Last night my husband, friends and I and 3,200 others gathered at University of Portland for Focus the Nation. College students quizzed Governor Kulongoski and other elected politicians on solutions to global warming while OPB did a live radio broadcast.
My first thought: young Jesse Jenkins of the Cascade Climate Network is my current top pick for president in the 2020 election. (Who says I can’t think ahead?) His smart, impassioned opening speech was that effective, that anchored in conviction.
My main thought, though, is about the question that a student asked but did not get answered. “Where’s the sacrifice?” he called from the back after one of the politicians gave a techno-wonk response to how we would reduce our carbon emissions sharply and quickly enough to avert global disaster. The room got quiet. The panel did not volunteer to respond.
OPB’s moderator Sandra Tsing Loh rushed to fill the void by saying playfully, “Ah, sacrifice. We’ll get to that question later, if we have time.” That time did not materialize.
With our nation needing to reduce our carbon emissions 80% by 2050, new technologies cannot save the day. Even energy conservation and energy efficiency — which we should all be practicing aggressively — are not enough. We have to use radically less fossil fuels, period, which means changing how we live.
Enter the concept of sacrifice, which the nameless man with the prophetic voice understood. I have been changing my life for awhile now with small sacrifices, and I’m willing to keep going farther in that direction. The last time our nation embraced the notion of sacrifice was during World War II. Can we not muster the moral fiber that our parents and grandparents did?
I’d like to hear others’ thoughts on this, both pro and con.