Portland—Within the last year, many startling reports have outlined the impacts of climate change on Oregon, the United States and the world. Today, Environment Oregon is launching, “This is Climate Change,” an online project to share the real-life stories of Oregonians who are already experiencing those impacts.
“We are sharing the stories of these Oregonians to reinforce to decision-makers and others that climate change isn’t an issue that will impact us in the distant future, but one that’s impacting us, our neighbors and our environment right now,” said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, State Director with Environment Oregon.
The updated National Climate Assessment, released by the Trump Administration in November 2018, found that climate change is already impacting the Northwest with record-breaking warm and dry years causing record-low snowpack resulting in water scarcity, larger wildfires and warmer ocean temperatures leading to shifts in marine ecosystems and more.
Samantha Chisholm Hatfield, one of the Oregonians featured on “This is Climate Change,” is Cherokee and an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. Hatfield works at the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University.
“Indigenous Peoples have been documenting their environments’ change since time immemorial, through living on, and closely with the land,” said Hatfield. “Indigenous populations are the first to feel the effects, and are affected more profoundly by environmental shifts caused by climate change impacts, since Indigenous populations live in closer relation to their environments.”
Recent years have brought more focus to the impacts of climate change on Oregon, but Hatfield makes it clear that Oregon’s tribes have been dealing with the impacts of climate change for a long time, and will continue to do so in the future.
Other communities in Oregon are having to adapt to the reality of climate change as well.
“Prineville, like other communities in the West, is facing challenges related to drought and increasing demands on water supplies,” said Eric Klann, City Planner and Public Works Manager with the City of Prineville whose story is featured on “This is Climate Change.”
Klann and his team have been working to develop long-term solutions and improving drought resistance to ensure that there is enough water available to their community, since climate change will continue to impact Oregon communities, including Prineville, for years to come.
“Climate change is here and we need to act strategically and urgently to slow its impacts by putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions, generate 100% of our energy from clean sources, adopt transportation modes that give off zero emissions and more,” added Meiffren-Swango. “It’s up to all of us -- from our elected officials, to the companies we buy from, to our families-- to roll up our sleeves and solve this existential challenge for our state, country and planet.”