Last weekend, I bumped into a friend sitting in the shade enjoying the scene of parents and strollers, bags of goodies from the Edmonds farmers’ market, people lining up at Mar-ket and Starbucks, and the beautiful sky. It has been so beautiful this past month.
I mentioned I was surprised at how little I felt about the horrors of the temperatures around the country. With such beautiful weather here, something inside me was much more relaxed about the news than made sense. I was worried I was going to hurt someone’s feelings, and my friend confirmed my worries.
He said that just the day before he was talking about the beautiful weather with an older friend, when they had to stop him. “Don’t talk to me about the weather. My sister is in Phoenix and we’re afraid to have her drive up here.”
At 110 °F in Phoenix, it is sensible that you would not want to get stuck waiting for a tow truck with a dead air conditioner. The Maricopa County Health Department has reported that 25 people have died from heat in the Phoenix area this year.
So I’m enjoying the beautiful weather and I’m checking in with friends about their families.
On our end up here, we have momentum on doing our part. Along with the weather, this is another joy to watch.
I’ve seen this kind of thing before. I remember when luggage had no wheels. Americans and people around the world used to carry their luggage. Then there were wheeled frames that you strapped your luggage to. Then there were suitcases with two wheels that you tilted to move them. Now there are suitcases and carry-ons with four wheels.
For centuries, we could have put wheels on our luggage anytime we wanted. Wheels were invented more than 6,000 years ago. Even so, there we were in the 20th century lifting and carrying our luggage everywhere.
I remember when no one cleaned up after their dogs. Walking on the sidewalk meant keeping your eyes down at all times and stepping around the messes. That was just how it was. And then people started picking up after their dogs.
I remember when just about everyone smoked. And then just about everyone stopped.
Now we are making a new transition. People are starting to drive electric cars.
Electric cars are not a new technology either. Golfers have been driving them for decades. The first electric car was built in 1832.
Researchers this year reported that, for each 2% increase in electric vehicle adoption, emergency room visits for asthma dropped 3.2%. That research was based on electric vehicle adoption rates up to 14%. The drop in ER visits will probably be smaller as electric vehicles get closer to 100%.
I recently got a first-hand experience of this. I was walking to the farmers’ market on an 80-degree day. I was just level with the back bumper of a pickup truck when it pulled out. I flinched, expecting the blast of hot exhaust. I held my breath, not wanting a mouthful of diesel fumes. It was silly. The truck was a Rivian. Rivians have no exhaust. No exhaust means no hot blast and no fumes.
Here’s how far we have gotten in the EV transition in our local cities:
Electric-Vehicle Percent of Registered Cars and Trucks
|City||June 2022||June 2023||Increase Over the Last Year|
These figures are from Climate Protection Northwest analysis of Washington State Department of Transportation reports on vehicle registrations.
Ownership percentages follow changes in what cars and trucks people are buying. Even if everyone committed to buying only electric vehicles today, we would still have gasoline-burning cars and trucks on the road for years to come.
Here’s how things look locally in what people are buying:
Electric-Vehicle Percent of Purchases
|City||April-June 2022||April-June 2023||Increase Over the Last Year|
On the electric vehicle front, things are coming along.
On the natural gas front, it’s not clear that things are changing. I haven’t seen useful data on natural gas in Lynnwood, or Mountlake Terrace. Edmonds posts data about natural gas usage in Edmonds on the city website. For the last five years, natural gas burning in Edmonds has held steady at roughly one billion cubic feet each year. Currently, Edmonds homes and businesses spend about $14 million on natural gas each year.
Upcoming Creative Retirement Class
This fall, those of us in the Edmonds-Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace region have a chance to learn a lot more about climate change. Professor Richard Gammon is teaching a class at the Creative Retirement Institute at Edmonds College. Dr. Gammon was hired by the United Nations in 1990 to help create the first comprehensive report on what was known about global-warming pollution and climate change. On four Mondays, from Sept. 18 through Oct. 9, Professor Gammon will be presenting how the global climate system works, what has been happening, and what we can do about it. I’ll be there as his loyal sidekick. My part of the class is what we can do about it. This is a great opportunity to hear the most recent understanding of climate science from a world-recognized expert (Dr. Gammon).
What about …
This section of this column provides some quick news about questions people have asked.
Buying only electric means buying an electric vehicle when you replace your current car or truck. You can buy electric and buy a heavy vehicle, and you can buy electric and not buy a heavy vehicle. Some people prefer heavy vehicles. They feel safer in a vehicle that won’t be pushed around as much in the event of a collision. Those people can get a heavy electric vehicle. Some people, like me, like small cars. There are small and light electric vehicles too. Everyone can join in on getting an electric vehicle.
Here are a few cars and trucks and how much they weigh:
|Car or Truck||Energy||Weight (lbs)|
|Electric Mini Cooper||Electric||3,100|
I hear there is a lot of concern about heavy vehicles. Given all the concern, maybe a nonprofit will start up to push to get SUVs and pickups off the road. I don’t know that that would be a good idea
— By Nick Maxwell
Nick Maxwell is a Climate Reality seminar leader in Edmonds, a Rewiring America local leader, and a climate protection educator at Climate Protection Northwest.