“Environmental Issues Affecting Social Challenges” – Susan Anderson


So what’s coming up next? We had a group of citizens who cared a lot
about the issue of peak oil and the issue more or less of volatile oil prices and volatile
supplies. And what does that actually do to a community? What happens? And so they ran a bunch of scenarios, and
a lot of things happened in the city. If they go to city council, and it’s something
anything vaguely related to sustainability or environment or energy, they just hand it
to me and say, go do this without any money. So we brought all these citizens together,
and then we brought a bunch of experts together from the US Department of Energy, from our
Department of Energy, and others. And we basically looked at so what happens
if suddenly the price of oil goes– the price of gasoline goes to $8? Or what happens to heating oil for lower-income
families? What happens to all these things? And we found pretty quickly that the issues
that are important are the social issues that are hard to deal with now in terms of homelessness,
in terms of food for lower-income families, in terms of them getting around, transportation,
all just become worse. So for most of us, yeah, we’ll have to pay
more, and it’s not really going to affect us. But for people on the margin, those people
are going to be affected dramatically. And so that made it a social issue. And it’s beginning to translate over to people
who care about homelessness and low-income housing and affordability and minority issues,
about having that all be like, oh, we should actually care about what are we going to do
to reduce and have Portland be ready so that when this happens, it doesn’t really affect
those people as much? So a lot of those things are having transit
available. All the same things we were doing anyways–
it just gives more reasons for why you wanted to do it. So they set a goal– as Portland would do
of cutting fossil fuel use in half within 25 years. And again, to do this for economic development
reasons, to do these for environmental reasons, but also for social.

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