The cap-and-trade legislation being proposed by the Oregon Legislature ignores how serious global warming is. If approved, it will be no more than a weak shadow of the action needed to fend off a future of catastrophic weather events, rising oceans and temperatures incompatible with life on Earth. The climate policy being discussed will allow the wealthiest polluters to simply buy their right to continue polluting.
We are continually told how the window of opportunity to keep away the above threats is shrinking much faster than anticipated. Why does the proposed climate plan nevertheless allow fossil fuel interests to continue polluting our state? Why is the forestry industry not addressed in this plan, and is instead allowed to continue large-scale clear-cutting? Clear-cutting is the largest emitter of CO2 into the atmosphere in Oregon. How can we achieve 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030 at this slow pace? Why will we have loopholes and exemptions for vehicle emissions and biogas development at factory farms?
We need a permanent ban on fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure in Oregon. We need to enact laws that prohibit clear-cutting in our forests, replacing the practice with selective cutting that allows trees to attain sufficient maturity to be the carbon sinks that they naturally evolved to be over millions of years, and to once again sequester the excess carbon that is warming our atmosphere and threatening to make our planet uninhabitable (suggested reading: “WILD CARBON, a synthesis of recent findings,” by Mark D. Anderson, Ph.D.).
Melting polar ice, Australia’s fires, methane bubbling up in growing expanses of ocean in Siberia and escaping from the thawing tundra, all causing massive additional warming of our atmosphere, are but a few current examples of what scientists see coming on a much larger scale in a rapidly approaching future.
We owe it to our youth, our children and grandchildren and to their children to leave them a safer world to live in. Cap-and-trade is better than no legislation, but it is not a solution.