Come Together to Fix the Climate

Climate change affects everyone, commend the Oregon Legislature for its current actions

By Teresa Hawkes

Oregon is in the midst of a hot, smoky summer. I watch the temperature and air quality index (AQI) every day. I organize my life around what to expect outside, especially given smoky air that will require a mask to keep 2.5 sized particulates out of my lungs as I breathe hard while exercising. I do dance three days per week. This class asks me to know and do spiritual, yoga, modern, ballet and Middle Eastern dance. I also power walk for the other three days outside. I do have to be careful of heat and the amount of particulates in the air.

Full disclosure: I am an older diabetic and I want to optimize my system! I work hard at this objective and I am succeeding. But climate is important to those of us who are not fully healthy, especially due to a chronic disease like diabetes. Our climate is noticeably hotter and more smokey to me now than it was in 2005. This may just be a blip over climate time. However, a review of climate science suggests we have caused this acceleration as well as what follows, and we can take steps to fix this issue over time. After all, the climate has responded dynamically to our actions for generations now, and this build-up of heat, smoke, and storm has been coming at us for a long time, too.

The Oregon Legislature has been called on to find long-term solutions. To that end, they have voted to pass a comprehensive climate change package that includes initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from building construction, land use, and natural resource management.

It is important for Oregon to understand that while climate change has affected me and the rest of us as individuals, this change also affects individuals such as workers, industry owners, and managers. Climate change affects both workers and industry? Yes. And, the safety of workers and prosperity of our state do not have to be at odds. Together we can work to address climate change.

When it comes to the effects of climate over time, we must track selected numbers at selected locations and times. (e.g., ambient temperatures and air quality index) as we work and manage work over time by task. Even now we have heat index measures that are distributed throughout the school system by the state Oregon. This helps keep students, teachers, and administrators healthy and functional regardless of ambient conditions.

The climate package just passed by our Legislature, which was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, acts to ensure the importance of worker health, the importance of industry economic prosperity, and balance these two numbers over time in terms of salary over cost of living and profit margin by year, month, and current events. This is a pragmatic approach to a difficult set of problems, which climate change presents to the Oregonian voter.

Finally, it is key to remember that greater heat and air quality affect not only workers, but the machines used by industry to help effect resource acquisition and use in Oregon and beyond our borders as we conduct business with our country and the world. Here are some of the climate conditions that can degrade machine as well as human performance by amount by event (yes, this includes computers and all their parts):  1) noise level, 2) heat level, 3) humidity level, 4) air flow efficacy, 5) dust concentration, 6) chemical concentrations, and 7) danger level.

Climate change affects everyone, workers and industry alike. This change hurts our performance and we can do something about this now and in the future. The Oregon Legislature is to be commended for its current actions, and must continue to work towards ensuring our healthy future as Oregonians. This is a reassuring outcome as we continue to address climate change.

Citizen scientist Teresa Hawkes is retired from an active scientific job and is producing a series of papers and research proposals that she would have conducted had she finished her doctorate while in her early to mid-30’s and pursued a normal job path. She finished her doctorate in 2012 at the age of 56.

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