Thank you for supporting Oregon Climate Action Day in Salem on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.
Oregon Climate Action Day was entirely volunteer-created, and every donation made it possible for a greater number and diversity of people to participate.
This event has now spawned a state-wide citizens network that welcomes participants to engage in the following mission:
"Oregon Climate Action Network (OCAN) exists to connect climate-concerned Oregonians, organize creative advocacy, educate on market-based climate solutions, and to empower citizens to lobby their elected officials."
We welcome your continued involvement. Let's stay in touch!
Geos Institute staff
The Need for Climate Change Adaptation
Climate change is well underway. Global temperatures have increased 1.5° F. Sea level has risen 8 inches. Forest and rangeland res have increased. Fish, wildlife, and plants are on the move. Climate change is expected to progress more quickly throughout the next century. Many changes will occur regardless of how well we curtail future greenhouse gas emissions, so we need to prepare for those impacts in order to protect people, our water and lands, and wildlife. Preparing for and responding to a changing climate is called climate change "adaptation." Unfortunately, we can no longer simply use past conditions to plan for the future.
About the Process
At the Geos Institute, we developed a process that walks a community, watershed, county, federal planning unit, or region through a process that helps them begin to plan for climate change. An important component of the process is that it works across both socioeconomic and natural systems. The ClimateWise process begins by compiling information about local impacts of climate change, based on output from climate models and studies of ecological effects.
The Geos Institute helps communities predict, reduce, and plan for climate change.
We have found that the most effective way of planning for climate change is to incorporate climate change science and understanding into all ongoing planning and decision-making processes, including Integrated Regional Water Management Planning (IRWMP).
In short, we encourage people to wear a “climate change lens” as they go about their normal duties.
While most decision-making processes are not greatly altered by the climate change lens, the final outcome may be drastically different. This is because, rather than making decisions based on patterns and trajectories of the past, new decisions will be made based on expected patterns and trajectories of the future.
There is much debate about what the “climate change lens” should look like. Is it purely science-based? Which models should be used? Which emissions trajectories? How do we account for uncertainty? Who should be involved in assessing impacts? How do we make sure the lens is used consistently? How do we account for variable values and needs of local communities?
The Geos Institute is assisting communities in their climate adaptation planning by providing climate projections, workshop facilitation, and reports. Here's an update from the Central Oregon ClimateWise process:
Deschutes county in Central Oregon has adopted the largest wetland inventory in Oregon; nearly 19,000 acres. Peter Gutowsky, Principal Planner, says the Deschutes county commissioners all approved, with no one testifying in opposition. He adds, "This is a testament to a program that produces multiple ecological benefits, including some needed resiliency in the face of changing climate conditions."
- It's not "climate adaptation." It's protecting the health of our vulnerable seniors, keeping our critical roads, airports, etc. in use, saving our bay, making sure we have enough water (homes/agriculture/wildlife), keeping the power on through big storms...
- Listen first. What is important to you and your community right now? (Probably not "climate change.") What changes--weather, animals, growing season, etc.-- are you noticing in your neighborhood, community, or region?
- Personal relationships. We are often way too in love with our plans, strategies and science. (Problem: My slides didn't convince them. Solution: more slides!) At least half the battle to really move a community to adaptation work is who trusts you, who you know, etc. Similarly, a few great and trusted champions can turn a whole room.
- Mainstreaming. Make sure that climate impacts are not seen as something separate and exotic, but are integral parts of general plans, zoning codes, hazard/disaster mitigation plans, transportation plans, infrastructure maintenance plans, etc. Show overworked public agency staff that they are already considering/doing some of things--now climate adds another element or twist.
- Is this plan necessary? Most local government planning departments aren't exactly awash in resources these days. A call for a comprehensive adaptation plan may go 100% nowhere or, if undertaken, become just a recipe for "shelf candy." Instead, look at the 2-3 most pressing issues in a community and focus on them first. Or, pick one initial topic that looks like an easy winner.
Matt Ball | Spatial Sustain
The Geos Institute, based in Ashland, Oregon, has developed tools and methodology to help communities respond and adapt to the pressures of climate change. Yesterday, I attended a presentation at the GIS in the Rockies by Jessica Leonard, geospatial analyst at the institute, and learned more about their approach and their projects. Leonard stated at the start of her talk that, “GIS helps us become visionary rather than reactionary.”
Medford Mail Tribune
Expected increases in year-round temperatures of up to 3 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040 and up to 8 degrees by 2080. Summertime high temperatures are likely to rise by up to 15 degrees by 2080.
Scott Learn | The Oregonian
If global warming continues unabated, summer temperatures in the Rogue River Valley could rise up to 15 degrees by 2080, making the weather in the southern Oregon valley similar to Sacramento's, Oregon researchers said in a report released today.
Editorial Board | Medford Mail Tribune
It can be daunting to wrap one's mind around the concept of global climate change. It's easy to see the threats posed by melting glaciers and endangered polar bears, but it's harder to understand what that means to us here in the Rogue Valley, or what we can or should do about it.