The facts may be disheartening: a fourfold increase in weather-related disasters in the last 30 years, more than 1,000 tornadoes in 2004 and global temperature increases of five degrees. But, the future is full of hope, according to former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
Bradbury spoke to a group of 70 in Ice Auditorium on April 8. He presented a slideshow on environmental stewardship and the state of climate change in the world with a special focus on Oregon.
“I think it’s a challenge to deal with climate change, but it is also an opportunity,” Bradbury said.
He spent the remaining half-hour discussing ways for everyone, from nations to corporations to college students, to help reverse the damage.
“College and high school students are some of the most powerful people because when they get together, they can have an incredible effect because it’s thoughtful, young people saying, ‘Hey, this is the world we have to live in,’” Bradbury said.
The most important message Bradbury delivered was that climate change is real, and it is affecting everyone right now.
“I try to bring climate change to life, but also to make it clear that it’s not just in the Arctic—it’s here,” he said. “We’d be a lot better off if we deal with it than not.”
Bradbury serves on Oregon’s Global Warming Commission, and he is now conducting outreach to Oregonians on climate change in their own backyard. His presentation includes data on the Columbia River Basin, Rogue Valley and the plights of the salmon and the Oregon bark beetle.
For junior Leah Julius, climate change hits close to home—her family’s home, that is, in the Puget Sound near Seattle.
“We live on the edge of a cliff, and every year we can see the cliff coming closer to our house,” Julius said. “It’s really scary.”
This erosion was one of the subjects Bradbury raised during his presentation. Rising wave patterns are increasing erosion in many coastal areas.
“What global warming means is that 100-year floods are more likely to occur every few years instead of every 100 years,” Bradbury said. “That’s what climate change means: It’s drier, and its wetter.”
In the last 30 years, floods, tornadoes, droughts, blizzards, hurricanes and fires have run rampant. In 2006, there were nearly 400 such disasters in the United States alone.
These weather changes, especially the rising global temperatures, have had a negative impact on countless species, Bradbury said.
For example, the Oregon bark beetles are now surviving the warmer winters, resulting in extensive tree loses in Oregon forests.
Even these effects in Oregon can still seem far away for Linfield students. Junior Joy Nelson attended the presentation to learn more about climate change. Even though she said it’s not directly affecting her life, she is still trying to reduce her footprint on the world.
“I do everything I can,” Nelson said. “I don’t own a car; I recycle; I compost and turn down the heat.”
Junior Duncan Reid, president of Greenfield, organized this event after he heard Bradbury speak at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries on Feb. 24.
“I wanted to bring a focus to the issue of climate change,” Reid said. “The presentation is similar to ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ but it has a focus on Oregon that brings it home.”
Fliers were distributed with information on how students can alleviate climate change; an e-mail list was available to receive advanced tips on reducing carbon footprints. Students were exhorted to be politically active in changing their local and state governments’ priorities.
Despite all the facts and suggestions, Bradbury wanted the attendees to take away one message
especially: “The science community has come to a consensus: Climate change is real. We are seeing the effects all over the world. And it is something we need to deal with.”
The presentation ended with an invitation for students to sign up to be a “Climate Cooler.”