It's time -- no, way past time -- for community leaders here in Salem, Oregon to answer three questions about climate change/global warming.
(1) Do you believe that global warming is occurring, and is causing the Earth's climate to change in various ways?
(2) Do you believe that humans are mostly responsible for the global warming/climate change that is occurring?
(3) Do you believe that humans need to engage in actions to deal with both the causes of global warming and its detrimental effects on humanity?
These are the questions I asked Salem's Mayor, City Manager, and city councilors about a year ago. (See "I ask Salem-area leaders about climate change.")
Only two city councilors out of the ten City of Salem officials responded to me. They agreed with the scientific consensus, saying "Yes" to each question.
The others wimped out, probably because they fear being held accountable for City Hall's environmentally destructive policies: pushing for a billion dollar sprawl-inducing carbon-spewing unneeded Third Bridge; allowing large, beautiful, healthy trees to be cut down for no good reason; ignoring the urgent need for bike lanes and pedestrian safety while throwing big bucks at 1950's style autocentric road projects.
it isn't only City officials who are in the environmental dark ages. Salem Hospital, the Chamber of Commerce, and other corporate types are acting just as destructively.
This was the theme of my most recent Strange Up Salem column in Salem Weekly, "Salem fiddles while the planet burns." Excerpt:
Officials at City Hall currently are led by a Mayor, City Manager, and city councilors whose general attitude toward caring for our one and only Earth is decidedly at odds with the values of most local citizens and Oregonians as a whole.
Last year I wrote to them, asking if they believed global warming was happening, humans are mostly responsible, and we need to do something about it.
Only two out of the ten top City of Salem officials said “yes.”
The rest cowered in a science-denying hidey-hole, unwilling to admit that their support for environmentally destructive actions was at odds with the obvious necessity to do everything possible to avert catastrophic changes to the ability of our planet to support human civilization.
So while both the Earth and the western United States experienced record warmth in 2014; while ski resorts in Oregon face steadily declining snowpacks as hotter air causes more precipitation to fall as rain; while drought becomes an ever-increasing threat to farmland and forests…
Salem’s clueless politicians and corporate executives go on their merry Screw the Planet way.
I'm hoping that our local chapter of 350.org will take this on as a project -- pressing local leaders to make clear how they regard the most important issue of our time, keeping the Earth a friendly place for civilization to prosper.
Since global warming obviously is a planet-wide problem, there's no place to hide from the consequences of human-caused climate change.
LIkewise, government, corporate, and non-profit leaders at every level, including local, can't be allowed to hide when asked whether they believe in the scientific consensus underlying my three questions.
If they don't accept that consensus, so be it. If they agree with the consensus but aren't willing to act in accord with it, so be it. Best of all, of course, is for them to both agree with the reality of human-caused global warming and accept the need to vigorously act to reduce its already-disastrous effects.
I'll share my entire Salem fiddles while the planet burns column as a continuation to this post.