ALASKA DAY – A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka color guard pauses on their march down Lincoln Street as Jayhawk helicopters fly over St. Michael's Cathedral during the Alaska Day parade Friday. Hundreds turned out for the parade and a full schedule of events over the weekend. More photos from the Alaska Day Festival are printed on page 8 of today's Sentinel. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

May 24, 2019, Community Happenings

Climate Connection:

A Small Step, A Giant Leap

By Barbara Bingham

While we here at Climate Connection prefer a light-hearted approach, today’s column is quite serious, because the topic requires it. Atmospheric CO2 just exceeded 415 parts per million, the highest amount in millions of years, according to scientists, propelling us closer to irreversible planetary harm. Are any of our efforts to slow the increase working? Is there still hope?

We believe there is, but any solution will require immediate, collective action. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, a previous topic in this column, as well as in letters to the Sentinel’s Editor, and, increasingly, in national news, is gaining in acceptance and bipartisan support as a practical, viable step, reducing emissions 40% by 2034 and 90% by 2050 if enacted soon. 

Briefly, the bill, HR763, currently under review in Congress, requires fossil fuel producers to pay a fee on carbon emissions and returns those fees to American households. Scientists and economists agree that the policy will spur innovation toward cleaner fuels and products, create jobs and improve health, as well as encourage and enable consumers to reduce their carbon footprints, too. This isn’t the only solution we need, but it’s a good first step. Dozens of countries have already successfully taken this step, we can take it too.

An aspect of HR 763 that causes some confusion and pushback, is that the fee is frequently called a tax. This raises the hackles on many lawmakers to whom any new tax is anathema. In this case, there’s a difference. As Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, clarified in announcing the passage of their universal carbon fee and dividend legislation, last October: “It is free to pollute, so we have too much pollution.”  “Starting next year, it will no longer be free to pollute anywhere in Canada….”

Pretty simple, huh? An economist might explain it this way, “The external costs of emissions, i.e. pollution, aren’t being factored in to the price of the end product; therefore fossil fuel producers benefit from competitive advantages that the rest of us are paying for, and have no incentive to change.” We’re paying for it to the tune of the billions of dollars needed to combat widespread health issues due to pollution, to repair the extensive damage to whole communities due to raging wildfires, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, to attempt to save our precious natural world and all life in it. 

If you think it’s time to put a price on the true cost of the fossil fuel products we all use, to incentivize all of us to greatly reduce the life threatening carbon in our environment, let our Members of Congress know that you support The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, and why. Your personal story will be especially compelling. This may seem like a small step, but it will be a giant leap toward a livable future if we do it together. 

Senator Murkowski: (202) 224-6665; www.murkowski.senate.gov/contact/email

Senator Sullivan: (202) 224-3004; www.sullivan.senate.gov/contact/email

Representative Young: (202) 225-5765; https://donyoung.house.gov/contact

Want to do more? Contact sitkaclimatelobby@gmail.com, or call Barb at 738-3557.

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Barbara Bingham, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Sitka Chapter

 

 

Two Businesses Given Green Awards

Two more businesses this week received Sitka Green Business Awards from the Sitka Global Warming Group. Both were the highest recognition, the Platinum-level award.

The Alaska Computer and Office Supply Center and White’s and Harry Race pharmacies are the newest winners of Sitka Green Business Awards. 

Both businesses, like the 12 earlier 2019 award winners, are being recognized for their efforts that support the community, environment and economy of Sitka, SGWG said in a press release.

Both are engaged in practices such as recycling, printing two-sided, using refurbished office supplies, and conserving energy. These and other positive, “green” actions benefit the environment, save money, and increase the community’s sustainability and resilience, SGWG said. 

“We recognize and appreciate these award-winning businesses and their contribution to the sustainability of our community,’’ said Michelle Putz, coordinator for the awards and SGWG leader. ‘‘The way they do their work, and the work they do, supports Sitka in an environmental, financial, and social sense.

“We also recognize and thank the employees at these businesses since they are often the ones implementing these green actions,” Putz said.

Putz is encouraging the community to support these businesses.

With this year’s winners, 246 awards have been presented to more than 80 local  businesses since the award program began 10 years ago. The awards have recognized leadership in sustainability in the business community. 

Businesses and others earned awards based on implementing simple and complex green practices. The more actions a business implements, the higher their award level. The list of “best management” practices that determined green business award winners was based on activities used by other Sitka businesses to support community and reduce their impact on the environment.

This year’s winners received a “2019 Sitka Green Business Award” certificate that can often be seen in the business’s window or check-out counter to identify it as a green business. Green businesses are also listed on the Sitka Conservation Society’s webpage, http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_global_warming_group, under green businesses. 

Putz said there is good news on the horizon for green businesses in Sitka. 

“We are in discussions with a well-established, regional not-for-profit that shares our interests in sustainable and green economic development,” she said. “Working with them, we hope to see recognition, appreciation, and support of green businesses not just continue but grow over the coming year in Sitka and beyond.”

 

 

ANB, ANS Offer

Fundraiser Opps

Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 1 and Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 are inviting Alaska Native artists, entrepreneurs and others wishing to sell their Native arts and crafts, cottage industry items, antiques or oddities at the ANB Founders Hall this summer on the days the cruise ships are in port.

The cost for one table per day during the hours the cruise ship passengers are visiting the downtown area is $10. Visitors can donate $1 to enter the historic building to view the photos and interpretive signs and, when available, purchase fry bread, coffee or other food and drinks from the ANS kitchen. 

All income and donations will be applied to the upkeep and historic preservation of the ANB Founders Hall, and ongoing administrative expenses for both organizations.

Artists should respond before June 3, and call 747-7803 if interested, or for further information.

 

Stride 365

Walk, Run Set

Stride 365 5K walk and run for Men’s Health Month will be 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 1, beginning at the O’Connell Bridge lightering facility.

Registration is 9:30 a.m. The $10 registration fee and donation to benefit Sitka Little League is $10.

 

Contact Heleena van Veen for more information at 966-8914 or heleenav@searhc.org.

 

Smart Cycling

Class June 4-5

League of American Bicyclists instructor Elle Steele and Bike Anchorage Executive Director Pierce Schwalb will be in Sitka to teach a SMART Cycling workshop June 4-5.

The purpose is to build riding, skills, knowledge and confidence for riders of all levels. Participants must be at least 14 years of age and have a bicycle to use throughout the training.

Training is at the Aspen Suites Hotel conference room 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 4 and 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. June 5.

Go to walkbikealaska.wordpress.com for information or to register call Doug Osborne at 747-0374.

 

 

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