Will Our Luck Hold?

Only through fast work will we succeed in changing our climate path

Sponsored Content By Phil Barnhart

The human species has been extremely lucky during the quarter million years since our ancestors came down from the trees and began to develop into the tool-using beings we are today. We have not always been successful. Drought, fire, disease or war have ended even long-lived civilizations. Our own fires, Texas’ freeze, and the years-long Western drought brought about by our use of fossil fuels illustrate that conditions are getting worse for us, too.

As we change our climate, our air, our crop losses, and summer and winter temperatures are becoming more dangerous, will we be able to feed everyone in the years to come? Through luck, planning and very hard work, we have gotten through tough problems before, and we can do it again.

We already know how to slow and even reverse the devastation brought about by climate change. We know how to maintain and even improve our civilization while ending the use of the fossil fuels that power our world today, from which we derive our wealth but also our risk of future destruction.

In the last 50 years, the photovoltaic solar panel, the lithium ion battery, heat pumps for space and water heating and induction cook tops that have been invented and are constantly being improved. They are now cheaper to make and use than the fossil fuel burning devices they must replace. In 1900 the electric car was more popular than the internal combustion car, but it had no battery that could store enough energy to compete successfully.

Now electric vehicles are quieter, roomier, more fun to drive, safer, more useful, less expensive to fuel and maintain and soon will be cheaper to buy as well, all thanks to modern batteries. 

There is a lot we can do as individuals and families to make a difference if all of us do them. Most locally produced greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation fuels and the fuels we burn at home. Using electric vehicles, taking the bus, riding a bike, walking, making our homes weather-tight and installing all-electric appliances are actions we can take on our own. Utilities and government agencies often will provide financial incentives to help us do the right thing.

We cannot, as individuals and families, make the transition alone. Our society must remake our farms and forests, end greenhouse gas emissions in manufacturing and reduce waste as well. To accomplish that we must pester local, state and national officials to do their part or elect those who will. But we can use our purchasing power to help. If enough of us do our parts in the public and our personal arenas, the human species will be lucky again. 

Every pure electric vehicle which a family uses instead of a gas mobile helps. Every heat pump water heater, heat pump space heater, clothes dryer or electric induction stove that replaces one powered by fossil “natural” gas helps. Buying food and other products grown or made locally and sustainably helps. These decisions we control ourselves can cut the problem in half!

To live better, healthier lives, we have to be very smart, very studious and very willing to help everyone along, rich and poor, citizens and immigrants, and people in far off places, because we are truly all in this together.

Can we do it? In five years we will know if we are likely to make it. If most of us get going, I will bet on our luck again.

Since leaving the Oregon Legislature in 2019, Phil Barnhart has helped organize the Emerald Valley Electric Vehicle Association (EVEVA.org), a group of volunteers which provides education and advice for those thinking about adopting a new or used electric vehicle. Interested? Email: Contact@EVEVA.org for help and information or to join us.