Getting to 2100

 

Getting to 2100

Climate Change Archive

4 February 2013

WindmillsOne of the big questions hurled by the defenders of the fossil fuel age is that low-carbon energy technologies just can’t be ramped up to meet the burgeoning need of growing economies worldwide. And, of course, they shed alligator tears at this point over their concern for the billions of poor people yearning for refrigerators and cars who, they contend, would be left in poverty by the heartless “climate alarmists.” But it is a great question. Can we produce the energy for a vibrant, equitable economy without fossil fuels?

30 January 2013

Who has a fat butt?
Time to look in the mirror and take responsibility for our carbon excesses.

Some would say that we shouldn’t have to cut fossil fuel use to reduce carbon emissions until every country commits to doing the same. But what would you think if you knew that those countries suffering most from severe climate disruption aren’t causing the problem? Countries in the tropics and the global south produce relatively little carbon yet are suffering severe flooding, water shortages and catastrophic storms…
Country size represents total carbon emissions. Source: Worldmapper.org Country size represents total carbon emissions. Source: Worldmapper.org

22 January 2013

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms…obamainaug

18 January 2013
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Despite the continued attempts to sweep the impacts of climate change under the rug, the data keeps piling up that we have much to do to reduce future damage to society and the environment as well as cope with changes already underway. Last released in 2009, the National Climate Assessmentt is being updated and a working draft is now available. Actual adoption is scheduled to occur in 2013–expect much Republican-US Chamber of Commerce scheming and gnashing of teeth.

Comments are being solicited between January 14th and April 12th. The full report is available here as are individual chapters. You can search by region of the country or by issue area.

30 December 2012

Today, Malaysia is in the center of the most dynamic economy in the world–Chindia. With over 3 billion people and a growing middle class, Chindia is wrestling with reconciling the twin objectives of raising average incomes while protecting and restoring the environment. Penang itself is a bustling center of international high technology companies and high rises alongside the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown (where Jimmy Choo got his start!).

penang

Through First Stop Portland, I was invited by the World Bank to join a forum on Greening Urban Growth in Penang, Malaysia. Among the 50 or so participants were elected leaders from Korea, Vietnam, China, India, Malaysia and the Philippines along with top World Bank economists as well as planners from as far away as Spain and as close as Singapore. Such a diverse group reflected the global economy as well as the long history of Malaysia in world trade with its own population mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Europeans…

12 December 2012
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While we wait for the “big boys” to act (or not) at their annual conferences in far flung locales, there is much we can be doing on the local level to reduce carbon emissions and address the changes wrought by a changing climate. But what should we do first?

11 December 2012

Even if the world were to stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, the momentum of rising global temperature caused by too much carbon in the atmosphere demands on the ground responses if we are to keep our cities livable. How can we cool our cities and keep them healthy?

22 October 2012

IMG_0032Whew! It was almost 12 years ago that I took my first oath of office as Metro Councilor from District 5. Now, I’ve reached my 12 year, 3 term limit and I want to say goodbye and thank you. I’ve had a great time representing you and working to make this an even better place to live. And to make Metro a better agency, providing great service to the more than 5 million people we touch every year through the Oregon Zoo, the Oregon Convention Center, our parks, solid waste services and more…

20 September 2012

(In September, 2012, I was acclaimed 2012’s Most Effective Elected Official in Transportation by the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations. I gave this acceptance speech on the subject of regional planning (so needed in our megapolitan regions!) and basing transportation investments on our shared human values.)

Thank you very much for this incredible honor. And thanks to my colleagues at Metro who nominated me, and did a very good job of keeping this a secret!

I see this as an award for asking awkward questions, and for knowing when to clear the way, and for knowing when to get out of the way.

My habit of asking awkward questions (why, daddy, but, why?) led to study and work in the sciences, then to neighborhood and civic activism and on into a political career. Somewhere along the way I learned the important lesson of leadership—its not enough just to question but one must create a vision, learn to communicate this vision clearly and compellingly and to ask others for help.

My agency, Metro in Portland, Oregon, has a reputation for innovation, leadership and controversy. Yet, despite spearheading regional land use planning, comprehensive recycling and light rail, until I got elected we pretty much planned and put together our RTPs and MTIPs like everyone else—collect a list, collate and print it then divvy up the dough. And heaven help anyone who got between a mayor and his pet project! Not everyone was happy but it was a comfortable groove.

Enter this asker of awkward questions. Being a community activist and not a professional planner or administrator I didn’t know that it was enough to have a world-class model (designed by rocket scientists at Los Alamos, no less!). So I asked why. Why do we spend our money the way we do when we are getting results we don’t like? Like growing traffic congestion, sprawl and collapsing rates of kids walking and biking to school.?

So, I asked why. And, because I was now able to open some doors (and some budget amendments) we went to the public and asked them directly: We collectively spend over $700 Million of your money every year on transportation: are you getting what you want?

21 July 2012

Take a little Rorschach test for me: What do the words, climate change, peak oil and energy conservation mean to you?

If you think like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the alarm bells of regulation, taxation and invading greenies go off in your head. But, if you are like the leading businesses in Europe, it’s visions of Pounds, Kroner and Euros dancing in your mind. What many here see as a threat to America’s economic future is an economic as well as environmental imperative in Europe…