A few traffic-shocked exurbanites, Republican legislators, and the odd shopping-mall magnate have renewed the perennial call for an outer-ring superhighway to divert trucks and drivers around the I-5/I-405 jam. That gets other folks worrying about sprawl, and that makes the latest little big book from Northwest Environment Watch timely. This Place on Earth 2002: Measuring What Matters offers a concise but wide-ranging inventory of regional trends in growth, consumption, waste, pollution, health, wealth, habitat, and you name it. Some of the prose tends toward the expected preachy truism, but as brain candy and food for contemplation, it's a powerful package—especially the wonderfully detailed satellite-derived maps showing growth and density patterns in the Northwest's three metropolitan areas. Seattle-Tacoma comes off worse than Portland, where "growth management" isn't an oxymoron, and much, much worse than Vancouver, British Columbia. And the Snoqualmie Valley, apple of the highway boosters' eyes, looks ripe for the sprawling. See www.northwestwatch.org.
To coffee, rain, and failed World Series bids, add a new Seattle hallmark: glare. This town is now the poster city for light pollution, an emergent urban ill much in the news of late. On April 20, the national weekly Science News devoted its main feature to the manifold effects of excessive and misdirected outdoor lighting on wildlife and human health. On its cover is a photo of Seattle's glow-soaked downtown. See www.sciencenews.org/20020420/toc.asp.