Getting Greener

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getting greener
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Less volume and more listening might help Seattle learn something from the kayactivist kerfuffle over Arctic Drilling.

Contrary to the commercial jetliner fly-in by out-of-town activists to portray Seattle as a portal to climate change perdition, our region has a very good track record for green industrial innovation.

Correct that.

Our elected leaders still have a ways to go to match our voluminous gales of green political rhetoric, as shown in the May 20th column in the Seattle Times by Danny Westneat.

But while hot air clouds the civic dialogue, industrial firms in greater Seattle jumped in front years ago in the drive to reduce carbon emissions. One of the leaders is Foss Maritime. Foss Maritime CEO, Paul Stevens is the guest speaker at the May 26 meeting of the Manufacturing Industrial Council.

The picture above, on the left, shows the assembly process for the world’s first hybrid harbor tugboat, fueled by a Prius-style power system that runs on electricity and diesel. The vessel was built by Foss at its Rainier shipyard on the Columbia River. The picture above, on the right … well, it shows someone still working to improve basic listening skills. And do you know how much of the carbon upload is caused by human breathing and belching?

Back in the days of the printed version of Seattle Industry magazine, we put out a special issue about green industrial innovations, “Green Gusher! Bernie Karl Hits Pay Dirt.” That issue is still available online in the Seattle Industry archives. It detailed the amazing story of Alaska’s geothermal power pioneer Bernie Karl, along with the innovations contributing to Boeing’s 787 jetliner, PACCAR’s natural gas-powered trucks, and the great work on marine technology by Foss and its sister company, TOTE (Totem Ocean Trailer Express).

Further education on this issue is available from the federal government through definitions of “green” jobs. Our local thought-leaders seem to think those jobs require Birkenstocks.

Nothing against Birkenstocks (we own a pair). But, work boots is more like it. A US Department of Labor study in 2010 projected that about 70% of green jobs are, and will be, in sectors like construction, manufacturing, transportation (including maritime) and other occupations requiring engineering talent, wrench-turning and, often, dirty fingernails. Nine percent of the jobs were forecast to be in environmental protection (not that there is anything wrong with that).

The simple truth is, you can’t talk a carbon molecule into doing anything.

So, bless the kayactivists and pray that everybody stays safe. At least they aren’t using outboard motors.