If you go by the motto of the Oregon Global Warming Commission, “Keep Oregon Cool,” you might say the commission has already failed, at least this week.
In July and August, Oregon is not usually cool and never has been. Heat waves with days near 100 degrees are common. But this commission is not concerned with warm or cool. It professes to be concerned with “climate change,” not in Oregon but around the world.
The legislature created this commission in 2007. The mission of its appointed members is “to develop long-term policy recommendations to prepare for, adapt to, and combat climate change.”
The commission held a meeting this month and then issued a press release. The first sentence was this: “Thanks to Oregon’s recent bold energy and climate change policy advances, the state is projected to meet its 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goal, according to a recent analysis for the … commission.”
That goal, the statement reminds us, is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at least 45 percent below the level of 1990 by 2035.
Apparently they are counting on widespread adoption of electric vehicles, which create a lot of their emissions before they are bought — inthe manufacturing process and the production of resources to build them.
But counting on electricity is risky, as Germany is finding out in a different context. The country faces the loss of natural gas from Russia, which used to supply most of Germany’s energy needs. A Frankfurt paper reports on a worrying trend, the rush to buy electric heaters as people try to keep from freezing next winter. The utilities worry all those heaters are going to knock out the grid.
This week in Oregon, Portland General Electric and Pacific Power seem to be concerned too. They worry about too much load on their systems as all available air conditioners are switched on for long periods of time. Pacific Power asked people to do their laundry at night.
If the utilities are concerned even now with their ability to meet the demand for energy, what about 20 years from now when Oregon has outlawed all fuel-generated power, and all we have are renewables that don’t always work, like solar and wind?
Whether Oregon meets its carbon-reduction goal in 2035 or not is not going to make a difference to the world’s many different climates.
But the steps the commission envisions might have unfortunate consequences for the people living in Oregon. What will Oregonians do when their reliable energy sources are gone and new ones are not yet in place to get them to and from work, or to keep them warm in winter or cool during all the summer heat waves to come? (hh)