Lane County’s Kids Don’t Have Time For This Nonsense

You can’t deny the facts of climate change

By Dawn Lesley

Hero youth activists such as Greta Thunberg, the Sunrise Movement and the plaintiffs in the Our Children’s Trust lawsuits don’t need lectures or patronizing attitudes. They need our help and deserve our respect. They are sacrificing their childhoods to stand up and protect future children from the oncoming freight train of the climate crisis. 

The well-established science underpinning the climate crisis has been painting a more and more dire picture as our years of inaction have allowed us to exacerbate the situation. If you don’t trust science (and the thousands of scientists who vet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports) and think you’re smarter than the 36 Nobel laureates signed on to the Mainau Declaration, you only have to look at the global insurance industry.

Those wild-eyed liberals at Swiss Re, State Farm, Farmers and all the rest have been paying the steadily increasing costs — real bills for flooding, fires, more intense and frequent hurricanes, etc. — of the climate crisis for decades, and they’ve been sponsoring the conferences I’ve been attending for more tha 25 years.

If Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich wants a good example of the dangers of “confirmation bias,” he need look no further than the nearest mirror. Bozievich’s recent exchange (EW 10/10) with a Sunrise Movement activist reveals him clinging to debunked junk science with an ever-decreasing minority of anti-science climate deniers, demonstrating a closed mind on the scale of Flat Earthers. 

It’s not the first time this former Tea Party activist commissioner has fanned flames of divisiveness. He’s on record inciting fears such as “they’re coming to take your guns,” he relentlessly trashes government and the dedicated public servants we elect and hire to run it, and he’s the architect of a 2010 gerrymander to disenfranchise Democrat voters on what is supposed to be a non-partisan board. 

Meanwhile, I don’t think any awake human being needs another list of the concerns facing our planet, nation and county to be convinced of the seriousness of the issues and need for good leadership. 

Good people throughout Lane County are engaged in figuring out how to protect farmland and local food production from development and resource extraction, how to improve public safety, ways to reduce toxic chemical use, increase affordable housing and mental health services. 

We say we love our kids and grandkids. How can we help them avoid the direst impacts of climate change? 

It’s too late to completely avoid it. Climate change has been under way for years because we have ignored the warnings. But we can still do our best to help mitigate the impacts and promote resiliency and adaptation to these changes. Some people are choosing to produce fewer — or no — children, and I applaud that generous, thoughtful personal choice. Individuals can choose to drive less, fly less and eat less meat. 

We can pressure corporations to disinvest in the fossil fuel industry. For example, noting that JP Morgan Chase is the largest corporate investor in fossil fuel extraction and production, some people are choosing to let Chase know their investing patterns are unacceptable; they’re moving their money out of Chase banks to local credit unions and cutting up Chase credit cards and mailing them back to Chase. 

We can pressure our governments to shift the existing massive fossil fuel subsidies to support non-toxic energy sources such as wind, solar and biofuels. We can elect representatives who believe in science and support these actions. 

In Lane County, across every political and ideological divide, we care about the same things and we tend to agree — on topics from education to health care to safe air and water — far more than we disagree. If we’re going to create resilient community networks that can respond well to natural disasters such as earthquakes, and the increasing climate crisis disasters such as wildfires, or whatever challenges may come, we will need to work together. We need leadership that encourages our connections and similarities rather than pits us against each other. 

I am embarrassed that my county commissioner, Jay Bozievich, insults the intelligence of youth activists and continues to use his position to divide this community. 

Dawn Lesley is a licensed professional environmental engineer in the State of Oregon. She’s been planning, designing and coaching wastewater treatment plants for over 25 years, and raising a son in Santa Clara for the last 15 of those years. She ran for West Lane county commissioner in 2014 and won 49.6 percent of the vote.