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Governor Inslee Urges Scientists To Lead Conversation On Climate Change

Bjørn Giesenbauer photo
Huge areas of the Port of Seattle could be inundated when higher tides combine with more extreme storm surges, accdording to the Draft National Assessment on Climate Change.

Many of the region’s top researchers have gathered this week for the Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conferenceat the University of Washington.

Gov. Jay Inslee gave the keynote address and called on scientists to get more engaged in public policy.

By 2050, average temperatures in the Pacific Northwest are expected to go up by 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the second half of last century. That's according to the latest report from the UW's Climate Impacts Group, which put on the conference. How much exactly depends on the amount of carbon emissions produced. But the consequences for the next several decades are substantial: shrinking snow pack, increased risk of torrential rains that cause landslides and droughts that fuel wildfires.

Inslee told the conference he’d just returned from the scene of the largest wildfire the state has ever seen in central Washington, and scientists warn it will only get worse.   

“Forest fires are predicted to be two times as large and intense in the next several decades and four times within the century, because of the effects of climate change. The consequences are upon us today,” Inslee said.

Inslee says inaction on climate change will cost more than action. And he told the scientists gathered they can play a special role, by getting out there and talking to the public more about their findings, even after they’re published.

"A quote I found from British chemist Baron CP Snow said, 'A scientist has to be neutral in his search for the truth, but he [or she] cannot be neutral as to the use of that truth when found. If you know more than other people, you have more responsibility, [not] less,'" Inslee said.

He urged them to use social media and face to face conversations with political and business leaders.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to