Sunday, January 10, 2021

City Launches New Round of Climate Brainstorming

In the face of our great national crisis, it has been anodyne this weekend to register a couple of details on our Climate Action Plan.

Bob Cortright in today's paper

Community Advocate Bob Cortright has a short piece on Our Salem in the paper.

And the City and consultant team appears to have executed a little bit of a course-correction, jumping a climate plan activity farther up in the queue.

New digital sticky note project

Over the weekend the City and consultant team launched a digital sticky note project to collect ideas on greenhouse gas reduction. By name, it appears to be something that had been planned for the Spring and may have been moved up and bumped the "vulnerability assessment," which is our current phase.

By itself this doesn't cure the deficiencies we've seen with the planning process so far, but it's a move in the right direction. 

It is, in fact, what should have kicked off the first round of brainstorming instead of the "Envisioning a Resilient Salem" sticky note project.

The consultant team could break it down more specifically: We need to reduce driving by 25%  (or 50%), what specific things would help you drive less? Questions that are too general may not capture the magnitude of change that is necessary. If we need to reduce VMT very significantly, is allowing people to get sidetracked on reducing idling at intersections and drive-thrus at all constructive?

It's never been clear that the messaging and rhetoric is focused on the right substance and scale, and focused to appeal to the right people.

The reception of rhetoric and hopes for resulting persuasion are important to think about.

If there is one thing our crisis has made clear, it's that criticism on climate is not always offered in good faith. Advocates have known this, but the media sometimes over-commits to a both-sides frame, and maybe we can correct some of this now.

Thursday's New York Times

Wednesday was a big day, an historic day of infamy. 

Now that the revolutionary aims of the reactionary right are more clear, it might be time to go back and revise our understanding of the Cap and Trade protests here.

Thursday's Statesman Journal

Friday's Oregonian

Even before Wednesday's Putsch, the Trumpian protests and riots here this fall around the Election might have seemed discontinuous, a rupture with what had gone on before. 

But they all should be read in continuity with the other protests and legislative nullification that earlier might have seemed to arise out of differences in actual policy.

The debates, protests, and actions were never primarily over a disagreement with cap-and-trade climate legislation.

They have roots in the nullification and anti-government efforts we saw here 2016 with the Malheur occupation.

There are still some policy debates under all this; it's not like policy differences are wholly a Potemkin show. But we should understand them primarily as screens for claims about legitimacy and basic governance, and we should stop seeing them as mainly policy debates conducted by people of good faith. They are primarily vandalism and sedition conducted by people who are often unwilling to speak plainly about their real aims.

Front page in February

A successful nullification in March
Register-Guard (with the SJ story)

There is a pattern here, and it's not a pattern of debate or even of legislative sausage-making. And events went from the metaphorical "hostage taking" of the walkout to something that might have turned into actual hostage taking during the security breach. There is a line connecting them, and one is not a rupture from the other. They are smooth escalation and intended as such.

News Friday of inside betrayal
(Remember Boquist's threats also)

It does not sound like the Democratic leadership has any intent to make a run at new climate legislation during this session. But as we look back and interpret the "debate," we should be clearer about the relative weights of actual policy differences and of a kind of civic vandalism and intimidation, even veiled threats of violence, as attempts to delegitimize the Legislature and Executive.

A large proportion of opposition to Cap and Trade was not made in good faith in any primary sense, and we should stop pretending it was. It should instead be interpreted as part of the history of extremism and radicalism on the right. It's outside of a reasonable "both sides" frame and should not be defanged in false equivalence.

Back to our Climate Action Plan, it is unlikely we can achieve anything like a consensus. So we should be chasing good policy and substantial action rather than chasing broad agreement, especially agreement from those who are not interested in any good faith debate.


Anonymous said...

Mother Jones recently published a story about the Cap and Trade protests and the Capitol Riots -

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks. The connections will probably get minimized in both-sidesism, but it's just clearer and clearer the walkouts and protests were not made in good faith over sincere policy disagreements.