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High Schoolers' 'march' against climate change

"The good thing about Climate Change is that it encourages us to do the things we should already be doing." Wise words from high school student, Lily Ordway -- a statement that essentially set the tone for the March 9 Climate Change Youth Challenge at Ashland's Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Three Ashland High School students and three adult guest speakers offered their thoughts, while the Peace Choir performed several powerful original songs.

Sam Levine began the series of talks by integrating some of his life experiences into an elegy to love and the environment. Sam grew up in Arizona where many of his neighbors resisted the idea of human-caused climate change -- even as summer temperatures increased year over year. Sam encouraged Ashlanders to lovingly fight back against that kind of willful ignorance.

Next, Lily Ordway read a paper originally written by a vacationing Siena Wand. Based upon Solution Nos. 6 and 7 in Paul Hawken’s book, Drawdown, Lily discussed educating girls in developing countries and the implications upon family planning. (https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/women-and-girls/family-planning ). While this comes as nothing new to us folks who were around in the 1960s, Lily underscored the importance of retaining young women in the classroom, rather than marrying them off as soon as they reach child-bearing age. Had the 60s generation effectively accomplished this on a global level, the world’s population would now be significantly lower, thereby putting less stress on the environment.

Orion Glover, spoke on the topic of industrial advances and modern transportation. Pulling figures from Ashland’s Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP), Orion pointed out that 24 percent of our emissions come from residential transportation. He encouraged Ashlanders to use alternative means to get around, including electric vehicles and public transportation. Perhaps Glover’s most salient point (made in passing) was that while electric vehicles do not emit carbon in their exhaust, the production of lithium batteries involves the extraction of minerals in a process that both releases GHG emissions as well as exposes miners to dangerous conditions.

The discussion of electric vehicles continued with guest presenter, Jim Stevenson, President of Southern Oregon Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Association. Stevenson’s organization received a grant from the City of Ashland to develop a program called Electric Vehicle Ashland (EVA). His team negotiates with car dealers to make electric vehicles more affordable for both businesses and individuals. More enticingly, EVA is sharing a portion of its grant money with the public, by offering financial incentives to businesses and individuals who purchase electric vehicles before June 30. Readers interested in receiving these $1,000/$1,500 incentives can visit EVA’s website: evashland.org/#about-eva.

Audience members questioned Stevenson about the difficulties in recharging electric cars when driving long distances. He mentioned there are multiple charging stations within Ashland: four in the city center, two at the parking garage by Oregon Shakespeare Festival, four at Southern Oregon University and four in Safeway’s parking lot. He also noted that AAA is developing a program so that emergency rescue trucks will soon carry portable electric chargers to assist travelers who have run out of power while on the road.

The final presentation was by Southern Oregon Climate Action Now Founder, Kathy Conway and her colleague, Liz Olson. Their concern was House Bill 2020, which is currently being considered by Oregon’s legislature. Described as a “three-legged stool” [the “legs” being: 1. Cap, 2. Trade, 3. Investment], this bill sets up a protocol for reducing a portion of Oregon’s greenhouse gases.

While GHGs include a wide variety of chemical emissions, many of which can only be estimated, the government is able to accurately measure the emission levels of some industrial businesses. HB2020 limits (i.e. “caps”) the combined emission levels of the state’s 90 largest measurable emitters, then auctions off shares of the total emission allowance to these businesses. (The cap will decrease each year, slowly forcing businesses to reign in their emissions.)

Additionally, these businesses can “trade” allowances with one another, if they have over- or under-estimated their actual need.

According to Conway, funds the state gains from sales of allowances are mandated to be invested in “projects that further the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals of the program. ... These will be used for a Just Transition Fund for dislocated workers, promoting energy efficiency and conservation, research and development of renewable energy sources, social justice for communities impacted by global warming or by the transition to a cleaner energy economy, the tribes and rural communities.”

To counter opponents’ concerns regarding the bill’s economic impacts, Conway and Olson assured us that the GDPs of the 11 states which already have approved “Cap and Trade” policies have risen, even as their GHG levels have fallen considerably. They suggested proponents write to our state representatives, as well as send letters to the editors of this, and other, papers. For further discussion, see socan.eco/cej .

Ashland resident, author and anthropologist Nina Egert has been a lay environmentalist since the early 1970s.

Photo by Nina EgertLily Ordway speaks on the importance of retaining young women in the classroom, rather than marrying them off as soon as they reach child-bearing age.
Photo by Nina EgertSouthern Oregon Climate Action Now Founder Kathy Conway and her colleague Liz Olson concern is House Bill 2020, which is currently being considered by Oregon’s legislature. Described as a “three-legged stool” [the “legs” being: 1. Cap, 2. Trade, 3. Investment], this bill sets up a protocol for reducing a portion of Oregon’s greenhouse gases.