David Irons’ highway

For six years, David Irons Jr. has supported building “I-605″, a four-lane freeway cut through the heart of rural King County:

“When 605 came up in the past, it was largely pie-in-the-sky,” said David Irons Jr., newly elected King County councilman who represents the district where the freeway could be built. … “It’s time for discussions and hard decisions. It’s time to talk about 605.”

And in his recent radio ads and prerecorded robo-calls, Irons continues to talk about I-605, though not by name. When he refers to a study claiming that adding more lanes is the only way to relieve congestion, he’s referring to Bellevue Square developer Kemper Freeman Jr.’s selfishly skewed study… which of course, relies on I-605 at the heart of its plan. It’s all there, documented on a new website, IronsHighway.com.

With I-605 would come the unmitigated sprawl that accompanies all freeways… exactly the kind of land use policies Irons’ financial backers in the building industry were looking for when they yanked him out of obscurity back in 1999. Freeman builds malls, and what do you find at nearly every freeway off-ramp? A mall! Indeed, Freeman alone has contributed over $6,760 to Irons over the past couple years.

So if you want to transform rural King County into an endless swath of strip malls and sub-divisions… vote for Irons. Because that’s clearly what he intends to deliver.


  1. 4

    prr spews:

    Wow, That sound like a great idea.

    Goldy, I want oyu to know that my vote for Irons is cancelling out your vote for Simms.

  2. 5

    Larry the Urbanite spews:

    HAHAHAHAH, this is a great joke. Why would anyone, R or D, want to see a freeway out there? One of the reasons we all live in the NW (and pay the NW tax of a 10% lower salary) is for the beautiful forests/mountains in close proximity to where we live. If they built this, the whole raison d’etre for NW living would be gone. Really, if people want this kind of sprawl so they can have cheap housing or only a 2 minute drive to the onramp they could move to LA, Bay area, Phoenix, etc., where the weather is a LOT better.

    Love the humor on your site. Keep up the good work.

  3. 6

    Jon spews:

    The only problem I have with this post is you’re like the pro I-912 folks, with no alternative proposed. What would you do? More lanes for I-5/405? More transit? What kind? Even with transit, more cars will be on the roads as the region grows. What is your plan?

    Also, even if Irons wins (not very likely), he can’t just will this freeway into existence. He’d have to get through several layers of government, lawsuits galore, and be in office for the next 20 years to see it happen.

  4. 7

    Larry the Urbanite spews:

    Jon @6

    Here’s a thought: Don’t build it and they won’t come. I’m not some sort of 0 growth nut, but like a naked grandma, no one wants to see this. I’ll take crowded freeeways and higher house prices and slighly less growth rahter than see the reason I live here destroyed.

    Of course the developers want this (with free road building to thier malls and subdivisions, why wouldn’t they?), but why do people let developers run public policy decisions? They ain’t elected, they have no accountability, they are in it only for themselves, and don’t care about environmental impacts. Craziness!

  5. 8

    JC spews:

    Just to mention: Sims allowed Redmond Ridge, the huge out-of-character, lots-of-traffic urban sprawl development in rural King County east of Redmond. The people lost and the developer (Quadrant/Weyerhauser) was the big winner.

  6. 9

    Belltowner, formerly Swift Boat Vets For Universal Healthcare spews:

    @ 8

    Have you seen it? I grew up about 500 yards from the southern edge of it, and I like it. Union Hill residents now drive to the Redmond Ridge QFC. Before they had to drive west into Redmond. It’s a good move, even if the thickheaded jihadist enviros can handle it. Growth is good, even if Ron Sims is for it.

  7. 10

    Brent spews:

    It’s funny that you’ll be so adamant about bashing I-912, yet when something proposed that might just actually relieve some congestion is suggested, you bash it. What’s wrong with that logic?

  8. 11

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    The LEFTIST PINHEADS live in a house I presume. Why don’t they all abandoned their homes and allow someone else to take it. That will reduce sprawl, won’t it?
    LEFTIST PINHEADS are BANANA people…..Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.
    They have theirs….screw everyone else! People have had their land TAKEN by Sims and his band of thieves all in the name of beautification. Urban Growth Areas…once they are full, can be expanded.
    LEFTIST PINHEADS want their very own little “fantasyland” created by taking away property and opportunity from others. Washington has an incredible amount of underutilized park land, open space, beaches etc. LEFTIST PINHEADS are glutonous iand selfishly focus on the quality of THEIR lives….cuz they are already in.
    Marxist policies never work in the long-run. Yet LEFTIST PINHEADS insist on running into the brick wall and touching the hot fire anyway.

  9. 12

    Goldy spews:

    Hey Cynical… driven through the south end of Seattle lately? All up and down MLK, along the route of Sound Transit’s Light Rail, they are building these high-quality, mixed-income dense housing developments like New Holly and Othello Station… putting working folk and professionals a few minutes from downtown. These are whole communities, near shopping, on the rail line, with libraries, community centers, recreation facilities. And nice construction to boot. Not housing projects… the majority of the units are for sale, and the higher end stuff is demanding $400K plus.

    That’s where the growth has to be focused… increasing density in the urban areas… and that’s why light rail makes sense.

    125 years ago, the Pennsylvania Railroad didn’t build commuter lines to existing suburbs… they built the railroad, and the communities grew up around the stations. You build rail to handle future growth, not current traffic.

  10. 13

    Jon spews:

    Thanks Goldy, for the follow-up, and I agree.

    Larry @ 7: I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but the tone of Goldy’s post and the Conservation Voters site make it sound like groundbreaking will happen in early February if Irons wins. This project, even if Irons throws his full support at it, is not going to happen. It’s similar to those “Alternate Sea-Tac” proposals that the Port floated 10-15 years ago. As soon as folks heard that an new airport near them was being talked about, they shut that discussion down fast.

  11. 14

    Ben Schiendelman spews:

    605 won’t relieve any congestion, just the same as no transit system will either. Both options would reduce the speed at which congestion grows, although 605 would create more cross-county traffic that we already don’t have support for – just like why we’re not making 520 8-lane.

    Many cities across the world have much smaller freeways and expressways than ours, but equivalent density. They due this largely by building mixed-use higher density development that can reduce or eliminate trips, and by creating transit systems that use dedicated right-of-ways so that more trips are ped-trans-ped, and don’t have the huge footprint added by personal vehicles.

    Building 605 will do more to spread out the area. We have a lot of space in Seattle that’s going to be served by mid-capacity transit within just a few years – allow condominium towers in town in clusters with commercial space around the transit system hubs, and you’ll offer alternatives for commuters. Adding lanes and highways is already well into diminishing returns because we haven’t offered people balanced alternatives.

  12. 15

    Goldy spews:

    Jon @13,

    But Irons can’t have it both ways. He can’t attack Sims for gridlock, and claim “I have a better plan… but, wink-wink, don’t worry… I can’t implement it.”

    So which is it…? Does Irons have a plan, or doesn’t he?

  13. 16

    GBS spews:

    Ms Chickenhawk @ 11 wrote:
    “LEFTIST PINHEADS are BANANA people…..Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.”

    As opposed to Republicans who want to build bridges to no where for no reason while the Gulf Coast states need to be rebuilt.

    One thing I’ll say for Ms Chickenhawk, at least he doesn’t beat his mother. Otherwise, he’d be kicked out of his basement dwellings and down to the curb, where he’d take up being a professional panhandler, or follow in the footsteps of Jeff Gannon, male prostitute.

  14. 17

    GBS spews:

    Goldy @ 15

    Oh, he has a plan. . . he’s gonna knock back a few shots of whiskey and beat his mamma just like his daddy beat him after binge drinking.


  15. 18

    Belltowner spews:

    Goldy @ 15

    I-605 is nice, in theory, because it would allow trucking to bypass 5 and 405. But we know that builders like it because there will be new towns at each exit.

  16. 19

    Ben Schiendelman spews:

    Belltowner: A much, much cheaper way to allow freight to pass 5 and 405 would be to upgrade the east Lake Washington rail line. It could haul as much freight as a four lane highway pretty easily.

  17. 20

    Unionhill spews:

    Belltowner, pls write about something you understand or know (which might not be much considering your recent posts).
    The Redmond Ridge development is a urban/rural/county disaster, not good growth.
    1. It was announced as a retirement community with some low income housing with self sufficient environment.
    2. It was supposed to create minimal traffic as retired/older folk only drive in non rush hour times

    What did the county do ? They knew exactly what would happen. They fudged the traffic numbers (counted the cars after 10 am etc and miraculously managed to say a few cars under the limit to stop this development).
    Now you have thousands of people there driving each day. Most homes are bought by people working in Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle, there is a whole Microsoft enclave out there and traffic is nuts. Whether you drive Union Hill, Novelty Hill or any other hill…it’s gridlock. And why ? Because your beloved Ron Sims has managed to allow the growth (it’s even zoned as urban sprawl) without building the infrastructure. Yes, you have a 4 lane road coming out of the development (a sign of the amount of cars), but it ends up in a 2 lane Novelty Hill which merges into the already above capacity Avondale. So if Ron Sims is good for growth, he’s certainly an imbecile in planning (but I think that was clear).
    And pls, don’t tell me that everyone is going to the QFC up there. For one, the store only opened 4 weeks ago while for 3 years Redmond Ridge was without any store…and 80 percent of the people don’t go there because it’s too expensive. They continue to drive to Redmond…
    Maybe it was all peace happiness and pancakes when you “grew” up there…but it’s a mess now…thanks to your beloved King of King County.

  18. 21

    Jon spews:

    Goldy @ 15: “So which is it…? Does Irons have a plan, or doesn’t he?”

    Good question! I’ve never been a big Irons fan myself, but I’m not sure who I’m voting for at this point as Ron Sims, passionate and dynamic as he may be, I think is out-of-touch with King County. The very poor job he did communicating with rural landowners before the passage of the CAO and the poor job of communicating with the Council over some of the problem in Elections, to me, show he’s not thinking of his constituency. Even so, Irons is a poor candidate, I’m sorry to say.

    Going back on topic, more transit is pretty much the only way to go, since nobody wants more roads in their towns and they balk at the price which makes transit look cheap.

  19. 22

    Belltowner spews:

    Anti growth Republicans. Whodathunk? My momma loves that new QFC. Maybe you should realize that to things change, life goes on. I’m proud that Ron Sims is pro growth, pro jobs, and pro enviroment. You reactionary numbdicks lost your lawsuit, so fuck off. Redmond is fucking perfect, and if you don’t like it, pack up your jelly jars and move.

  20. 23

    Belltowner spews:

    I know what I’m talking about douchebag, I just disagree with you. If you don’t like it, pack up your jelly jars and move to Idaho.

  21. 24

    Ben Schiendelman spews:

    Belltowner: The fact that they have to drive at all to get simple groceries is insane. Why doesn’t the center or a pedestrian-accessible edge of every development have some basic commercial space? The more feet on the sidewalk in the community, the lower the crime rate, the better the community development, and the lower the rate of pedestrian-vehicle accidents. This sort of 50s urban planning isn’t helping anyone.

  22. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hey pro-912 rightys, how you gonna build 605 without Gregoire’s gas tax? with tolls? Just curious …

  23. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Betcha these freeloaders will support a tax on Democratic Seattle to build a freeway in Republican Bellevue.

  24. 28

    Wells spews:

    Link LRT should have been routed through (not around) South Center with 1 or 2 stations. It’s great that MLK blvd gets new development. But, the idea of light rail is to direct regional growth, not inner-city neighborhoods that already have transit. South of Henderson, Link becomes an exclusive service for air travelers. Seattle planners are incompetent, but Irons would most likely make planning worse.

  25. 29

    Unionhill spews:

    21 Belltowner
    wow…what a retort…very impressive and only one foul word…
    The QFC from Union Hill is the same distance as the Fred Meyer or Safeway and further than the Albertsons.
    Yet there is no, repeat no grocery store at Redmond Ridge…it’s 2 miles from them to the OFC…so they have to drive…
    Your great planners build a community of 3000 homes with not a single grocery store…or other means of shopping.
    But then…they did the same up on Snoqualmie Ridge…55000 people right now and no store…again, drive drive drive.
    Is that the growth planning you are talking about ?

  26. 30

    klake@ spews:

    125 years ago, the Pennsylvania Railroad didn’t build commuter lines to existing suburbs… they built the railroad, and the communities grew up around the stations. You build rail to handle future growth, not current traffic.

    Comment by Goldy— 10/25/05 @ 4:09 pm

    Goldy if you tear down Queen Ann Hill and put up thirty store high rise buildings you wouldn’t need a rail. The Offices for them to work at below would alleviate the need for roads and could be replaced with shipping corridors.

  27. 31

    Belltowner spews:

    douchebag isn’t a dirty word

    if you don’t like traffic, why don’t you give up your car like I have?

  28. 33

    Unionhill spews:

    because your lovely planners don’t provide me with alternatives. As you know the area around Redmond Ridge, can you tell me how many Metro/King County buses provide service to the 3000 homes ? None
    Can you tell me where the closest bus stop is ? Redmond

    And no, this is not a case where people moved out into the wilderness (or whatever you think of suburbia) and now don’t have urban service. This is your county planners and Ron Sims allowing an urban development to be built without the infrastructure. That’s plain stupidity, but unfortunately that’s what one has be come to expect from King County. Those are the same guys planning light rail not going to the airport, building the monorail without appropriate stops, etc…

    Have you tried to go from Redmond to let’s say Microsoft by bus ? It’s oh, about 3 miles, depending on where you live…and it takes you 45 minutes. And you wonder why people drive.
    The world doesn’t revolve around Seattle, even though some people would like to believe it.

  29. 34

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    Hey Mark — I screwed your sister today! HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR

  30. 35

    Mark The Redneck spews:

    This is why Irons is going to win. He’s for breaking out of the stupid failed status quo. The cure to traffic congestion is more concrete. Irons gets it. So build your stupid fucking trains in Seattle, and ride your buses. Build your monorail and densify yourselves like a bunch of goddam rats. Have at it.

    The rest of us want no part of it. And stop imposing your ill formed opinions on the rest of us.

  31. 37



    Larry- Man you need to live out in the woods and forget about living in the city. It sounds like you would be a lot happier out there. I know society would be better off.

  32. 38

    Donnageddon spews:

    RUFUS, don’t like looking like a fool? Kill yourself. You would be much happier, and society would breathe a sigh of relief.

  33. 39

    Donnageddon spews:

    Actually, Goldy, I looked at the pages describing the path that the 4 lane I-605 would carve, and all I could think was “VROOOM VROOOM”

    Then I realized that my trailer would be displaced. And who the hell is gonna use this Highway? Ain’t nobody out here but Lamma’s and bullfrogs.

    Then it hit me.

    They want to make Los Angeles.

    Los Angeles!

    Irons, you mother beating, Mother Fu– , Well that last epiphet is completely unfounded.

    If I wanted to live in the Urban Sprawl, I would move to Federal Way.

    Fuck that. And Fuck David Irons.

  34. 41

    EvergreenRailfan spews:


    In Eastern Washington between Ellensberg and Spokane, Interstate 90 is mostly 4 lanes.

  35. 42

    Chris spews:

    Donnageddon “Then I realized that my trailer would be displaced.”

    Well some people need to sacrifice their land and property for the benefit of “society”. (Read CAO”)

  36. 43

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    Goldy @ 12

    Interesting how those lines the Pennsy built are now operated by local jurisdictions in the NYC-NJ-Philadelphia area. Also, SEPTA in Philadelphia has probably the biggest all-electric commuter rail operation. Not for enviromentally-friendly, but out of necessity. The Center City TUnnel that connected the Reading and Pennslyania lines is a long one, with at least 4 station stops in the tunnel. All trains using it, wether locomotive hauled or Multiple-Units, are electric. I remember seeing a few of those MU Trains go by from the vestibule of the Broadway Limited 11 years ago.

    The only new freeway I could support would be something like a slimmed down portion of the Trans-Texas Corridor proposal(the 12 lane part, 4-6 lanes would do) that incorporates putting rail, utilities, and highways in the same corridor. Still, even that would destroy the Snoqualmie Valley. It would have been great to have used the Milwaukee Road as a freight bypass, but that was tough heavy-grade territory near Cedar Falls, which was a given to get to their old Everett Branch through North Bend, Snoqualmie.

  37. 44

    Donnageddon spews:

    Chris @ 40 fortunately (or unfortunately) I do not own the land. But the trailer is new, and can easily be moved for strip malls and highways to Uber Surburbia.

  38. 45

    Ben Schiendelman spews:

    I also gave up my car years ago, and will never own one again.

    There are plenty of ways to go without a car. You don’t even have to move into the city, although I’d recommend it if you plan any long-distance regional travel.

    Hi! ^_^

  39. 47

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    Hey Mark, I don’t remember what your position is on Initiative 012 — but if you’re against the gas tax don’t expect to see any concrete poured.

  40. 48

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Speaking of giving up cars, eventually we all will, when the oil runs out. We’ve got about a 29-year oil supply left on this planet.

  41. 49

    Donnageddon spews:

    Roger Rabbit and “shithead” RE @ 44

    Go for the Ripley’s gold.

    But remember “they shoot horses”

    Don’t they?

  42. 50

    SP Fan spews:

    Dumb Bunnie @ 46

    Only 29 years huh? I bet you have a plan to turn Rabbit shit into gold too. Better get that mononuclearhydrogen Rabbit shit machine patented soon before the oil industry steals your idea.

    Dumb ass!

  43. 51

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    No problem, I have two powerful hind legs, I can hop anywhere I need to go. HA HA HA HA HA

  44. 52

    doug spews:

    Goldy. How come you have all the talent? First, Viaduct Tape. Then this gem from Washington Conservation Voters. Cool stuff. Laugh out loud. Love it. Thanks. Post their resumes.

  45. 53


    Speaking of giving up cars, eventually we all will, when the oil runs out. We’ve got about a 29-year oil supply left on this planet.

    Comment by Roger Rabbit— 10/25/05 @ 9:25 pm

    Rabbit we got plenty of time.. Social security according to you donks is not in trouble yet why would oil be any different.

  46. 54

    Jon spews:

    Goldy @ 15: “But Irons can’t have it both ways. He can’t attack Sims for gridlock, and claim “I have a better plan… but, wink-wink, don’t worry… I can’t implement it.”

    So which is it…? Does Irons have a plan, or doesn’t he?”

    Arrrrgh… filter caught my first response, I’ll try again…

    Good question! I’m no Irons (or Sims, for that matter) fan myself, so it’s a legitimate question. If you think Sound Transit won’t work, then what will, how much, and where is that money going to come from?

  47. 55

    Richard Pope spews:

    Here is the link to Kemper Freeman’s plan:


    Looks pretty reasonable to me. I would support gas taxes for those kind of reasonable highway projects. We can build lots of miles of new highway lanes for the amount of extra money it would cost to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel (as opposed to a new viaduct).

  48. 56

    Donnageddon spews:

    Roger Rabbit @ True words. Even the Neo-Cons will have to put up ply wood Windmills soon.

    Glad I am living like a hermit. I am ahead of the game.

    You Neo-Cons want to touch my solar cells? First you have to touch the business end of my shotgun.

    Kiss it!

  49. 57

    Donnageddon spews:

    RUFUS @ 53 “Rabbit we got plenty of time.. Social security according to you donks is not in trouble yet why would oil be any different.”

    Man, RUFUS, you are a visionary!

    Oil running out? LOL Never gonna happen… right? LOL You are a visionary!

    Wanna touch my solar cells?

    Kiss it first.

  50. 58

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Ben & other Social Engineering LEFTIST PINHEADS–
    Many of you assholes view Holland as a model for successful planning. All the workerbees live in Amsterdam….in a RATMAZE. The “uppercrust” ELITISTS have a fine apartment in the City but also a villa in the Country. This appears to be the model you assholes want to ram on the rest of us.
    Not everyone wants to live in a ratmaze. PERIOD!
    How many of you LEFTIST PINHEADS actually live in some “high-rise” rat maze and are happy about high density living.
    In Holland, the ELITISTS all want everyone but them to live in that ratmaze. The rats all want the Country Villa to escape to. It sets up a very stratified demographic. Who wants that???
    LEFTIST PINHEADS love these planner brainfarts. They all love for others to conform to the plan….except themselves.
    You LEFTIST PINHEADS all go ahead and live in the ratmaze that YOU promote. As for me….
    Thank God I’m a Country Boy!

  51. 60

    Donnageddon spews:

    Holland… ah, land of universal health care, and 5 weeks of vacation for all. And the bastards have all the things we have. And more.

    Mr. Irrelevant is jealous.

    So is Donnageddon.

  52. 61

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    D—-F’ing–geddon would love to get more “free” benefits for his doing nothing and producing nothing lifestyle.
    D— is lifestyle unemployed and mighty proud of it.
    Holland elected conservatives because they had it with freeloaders coming in sponging off their generosity.
    Every country has it’s limits D—man.
    You’ll just have to keep moving to be rewarded for your doing nothing lifestyle.
    Donnageddon lays awake at night dreaming how to get more benefits for doing NOTHING!!

  53. 62

    Donnageddon spews:

    Donnageddon just wants to be more like Trust fund Mr. Irrelevant.

    Donnageddon is tired of getting up everyday at 5 AM, “increasing productivity” for Mr. I’s inherited stock profile.

  54. 64

    RJP spews:

    How can Irons support “I-605″? He’d havve to steal a good deal of that land from private owners, would he not?

    PS: Only $6,760 over a “couple of years”? Either Freeman is a cheap dip or Irons is a cheap whore. I report, you decide.

  55. 65

    Chuck spews:

    Larry the Urbanite@7
    “Here’s a thought: Don’t build it and they won’t come.”

    WTF? That is what WSDOT has been doing, not building, exept car pool lanes and transit flops, guess what THEY STILL CAME! The answer is MORE and BIGGER roads!

  56. 67

    drool spews:

    Anyone that thinks Duvall is rural is on crack. Drive up Big Rock Road and look around. Carnation has stayed as small as it is just because of a lack of sewers. Sewers are now going in. The cows are being chased out by regulation. Dairy farmers are leaving due to the county not giving them enough freedom with their land. Might as well pave it.

  57. 68

    k2 spews:

    I’d support this plan in a second (my vote and tax dollars). As someone with kids, I’d like them to have the opportunity to grow up in a positive social environment with functional educational systems. That leaves living in the increasingly violent downtown core and grossly mis-managed seattle school district out of the question. I currently do all of my commuting east of the lake. In lue of effectively integrating rail or adding general use capacity to the 405 corridor (impossibility), adding general use capacity (north-south) elsewhere is the only other option. I know this goes against the left’s knee-jerk reaction to me driving my car. But, its not about me wanting to drive a car, it’s about me not having any other VIABLE option at this time. In regard to the environmental impact of a new freeway in the (not-so pristine) area to the east of all things urban, I’d also be happy to pay for the retraining of the entirety of the indigenous moose population to teach them to pee on a different tree.

  58. 69

    WenG spews:

    Somewhat off topic, but has anyone heard the radio ads for Irons? He talks about fixing things. His daughter is quite excited because Daddy is going to fix her car. Ironically, his mother’s praise of his mechanical skills are brought front and center. I mean, it’s good to know that he’s a competent mechanic. That’s the only message I heard: I want to “fix” things.

    When I consider Irons the candidate, even without the backdrop of his poor character, which Goldy has so thoroughly reported, I keep thinking “Craswell, Craswell.” She never had a compelling reason to run for office either, except for a desire to fix things according to her own theocratic vision, and her illness simply compounded the tragedy and wasted a slot that could have gone to a more credible candidate.

    Anyway, my critique of the ad: to my listening ear, the radio spot sounded like a joke at first. The tone and script were laughable. Then I did a double take. This wasn’t Air America I was listening to. Al wasn’t riffing. It was KZOK!

  59. 71

    k2 spews:

    Not even metaphorical moose? Doesn’t matter anyway, the new state funded program would be avaiable to all eligible fauna.

  60. 72


    @ 33

    I totally agree with you there. More buses to Redmond Ridge, absolutely. I want to admit that I’ve been out of the loop for awhile on RR, but it looked like a success when I saw it last weekend. You probably do know more about it. But I still think that, even if you disagree with Ron on that, he is a fucking leader with bold ideas.

  61. 73

    John Seebeth spews:

    There is one crucial point missing in this discussion concerning the possibility of
    I-605 and its accompanying urban blight: climate change and its impact on our existing quaility of life. The topic has finally caught the attention of governments in King County as a sold-out crowd of over 500 wll be attending the King County 2005 Climate Change Conference on Oct. 27 at the Qwest Field Conference Center in Seattle. Thanks to the unprecedented hurricanes in the Gulf, awareness of the impacts of climate change–financial and otherwise–are beginning to hit home. When local governments begin to understand the implications of climate change in the Northwest, protection of water supplies and flood protection will take priority over destroying watersheds to build new roads.
    The Other Hurricane: Has the Age of Chaos Begun?
    by Mike Davis
    October 7, 2005 by TomDispatch.com

    The genesis of two category-five hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) in a row over the Gulf of Mexico is an unprecedented and troubling occurrence. But for most tropical meteorologists the truly astonishing “storm of the decade” took place in March 2004. Hurricane Catarina — so named because it made landfall in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina — was the first recorded south Atlantic hurricane in history.

    Textbook orthodoxy had long excluded the possibility of such an event; sea temperatures, experts claimed, were too low and wind shear too powerful to allow tropical depressions to evolve into cyclones south of the Atlantic Equator. Indeed, forecasters rubbed their eyes in disbelief as weather satellites down-linked the first images of a classical whirling disc with a well-formed eye in these forbidden latitudes.

    In a series of recent meetings and publications, researchers have debated the origin and significance of Catarina. A crucial question is this: Was Catarina simply a rare event at the outlying edge of the normal bell curve of South Atlantic weather — just as, for example, Joe DiMaggio’s incredible 56-game hitting streak in 1941 represented an extreme probability in baseball (an analogy made famous by Stephen Jay Gould) — or was Catarina a “threshold” event, signaling some fundamental and abrupt change of state in the planet’s climate system?

    Scientific discussions of environmental change and global warming have long been haunted by the specter of nonlinearity. Climate models, like econometric models, are easiest to build and understand when they are simple linear extrapolations of well-quantified past behavior; when causes maintain a consistent proportionality to their effects.

    But all the major components of global climate — air, water, ice, and vegetation — are actually nonlinear: At certain thresholds they can switch from one state of organization to another, with catastrophic consequences for species too finely-tuned to the old norms. Until the early 1990s, however, it was generally believed that these major climate transitions took centuries, if not millennia, to accomplish. Now, thanks to the decoding of subtle signatures in ice cores and sea-bottom sediments, we know that global temperatures and ocean circulation can, under the right circumstances, change abruptly — in a decade or even less.

    The paradigmatic example is the so-called “Younger Dryas” event, 12,800 years ago, when an ice dam collapsed, releasing an immense volume of meltwater from the shrinking Laurentian ice-sheet into the Atlantic Ocean via the instantly-created St. Lawrence River. This “freshening” of the North Atlantic suppressed the northward conveyance of warm water by the Gulf Stream and plunged Europe back into a thousand-year ice age.

    Abrupt switching mechanisms in the climate system – such as relatively small changes in ocean salinity — are augmented by causal loops that act as amplifiers. Perhaps the most famous example is sea-ice albedo: The vast expanses of white, frozen Arctic Ocean ice reflect heat back into space, thus providing positive feedback for cooling trends; alternatively, shrinking sea-ice increases heat absorption, accelerating both its own further melting and planetary warming.

    Thresholds, switches, amplifiers, chaos — contemporary geophysics assumes that earth history is inherently revolutionary. This is why many prominent researchers — especially those who study topics like ice-sheet stability and North Atlantic circulation — have always had qualms about the consensus projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world authority on global warming.

    In contrast to Bushite flat-Earthers and shills for the oil industry, their skepticism has been founded on fears that the IPCC models fail to adequately allow for catastrophic nonlinearities like the Younger Dryas. Where other researchers model the late 21st-century climate that our children will live with upon the precedents of the Altithermal (the hottest phase of the current Holocene period, 8000 years ago) or the Eemian (the previous, even warmer interglacial episode, 120,000 years ago), growing numbers of geophysicists toy with the possibilities of runaway warming returning the earth to the torrid chaos of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM: 55 million years ago) when the extreme and rapid heating of the oceans led to massive extinctions.

    Dramatic new evidence has emerged recently that we may be headed, if not back to the dread, almost inconceivable PETM, then to a much harder landing than envisioned by the IPCC.

    As I flew toward Louisiana and the carnage of Katrina three weeks ago, I found myself reading the August 23rd issue of EOS, the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union. I was pole-axed by an article entitled “Arctic System on Trajectory to New, Seasonally Ice-Free State,” co-authored by 21 scientists from almost as many universities and research institutes. Even two days later, walking among the ruins of the Lower Ninth Ward, I found myself worrying more about the EOS article than the disaster surrounding me.

    The article begins with a recounting of trends familiar to any reader of the Tuesday science section of the New York Times: For almost 30 years, Arctic sea ice has been thinning and shrinking so dramatically that “a summer ice-free Arctic Ocean within a century is a real possibility.” The scientists, however, add a new observation — that this process is probably irreversible. “Surprisingly, it is difficult to identify a single feedback mechanism within the Arctic that has the potency or speed to alter the system’s present course.”

    An ice-free Arctic Ocean has not existed for at least one million years and the authors warn that the Earth is inexorably headed toward a “super-interglacial” state “outside the envelope of glacial-interglacial fluctuations that prevailed during recent Earth history.” They emphasize that within a century global warming will probably exceed the Eemian temperature maximum and thus obviate all the models that have made this their essential scenario. They also suggest that the total or partial collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet is a real possibility — an event that would definitely throw a Younger Dryas wrench into the Gulf Stream.

    If they are right, then we are living on the climate equivalent of a runaway train that is picking up speed as it passes the stations marked “Altithermal” and “Eemian.” “Outside the envelope,” moreover, means that we are not only leaving behind the serendipitous climatic parameters of the Holocene — the last 10,000 years of mild, warm weather that have favored the explosive growth of agriculture and urban civilization — but also those of the late Pleistocene that fostered the evolution of Homo sapiens in eastern Africa.

    Other researchers undoubtedly will contest the extraordinary conclusions of the EOS article and — we must hope — suggest the existence of countervailing forces to this scenario of an Arctic albedo catastrophe. But for the time being, at least, research on global change is pointing toward worst-case scenarios.

    All of this, of course, is a perverse tribute to industrial capitalism and extractive imperialism as geological forces so formidable that they have succeeded in scarcely more than two centuries — indeed, mainly in the last fifty years — in knocking the earth off its climatic pedestal and propelling it toward the nonlinear unknown.

    The demon in me wants to say: Party and make merry. No need now to worry about Kyoto, recycling your aluminum cans, or using too much toilet paper, when, soon enough, we’ll be debating how many hunter-gathers can survive in the scorching deserts of New England or the tropical forests of the Yukon.

    The good parent in me, however, screams: How is it possible that we can now contemplate with scientific seriousness whether our children’s children will themselves have children? Let Exxon answer that in one of their sanctimonious ads.


  62. 74

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    John Seebeth—
    So where do you and your friends and relatives live??
    Do you live in a Seattle ratmaze???
    One of the problems I have with LEFTIST PINHEADS spewing all this environmental “data” is often times they are bigger contributors to the problem than the people they claim to abhor.
    I have respect for those who purely and honestly walk there talk.
    And I’m not naive enough to believe we don’t have serious environmental issues as a planet. However, a lot of the problem is with China and other nations. LEFTIST PINHEADS are too quick to lay the “global warming” issue at the feet of the US….when they should be in China and other countries delivering these speeches.
    It appears to me John that LEFTIST PINHEADS misuse and abuse both data and tactics because what this is really about is power and a more Socialist approach to controlling the masses.
    The other interesting observation is that the LEFTIST PINHEADS seem to want Socialism for everyone but themselves. The minute you start reigning in a LEFTIST PINHEAD and telling him/her how to appropriately live their lives, THEY SQUEAL LIKE THE STUCK PIGS THEY ARE!!!!
    Get real John.
    Start with the Country’s that most contribute to your problems and work your way back. It would be more effective and sincere.
    Your current program is insincere.

  63. 75

    MIchael spews:

    What I see is that honest discussions are not being address on either side. The problems with this area is we are trapped between the sound on one side and the mountains to our back. What we need is a rational plan that gets traffic moving. I think that I-912 is short-sighted and for me I cannot support it. The other side is the fact that the environmentalists are not willing to listen to ideas. I-605 has been discussed for over 40 years and we are at the same point we were at over 40 years ago except with a heavier concentration of traffic. Its not good that we sit in traffic polluting the environment struck in traffic. I don’t have the answers but something has to be done. We are all funneled into a narrow corridor and it just jams up. When I was living Las Vegas they were building freeways but the rush hour just sucked and still does as they also did not plan for explosive growth (just try and drive anywhere near the strip at anytime of of the day) In Iowa where I grew up they are building freeways even today to divert traffic away from the heavily traveled areas. I am not a dem or Repub. so I try to look at idea for whats it worth. I think it is time to step back and look at ideas and see if it benefits everyone and whether it would work to releive the mess we have today on road systems.

  64. 76

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    “What we need is a rational plan that gets traffic moving.”

    Put all the Repukes in shipping containers and send them to Fiji. That’ll solve the traffic congestion.

  65. 77

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Seriously, Michael, the environmentalists have a point — if we build more freeways they’ll attract more sprawl and more traffic. You can never get ahead of the game. No matter how much concrete you pour, it’ll always be congested, because more concrete attracts more development and more cars where you pour the concrete. I’m not an urban planner, but I understand that professionals — the people who really know what they’re talking about — say we need a mix of car lanes and mass transit.

  66. 78

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    There’s no human-created problem that Mother Nature won’t solve, one way or another … if nothing else works, species extinction works.

  67. 79


    Seriously, Michael, the environmentalists have a point – if we build more freeways they’ll attract more sprawl and more traffic.

    Let start with the public screwls.. Let stop building them so we can cut down on the dumb ass liberals everyone has to deal with. It will also cut down on the public school teachers who molest children to since the fucking commie teachers union wont do anything about it.

  68. 80

    Mr. X spews:

    Union Hill is 100% right on Redmond/Snoqualmie Ridge and the other massive developments that Ron Sims gerrymandered the Urban Growth Boundary to allow. Ron Sims’ corporate and developer friendly policies are exactly why a lot of progressive folks like me voted against him in the primary – to send a message.

    That said, I’m certainly voting for him in the general!

    Also – in re the Holly Park redevelopment and other Hope VI projects – progressives have decided that increasing urban density is more important than serving truly poor and needy people, which I find truly appalling.

    Sadly, urban environmentalists are a developers best friend nowadays, and as a 60’s/70’s bred progressive, I think that really blows (and quit saying Jane Jacobs would support your views, folks – she was AGAINST redevelopment of older neighborhoods)

  69. 81

    thor spews:

    Irons is only the latest local politician to MAKE A HUGE MISTAKE by sucking up to Kemper Freeman by becoming a parrot for Freeman’s wacky road building schemes.

    There are a few elected GOP types who won’t support Freeman’s wackiness – but they tend to do it very quietly, so as not to offend Mr. Moneybags. Fortunately other business leadership is emerging in Bellevue and parts that makes it possible to get ahead without sucking up to Freeman by seeing things his way. One reason the entire eastside is becoming Blue is because Freeman has insisted all the Red guys and gals see things his way.

    Some have gotten away with it – like our attorney general – who has become a tool for Freeman and Tim Eyeman in his new fight to take money away from light rail.

    Freeman has spent well over $1 million redoing the same wacky engineering dream scheme in powerpoint presentations over the past ten years – and he still has the balls to call his brochures “a plan” – when his nutty ideas are going absolutely nowhere.

    Had Irons had the brains and the gumption to fend off and stand down the Freeman crowd, he may have had a chance at Sims. Kemper will find that his millions spent in hairbrained highway PR campaigns is money spent against all the millions he spends to promote Republicans who see things his way.

    Lose. Lose.