Tag Archives: Climate Change

COVID-19 and Climate change: A Convergence of Crises

“Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli

What appears to be the hallmark of the COVID-19 crisis at the peak of the curve, that place where fatalities are highest, is lack of capacity within the health-care delivery system.

We have seen it in Italy. We are seeing it in New York.

The Governors of both Oregon and Washington are taking extraordinary measures to prevent this scenario here by constructing temporary care facilities in tents on soccer fields and at the Fairgrounds in Salem. These needed actions do raise a question. Why are we so unprepared for situations where emergency care is crucial for survival?

We live in an earthquake subduction zone. Significant portions of our population reside in Tsunami Inundation Zones. Every major city in the Willamette Valley is within the impact area of a dormant volcano and an air-quality inversion area. The devastation caused by major forest fires is no longer a distant memory of a prior generation.

Yet in order to address this pandemic, we are forced to build temporary field hospitals. We do not have sufficient ventilator capacity in the state, and local health-care organizations are seeking volunteers to sew safety masks for providers. The forces that created this situation are neither new nor unique.

In 2006, Lord Nicholas Stern, economist, issued a 700-page report on climate change on behalf of the United Kingdom. In it he cites that climate change is the result of the greatest market failure in human history. The logic now-a-days is well accepted by most. If modern managers of most corporations can avoid a cost, they will. This is not new. For decades

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Timber Unity Isn’t

A small number of rural residents who are funded by timber and fossil fuel corporate money have been able to amplify their voices beyond their size. They claim timber unity is their goal, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. The corporate founders behind Timber Unity have spent millions on high-priced attorneys to prevent their workers from having safe and decent work. They have fought several unionization efforts at their mills. It is difficult to understand how they can claim to speak for a group whose rights they routinely seek to impinge.

Their current crusade is to fight the State’s effort to invest in a future for the next generation of Oregonians. They are targeting any and all efforts to reduce carbon pollution in Oregon. This should not be too surprising since they have close ties to the 11 Republican Senators who walked out to stop the bill last year and again this session. These 11 Senators received more than 65% of their funding from corporations, including fossil fuel giant Koch Industries.

While cap-and-invest isn’t the most enlightened approach to mitigate carbon pollution, it is a method that should be supported by moderates of both political parties. The approach is a compromise, just as Obama’s Affordable Care Act was a compromise. In both cases, the compromise was rejected and weaponized by groups funded by the those who stood to lose billions on Wall Street.

Instead of blocking all efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution in Oregon, Timber Unity should be asking their corporate donors how much they have invested in next generation low-carbon logging and transportation equipment. How much money taken from our rural

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Dems Determined to Try Again to Pass a Cap-and-Trade Bill

You’ll remember all the drama during the last session of the Oregon Legislature when Senate Republicans fled Oregon to avoid voting on legislation that would limit greenhouse gas emissions state-wide.  In the House, 9 out of 12 Clackamas County representatives voted for House Bill 2020 – those 9 being our Democratic Reps.  A Clackamas County Republican representative from Canby led the walkout and then was elected Minority Leader, though she is only in her first term. Gov. Kate Brown and other state Democrats have pledged their support for cap-and-trade legislation to be introduced during the 2020 session. But will Republicans show up for work?  

Read this Oregon Capital Insider report on the Dem’s strategy to get this important legislation passed: “Democrats rev up plan for new carbon-reduction bill”

Draft Resolutions for Criminal Justice and a State Bank Considered at October’s Justice Committee Meeting

Present: Mike Kohlhoff (chair), Ron Carl, Cornelia Gibson, Peter Norbye, Michael DeWitt, Jason Pierson, Connie Lee, and Mary Post (secretary).

Mike presented two draft resolutions: one addressing Criminal Justice and the other, a proposed State Bank.  Jason will make changes to the first, and both will be forwarded to the Platform and Resolution Committee for consideration.

A tentative resolution, “Clackamas County Changing Energy Sources,” was discussed and will be further considered at our next meeting. 

From the Racial Justice Sub-Committee 

We continued our discussion of the health threats posed by racism.  Connie outlined several paths to explore.  Peter requested that we address racism in our own Democratic Party. 

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Doing What We Can: Climate Change and Inequality

By Mark Gamba, Mayor City of Milwaukie

The last time carbon in our atmosphere routinely exceeded 400 ppm was three million years ago. At that time temperatures were 3.6 to 5.4 degrees warmer, and the ocean levels were 15 to 25 meters higher. Imagine if, instead of being above 80 degrees the last week in July, we were well above 90 degrees, and in August if we exceeded 100 degrees for weeks on end. With summers that hot in the Northwest, the probability of wildfires and forest fires increases. Energy usage would skyrocket as more air conditioners were installed, and our air pollution would rival or exceed Los Angeles.

These are not predictions; they are all already happening. Climate change isn’t something happening in some distant future; it is already here.

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Part One: Inequality and Climate Change: Keep Hope Alive

Can we keep hope alive? Is it reasonable to hope for a better, more just economy in which the 1% control a lot less than 50 percent of the wealth and income of our county? Is it reasonable to hope for policies that mitigate rather than contribute to climate change? Can we hope that future generations will participate in civic life and revitalize a democracy now on life support? What must we do today to keep hope alive?

The percentage of annual income collected by the top one percent in Oregon is greater today than it was in 1929. This is also true for Clackamas County. The average annual income for the top one percent in Clackamas County is $1,338,000. The rest of us, the 99%, have an average annual income of $61,062. Continue reading