Meanwhile, there are a few reasonable steps Seattle and other cities could take right now to reduce our contribution to global warming. Some are difficult (even—as Nickels is doubtless well aware—politically painful) but all will ultimately be necessary if we're going to avert catastrophic climate change.

• Passing a congestion tax—a toll for entering the central city during peak traffic periods. Cities including Stockholm and London have already implemented congestion taxes in recent years (Stockholm's, which reduced traffic by 22 percent, was discontinued after a trial period); meanwhile, New York City is considering its own version.

• Banning unnecessary nonbiodegradable junk, including Styrofoam cartons and plastic bags—something the city is already considering. We don't need this stuff, it just ends up in landfills, and there are plenty of affordable, biodegradable alternatives.

• Banning two-stroke engines, including lawn mowers and gas-powered leaf blowers. Cities all over the country have banned these filthy motors, which burn oil as well as gas. They've even discovered a revolutionary low-tech alternative to the annoying, dirty leaf blowers. It's called a "rake."

• Pay-as-you-drive pricing. This is a system under which insurance rates and registration fees are based directly on your car's annual mileage. The more you drive, the more you pay—a major incentive to combine trips, eliminate unnecessary trips, and generally drive less.