(Mercer Island, WA) On Sunday March 28th, the best spellers in the Puget Sound area gathered to test their skills at the King and Snohomish County Regional Spelling Bee. This year, Kela Harrington, 7th grader at Islander Middle School, won the regional bee and will be representing the Mercer Island School District at the National Spelling Bee on June 2nd, 2010 in Washington D.C. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is largest national non-sports competitive event available to Elementary and Middle school students. Each year, about 10,000,000 children participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee qualifying process.

Read more about the regional competition at:
For more information about the national bee, visit http://www.spellingbee.com/

Earth Hour 2010
It’s as simple as a flick of the switch.

What began in 2007 as a campaign to get Sydneysiders to turn their lights off, has grown to become one of the world’s biggest climate change initiatives. In 2010, at 8.30pm on March 27, people around the world will turn their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. Join more than 1 billion people who, together, can reinvigorate our fight against human-induced climate change.

Earth Hour 2010 is a global call to action to every individual, every business and every community, a call to stand up, to take responsibility and to get involved in working towards a sustainable future. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Europe to The Americas will stand in darkness. People across the world will turn off their lights and join together in creating the vital conversation about the future of our precious planet.

Earth Hour is a message of hope and a message of action. Everyone can make a difference.

Join us for Earth Hour 2010, turn off your lights at 8.30pm Saturday, 27 March and sign-up here at http://www.earthhourus.org.

On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations.

So, don’t forget to turn off your lights on March 27th at 8:30 PM!

(Seattle, Feb. 14, 2010) During the past week, the shrieks of global warming critics reached a fever pitch as the nation’s capital and other cities stretching from the Mid-Atlantic to New England struggled to recover from record-setting snow. Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C. declared that “its going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries uncle.” Senator Inhofe R-O.K. and his family built an igloo in honor of Al Gore and put up signs asking people to honk if they liked global warming.

But a few weeks of extreme winter weather in one small corner of our planet cannot wipe out centuries-long upward trends in global temperatures. It doesn’t even have much sway over global averages for the month of January. In a recent report, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that globally, January 2010 was the fourth warmest on record. Yes, much of the continental United States did experience below average temps, but the Northwest and much of Canada (persistent rain is hampering Vancouver Olympic organizers) were much warmer than normal. Here are some other highlights from the study:

  • The land average surface temperature in the Southern Hemisphere was the warmest on record for January.
  • Global ocean average surface temperature was the second warmest on record.
  • Worldwide land and surface temperature for January was the 12th warmest on record.

But some may ask? How can you have massive snowstorms in the midst of global warming? Actually, most climate scientists believe that extreme weather events; i.e. hurricanes, heat waves, torrential monsoon rains, droughts and even snow storms will become more common as the planet warms. The worldwide symptoms of human-induced climate change advance unabated. Glaciers and polar ice caps are accelerating their retreat. Oceans continue to acidify, destroying coral reefs and underwater ecosystems. Ever expanding deserts, egged on by persistent droughts and poor land use practices, are swallowing up thousands of square kilometers of formerly productive land yearly.

Most climate experts agree that the real lesson that Americans should learn from ‘snowmadgeddon’ is that the nations of the world need to redouble their efforts to craft a binding global agreement to forcefully confront climate change, or face a future ravaged by even more destructive and deadly weather events…including bigger winter snowstorms.

Written by Dr. Jonathan Harrington

Wordle: Climatediet.com

(Seattle, WA) Every hour of every day, someone in America dies because of a lack of access to affordable healthcare. Millions more lie awake in bed at night, worrying about some symptom or potential health issue that they or another family member are experiencing but cannot get looked at because they have no health insurance. Our broken and inequitable health care system is like a deep, festering wound that never heals.

One year ago, Barak Obama promised the nation that things would change. He told us: Yes, we can provide affordable healthcare to all. Yes, we can take meaningful action to combat global warming and yes, we can create jobs and fix our broken financial system. The Democrats amassed commanding majorities in the House and Senate. For a fleeting moment, it seemed like all things were possible.

Flash forward to today. An obscure special election in Massachusetts has thrown the entire Democratic agenda into disarray. Obama and company place responsibility for the loss of this critical Senate seat squarely in the lap of the hapless Democratic candidate Martha Coakley. White House political wizards Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod say they did not see this coming. If only Coakley would have asked for help earlier, all would be well. So, if health care reform goes down the tubes we can blame her, right?

Not so fast. If Mr. Obama wants to find someone to blame, he should look in the mirror. Letting health care reform ‘bubble up’ from below was a terrible tactical error. Legislation could have been passed last summer if the administration would have provided a clearer roadmap at the beginning of the process. Obama was riding high in the polls, the people were with him and they were yearning for change. It was clear from the beginning that getting a bipartisanship bill through Congress was going to be impossible. Valuable time was lost trying to placate the whims of one or two Republican senators.

Well, time’s up. The political capital has been spent. Recession weary voters are tired of hearing more promises. Trust in government is near an all time low. Any attempt to use esoteric procedural maneuvers to ram a revised bill through the Senate will be viewed with suspicion. Bending or breaking long standing Senate traditions will only further harm the already dysfunctional institution.

Fortunately, there is still one viable option on the table. Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues can swallow their pride and pass the Senate version of health care legislation. If there is one lesson we can learn from the Massachusetts race and falling Administration poll numbers, it is that while ideology driven political elites fight to steer the country in their respective directions, the American people almost invariably veer towards the center of the road. The public is already uncomfortable with the more moderate Senate proposal. It’s the best we can do, so lets get the job done now.

Written by: Dr. Jonathan Harrington 1/20/2010