- Working from home may not be as good for the environment as we initially thought. That depends a lot on us.
- And why is it taking so long to get body cameras for the King County Sheriff’s Office?
This post originally appeared in KUOW’s Today So Far newsletter on May 10, 2022.
Working from home may not be as good for the environment as we initially thought. And I say that as a member of the Pajama Optional staff.
Consider that many large offices have already upgraded their buildings to make them more efficient. They’ve bought carbon credits or set up a commuter program, etc. Now a worker like me doesn’t commute to work, but I turn on all the lights at home that would otherwise have been off. And my heating is on, or the air conditioning is turned up.
That’s what Reuters reporter Paresh Dave thought when he surveyed 20 large companies on how they incorporate work-from-home scenarios into their climate targets. As NPR reports, that list of companies included Northwest brands such as REI, Microsoft and Amazon.
Microsoft believes that working from home will save emissions in the long term. Calculations based on a person working from home for eight hours with a laptop, two monitors and three lightbulbs have been made over the past two years. I don’t work for Microsoft. But if I did, the company wouldn’t take into account that I’m leaving Slow TV on the big screen, creating the illusion that I’m working while on a Norwegian train journey. And while I’m not the type to microwave fish in the office these days, I can cook a healthier lunch on my electric range.
REI has evolved its business into a work-from-home model with satellite offices in 2020. But it’s waiting for industry standards to be set to guide how it would calculate its carbon emissions. When such industry standards emerge, will they accommodate the coffee pot, which I consider an essential employee? Or my vinyl playlist that spins all day and fills my home office with Tears for Fears and Sam Cooke? Or as I sometimes dictate this newsletter while taking long, hot bubble baths?
OK, the last one was wrong. It’s just a shiatsu foot bath.
Amazon does not calculate for home workers. As KUOW’s John Ryan recently reported, Amazon doesn’t total its carbon emissions exactly like its competitors.
Home office or hybrid models will certainly be part of our working lives in the future. So considering carbon impacts may not just be in the office anymore. I think I’ll need to keep a lot more home office plants alive to offset my carbon. Read NPR’s full story here.
Let’s talk body cams in King County. The sheriff just did it.
Some things seem to be pretty obvious, good things that no sane person would object to. Win the lottery. A good education. Mr Rogers. Clean water. A damn fine cup of coffee. And police body cams.
But that last one turns out to be a bit tricky despite so much support. New King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall tells Soundside she is pro-camera, as is Executive Dow Constantine. And 10 MPs who took part in a bodycam pilot were pretty positive of them too. So what’s the hold?
There are a few significant hurdles, starting with the union.
“Wearing a body cam is considered a working condition,” said Cole-Tindall. “Working hours, wages and working conditions are therefore obligatory items of negotiation. And we have to participate in negotiations, what is happening now with the union. And this matter needs to be resolved along with the budget to actually launch the program.”
The sheriff’s office has already included body cameras in its proposed 2023-24 budget. The sheriff says they’re not expensive, but storing all that digital video and the work of redacting the information afterwards would cost a bit. So between union negotiations and budget requests, there is no set schedule for body cameras in King County.
However, once it happens, it will capture a lot of people. Most people don’t realize how extensive the King County Sheriff’s Office is. It provides law enforcement throughout the county as well as for 12 cities, King County Airport, the Muckleshoot Tribe, and Sound Transit and King County Metro.
The body cam dilemma is just one issue that Sheriff Cole-Tindall grapples with when she steps into the role. Hear her full conversation with Soundside here.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
What can a woodpecker teach you? Traumatic brain injuries have become headlines in sports. Woodpeckers and bighorn sheep, both of which frequently bang their heads, have inspired the development of exercise equipment that researchers hope will reduce traumatic brain injuries in athletes. Chris Morgan takes up this story in the latest podcast episode of The Wild. (Courtesy of Susan Young)
DID YOU KNOW?
I recently wrote a Did You Know factoid about the Space Needle’s debut at the 1962 World’s Fair and mentioned that there were bells that rang at the start of the event. Turns out that’s just sort of true. Do you know what an “imitation chime” is?
It’s exactly what it sounds like – something that mimics a real chime. But what is a chime? If you haven’t heard that word before, it’s probably because there aren’t too many of them. A carillon is a huge instrument that uses massive bells to make notes. It’s essentially a piano keyboard, except each key has a string tied to a bell. And those bells can weigh tons. So it would be quite a feat to install an actual chime on the Space Needle. Instead, 44 speakers were installed 200 feet below the disc. It was piloted at the base of the Space Needle and imitated 538 bells. It could be heard 10 miles away. After the World’s Fair, the system was removed.
ALSO IN OUR HEAD
Scientists give Earth a 50/50 chance of hitting key warming mark by 2026
“Regardless of what is predicted here, we will very likely surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next decade, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re making a long-term commitment to it – or that we’re working to reduce further changes that aren’t worthwhile.” .”