“Who What When Where Why.” Have you heard this song? It is all about telling a story using the five Ws.
Who is waiting for something to happen?
Once upon a time there were citizens ...
... waiting for the implementation of the Climate & Energy Action Plan (CEAP).
... waiting for instructions on what measures to take to reduce their individual Greenhouse Gas (GHG) footprint.
... waiting for the environmental study report on the Imperatrice property.
In a small city in southwest Oregon.
For the sake of this story, let’s answer, “Now”.
Because the Earth is becoming uninhabitable. Because we are losing our biodiversity, because people are scared, because the outlook for future generations is looking bleak.
Projections for Southern Oregon suggest that temperatures may rise about 9⁰F by the end of this century and summers may rise12⁰F with July's reaching an average high of nearly 95⁰F. how has this summer been for you? Have you felt like a prisoner in your own home? Has your electric bill gone through the roof?
Average precipitation is not expected to change, but wetter winters and dryer summers are expected. We now expect heavy downpours that promote floods and soil erosion. Do you live on a hill — or downhill?
Snowfall and snowpack trends suggest 2017 was an unusual year — winter sports had abundant snow and no water rationing. If the trend of reduced snowpack continues our agriculture, tourism, wine and fishing industries will suffer, as will we.
Wildfire season is a month longer than the 1970s and is expected to be 200 to 300 percent more by mid-century. This, too, is going to affect tourism and our health. OSF has had to cancel outdoor programs and many of us are wearing masks as I write this. In addition to lower air quality there will be a greater risk for water and vector-borne diseases. There is also a possibility of a decrease in the ability of our timber species (Douglas fir and ponderosa pine) to survive.
People should be frightened, but it will be important for leadership to respond by role-modeling in their personal lives, both in public arena decisions and in personal actions.
Ashland has a long history of conservation and has received good grades on its mitigation measures, thanks in no small part to its Conservation Commission. Ashland cannot sit on its laurels. Recently it adopted the CEAP and the Downtown Strategic Parking Management Plan.
These plans which can have a positive influence on the reduction of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons) and disease-causing compounds that penetrate the lungs. Then there is the 10x20 Ordinance that, if feasible, will create non-polluting and renewable energy for Ashland.
Citizens may be feeling fright, dread, hopelessness, insecurity, watchfulness, expectancy and puzzlement. Ashland is not the only city to create a climate and energy plan. Our process began when the City Council rejected the Star Community Rating System and City Councilor Pam Marsh requested the Conservation Commission concentrate on climate change. Now we have the CEAP. It is a plan. We need some action.
Given the problems listed above, what might we do to ease the worries of local residents? Maybe the council could issue statements in their Council Corner column explaining how their recent actions will reduce our climate pollution. Maybe council members could try a little role-modeling, council members could tell us about the individual actions they have undertaken, are undertaking or plan to undertake to reduce their pollution. They would be walking the walk. Citizens could learn more about the science behind global warming and its climate change consequences; we could put numbers to our own climate footprint and find out what measures we might take to reduce it.
As an example, Southern Oregon Climate Action Now is offering a 10-week course beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11 in Talent (socanmcp.eco). Or, we could participate in an evening seminar, led by Friends of 10x20, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Ashland Library to understand just what 10x20 means and how it could contribute to achieving the CEAP goals.
— Louise Shawkat lives in Ashland.