About 300 people sipped wine, shaped strategies and made connections with other “climate freaks” Friday at the Rogue Valley Climate Bash.
Attendees cheered the half-dozen speakers who spoke on the city’s role in taking action on climate change.
Ashland City Councilwoman Tonya Graham urged focusing on “taking care of our children, all children — and that will protect all life on Earth.
“We have only that one job,” she said. “And that will hold our social fabric together as we anticipate 30 more years of climate impact.”
Adapting to a new kind of climate is a huge job, said Graham, executive director of Geos Institute in Ashland, but we’ve successfully done it before. The interstate highway system were constructed over 35 years, and the entire nation converted to electricity and indoor plumbing when, in 1920, only 1 percent of us had it.
“We had our chance to act (in the last three decades) and we wasted it,” she told the crowd. “But the good news is we’re starting to do what we need to do to bring down carbon emissions. When we focus, we can do incredible things, so in 50 years they’ll talk about how we did the work to head off disaster.”
Citizens Climate lobbyist Sherrill Rinehart said unless something radical is done over the next 11 years, we’ll be dealing with 500 million climate refugees from low-lying, ocean-inundated regions.
The oft-mentioned timeline comes from last year’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning that we have that deadline to arrest warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels or we face increasingly devastating wildfire, storms, flooding, ocean-rise, refugee crises and extinctions.
You don’t need to be an officer of some organization to lobby lawmakers, Rinehart said. She suggested training from Citizens Climate Lobby, which has 506 chapters worldwide, and to start making appointments with members of Congress or their staff — or the Oregon Legislature or local governments.
She is headed out on her fourth jaunt to Washington, lobbying for the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act, which promises use of market forces to cut carbon. A fee on fossil fuels, she said, will go to everyone to use as they wish.
“Every household gets a check every month. It increases every year and drives the market toward clean energy by making fossil fuel more expensive,” Rinehart said. “It’s good for the economy and people and it’s super effective and should cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over 12 years.”
The future is depending on this generation to find solutions about carbon pollution, said Dominick DellaSala, president and chief scientist of Geos, in an interview.
“It will place enormous stress on health care, emergency response, infrastructure and affect every institution and service. What can we do?” DellaSala asked. “Everyone is part of the solution. Get off fossil fuels and into renewables. Our forests are a part of the solution because they’re a big sponge for atmospheric carbon.”
Cynthia Taylor, of Pachamama Alliance, said the movement to get global warming under control doesn’t need everyone on board, just a critical mass — and it’s approaching that point.
“I’m confident if we all work together, we can do it,” she said.
Stu Green, Climate & Energy Analyst for the city of Ashland, said 75 percent of atmospheric carbon comes from residences, so “climate action begins at home,” with a goal of cutting output 8 percent a year, using more solar and “electrifying everything,” including cars and stoves.
James McGinnis, of the Ashland Conservation Commission, reminded the crowd they can get a $1,000 incentive from the city to drive an electric vehicle. Details are at www.ashland.or.us/climateplan.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.