City & Government, Cottage Grove

Town Hall offers climate discussion

Dana Merryday

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is event was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The science is undeniable: The climate is changing. Things are going to be far different for you, your children and your grandchildren.
The culprit is two-fold. The first is that the human population is steadily growing. We have gone from around two billion people to more than seven billion in the past 100 years. The second is our use of carbon-based fuels as an energy source. That includes petroleum, coal, and even wood.
When you burn (oxidize) these fuels not only do you release the energy that has been stored in their chemical bonds, you also give off the byproduct carbon dioxide (CO2)
CO2 is one of the greenhouse gases (GHG). Working like a greenhouse used for plant propagation, the GHG traps the energy from the sun’s rays in the atmosphere causing it to warm up. While it’s good that we have a certain amount of this action in our atmosphere, (Earth’s surface temperatures don’t rocket from -298° to 224°F as it does on our airless moon), too much of it is resulting in a steady increase in the world’s temperature. Increasing world temperatures change the big ”motors,” air and ocean currents, that give us our unique climate.
The changing climate affects not only temperatures, but weather patterns, rainfall, and gives rise to extreme weather events such as drought, floods, increased fire dangers, and crop failures.
What are we going to do? It is tempting to deny the reality. Call it a hoax or fake news. That won’t help anybody, it will just keep us, like ostriches with their heads in the sand, blissfully ignorant until the sand gets so hot we must notice.
The Oregon Legislature in Salem recently demonstrated that the solution doesn’t seem to be through politics. When faced with a problem of this scale it should be a time of coming together to find a solution. The sticking point seems to be no one wants to do anything that may harm the economy or anybody’s livelihood. I understand. But let’s dissect this; it is this type of thinking, rating people over the planet, that got us into this situation. But in the bigger picture, the three things most essential for life – air, water, and food – are most threatened by an unstable climate.
Another nonresponse is to say the problem is too big, what can one small town do? What about China, what about India? The present situation arose from many individuals making choices. So, too, will be the solutions.
A ”Climate Action” town hall is scheduled Saturday, March 14 at the Cottage Grove Armory, from 1-4:30 p.m. Doors open at noon so you can explore information tables set up by groups participating in the event.
The town hall is the culmination of a series of events that began with the Climate Strike and March held in Cottage Grove on Sept. 20, 2019. Since then, the organizing groups have held a monthly educational series of lectures on environmental issues facing the planet at this critical time. More events, workshops, and presentations will follow in the months to come.
There are three groups who have come together in calling for the town hall: Climate Action Cottage Grove, Forest Web, and Sustainable Cottage Grove. While they are the organizers, assisted by the City of Cottage Grove, the hope is to hear from you! The key component of a town hall is giving a venue for discussion and listening to ideas.
Modeled after New England town meetings of Colonial times, the town hall format has enjoyed a resurgence in more modern times. While normally the town hall is called by the politicians who want to get a feel of the pulse of whom they lead, citizens can call for them as well. Such is the case in this town hall.
Speaking at the event will be Tao Orion, of Resilience Permaculture Design, LLC, and Matt McRae, Climate Policy Strategist for Our Children’s Trust. They will be discussing topics such as the science and impacts of climate change as well as how to develop climate policies and steps necessary to ensure a stable climate for the future generations.
The real draw and advantage of the town hall is YOU! It is an interactive event and a large part of the schedule is dedicated to break-out sessions where attendees can brainstorm and share ideas. Ideas generated by Grovers will go toward finding ways to make our home greener, more resilient, and reduce our carbon footprint.
There will be at least 16 organizations with information tables ranging from the CGHS Green Club to the Spreading Kindness Campaign. Come early so you can spend some time exploring and learning.
The city of Milwaukie was famously declared a climate emergency on January 21, 2020. This accelerated its goals outlined in its 2018 Community Climate Action Plan. Milwaukie has over twice the number of residents as Cottage Grove and its 76-page action plan is often held up as a model for other communities as how to proceed in the face of changing climatic conditions.
Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing shared a few thoughts on what the city is doing about climate change.
”We are dealing with the climate issues and I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish,” Gowing said. ”We recently gave away 300 trees to help replace ones lost in the snows of last winter. Trees are a great way of sequestering carbon. In our downtown we are encouraging and promoting the reuse of the historical buildings. Instead of tearing them down and replacing them with new buildings, we are using a much greener method of restoring the structures. The city replaced its whole fleet of golf carts to green electric models. We are doing the right thing but not tooting our horn about it.”
The location of this event is right in line with this policy. The Cottage Grove Armory, a 1931 structure, is being restored and well used by the community as a gathering space. Please come and bring an open mind, your ideas, and the courage to do the right thing for future generations. If possible, walk, ride a bike, or carpool to get there and let’s do this!
For more information please contact: [email protected].

Contact Dana at [email protected]



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