On cognitive dissonance and climate change in Cascadia

Posted by on July 3rd, 2021 at 6:04 am

Wildfire smoke in Portland on September 10th, 2020.
(Photo: BikePortland)

(By Ryan Packer)

Did the lawmakers remember when they could barely see a few blocks due to smoke, and did any of them have to construct makeshift air filters out of box fans and air filters like I had?

Near the end of the Washington legislature’s 2021 session in early April, I wondered how different the content of lawmakers’ speeches and the resulting impact of the laws they were passing would be if most of the state had been covered in smoke from wildfires, as had been the case just a few months earlier. Did the lawmakers remember when they could barely see a few blocks due to smoke, and did any of them have to construct makeshift air filters out of box fans and air filters like I had? Did they expect to spend another month inside due to smoke this year?

I had just watched the chair of the Washington Senate’s transportation committee, Steve Hobbs (a Democrat), join with a small number of other Democrats and the entire Republican bloc on the committee to vote down amendment after amendment to the 16-year transportation funding package that Hobbs had negotiated with other lawmakers, mostly behind closed doors. The amendments included increases to Safe Routes to School programs, statewide bicycle and pedestrian grant programs, transit fare grant programs, and programs designed to connect communities that have historically received less investment in transportation. Hobbs supported these programs, he said, but there just wasn’t room in the package, which was financially “overextended”.

That Washington transportation package, which got no further than out of the transportation committee before the legislative session ended a few days later, includes projects like $500 million to expand a single state highway in Seattle’s suburbs and around one billion dollars for the I-5 project between Washington and Oregon, a project that doesn’t even have a design yet.

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Hiding behind the label of jobs is the clear belief that things should continue as they are.

My question about how wildfire smoke may influence an active legislative session hasn’t been answered yet, thankfully, but I did get a discouraging clue as I watched the Oregon legislative session wrap up this past weekend. As much of the state broke temperature records, with Portland hitting 108 degrees, one degree more than the highest temperature ever recorded, the State Senate was debating HB 3055, which allocated funding to highway expansions such a widening I-205 and expanding I-5 at Boone Bridge. They did that just weeks after allowing a proposed spending increase for pedestrian and bicycle projects to fail, mirroring what happened in that Washington Senate transportation committee meeting, due to “lack of funding.” HB 3055, on the other hand, easily passed both chambers. (Governor Brown could still veto.)

Oregon State Senator Chris Gorsek articulated one reason for cognitive dissonance more plainly than most legislators do, during the floor debate on 3055, announcing that “all in all I’d like to vote no, because we need to be moving in the direction of alternative transportation”, but that he would be voting yes because the bill will be a source of jobs. Of course, numerous studies, including ones cited by Washington’s Secretary of Transportation, have shown that large highway projects produce far fewer jobs per dollar spent than commensurate bike and pedestrian projects. Hiding behind the label of jobs is the clear belief that things should continue as they are.

But of course they can’t continue as they are. The legislatures of both states are miles ahead of most other states in the US in terms of passing legislation to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Oregon’s clean energy bill that passed last week is being heralded as a major win for the environment. Yet transportation remains a huge area of inattention and, frankly, denial. The idea that we should continue to not only maintain our existing fossil fuel infrastructure but expand it at the expense of other programs is a mainstream view for a Democratic legislator in the northwest.

As every segment of the world finds itself in uncharted meteorological territory as climate impacts expand the realm of the likely, it doesn’t seem too hopeful to think that our elected leaders will respond more urgently as the effects become visible, frequent, and deadly. The Washington legislature is actively considering returning for a special session in September to finish passing a transportation package loaded with highway expansion projects. With the summer that is ahead of us, fire and smoke impacts already here, it is truly wild to imagine a legislature coming back to work to choose highways over safe routes to schools. It’s likely going to take larger, more powerful, and more organized opposition to make sure it doesn’t happen.

— Ryan Packer, @typewriteralley, ryan@theurbanist.org
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Gina D.
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Gina D.

Ryan,
Good article. Unfortunately living in traumatized Portland I just don’t have the bandwidth to process bigger global concerns such as this. I’m just more focused on personal and property safety, sanitation and trying to keep my kids out of harm’s way. Once there is more security, law abiding and orderliness in my hometown I think I can once again expand my outlook. Good on you for keeping on it despite these challenges!

Jim
Guest
Jim

Not to be a downer, but why do you assume security and orderliness will improve? Climate breakdown will be extremely expensive and stressful, it seems much more likely that social conditions will increase down the road they’re already on.

Gina D.
Guest
Gina D.

Jim,
In my opinion, the current chaos and disorder of Portland is not related to climate change. I just find myself needing to deal with immediate stressors rather than being able to focus on more longitudinal threats such as climate change. I still do ride my bike though although not as much as I would like. This is due to unsafe trail conditions (Springwater and others) in the Portland area.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Why are so many people leaving other states and moving to Portland in still quite substantial numbers? What kind of person leaves another place to move specifically to Portland if the city is as dysfunctional as you say it is? Might other places they are moving from be even more consistently dysfunctional than Portland?

Or to put it another way, why haven’t you already left town and moved to Omaha, or to Kansas City, or to Baltimore?

Big Agnes
Guest
Big Agnes

It’s simple really, housing costs in Portland will always be cheaper than Seattle and the Bay Area; there will always be an influx of people moving in. The majority of people moving to Portland aren’t coming due to a political aspiration, they’re coming due to the economics.

Irina
Guest
Irina

David, since you’ve moved to North Carolina you probably lost touch a little with what’s been on the ground in Portland. Few people are moving to Portland anymore. My job is having a very difficult time attracting people from other parts of the country to Portland. It used to be a big positive in our recruiting but now it’s a negative. New reality has set in. There are a few Bay Area transplants still moving in to enjoy the relatively cheap housing and whom don’t mind the extremist politics in Portland. Other then that Portland is now a tough sell.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I’m not sure about the metro area, but the city of Portland is still growing; more people are moving in than moving out, by a wide margin. Yes, perhaps Portland isn’t the top of the popular cities now, especially with so many other competing “nice towns” with better-looking bike infrastructure, and maybe recruiting isn’t as easy as it used to be, but Portland is still growing faster than most US cities. I am vary aware of happenings in Portland – there’s now a small but growing community of Portland expats here in Greensboro, mostly from inner northeast, including a fair number of displaced African-Americans, who find their money goes so much further here, and the racism is so much less here as well.

The reality is that most US cities are going through huge jumps in murders, in property crimes, in domestic violence, in overall lawlessness, but that within our communities it also depends on where you live and the color of your skin on how much the lawlessness actually impacts your day-to-day life. Some parts of Greensboro get a murder every few days, other parts haven’t seen a murder in decades – guess which area is high-income and overwhelmingly white?

And I’ve met too many people here and from other parts of NC who are eager to move to Portland Oregon. Did you not know that Portland is a liberal paradise where everyone bikes, housing is cheap, and good-paying meaningful employment is easy to get? That’s what they say here – they get it from the internet, and if it’s on the internet, then it must be true, right?

Forest H
Guest
Forest H

David,
Racism less in Greenboro, NC than Portland, OR? I’ve lived in the Piedmont Triad and that is the polar opposite of what I experienced.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

That’s what they tell me. Of course I’m white and the people telling me this are black, usually very highly educated, so that might have something to do with it – might they be telling me something they think I might want to hear?

PTB
Guest
PTB

Irina, I obsessively look at license plates so I can grumble about newcomers. I can only speak anecdotally here, but I’d say there’s no way that “few people are moving to Portland anymore.” No way. I’m constantly amazed that people keep moving here.

Izabella I.
Guest
Izabella I.

PTB,
Most of the out of state plates I see are expired. Which means they are not newcomers. However, I agree with your amazement if people are truly moving to Portland.

Forest H
Guest
Forest H

David,
With an 800% increase in murders I think the dysfunction of Portland reigns supreme.
🙁
https://www.nrcc.org/2021/05/27/portland-homicides-up-800-after-democrats-defund-the-police/

squareman
Subscriber

Nice try using literally a Republican propaganda site that uses short-term statistics without any point of reference or sources to create the exact histrionics you regurgitate (please show me the data that backs up the 800% number, because a percentage without reference is meaningless). And Portland hasn’t fully cut the police budget in one huge swath yet (the total cut was to happen over three fiscal years and politicians are already backpedaling – because politicians).

The PPB still is one of the very largest slice-of-the-pie consumers with the city’s budget ($231M for the fiscal year 2020-2021). But that didn’t keep the PPB from cutting certain key programs that have contributed to an uptick in violence anyway (e.g., the gun violence task force) and many cops have also quit in protest.

The situation is naturally more nuanced than what you have proposed.

Izabella I.
Guest
Izabella I.

Squareman,
Portland Police Bureau’s official Crime Statistics show that between May 2020 and May 2021 (the most recent month with complete stats) there were 91 homicides in this city.
Between May 2019 and May 2020 there were 29 homicides. Commissioner Hardesty and Wheeler targeted the GVRT for elimination and the rest of the city Council also voted to eliminate it. The PPB did not eliminate it as you suggest.

Regardless of the exact numbers of the violence increase in Portland it is horrific and needs to be addressed. Until then it will be hard for many Portlanders to focus on less immediate concerns such as global warming.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.kptv.com/news/portland-mayor-to-disband-gun-violence-reduction-team-transit-units/article_8f349d9a-aab3-11ea-b3df-9bebe559f374.amp.html

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Gun violence/homicides are sky rocketing everywhere which is important to understand because we don’t have a Portland problem, we have a national gun accessibility problem. There isn’t much the city can do to address the problem when angry young men can easily obtain a gun to shoot people they have TikTok beef with.

It doesn’t help however that the Portlands main gun violence reduction strategy through the last three decades amounted to “pull over random Black men and hope you can find a gun”. The GVRT absolutely needed to go. Eliminating gun violence is a project that if we start today, we might be successful in 15 years.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Guns are not suddenly 5x more available than they were a year ago, so I don’t buy that as a driver of the surge in violence. And yes, while there is a national upswing in shootings, the causes of the particular set of motivations driving shootings are likely localized.

We are starting to get a sense of what things look like when law enforcement is dialed back. We need to decide collectively whether or not the current state of affairs is acceptable. In my opinion, it is not.

At some point, the impacted communities are going to collectively decide they’ve had enough and the “community solutions” white protestors (precious few of whom are part of the communities where the worst is happening) have been demanding are not going to cut it. They’ll start demanding more enforcement (which, for those of us old enough to remember Len Bias, is exactly what happened before, and is how we ended up with our current(?) “tough on crime” approach).

Those who forget history…

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Guns are not suddenly 5x more available than they were a year ago, so I don’t buy that as a driver of the surge in violence.

No one said that was. The driver of the surge in gun violence is the pandemic and the resulting social and economic fallout. We are a country awash in a sea of guns, and gun violence has been rising for years. The pandemic just pushed it over the edge and the cycle of killing gathers inertia leading to more killing.

And yes, while there is a national upswing in shootings, the causes of the particular set of motivations driving shootings are likely localized.

The drivers of folks murdering each other are the same in Chicago and Kansas City as they are here. Disputes that are solved with a gun regarding relationships, reputation, territory, or drugs. They might have different street names but the story is pretty much always the same.

We are starting to get a sense of what things look like when law enforcement is dialed back.

No we aren’t. We are still in a pandemic and our ineffective city and county leadership have drug their heels at rolling out programs that have been shown to be effective. All we are seeing right now is a city that doesn’t have the vision or will to do anything that might hurt anyones feelings and a police department that is engaging in an illegal slowdown because they refuse to change.

At some point, the impacted communities are going to collectively decide they’ve had enough and the “community solutions” white protestors (precious few of whom are part of the communities where the worst is happening) have been demanding are not going to cut it.

I see plenty of non-white people at protests. BIPOC folks are certainly over-represented at most of the protests I’ve seen. Conservatives just like to push the narrative of the “white protester” to discredit the BIPOC folks who are sick of being treated poorly by the police.

They’ll start demanding more enforcement (which, for those of us old enough to remember Len Bias, is exactly what happened before, and is how we ended up with our current(?) “tough on crime” approach).

Oh I know, the reality is that finding an actual solution is hard while spending money to mass incarcerate the “bad guys” is easy and feels good, despite being ineffective and inhumane. This article is about how we have the looking crisis of climate change and people are still too lazy and ignorant to change their behavior, I don’t expect Americans to suddenly deviate from other bad policy they engage. Most Americans are uninformed about the police in general so it’s no surprise they hold the misbelief that the police make communities safer.

Watts
Guest
Watts

We are starting to get a sense of what things look like when law enforcement is dialed back.

a police department that is engaging in an illegal slowdown…

These are essentially the same thing.

Someone who is in prison isn’t shooting someone on the streets of Portland. That doesn’t mean locking everyone up is the answer, but prison does work at keeping a lid on killings (and I have no qualms about locking up those who settle disputes with deadly violence).

I’m not a “law and order” kind of person, and I suspect we share a lot of common ground, but your contention that police do not make communities safer is undermined by the fairly strong correlation in the police “slowdown” and the increase in shootings.

Correlation is not causation, of course, but there is a plausible causative connection between the two. You will probably continue to say the police don’t help, but most people aren’t going to buy that without some pretty compelling evidence accompanied by an alternate approach that the community thinks would be effective.

It doesn’t really matter what we think. At some point, those most impacted by the increase in shooting are going to demand the police “do something” at which point they probably will, just as they responded to community demands in the 80s and 90s.

I’m already hearing murmurs, and my guess is that we have about a year before they get loud enough to change the pendulum’s direction.

Tim Marin
Guest
Tim Marin

The pendulum will swing. Unfortunately, It just may take longer In Portland. NYC just elected a former cop as mayor who campaigned on public safety.

Shawn Werner
Guest
Shawn Werner

Let’s hope sooner than later.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

These are essentially the same thing.

It really isn’t. What we have right now is the PPB sponging money that could be spent elsewhere, which is actually what reduced policing looks like.

Someone who is in prison isn’t shooting someone on the streets of Portland. That doesn’t mean locking everyone up is the answer, but prison does work at keeping a lid on killings (and I have no qualms about locking up those who settle disputes with deadly violence).

Does it? Take a look at this list of incarcerations by state and then cross-reference it with the list of the cities with the highest homicide rates in the country.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_incarceration_and_correctional_supervision_rate

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/murder-map-deadliest-u-s-cities/22/

You’re going to find a lot of over-lap. Mass incarceration doesn’t actually reduce crime.You might feel like incarceration “keeps a lid on killings”, but the facts say differently.

I’m not a “law and order” kind of person, and I suspect we share a lot of common ground, but your contention that police do not make communities safer is undermined by the fairly strong correlation in the police “slowdown” and the increase in shootings.

Well, shootings sky rocketed before the police started their slowdown and shootings sky rocketed nationally, so unless PPBs illegal slowdown somehow affects a shooting in Chicago, I don’t think we can draw any conclusions about the police slowdown and shootings. The illegal slowdown is mostly felt by people who have lower level crimes/problems like trespassing and stolen cars.

Correlation is not causation, of course, but there is a plausible causative connection between the two

I guess throw that out there and see if it sticks…

I’m already hearing murmurs, and my guess is that we have about a year before they get loud enough to change the pendulum’s direction.

Like I said earlier, I am confident that Americans don’t have the integrity or knowledge to do the right thing. Most people, like yourself, have a lot of beliefs about the the criminal justice system that aren’t supported by facts and then they want to take action based on their gut feelings or what they saw on CSI and Blue Bloods rather than the reality of policing. You should take some time and get informed about this subject.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Thank you, cmh89, for such a great comment!

So many Americans have opinions unencumbered by knowledge of relevant facts, and it’s a shame that smart folks like you have to spend time on what could be a fruitful discussion explaining basic things that anyone should know. Perhaps one day, people will learn to learn before speaking. The confidence with which they proclaim their falsehoods is breathtaking. There is no excuse for such ignorance.

Izabella I.
Guest
Izabella I.

Cmh89
Gun violence is a national problem but MUCH worse in Portland than anywhere else. Why is the popular far left narrative in Portland to always downplay this fact? Maybe they don’t want to examine the failed polices?

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Gun violence is a national problem but MUCH worse in Portland than anywhere else. Why is the popular far left narrative in Portland to always downplay this fact? Maybe they don’t want to examine the failed polices

Uh well I think they downplay this “fact” because it’s not a fact at all. I understand that Lars Larson and Faux News have made you think Portland is a war zone, but Portland is not even in the top 65 cities for homicides and judging by the homicide rate for number 65, we might not even be in the top 80.

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/murder-map-deadliest-u-s-cities/3/

Saying the violence in Portland is MUCH worse than anywhere else seems like a stretch when there are 65+ cities with a higher homicide rate.

Why is the popular far right narrative in suburban Oregon/Washington to always misrepresent the level of violence in Portland?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The FBI murder rates quoted by CBS are from 2018-19, from cmh89 above. Assuming 81 murders in May 2020 – May 2021 quoted by Izabella I., and that other US cities’ murder rates and rankings haven’t changed (very unlikely), Portland’s current murder rate is 14.49 per 100,000 residents (I assumed a Portland population of 628,000). This puts Portland at #43 or #44 in the country for cities over 100,000, somewhere between Greensboro NC and Norfolk VA.

Biketripp
Guest
Biketripp

David,
It’s the huge increase of murders in Portland that is the concerning issue, not the a absolute number. I feel
we need to reduce the increase of violence not say it’s worse elsewhere.

From OPB “There have been 37 homicides in Oregon’s largest city so far this year, more than six times the number recorded in the same period last year. If nothing changes, Portland will surpass its all-time record for homicides of 70 set in 1987, when the city was in the midst of a gang siege”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.opb.org/article/2021/06/11/police-say-gang-activity-fuels-portland-violence/%3foutputType=amp

Biketripp
Guest
Biketripp

Cm89,
Regardless of whether murders are up everywhere or not they are dramatically up in Portland. Obviously our current policies are failing and we need to improve. Simply stating that it’s bad everywhere (and therefore OK) seems to be an excuse for not reassessing our current actions and making additional efforts to reduce the killing.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

I agree that we need to improve! Getting rid of the failed GVRT was the first step. Now our local leaders need to step up and implement evidence-based gun violence reductions interventions. I’m not sure why you think I’m advocating for maintaining the current level of violence. I agree, PPB’s policies have completely failed our community and it’s time to move on from their broken system of policing.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Yeah, that is NOT what cmh89 said. cmh89 pointed out the obvious falsity of Izabella I’s statement, “Gun violence is … MUCH worse in Portland than anywhere else.”

Jonathan, why isn’t there any moderation of lies?

Tim Marin
Guest
Tim Marin

Dude,
I think you are misreading Izabella comments. She was referring to the increase in murders when she stated “things are much worse in Portland than elsewhere”, not the overall murder rate. Of course there are more violent cities such as Chicago or New Orleans but all these shootings are a new development in Portland. I’m personally not sure on the exact statistics but we have had a large increase in murders in Portland and are on track to set a new record for 2021. 🙁

She said this:
“ Regardless of the exact numbers of the violence increase in Portland it is horrific and needs to be addressed. Until then it will be hard for many Portlanders to focus on less immediate concerns such as global warming.“

It doesn’t seem to me she is trying to mislead but simply encouraging action on the violence problem we have in Portland which will allow many to focus on other pressing concerns to our society. I agree with that sentiment. Not enough is being done, We need a multifaceted effort to quell the violence. This includes enforcement, education and social support.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

It seems inaccurate either way, but I appreciate the explanation nonetheless. And of course many are engaged in hyperbole about the situation in Portland for political purposes.

The only accurate part of the statement is that it’s a huge problem everywhere in the US. And the US stands alone among all Western countries in the scale of the carnage. It requires a nationwide solution.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/06/us/mass-shootings-fast-facts/index.html

Pablo I.
Guest
Pablo I.

Nope. Murder increase in Portland trumps all other cities in the USA. The current “hands off” approach by the city council allowing anarchy is not going well, Next phase is vigilanteism.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I don’t believe Portland’s increase is anywhere near 800%. It’s more in the 150-200% range, pretty much the same as most other cities (large and small) across the country, including Minneapolis, where I now live.

There is absolutely no Portland Exceptionalism in the crime wave going on. It is happening everywhere.

Izabella I.
Guest
Izabella I.

Glowboy,
Do you have any data to support your statement? The data I have seen shows it is MUCH worse in Portland.

squareman
Subscriber

Izabella I.: Still waiting on you or anyone to show actual data sources on your statement of “Gun violence is a national problem but MUCH worse in Portland than anywhere else.” Yes, Portland has long been very high on the list of cities with the most violent crimes, but not the highest. Many cities that beat out Portland with homicide or violent-crime statistics are in very “red” states. The narrative that Portland suffers this because it is a “lefty” city doesn’t cut it. Also “violent crime” means more than just homicide or gun violence. I could find no detail on gun-specific crime statistics for Portland in 2020-2021, so my comment that the original claim of 800% being dubious at best still stands.

Watts
Guest
Watts

Someone sent me this a few days ago (murders by city 2019 v 2020). Portland doesn’t show the biggest increase… quite.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Z9b5mIwztAwmEHJW7Q5DHMjS14-Rs7XIXOt33Al_rDw/edit#gid=1757262194

Fran O.
Guest
Fran O.

Squareman,
Murders should not be a partisan issue. Portland is on track for >70 murders this year which would set a record. The prior record was 70 in 1987 at the time of gang warfare. This is a crisis being ignored.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

It’s hardly being ignored, but the underlying problems are intractable:

1. Crime is directly linked to economic distress, and (despite stimulus payments) economic inequality has massively increased with the pandemic.
2. As you may have noticed, many of the culprits in the carjackings and other crimes are teenagers. When the pandemic hit, afterschool and other youth-engagement programs got shut down, leaving kids with nothing to do. Gangs recruited huge numbers of them.
3. Well-intentioned programs to pay bail for arrestees with limited financial means (Portland Freedom Fund there, Minnesota Freedom Fund here) have resulted in a revolving door turning violent criminals back out onto the street to commit more crimes. MFF doesn’t discriminate as to the nature of the crime (nor, I believe, does PFF). Unfortunately the existing systems aren’t accounting for the freedom funds, which effectively gives all suspects the economic means (in terms of making bail) of millionaires. These systems need to be recalibrated in their determinations of suspects’ risk to the community so the truly dangerous criminals don’t keep getting bailed out.
4. For some reason, police departments seem to be exempt in the public mind from responsibility for keeping crime under control (even though that accountability is one of the primary Peelian Principles). Crime response has deteriorated far more than the incremental reductions in staffing would suggest. Something else is going on. It’s my belief that, intentionally (entirely possible given police unions’ past behavior) or unintentionally, cops are slowing down their response. They know that skyrocketing crime won’t reflect badly on them, but rather increase public demands for more funding. And nationwide, it appears to be working.

Pablo I.
Guest
Pablo I.

“….For some reason, police departments seem to be exempt in the public mind from responsibility for keeping crime under control…”

Glowboy,

Problem is the far left of Portland keeps saying the police can’t control or reduce crime, they can only respond, This is a false narrative which will never be true no matter how many time they state it. It keeps us in a defensive posture instead of moving forward and supporting positive elements of policing such as community policing.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Since you used “the far left” as an epithet I’ll assume you’re a conservative, and I therefore thank you for recognizing the value of community policing. One of the biggest problems we face in reforming policing is constant pressure from the right to only focus on funding and staffing levels (as if crime responds to those like a volume control), diverting attention from the more important conversations about improving policing methods.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I read the news regularly – my wife might say obsessively – and consume a lot of media. I don’t save the links to every article that provides a useful datum, but there have been several articles in national media talking about crime trends in various cities (including Portland), and there’s a pretty consistent pattern.

Where are your data, Izabella? Portland is not up 800%. Period. It might *feel* like 800% (Minneapolis also feels about 8x worse for crime than two years ago), even though the data don’t support that. Part of it is simply greater awareness. You’d have to be living under a rock not to have noticed, whereas two years ago many of us didn’t pay that much attention.

Fran O.
Guest
Fran O.

Glowboy,
Here is a recent article on the topic by left of center OPB.
Worth the read.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.opb.org/article/2021/06/11/police-say-gang-activity-fuels-portland-violence/%3foutputType=amp

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

One’s who believe marketing?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

There is the very practical problem of what to do for people living now. Even if we did everything “right,” climate change is something everyone living now and for at least a few generations has to cope with for the rest of their lives.

Active transport isn’t possible/safe for most people in scorching temps, and few of the people who can handle it are willing to be out there. Meanwhile, public transit consistently doesn’t function for those lucky enough to not have ridiculously long transit times when it does.

That leaves us with cars. In any case, vehicle infrastructure can be incrementally converted for other purposes later so there is a reasonable transition path.

Jim
Guest
Jim

No. This approach is part of the problem.
Any further expansion of the car system will further trap us in this death system. “Other uses” is pie in the sky. We cannot maintain this level of energy use (including substituting in lithium batteries) and infrastructure without very dire consequences.
Scorching temps will be rare still, most people are perfectly capable of traveling by other means than cars most of the time. They just choose not to, because it’s hot or cold or wet or tiring or takes a long time.
“Luck” has little to do with transit times for the many people who could prioritize their living and commuting situations but don’t. See the correlation of Portland house price rises and drops in transit and bike commuting in inner neighborhoods. The weather and bus routes haven’t changed that much. There are of course also many people without the wealth to prioritize not using a car. They are used as a shield by those who do have wealth but are unwilling to change their priorities (and are also unwilling to change the wealth distribution).
It is a question of choices and priorities. I agree with you that most people are unwilling to “be out there”. Most people won’t choose to change. I don’t know the answer but I’m tired of everyone giving themself a pass. I make many choices that are difficult but seem less destructive. The longer we delay making hard choices, the worse the choices available to us will become. I also choose to do certain things that are environmentally damaging, because I want to do them. I’m not proud of it, but I’m human and this is what we do. We’ll never get anywhere if we don’t start by being honest.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

“Luck” has little to do with transit times for the many people who could prioritize their living and commuting situations but don’t. See the correlation of Portland house price rises and drops in transit and bike commuting in inner neighborhoods.

The choice to cycle with the infrastructure we have is much more accessible than the choice to live close to everything in a multi earner household in an especially expensive region. If we had bike infrastructure everywhere, I’m sure a few more people would ride but it wouldn’t be any kind of tectonic shift.

Speaking of choices, why is it that so many people who hate cars choose to live in one of the highest concentrations of autos in the entire western United States when there are plenty of places vehicles are few?

Matt
Guest
Matt

why is it that so many people who hate cars choose to live in one of the highest concentrations of autos in the entire western United States

Well, speaking for myself? I was born here, and inertia is a powerful force.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

When inertia overrides all other forces, it says something about the impact/importance of those other things.

Count yourself lucky — you apparently haven’t had to make some of the choices that many if not most people have to make.

Matt
Guest
Matt

You know, what I feel like I’m hearing from you is that nasty, hostile catchphrase I used to hear from the right wing all the time: “If you don’t like it, then get out!” No, if I don’t like it, then I’ll try to be an agent of change for the better.

You were shrewd to equivocate by use of the word “apparently”, because you know absolutely nothing about the opportunities I’ve had, the choices I’ve made, and the importance I ascribe to other things. How would you possibly know whether I’m lucky?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

You seem to believe that people can live close to work. That’s not real life for most people.

Please educate me on your choices and opportunities. Even if you work hard for those opportunities, there is still luck involved. There is a reason people leave everything they’ve known, their friends, and their family. These are choices I doubt you understand.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

Human overpopulation on a dying planet. Nature is finally beginning to deal with it.

squareman
Subscriber

Mother Nature has a fever. It’s a defensive response to kill off the infection.

rainbike
Guest
rainbike

Mother Nature: I gotta a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Funny, whenever I read about someone complaining about human overpopulation and what we need to do about it, I never hear of that same person’s willingness to eliminate their own presence as an example for rest of us – they seem to keep on living and making their own individual contribution to the masses, sometimes even greedily procreating.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

So many people take their lives every day David, I think you should reconsider your glib response.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Actually, I did consider it very carefully before I wrote it for the very reasons you cite. However, any discussion about “doing something about overpopulation” directly implies the mass deaths of others, be it by starvation/famine, natural catastrophes, disease, war, or whatnot. So might we not need to discuss death? And perhaps our own demise, natural or otherwise?

Does this discussion make you uncomfortable? Because it should. That the whole point.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

The suggestion that people should kill themselves if they are experience despair, for any reason, but in this case at the state of the world, does make me uncomfortable.

 
Guest
 

Overpopulation is the reason I have decided that I am never going to have kids. I cannot in good conscience contribute to the largest problem the world is facing right now. Frankly, anyone in a developed country who wants more than two kids needs to stop and seriously consider the grave consequences of their actions.

Becky
Guest
Becky

I’m disappointed at these comments. I guess another type of cognitive dissonance is hyper-focusing on personal safety, or deciding that “Not everyone can bike in a heat wave” means “cars cars cars all we have are cars.”

squareman
Subscriber

I feel like Don Quixote tilting at windmills when I try to make the argument to my friends why electric cars are not the solution. They are blind to the number and quantity of resources used up just to MAKE a new electric car. Nor do they see the problem in keeping just as many cars on the road, problems with roads themselves as huge sources of pollution and greenhouse gasses. We need to get a majority of people who drive out of cars now and keep it that way. If we want to have spending boondoggles, it should be on high-speed rail and ubiquitous mass transit, not on more roads or subsidies for electrifying private car ownership.

soren
Guest
soren

The idea that bikes are a major climate crisis mitigation pathway is popular here but is not really part of the climate science consensus*. For example, Chapter 8 of the IPCC AR5 has a laser focus on electrification and when it comes to modal shift away from “LDVs” emphasizes transit over “walking and cycling”. They explain this focus by pointing out “cultural barriers and lack of safe cycling infrastructure and regulations” as well as arguing out that the necessary infrastructure makes cycling a “medium-term to late-term” mitigation pathway.

https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_wg3_ar5_chapter8.pdf

*I personally believe that cycling should be an urban mitigation priority so don’t assume that I agree with the above. I also hope that the forthcoming IPCC AR6 is less car-headed.

squareman
Subscriber

This is why in my comment I concentrated my criticism of car-headedness with a solution focused on ubiquitous and high speed mass transit as the best way to get people out of their cars. By getting cars off the road, biking and walking automatically become safer. I don’t think that in the chicken-and-egg scenario that biking will ever be the leading tack that leads to less driving. The infrastructure must change first – either more separated bike infrastructure or more mass transit. We see over and over the resistance to spending dollars on bicycle-dedicated infrastructure anywhere in the US. While mass transit also meets resistance, if you can promise level of service to the constituency that has a say so, it gets easier. Mass transit in many flavors and ranges (along with having cars and gas reflect more real, non-offset costs) is the thing that will taunt more people to leave their cars behind. Rural and highly remote folks will likely always need a family vehicle at minimum. My eyes were opened decades ago going to Europe and spending a week each in three different cities in three countries as home bases and traveling and exploring every day those cities and reachable places without ever once needing a car (including not needing even a taxi or ride share). We mostly used commuter passes and not a tourist rail pass because of the home-base approach). It was cheap, easy, and super efficient.

soren
Guest
soren

The subtext of my comment is that the linkage of cycling to CO2e mitigation may very well end up “backfiring” as eSUVs/eTrucks are increasingly sold as emissions mitigation tools. (And as semi-automated e-cage use increases, high-quality freeways will also likely be sold as decarbonization infrastructure.) I am also very worried that decarbonization of transit will lag cage and TNC electrification (due to unwillingness to increase taxes) resulting in further cannibalization of mass transit in urban areas. Honestly, I would not be surprised to see mass transit transition to “voucherized” use of TNCs in coming decades.

“My eyes were opened decades ago going to Europe…”

Many European cities emphasize walking and transit+walking largely due to previous waves of egalitarian/welfarist politics (e.g. making clean and efficient urban transportation affordable to all). In the USA urban active-transportation advocacy has become closely identified with the predominantly upper-class “market urbanist” movement which I suspect will lead to even more polarization and “wedge issue” politics when it comes to active transportation.

squareman
Subscriber

I hear you. And I have no high hopes of Americans waking up to reality anytime soon.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I am also very worried that decarbonization of transit will lag cage and TNC electrification (due to unwillingness to increase taxes) resulting in further cannibalization of mass transit in urban areas.

(Most) transit as we know it in the US is dead. I don’t see TriMet making a comeback in anything like it’s pre-pandemic form. Habits that took decades to form are broken, and it will be a while before most people are comfortable packed into buses with the full sweep of humanity in Portland, coughing, sniffling, or sweating. By then the landscape will be substantially altered.

Honestly, I would not be surprised to see mass transit transition to “voucherized” use of TNCs in coming decades.

I think this is inevitable once the TNCs are automated (if municipal transit isn’t abandoned altogether). The advantages of small-vehicle transport are too compelling, and getting rid of the driver will make it affordable.

chris m
Guest
chris m

The problem here is that not only is vehicle dependency ubiquitous, it is actually getting worse. There are only a few cities in the country where car-free living makes sense for people… NYC lost population last year. San Francisco added about 70k people in the last decade.

Here are some other last decade numbers:
*Raleigh NC -> 70k population gain
*Dallas TX -> 145k population gain
*Nashville, TN -> 70k population gain
*Houston, TX -> 220k population gain
Phoenix, AZ -> 235k population gain

Basically this country is moving to car dominated southern cities. And even places like Portland, which has a reputation for having decent non-car options, have seen transit commuting fall as incomes have risen and cars are affordable to more people.

So the state of play is that 85% of people in the country drive to work, a number that is relatively stable over the past decade. https://www.enotrans.org/article/2018-acs-survey-while-most-americans-commuting-trends-are-unchanged-teleworking-continues-to-grow-and-driving-alone-dips-in-some-major-cities/

I would expect the pandemic will move some drivers and transit takers to “work from home” but only a few percentage points. Additionally, the fastest growing cities are those with poor transit systems and build environments that are hostile to active transit. This is a long way of saying it seems impossible to me to get driving to work under 50% nationwide. So unfortunately I think electric cars are going to be pretty important.

soren
Guest
soren

One of the reasons that average “incomes have risen” in Portland is due to the economic displacement of lower-income people. I also suspect that the average cages/household is higher for newer residents than for Portland as a whole.

chris m
Guest
chris m

I don’t agree with this assessment but even if it’s true, what solution does it suggest? Even if it were possible to stop people from moving to Portland, they would probably move to Austin or Denver instead, and they would drive just as much there.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Arguably, the hyper focus on personal safety may be the domain of those who insist on a completely separate infrastructure from 95% of the population and who maintain that cycling in one of the easiest to ride cities is scary and dangerous.

I was a true believer in cycling for my entire life until I came to Portland. This town is crazy easy riding with significantly shorter distances and much slower traffic than you’ll find elsewhere.

Anyone who thinks people won’t keep on coming up with reasons not to ride is kidding themselves. We have better infrastructure and more support for cycling than we’ve ever had before, and it definitely doesn’t show up in the number of people who ride.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Very much agreed.

Korie
Guest
Korie

Becky,
You’re not going to get people to support efforts to curb climate change by saying they are “hyper-focusing on personal safety”. We need to reach them where they are.

Becky
Guest
Becky

Korie,
I’m happy to engage people when I see common interests or common ground. But what does “reaching them where they are” look like when someone has preemptively announced that they’re too stressed out by code-words-for-homeless-people to engage with climate change?

soren
Guest
soren

This is not cognitive dissonance at all.

Democrats and most progressives genuinely believe that motor-cage electrification should be one of the primary mitigation pathways for transportation-associated emissions. It’s ironic that many urbanists and other market-oriented fans of bikes fail to understand that one of the primary goals of liberal/centrist efforts to transition to “100%” renewables is to greenwash SUVs/trucks/(cars) — to preserve the dominance of cage culture.

After all the bamboo-paneled, partially recycled steel, and mushroom-leather bucket seat Ford F350 “Lightning” Dually will be considered a “green” climate-friendly option in 2025.

The F350 Lightning will likely look kinda like this but bigger, taller, and heavier:

comment image

Poliwog Sam
Guest
Poliwog Sam

Yeah, but that is a sweet looking rig. 🙂

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

That’s a little big – which is why I am going to get a Maverick when they come out.

Shawn Werner
Guest
Shawn Werner

The Maverick looks good!I like my Jeep Gladiator. Yeah it’s not electric or anything but those solid axles and front and rear lockers get me far away from Portland and into some sweet spots for camping.

drs
Guest
drs

So do my feet

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

As the late, great Steve Goodman once sang…

“From the cradle to the crypt is a might short trip so you better get it while you can.”

I’ve had some great cycling trips to the Owyhee/Succor Creek/Steens area before…and a car just isn’t going to cut it on some of those roads.

techieshark
Subscriber
techieshark

Sadly this cognitive dissonance seems to affect many environmental organizations and their directors/staffers. (Someone please prove me wrong and show me that OLCV or OEC etc are firing up their supporters to call Gov Brown’s office demanding she veto HB 3055).

One of the few good ones that bucks this trend is Sunrise Movement PDX.

Gina D.
Guest
Gina D.

techieshark,
From their website: “Meet people in the middle, recognize everyone has something to offer”
Wow a tolerant, welcoming non-profit in judgmental, intolerant Portland! Very cool. I didn’t know it existed but glad to see it does. Definitely going to check them out!
Thanks for posting,

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Hanging out in Montana this week it’s odd to think that bordering states (kind of ) such as Oregon do anything for transport other than vehicles. Why? Oregon is comparably tiny to populace states. Tiny states typically spend all their dollars on the car. That’s just the way it is. Everyone drove to the capitol, they drive
Around the capitol and then drive back to vote. Asking them to fundamentally change their vote is like asking a baptist to regularly watch rated r movies. They might steal a glance once in a while but they aren’t going to do it long term without serious guilt. The car is the true religion and the steering wheel is their one true god.

Crosswalks and bike lanes won’t get us out of the alleged man made climate change. We didn’t drive for months comparable during the pandemic and it did nothing to change temp. So what, people are going to cut back beyond pandemic level driving? No, not gonna happen. The real
Way to get complete streets everywhere is paint them as need for the soccer mom and little Johnny rolling their way to an afternoon picnic. Think 1950.

That’s what works.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Relatively dense big population states like NC, GA, and FL, not to mention WA and CA, also spend well over 90% of their state road money on highways, plus lots of local and federal money, just like little states like Oregon and Montana. It’s nothing to do with size or density or even race, it’s everything to do with car culture and how our built environment is designed to be only accessible by car – if you don’t drive a car (and I can’t), then you aren’t a real person with full citizenship rights such as the right to work, live where you want to, vote, serve on juries, etc. Other discriminatory factors like race, gender, gender identity, obesity, age, and the color of your car are all secondary to how you are able to get around and your mode-lifestyle choice, at least in the USA.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I just spent over a week in South Dakota, another low-population state with near-100% car dependency. Since you mention capitols, they deliberately located theirs so that nearly every representative would have to travel a long distance to get there, which in today’s world means by car.

So I was just immersed in what you’re talking about, but those “tiny states” are by definition relatively less populous. They might cover a large share of this country’s area, but they don’t represent that majority our population, which is largely metropolitan. In more populous states with more density, there are actually things you can do to entice some people out of cars. I repeat, some people. Not everyone, nor is that the goal.

You’re right that crosswalks and bike lanes won’t get us out of the climate crisis. Expanded mass transit won’t get us out of it either. Neither will electric cars, nor will hybridizing all the current ICE-only vehicles, nor will low-carbon biofuels if we can develop them. Neither will making our electric grid as close to carbon neutral as we can.

Not one of these things will slash every single person’s emissions, nor will it solve the problem by itself. We’re a large and diverse country with lots of different transportation patterns, and the problem we have to solve is enormous. We need to do ALL of these things, and not discounting any of them because it won’t “completely solve” the problem. That’s giving in to the divide-and-conquer strategy of those who want us to NOT solve the climate crisis.

soren
Guest
soren

“ALL of these things” also includes afforestation/reforestation and managed carbon sequestration, conservation and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems, a global transition to plant-based diets, and last but not least — carbon capture technology.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Completely agreed, soren. I was only listing the things we need to do that are directly related to transportation.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Pierre SD, pop 15,000, was the capitol long before the car became popular (1889), as it was located along a major rail line where it crossed a major navigable river (Missouri). One could argue that SD was being very forward-thinking and environmentally conscious long before the rest of the country by not building its portion of the interstate highway system anywhere near its state capitol.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

South Dakota’s capitol choice really is an epic tale, filled with (actual!) voter fraud, violence, intrigue, and both legal and illegal corruption. By choosing Pierre, located very near the actual geographic center of the state, I suppose voters were forward-thinking in the sense that they genuinely expected the western half of the state to eventually become as densely settled as the eastern half (which, of course, it never would). But it’s hard argue they were being environmentally conscious.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Nearly every other state made equally corrupt choices in their state formation process – where to locate the capitol, the state insanity asylum, the state prison, the various universities – except in a few east coast states where the decisions were made by corrupt colonial officials in London instead. But what I was referring to was the location and routing of interstate highways which was made by army officials in the 1950s, long after statehood, but influenced by lobbyists and elected officials in every state (except Alaska & Hawaii of course.)

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

I am afraid that the only way this will end is in tragedy. Americans are so addicted to their cars that will cling to them until someone ( space aliens, primates?) comes along to pry their cold dead fingers from the steering wheel, where they cooked in places hoping the last of the gas would keep the AC running just a little longer.

dan
Guest
dan

In our searing future, all corpses will have warm dead fingers, not cold dead fingers. So at least we have that to look forward to.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Or irradiated fingers? Nuclear Armageddon is still a definite and very likely possibility, since every dictatorial regime and their grandmother is trying to build such weapons, and someone is bound to lose their temper long before Greenland completely melts.

PS
Guest
PS

Good thing it isn’t cognitive dissonance to use a once in a millennium weather event as evidence of long term climate change. If those three days mean climate change is real, then when did the frozen week we had in February mean?

drs
Guest
drs

Heat domes happen on a semi-regular basis, and the western US is particularly susceptible to them. What occurred in the PNW two weeks ago was not a once in a millennium event. It was a relatively normal event that was intensified by a much warmer baseline climate than the region has experienced in eons.

PS
Guest
PS

Sorry, I should have noted that the “once in a millenium” comment was from a meteorologist, not my uneducated self.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

The event type itself was relatively normal, but the intensity was not. The increased intensity and frequency of the heat dome phenomenon is a direct result of the weakening of the jet stream, which is caused by climatic warming at the north pole. In other words, this heat dome was not “normal,” it was the result of climate change.

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/climate-change-made-b-c-heat-wave-150-times-more-likely-study-concludes

The same thing is true of the big freeze in February. The cold air sits over one area because the jet stream has been weakened by climate change.

There is no “normal” weather any more. All the data to establish those norms are no longer accurate.

soren
Guest
soren

Jet stream blocking events that worsen high-pressure “heat domes” are predicted by climate modeling so these extreme events do, in fact, suggest that the climate crisis is negatively affecting your life. Buckle up, PS, more is on the way.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/jet-stream-is-climate-change-causing-more-blocking-weather-events

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/jet-stream-fire-weather-california-chill-eastern-us

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/heat-dome-deadly-hot-weather-descends-on-pacific-northwest

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

The frozen week in February also means that climate change is real, the polar vortex and the heat dome are climate change dancing partners.

PS – severe winter weather not withstanding, on average the planet is getting warmer, not cooler.

ODOT Tub
Guest
ODOT Tub

Oregon environmentalists should make common cause with the anti-government anti-taxers and drown ODOT in the bathtub before it burns us up.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

No, we still need taxes for other services; it’s more a matter of how they are allocated.