Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


City forum brings global issues back down to earth

About 130 listen to sustainability expert in first of city series


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO  - Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, delivered a presentation on climate change and sustainable practices in the city of Beaverton's first of four Sustainability Forums at the Beaverton City Library.Just before delivering his address at the city of Beaverton’s Sustainability Forum, Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, discussed his view that most citizens, regardless of political belief or economic background, believe — in one form or another — in the concept of sustainability.

“It’s important to engage people where they are,” he said at the Monday evening event. “People from any value system, you can find some aspect that will appeal to them because it affects their life. Somewhere you find a foothold, a point of entry for the conversation.”

Attracting a crowd of about 130 to the first of four public forums the city’s Sustainability Action Team is presenting this spring, Becker hit on numerous entry points during his address and subsequent question-and-answer session.

Launching the bipartisan Presidential Climate Action Project in January 2007 at the University of Colorado, Denver, Becker leads a team of national experts on developing policy recommendations for the federal government on energy and climate security. A former regional director for the U.S. Department of Energy, Becker spent 15 years administering programs to accelerate the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. A popular lecturer in Europe as well as the U.S. and an accomplished author, Becker’s latest book is “The 100 Day Action Plan to Save the Planet,” published by St. Martin’s Press.

State of the future

Illuminated by striking visuals and startling statistics on the screen above him, Becker laid out the successes, failures and ongoing challenges related to sustainable growth and development in a presentation that was alternately dour, enlightening, humorous and heart-rending. by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO  - Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, delivered a presentation on climate change and sustainable practices in the city of Beaverton's first of four Sustainability Forums at the Beaverton City Library.

Increasing global famine, overpopulation, depleted resources, drought and extreme weather fluctuations are just some of the possible consequences this and future generations will contend with, he maintained, if citizens and global leaders don’t take meaningful action toward adopting sustainable practices.

“Without depressing us all, I think we can all accept we have many challenges ahead,” he said, emphasizing the importance of engagement at the basic citizen level. “The leadership and challenges trickle down to us. We can’t wait on international agreements.”

Crediting former President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first U.S. leader to warn Congress of the perils of environmental neglect, Becker said sustainability advocates are challenged with overcoming what he referred to as “the perfect problem” — one considered too esoteric, confusing, expensive, overwhelming, or just “too damn depressing” to reach critical mass. Still, he noted, leaders and citizens are catching on and show an increasing level of interest in affecting positive change.

“There’s lots of things we can do for climate change,” he said. “You don’t have to believe it to fix it. It’s about managing risk, buying insurance. That’s what we’re talking about with climate change — taking out some insurance.”

Responding to several questions from the audience, Becker emphasized steps individuals can take to reduce carbon footprints, reduce fossil-fuel use and exercise the power of democracy.

“You’re not a drop in the bucket when it comes to voting,” he said, before concluding, “I don’t know anything else to do but try. The only way to discover a breakthrough is to try.”

Striking a chord

Theresa Karasek, a Beaverton resident preparing to work this summer as a ranger at Champoeg State Park, said she liked how Becker presented his findings and views on the planet’s future.

“I was impressed,” she said. “It was very comprehensive without being depressing and overwhelming you, so I really enjoyed it.”

She admitted curiosity about how the city’s Sustainability Action Team will proceed after the forums wrap up in June.

“I’m not sure what the action team is going to do this fall, or whether it’s just greenwashing.”

Roger Leverette, a physician who lives in the Denney neighborhood, said Becker’s talk hit home with him.

“I think it had the right tone of hopefulness,” he said, praising city leaders for their willingness to take on such a far-reaching topic. “They’re dealing with the central issue of our time instead of wallowing in traffic light rules.”

Cindy Dolezel, who leads the city of Beaverton’s Sustainability Program, said she invited Becker to the forum for his ability to bring sustainability on a global level “back down to the Beaverton level.”

“I hope people leave with a concrete idea of what sustainability means,” she said before the address. “These forums are just the beginning.”




Local Weather

Fair

56°F

Beaverton

Fair

Humidity: 80%

Wind: 0 mph

  • 21 Aug 2014

    Mostly Sunny 80°F 60°F

  • 22 Aug 2014

    Partly Cloudy 81°F 58°F