A commentary by Edward Hershey in the Blue Oregon blog this week notes that The Oregonian will not be endorsing a presidential candidate this election for the first time, maybe ever. Why?
Hershey writes: “This is about pragmatism, not philosophy. What is most likely at play here is that the two men now driving editorial policy at the O — publisher Chris Anderson and editorial page editor Erik Lukens — understand it would be bad business to endorse Romney. But both would just about die rather die than endorse Obama.”
Can Eugene and Springfield learn anything about growing more compactly from Seattle’s successes and failures? Tara Sulzen, outreach director for 1000 Friends of Oregon, attended the Urban Land Institute Northwest Young Leaders Regional Conference in Seattle in early August and wrote about it the latest 1000 Friends newsletter. She also picked up some insights from noted political thinker Matthew Yglesias at a Bus Project event in Portland. Check out her report at:
A candlelight prayer vigil to remember the victims of the tragic shooting at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wisc., will be from 7 to 8 pm Wednesday, Aug. 8, at Tugman Park, 36th Place and Hilyard in Eugene. The local Eugene Sikh community is inviting the greater Eugene/Springfield communities to join them.
The vigil is “to remember the victims of the tragic shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, to honor the bravery of the police officers who responded, and to stand for peace and understanding amongst all human beings,” according to an email from Gurumukh S. Khalsa. This vigil will be held in conjunction with other vigils across the nation.
Sikh prayers will be shared, a moment of silence, and words of peace may be offered. Bring blankets and a candle to light. Tea and refreshments will be served.
Architect Mark Lakeman will speak about Opportunity Village Eugene in a talk called "Let's Do It Right" from 7 to 9 pm Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the new Unitarian Universalist Church, 1685 W. 13th Ave. in Eugene. This video is from an earlier talk.
The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century, according to a press release from Oregon State University. Here is the rest of the statement by David Stauth at OSU:
Such climatic extremes have increased as a result of global warming, a group of 10 researchers reported today in Nature Geoscience. And as bad as conditions were during the 2000-04 drought, they may eventually be seen as the good old days.
Climate models and precipitation projections indicate this period will actually be closer to the “wet end” of a drier hydroclimate during the last half of the 21st century, scientists said.
Aside from its impact on forests, crops, rivers and water tables, the drought also cut carbon sequestration by an average of 51 percent in a massive region of the western United States, Canada and Mexico, although some areas were hit much harder than others. As vegetation withered, this released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with the effect of amplifying global warming.
“Climatic extremes such as this will cause more large-scale droughts and forest mortality, and the ability of vegetation to sequester carbon is going to decline,” said Beverly Law, a co-author of the study, professor of global change biology and terrestrial systems science in the College of Forestry at OSU, and former science director of AmeriFlux, an ecosystem observation network.
“During this drought, carbon sequestration from this region was reduced by half,” Law said. “That’s a huge drop. And if global carbon emissions don’t come down, the future will be even worse.”
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, U.S. Department of Energy, and other agencies. The lead author was Christopher Schwalm at Northern Arizona University. Other collaborators were from the University of Colorado, University of California at Berkeley, University of British Columbia, San Diego State University, and other institutions.
It’s not clear whether or not the current drought in theMidwest, now being called one of the worst since the Dust Bowl, is related to these same forces, Law said. This study did not address that, and there are some climate mechanisms in western North America that affect that region more than other parts of the country.
But in the West, this multi-year drought was unlike anything seen in many centuries, based on tree ring data. The last two periods with drought events of similar severity were in the Middle Ages, from 977-981 and 1146-1151. The 2000-04 drought affected precipitation, soil moisture, river levels, crops, forests and grasslands.
Ordinarily, Law said, the land sink in North America is able to sequester the equivalent of about 30 percent of the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by the use of fossil fuels in the same region. However, based on projected changes in precipitation and drought severity, scientists said that this carbon sink, at least in western North America, could disappear by the end of the century.
“Areas that are already dry in the West are expected to get drier,” Law said. “We expect more extremes. And it’s these extreme periods that can really cause ecosystem damage, lead to climate-induced mortality of forests, and may cause some areas to convert from forest into shrublands or grassland.”
During the 2000-04 drought, runoff in the upperColorado River basin was cut in half. Crop productivity in much of the West fell 5 percent. The productivity of forests and grasslands declined, along with snowpacks. Evapotranspiration decreased the most in evergreen needleleaf forests, about 33 percent.
The effects are driven by human-caused increases in temperature, with associated lower soil moisture and decreased runoff in all major water basins of the western U.S., researchers said in the study.
Although regional precipitations patterns are difficult to forecast, researchers in this report said that climate models are underestimating the extent and severity of drought, compared to actual observations. They say the situation will continue to worsen, and that 80 of the 95 years from 2006 to 2100 will have precipitation levels as low as, or lower than, this “turn of the century” drought from 2000-04.
“Towards the latter half of the 21st century the precipitation regime associated with the turn of the century drought will represent an outlier of extreme wetness,” the scientists wrote in this study.
These long-term trends are consistent with a 21st century “megadrought,” they said.
An image of dying forests in the Southwest is available at http://bit.ly/OO9Hsr
Find more information at www.womenspaceinc.org
Thanks to Hugh Massingill for recording and sharing this video of the July 18 council meeting discussing the siting of a camp for the homeless and their support system.
A new video from Predator Defense, intended for media use but also suitable for general public consumption.
Harpist Thaddeu "Gaffer" Venar from Boulder, Colo., is in town to perform at Faerieworlds and will also play at 7:30 pm Tuesday, July 31, at Reality Kitchen, 245 Van Buren. Sliding scale. No one turned away.
Legendary folksinger and storyteller Larry Penn is in town. He performed at Reality Kitchen Tuesday night (seen here with Jim Evangelista) and will be performing again at 7:30 this evening, July 12, at Reality Kitchen on Van Buren, across from Ninkasi.
How hot has it been? According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has just confirmed what you already suspected: Americans are enduring the hottest weather in our recorded history.
The following was sent out his week by the EDF:
The past 12 months have been the warmest 12 months in the continental U.S. since record-keeping began back in 1895. NOAA says the odds of our record heat being a random event — rather than part of a global warming trend — are about 1 in 1.6 million.
How hot is it, really? Consider these facts from NOAA:
• From June 1t through July 10 of this year, the U.S. broke 147 all-time high-temperature records.
• In June 2012, communities across the U.S. broke 2,284 daily maximum temperature records. In the week of July 1 through July 9 of this year, they broke another 2,071.
• The average temperature in the contiguous U.S. was 71.2 degrees F – two full degrees above the 20th century average.
Take a look at this partial list of cities that broke records from June of 2011 through May of 2012:
Detroit — 101 degrees, (daily record)
Syracuse — 101 degrees, (daily record)
Mitchell, SD — 102 degrees (daily record)
Minneapolis — 103 degrees (daily record)
Bridgeport, CT — 103 degrees (all-time record)
Denver — 105 degrees (all-time record)
Newark — 108 degrees (all-time record)
Houston —109 degrees (all-time record)
Miles City, MT — 111 degrees (all-time record)
Wichita — 111 degrees (daily record)
Little Rock — 114 degrees (all-time record)
Childress, TX — 117 degrees (all-time record)
The blazing temperatures have led to other problems as well:
• The U.S. Drought Monitor says more than 56 percent of the contiguous U.S. is now under drought conditions — the highest level since record-keeping began in 2000.
• Wildfires destroyed 1.3 million acres in Colorado and across the U.S. last month.
• Wyoming recorded its driest June ever this year; Colorado and Utah recorded their second-driest Junes.
• At the same time, Florida recorded its wettest June ever — thanks in part to Tropical Storm Debby, which dumped more than two feet of rain on some towns, and spawned flash floods and almost two dozen tornadoes. Duluth, Minnesota also had record floods last month. Large parts of the East Coast got hit by a killer Derecho storm that killed more than two dozen people; more than three million lost electricity, some for more than a week. And Washington, D.C. broke its record for worst heat wave ever, according to the Washington Post.
Unfortunately, these bad weather trends are not unexpected. For a long time now, the world’s top climate researchers have told us about the strong evidence of links between dangerous weather and climate change.
Greenhouse gas pollution traps heat in our atmosphere, which interferes with normal weather patterns. That means we can expect more — and probably worse — weird weather in the future.
Climate change doesn’t just mean higher heat. It means more severe and damaging weather events across the country – including more frequent and heavier rains in some areas, increased drought in others, a potential increase in the intensity of hurricanes, and more coastal erosion because of rising sea levels.
Changing weather patterns changes will affect our agriculture, water supplies, health and economy.
This just in from the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative folks. Two pot-related initiatives were gathering signatures for the November ballot, but the OMPI effort failed.
The Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative (OMPI) today filed suit in Oregon Circuit Court against Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown in response to her office’s disqualification of tens of thousands of valid signatures on petitions for Initiative Petition 24. IP-24 is a constitutional amendment to end marijuana prohibition for adults.
The suit was filed by attorney Ross Day on behalf of Wolfe and OMPI in Marion County Circuit Court.
The OMPI lawsuit challenges a range of specific methods and reasons used by Brown’s office to disqualify individual voter signatures and entire sheets of up to 10 voter signatures each in a sampling process conducted in June, before the final deadline for signatures on petitions last week. That sampling process invalidated nearly 48 percent of the 122,000 signatures submitted by May 25 for IP-24, resulting in a historically low validity rate and damaging the initiative’s chance to make the ballot. Other measures submitted at the same time are suffering similarly low validation rates.
“Under the policies of Kate Brown, the Oregon Elections Division works hard to remove every possible signature from initiative petitions and for reasons that make no sense,” said Wolfe. ”Instead, they should be working to include as many signatures as possible, thus preserving citizen access to the ballot through the initiative system, as demanded by the Oregon Constitution.”
The OMPI lawsuit seeks to reopen the state’s validation work on IP-24 so that the measure can legitimately qualify the November ballot based a fair count of valid signatures from Oregon voters.
In total, including the final signature turn-in on July 6, IP-24 sponsors have submitted more than175,000 signatures to the secretary of state, far above the 116,284 valid voter signatures required to qualify the constitutional amendment. If just 66 percent of the signatures were deemed valid, IP-24 would hit the November 2012 ballot. But with just 54.1 percent of signatures found valid in the June sampling process, IP-24 is facing an uphill battle.
“The recently developed policies of the state and of Kate Brown reduce access to the initiative process and make it the province of only the wealthiest special interests,” Wolfe said. “A win for IP-24 would help restore ballot access to all petition sponsors. It is time to shine a bright light on the undemocratic policies and actions of Oregon’s Secretary of State.”