Liberal Climate Denial

By Lenny Dee of Portland, Oregon. Lenny is the co-founder of Onward Oregon.. Previously, he contributed "An open letter on education reform to Ben Cannon".

Recently Oregon State Professors Kathleen Moore and Michael Nelson had a well-reasoned Oregonian op-ed on the logic of climate denial from our more conservative citizens. In Oregon we also need to look at liberal climate denial which can't imagine any future other than the one we're presently living in.

That lack of imagination leads to a host of contradictions given that we're now on course according to scientific consensus for a 7 to 11 degree Fahrenheit temperature rise by the end of the century. (World Bank 7%, MIT 10%, International Energy Agency 11.8%)

Governor Kitzhaber can enthusiastically support spending 4 billion on an anachronistic transportation model called the Columbia River Crossing at the same time he calls for a carbon tax. Former Mayor Sam Adams wanted to build on a Hayden Island flood plain at the same time he championed Portland striving for 25% of all trips by bike. Metro Councilors herald their work on a climate action plan at the same time they want to encourage long distance travel by building a convention center hotel.

We see the same liberal denial on the national and international level. President Obama wants to halt the sea rise yet he sites as an accomplishment increased energy drilling and the oxymoron called clean coal. The World Bank issues a report called Turn The Heat Down saying that carbon emissions are heading to catastrophic levels at the same time they fund coal plants in China and India.

Liberals somehow think that climate can be resolved through negotiation and compromise. The climate cliff is very different than the fiscal cliff. Physics doesn't compromise. Nature doesn't negotiate. Given the lack of will power nationally and internationally to change the arc of industrial civilization our efforts to recycle, compost, bike, and become energy efficient are admirable but insufficient. Beating the drums for economic growth is in fundamental contradiction with climate science. We have to start a realistic conversation as to what kind of economy should we should create that won’t toast the planet.

Oregon has a reputation of being ahead of the curve from death with dignity to the bottle bill, land use planning and the Oregon Health Plan. Where are the our liberal leaders who will begin to speak honestly to our children and grandchildren about the world they'll inherit? When will the Oregon Business Summit place climate adaptation on the forefront of our agenda?

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