By Lorrie Kaplan
Greetings, Ashland.news readers! I’m thrilled to kick off “Climate Spotlight” in Ashland.news — our new source for independent, non-profit local news.
From November 2020 to October 2021, I wrote a column on climate action for the Ashland Tidings. The column gave me a fabulous entree to connect with and learn from so many caring, talented, and passionate people in our community. I was inspired, over and over again.
You can read my articles on the Southern Oregon Climate Action Now website.
In bringing Climate Spotlight to Ashland.news, I want to outline the basic premises that form the foundation of this column.
Climate change is real
We’re not here to debate the science. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, 97% of climate scientists conclude that climate change is real. It’s caused by burning fossil fuels. The effects are mostly bad. And it’s going to get worse if we don’t do more about it quickly.
That’s the situation we face. It’s not good news, but these are well-established facts.
As a way of inspiring all of us to action, this column will share the stories of local people, businesses, and organizations who are already taking steps to reduce their footprint.
The climate crisis is no longer only a future threat to species biodiversity and our grandchildren. We are already experiencing fire, smoke, drought, and extreme heat that threaten the livability of our community today.
So this column will also look at how our community can become more resilient in the face of climate changes that are already occurring.
Personal and local actions matter
People often express skepticism that anything we do here in Ashland actually matters. After all, we’re just one small city. How could we possibly make a difference?
I think this misses the point. No city, big or small, can solve a global problem on its own. Success requires action by lots of Ashlands, each doing its part. We can no longer afford to pass the buck, hoping vaguely that someone else will take care of the problem. That “someone else” is all of us.
Reducing our personal and community carbon footprint and investing in resilience is the best way to say, “This is important. I’m willing to do what I can do and help others do so as well.” I’ve been excited to connect and share notes with dozens of other community-based organizations in the Pacific Northwest and other neighboring states that are on the same journey. We are learning from each other.
Climate action must be equitable
I believe most of us are troubled by the extreme and pervasive inequities of our society.
This column accepts that the climate crisis disproportionately harms those who did the least to create the problem and who often lack the resources to adapt to those changes.
This column will shine a spotlight on climate solutions that are affordable, as well as community approaches and government policies that make climate solutions accessible to everyone.
If climate action is just another badge of privilege, we are doomed to fail.
We can’t let go of optimism
I hear a lot of pessimism in climate conversations. Believe me, I understand.
We’ve known for decades what the problem is and how to fix it, and yet here we are, still sounding a wake-up call. And now we are in the unfortunate position of having to invest in real-time adaptation while also ramping up action to avoid even greater future catastrophes.
While justified, pessimism can paralyze us and leave us feeling hopeless and unable to act. We can’t afford to succumb to it. The worst scenarios of the climate crisis are inevitable only if we fail to respond.
As Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently tweeted, “You cannot escape the depth of the climate crisis. We need two things to address it: 1). Imagination 2). Optimism.”
Through this column, I hope to nurture these critical ingredients right here in our Valley. The climate crisis is not a happy topic, but we can find inspiration and accelerate action by shining a light on the people in this town who are stepping up.
It is not too late … yet. Let’s do this — together.
Lorrie Kaplan is chair of the Ashland Climate Action Project of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now. She is also on the board of Ashland.news. She would love to hear whatever you want to share with her – feedback, questions, story ideas and even guest writers. She can be reached at email@example.com.