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Former secretary of state in Milwaukie to boost efforts to slow climate change

Former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury visited Milwaukie this week to boost the city's efforts to tackle global warming.

RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Bill Bradbury at the Milwaukie Rotary Club on Oct. 31.Bradbury was one of the first people trained by former Vice President Al Gore in 2006 to deliver the "Inconvenient Truth" talk. He gave a special talk to his local audience, saying that Oregon may feel less of the brunt of global warming, but Oregon will not be immune to the effects.

Bradbury said that huge efforts are being made on county, city and state levels in the absence of action on the federal level. The Oregon Legislature will try to enact a cap-and-trade program next year to incentivize the carbon reduction.

Bradbury pointed to the 2015 Paris Agreement, signed by virtually every country in the world, as an "exciting time" for tackling climate change. Even in the face of the current presidential administration's pulling out of the agreement, tens of thousands of people marched on Washington, D.C., to support efforts to combat climate change.

"People in this country are still very supportive of climate action," Bradbury said. "Use your voice and use your choices, and use your vote like your world depends on it."

Bradbury says he dodges skeptics of global-warming science by pointing out that all of the efforts to increase solar and wind power have economic benefits aside from the reduction in greenhouse gases.

"I don't want to get into that argument, so I just say let's do these things," Bradbury said.

Bradbury was invited to give the Oct. 31 talk to the Milwaukie Rotary Club by club member and Milwaukie City Councilor Wilda Parks. Recently the city has launched a solarization program with over 200 people applying to receive subsidized solar panels and has funded a safe-routes-to-school to help slow down traffic and allow children to walk to school, rather than be driven by their parents. Parks added that the city is developing a long-term Climate Action Plan and looking for ways to empower a new Tree Board in maintaining and growing the city's tree canopy.

"Milwaukie City Council at this time is fairly sustainability oriented and looking at our environment and how we can be good shepherds of that," Parks said.

Bradbury showed how global warming already is happening and promises to become "the greatest threat to the global economy." His talk covered a range of points about global warming, including:

• 110 million tons of manmade global-warming pollution are released into the atmosphere every day largely through the burning of fossil fuels through transportation and industrial processes.

• Average surface temperature has increased starting in about 1950, in both the air and in the oceans. As the equator's temperature increases by a degree, temperatures increase tenfold at the poles.

• All of the glaciers on Mount Hood are smaller today than they were 100 years ago, by between 19 and 61 percent.

• Oregon's central coast experienced a dead zone, killing all the sea life in 2006. Dr. Jane Lubchenco, an Oregon State University oceanographer, is convinced the dead zone is related to climate change due to changes in wind patterns.

• The Columbia River, usually 68 to 71 degrees in the summer, is projected to be too hot to support salmon by 2040. A record million sockeye salmon returned in June 2015, but half of them died because the river was too warm.

• Large forest fires caused havoc throughout Oregon this past summer while floods were hitting Texas. Extreme weather events have increased from about 200 in 1980 to 700 today.

"You get more rain, but you also get more drying," Bradbury said. "As it gets drier you have more fires, and we're certainly seeing more of that in Oregon."

Bradbury said there's plenty of cause for hope. Wind-energy and solar-energy installation has skyrocketed since 2000, and wind turbines eventually could exceed global demand by 40 times, and enough solar energy reaches the Earth every hour to power annual human demands.

During the question-and-answer period, Rotary members brought up the idea that a major crisis is just over the horizon.

"I don't find it very productive to scare people a lot," Bradbury said. "But as you turn white snow into dark soil, what does the sun do: The sun is absorbed by dark soil and reflected by white snow … so it's really scary."

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