This opinion piece was written by Annalisa Mueller-Eberstein and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the Washington Bus or Washington Bus Education Fund. Annalisa Mueller-Eberstein (she/her) was a Washington Bus Fall 2020 Intern and is currently enrolled as an undergraduate student at the University of Washington planning to pursue dual degrees in Materials Science Engineering and International Affairs. Originally from Kirkland, WA, Annalisa has a passion for working with the environment and her local community—volunteering with and participating in organizations to help achieve her goals. Outside of work and school she enjoys playing with wires, rollerblading, and watching YouTube.
Every study group, town hall, club meeting, the same opening question, “Why do you care about saving the environment?” There is something inherently wrong with this question–save. Save has too much of a positive connotation. We cannot come in as saviors since we were also the destroyers. Save is too meek, passing off the blame to an unseen third party, refusing to acknowledge how much man-made damage has occurred and how much needs to be done to reverse those effects. We must not so much ‘save’ as resurrect our planet, humanity’s mothership in a vast and mostly uninhabitable universe. We must take immediate action to act as a greater force in the opposite, pushing back against the decades of mistreatment that has turned our tiny blue dot gray with smog and smoke.
Recently, the spotlight has sporadically pointed towards environmental issues but not the prolonged attention an issue of this scale deserves for its effects are far-reaching and complex. Tension and stagnation in the Middle East? Lack of accessible water because of drought. Wildfires across the Americas? Changing weather patterns because of the greenhouse gas effect. Anthrax in Siberia? Melting permafrost? We need drastic change with monumental shifts in mindset and policy. We need everyone building from the ground up to create tangible collective impact. We need nested systems putting the environment first, ensuring the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
During a workshop integrating social and economic needs into a 2020 Sustainability Plan for the City of Kirkland, we took a ‘Sustainability Yoga’ break which yielded a rather entertaining quote:
“Please enter chair pose. Hand outstretched. Look to the right, look to the left. There is no one there. You are in a single-occupancy vehicle. Feel that burning in your thighs? That’s called… shame.”
Which brings us to Washington state and HB 1204/SB 5256, also known as “Clean Cars 2030” or the “Clean Cars Bill.” The bill would require all passenger cars and light-duty trucks to be electric in order to be registered in Washington starting in 2030 with exemptions for some emergency and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Transportation is Washington’s largest individual source of carbon emissions, and according to the Washington Department of Ecology, motor vehicles release roughly three million gallons of petroleum annually into the Puget Sound Basin. The bill was drafted by Representative Nicole Macri (D-Seattle) with assistance from Coltura, a Seattle-based environmental advocacy nonprofit focusing on the transition to electric vehicles.
The Goals of the Clean Cars Bill:
- Increase cheap, clean, renewable electricity produced in-state
- Incentivize private-sector investment in new EVs and charging stations
- Increase opportunities for lower-income Washingtonians (used EVs are cheaper to maintain than vehicles reliant on fossil fuels)
- Reduce carbon emissions and air pollution
Now back to the big picture. We must work for our future. We must work for our planet. After all, we are all in this together, part of the grand musical of life where everyone must play their part, contributing their fullest for humanity’s sake. A beautiful planet for humanity to live on complete with clean water, air, and soil. These are simple requests and the fact that we cannot guarantee they can be fulfilled for the majority of the population now, much less in fifty years, is a frankly terrifying problem we need to solve together.
We can (almost) all agree on that, yet very few of us have been carbon neutral, even fewer have been carbon negative. My suggestion is we all become carbon negative. If we wish to have lives comparable to now with sunshine to bask in, trees to scamper up, and chicken noodle soup to soothe the soul, we must act now, shifting our ways of thinking and common practices to fulfill a larger goal. Homes will need to become smaller, meat less common, and agriculture more sustainable. However, that is a small price to pay in comparison to the billions in capital and people lost to natural disasters and the side effects of warming temperatures. Time to look into local food sources, vegetarianism, mass transit, shorter showers, composting, and follow through.
More Information on Clean Cars 2030:
Clean Cars 2030 Fact Sheet: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1a2lRHBGDhNccoMMBWVbFJTEap20FkP_1/view
Clean Cars 2030 FAQ: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HLLi9bMYsS_3Wyq0J8TF1tbJQVwkQpwU/view