Solving the Climate Crisis
A Green New Deal for Oregon’s
Rural Communities & Forests
We need a national Green New Deal for climate recovery. We must build new carbon neutral systems of energy, transport, housing, farming, and forestry. Such a transformation will revitalize rural areas, provide fair wage work for everyone, ensure personal financial security, and transform key economic sectors for full carbon neutrality by 2050.
Our forests are arguably the best forests in the world for removing atmosphere warming carbon dioxide. Western Oregon’s forests must play a central role in Oregon’s climate solution.
We believe you will be pleasantly surprised to discover how the Green New Deal will likely apply to Oregon. Continue reading to learn more and to get involved in this important work.
The Climate Crisis
Every day extreme weather, warming oceans, and civil unrest reminds us that climate change is here. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that when carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are higher today than at any time in the past three million years, something scary is happening.
Climate scientists warn that the world has less than ten years to limit carbon emissions before a lock-in occurs that will likely trigger uncontrollable global warming. In truth, the world likely has less than eight years before we go over the 1.5C tipping point. That is why many leading voices, including four members of the Oregon Congressional delegation, believe we are in a climate emergency. Yet climate leader, Greta Thunberg, declares almost nothing is being done to avert runaway warming.
We need a national Green New Deal (GND) for climate recovery. We must build new carbon neutral systems of energy, transport, farming, and forestry. The Coast Range Association is the only organization in Oregon giving voice to a fully scaled Green New Deal proposal in line with Ocasio-Cortez’s House Resolution 109. Such a transformation will revitalize rural areas, provide fair wage work for everyone, ensure personal financial security (i.e. Medicare for All), and transform key economic sectors for full carbon neutrality by 2050.
Our forests are arguably the best forests in the world for removing atmosphere warming carbon dioxide. Western Oregon’s forests must play a central role in Oregon’s climate solution. We believe you will be pleasantly surprised how the Green New Deal will likely apply to Oregon. And, there are many ways you can get involved in this important work.
Scale of Thinking
Here are two facts that signal the scale of required thinking:
1. Oregon’s state leaders proposed a market-based cap & trade program that would have generated $500 million per year to get the state 60% of the way to net carbon neutrality by 2050. This past summer the Oregon Legislature failed to pass the bill (HB-2020).
On the other hand:
2. Senator Bernie Sanders’ is calling for a national $1.6 trillion per year program to get the entire country 100% net carbon neutral by 2050. Senator Sanders’ program is in line with the Ocasio-Cortez Green New Deal.
Governor Brown’s proposal of $500 million per year gets 60% of the job done compared to, on a per-capita basis, the Sanders’ GND scale proposal of $15 billion per year for Oregon. The Governor’s proposal is 1/30th of the Sanders proposal. Sanders has it right.
The difference between the Governor’s proposal and a full scale GND solution illustrates a key climate issue – much political thinking is not rising to the occasion. A recent letter from 11,000 scientists urged rapid, full-scale action today to avoid a future of “unimaginable human misery.”
The gap between the crisis and solutions exists not just in the political sphere. Oregon’s climate activists and NGO community are coming up short in their education efforts. A Sanders–Thunberg level of thinking hardly has been addressed. The call to arms is often about personal change not systemic rebuilding. At the Coast Range Association, we are not confused about the work ahead. We embrace it.
System Wide Solutions
Solutions exist to the climate crisis. But what of the personal impact to lifestyle and welfare? How should we think and feel about the GND or the Sanders level of policies? Do we have to go without? Our answer is a resounding no! Our vision of Oregon after ten years of implementing a Green New Deal is one of abundance, better communities, more shared wealth and increased health and welfare for everyone. This isn’t the image one hears in the media. And that is why our work is so important – solving the climate crisis requires communicating solid information about a better world–not doom and gloom.
Here’s what we are working towards in line with the Ocazio-Cortez Green New Deal:
The climate solutions needed right now are system solutions that will provide improved housing, modern transportation, regenerative agriculture and forestry, a less expensive health care system, and clean energy. Our task is to describe these new systems at the community, county, and rural landscape scale in understandable words and imagery. To do this we need your involvement.
The future we need is one of electric vehicles complimented with an efficient European or Japanese level rail system. The future we need is one of regenerative land use that stores carbon while providing people both abundant food and fiber. It’s a future where we quit wasting resources on endless war and a broken health care system and devote freed economic capacity to building a new energy system, a new agriculture and forestry, and new energy efficient housing.
We need energy efficient homes across Oregon, especially in rural areas. This will requires replacing obsolete, run down structures with new, modern dwellings. While less wealthy people often can’t afford energy efficient homes – our society and the climate can’t afford for them to not have one. At the Coast Range Association, we don’t just speak to the issue of energy; we also speak to issues of equity. That’s why for over twenty years our mission has been to “build just and sustainable communities that provide for people and the natural world.” And that is why we believe you will become involved in our compelling climate work.
Six ways to become involved:
- Research: Are you the kind of person who finds things out? We need documentation assembled about local infrastructure conditions. How is your areas electricity supplied? Where does it come from? Who owns the grid? What local bridges are failing? How many substandard homes exist in the county.
- Review: Are you a person who has a good sense of the practical affair of business, governance or some other enterprise? Then volunteer to review proposals and documents. Your feedback will be very valuable.
- Provide expert advice: Has your past experience provided you with an expertise in an industry or field of work? If so, you have much to contribute to our work.
- Host a local GND meeting, work team or community education event: Almost anyone can arrange for a local meeting space and make coffee.
- Learn: Do you want to learn more? Visit our annotated bibliography to find the studies and reports we use to guide this work. Don’t see an important document there? Let us know and we will add it.
- Donate: OK, all of the above described work will take some money. Communications, travel and coordination require time and effort by paid staff. Make a donation to the Coast Range Association. Your contribution will be multiplied hundreds of times through our game changing work.
The climate crisis is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country; it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future, but we must act immediately.
"The GND will provide tools for people and communities to respond to today’s multiple crises, including future pandemics like COVID-19. Tools like strong unions, guaranteed health care, and living wages will make our communities more resilient."https://t.co/mdX7zpm9CW— Coast Range Association (@CoastRangeAsso) May 11, 2020
HR-109: The Green New Deal (GND)
In the US, there is only one comprehensive national proposal to address the climate crisis – House Resolution 109 (HR-109) otherwise known as the Green New Deal (GND). The Coast Range Association is committed to describing how HR-109 applies to Oregon. In the process we will share good news about how such a transformation will revitalize rural areas, provide work for everyone at a fair wage, ensure personal financial security (i.e. Medicare for All), and transform our agriculture and forest lands for the better.
Our work will educate the public about this good news. We can transform our energy systems and revitalize our rural landscapes and improve everyone’s lives. However, this will take much work, dedicated resources, and people. The Coast Range Association will have to scale up capacity and resources to be successful.
HR-109 is a brief document. The goals outlined in the House Resolution are only seven pages in length (pages 7 to 14). Perhaps that’s why climate activists have not easily translated the GND into a story about a bright Oregon future. To see the goals referenced above go here. Read the full House Resolution-109 here.
Fortunately, economists have assessed the spending required for a national GND mobilization. These numbers are attainable, and we use those numbers as a guide for Oregon’s GND mobilization.
A National Mobilization
The GND is a “national mobilization,” on a scale not seen since WWII. Unlike going to war where economic production is redirected toward armaments, the GND calls for a transformation in US infrastructure to lower carbon emissions and sequester atmospheric carbon.
When thinking about a national mobilization, the point of reference is the entire economy. How much of the economy must be directed toward a GND? Various economic assessments indicate a range of 3.5% to 7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For example, directing 6% of the projected 2020 GDP into a climate mobilization translates to a $1.3 trillion one-year investment. Appreciate that during WWII, federal government’s war spending peaked at 41% of GDP.
$1.3 trillion is a big number. That averages $4,000 per person in the U.S. Or, to use Lincoln County as an example, potentially a $200 million annual investment in one county.
In reality, we know actual GND spending will not occur uniformly across the country. Much investment will occur in manufacturing and research centers. Rebuilding the rural housing stock to high energy efficiency and converting rural transportation to a carbon neutral system will require large spending in every community. Add in a restorative agricultural and carbon sequestering forestry and some rural areas may capture a higher proportion of GND investment than urban areas. If done right, our rural communities will experience a renewal not seen since the original New Deal in the 1930s.
50% of Oregon’s rural septic system are failing. A GND transformation of our rural housing stock is an opportunity to fix multiple problems and provide abundant jobs for everyone. Instead of political leaders proposing half-baked measures, we need bold thinking for a prosperous future – just as occurred in during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Get Involved: Be Part of the Work
Only through your involvement and support will we be able to accomplish this work. We need volunteers to help research many aspects of Oregon economic infrastructure. We need volunteers to help with local education events. 2020 will be a political year and voters must hear about proposals that scale to the climate crisis and information that corrects for the corporate bias in the media.
If you can’t get directly involved, then please consider a generous donation to our work. 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.
GND: Oregon’s Forests & Rural Areas
Here in Oregon, we need to protect all carbon dense native forests on federal and state lands and vastly increasing carbon density on private forests – especially the ones now owned by Wall Street investors.
GND goals applied to Oregon’s vast forested areas must result in the following:
- 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 workforce remains productively employed in their home communities.
- Forests are managed using the best available science for multiple benefits.
The proposals offered will be grounded in sound economic understandings of how the real economy, not Wall Street, operates. For example, the current owners of most private, high quality timberlands are Wall Street investors. This means 95% of the equity stake of our best potential growing land is owned by the most affluent 10% of people, 25% by foreign investors, and over 50% by the richest 1%. And these so-called owners do not grow trees or forests. They grow dollars for return on their investment.
Growing money and not forests results in depopulated rural areas divided between the haves and have nots. It is less expensive to buy out the investor class and re-set the rural forest economy then to pay Wall Street to grow carbon dense forests. Building carbon dense forests that direct wealth into rural communities that is not possible when ownership is based on exporting wealth–not sharing wealth.
The climate crisis may appear daunting. However, a just, fair and equitable carbon transition for the Coast Range, the Northwest and the U.S. economy is not only possible – it must occur to solve the climate crisis. People will just have to accept that a better home, a better vehicle and a nicer community is required to get us out of the crisis. We don’t think this is a hard sell once the corporate fossil fuel nonsense is removed from the discussion.
The Green New Deal will occur in such a way as to:
“promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in the resolution as ‘‘frontline and vulnerable communities’’).”
The Coast Range Association’s history and expertise lies in forest economics and management – an often neglected issue by Oregon’s climate activists.
Forests store carbon and they dominate the state’s physical and political landscape. What makes the Coast Range and Cascade regions globally significant is the large capacity of wet forests to capture and store atmospheric carbon.
Forests must be part of an Oregon Green New Deal.
Globally, forest are one third of the climate solution.