Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SJ's new Green Beat on Climate Change and Hopes for Better Transportation Talk

You might recall from earlier this year a report on water flows, snowpack, and ways our drinking water will be impacted by climate change. The map of anticipated flows and corresponding droughts in 2040 should be sobering.

Creeks feeding the Santiam and Willamette Rivers will be low in 2040!
The Statesman switched up beats in a significant reorganization of the newsroom recently, and Tracy Loew who had been doing data and deep investigative reporting has now moved to a "green" beat as the "Environment and Sustainability Reporter."

Previewing coverage of a recent conference on climate change, she talked about water and singled out Portland's "green dividend," the cash retained in the local economy caused by driving less - study author Joe Cortright says, "The $1.1 billion Portlanders don’t spend on car travel translates into $800 million that is not leaving the local region."

Loew reports
In the Pacific Northwest, the biggest threat is a large drop in mountain snowpack, speakers said. That will impact everything from hydropower to agriculture to stream health.

“This, I submit, is a really big deal,” said Nick Bond, Washington State Climatologist.

I’ll be writing more about current and potential impacts of climate change locally and region-wide in the coming months. Meanwhile, here are a few interesting facts from seminar speakers...

Portland was the first local government in the nation to adopt a climate action plan, in 1993. And the city has the highest percent of residents who commute by bike (7 percent). That gas savings means more money for the local economy, in the form of “lattes and microbrews,” said Michele Crim, climate action program manager for the city of Portland. [perhaps trivializing the magnitude of an extra $800 million!
I know the editorial and news side operate independently, but you'd still like to see some coherence at the paper. Two recent editorials strike diametric opposite stances on road widening, and one hopes that the news side will better inform the editorial side. Too much of the talk about transportation operates in a blissful vacuum about climate change.

Over the weekend, road reduction was a winner!

Road Diet is a Winner!
This Saturdays "Winners" on the Editorial Page
So will we hear more about road diets and about policies and planning to make low-carbon travel easier?

But this road needs fattening up!
Third Bridge editorial from earlier this year
The concepts that worked in Ashland can work in Salem too!

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