Letters, March 30
Last weeks’ article “Local Lakes Historically Low Levels” is another reminder of the unrelenting impact of climate change. Ashland’s local GEOS Institute has studied how climate change has decreased snowpack in local mountains. Ashland relies on this snowpack for our water supply, which Jackson County farmers need to grow crops.
I know what it is like to farm without water. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I lived on a farm in Omufitu WaNauyala, Namibia. On a good year, it rains 5 to 6 days. That was enough to grow our crop, Pearl Millet. On a bad year it doesn’t rain, not once, and we end up with a lot of dead goats. Farming has always been dependent on water, which makes us dependent on water, too, but every year we let climate change go unaddressed, our terrain gets a little further from the green Oregon we know and becomes a little more like sandy Namibia.
We could learn to like millet and scrawny goats, or we could act. There is a clear solution: carbon pricing. The EU, Canada and even China have put a price on greenhouse gas emissions to create incentives for industry to reduce their pollution. Sen. Jeff Golden, Rep. Pam Marsh and the city of Ashland all support federal carbon pricing, endorsing the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend act. Please join me in urging our federal Rep. Cliff Bentz and Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to follow suit. Millet is fine, but I like Oregon green.
I urge our state Legislature, including Sen. Jeff Golden, to vote yes on SB 832 to close down the small number of industrial mink farms in Oregon and help farmers transition to other commodities or lines of work. This legislation must be adopted because of serious and overriding public health concerns arising from the ability of mink to transmit dangerous pathogens like the coronavirus to humans. It’s an unnecessary risk; Americans no longer wear fur, so the animals are being raised in Oregon for pelts being exported to China.
An outbreak of COVID-19 on an Oregon mink farm in August demonstrated this is not a hypothetical threat. Three mink escaped from the infected farm, and two of those animals tested positive, meaning they could also infect native wild mink and other wildlife, who might then infect any humans who might have contact with them. European nations, responding to outbreaks of their own, have moved to shutter their mink farms. Oregon must act responsibly and follow their lead.
The global pandemic that has resulted in millions of deaths started as a direct result of our dysfunctional relationship with wildlife, especially wildlife raised on factory farms. Thankfully, some Oregon lawmakers are heeding that warning and moving decisively to mitigate the threat for the people of our state.
A hearing on SB 832 is scheduled for April 5. Please join me in asking our state lawmakers to vote YES on this critically important bill.
Tamara Drake, director of research and regulatory policy
Center for Responsible Science
We agree with Emily Simons’ letter and hope the RJC can be established at warp speed. We need to address all social injustice, especially now for minorities.
Char and Mike Hersh