A few days ago our local chapter of 350.org, 350 Salem OR, called out Peter Fernandez, the Public Works director of the City of Salem, for appearing to doubt the reality of human-caused climate change that is causing our one and only Earth to warm dramatically and dangerously.
When 350 Salem OR said it is "very troubling" that Peter Fernandez is unwilling to embrace the clear scientific consensus that climate change is happening, we humans are causing it, and reducing carbon emissions is a necessity, that's an understatement.
Fernandez oversees Public Works, which probably is the largest department in the City of Salem. Among other things, he's responsible for Salem's transportation network, which a recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory showed is the biggest contributor of carbon pollution in our city.
It's a big freaking deal that Fernandez either may be clueless about such an important scientific and public policy fact, or, worse, is a global warming denier who could be working to undermine Salem's efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
So I emailed Fernandez three days ago, last Monday, May 20.
Peter, here’s a screenshot of a recent Facebook post by the Salem branch of 350.org. I’m planning to write about this and wanted to give you a chance to comment on their assertion that you’re unwilling to say climate change is occurring.
The response from Public Works Director Fernandez was... nothing. No reply. Maybe Fernandez is taking some vacation time so he can attend a Global Warming Denier's Club get-together.
More likely, I guess, is that Peter Fernandez doesn't want to admit that he is an anti-science global warming skeptic, since a majority of the City Council wants Salem to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and institute a Climate Action Plan with measurable goals to do just that.
I say this in part because I've previously asked Fernandez if he accepts the science of global warming. Back in April 2016 I asked 30 Salem-area civic leaders three questions about climate change, as described in "How Salem's candidates and other local leaders look upon climate change."
Fernandez was a no-response then, as now. Maybe Fernandez just doesn't like to hear from me. Hard to believe, since I'm such a likable guy.
Of course, I did write a scathing tell-all report in 2014 after Fernandez engaged in sleazy back-room deal-making with the U.S. Bank president that resulted in the removal of five beautiful, healthy, large trees on downtown's State Street for no good reason.
(Read all about it, if you haven't already, in "Outrage: the true story of Salem's U.S. Bank tree killings.")
So if you want to ask Fernandez whether he accepts the science of human-caused climate change, have at it: [email protected]
Let me know if you get a response from him. That will tell me two things: how Fernandez looks upon global warming, and whether he likes you more than me. (I'm much more concerned about the first thing, of course.)
Brian, another explanation for the Public Works Director's comment might be that he worked for about 15 years for a City Council made up almost entirely of Climate Change deniers or agnostics. There are still two of them on the Council, Councilors Lewis and Nanke, that he works with very closely on water (Nanke) and transportation issues (Lewis). What we really need to do is replace Nanke next year and Lewis in 2022. The Public Works Director's boss, the City Manager, has also shown no interest in planning to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, as most other Oregon cities our size have already done. He failed to recommend any funding to embark on a Climate Action Plan in the upcoming fiscal year, even though developing such a plan is in the Council's adopted strategic plan. Councilor Andersen appears to have the votes to add $50,000 to the Manager's budget to get started. But it's concerning that the staff is unenthusiastic, at best, about this.
Posted by: Jim Scheppke | May 24, 2019 at 10:06 AM
Super curious what evidence you have to support these pretty big claims you have regarding the Public Works Director? It's my understanding that the City of Salem (with Peter as the Director) has generally been very supportive of climate science. Are you aware that the City of Salem plants 600 trees a year? Or how about the fact that they changed all the light bulbs in their street lamps to LED? Or what about the solar panels on top of the conference center?
I think that someone who actively works to help make our city more sustainable and environmentally friendly is going to be pretty supportive of climate science, but that's just a hunch. If you can point me in the direction of your evidence to support your claim, however, that would be fantastic.
What it really seems like, and I'm just spit balling here, is that you intentionally misread his quote in order to make a point about someone who clearly seem to have a personal vendetta against. Perhaps some light introspection on your part could be helpful?
p.s. Would also love to hear how you feel you're doing your part to help combat climate change from unincorporated Marion County, a place where you have to drive everywhere. :)
Posted by: Brian Do Good | June 28, 2019 at 09:46 PM