they give: Climate change can cause severe droughts, reducing the availability of water needed to cool nuclear reactors. During a severe drought in the summer of 2003, France had to shut down a quarter of its 58 nuclear power plants, causing electricity prices to skyrocket. In 2007 a nuclear plant in Alabama was shut down for similar reasons. Once built, these plants cannot be picked up and moved.  Read more of this piece HERE.

Get your Lilac on tonight.

Down To Earth

The DTE blog is committed to reporting and sharing environmental news and sustainability information from across the Inland Northwest.