I urge you to take the Community Survey that is part of the process for preparing a Salem Climate Action Plan. I believe you have until November 4.
However, having just taken the survey myself, be aware that it is decidedly weird. Much of the survey has little to do with the climate, or actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or with the planning process.
For example, early on a question asked me how often I did the following: work on a community project, attend a public meeting discussing town or school affairs, attend a political meeting or rally, attend a club or organizational meeting, volunteer, attend faith-based services/meetings, participate in some other community involvement activity.
It's difficult to discern what this has to do with the Salem Climate Action Plan.
Further, it seems obvious that people who take the time to complete the Community Survey are more concerned with what is going on in Salem than the average person. So in no way will this survey tell us much about the community activities most people in Salem engage in, leaving aside the question of why this is relevant to the Climate Action Plan.
The Community Survey page on the City of Salem web site does describe the purpose of the survey.
As a valued member of the Salem community, you are invited to take this survey so that your perceptions and opinions about Salem can be used to better understand Salem’s strengths and vulnerabilities in relation to the changing climate. Your insights are important to us - your responses will help inform the development of Salem’s Climate Action Plan. We appreciate your input in building a city that is resilient to climate change.
OK, but this language set off some warning bells in the political cynicism part of my brain, which, given my age of 72, has a lot of historical material to work with.
City officials haven't been leading the charge for Salem to join other cities in Oregon with a Climate Action Plan. The City Manager, Mayor, Public Works Director and other high-ranking officials ignored this until progressives on the City Council and 350 Salem OR pressed for a Climate Action Plan.
Ten days ago the City Council approved greenhouse gas reduction goals for Salem, a major step forward and a laudable accomplishment of 350 Salem OR.
So when I completed the Community Survey, under one write-in question I said that climate change deniers should have zero influence on the Climate Action Plan, because the greenhouse gas emission goals already have been determined by the City Council.
What remains to be determined is how to achieve those goals in Salem, not whether the goals should be achieved.
That's why I found the language explaining the purpose of the Community Survey to be worrisome. It talks about the need to "better understand Salem’s strengths and vulnerabilities in relation to the changing climate." Huh? That makes no sense.
What needs understanding is how to reduce Salem's carbon emissions, most of which come from the transportation sector. Hence, driving less in more efficient vehicles (battery powered, ideally) for shorter distances is going to be necessary.
The goal is to do our part to slow down and ultimately stop the changing climate, not to determine how the changing climate will affect us. Likewise, the last sentence, "We appreciate your input in building a city that is resilient to climate change," is even more perplexing.
The primary purpose of the Climate Action Plan shouldn't be to make Salem "resilient" to climate change.
It is to reduce carbon emissions in our city that are contributing to climate change. Sure, a secondary purpose could be to find ways to cope with the bad effects of climate change. But resiliency is a code word for adapting to climate change, rather than taking strong action to combat it.
Now, maybe the strange questions in the Community Survey and the worrisome language in the description of the survey aren't really an indicator of how city staff are viewing the Climate Action Plan.
I'm just worried that these are signs of city officials trying to water down the impact of the Climate Action Plan.