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Newberg engineer opines that America's energy consumption is totally out of proportion to the rest of the world

I can understand the concern over Oregon's cap and trade bill. I can also understand that it is controversial. However, as a professional engineer licensed in two states and a small woodland owner, I am not sure that the issue of energy use and climate change is fully understood by most.

Please look at the big picture: world population, 7.7 billion; United States population, 327 million; Oregon population, 4.25 million; 2014 world energy consumption, 372.39 quad BTU; United States yearly energy consumption, 97.9 quad BTU. In other words, our energy consumption is totally out of proportion to the rest of the world. We are "the haves." There are a lot of "have nots" in the world. Then, consider that Oregon lives in the "Goldilocks Zone," where we won't be impacted as much by climate changes as other areas of the world. However, please understand that there are 7.7 billion people in the world and only 327 million in the United States. A lot of those people in the world will have to go somewhere else. In fact, some of our southern border immigrants are climate refugees. They cannot grow food due to lack of rainfall. Oregon has a population of 4.25 million. The metro area of Phoenix has 4.27 million. If only a quarter of the population of Phoenix became a climate refuge and moved to Oregon, our population would grow 25 percent.

We have not planned for that growth rate. In fact, since I deal with it on a daily basis, our land use regulation system has ensured that we will continue to have to drive our cars from work to shopping to home in an endless triangle, and subdivisions will continue to expand into our valuable farm land.

In the 1970s, I saw the barn burnt down in King City for the shopping center, now you can drive from that shopping center through subdivisions to within a mile of Forest Grove. This is unsustainable, but our land use system has mandated this model. Cities historically grew from a summer trading spot to a year-round store, to a village, to a city, then to Detroit. What historically was a natural progression is now a planning and zoning nightmare. I deal with it daily. I am also a tree farmer. I have been planting trees since the 1950s with a 90- to 95-percent survival rate. Now, I am lucky to have a 50-percent survival rate and have replanted one area three times now. Some of my mature trees are dying. Something has changed. In conclusion, my generation (I am on Social Security) will continue to enjoy our life style. My generation's children will experience climate unrest in their golden years, and their children will experience an uncertain future. Our responsibility is not "business as usual." We need to not only change how we do things, but need to make huge changes in how we do things. Our world is changing, it is up to us to anticipate it and act on behalf of those that follow. Having the Republicans running away and hiding is not the solution. Leonard Rydell is a Newberg resident


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