Opinion

Working together for a resilient climate future

Together, we share a passion: working to prevent the worst effects of climate change. We are both members of the leadership team of Elders Climate Action, Allen having founded the Oregon chapter of this national organization in 2020. As elders, we have the time and the motivation to protect our grandchildren’s future on this planet. The younger folks have the energy. We need to work together. At the Climate Town Hall hosted by CACG, EcoGeneration, Sustainable Cottage Grove, Forest Web, and Elders Climate Action Oregon Chapter, participants gathered in two groups to brainstorm about the impacts and opportunities climate change poses to community-wide systems.

Allen: I was impressed by the quality of the presentations as well as the presence of some elected officials and city staff, who offered insights into the City’s climate-conscious actions. We’ve invited our mayor and council members to our activities, but most of them will not attend. I don’t understand why they are so hostile to the evidence of climate change. After all, we are literally on the front line of rising sea levels, “dead zones” and even wildfires, which used to be an impossibility in our moist coastal forests.

Colgan: The event was a kickoff of CACG’s efforts to involve the community in the creation of a climate action plan which would not just set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — the drivers of climate change — but would also look ahead toward adapting to some level of climate change. Climate change is global, but resilience is largely local. It’s at the community level that we will either successfully adapt to climate change or face major disruptions to our everyday lives. We hope to begin discussions of climate resilience in their respective communities soon, piggybacking on the work being done by Lane County in the third phase of its climate action plan. We strongly believe that collaboration expands their actions through partnerships with other like-minded individuals and organizations. We support and learn from each other in order to realize our mutual goals.

Allen, 81, along with other members of his Florence Climate Emergency Campaign, have been staging a climate strike every week for the past 143 weeks, trying to convince his local government to declare a climate emergency and undertake planning efforts to meet the challenge.

Colgan, 68, is a member of Climate Action Cottage Grove. She began climate activism in 2021 after she retired. She and CACG are hoping to cultivate a more constructive relationship with Cottage Grove leaders than has been possible in Allen’s community.