Bill Bradbury speaks in Ashland on global warming

As part of a statewide tour, Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury delivered a free presentation on global warming and its localized effects on the Rogue Valley and Oregon Thursday evening, hosted by the National Fish & Wildlife Forensics Laboratory.

Bradbury, who has given more than 130 presentations, was the only elected official a part of the first global warming training taught by former Vice President Al Gore. Bradbury opened the floor for questions and open discussion following the lecture.

Bradbury focused on how Oregon and the Rogue Valley will be affected by global warming and how sustainable energy will make a difference. The 59-year-old Secretary of State briefed the audience on the climate change on Mount Hood, the Pacific dead zone off of the Oregon Coast and gauged a hypothetical rise in sea level in Portland if global warming persists

"I think we all know that this is our home and this is what's at stake," Bradbury said. "I think all of us understand it's warmer at the equator and colder at the poles. If the temperature goes up 5 degrees, it starts at the equator with an increase of 1 degree Fahrenheit but increases by 12 degrees Fahrenheit at the poles."

The uneven increase in temperature and rise in sea level result in changing wind and current patterns, which can intensify weather conditions dramatically.

"We're already seeing very strong impacts from a rising sea level," Bradbury said. "Any rise in sea level is much more significant than it sounds."

A one meter increase in wavelength has been recorded, Bradbury said, from three to four meters which is enough to push water an additional 50 meters inland. Bradbury also revealed that the ten warmest years occurred in the last decade, with the hottest being 2005. The same year, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, as well as severe flooding in Mumbai, India and Brienze, Switzerland.

Ashland residents who came out for the event were both enthusiastic and apprehensive about the subject of sustainability.

"I'm stressed that a hip, smart town like Ashland isn't more proactive in becoming energy efficient," Brad Carrier said. "I think there have been efforts made, I just think we need to invite creative ideas and form a Web site."

John Stromberg, candidate for Mayor of Ashland, believes the city needs to take advantage of its opportunities for growth with a sustainability center. "My motto is sustainability is our future," Stromberg said. "We have an economic opportunity to keep this town thriving by doing that."

Tim Wohlworth, 75, and wife Joyce Gibrick, 60, moved to Ashland from the San Francisco Bay Area two years ago.

The couple, who both still feel new to Ashland, wanted to become involved and came out to the presentation because of two reasons.

"One reason I came out is that I'm concerned about global warming and second I wanted to know more about its effects in the Valley," Wohlworth said. Everyone seemed to agree, though that Bradbury had enthusiasm about spreading the word about global warming.

Bradbury recommended paths each person can take in everyday life that will help eliminate "carbon foot prints" at home, at the store, on the go and at work. Riding bicycles and scooters as well as car-pooling as means of transportation are just some ways the community can apply to their daily lives. Ultimately, Bradbury stressed that small steps individually will result in big steps in the community and then the nation.

"The 21st century can be a time of renewal," Bradbury said. "We can open up a world of new opportunities and we'll solve this problem. The choice is ours. The responsibility is ours."

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