Year 4, Month 11, Day 19: Playing To The Tide

I know people in Portland, Oregon. They like it there.

Electric car charging stations in Hillsboro. Transit-oriented development on 82nd Avenue in Portland. Revitalizing downtown Beaverton as a walkable neighborhood. A new park in Gateway. A walking trail in Rockwood. A community-based bus system in Wilsonville.

Those are among many local initiatives that are already fighting climate change by encouraging alternatives to private motor vehicle trips, according to a report from Metro, the regional elected governments. Similar projects will become increasingly important as proof mounts that human activity is responsible for global warming, the report explained.


Metro found that most of the initiatives are rooted in the 2040 Growth Concept Plan adopted by the regional government in 1990 to guide development. The document encourages growth in designated urban centers and along existing transportation corridors. Since it was adopted, cities in the region have amended their state-mandated comprehensive land use plans to include many of the concepts. They include increased transit options and an emphasis on “active transportation” options such as walking and bicycling.

The state has directed Metro to adopt a regional plan for meeting its 2035 greenhouse gas reduction target. The council will consider a range of options based on the results of case studies later this year. The final scenario, to be adopted in December 2014, could well include elements from all of them.

Funding will be a challenge, however. Metro is projecting a shortfall of up to $26 billion to build and maintain needed infrastructure in the region over the next two decades. Although many ideas are being discussed — including encouraging private investment in public infrastructure projects — regional leaders have yet to agree on financing plans.

Good on ya, kids. November 9:

Yes, getting ready for the impacts of planetary climate transformation will be expensive. But the likely costs of preparing for the new climatic reality pale into insignificance compared with those of inaction. This is true at all levels: individual, local, regional, national, and global initiatives to anticipate the impacts of the accelerating greenhouse effect will undoubtedly call on our resources and resourcefulness in ways we’ve never before experienced — but will mean lives saved, infrastructure protected, and civilization strengthened. The alternative — failure — is simply unacceptable.

Self-styled “fiscal conservatives” must recognize that advance planning — like Portland’s admirable local preparations — is always less costly than hasty and uncoordinated after-the-fact responses. When we learn about climate change, we can begin to plan ahead for what seems likely to be a complex and dangerous future — and as the bumper sticker says, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Warren Senders