On the Green Springs, paradise is in season. Morels popped up in our woods two weeks ago. Our reservoirs are full. At Green Springs Inn, we are serving foam-capped pints of local microbrew on our sun-warmed deck. Yes, our balmy summer weather is two months early and the sunny days are punctuated by periods of rain, but life is good.
In the midst of this blissful spring, Joyce and Richard Stanley bring news from Nicaragua where they work in rural villages. Water levels are dropping at a rate of a foot or more per month in the shallow wells that serve ninety percent of the population. Lakes are drying up. Lush tropical forests are turning brown. La Prensa, the national newspaper, reports that Nicaragua is suffering from a drought more severe than any in recorded history.
The El Nino weather pattern that just brought us relief from two years of parched winters is sucking Central America dry.
Global warming produces unpredictable, contradictory and extreme events: rain here and drought there; shrinking snow packs, blizzards, hurricanes, floods and fires elsewhere. The only predictable part of the story is that poor nations and poor people will suffer first.
Here in Oregon, we are blessed but we should not forget that two parched years and two long, tinder-dry fire seasons preceded the recent wet winter. As we look around the world, we need to notice that drought leads straight to political collapse, violence and mass migration. Inevitably, instability will come home.
This is why we must stop dreaming that we can manage our contribution to global warming, i.e. the greenhouse gases that we produce, with one easy, painless half measure at a time. For the past two years our legislature has refused to place a comprehensive cap on statewide greenhouse pollution in favor of so-called clean this and clean that. We need a law that puts a tight lid on all greenhouse emissions across all sectors of our economy and then ratchets that lid down. Only this will put us on a path to a truly sustainable energy economy.
Peter Buckley, our exemplary state representative for the past 12 years, led the fight for HB 3470 (2015) and the Healthy Climate Act (2016). Peter is stepping down at the end of this term but, fortunately, a worthy successor is stepping up. Pam Marsh is a candidate for House District 5, which stretches from the Green Springs and Butte Falls to the Applegate and includes Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and the southern fringe of Medford. (Disclaimer: I am married to the candidate.)
Pam has made climate change her first legislative priority. I hope you will join me in voting for her. We need to get this thing done.