Things That Matter and Why They Don’t

Upstairs at Green Springs Inn is a room that guests in the restaurant below never see. One of our daughters slept there during her childhood years. Those ten years were, by modern childhood standards, magical. She lived in a forest, ran unfettered with a posse of buddies from our tiny Pinehurst School, owned a horse and eventually flew off to high school full of confidence.

Now the horse posters are gone, the dark green walls are painted over, the bed and bureau replaced by shelves stacked with GSI sweatshirts and dusty snowshoes. The daughter lives in the city, working for a politician who I believe to be one of the few hopes we have for rescuing our beleaguered democracy.

But I’m afraid. I fear that all the joy represented in that upstairs storeroom is slipping away: the possibility of a magical childhood, the silent winter forest with deep powdery snow underfoot, the hope that an honest Senator can help turn tide of toxic politics in Washington. I have not seen winter for two years. Snowshoe walks on the Green Springs seem increasingly unlikely. Fire season starts in May. Carbon moguls see the melting of the Arctic ice cap as an invitation to drill for more oil. Is it ok if I cry?
Global warming. Climate change. Catastrophe. It’s here. Now.

This spring, some Green Springs neighbors and a few equally alarmed Rogue Valley friends took a shot at passing a realistic countermeasure through our legislature in Salem. HB 3470 would have put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and, we hoped, raised the flag for a model that could be adopted by other states, provinces and nations. Led by local hero Rep. Peter Buckley, we helped push that bill through the Energy and Environment Committee into House Rules, one or two steps short of a floor vote.

By the time you read this, the news will be out. HB 3470 is deceased. Cause of death: lack of awareness, urgency and votes in the House, all symptoms of missing public pressure. The truth is that Oregonians don’t get it. Yet. How do you convince people that they are in the middle huge train wreck when everything is in slo-mo, like a Tom Cruise movie when the bullets are barely moving? See that locomotive flying off the tracks? Hey, is it headed this way?

We Hair on Fire Oregonians believe that we need to employ the same tools that Hollywood uses to market catastrophe movies: press coverage, advertising, social media, billboards, tee shirts, wristbands, maybe even thongs printed with our message: “If we don’t control climate change, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.”

Our goal is to sound the warning sirens, create political pressure and move HB 3470 (or a successor) through the legislature to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk during the short session next spring. Are we delusional? We believe delusion is the only rational response. Email haironfireoregon.org. We will send you a wristband.