Very disappointing. But not surprising.
City of Salem staff have a long history of ignoring what the City Council and citizens want, instead substituting their own bad ideas for good ones.
So here we go again...
The City Council wants a Salem Climate Action Plan to specify how we're doing to do our part in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions that are literally cooking our planet. Recently these goals were approved by the council.
By 2035, Salem’s greenhouse gas emissions shall be reduced to 50% of the citywide greenhouse gas emissions for the baseline year of 2016, and by 2050, Salem should be carbon neutral.
OK. One would think that the Climate Action Plan process would be focused on how these goals are to be achieved.
But whoever the proverbial "One" is, they will be shocked to find that so far, what's being talked about is how Salem should deal with the nasty effects of climate change, not how the city's carbon footprint can be reduced.
I don't know who is responsible for this fiasco, but the Climate Action Plan needs to get back on track as soon as possible. It's astounding that the current "envisioning" exercise is for people to say how Salem can be resilient by 2050, not how Salem can be carbon neutral by 2050.
Here's my decidedly caustic envisioning submission that I posted a little while ago.
Now, you might be wondering whether those in charge of the Climate Action Plan process are just making a brief detour down the road of resiliency before they head back on the freeway of Salem becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
No, the description of the entire project clearly shows that the focus is adapting to climate change, not on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here's how that description starts out. I've boldfaced parts for emphasis.
We live in a changing climate as evidenced by floods, drought and unprecedented fires across the State. The actions that we take together can help reduce the severity of impacts. The City of Salem is starting a process to develop a plan for addressing and adapting to climate change. The Climate Action Plan (CAP) will outline the strategies and actions Salem can take to create a thriving, resilient community for decades to come. Our hope is that residents from across Salem will share their input on this site throughout the development of the CAP to help co-create a product that is equitable and inclusive of a diverse range of perspectives.
That last sentence is especially disturbing.
It reeks of allowing global warming deniers, of whom there are many in Salem, including but not limited to Chamber of Commerce types, to have an equal seat at the Climate Action Plan table with those who acknowledge the solid science of a world warming because of human-caused greenhouse gas pollution.
My suspicion is that City of Salem staff are zeroed in on resiliency because they don't want to deal with the political fallout that will inevitably accompany a strong Climate Action Plan actually aimed at markedly reducing Salem's carbon footprint. That will require large changes in our city's transportation and land use policies, among other areas.
The Salem Breakfast on Bikes blogger has a similar attitude toward the misguided approach of the Climate Action Plan.
The City's finally published the slide deck for the November 18th Climate Task Force Workshop.
There is nothing on it about decarbonizing or carbon pollution. Nothing about the fossil fuel sources of our pollution and reducing our use of them.
Instead, it's all about a vision for Making Salem More Wonderful. Or something. It's like it's shaped by a kind of denialism, "Climate change is happening, but we just aren't sure humans are causing it. It's probably just another natural cycle."
And if you believe that, then the frame of "resiliency" might be a very reasonable one.
But making this frame primary is also a page from the merchants of doubt approach to denying our climate emergency.
If we don't decarbonize, there will be much less to save in any kind of vision.
And if we don't decarbonize, our efforts for resilience will just be digging a moat, raising the drawbridge, and closing the gate, preserving our pretty back yard at the expense of the commons and other public areas.