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  • Rick Bonetti

Medford Climate Action Plan

On December 19, 2023, Rogue Valley Times published a Guest Column by Alan Journet urging the City of Medford Oregon to approve a Climate Action Plan. This opinion piece is also published here with the approval of the author.

"Across the nation, we are becoming increasingly aware of the threat climate change poses. We understand that ongoing climate change will cause more than merely increasingly intense hurricanes and more frequent and severe wildfires. Indeed, the climate trajectory we are following will, within decades, undermine natural ecosystems across the planet and the biodiversity they support. In addition, our agriculture, forestry and fisheries will be compromised. Ongoing climate change comprises a threat to life as we know it. Those who understand climate science are quite reasonably alarmed.

Naturally, therefore, communities across the nation are developing plans to deal with this threat. Regionally, Ashland, Talent and Grants Pass have developed plans to address the climate crisis locally. Meanwhile, thanks to the foresight of the Medford City Council, the Medford Planning Department is developing a Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Plan (CCARP). The Vulnerabilities report was reviewed by the council at a recent Study Session and will be presented to the council in January seeking approval.

The fact that Medford is suffering increasing temperatures and reducing snowpack, along with adjusted rainfall patterns, is evident in data from the Weather Service. These trends, if continued, combine to pose problems for our ongoing water security and will stimulate ever more frequent and severe fires.

The CCARP reports notes that particularly vulnerable to these climate trends will be the following sectors of our society absent substantial attention to the problem:

Natural Systems. Projections for temperature and precipitation shifts may seem small to the non-biologist, but they are sufficient to undermine the health of natural ecosystems across the planet, and especially in SW Oregon. The demise of our Douglas firs, already evident to most residents, is a harbinger of the future of our forests. Many of our trees and other species will assuredly follow the same path. As noted above, our agriculture, forestry and fisheries will be equally compromised.

Regional Economy. An economy heavily dependent on agriculture, forestry and tourism will be seriously negatively affected as the biological consequences identified above impose themselves on our region.

Built Environment. The heat and cold extremes and increasing flood frequency will likely undermine much of our infrastructure.

Public Health. Heta extremes and heatwaves already constitute a severe threat to area residents, especially those working outside. As airborne, waterborne, and vector borne diseases move northwards and flourish in our region, the health of all area residents will be challenged, especially the younger and older among us.

Community. Rising temperatures, heatwaves and droughts challenge many residents both physically and psychologically. A resilient community will prepare itself to address these challenges.

We applaud the Medford city council for acknowledging that the climate crisis will become ever more severe over time. Though some members of our community are clearly more vulnerable than others, Medford residents, as a whole, are vulnerable to the trends that climate change is imposing on us. We therefore encourage the city council to approve the Medford Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Plan and support efforts that will allow residents to adapt to this ongoing climate trend.

While promoting adaptations that allow residents to thrive as these climate changes is essential, we also recognize that, along with residents across the county, the city of Medford through its administrative activities, and its residents should undertake what steps we can to reduce our contribution to the problem. While reduced emissions of greenhouse gases in the city of Medford will not alleviate the global climate crisis, we should acknowledge that solving the crisis requires that individuals and communities across the globe collaborate to address it. We therefore encourage the city not only to do what it can to promote adaptation and resilience, but also take what steps are possible to reduce city and community contributions to the problem.

If we wish Medford to thrive as climate change engulfs the region, we should promote adaptation and resilience, while simultaneously mitigating the underlying causes."

Alan Journet of Jacksonville is the facilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now’s Medford Climate Action Team.


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