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Introducing…The Ashland Climate Challenge

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In 2008, the Geos Institute and The Resource Innovation Group (TRIG) joined forces to hold our first pilot project bringing climate science to local communities. The project was focused on the Rogue Basin of southwest Oregon – our own backyard. We experimented with bringing downscaled climate models to non-scientists in hopes of providing the information that was needed for communities to make sound decisions for the future.

We facilitated workshops for natural resource managers, community decision-makers, and experts in health, emergency management, business, and a variety of other fields. These early workshops were vital in the development of our ClimateWise program, which works to protect natural systems and vulnerable populations while creating Whole Community resilience.

Fast forward seven years and we are starting to see and feel many of the on-the-ground impacts that were projected in our 2008 report. Specifically, we have begun to experience economic impacts from smokey summers and snowless winters.

Some other projections have yet to be documented, including crop failures, energy supply disruptions, and increases in heat-related illnesses and vector-borne disease. By our 2008 projections, which are now considered underestimates based on observed trends, the Rogue Basin is expected to warm by 7-15° F in the summer and 3-8° in the winter by 2075, if we continue on the business-as-usual trajectory for greenhouse gas emissions (Doppelt et al. 2008).

Fortunately, recent polls suggest that Americans are ready to reduce our emissions. This is great news! Here in Jackson County, 63% of people think that climate change will harm future generations, and three-quarters of the population wants more renewable energy and regulation of greenhouse gas pollutants (Yale Climate Opinion Poll 2014). These figures mirror those for the rest of the nation.

The Geos Institute and Rogue Climate are proud to be leading a local effort to engage the community and take charge of our collective future. We are launching Climate Week with 10 days of climate and energy-related activities. It all starts on November 6th with a Climate and Energy Themed First Friday Art Walk, followed by daily activities and events (speakers, movies, a bike parade!), a night of community storytelling with The Hearth, and culminating with the November 15th Ashland Climate Challenge Kickoff event at the Historic Ashland Armory, featuring free food, music, speakers, and information that can save people and businesses energy and money.

At the Ashland Climate Challenge we will introduce the Mayor’s Ad-hoc Committee of local residents who are helping to craft effective community-wide strategies for reducing emissions and protecting people from the impacts of climate change. These committee members will be leading a year-long effort to develop the Ashland Climate and Energy Action plan. The City has already dedicated resources to implementing priority actions and moving the city in a positive direction. We applaud this development and are getting the community on-board and moving with the Ashland Climate Challenge. If you’re in Ashland November 6-15th, please join us!

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