Same old story: looming disaster, hero, long shot at redemption by Diarmuid

The climate of our planet has flipped. Drought, fire and extreme storms are upon us. If we continue to pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, human civilization as we have known it for the past 8,000 years could collapse. But a hero has come forward to lead a last ditch fight against despair and devastation.

Or maybe not. Am I am just imagining a summertime blockbuster movie? Please deposit your popcorn container in the trash receptacle as you leave the theater.

But, no, try as I might I can’t wake up to a reality that does not include global warming and imminent disaster. Winter disappeared from my mountain neighborhood two years back. Since then I have seen empty reservoirs, a catastrophic fire and a storm that tore out healthy, eighty-year-old firs by the roots. Mauna Loa reports that atmospheric CO2 is now well above 400 parts per million and climbing. If you don’t know what that means, just take the word of every respectable scientist who is not on the Exxon-Mobil payroll: it’s very scary.

What about the hero? Actually you probably see him in Shop’n Kart. It’s Peter Buckley, our State Representative, who happens to be one of Oregon’s more influential legislators. Some local folks, whose hair caught on fire when they started connecting dots between LNG pipelines, greenhouse gases, global warming and environmental catastrophe, found a bill languishing in the legislative hopper up in Salem. It had a number, an indication of viability: HB 3470. This measure turns out to be modeled on California’s AB 32, a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade measure passed by the Golden State in 2006. Since then California has actually held the line on emission increases and, not coincidentally, attracted large investments to alternative energy projects. In fact, alternative energy is now producing more new jobs than any other sector of the California economy. What’s not to like?

So the Hair on Fire people pitched 3470 to Peter one Saturday morning at Main Street Coffee Roasters. Peter agreed to cosponsor it and, voila, the darn thing had a future. As I write, the House Rules committee is adding some procedural amendments and preparing to send the bill to Ways & Means, co-chaired by Peter Buckley. But the time you read these words, 3470 may be on Governor Kate Brown’s desk. Or maybe not. That’s why we call this a suspense thriller.

Needless to say, much hangs in the balance. If cap and trade gets traction here and spreads to other states and nations, we will achieve with economics what we cannot accomplish with intellectual arguments or moral suasion: an effective way to turn the global warming tide. Wouldn’t that be nice?

NOTE TO FELLOW LUNATICS: If all this makes you feel a bit crazy, please sign Hair on Fire Oregon’s Moveon.com petition urging our legislators and Gov. Kate to enact HB 3470 this session. Google: moveon hb3470.

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