The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board has offered its customary after-action, need-better-planning critique of the response to the heat wave, (“A haunting tragedy leaves troubling questions,” July 4 and “Portland, TriMet need to match the urgency of the moment,” July 11).
But the heat wave reflects the unpredictability of weather events as the world heads into the unexplored terrain of climate disruption. All that’s predictable is that the effects will be increasingly extensive and destructive.
We have collectively failed to make meaningful reductions in the greenhouse gases that stoke the heat domes, fuel the fires and melt the retreating snowpack that’s causing “severe” to “extreme” drought in rural Oregon.
Local and state governments have failed their most crucial test. Vehicle emissions reductions have stalled, risen, stalled again. They’re our largest emissions source, and least successfully acted upon. Bluntly put, the governor, the Legislature and the Oregon Department of Transportation do not have a sufficiently urgent strategy to restrain these emissions.
While the Oregon Legislature set a 2040 sunset date for carbon emissions from PGE and PacifiCorp, that bill – and most meaningful reductions in electricity emissions – have come from stakeholder/utility negotiations. Skilled legislators plotted their passage, but the initiative came from outside.
Rural Republican legislators have dug in against acting on climate.
The Oregonian/OregonLive editorial board needs to be treating climate action as the singular and existential challenge it is.
Gov. Brown, state agency heads, many legislators – and myself, when I chaired the state’s Global Warming Commission – need to be held accountable for our failure to demand, loudly and insistently enough, that we deal before the fact with the climate emergency instead of picking up the pieces afterwards.
Duncan is chair emeritus of the Oregon Global Warming Commission