In the cause of fighting climate change, Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien proposes banning natural gas from new construction in the city and suggests that the possibility of removing natural gas from existing structures needs to be considered. Meanwhile, as Times columnist Danny Westneat has pointed out, other governmental agencies, such as the Puget Sound Clean Energy Agency and the state Department of Ecology, continue to tout natural gas as a clean-energy alternative to burning wood or heating oil.
Who has got it right? Is O’Brien too far out ahead on the issue or do the agencies – and pretty much everyone else – need to quickly catch up? Is that gas-fueled fireplace in your living room a cozy source of heat on a cold winter night or an imminent threat to life on the planet?
This natural-gas conundrum is just one of many shifts in the sociopolitical firmament these days, and it is no surprise that the changes are coming too fast for many folks. Especially in a city like Seattle, where progressive values – and, sometimes, a militant political correctness – dominate public discourse, a person can easily slip up and get called out for using the wrong pronoun or expressing an “unwoke” opinion or ordering the wrong thing on a menu.
Most of the changes are making us a better, more just, more tolerant, more ecologically responsible society, but we still need to give each other a bit of slack. As we bend toward justice, let’s not get too bent out of shape when it comes to the little stuff. The big stuff is hard enough and will require us all to work together.
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