climate changed sig

The goal of the Bend Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) is to achieve a 40% decrease in fossil fuel emissions by 2030 and a 70% decrease by 2050. The plan is a balanced and comprehensive document. It is a helpful guide to focus on what Bend can do to address the climate crisis.

Changing climatic patterns will affect salmonSkiing, fishing, paddleboarding and farming all depend on snow and the pattern of snowmelt. According to the CCAP: Warmer average temperatures will cause dry seasons to last longer and become more extreme. Summer is expected to be hotter with lower rainfall. Winter will arrive earlier in the year and precipitation will fall in a shorter time frame. The precipitation will gradually become rain instead of snow, which will decrease snowpack and water supply during the hotter months of the year.

Salmon will be affected. Cold-water fish species are sensitive due to their seasonally timed migration upstream to breed. Higher winter stream flows and earlier peak flows due to climate change will damage spawning nests, wash away incubating eggs, and prematurely force young salmon from rivers. Lower summer stream flows and warmer water temperatures means that by the turn of the century much of the current habitats may be too warm for these species. What impact will a decline in fishing have on tourism in Central Oregon?

Emissions profileTo put it in simple terms, about two-thirds of our local fossil fuel emissions can be attributed to energy consumption for residential, commercial and industrial buildings and one-third can be attributed to emissions from transportation. Bend generated roughly 1 million metric tons of local emissions in the baseline year of 2016, but when externally imported products are added, the sum of emissions almost doubles. That makes the choice of what we buy and bring to our community important. We can choose to buy goods and services from companies outside Bend that strive to reduce, reuse and recycle portions of their products.

The good news is that Bend has a CCAP and that we are in a state that has progressive policies on climate change, but there is also bad news – due to rapid growth, Bend is outpacing the average emission reduction goals calculated for the state as a whole.

Reducing emissionsLike the federal government, the local government has a budget that can demonstrate leadership in reducing emissions. The U.S. military, the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels, can do things like converting to electric vehicles and investing in battery research and development. It will take a while for the U.S. Air Force to fly battery powered jets, but it might not take long. As evidence, note that the battery powered nine-seat Cessna Caravan is being commercialized in Washington state.

Nevertheless, major breakthroughs by scores of companies working on electric planes probably depend on reducing the weight of batteries before large planes can fly significant distances on electric power alone. According to Rewiring America, in the electrified future, short–haul flights (less than 500 miles) will be electric, enabled by increases in the power density of motors and batteries. Long–haul flights will use biofuels to get enough range.

At the city levelThe city of Bend is planning to buy electric vehicles and will incentivize energy saving retrofits in residential and commercial buildings. A strong equity component in the CCAP will help poorer households and historically disadvantaged communities find affordable housing along public transit corridors and provide better access to loans and other incentives for home insulation and installation of photovoltaic panels.

In conclusion, Bend has about 100,000 permanent residents and around 2.5 million annual visitors. We are surrounded by world-class outdoor recreation venues that drive our local economy. Tourism helps employ residents, provides a market for local goods and services, and generates tax revenues for reinvestment in Bend. All these aspects of the economy will be affected by climate change, and the risks of forest loss, reduced snowpack and wilder forest fires puts these economic opportunities and our quality of life at risk.

Scott Christiansen is an international agronomist with 35 years of experience. He worked for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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