By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Nicole Montesano - Climate change affects Oregon

Loss of snowpack, altered growing season, rising sea levels, more extreme weather, extended droughts are expected

Shutterstock.com

By NICOLE MONTESANO

Of the News-Register
The worst drought in more than half a century, continuing in many parts of the country, is expected to raise national average food prices 4 percent this fall. Ironically, it has largely been pushed off the front pages by yet another manifestation of the climate change phenomenon, Hurricane Sandy.
As the planet continues its inexorable warming — September ended 16 consecutive months of above-average temperatures in the lower 48, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — the words “climate change” are heard more often. Recently, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg cited it as a key reason he endorsed President Obama for re-election.
“Our climate is changing,” Bloomberg wrote. “And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be ­— given the devastation it is wreaking ­— should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”
In Oregon, climate change is having an impact and can be expected to have more, according to climatologist Kathy Dello, associate director of the Oregon Climate Change Institute. She said increasing temperatures have affected plant distribution and snowpack levels, and impacts are clearly on the increase.
Sea levels already have risen. On the Oregon coast, wave heights increased, causing erosion that threatens buildings.
Plant distribution, Dello said, may dramatically impact agriculture. For example, pinot noir grapes that do well in the Willamette Valley’s narrow temperature range may not thrive here in the future.
“As the climate warms,” Dello said, “we may need to think about ... planting other crops.”
Climate models, she said, predict warmer, drier summers and wetter winters. But with farming, recreational sports and domestic water supplies all dependent on snow falling at mid-level elevations, even a small increase in temperature can have big effects.
“A lot of the snow now falls very close to 32 degrees,” Dello noted. Warm it just a little, and experts predict the snowpack that traditionally supplies summer water will diminish substantially.
“We’ve used the snowpack as a natural reservoir throughout history, and have come to rely on that snow melting down in the summer when we don’t have rain,” Dello said.
A focus group at Oregon State University is examining the likely results of a much smaller snowpack, anticipating a future of water scarcity, she said. “When we talk about climate impacts of the future, water quickly rises to the top of many lists.”
In 2010, OSU put out a press release noting, “A major increase in maximum ocean wave heights off the Pacific Northwest in recent decades has forced scientists to re-evaluate how high a ‘100-year event’ might be, and the new findings raise special concerns for flooding, coastal erosion and structural damage.”
In the release, researchers said:
“The highest waves may be as much as 46 feet, up from estimates of only 33 feet that were made as recently as 1996, a 40 percent increase. December and January are the months such waves are most likely to occur, although summer waves are also significantly higher.
“In a study just published online in the journal Coastal Engineering, scientists from Oregon … report that the cause of these dramatically higher waves is not completely certain, but ‘likely due to Earth’s changing climate.’”
It also warned, “Hundred-year event wave heights could actually exceed 55 feet.”
In June, the National Research Council announced that it believes sea levels along the West Coast will rise 19 inches over the next 40 years.
Globally, sea levels rose about seven inches during the 20th century. And that increase is actually accelerating, according to the National Research Council. Melting glaciers increase the amount of sea water in liquid form, and ocean water expands as it warms, the council noted.
At the end of September, about 52 percent of the United States was in moderate to extreme drought, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“On a broad scale, the 1980s and 1990s were characterized by unusual wetness with short periods of extensive droughts, the 1930s and 1950s were characterized by prolonged periods of extensive droughts with little wetness, and the first decade of the 2000s saw extensive drought and extensive wetness,” the NOAA State of the Climate Drought report noted. Examples are the East Coast flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and the central Willamette Valley flooding last January.
A warming climate is associated with more extreme weather, and that’s what we are experiencing.

Guest writer Nicole Montesano, a reporter at the News-Register since 1994, can be reached at 503-687-1231 or
nmontesano@newsregister.com.

Climate change: What we can do

According to climate scientists, the United States must make some drastic changes to reduce emissions to slow or stop a rapid warming of the Earth’s atmosphere that could, unchecked, prove catastrophic.
Expensive changes — like adding more insulation to the attic — are important aspects in cutting emissions. They can make a big difference, long-term, by decreasing heat loss.
But a lot of small behavioral changes also can make a remarkably big difference. Many of them save money, even after purchasing items like low-flow showerheads and drying racks.
Some emissions-reducing actions are listed below.

  • Buy less. Not purchasing items means no packaging, no manufacturing, no shipping, and, as an added bonus, less clutter at home. 
  • Stop using the clothes dryer. According to the Clean Air Trust, clothes dryers use more energy than any home appliance except refrigerators. Drying racks can be set up in the living room or a corner of a bedroom, or clotheslines may be strung in the garage. On dry days, hang items outdoors. Combining a couple of drying racks inside and a line in the garage can make a big difference. Use clotheslines for larger items, such as sheets, that are harder to fit on a drying rack. Clothing may be put on hangers and hung from a line or one side of a rack to create more drying space, as long as they are far enough apart to allow for air circulation.
  • Combine errands, use public transportation or bicycles, and carpool whenever possible, thereby putting fewer cars on the road.
  • Use less hot water. Install a low-flow shower head, take shorter showers, wash laundry in cold or warm water, reduce the temperature on the hot water heater by 10 or 20 degrees, insulate the water heater. When purchasing a new water heater, consider going tankless. According to the National Park Service's page on reducing greenhouse gas emissions at home, tankless water heaters cost about $800 more than conventional ones but reduce electricity bills by about $20 a month. Install a solar water heater if you can afford it.
  • If possible, turn off items with lights or display clocks that use electricity continuously, or plug them into a power strip that can be turned off. Turn electronics off, rather than leaving them in stand-by mode or running when not in use. According to the Clean Air Trust, “Lights and appliances consume about 7,800 kilowatt-hours of electricity in the average western home and account for about 22 percent of household emissions, excluding automobile emissions.”
  • Turn the heat down in winter and the air conditioner up in summer, by a few degrees. Wear more layers of clothing, for warmth. To keep cool in summer, put feet in a shallow pan of cold water or use a handkerchief or towel wrung out in cold water, wrapped around the back of the neck. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator for cold drinks that don't require running the faucet.

CUTLINE: Shutterstock.com

Comments

DM

If we get more summers like this last one sign me up for climate change!

Fletch

There are crops, if planted will breath in 4x the amount of carbon dioxide as trees will in there 12 to 14 week growing cycle.

Dances with Redwoods

And Shetland ponies can beat thoroughbreds out of the starting gate, too, but, in the long run, nothing beats a Sequoia semperviren.

A New Paradigm;
www.edburtoncompany.com/wforest/WWForestwhitepaper.pdf

Not a one of my trees is planted anywhere near a septic line, and I am quite sure that my father would have appreciated my thinking ...(no pun intended)... that far a head.

treefarmer

G' day Dances

GREAT article, thanks for sharing. I sincerely hope lots of folks take the time to study it.

Fletch

You see Michael, The old growth has been destroyed and continues to be. Irreplacable trees for industry. The same could have been done with hemp with far less of a carbon footprint to accomplish. So the true treasures of the world were sacraficed for what?

Dances with Redwoods

The old growth is not extinct and requires no more of a carbon footprint to plant, than does hemp. Depending upon where you've planted it, of course, and the reason why.

"So the true treasures of the world were sacrificed for what?"

The appropriate people to pose that question to, would be those that had originally benefited from their falling.

Ask them---->www.mdvaden.com/redwood_fieldbrook_stump.shtml

No doubt, no matter how hard you'd try, you would..or..would've had a hard time getting through to them, taking into consideration the technology of the day, of course.

Can things be reversed over time...well...if there is enough will, there is a way.

Ask them---->www.ancienttreearchive.org

On this coming December 4th of 2012, their goal, is to begin the restoration of an old growth forest with exact genetic duplicates from the largest known trees to exist on this planet.

The chosen site for this new endeavor is the Port Orford, Oregon, community stewardship area, and I doff my sombrero to them.

Dances with Redwoods

When I'd planted mine, their trunks were about the diameter of a cocktail swizzle stick. And at that time was able to hold fifty of them in the grip of my left hand.

Purchased at only 40 cents a piece allowed me to plant (on my budget) 100 of them. Wish I could be around to see them 200 years from now, wouldn't that be nice.

Fletch

It's not the planting, It's the harvesting and processing. I never said the old growth is extinct. I said it continues to be destroyed. In places like South America and wherever else.
The total yield over the time of the life of an acer of trees, is not equivalant to the total yield and product of hemp in the same square footage.
I know room is requiered for growth. I understand that the harvesting of trees was requiered for the new frontier. Why go sky high with the harvesting in area uninhabited by man? There were other alternatives... It's my opinion that If global warming is going on, What I am saying is a HUGE reason why.
Whats done is done. It's not to late to undo the damage. Or is it?

baffled&bewildered

Sounds like the "What can we do" is what poor people already do. Who is not on board?

Dances with Redwoods

"It's not the planting, It's the harvesting and processing."

I never said the trees that I'd planted were destined to be harvested..or..processed.

My highest hope is that they'll be allowed to remain, live on, and grow for thousands of years.

Don Dix

While all the emission-reducing actions listed at the end of the article are prudent and responsible, the conclusion that humans and their CO2 emissions are causing the Earth's climate to warm is quite a leap off the cliff.

Humans are responsible (according to most experts) for about 3.5% of the CO2 in the atmosphere. Human CO2 emissions trail -- volcanos, forest fires, ocean respiration, animals (other than human), and decaying plants. And since CO2 makes up less than .4% (less than 1/2 of 1%) of the total atmosphere, man's portion is quite small by comparison. But man is the only CO2 factor that can be controlled to some extent. Do you see the pattern?

And then there is one climate event that seems to get ignored ( intentionally, I suspect), that as late as 1850, the Earth was enveloped in The Little Ice Age. It doesn't take a genius to predict a warming trend to follow. And those involved in promoting the 'crisis agenda' certainly are not.

David Bates

This is a highly selective description of the science involved. It would be like saying that a difference of 2.4 degrees F is so slight as to be imperceptible. That's true if you're talking about the temperature outdoors, or even room temperature. But if we're talking about the difference between a normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees F and 101 degrees F, that change of 2.4 degrees makes a significant difference in one's quality of life.

Fletch

Interesting points Don and David...

Don Dix

In my opinion, the most disturbing aspect of this agenda is the labeling of CO2 as a pollutant. Pay no attention to the fact that all living things (on Earth) are carbon based, and without CO2 in the atmosphere, everything takes a dirt nap! It makes me wonder why that has never been a topic of explanation?

Dances with Redwoods

"Pay no attention to the fact that all living things (on Earth) are carbon based, and without carbon would take a dirt nap!"

Actually, Don, it was explained, at least it was to all of us 6th graders attending Whisman Elementary School, back in 1965.

David Bates

Don, more than half of a human being’s weight comprises water, but that doesn't mean we can live in the ocean.

For me, the most disturbing aspect of discussions about global warming is that your perspective is the one that dominates mainstream thinking in this country -- the premise that human beings can continue living on the treadmill of economic growth in perpetuity. And that if only enough of us installed low-flow shower heads, turned down their thermostats and bought less stuff, we can keep the machine of global industrial capitalism going forever. We can’t, because infinite growth on a planet of finite resources is by definition impossible.

This also is not a topic of discussion, but it needs to be.

Dances with Redwoods

Dave...woW...it's hailing heavy in Grand Ronde...and in the time it took to type that it suddenly stopped. As for the topic of consumerism, that will probably have to wait for some short while, at least until the Fred Meyer's once a year 5 hour sale has came and past, and I'm sporting a pair of new Argyle socks beneath my computer station.

I've grown tired of wearing the same old same old worn out pair of Chinese Fighting Slippers, and I'm ready and eager for some change in the climate around here.

Fletch

The earth has been around for a very long time. It has had verious ages. CO2 levels have risen and dropped back off at verious times as well. Mother Nature has a way of saying when. I just hope shes not in a bad mood when that time comes...

Don Dix

David,

You wrote, "For me, the most disturbing aspect of discussions about global warming is that your perspective is the one that dominates mainstream thinking in this country -- the premise that human beings can continue living on the treadmill of economic growth in perpetuity."

How you came to that conclusion from my submission, no clue.

However, almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the six elements oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Of course the combination of hydrogen and oxygen form water. 18.5 % of the human mass is carbon.

But there is no substituting carbon. The combination of the 6 elements give life to all things on Earth, and carbon is essential.

The point I was making is declaring CO2 a pollutant (by the EPA) makes zero sense since both elements, carbon and oxygen, are key ingredients to all life on Earth.

And plants do much better when there is abundant CO2 available. Healthy plants take in more CO2, convert it to more energy and respirate more oxygen. How could that be anything but a healthier life, for all living things?

Dances,

Exactly! So, some in our government and it's tentacle branches want us to forget basic science, tried and proven science, and blindly follow along. After all, naming humans as a cause (for climate change) is much less troublesome than going after the real violators (of CO2 emissions) -- volcanoes, forest fires, ocean evaporation, decaying plant life, (Mother Nature's contributions) -- kinda' hard to control any of those bad boys, wouldn't you say?

Fletch

Don,
I read your points. I'm trying to wrap my mind around that for the last 250 years ish, the world has had an extensive make over from the human hand. I can not help but think that the effects from it are negligible. The cerchunk of the industrial age to the poulation increase and so on. The world has never had to compensate for x amount of motorized vehichles... Help me with this. I would have to say there is far less timber in the world now, rather then 500 years ago. The CO2 ppms are on the rise. Aulstraila dumps enough affluent water into the ocean each year to fill the Sydney Harbor. China's practices are less then desirable. If were all carbon based, Just the population increase alone is enough to effect the CO2 levels. The rise in ppms is having an effect on the world... Are we talking about CO2 being a palutant, or if is it in fact having an impact...
David, I'm feeln ya...

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