Because the Trump administration has a head-in-the-sand approach to global warming, cities like Salem have to help fill the federal void when it comes to the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Otherwise, devastating wildfires, persistent drought, supersized hurricanes, massive flooding, and other manifestations of human-caused climate change are going to keep on worsening.
Fortunately, today I learned that Salem is making good progress on having a citywide Climate Action Plan -- thanks to the efforts of our local 350.org chapter, 350 Salem OR, and supportive city councilors such as Tom Andersen, Cara Kaser, Sally Cook, Chris Hoy, and Matt Ausec.
This afternoon Andersen spoke at the end of 350 Salem OR's well-attended public meeting at the Library, "A Climate Action Plan for Salem: What Can We Learn From Other Oregon Cities?"
To briefly answer that question, a lot.
Former Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and Linda Lovett of the Corvallis Climate Action Task Force each spoke for thirty minutes, providing some great information about how their city councils were able to get on board with a Climate Action Plan. But I'm going to focus on Councilor Andersen's update on how things are going on this front here in Salem.
Andersen correctly noted that in Salem, as elsewhere, there's a "misinformed segment of society" that fails to recognize the reality of climate change.
Because it appears that several conservative members of the Salem City Council are part of this science-denying group, there's a need to tread kind of lightly, word-wise, when it comes to a Climate Action Plan. Thus Andersen noted that a new seventh goal added to the City of Salem Strategic Plan speaks of an "Environmental Action Plan."
Today, in the morning, the Salem City Council had a work session on the Strategic Plan. Andersen told us that some word-smithing resulted in the seventh goal being called "Prepare a community-wide environmental strategy."
But one of the actions under this goal will be "Adopt a Climate Action Plan with emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions." Pleasingly, Andersen said this goal got unanimous support at the city council work session.
Less pleasingly, he added that red, yellow and green stickers were given to members of the city council to indicate how positively they viewed the various goals of the City of Salem Strategic Plan. The Environmental Action Plan goal got five greens, three yellows, and two reds.
It's disturbing that several members of the Salem City Council are so negative about lowering carbon emissions and protecting our one-and-only Earth for human habitation. The good news is that it looks like a majority of the nine City Council members (eight councilors and Mayor Chuck Bennett) support a Climate Action Plan.
Regarding Mayor Bennett, he came to today's 350.org public meeting to introduce Kitty Piercy, then left. The woman who introduced Bennett said that last June he was one of 372 other mayors in the United States who agreed to uphold the Paris Climate Accord after President Trump said he was going to withdraw from it.
That mention got applause from the audience.
However, my take is that Bennett's support for climate action is lukewarm at best. He certainly isn't pushing for a Salem Climate Action Plan, though I suspect Mayor Bennett will vote for it if a majority of the City Council is on board with an Environmental Action Plan.
What's perplexing is how Bennett can commit to upholding the greenhouse gas emission goals of the Paris Accord, yet be so lackluster about a local Climate Action Plan that aims to achieve the same sorts of goals. But, hey, politicians often act in mysterious ways.
And Mayor Bennett is both a politician and a professional lobbyist, so this adds to his potential for mysterious action.
Because City Council support for a Salem Climate Action Plan isn't totally firm, Andersen urged people to come out and support the Environmental Action Plan goal at a September 19 Salem Strategic Plan Open House. Here's the 350 Salem OR handout about this (click to enlarge).
Andersen ended by saying that it is important to involve the whole community in this Salem Climate Plan effort. That view was echoed by Piercy and Lovett in their own remarks. Business support is especially crucial, in part because some people mistakenly believe that economic development is at odds with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Actually, the opposite is true.
It's impossible to have vibrant economies in a world beset by the negative impacts of global warming. For example, hundreds of billions of dollars is going to be spent on dealing with the aftermath of the two massive hurricanes that have struck our country recently, hurricanes fueled by the warmer ocean waters produced by global warming.
Piercy and Lovett provided lots of information about how Eugene and Corvallis got their city councils, and entire communities, to buy into a Climate Action Plan. Their basic message was....
Keep moving. Keep trying. It isn't easy.
Piercy ended her remarks by telling us:
Every little thing you do on the climate action front is really important. People around the country are watching fires, floods, and other disasters caused (or exacerbated) by global warming. Most people understand human-caused climate change is happening. We can't know where the tipping point is that will lead to marked success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Be hopeful.
I am. Everybody in the 350 Salem OR meeting today was also.
We just need to match our hope with action. So as noted above, come to the Salem Strategic Plan Open House and let City officials know that you support an Environmental Action Plan,
Broadway Coffee House
1300 Broadway Street NE
6 to 8 pm
[On a personal note, and please feel free to skip this part, a woman I sat next to at today's meeting told me that she liked my blog posts, and had noted that I haven't been writing many recently. I truthfully told her that life has been busy for me recently. Given the setting, I didn't mention that I've been struggling with some health problems that have been capturing my attention -- due to the anxiety, lack of sleep, and time needed to deal with them.
I just want to let people know that I'm still committed to making Salem a better place and reporting on political goings-on in this town. However, like the saying goes, life happens. Some days I really want to write a blog or Facebook post, but I just don't have the energy and focus that I used to have. On the plus side, I've become a lot more understanding of people who suffer from a chronic medical condition.
I hope mine isn't chronic, but the future is uncertain -- both for me and everyone. I'm into the proverbial "one day at a time" mode. One of my daily goals is to do something positive for my community, or at least my closest loved ones, rather than worry about myself, which I'm unfortunately prone to do. However, some days I'm capable of a long dog walk, yet not a blog post.
I apologize for this addendum, since I really don't want to be known as the old-man-blogger who bores people with his medical problems. I simply have been feeling the need to explain my lack of blogging and Facebooking for the past few months. Again, it isn't because I've lost interest in Salem affairs. I've just been stressed out to such an extent that often I'm unable to do what I really enjoy doing, which I hope to get back to doing again with the same zeal I had before.]