Califoregon, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love climate change

Leslie Carlson

As the seemingly endless sunny days roll on here in Portland, my five-year-old is growing mightily perplexed. At least a half-dozen times, he’s asked me if it’s spring. When I reply, yes, of course it’s spring, he always comes back with: “But mom! Spring is supposed to be muddy!”


I think I can safely say that all Western Oregonians are enjoying the sun. No one I know has the wintertime blues. Our heavy jackets were stowed away in mid-February. The playground near my house is full day after day after day with kids in shirtsleeves, a wondrous thing to behold in Portland in early March.

But be honest, aren’t we all a little anxious about what all this sun means? Has anybody noticed that while we have had almost no rain, LA’s had 32 inches? Aren’t we all a little worried about being the new California?

The most interesting take on the weather came from one of my Republican friends. (Yes, I have a few, whom I enjoy by reminding myself to “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”) He came over to me at a social function to tell me how much he’s been enjoying the nice weather. If this is climate change, he said, then I’m gonna idle my car in the driveway to make more of it.

This got me to thinking about a different take on climate change, and all the things that might change besides the climate. If we are becoming Southern California, I decided to compile a little list of the good—and bad—changes we might see.

The good include:

Avocados and oranges. Who wouldn’t want them growing on a tree in the backyard?
Year-round tans. No more shockingly white legs unveiled around the beginning of July.
Warm ocean water. We’ll be able to swim! At Seaside!
Palm trees. They don’t provide much shade, but they are cool-looking.

But of course, there’s also the things I’d miss:

Water. Pretty soon, we’ll all be drinking the Willamette.
Empty beaches. Imagine the wall-to-wall bikinis, surfers without wetsuits…wait, maybe this belongs on the other list.
Douglas fir forests. Ponderosa pines just don’t cut it for me.

And the changes that wouldn’t excite me:

An influx of Bermuda shorts-wearing retirees.
Indoor air conditioning. Blech.

So, BlueOregonians, what about you? Looking forward to being California, or will you be moving south to escape the sun?

  • (Show?)

    I think I can safely say that all Western Oregonians are enjoying the sun. No one I know has the wintertime blues.

    Oddly, I don't get the wintertime blues, I get the start-of-Spring blues. Which means they started way to fricking early this year.

    Gimme my damned rain!

  • eric (unverified)

    I would like oregon as it is, well with a little more rain, it is allready so diverse in its climates, I would not really need a change, and I have seen one or two people surf without wetsuits in sothern oregon.

    And remember, climate change is just propaganda for Global Warming -eric

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    I think Portland is headed for a Medford-like climate. Seventy degree ocean water at Cannon Beach, I doubt.

    I planted a couple olive trees last year. I'm germinating some Meyer lemon seeds now.

  • (Show?)

    Unfortunately, the climatologists' best guess seems to be that we are going to end up not with LA's oranges but a climate like Sacramento or Walnut Creek.

    Drier all around and more extreme temps in both the summer and winter. WE get more 100 degree heat waves in the summer and more ice storms in the winter, no salmon, flagging hydropower, not enough water for agricultural irrigation and Portland's drinking water coming from the Columbia.

    Yeah, crank that car up--and then please run over me with it.

  • Suzii (unverified)

    I'm with b!X; spring depresses me and had since I was a kid. Not that this reminds me of spring, exactly, but the lengthening daylight shuts me down regardless of the climate.

    But really, rain is magical. It breaks my heart that we're drying up -- I grew up in Salt Lake and love the desert ecosystem, but not everywhere.

    And before you start laying out your citrus orchards, remember that not all warm climates can support them -- we're as likely to get the Sahara as San Fernando.

  • (Show?)

    Me, I'm jealous reading about how great the weather is in Oregon! We here in the UK have been "enjoying" a cold snap. Over the past week and a half it has snowed almost every day, but only intermittently and never enough to stick (or "settle" as they like to see here). So, cold but no making snowmen, the worst of both worlds.

    Bitching about the weather: the true "international language."

  • Wes Meltzer (unverified)

    As amazing as this current weather in Portland must be -- today in Chicago, it was 60, which was pretty impressive in and of itself -- it depresses me endlessly to imagine my childhood winters just gone.

    I know how the Midwesterners feel now. They talk about how the snow was so much deeper, so much cooler when they were kids. I laugh, because, well, the idea of deep snow terrifies me.

    Now imagining that Oregon winter could be going away, and replaced by -- ick! -- Medford weather, or worse, Sacramento weather, is a horrible thought. I always get a smile on my face when it's 40 and drizzly here.

  • Jonathan (unverified)

    OK, pessimists, when (in probably a couple of weeks), we get deluged and our basements are seeping, will someone please re-link to Leslie's blog and remind everyone that the sky is not falling (well, only falling a little bit, around the North Pole). I agree that, in the big picture, we have a problem, but jumping on the last month as being proof positive of what we have now become is odd. Under that logic, last November when we got huge amounts of snow on Mt. Hood, the trends had reversed, right? This weather is admittedly scary, and I miss the cleansing rains, but ... OK, Leslie, I guess you're right.

  • (Show?)

    I'm with the reverse-SADers. I recall my first fall here, when the skies turned cloudy and the days were plunged into what could only charitably be called "daylight"--more like perpetual dawn. After years in the high desert, I watched my mood magically lift with the clouds.

    A secondary depression arises among even sun-lovers, along with the recognition of what the town is going to look like in three months. Not to mention the forests, which I try mightily not to think about.

  • (Show?)

    If Portland is going to be the new Medford, what will Medford be? The new Mexico City? I hope Southern Oregonians like tequila.

  • John Jordan-Cascade (unverified)

    How about we start posting some helpful comments, like what we can do about this climate change thingie. Yeah, I'm suggesting that action (while we all go down with the ship) is a little more enlivening for the heart and soul. On that subject, may I suggest a little lobbying of your Salem legislators for this bill:

    SB 344 By COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND LAND USE -- Relating to motor vehicle emission standards. 01/20 (S) Introduction and first reading. Referred to President's desk.
    01/24 (S) Referred to Environment and Land Use.

    NOTE: Matter within { + braces and plus signs + } in an amended section is new. Matter within { - braces and minus signs - } is existing law to be omitted. New sections are within { + braces and plus signs + } .

    LC 191

                         Senate Bill 344



    The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor's brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced.

    Directs Environmental Quality Commission to adopt regulations implementing California motor vehicle emission standards beginning with 2009 model year.

                        A BILL FOR AN ACT

    Relating to motor vehicle emission standards; amending ORS 468A.360. Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon: SECTION 1. ORS 468A.360 is amended to read: 468A.360. (1) { + (a) + } After public hearing and in accordance with the applicable provisions of ORS chapter 183, the Environmental Quality Commission { - may - } { + shall + } adopt motor vehicle emission standards. { + (b) For the 2009 model year of motor vehicles, and all subsequent model years, the standards shall be identical to California standards for which a waiver from the application of 42 U.S.C. 7543 has been granted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2) The commission may, as far as practicable or applicable in this state, change the standards adopted under subsection (1)(b) of this section from time to time to ensure conformity with the emission standards of California. (3) + } For the purposes of this section, the commission may include, as a part of { - such - } { + the + } standards, any standards for the control of noise emissions adopted pursuant to ORS 467.030. { - (2) - } { + (4) + } The commission shall furnish a copy of standards adopted pursuant to this section to the Department of Transportation and shall publish notice of the standards in a manner reasonably calculated to notify affected members of the public.


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  • Tricia (unverified)

    This is all very interesting. I was born and raised in Portland and I remember deep snow and cold winters in the 50's, 60's, and 70's. Not so much in the 80's although some, a little less in the 90's and then there was last year's winter (2003-04), when we were knee deep once again!

    This past winter had the ice, and some very cold days, and true this Spring is awesomely beautiful and early, but here is my theory... I really don't think we are turning into California, and California into Oregon. This weather pattern is unusual to us, but we need to look at the overall weather occurances worldwide.

    The tsunami's on the other side of the globe may (or may not) have had an effect on the weather patterns. (?) Mt. St. Helen's, and all the other active volcanoes on this planet may (or may not) have an effect on the tsunami's and the weather. (?) The depletion of the O-Zone layers may be in the mix. All in all, I think everything is connected and it goes beyond weather. You could get into other aspects of life... What about the population explosion? Bombs exploding on our planet? What about that exhaust? All this has to effect everything else. I don't have answers, but one thing is for sure, we're all in this together. I'm enjoying the weather, I can't complain! It's beautiful... I know there will be cause and effect, and we may suffer for it someday, but right now, I feel blessed. We do need rain! And April showers will come soon enough. I have every faith in that...


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