If you think that oh-so-green Oregon doesn't have public officials who deny global warming, think again.
Here in Salem, the state capital, a memo has surfaced that should seriously embarass the City of Salem's Public Works Director, Peter Fernandez, and Linda Norris, the City Manager.
It appears that Fernandez and Norris aren't part of the reality-based community that accepts the fact of human-caused global warming. And the vital need to do something about it before even more disastrous effects occur than are already evident.
Thanks to the Salem Breakfast on Bikes blog, it is possible to see how Fernandez' and Norris' head-in-the-sand minds work. This is a memo from Fernandez:
Breakfast on Bikes says:
While it doesn't, I think, rise to the level of "smoking gun," I find it very interesting that the City of Salem wants to bail on greenhouse gas modeling. Here's an email from the City in the meeting packet [see above].
City staff write:
"It is not a good time to undertake an effort like this...we are concerned that this has the potential to create controversy in the community and at Council. In the worst case scenario, it may undermine other land use and transportation planning efforts that we need to undertake."
What other "land use and transportation planning efforts" could there be that would be "undermined"?
Like the Third Bridge, maybe? Modeling greenhouse gases and land use with a recently programmed model instead of the Commodore Vic model with its 1980s assumptions we are currently using would almost certainly cast doubt on the wisdom of a giant bridge and highway!
I don't know, maybe there are other "land use and transportation planning efforts" City staff have in mind in addition to the bridge, but it's hard to see how better greenhouse gas modeling wouldn't enhance rather than detract from rational planning efforts.
I mean, if we want to fill the empty spaces in Salem, using vintage 1980s modeling is just going to keep pushing development outwards and create low-density sprawl - will exacerbate problems with greenhouse gas emissions.
Here's what I find disturbing about Peter Fernandez's memo:
The first part of the quoted paragraph above says in full, "While the effort seems worthwhile and relatively harmless, Linda [Norris], Glenn Gross and I are of the opinion that it is not a good time to undertake an effort like this."
Fernandez admits that it is indeed worthwhile to use an award-winning computer model to understand how City projects like an unneeded, unwanted, and unpaid for $400-700 million Third Bridge would affect greenhouse gas emissions in the Salem area.
But the main concern of Salem's Public Works Director and City Manager, Linda Norris, isn't environmental health and helping to insure that Earth remains habitable for future generations. It is whether collecting information on the impact of pet City Council projects could "undermine" future similarly Earth-unfriendly efforts.
So two of the top officials at the City of Salem are on record as being in favor of environmental degradation. There's no other way to interpret this memo. Pathetic. And stupid from an economic development standpoint.
Many, if not most, businesses these days want to have a Green label attached to them. Executives of cutting-edge companies looking for a place to locate or relocate are concerned about livability, which includes an area's concern for the environment.
Skilled employees who have a choice about where they want to live and work also face a decision: settle in Salem, or head to Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, or other Oregon cities with a much stronger environmental vibe.
It isn't smart for the Salem City Manager and Public Works Director to go on record as saying, in effect, we don't give a shit about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. This isn't Texas. This is Oregon. Trashing the environment isn't going to be a winning business recruitment strategy.
Citizens who do care about the environment also should be disturbed about Fernandez' comment that studying how City transportation projects affect greenhouse gas emissions would be controversial to some or all members of the City Council.
Again, this isn't Texas. Most Oregonians expect elected officials in our state to respect scientific conclusions about evolution, global warming, and such. Yet it appears that openly acknowledging the obvious problem of global warming would ruffle the science-denying feathers of some City Council members.
I wish citizens knew who they were.
Then we could do our best to make sure they aren't elected to another term. I've got no problem with people having crazy ideas if they remain purely personal. But when crazy ideas like denying global warming enter the public policy arena, the craziness needs to be called out as what it is:
Dangerous to life on this planet, including Homo sapiens.