Greensprings Inn

Playing it safe: not a survival strategy

Butch and Sundance stand at the top of a cliff. Far below, a narrow river rushes through a deep gorge. From behind, Pinkertons move in for the kill. Sundance refuses to jump.

Butch Cassidy: What’s the matter with you?

Sundance Kid: I can’t swim.

Butch Cassidy: Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you.

We humans use lots of our glorious brainpower to manage risk. Sometimes we just pretend that it does not exist. Mostly, we choose to stick with what we know and avoid unfamiliar activities, like jumping off cliffs.

Sometimes we run out of wiggle room. Denial and business lead straight to catastrophe. Risk is the only option.

Like the Pinkertons, climate change is real, relentless and getting closer. For more than a thousand homeowners around Middletown, California, catastrophe is already here. Scientists agree that global warming has significantly amplified the West Coast’s historic drought cycle. (See http://nyti.ms/1Nxjjde.) This summer, increased intensity has meant uncontrollable wildfires burning through semi-rural communities.

By now you are familiar with the cruel paradox of the industrial revolution: with abundant energy and clever technologies, we have multiplied and built a bustling, highly entertaining civilization. But extracting energy from cheap fossil fuels involves releasing greenhouse gases that are altering our environment in ways that will quickly make civilization, as we know it, impossible.

The climate change gun is at our heads. We need to jump off of the fossil fuel cliff right now. We are facing a big, scary fall. Will it kill us? Can we learn to swim in that alternative energy river way down below?

Some of us are braver than others. Peter Buckley, our estimable state representative, took the leap this spring. Peter put his considerable political weight behind a bill, HB 3470, which would have capped greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and, by the way, fundamentally changed our economy. For the better, of course, but still…

Now other leading legislators, including Senators Chris Edwards and our own Dr. Alan Bates are supporting a similar measure in the upcoming 2016 session.

Our new governor, Kate Brown, is hanging back. In private, she talks green. When it comes to legislative action, she wears a cloak of political invisibility.

Here’s a little jump for you. Contact Governor Brown here. Tell her to get out in front of climate change.