In a discussion at the University of Washington, panelists examined ways in which the region can take steps to protect against the threats of climate change to various industries. The discussion was part of The Seattle Times' LiveWire series.

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If our region is to meet the challenge of global climate change, citizens and leaders will quickly need to tackle a sweeping range of solutions — and work together — or face putting industries at risk.

That’s the message from a packed forum Tuesday night at University of Washington’s Kane Hall. The discussion was held to examine ways to mitigate the harm of climate change on the region’s economy and industries.

Five local and national experts offered long-term solutions to help the region deal with impending ecological issues, as part of The Seattle Times’ LiveWire series, an initiative hosted by the newspaper to bring together experts to discuss vital issues affecting the region.

Joe Casola, Deputy Director of UW’s Climate Impacts Group, talks about how Washington State will be affected by climate change during a LiveWire event.
Clinton Moloney, Sustainability Advisory Leader for PwC, explains that we re-brand actions towards solving climate change as way to live better rather than personal sacrifices during a LiveWire event.

“We’ve been steadily adding more CO2 to the atmosphere, primarily by the burning of fossil fuels,” which is primarily driving the changes, said Seattle Times environment reporter Lynda Mapes, event moderator.

Tuesday’s discussion comes after Seattle’s wettest winter in the city’s recorded history and back-to-back, record-breaking, wildfire seasons in Washington, which scientists point to as visible impacts of the region’s changing climate.

The panel included representatives from the university, the consulting giant PwC, Paul Allen’s philanthropy group at Vulcan, the Washington Growers League and the Quinault Indian Nation.

Spencer Reeder, Senior Program Officer for Vulcan, explains how technology such as nuclear fusion and electric vehicles, could help offset the effects of climate change during a LiveWire event.
Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation and Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians, explains how traditional practices can be combined with innovation to address climate change during a LiveWire event.

“The average citizen has a deep desire to have the future better for their children and grandchildren,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. She emphasized the importance of collaboration in tackling the issue.

Mike Gempler, executive director of the growers league, which serves agricultural employers, said Washington’s ample moisture can make it attractive; for some crops, higher temperatures and moisture can actually result in greater yields, he said. But questions remain.

“Farmers in this state are very skilled at adjusting to variations in the climate,” he said. “However, the changes that we’re anticipating leave a lot of uncertainty.”

Mike Gempler, Executive Director of the Washington Growers League, talks about the relationship between farmers and climate change as a group that is affected by the environment but also has a significant carbon footprint during a LiveWire event.

Clinton Moloney, managing director and the sustainability advisory leader for PwC U.S., discussed carbon pricing.

Voters in Washington will decide on an initiative in November that would impose a $25-per-metric-ton tax on carbon emissions from gasoline, natural gas and other fossil fuels.

The success of carbon pricing, however, depends on how it is implemented, said Spencer Reeder, who oversees the climate and energy portfolio of Vulcan.

He added communities must also take steps toward using electrical forms of transportation to minimize greenhouse-gas emissions.

A panel moderated by Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes discusses the economics effects that climate change will have on the Pacific Northwest as well as possible solutions.