Climate Summit Takes Aim at Global Warming

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

They may be in denial elsewhere in the country about global warming, but that's not the case in Eugene and Springfield, community leaders asserted Thursday at a first-ever Climate Summit at the University of Oregon.

Representatives from a dozen agencies took turns outlining the multiple efforts already under way - from "no idling" policies for school buses to the capture of methane gas from cow manure - to reduce the region's release of greenhouse gases.

Amid all the congratulatory praise, however, UO Sustainability Director Steve Mital offered a cautionary voice - especially in light of an international goal to reduce the world's greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

"We've heard a lot about pilot projects that will inspire and make a marginal impact on emissions," Mital said. "But if we're serious about these goals, we've got to look much more comprehensively."

The morning summit, which drew not quite 100 people, kicked off a full day of events at the UO, part of a national "teach-in" on climate change. Thursday afternoon, 13 UO professors and others offered public lectures that looked at climate change from geographic, philosophic, economic, political, legal, journalistic and other perspectives. Thursday night, state energy analyst Chris Dymond was slated to give a keynote speech on renewable energy at the second annual Lane County Energy Round-Up.

In introductory remarks at the summit, UO President Dave Frohnmayer chided "intellectually paralyzed pundits" and others who deny the scientific reality of global warming. The obstacles to action are many - including political and financial opposition, complacency and fear - but must be overcome, Frohnmayer said.

Representatives from the Springfield, Eugene and Bethel school districts described an array of efforts to address global warming, from the integration of energy-efficient features in new school buildings to the use of biodiesel in school buses and "green" cleaning products in classrooms. Plus, global warming, recycling and energy conservation are now standard topics of instruction, they said.

At Lane Community College, students can now choose to pursue two-year degrees in energy management, renewable energy or water conservation, Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Hayward said. …