I enjoyed Portland – it has extensive bike lanes and even the ability to put your bike on their new light rail. I lived in Portland for a summer once in college, and it was good to revisit the family I had once lived with.
Portland has a great story to tell around global warming. In 1993, it became the first city to enact a comprehensive plan to reduce CO2 emissions. It aggressively pushed green building initiatives, and now runs a comprehensive system of light rail, buses, and bike lanes to keep cars off the road. While the CO2 emissions of the rest of the country have grown, Portland’s per capita emissions have decreased by 12.5%. It is good to hear that local actions make a difference – and that if a town gets serious, it can make a difference.
Oregon in general is making great strides – the state just set a target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050, and they have pledged to produce 25% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2025.
After two talks, I left Portland. Bill stayed behind and Nicky Phear, one of our volunteers, is joining me for this final section. Nicky has a faculty position at the University of Montana where she teaches an environmental studies program, and where she recently led her own bicycle-based course across Montana for students to learn more about energy issues in Montana. She has been working to set up events along the west coast and, as she is taking a leave of absence this year, is joining me for the final few weeks into San Francisco. (You can see a photo of her changing one of our 5 flats on this stretch of road).
Nicky and I left Portland, and biked three days out to Bend, crossing the Cascades, leaving the wet coastal region and heading to the dry high desert. In Bend, I visited two friends from college, Becca Katz and Eric Wanless, who set up our events. Eric works on energy efficient buildings, and along with Nicky and I, appeared in the TV news. You can see the three of us here.
We also talked to Cylvia Hayes, the director of 3E Strategies, an environmental group promoting solutions to global warming. Cylvia pointed out that central Oregon has a tremendous economic opportunity to invest in wind, solar, and biomass, and become energy independent. Currently, most of Oregon’s energy is imported (just about all fossil fuels are).
From Bend, Nicky and I will head to Eugene, and then follow the Oregon and California coasts south towards San Francisco. Bill will rejoin us outside San Francisco and complete the journey.