An Inconvenient Truth-what we can do

by Pat Bitner

September is not the harbinger of the dying year. Instead, it is a time of new energy and new undertakings after a warm (this year hot) summer of diminished mental efforts for most of us.

This has traditionally been the time to welcome new Audubon members and interested parties to Lane Audubon's conservation programs.

Our environment is at risk from multiple assaults. Logging old growth forests continues. Dismantling of the Roadless Rule enables logging and incursions into our last remaining wilderness areas. Over-fishing has driven many once thriving species to the brink of extinction. Our assault on salmon spawning habitat continues. The list goes on. However, the most frightening threat to our environment is the ongoing planetary warming which all reputable scientists have confirmed. When glaciers melt and polar bears starve, that's "An Inconvenient Truth."

Last spring, at a Lane Audubon program meeting, I announced that Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, would be shown on a one-night-only basis, June 30, at the local art theatre. This information came, I thought, reliably. Lo and behold, six weeks and counting! It's still showing to full houses, so the interest is far reaching. If you somehow missed it, here's the punch line: We have ten years to reverse global warming; after that, it is all downhill. This very hot summer feels like a premonition of a future none of us wants to contemplate.

If our government will do nothing, it is up to us, you and me, to take action. Several states, led by New England and California, are beginning to move with programs aimed at diminishing carbon dioxide emissions. We'll have to wait and see how much is symbolic or real. Meanwhile, there are conservation practices galore we can put into effect tomorrow, for example:

  • If we all check our tires weekly and make sure they are properly inflated, gasoline use nationwide will be reduced by 2%;
  • A tune-up could boost miles per gallon from 4 to 40%;
  • A new air filter could get you 10% more mpg;
  • If you have a vehicle which can burn diesel, we here in Eugene and environs will have a biofuels filling station very soon. SeQuential Biofuels will open a station on McVeigh Hwy. just outside city limits in late August.
  • Of course, if you are in the market for another vehicle, a hybrid from Toyota, Honda, or maybe even Ford, will give you 40-50 mpg.
  • Substituting fluorescent bulbs in your household can save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If we all do it, the US can save a trillion pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year!

Jared Diamond's recent book, Collapse, will provide food for serious thought. We've had a wealth of warnings; now we need a plan of action. Global warming is not something we can ignore any longer, however inconvenient.