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Oregon
Climate Change in Oregon
"Changing our energy practices should be one of our highest priorities.  If we care about the world that we will leave for our children and our grandchildren, we will change our energy practices -- and do it soon."
Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Oregon State University Distinguished Professor of Zoology
 
Worried about climate change but don´t know what to do?
 
It may be because we feel powerless to solve the problem: We can´t stop overnight our need to burn gasoline and other fossil fuels, the main source of gases that contribute to global warming and climate change.
 
Or it may be because we´re confused about the problem: The greenhouse gases we produce trap extra heat in the atmosphere. But scientists can´t say exactly how these gases will affect the world or when their levels will reach a crisis point.
 
However, experts from Oregon and around the world say there´s one thing we know for sure: The balance of scientific evidence suggests that our use of coal, oil and natural gas for energy is already having an impact on the world´s climate.
 
The concentration of carbon dioxide -- a key greenhouse gas -- has increased 35 percent in the atmosphere since industrialization. The earth has warmed by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last century. The nine warmest years in this century occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. And experts predict that we´ll see a faster rate of climate change in the next 100 years than any experienced during the last 10,000 years.
 
Such an increase in global temperature could lead to changes close to home. With climate change, Oregon could experience problems with:
Rain and Snow Patterns
Rainstorms and snowstorms could increase in severity, but less
snow would build up in the mountains. Snowpacks might melt faster, increasing flooding. Less water would be available for recreation, irrigation, drinking and fish habitat. The concentration of pollutants in the water could increase during summer and fall.

Sea Level Rise
A rise in sea level could threaten beaches, sandy bluffs and coastal wetlands. Coast towns could experience more flooding, causing increased damage to roads, buildings, bridges and water and sewer systems.

Diminished Water Supplies and Crop Productivity
Oregon´s crops and livestock could be affected by warmer temperatures, less water availability and drier soils. Some crops, such as wheat, might thrive in warmer temperatures, while others, such as potatoes, could be harmed. Less water available for irrigation would harm agriculture.

Forest Fires and Pests
A warmer climate would change forests used to specific climate conditions. Different trees would flourish and grasslands might replace some forest land. Trees stressed by climatic changes would be more susceptible to pests, disease and fire damage. Industries that rely on forests could decline.

Human Health
Heat waves could increase, causing a rise in heat-related illnesses and deaths. Some scientific models show Oregon average temperatures could increase by 5 degrees in winter and 4 degrees in summer. Insects carrying tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever could spread into a warmer Oregon.

Ecosystems
Native species adapted to Oregon´s climate could suffer if temperatures rise. Warmer streams and rivers would harm salmon and other native species and non-native species could replace them. The cultural practices of Oregon´s tribes could be affected, as could the businesses and recreation practices of those who rely on the state´s native species.
The Oregon we enjoy today could be a much different place in the future because of global warming. Changing how we use energy is a good way to help preserve the natural places that have long made Oregon unique.
 
For more information about climate change, contact Jessica Shipley by e-mail  or by telephone at (503) 378-3780 or toll-free in Oregon at (800) 221-8035 or visit our Climate Change Portal