Bizarre number of Oregon blog comments deny climate change?

My life is currently mired in the climate change debate. I just finished Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe. I spent the last week in Washington DC lobbying Oregonian members of congress on the issue. And I’ve been blogging about it — and some other blogs have picked up on the topic (WestFly has a forum string on climate change, and Jack Bog’s blog ran it this week as well).

One of the more surprising things I’ve noticed is how many global warming deniers are out there in Oregon. Not just skepticism (a healthy and intelligent response) but people who are out and out hostile toward the topic. I’m assuming people aren’t reacting to climate change yet because the effects aren’t particularly dramatic. But once they become dramatic, it’s going to be too damn late.

I’m not saying climate change spells the end of days. Nor am I saying that some unforeseen phenomenon couldn’t reverse it and we’ll be huddled up in furs or living in climate controlled tubes in decades to come. Global warming won’t be business as usual, but if we’re technologically advanced enough to alter the very atmosphere of our planet, we’ll probably be adaptable enough to avoid a total Mad Max scenario for the next couple generations.

But we’ve pushed a hell of a lot of species up against a wall, and this change is coming and it won’t be good for them. When the sea levels rise, are we going to let the marshes and wetlands ingress inland? Or will we spend billions of dollars walling off and shoring up our overdeveloped coastal areas, squeezing estuarine and marsh habitat out of existence — eliminating the last spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous fish?

When the west eventually dries up and it is literally impossible to sustain the retiree megalopolises in the desert without pumping the water of the Great Lakes through a transcontinental pipeline, will we chock it up to a failed experiment, dismantle the reusable materials and leave the rest in the sand? Or will we prop these places up with Rube Goldberg schemes, sucking the West’s river systems dry? Water issues have been dominated by competing interests of farmland, fisheries and development for generations. And these will only get worse in the years to come. How will we adapt and will our precious fisheries survive?

People can get on WestFly and call global warming discussions off-topic all they want — but it seems like the demise of our fisheries would play a pretty prominent role in the future of the sport.

Similarly, Oregonian’s can call climate change a left-wing hoax perpetuated by a money hungry Al Gore. But the fact is it’s happening now. Emphasis on now. University of Oregon evolutionary geneticists have actually discovered that recent, rapid climate change is already driving the evolution of animal species.

It’s easy to sit there on a February day and assume that five degrees increase isn’t going to have much of an impact on our lives. But when it does impact our lives, we literally will not have the means to address it — this momentum will carry into future generations.
Which is why I close with a selection from The Onion today:

In a statement channeled back across generations to the present day, the nation’s children and the nation’s children’s children called for an end to decades of passionate oratory over their well-being.

Signed by 150 influential members of the two forthcoming coming generations, the statement included requests to discontinue all debate over the potential future of such intangible resources as health, earth’s natural beauty, and the ability to sit together at the table of brotherhood. The children’s children furthermore asked their soon-to-be ancestors to desist all plans to plant trees or write letters to Congress on their behalf.


About mstansberry

Matt Stansberry currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife and son.
This entry was posted in blogs, Climate change, global warming, Mad Max, Oregon and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Bizarre number of Oregon blog comments deny climate change?

  1. funkykerrage says:

    Perhaps what is most exciting about the global warming debate is that the Outdoor recreation industry is starting to respond. As a local reporter and outdoor enthusiast I am seeing exciting press releases from the power sports and fishing industry about more planet friendly products. Still fun quads, snowmobiles and boats but now better for families and the environment. We Oregonians like our toys, and the safer and eco-friendly the better. The Spring Recreation Sale and Expo is January 18-20th at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. Maybe a little encouragement to the manufactures would help keep Oregon Green!

  2. Rich says:

    I agree, the deniers in Oregon seem out of place. If anywhere you would think Oregon — given our treehugger reputation — would be among the first states to reach near unanimous consensus that climate change is real and we must act decisively now to prevent the worst effects. I learned long ago, however, that Oregon is a land of extremes when it comes to politics, lifestyles, religion and any number of other things. It seems we have a choice here: ignore the deniers or engage them. Most of me says ignore them; they’ll never get past the view that climate change activists are alarmists, secular humanists and otherwise prone to Marxism. We would be better off putting our energy into stopping global warming than trying to change minds. The smaller part of me says we need to find common ground with those who continue to stoke the opposition to action on climate change. Their rhetoric may very well be giving a number of Oregonians excuses to do nothing about global warming. And we can’t afford for any of us to be on the sidelines in this struggle.

  3. Amy says:

    I wish I *could* say I was surprised. Nothing surprises me in terms of views people have about the environment, especially regarding their outright denial and anger towards the whole idea of climate change.

    Having worked in the environmental world now for over 10 years and talking about climate change for 20, I personally am outta steam in trying to sway opinions anymore.

    In my mind, there is no doubt climate change is happening, and one of the leading causes is anthroporphic sources of CO2. In my mind, there is also no doubt that drastic cuts in emissions are needed. What I have doubt about though, is whether or not it will make a difference at this point.

    Indications, at least the way I see them, point to the fact that we’ve already gone over the tipping point. I’d like to think I’m wrong, but the fact of the matter is, the “debate” has wasted so much precious time that we didn’t really have to begin with.

    I’m really glad that you’ve taken on the cause Matt, it needs people like you. Me, I’m too jaded to even worry anymore. I know I’ll do my part to minimize my impact and keep my carbon footprint small, but I have zero expectations for Oregonians or people in general to do the same.

  4. r~ says:

    Strong work on the politicking front.

    I had to sit next to a very vocal global warming denier for a 5 hour flight a few months ago. She had no idea how weird and hysterical she sounded.

    You gotta ask, what is in it for them?

  5. Tony says:

    Thanks for the link to the Oregon geneticists. Studies on the effects of climate change on trout which live at the extremes of their habitat range such as in Spain/Portugal and Taiwan indicate reducing populations.

  6. Tough Gnarl says:

    In highschool I was treasurer of Students Active For The Environment. We tried to save a fen in our neighborhood and lost to the developers. I’ve been a cynic ever since. I truly do believe that there is something going on with our climate linked to what we’ve done to our environment. Why is it that in Ohio the fall season seems like its only 3 weeks long and spring only 4 weeks? I haven’t researched enough at all to really say one or the other. I’ve watched PBS since I was 3, I know how bad CO2 is for the environment. However things have changed since I was 3 and I was a tree-hugging punk rocker in high school. Today I’m meeting with customers that are the biggest producers and evil doers of it all. Not by choice, but my a means to an end. Still, I recognize whats up. My only fear is that the companies and the people getting involved in the “go green” vocal play are only doing it because it is “marketable” and “trendy” and so bohemian that as soon as it’s no longer the hip thing to do they’ll drop it like and move on to their next ad campaign. Meanwhile I will perpetuate it, my sales plan is to go after those hippies and then move on, thats where the money is. This one’s out so lets take another. Develop the coast and sell the air.

    Read em and weep:

  7. Please don’t call me a “Denier.” Michael Crichton gave a very good interview on Charlie Rose about the subject of Global Warming. It’d be worth your while at:

    Also read up on HAARP and Chemtrail Manipulation of weather patterns. They’ve been doing this sort of thing since I was ten years old in Oregon (and before the 1970’s).

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