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Tackling the Climate Challenge

Light in the River reports

litr.logoIn 2009-10, the NW Energy Coalition, Sierra Club and Save Our wild Salmon Coalition published two reports to help the Northwest combat climate change and weather its effects:*

A Great Wave Rising: solutions for Columbia and Snake River salmon in the era of global warming by climate specialist Patty Glick and fisheries biologist Jim Martin, documents how climate change is harming salmon, and recommends science-based actions to lessen or help salmon adapt to its effects.

Bright Future: how to keep the Northwest’s lights on, jobs growing, goods moving, and salmon swimming in the era of climate change by NW Energy Coalition staff, shows that the Northwest can meet future electricity needs, electrify cars and trucks, wean itself from dirty coal power, adjust hydropower production enough to restore wild salmon, create jobs and keep electric bills low – all through expanded energy efficiency and new renewable energy.

We meant the two reports to be read and used in tandem, by people, businesses and governments, to fashion strategies to stem global warming and help salmon and rivers survive unavoidable changes. In fact, Bright Future significantly influenced regional energy policy and continues to do so, while A Great Wave Rising received less attention from policymakers, media and people than it deserves.

At that time, most Northwest policymakers (with exceptions such as then-congressman and now Washington Governor Jay Inslee) saw climate change more as a future threat than a clear and present danger. Today, most Northwest elected leaders, agencies and people realize that climate change is harming our air, waters, lands, forests, farms, animals, people, cities and economies right now … with worse on its way.

Today, coal plants are closing. Citizens in every Northwest state are passionately debating whether our region should be a coal transport corridor to China, and whether to continue growing wind and other forms of renewable energy. Each of us has one eye on our changing weather and water, and the other on our children.

In 2013, the Northwest has two new governors, several new members of Congress, many new state legislators and agency leaders. The Bonneville Power Administration has a new chief as that powerful agency enters its second 75 years. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is revising its regional plans for both salmon and energy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has launched a new Columbia-Snake stakeholder process, while at the same time re-writing, with Bonneville Power and the Army Corps of Engineers, its illegal salmon plan for a fourth time.

So it is timely for Save Our wild Salmon to re-issue, in tandem, the two reports, and re-send them to policymakers, writers and reporters, and other interested people. We have not updated them; events since 2009-10 have largely confirmed their conclusions and recommendations, though we welcome debate and discussion of that assessment.

We hope A Great Wave Rising and Bright Future will help people, businesses, agencies and leaders tackle our common climate challenge. A 4-page summary of A Bright Future is also available for download.

*We thank the Hewlett Foundation for special support that allowed us to commission both reports.

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