Today was a really hot day in Salem. My car's thermometer said 99 degrees when I headed downtown at 4 pm. When I left at 6 pm, I had a reading of 107 degrees after my car sat on a sunny side of Court Street for a couple of hours.
We need to get used to many more hot days, since the effects of human-caused global warming are becoming more obvious with every passing year.
To its credit, the City Council pushed for a Salem Climate Action Plan, which was accepted by the council in February of this year. Since, an implementation committee has been meeting to make recommended actions in the plan a reality.
Unfortunately, the Climate Action Plan isn't being taken seriously enough by City of Salem staff and the City Council. This is deeply disappointing. I expected more, since progressives have a solid 7-2 majority on the council.
The always-interesting Salem Breakfast on Bikes blogger wrote a terrific post on July 5, "Climate Action Plan Committee: Transportation and Passivity." He follows climate action goings-on much more closely than I do, so much so, his blog features a permanent reminder of the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
If you care about preserving our planet for human habitation, and want Salem to do its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, I urge you to read the Breakfast on Bikes blog post about how the $300 million bond measure to be voted on this November doesn't do nearly enough to meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan.
Here's some excerpts to whet your appetite for the entire post.
The approach to the bond - for the next decade, very nearly the period over which we are supposed to reduce our emissions by 50% in 2035, it must be stressed - does not adequately respond to our climate crisis and the need to reduce emissions from driving.
After all, the Climate Action Plan says to "complete Salem's sidewalk network." We should be doing as much expansion of sidewalk and bike lane as we possibly can, not deleting some sidewalk and bike lane to fund other sidewalk and bike lane. These kinds of projects need to be additive. It should be more, more, more, not "balance." Even when there are other funding sources available, "new grant sources," we should push for the maximum on these, not retreat to a false sense of balance.
...As we see with the sidewalk deletions, the bond isn't very well integrated into the Climate Action plan. There is, in fact, a weird theme of "alignment" and passivity in the prospective actions to discussed under agenda item 4, on transportation, at the Climate Action Plan Committee.
On the one hand, making sure the policy actions recommended by the climate plan aligns with other plans is a trivial element of mutual conformance. The multiple plans should be consistent and aligned.
But what is really happening, on the other hand, is that the Climate Plan concepts are being watered down in order to accommodate and align with the weakened concepts in Our Salem and other plans. This is a kind of passiveness and conformity, trying to fit in and not make waves.
And where there are stronger requirements, as seems likely with the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rulemaking at the State level, from outside our own process, our Climate Action Plan is going to follow, not lead. (See briefly from May on the CFEC here and here.)
Consistently the Climate Action Plan concepts are framed up as aligning with the demands and standards of other projects. In other words, the Climate Action Plan is wholly in a secondary and subordinate position, always following the lead of other plans, and never primary, never driving action in those other plans.
Generally we are doing the least amount possible, and the Climate Action Plan is just too accommodating. It's too passive.
Hopefully the new City Manager for the City of Salem, Keith Stahley, will be a much more forceful advocate for the Climate Action Plan than the previous manager, Steve Powers, was. Climate was one of Stahley's responsibilities as assistant city manager for the city of Olympia, Washington, where he last worked.