A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Climate? Our bills reflect no crisis

Written February 29th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
On a mild day in late February, no climate emergency can be detected.

On a mild day in late February, no climate emergency can be detected.

At the risk of getting on the wrong side of Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-winning climate expert, I like to look at facts I can see. Like, for instance, utility bills.

I didn’t watch the Oscars, but the Associated Press quoted DiCaprio after he won for best actor: “Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species…”

Well, since the climate is gradually changing all the time, it could be true that it is “happening right now.” Whether it’s the most urgent threat, I think there’s room for doubt. People being slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands in Syria and, in smaller numbers elsewhere — that looks like a more urgent problem to me. And to pregnant women in regions where the Zika virus has broken out, the threat of birth defects must seem far more dire.

DiCaprio and a friend on bikes in New York in 2011.

DiCaprio and a friend on bikes in New York in 2011. (Source: INFphoto.com)

With climate change, the stridency of the alarm in media and entertainment circles may be intended to make up for the lack of crisis-like moments that anyone can see. (The website BikinginLA.com linked to several snapshots of DiCaprio bicycling in New York and elsewhere with different young women. Let them bring their bikes to mid-valley roads and he might be less exercised about what’s happening with the climate.)

Back to utility bills, though.

On a bill for an address in North Albany, Northwest Natural says the average daily temperature in February this year was 47.4 degrees. In February 2015 it was … 47.4 degrees, exactly the same.

For a customer in town, where the billing period is slightly different, the gas company says this February was a tiny bit cooler at 46.5 degrees than the same month in 2015, which averaged 47 degrees.

And for an address in Southern Oregon, Pacific Power reports the identical 45-degree daily temperature average for February 2015 and ’16.

Obviously one month’s temperature averages at two or three locations in Oregon don’t say anything conclusive about the climate either here or around the world. They do confirm what we can see, namely that our late-winter climate is mild, just as it usually is. That makes it hard to work up a sense that we have a crisis that demands immediate action.

All the more puzzling is the reliance on climate change as the only argument in Salem for passing an anti-coal electricity bill that likely will drive up future utility bills while also making the electric system less reliable. Legislators ought to study their own utility bills more. Maybe then they’d have more regard for ours. (hh)

9 responses to “Climate? Our bills reflect no crisis”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Evidently you didn’t get the email – the apocalypse has been delayed.

    In Jan 2006 Al Gore predicted the “point of no return” would be reached in 10 years. We’re still here, so the plantary emergency has been postponed for a while. Stay tuned for an update….

    • Bob Woods says:

      Here’s the update for you Gordon, most republicans believe in global climate change. The reason is that they also believe in science. Like the vast majority of thinking people in the world.


      So that leaves you out in the swamp with the Flat Earth’ers, Trump,White Supremacists, Cruze, Rubio, and all the other nut cases that try and scam the people.

      Thinking. Not your strong suit Gordon.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Where did I say climate change was not real?

        I’m just skeptical that the primary cause are humans or the belief that humans can do much about it. And the outrageous claims made by alarmists like Al Gore don’t help.

        Take a breath, Bob. You’re hyperventilating again.

  2. tom cordier says:

    Thanks for posting your research of two years gas bills. The data for the last 10?,20?
    years is probably available too. They’ll likely allow us to make the same conclusion.
    GW is a myth from the feds and from those who get fed money.

  3. ean says:

    Climate change denial is an easy position for someone to take that does not have to worry about living through the actual effects of it. It would be nice if people thought of others besides just themselves. The boomer generation has done so little and asked for so much.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      In the 70’s global cooling was the mantra. In 1975 Newsweek reported that “The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only in ten years.” They said the resulting famines would be catstrophic.

      Then in the late 1980’s everything turned on a dime to global warming with predictions that the oceans will rise and glaciers will melt so much that coastal cities will be inundated. Oh, and more famines, always the famines.

      And the solution is pretty much the same regardless of whether the planet is cooling or warming – government wants more of our money.

      So, yeah, call me skeptical.

    • Al Nyman says:

      Please specify the actual effects from climate change other than generalizing I can tell you that you could raise the temperature in Oregon by 3 degrees and it would not have a significant effect and I have lived here since 1949.

  4. Bill Halsey says:

    Especially for you Hasso…..and everyone else who picks out the tiniest little slice of the picture, then insists that they are seeing the whole big picture…….


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