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Former Oregon secretary of state to discuss climate change

Bill Bradbury says he's seen skepticism diminish over time
 Posted: 2:00 AM November 13, 2012

Bill Bradbury figures you don't have to be a climate-change expert to know which way the wind is blowing.

The former Oregon secretary of state, who will discuss "Climate Reality" Thursday evening at Southern Oregon University, said he has seen denial over climate change slowly fade since he began giving talks about it in 2006.

"When I first started giving presentations, it was very normal to have a small group of deniers attending," said Bradbury, 63. "Now I don't need to convince anyone that climate change is happening.

If you go

What: "Climate Reality," a presentation by Bill Bradbury, former Oregon secretary of state

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15

Where: Room 330, Stevenson Union, Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland

Cost: Free

Sponsors: Ecology Center of the Siskiyous at SOU, Geos Institute, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Rogue Valley Climate Protection Organization

"The focus has changed to, 'OK, so what are we going to do about it?' " he added. "There are some who believe there is not much we can do to change the direction we are going. But most believe we can change how we act and effect climate change."

Bradbury was one of the first 50 people trained in Nashville to spread the climate-change gospel according to former Vice President Al Gore. Bradbury has given about 300 presentations on climate change in Oregon, outlining the need to reduce carbon pollution caused by dependence on oil and coal.

In addition to recent weather extremes, including the fact this past July was the hottest on record for the nation, Bradbury will talk about energy needs in Oregon and strategies to reduce carbon pollution. As part of Gore's Climate Reality Project, he met with leading climate change scientists this past summer.

Recent nationwide polls indicate that about 70 percent of the population believes the global climate is changing because of human activity.

"Those polls are very encouraging," he said. "Everyone acknowledges the severe weather we are having, that this is exactly what climate scientists have been talking about. Sandy is just the latest horrible example."

Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York and New Jersey just before the general election, killing about 90 people and leaving some 7 million without power.

Although climate change was seldom mentioned by either President Obama or Mitt Romney during the presidential race, Obama has demonstrated he wants to reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels, Bradbury believes.

"Obama very rarely mentioned the words 'climate change,' but if you look at his recovery program and strategies in terms of energy, about 90 percent is the kinds of steps we need to take in terms of reducing climate change," he said.

"He is very committed," Bradbury added. "He just has learned politically not to wrap the issue in climate-change paper. He just wraps the issue in energy-independence paper. I'm OK with that."

Bradbury, who was a Democratic state representative from the Southern Oregon coast for 14 years, including serving as state Senate president in 1993, was appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council in 2010, as one of two representatives from Oregon.

Created by Congress in 1980, the council is charged with developing an electric energy supply plan for Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Its mandate is to issue a 20-year plan every five years that guarantees adequate and reliable energy at the lowest economic and environmental cost to the Northwest.

He also serves on the board of the Ashland-based Geos Institute, a nonprofit group dedicated to educating the public about climate change issues.

In addition to finding alternatives to power sources relying on fossil fuels, there is a need to cut back on energy consumption, he said.

"The Northwest in general, Oregon in specific, has done more in energy conservation than most of the rest of the country," he said. "We have become national leaders in terms of energy efficiency."

However, while describing himself as an eternal optimist, Bradbury sees solving the climate change problem as extremely difficult.

"The challenges are quite daunting, both for the country and the world," he said, noting that the U.S. uses 25 percent of the energy consumed worldwide.

"There are those in the rest of the world who haven't enjoyed the economic success the U.S. has had over the years," he added. "They want a taste of that, too. But the world cannot survive if everybody uses energy like we do. We have to change."

Bradbury also will give presentations in Grants Pass and Klamath Falls this week.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at

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