- Mayor of Salem
- eight Salem City Council members
- two Salem officials (Community Development Director, Public Works Director)
- three Marion County Commissioners
- two Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Government Staffers (the Executive Director and the Transportation Planning chief), and
- the editorial board of the local newspaper
June 6, 2008
Dear Salem/Marion County policymakers and influential people:
As an engineer who has studied climate change and energy issues intensively, I am quite concerned about our area’s unpreparedness for several significant emerging challenges, namely the global peak in oil extraction and the need for what many people would today call unthinkably aggressive actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Every day, careful scientists produce more evidence that we have little time left to prepare for a new world. In this world, energy, instead of being cheap and abundant, will continue to become and remain ever more costly and even scarce at times. Climate disruption will compel us to see our atmosphere as the very limited and irreplaceable resource that it is and not an infinite sewer that can absorb whatever we care to (or carelessly) emit.
Given foresight, inspired leadership, and great effort, Salem and Marion County can adapt to the new reality. However, like fire insurance, this assurance cannot be obtained once the calamity is clearly here. We have only a limited and fast-dwindling time to act: to inform ourselves, to educate the community, and to develop an action plan for responding.
You no doubt have heard about the Portland Peak Oil Task Force. You may not know that Bellingham, Washington has improved on that model, commissioning the first joint city/county task force to begin planning for peak oil and the climate crisis. It is time for Salem and Marion County to do the same. I offer you this book, Post Carbon Cities: Planning for energy and climate uncertainty, as an introduction to the problems. I hope you will read it and that you will take the time to look into the many additional resources highlighted. At the least, I ask you to read the executive summary and pass the book on to your staff members and advisors.
I would be delighted to speak with you about this matter, privately or in public work sessions, and I hope you will set aside time to consider these important issues as soon as possible. We need to start a serious community conversation on this subject, and we have very little time to lose. I would like to do everything possible to assist you in helping the people in Salem and Marion County prepare for these daunting challenges.