Transition Whatcom

The idea for a Candidates Forum came together late, so we're trying to get the word out on short notice.  We're hoping lots of Transitioners will attend - and that means you. Bring your friends, and be thinking of good questions to ask candidates for County Executive and Mayor of Bellingham.  Bring your questions about land use, the Coal terminal, protecting Lake Whatcom, proposed regulations on roosters in the city, etc.

It's all happening at the County Courthouse on Friday, Oct. 14th, beginning at 7:30 pm.  Check here for more info


The plan is to allow each candidate 3 minutes for an opening statement. Then moderator Tom Anderson will select questions or variations on questions from the following list. They will each have 90 seconds to respond and 30 seconds for follow up comments. We expect this will take about an hour, then we will allow audience questions until we run out of time.


Comments and questions for candidates:


World wide resource depletion especially as it impacts liquid fuels is a reality and could significantly affect our current culture in negative ways. See the ERSPO report here for reference. This could also be exacerbated by war in the Middle East or other geopolitical events beyond our control. It is also clear that since 2008 economic expansions seem to be accompanied by increasing oil prices resulting in higher costs.

  1. If you don’t agree with this view an explanation of the basis of your disagreement would be appreciated.
  2. What policies or operational changes will you propose to offset the increasing cost of road maintenance due to the increasing and higher cost of fuel?
  3. What policy changes will you encourage to assist the general public in dealing with the impacts of higher fuel costs?
  4. As people drive less do to the cost of fuel and gas tax collection goes down what policy changes will you take to maintain financial support for the road fund?


Temperatures in the Arctic have been rising for a number of years and have contributed to loss of substantial ice mass in the Arctic . The melting of the Greenland ice sheet has increased more than the last report projected. There would appear to be a good chance that sea levels could rise as much as 5 or more feet by the end of this century. This would clearly have an impact on existing County infrastructure and private property.

  1. If you don’t agree with this view an explanation of the basis of your disagreement would be appreciated.
  2. What policies do you see appropriate for local government to make to protect the local government from excessive costs of coastal infrastructure due to sea level rise?
  3. What steps should local government take to educate and caution private developers and the public about building in potentially affected zones?
  4. What measures in terms of restricting activity on private property make sense to protect people from flood, landslide hazard and sea level rise?


The globalized world economy continues to teeter on the edge of what appears to be an abyss of debt instability and could fall in at any moment. Another recession could trigger a significant increase in local foreclosures, which would lead to loss of tax revenue for the County.

  1. What ideas do you have to prevent this loss of tax revenue?
  2. Is there a role in the foreclosure process for local government to protect its revenue?


Consider the current condition of State and Federal budgets, and our historic dependence on State and Federal levels of government support for provision of safety nets. There is a concern that if the world tips into another recession, the financial safety nets local citizens have depended on may not be available.  

  1. What role should local government play in provision of safety nets?
  2. What role should local government play in operation of the Food Bank and ensuring that they can meet the demand?


If the US were to enter a severe depression, what is the appropriate role for local government in ensuring:

  1. Adequate food production locally?
  2. Availability of land for people to grow their own food?
  3. A medium of exchange on the local level that will assist in exchanges of local work for food and resources?


Background Info:


Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham passed a joint resolution forming the Energy Resource Scarcity Peak Oil Task Force in 2007. The Task Force’s report was presented to both the County and the City and can be found for reference at:


Energy Resource Scarcity / Peak Oil Task Force Final Report:


A number of the Task Force members formed the core group that started Transition Whatcom. In addition both the County and the City have Climate Action Plans see:


City of Bellingham Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Climate Protection Action Plan
Bellingham ’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Local Action Plan create a flexible framework that puts us well on our way toward achieving emissions levels that the best science says are necessary...

Whatcom County's Climate Protection and Energy Conservation Action Plan
Whatcom County must do its part. Although the United States accounts for a mere 4% of the world’s population, it produces 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Whatcom County released 2.7 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (eCO2) in 2001 and based on past practices would be projected to emit 35% more in 2020.
However, on May 9, 2006, Whatcom County pledged to take action against this destructive trend by passing a resolution to join more than 200 U.S. local governments and 770 local governments worldwide in ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection ® (CCP) Campaign.


All of these references are important when considering the discussion planned for the 14th.

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I'm trying to prepare a few handouts for this event, giving a very brief overview of the 'triple threat' crises that Transition often names: Peak Oil (or energy resource scarcity), Climate Change, and Economic Instability.

In the interest of conserving resources (of both the planet and TW), I won't be printing a large number of handouts. Hoping most TW members will just read them online.

Did you know we have a "Resources" tab on this website?  Under the Resources tab you'll find the following:


Peak Oil

Oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, so the volumes of oil being pumped out of the ground will therefore eventually reach a maximum and then inevitably decline. This has already happened in many individual countries, including the US—which once was the world’s foremost oil-producing nation. The global maximum may already have been reached in 2008; in any case, it will almost certainly arrive in the near future...


Climate Change

In recent years climate change has shifted into the mainstream, with celebrities, governments and corporations desperate to become 'carbon neutral'. From the Live Earth concerts to, the campaign against climate change has grown rapidly. Megastores such as Walmart are engaged in an analysis of their carbon footprints, and are taking the issue very seriously. Unfortunately, there are also concerted campaigns to obscure the science and delay action...



The financial crisis that began in 2007-2008 is still with us, and there is a very real possibility that the global financial system will collapse completely, which would throw the world into an unprecedented state of chaos and confusion.

Why is this happening? Why is it happening now? And what can be done?...

I'll be at Candidate Forum Tonight at 7pm.

 David, I've not had time to draft a question, but I'll check with you in person to see if there is a topic/question you'd like me ask county executive candidates.  I told Tom I would help as greeter/host.

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