Portland City Club: Taking Oregon’s Temperature

Portland City Club hosted a public event called “Taking Oregon’s Temperature” at the Multnomah County Library on April 26th. The speakers were Kathie Dello, Associate Director of Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, and Angus Duncan, Chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission.

Ms. Dello outlined the third Oregon climate assessment report, which is created every three years. The report was compiled from peer-reviewed scientific literature from summer of 2013 through summer of 2016; the report itself also underwent peer review. It documents a broad range of climate change-related issues, including increased coastal flooding, changes in ocean chemistry, and changes in forest vegetation. Of particular concern is a decrease in the mountain snowpack on which Oregonians rely for water resources; snowpack has been unusually good this year but poor overall in recent years.

Mr. Duncan outlined greenhouse gas emission targets in comparison to actual levels. He noted that cars and coal comprise 50% of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions and are the primary targets for reduction. Interestingly, most coal contributing to this figure is burned outside Oregon. He discussed Oregon’s notable progress in energy efficiency, which has been equivalent to the closure of eight coal plants. Another focus area of his group is increasing the proportion of electric cars from its current 2%.

About 35 people were in attendance and the mood was energetic and generally respectful, apart from two brief attempts by audience members to create contentiousness. Selected questions and summarized answers:

– Q: What’s the impact of the GreenSource program?
– A: This is difficult to measure but generally, it works.

– Q: Are there more windstorms lately?
– A: Climate models are inconclusive on this question.

– Q: What about energy programs based on wasted, e.g. food waste?
– A: It’s difficult to make biomass fuel work; it’s not cost-efficient and will not become a large energy contributor.

– Q: Is climate change having an effect on forest fires?
– A: Yes, there are more forest fires due to climate change.

Written by: Guest Author