Solving the Climate Crisis
Oregon’s Unique Contribution
A Green New Deal for Oregon’s Rural Communities & Forests
Western Oregon's forests must play a central role in a climate crisis solution. Our forests are the best in the world at removing atmospheric carbon that's warming the planet. In fact, our forests have a potential to store the highest amount of carbon per acre in the world.
What is the Green New Deal?
The Green New Deal (GND) is a proposal to transition the U. S. energy infrastructure to renewable, non-carbon sources through an equitable and economically just process. Energy transition proposals have been discussed since the 1970s. At that time, noted ecologist Barry Commoner advocated for a significant energy transition. During the 1970s “oil crisis” the Carter administration promoted an array of renewable energy proposals. The idea of a “Green New Deal” was first offered by the Green Party in 2006 US elections. During President Obama’s first term in office the concept was further developed by administration official, Van Jones, with an environmental justice dimension. Currently, the principle economists associated with the GND argue for a jobs guarantee to soften the inevitable economic dislocation.
What is Taking the US so Long?
Three decades ago at least three factors prevented an energy transition in the United States. Firstly, several technologies needed further development. Today, wind and solar technologies are mature and cost competitive. Secondly, while atmospheric warming was scientifically explored and understood in the 1980s, the pathways of effect and the resulting impacts were little understood. Over the past decade scientific studies of ice sheet dynamics, ocean chemistry and the polar regions have delivered alarming new information. Today, global warming is fairly well explored and its impacts are more clearly understood. It is now believed that the planet is in a climate emergency.
Thirdly, in the 1980s, as the science of atmospheric warming became clear, research departments in major corporations shared the climate science with their corporate leaders. The message was straightforward: Global warming is real and it will have huge impacts. Senior managers and corporate leaders in such companies as Exxon-Mobile took credible scientific information and developed propaganda campaigns to cast doubt on the science they knew to be true. Naïve political leaders did not anticipate the well-organized counter attack by corporate managers. Due to despicable corporate propaganda, crucial decades were lost responding to global warming.
The Current GND:
After the November 2018 elections, a Green New Deal project emerged in progressive circles in the U.S. and Europe. Much credit is due to an energized world-wide youth movement that forced the issue of climate as a political priority. Here in the US, the youth-oriented Sunrise Movement worked hand-in-hand with political leaders, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to develop the Green New Deal concept. Internationally, new voices appeared such as Swedish student Greta Thunberg. Thunberg’s speeches were so clear, accurate and compelling that she galvanized a global youth movement which is now active in almost all countries of the world.
On February 7, 2019, Sen. Ed Marky (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced a Green New Deal resolution in Congress titled HR-109. The resolution lays out goals, aspirations, and certain specifics of the current U.S. Green New Deal. HR-109 is not a bill for consideration. Rather, HR-109 is a framework for specific proposals. Here at the Coast Range Association, we immediately recognized a role for Western Oregon’s forests in a GND. In fact, since 1999 we’ve been advocating for a more productive, ecological friendly private forestry that will sequester large amounts of atmospheric carbon.
Here is a link to the full text of HR-109
The Challenge Before Us:
The challenge before us lies in outlining how to create more carbon dense forests so that:
The rural economy becomes vibrant and provides for the welfare of all people.
The timber industry transitions to carbon dense forestry in a way that rural small landowners economically thrive.
The replanting, timbering and saw milling blue collar workforce remains productively employed in their home communities.
Any proposals offered are grounded in sound economic understandings of how the real economy operates.
All forests are managed using the best science available.
The above design criteria may seem daunting. However, a just, fair and equitable carbon transition for the Coast Range, the Northwest and the U.S. economy is possible and necessary. This is undoubtedly the most important work the Coast Range Association has ever attempted. Fortunately, thirty years of prior work has prepared us for this moment. What separates the Coast Range Association from other advocacy groups is our deep work in forest economics. During the 1990s we dove into the mainstream economics taught at the Oregon State University School of Forestry and discovered key weaknesses, gaps and blind spots. More importantly, we learned new economic perspectives that today we will draw from. Twenty years ago we didn’t realize the new schools of economics we were exploring would also underpin the Green New Deal.
Only through your support in the coming year will we be able to meet the above challenge. Please consider a generous donation today. We must complete a GND proposal for Oregon’s Wall Street dominated forests. We can’t let private Northwest forests be a forgotten solution. Change is coming due to the climate crisis. We must do everything in our power to solve the climate crisis and provide for a future we want – one that provides for people and the natural world. Please join us in our work.
The Green New Deal is a practical solution that meets the severity of the Climate Crisis.