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Experts: Global warming means changes ahead for region

The good news, they say, is the area's leadership in sustainable development

Global warming will produce both negative and positive changes in Oregon and the Portland area, according to a panel of experts convened to discuss the fourth assessment released by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Charge on Friday.

The panelists predicted that increasing temperatures will threaten the local ski and agricultural industries by reducing the snow pack, especially east of the Cascade Mountains.

At the same time, the panelists said, the Portland area is poised to take advantage of the growing interest in sustainable development. 'There is a lot of bad news in the report, but Oregon is positioning itself to be a leader in the new green economy that we have to develop,' said Erin Anderson, Oregon representative for the National Environmental Trust, who moderated a Friday morning conference call between the experts and local reporters.

The report released Friday confirmed that global warming will permanently change the climate around the world. It said that some areas will survive the changes better than others, in part because of their locations and in part because of their abilities to adapt to the changes.

The panelists who discussed the local aspects of the report were:

• Dr. Ron Neilson, bio-climatologist with the USDA Forest Service and IPCC contributing scientist.

• Dr. Eban Goodstein, professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College, and Focus the Nation director.

• Dave Riley, president and chief operating officer at Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort.

• Dr. Gregory Jones, geography professor and research climatologist at Southern Oregon University.

During the conference call, Goodstein said that residents of the Portland area are susceptible to heat waves because of the relatively low percent of homes with air-conditioning. He compared the situation to France, where thousands died because of a record heat wave two years ago.

'One of the greatest threats is the effect of heat on people,' he said.

Riley called on the Bush administration and Congress to approve laws requiring mandatory reductions in the emissions believed to be contributing to global warming. He criticized those who question whether global warming is happening or, if it is, whether human activity is contributing to it.

'It's not too late to take meaningful action,' said Riley, who predicted that Mount Hood Meadows soon will need to begin producing large quantities of artificial snow to counter the effects of global warming.