Global Warming action sought

by: Cliff Newell, Eban Goodstein makes a point about Global Warming woes during a Focus the Nation “world café” at Lewis & Clark College.

Eban Goodstein used to be an economics professor. Now he's an evangelist. And he needs to evangelize to a lot of people fast.

That crusade got off to an excellent start at the Northwest regional conference of Focus the Nation Saturday at Lewis and Clark College.

A sizable crowd ranging from college professors from prestigious universities to teachers to activists, to filmmakers to high school kids showed up to hear the message of Goodstein, the project's director, and other speakers about Global Warm-ing: Action is needed. Right now.

In fact, Goodstein puts the timetable at less than a year and a half.

'We need to create one collective voice for one idea,' Goodstein told the audience. 'Good stuff is going on, but this is still a very diffuse effort. We want to coordinate 1,000 colleges and high schools by January 2008. We want to create a unified national voice.'

A professor of economics at Lewis and Clark, Goodstein said he had been concerned about Global Warming for years and had included it in his teaching. However, the thing that prodded him into action was a statement by Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

'There was the top U.S. government climate scientist and he said, 'We don't have much time left,' ' Goodstein said. 'America needs to know this.'

America is increasingly coming to recognize this, although Goodstein ruefully noted, 'the only people who don't get how serious Global Warming is work inside the Beltway of Washington, D.C. They say it's too expensive to stop Global Warming. Ameri-cans don't buy this anymore.'

Focus the Nation's purpose is to grab the attention of top politicians so forcefully that that 'they'll be begging to speak' at the big day in 2008.

To accomplish this, Goodstein said, 'We need 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 people really working on this.'

'If we don't act now, there will be no way out of this mess,' he said. 'We have the vision of a truly just, truly sustainable future. We get one shot at this. If we don't push the U.S. government into doing something about this, there won't be the necessary tools in 2030.

'Global Warming is really in our laps.'

Other speakers joined Goodstein in making the clarion call, including long-time Portland activist Ronault Catalani, who is working to get people of color involved in the Global Warming issue.

While decrying our 'super-sized consumer lifestyle,' Catalani said that people are teachable about Global Warming.

'We need to abandon our old conservatism and our careless way of living,' Catalani said. 'We need to engage all of the brave and bright young people.'

Dave Ervin, a professor at Portland State University, was praised by Goodstein as 'one of the first to jump on the band wagon' in the fight against Global Warming, but Ervin's words to the audience indicated he isn't resting on his laurels.

'We've received a lot of awards for what we've done at Portland State,' Ervin said. 'But that will pale in comparison to what will be accomplished by Focus the Nation. We will move Portland State to carbon neutrality.'

As an example of the changing times, Ervin pointed out that utilities giant Duke Power is now pushing for a carbon tax.

'That's change,' Ervin said. 'Now is the time. Time for positive energy. Go get 'em.'

While the Focus the Nation regional had some outstanding presentations, perhaps its main feature was the 'world cafés' in which groups of three or four people talked about what they wanted to see done about Global Warming in the months ahead.

Andrea Berl, a certified parent educator for the Internat-ional Network and Families and a Lake Oswego resident, said, 'I'd like to educate people at every level. Young kids are really open to this kind of thing. I would like to bring a course on this to every elementary school in Lake Oswego and then beyond.'

'I would like to see us talk about our personal effect,' said Susie Cousar, a teacher at Lane Community College. 'I'd like to see us ask, 'What can I do personally to connect with my family and friends?''

Paul J. von Hartman, a filmmaker, offered what he called 'an inconvenient solution.' He recently has been educating various countries on how cannabis production can inhibit Global Warming.

The future was represented by the Green Team of West Linn High School, and club member Sarah Davis had some insightful words to say.

'One of our biggest focuses is to create a movement,' she said. 'One of the biggest things we need to do is change our culture, the way it lives.

'One of the biggest examples of this was the Civil Rights Movement. There was a tipping point of 10 to 15 percent of the population. If we can do that on Global Warming, we will see changes.'

Goodstein said that preserving the future for young people was largely what Focus the Nation is all about, and while there was a huge amount of dismaying evidence presented about the damage Global Warming is doing, Goodstein is optimistic - if the political willpower is there.

'America is good at changing the future,' he said. 'We've done it before.'