Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian/Oregonian Live, October 4th (updated Oct 7th) 2020

The causes of most of Oregon’s catastrophic wildfires that ignited on Labor Day are still under investigation, with official determinations yet to come.

But anecdotal and eyewitness accounts suggest that several were started by electrical lines and equipment buffeted by the historic windstorm that whipped across the state for three days.

Many residents of affected communities are asking why the lines weren’t deactivated before the winds, which were clearly forecast days in advance by the National Weather Service, along with red flag warnings noting the extreme fire danger.

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John Darling, Ashland Daily Tidings, Friday November 6th, 2020

Scientists believe the biggest, least invasive and most accessible source of carbon storage may be to change the way we farm, so that we leave soil planted with something green all year, stop plowing and return all possible plant matter to the soil.

Called regenerative agriculture, it’s being taken up by millions in America, Europe and Australia.

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Tony Schick OPB October 31, 2020

As thousands of Oregon homes burned to rubble last month, the state’s politicians joined the timber industry in blaming worsening wildfires on the lack of logging.

Echoing a longstanding belief in the state that public forests are the problem, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican who represents eastern Oregon, equated the federal government’s management to that of “a slum lord.” And Democratic Gov. Kate Brown on “Face the Nation” accused Republicans in the state Legislature of blocking measures, proposed by a wildfire council, that would have increased logging on public lands.

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Maxine Joselow, E&E News October 26 2020

Scientists at two of America’s biggest automakers knew as early as the 1960s that car emissions caused climate change, a monthslong investigation by E&E News has found.

The discoveries by General Motors and Ford Motor Co. preceded decades of political lobbying by the two car giants that undermined global attempts to reduce emissions while stalling U.S. efforts to make vehicles cleaner.

Researchers at both automakers found strong evidence in the 1960s and ’70s that human activity was warming the Earth. A primary culprit was the burning of fossil fuels, which released large quantities of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide that could trigger melting of polar ice sheets and other dire consequences.

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Exclusive: expedition discovers new source of greenhouse gas off East Siberian coast has been triggered

Jonathan Watts, The Guardian October 27, 2020

Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – known as the “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal.

High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.

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Michael Marshall, The Guardian, September 20th 2020

Many parts of the Earth’s climate system have been destabilised by warming, from ice sheets and ocean currents to the Amazon rainforest – and scientists believe that if one collapses others could follow.

The warning signs are flashing red. The California wildfires were surely made worse by the impacts of global heating. A study published in July warned that the Arctic is undergoing “an abrupt climate change event” that will probably lead to dramatic changes. As if to underline the point, on 14 September it was reported that a huge ice shelf in northeast Greenland had torn itself apart, worn away by warm waters lapping in from beneath.

That same day, a study of satellite data revealed growing cracks and crevasses in the ice shelves protecting two of Antarctica’s largest glaciers – indicating that those shelves could also break apart, leaving the glaciers exposed and liable to melt, contributing to sea-level rise. The ice losses are already following our worst-case scenarios.

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Ellen Glover,  Built in Seattle January 23, 2020

Nori, a Seattle-based startup that operates a blockchain-based carbon removal marketplace, just raised $1.3 million in a “pre-seed” funding round. The company plans to double its team by the end of the year to meet rising demand.

The problem Nori was created to solve is straightforward: there are too many greenhouse gases in the air, which is causing the world to heat up at a dangerous rate. The solution is simple, too: remove the greenhouse gases.

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William Ripple, Christopher Wolf,  Thomas Newsome, Phoebe Barnard, William Moomaw.
BioScience, Volume 70, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 8–12,

Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.

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11,258 scientist signatories from 153 countries

Submission to the Washington Post in response to the insane editorial by Julie Parrish of Timber Unity: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/12/bad-forest-policies-political-indifference-kindled-oregons-wildfires/

Author Alan Journet, Co-Facilitator, So8uthern Oregon Climate Action Now Submitted September 16th 2020

As a rural Oregonian with some understanding of forest issues in Oregon, I take exception to the Julie Parrish commentary: ‘Bad forest policies and political indifference kindled Oregon’s wildfires.’ This commentary pretending to address wildfires was merely a Timber Unity Board member’s partisan diatribe.

Astroturf organizations appear to represent the grassroots but are bankrolled and driven by special interests using the organization as a front to promote their views.   Masquerading as a grassroots organization that purports to represent rural Americans, but actually represents timber and fossil fuel industries and Republican politicians, Timber Unity is a perfect example.  Small wonder that the column was written by a retired Republican Legislator and Board member apparently lacking expertise in forest issues.   Lacking reference to reputable forest science concerning western wildfires, the column just offered a litany of standard political opinion amid nonsense about Oregon forests.

The column’s descent into criticism of the Democratic led Oregon legislature and Governor, and Portland residents was pure partisan propaganda.

Anyone paying attention to forest science will know that a major contributor to the western current conflagration is global warming and its climate change consequences.  Yet Parrish dismissed climate change with a vague reference to ‘weather’ offering unsupportable claims about forest policy being driven by Portlanders promoting overgrown forests for ecotourism.  No doubt Parrish thinks Portlanders also cause forest fires in Washington and California.   What we need is an informed discussion about western wildfires.  Parrish failed to offer this, so I’ll give it a try.

The first reality is that western forests have developed in an unusual winter wet / summer dry Mediterranean climate that occurs globally in few places.  Mediterranean climate soils and vegetation dry out annually each summer and fall resulting inevitably in frequent fires.  Vegetation is fire prone, fire adapted, and fire dependent!  While we will inevitably live with fire, we must learn to understand an manage it to protect human health.

The second reality Parrish ignores concerns historic events potentially stimulating dense forests.  In the early 1900s acreages burned in our western forests were vastly greater than today.  Two explanations for the subsequent forest trend are available. One involves the successful campaign of fire suppression initiated in the early 20th Century.  This resulted in invasions into dry forests of the region by fire intolerant species such as Douglas fir greatly increasing forest density and fire risk.  A second explanation involves climate. The warm dry phase evident during the early decades of the 20th century was replaced by a cooler moister phase lasting from the 1940s through 1970s – naturally reducing fire risk. In the 1970s, the climate returned to the earlier warm, dry phase.  At the same time, the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases was increasing. Global warming dominated climate from then onwards, superseding ongoing natural climatic fluctuations.  Again, the summer drying of soils and vegetation increased restoring the previous fire regime.  From the 1970s onwards, as evident from Oregon Department of Forestry data, the acreage of forest annually burning increased again.

When Parrish and Timber Unity ignore fire suppression and climate trends as influencing the fire problems confronting western states, they ignore scientifically demonstrated evidence. Until we acknowledge that our forests need managed fire, and that the causes for the increasing fire risk of the last few decades are not partisan disagreements, we will fail to solve the problem.

What Timber Unity proponents need to understand is what many rural Oregonians already appreciate: global warming is definitely happening, and the coming climate crisis will threaten the viability of many ecologically and commercially important forest species. Concocting unsubstantiated causes for wildfires, like insufficient logging, doesn’t help solve the problem.

When Oregon legislators attempted to pass a bill in 2020 that would have put the state on a path towards reducing state-wide greenhouse gas emission, Republicans, Timber Unity, and the special interests that fund them conspired to block the effort.  Abetted by Timber Unity, Republicans then walked out of both chambers of the legislature. They thwarted both climate action and discussion of over 100 proposals before the state legislature. These included some bi-partisan proposals addressing forest management.  After Republicans deserted the legislature, the message was clear: only Governor Brown and the remaining Democratic representatives are serious about promoting sane forest management in Oregon.

The racist overtones contained in the gratuitous assault by Julie Parrish on Black Lives Matter, offered on behalf of Timber Unity, may satisfy some elements in that organization, but they are an embarrassment to Oregonians and should be to the Washington Post.

Cathy Tuttle, The Urbanist, September 15 2020

I woke up coughing this weekend–no, not from Covid-19–from wildfire smoke that’s settled on Seattle like a clammy yellow shroud.

Last Friday was a better day because all five members of the Seattle City Council Governance and Education Committee–Councilmembers González, Mosqueda, Juarez, Lewis, and Sawant–unanimously passed Councilmember Pedersen’s Resolution 31933, the Carbon Note, and sent it on to a full Council vote on September 21st. Councilmembers González and Mosqueda were instrumental in working to edit the resolution to be more actionable by Council Central staff, and aligned the resolution with the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative. The Mayor’s Office also testified in favor.

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