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The events are part of the International Day of Climate Action. A similar event is set to be held in Portland.

COURTESY PHOTO: PACIFIC UNIVERSITY STUDENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM - Pacific University students have planned an International Day of Climate Action rally for noon Friday, Sept. 20.To mark the International Day of Climate Action on Friday, Sept. 20, rallies will be held in Hillsboro and Forest Grove to demand a response to climate change.

Also known, collectively and individually, as a "Climate Strike," each event will promote community action to halt warming global temperatures and environmental degradation.

In Hillsboro, activists will rally at the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza, across East Main Street from the Washington County Courthouse, at 10 a.m. The rally is organized by the Washington County chapter of 350.org, a climate action network.

In Forest Grove, the rally will be led by Pacific University students. It will start at noon on the south side of the Tim & Cathy Tran Library, following a half-hour commemoration of the International Day of Peace led by the Rev. Chuck Currie, Pacific's chaplain.

Debby Garman, a 350.org chapter leader, said in a statement, "The time to act is now."

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given humanity only about a decade to mitigate the course of planetary warming or the consequences will be impossibly grim," Garman added.

Experts say that human activity is the primary driver behind global warming that has been on an unprecedented pace. While the Earth has experienced countless natural warming and cooling cycles, global temperatures have leapt by about 1 degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, according to NASA, and the pace has only accelerated since the mid-20th century.

Greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide pollution from sources like cars, airplanes, farms, power plants and factories, are responsible for more solar radiation being trapped by the Earth's atmosphere, climate scientists agree.

Many experts are worried about a "feedback loop" — as ice sheets in places like Greenland and Antarctica melt, the albedo, or reflectivity, of the Earth's surface decreases. That means fewer solar rays are reflected back into space, increasing the amount of heat that the Earth's oceans and atmosphere absorb. That melting ice, meanwhile, creates a problem of its own for low-lying populated areas, including many inhabited Pacific islands and places like Florida, Bangladesh and the Netherlands, as sea levels rise.

Experts generally agree that global warming will continue, and likely accelerate, without dramatic action to reduce carbon emissions. While forecasts vary, as do assessments of what could be a "tipping point" beyond which preventing catastrophic climate change is impossible, the IPCC warned last year that unless global emissions are cut back significantly by 2030, reaching "net zero" by 2050 is an unrealistic goal.

Climate Strike events are scheduled to be held around the world starting this weekend, including in downtown Portland on Friday.

In Hillsboro, Garman says a group of activists will wave signs starting at 7 a.m. at the corner of South First Avenue and Main Street. At 10 a.m., the rally will kick off outside the Hillsboro Civic Center, with several invited speakers. Sign-wavers will return to the corner of First Avenue and Main Street for the evening commute at 4:30 p.m.

The rally at Pacific University is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m., but senior Carrie Friedman, an event organizer, says it will likely be followed by a march around downtown Forest Grove.

"I think right now, the most important thing is just to show how many people think that climate change is an issue that should be our top priority," Friedman said. "Even in a rural, small town like Forest Grove, to have a large group of people … show up to participate in that, hopefully it will finally be enough to make … everybody just see that this is a really huge deal."

Friedman is hoping to have hundreds of students and other members of both the Pacific and greater Forest Grove communities, including professors at the university, involved in the rally.

"We'll be making a lot of noise, and we'll have hundreds of people," Friedman said. "It might spill over a little bit."

By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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