Letter to the editor: Tar Sands – Why do we need extreme fuels in Washington’s future?

We should not be complacent about the impending crisis posed by the increasing expansion of tar sands fuel extraction in Alberta. James Hansen, chief climatologist for NASA, recently stated that it will be “game over for the environment” if the Keystone XL pipeline is approved and these dirty fuels are released into our atmosphere. I say “dirty” not only because they produce 15 to 40 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional oil – but also because of the environmental pillage required to extract them. Tar sands extraction is extremely inefficient, requiring one barrel of energy to harvest every three.
National Geographic describes the process:

“To extract each barrel of oil from a surface mine, the industry must first cut down the forest, then remove an average of two tons of peat and dirt that lie above the oil sands layer, then two tons of the sand itself.”

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Opinion: Will Seattle miss the boat for emerging arctic shipping lanes?

By Shane Harms

Tuesday night’s visiting lecture series, featuring renowned polar explorer Liv Arnesen and acclaimed educator and researcher Willy Østreng, opened with disheartening commentary about the ways the shipping industry can and are capitalizing on the sea routes opening in the Artic Ocean as the polar ice caps melt.

The most unsettling part of the talk was the Willy Østreng's seemingly genuine indifference to environmental ramifications that shipping traffic through the Arctic Ocean would cause and how he emphasized the reasons why Americans, and especially Seattleites should seize the moment this potential ecological catastrophe provides.

Østreng is a renowned researcher who has published more than 250 scientific works, including 25 books on international security, polar affairs, ocean resource management, preconditions of interdisciplinary research, and polar and ocean policy.

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Courtesy of Shawn Burkland
The Burkland family had an enriching and fun experience bringing Italian exchange students into their Ballard home.

Opinion: Bringing exchange students into Ballard is an enriching and fun experience

By Bill Burkland

It is not often that one is presented with the opportunity to learn about a foreign culture and meet new people without ever having to leave one’s home, but through the Ergon Student Exchange program, that is indeed the case.
Over the last two years, my wife and I have had the good fortune of hosting two wonderful Italian exchange students through the program.
Most recently we hosted Letizia, a smart, personable and fun student from Milan. Even though it was Letizia’s first visit to the U.S., when she arrived at our house in September she knew a surprising amount about Seattle and Washington State; she knew the state flower, the state bird, she knew the Cascades were in the east and the Olympics in the west and she knew that the Mariners were in last place in the American League.

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