Climate Change is Real – So Is the Movement for Progress

It’s a pivotal time to work on climate issues. NASA just released a report confirming 2014 as the hottest year on Earth since 1880. The US Senate (with a Republican majority nonetheless) agreed that climate change is real, “not a hoax.” Mainstream media regularly reports on the subject. “Climate change” is no longer considered an environmentalist’s phrase – it’s part of our everyday lexicon.

Locally, we see and feel its effects. Mt. Hood’s snowpack is at an all-time low – in fact, 20 sites around western Oregon have reported record low snowpack for the end of January. Less snow means less snowmelt runoff for our rivers and streams, a drier Oregon summer, and a longer wildfire season. We experience less distinctive Oregon drizzle, and more extreme downpours.

As evidence of the detrimental effects of climate change mounts, so does the sentiment that at long last we need to act. Yet alongside that sentiment is a feeling of  being overwhelmed, of not knowing where to begin or how best to effectively combat climate change on a local, state, regional, national and planetary scale. It’s easy to feel a bit dazed looking at the evidence, and to worry that nothing we do will make a difference. But that simply isn’t true. In my first month as the Oregon Environmental Council’s new Climate Campaign Communications & Outreach Manager, I have been made privy to a world of exciting, inspiring and smart conversations about climate. There is a movement building. There are so many reasons to feel hopeful.

In the span of a mere four weeks, I have seen members of our labor community united with the environmental community to strategize on green job creation. I’ve conducted outreach alongside members of the faith community, working from a shared moral imperative to protect the planet that God has bestowed upon us and placed in our care. I’m organizing outreach with elders who approached us with a heartfelt desire to become more deeply engaged in climate work, fueled by the belief that they must create a better world for future generations, and based on the successes their generation was able to foster in decades past. And I have worked with the climate community to champion each other’s priorities – from the Clean Fuels Program, to Coal to Clean, to a transportation package making mass transmit more accessible and equitable.

There is a vibrant, engaged citizenry working on climate issues. While some may err to argue Oregon’s miniscule role in influencing climate progress, the fact is that Oregon has a history of pioneering environmental changes that have become national in scope. OEC has helped lead this charge. If you look at any “green” idea that put Oregon on the map, from the Bottle Bill, to landmark land-use planning laws, to curbside recycling, you’ll find that OEC was integrally involved, if not the driving force, behind these critical milestone protections.

The time for debate is over. Join us by signing our clean energy pledge, lessening your carbon footprint, learning your climate change elevator pitch to foster your own discussions and support legislative measures for a healthy climate. By continuing to lead boldly, others will follow. Our history tells us so.






– Devon Downeysmith, Climate Campaign Communications & Outreach Manager
Twitter: @Devonskyyyy

Feature photo by Loren Kerns
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1 Reply to "Climate Change is Real – So Is the Movement for Progress"

  • Margaret Smith
    February 4, 2015 (11:40 pm)

    Very well said. What people don’t talk about is the reality that our species may not survive. If left unchecked, climate change will eventually make it unbearable to be outdoors and humans will be forced to live inside or underground until finally we will no longer be here…but the Earth will probably keep spinning along without us.