scene from Portland as kids protesting climate change march through the streets pic.twitter.com/hn90eQW8dL
— Michael (@michaelbivins44) March 15, 2019
Students from schools throughout Portland have massed downtown today for the #ClimateStrike event. Reports are that it’s a big success with crowds much larger than folks anticipated.
We just want to say thank you for standing up and creating more awareness for the climate crisis! As one of the old people in the room, I’ll do what I can to create a different future.
Also want to remind you that the transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon (39% of the total). We can reform transportation and significantly lower our GHG emissions (not to mention make our neighborhoods much nicer to live in), if we do everything we can to encourage the use of transit and bicycles, and discourage the use of cars and trucks.
And in case you haven’t heard, the State of Oregon (with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s blessing) wants to widen Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter. This would encourage people to drive through Portland, spewing even more toxic emissions into our lungs and air. You can help stop this project by checking out No More Freeways PDX, an all-volunteer group of people who are just as concerned about climate change as you are.
Thanks again. See you on the streets!
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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As I was riding to work today I passed a group of kids with there teacher who had just gotten off a bus from Albany parked at the Rose Quarter on their way to the march. The teacher was using the spot for a teaching moment and said, ” Kids, look at all the transportation modes you can see from here. There are cars , streetcars, light rail, ships, buses and there is someone on a bike. As far as saving us from climate change the bikes are the best.” Put a smile on my face the rest of the morning.
I wonder how many drove to this event?
My 8th grader and his friends walked from Tubman. I suspect most student participants don’t have licenses anyway. There were way more kids than adults.
why do you wonder that?
It’s easy to hold signs, point fingers, and blame somebody else for climate change. But if you’re getting ferried around in a motor vehicle, as I suspect many were, you’re the biggest part of the problem.
It’s easy to post comments, criticizing others for failing purity tests, which, incidentally, are themselves speculative since you don’t know who came or how they got there.
I have in the past criticized bikeportland commenters celebrating people driving from Seattle to participate in Portland’s Sunday Parkways—putatively a Carfree event—but in this case you are riffing on an imagined cluelessness or duplicity.
” …if you’re getting ferried around in a motor vehicle, as I suspect many were, you’re the biggest part of the problem.”
It is important to understand and communicate the urgency of withdrawing from the death grip that automobility has on us and our planet, but speculatively indicting children demonstrating against climate change from behind your computer screen seems a cheap shot, and in any case does not take into account the collective pressures automobility exerts on people, on our schedules, habits.
“death grip that automobility” Indeed let’s hope the parents explain this to their kiddos. And also the true cost of that iPhone in their pocket, or what really happens every time you fire up a Google search engine.
Toby, in all sincerity, what do you propose instead? I’m not asking rhetorically. I genuinely want to know what you think. So far it sounds like your argument is that we aren’t perfect, therefore we should just give up. But by the same logic, you could argue that since we all have small ethical failures, such as lying, why should we hold back on the bigger ethical items like murder? Am I misinterpreting your argument? How do propose we respond to climate change?
“…I passed a group of kids with there teacher who had just gotten off a bus from Albany parked at the Rose Quarter on their way to the march.”
if u are taking a school bus 150+miles rt to protest climate change, u are doing it wrong.
I’m surprised how easily some folks here are willing to define for others how to properly protest.
I admire anyone protesting, prioritizing their lives such that they actually show up, have their say, experience what it is like to stand up for something, meet others who have done likewise, etc. I too cringe when people fly to DC to participate in a climate march, but in this case I think you can take a deep breath and resist the urge to condemn people. I mean they take field trips in these school buses too. Given what I’ve learned about the pedagogic value of most field trips, I think using these buses to participate in a climate march instead is hardly so terrible.
Who took the Greyhound bus 1600 miles round trip to participate in the WTO protest in Seattle back in ’99.
“I’m surprised how easily some folks here are willing to define for others how to properly protest.”
if the intent is to PROTEST climate change, i guess they are doing the protest function correct.
but if the intent is to do something about climate change….then they are failing.
apologies if i seemed glib.
“but if the intent is to do something about climate change….then they are failing”
The problem with that logic is that the only sure fire way for an individual to ‘do something about climate change’ as you appear to be defining it, would be to compost yourself immediately.
If they had biked from Albany instead, someone here would have exhumed the old canard of, well your bike chain or tires were made in China and the wear on your bike from actually using it contributes to climate change….
My point is that perhaps in this case (school children taking a school bus) it is OK to let folks protest in the imperfect ways they chose to without crapping all over their choices.
1. i do sort of think everyone starting their own backyard compost pile would be a better thing…not sure where the error is in that
2. personal anecdotes are poor, but its all i have…and with 2 kids going thru portland area high schools can say their experience is that there is ALOT of focus on political activism…but looking at general math/science scores, not alot of focus on solutions.
i get that in pdx protests are so revered that even commercial events get (cynically) structured to look like a rally to garner more sympathy (looking at e-scooter).
congrats, u skipped a day at school.
great, u wrote a poem about how the older generations are threatening your future.
i’m not condemning the actions…u do u.
but we all get to ask “ok…great….now what?”
“not alot of focus on solutions.”
We agree. A dreadful, missed opportunity.
One of the reasons I ride a bike is that when these kids grow up they will realize just how badly the generations ahead of them messed things up. When they start rounding up the old folks and putting them on trial I want to be one of the good guys they can point too and say “see they were not all bad.” I certainly wouldn’t want to have been a monster truck driver or an ODOT employee in my past life when the Climate Nuremberg Trials get started.
How much more natural gas is being used in Portland—–with thousands of new residences—as opposed to thirty years ago? Natural gas puts out CO2, and it is essentially methane, another potent GHG.
Not only is there a YUUUGE number of new residences, consuming energy, there are lots and lots of new businesses situated in buildings—- where the heat is turned on 24/7 throughout the winter. Are these kids protesting all of the new construction which is causing the Portland-area carbon footprint to soar? And multifamily buildings not only take a lot of energy to heat, they would not have efficient, gas fired tankless water heaters, either, as these would require individual venting.
But go ahead—protest the vehicles trying to quickly get through Portland. Which twenty years hence may be mostly electric or hydrogen powered. Meanwhile we will have added more thousands of residences and commercial properties pumping out GHG 24/7.
You make interesting points about buildings.
But how does this in any way make driving motor vehicles OK? Which might possibly in a couple of decades be emitting less when it’s already too late?
All these things are contributing to climate change, and are being protested against. Some people just seem desperate to feel OK about current levels of motor use.
“electric or hydrogen powered”
Neither of those are fuels.
They both represent a conversion of something else (fossil fuels, typically, though it is of course fun to imagine that something clean is fed in the front) into a word we like to throw around without necessarily understanding what makes that word good, bad, salutary, or misleading.
People are going to to live in buildings, and people are going to use some kind of heat in the winter. That’s the way it’s always been, and it’s going to stay that way. Housing is a constant. Now, some types of buildings are more efficient than others. Newer buildings have better energy ratings than older buildings. High density housing is more energy efficient than low density housing.
Transportation is not a constant. People can be encouraged to live close to where they work, and to use energy efficient transportation modes. Which also, incidentally, pairs well with high density.
I think you missed the point. Emissions from vehicles are probably going to get cleaner and cleaner. At least that is the present trend; although nothing is certain. However, the more people who move here, which our city government seems to favor—-since they derive ever more tax revenue from densification—-the more CO2 and other GHG will be emitted to the atmosphere. And people do love their (energy consuming) luxury: long, hot showers, gourmet cooking, comfortable, heated living quarters and comfortable heated workplaces. It is not like the old days of Oregon—with loggers generating their own heat, maybe warming their hands around a fire in a barrel. Or many of the other outdoor professions where people simply generated their own body heat to stay warm during the day.
Nooooo. These are the days of the service economy. An entirely different animal. And a huge, seemingly endless source of CO2.
We need to leave the remaining fossil fuels in the ground.
Not burn them in our engines
Not burn them in our natural gas furnaces
Not burn them in our power plants to generate electricity.
If you are suggesting that we will have an easier time weaning ourselves from the internal combustion engine than from natural gas heating, you should just say that. We could then examine that claim, which I think is somewhat spurious. Where we stand today, in 2019, we can’t seem able to conceive of doing either, and all the happy talk of hydrogen and wind turbines doesn’t change the physics.
My point is simply that the environmental impact of housing stays roughly constant between Portland, Stayton, Bend, Kansas, Texas, California, etc. One could even argue that Portland, with its relatively mild winters and summers, is a good place for people to live. The broader point is that Portland is growing because other places are not. So the net effect on climate change is nil. Of course, there is global population growth, which is a whole ‘nother can of worms. But even that is stabilizing. To summarize, if Portland were to stop building right now, all those people would go live in Eugene or Seattle instead, and there would be no change in greenhouse emissions.
“The broader point is that Portland is growing because other places are not.”
That is not true as you acknowledge below.
“Of course, there is global population growth, which is a whole ‘nother can of worms. But even that is stabilizing”
Yikes. Those may be reassuring words to speak or write but they hardly capture what is going on. We are currently at 7.7bn; the UN estimates median population rising to 9.8bn by 2050*, a mere 31 years from now. Adding 2.2bn people, which is more than the total number of people alive in 1949, is hardly reason to feel reassured, especially since we have been in overshoot for several decades.
The climate and our planet’s ability to put up with our demands at this point has nothing to do with rates of growth and everything to do with totals. We have long since passed crucial thresholds, so growing more slowly is no better, no more reason to breathe easier, than growing more quickly. Neither leads to anything salutary.
* and 11.2bn people by 2100.
Your assumption that global population growth will continue to grow is ridiculously optimistic.
Why is it that even those who supposedly acknowledge the validity of climate change science are so unwilling to acknowledge the expected outcomes of our complete failure to address climate change?
This is a rhetorical question.
I do not believe that global population will grow in line with the UN’s blithe extrapolations I quoted above. The correction is coming decades before those round numbers come ’round. My reason for quoting those numbers was to cast doubt on the pleasant and familiar notion that global population was already ‘stabilizing.’
Actually what I am doing is making an argument against the service economy. At least as the foundational economic principle. And what is happening nationwide is that we are attracting people from low energy use areas (most of the world) to a high energy use area (United States). This is due to the quest for higher earning vocations—-but which is dependent upon filling the manual labor roles with newcomers. In other words, a juggernaut of upward mobility.
So on this 39 percent figure—that is for the whole state. I’m sure that truckers hauling goods on I-5 from California and Washington are burning a lot of diesel fuel. And local deliveries account for a lot of it. But what is the figure in the Portland area? Even if vehicles do not get cleaner, I do know that big buildings, residential and commercial, take a lot of energy. In fact in areas that use natural gas for electrical generation there is always a surge during heat waves, too. Portland also has a lot of big drafty houses, because they were wood construction with very little insulation; and also lose heat through the windows. And from what I have read the new towers with glass exteriors are big energy users, too.
Motor vehicles to me are not the biggest problem, if indeed there is a problem in the first place.
Would you prefer they use coal or oil? The fact is that this is going to have to be an evolution. Change is happening. Cleaner fuels are being used. Natural gas is better than wood, oil or coal and is a step in the right direction.
Consider the number of fleets around the country that have converted from diesel to natural gas or other alternatives. A step in the right direction until battery and recharging capabilities get to a point where they can power a garbage truck for the whole days work. Something we aren’t seeing in Portland but is very prevelent (watch Motorweek on OPB and see the weekly clean energy segment).
The US as a whole has a shrinking population, except for immigration. That increase in population requires housing so we’re not going to have less of it. Now consider how many of those folks are coming from areas where pollution is rampant, China, India come to mind. Are the doing better by living here with cleaner energry and options?
“Change is happening. Cleaner fuels are being used.”
“Natural gas is better than wood, oil or coal and is a step in the right direction.”
No it is not. Please do not spread misinformation. Natural gas has been branded to soothe our fears, but it is not one whit better, and depending on how you make your calculations,, which time horizon you choose, it could be worse. And the idea that wood, whose carbon cycle is on the time scale of decades rather than millions for fossil fuels, is worse than natural gas, well, you’re going to have to explain that as well.
“Consider the number of fleets around the country that have converted from diesel to natural gas or other alternatives.”
You (and many others) are confusing local air pollution (1970s/SOx, NOx, CO, HC, PM) with global climate change (CO2, CH4/what we are more focused on now). Switching from diesel to natural gas as a transportation fuel does help the local air quality, and that is all to the good, but at this stage we are or should be frying bigger fish.
“A step in the right direction until battery and recharging capabilities get to a point where they can power a garbage truck for the whole days work. Something we aren’t seeing in Portland but is very prevelent (watch Motorweek on OPB and see the weekly clean energy segment).”
Until we have complete fuel cycle where that electricity you are celebrating is generated by something other than fossil fuels, this is a lot of whistling in the wind.
“The US as a whole has a shrinking population, except for immigration.”
Please support that statement. You are confusing a drop in the positive growth rate with an actual decline in that rate.
“In the early 2000s, immigration accounted for roughly 40 percent of U.S. population growth, leaving 60 percent from natural increase.”
Seems to me that past generations don’t really care what happens to future generations as long as they can continue to make obscene amounts of money. There was an interesting article in The Atlantic about this. To sum up: Dad and grampa are mostly obsessed with maintaining a booming stock market and forever rising home prices. Their kids are on their own.
I was really hoping we could all take a holiday and celebrate the wonderful young people amongst us. Their passion and determination should inspire us all to help them build the future they deserve, not the one we appear content to leave them.
Look them in the eyes and there’s no way you can admit to loving our current high-emissions lifestyle more than you love them.