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  • Don’t miss it: We’re talking sustainable cities in NYC this summer

    Come to our hot summer lecture series, on a few of our favorite things: transportation, plastic, and keeping cool.

  • Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on Earth Day parties

    Dearest readers, Oh snap, did you space on Earth Day again? (Newsflash: It’s tomorrow!) No worries, there’s still time (a little, anyway) to pull together something for your office or school—or at least get a head start for next year’s planning. Feeling celebratory myself, I raked through the archives to find some past tips on […]

  • Gear up for Bike to Work Week

    It’s Bike to Work Week, which means it’s the perfect time for you to dust off that two-wheeler and start pedaling (or feel a bit smug-er about already being a committed cyclist). For tips on converting to a cycle-based commute, check out our handy how-to or the entertaining Umbra video at the bottom of the […]

  • Stimulating coffee lectures in Seattle focus on sustainability

    Ever wonder exactly what goes into your morning coffee (aside from milk and sugar, of course)? A series of lectures this spring at the University of Washington attempts to answer just that question. The UW is serving up its public-speaker series Coffee: From the Grounds Up as a complement to the cultural exhibit Coffee: The […]

  • Seattle Greendrinkers show Grist some love

    I heart Seattle
    Photo: David Lattimer.

    Seattle, we love you! And we love that you showed us the love Tuesday night at Greendrinks.

    Our event at the LEED-designed Veer Lofts in South Lake Union drew some 450 Greendrinkers excited about catching up with old friends, mingling with new ones, and sharing green ideas and good times with all.

    Generous donations from Pizza Fusion, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Snoqualmie Wines, Guayaki Teas, Clif Bar, Essential Baking Company, and Full Circle Farm provided sustainable (and delectable) sustenance -- and kept the crowd buzzing.

    We also had photographers roaming the scene, asking Greendrinkers to hold up signs showing what it is they love. We got responses ranging from bikes, to national parks, to "snuggles." Check out the photos for yourself in our Flickr slideshow (below). Then share your own by joining our Grist Local Flickr group.

    And if you wish that you'd known a little sooner about this great green event in Seattle, subscribe to our Grist Local: Seattle email list to receive weekly news about green goings-on in the Emerald City.

  • Looking at climate change from a regional perspective

    "Climate change poses a tremendous threat to the Puget Sound and Georgia Basin area."

    Clear. Concise. Depressing. The quote comes from Patty Glick, senior global warming specialist at the National Wildlife Federation, but it was echoed in the words of all the speakers at the three climate-change panels held Wednesday at the Puget Sound Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference in Seattle.

    Scientists of varying disciplines from all over the region shared their research and forecasts for the future. But one big question for the day arose: How do we take all of this climate change science -- which is primarily based on predictions that are global in scale -- and translate that into local management decisions?

  • Is tidal energy a possibility in Puget Sound?

    Seattle may not be solar-panel savvy or a wind-power winner, but could it be a viable source of tidal energy? That's what a number of scientists, governmental bodies, and public utilities folks are trying to figure out. And they shared their progress, and their plans for the future, with attendees at the Puget Sound Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference in Seattle.

    Generating tidal energy involves taking advantage of the rhythmic rise and fall of tidal currents by planting some sort of windmill-ish technology below the surface of the water, especially in areas where water flow is restricted into a narrow passageway, such as an inlet.

    Like their land-based brethren, though, these underwater windmills could have environmental impacts that include affecting salmon and marine mammal migration, disturbing bottom fish habitat, and impacting fish harvests. But just how much of an impact would tidal power have on the Puget Sound -- and how would that balance with the benefits of renewable energy generation? Well, unfortunately, no one really knows. There are limited studies on actual impacts -- and limited on-site experimentation as well.

  • Integrating science with management and policy at the Puget Sound Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference

    "I would like to tell our Canadian friends that science is back in the United States of America."

    Considering the room was full of scientists -- and the morning's coffee was just kicking in -- perhaps it's no surprise that Puget Sound Partnership Director David Dicks' statement was greeted by thunderous applause. But it also seemed to set the tone for the Puget Sound Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference in Seattle this week, eliciting a sense of anticipation and optimism that many had been holding back for almost a decade.

    Dicks followed his bold assertion about science's big comeback with four key strategies for improving the health of the Salish Sea:

  • Attending a conference that calls for action on the Salish Sea

    Starting today, I'll be spending three days at the Puget Sound Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference learning about the health -- or perhaps un-health -- of the Salish Sea, a term that refers to waters in both Washington state and British Columbia, including the Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca (see map at right).

    Co-hosted by the Puget Sound Partnership and Environment Canada, this biennial conference is touted as the largest and most comprehensive scientific research and policy event in the region. Those attending include scientists, policymakers, Coast Salish Tribes and First Nations, biz folk, educators, and concerned citizens.

    I'll be sitting in on sessions about climate change, citizen science, and the future of tidal energy in the Puget Sound; listening to keynote speeches from tribal leaders and Gov. Chris Gregoire (D); hobnobbing with fishy folks; and generally reveling in the marine biology nerdyness of it all. I promise to report back regularly on what I learn while I'm there, wifi-permitting.