These are contentious times. Our country is riven by partisan tribalism that shows dangerous signs of escalating into more political dysfunction and widespread violence. And yet these tensions are playing out on a field of relatively stable economic, energy, and environmental conditions. What’s going to happen when the current economic and energy booms go bust, or when we experience a major terrorist event or geopolitical conflict?
As the debate over the men’s cold weather homeless shelter has shown, even our own community is susceptible to rancorous debate and focus on short-term solutions. While understandable, we simply don’t have that luxury in the face of much more challenging concerns. Take the 33-gigaton gorilla in the room — global climate change. A recent landmark report warned that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions nearly 50 percent by 2030 to keep average global temperatures from crossing a calamitous threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming over preindustrial levels. This reduction requires a mobilization of society that would make the New Deal and World War II seem almost trite in comparison.
In order to do so, we must harness our moral courage, spirit of service, creativity and innovation, and care for people and the planet. And we need leaders who understand the systemic crises we face, who have both the ability to build consensus and the courage to make the tough choices needed to make our communities more sustainable and resilient. I cast my ballot with that in mind, and hope others did as well.
Corvallis (Oct. 29)