A recent "Our view" editorial in the East Oregonian, written after the release of the most recent report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change, implied that there are two sides to the climate debate.

But those two voices are really the same language spoken with a different accent.

It's understandable that there's a desire to put a positive spin on this. But getting policy proposals from academic experts is like buying your food from an auto dealership. That's not their business. It takes decades to get a dam built, decades that we don't have. And that's before we talk about the disappearance of salmon and steelhead, whose numbers have dwindled to nothing. The steep drop off is because we've already dammed up so many streams. Those fish evolved in fast-flowing waters and that's what's in short supply.

That said, there's much to be optimistic about, but it's new stuff, stuff that will turn things upside down, and that's hard. This isn't about technology. Electric vehicles, charging stations, solar panels, wind turbines, battery storage, digital controls to connect them all — all that stuff exists. It's about changing the way we do business, about who makes money and how it's made.

We need a clear understanding that we have only a few years left to turn the ship around. We have to adopt those new ideas, to move in with them psychologically socially, and culturally. We need to change with the climate.

We also need to protect our waterways. That's why the River Democracy Act should be supported by Union County. A changing climate is a serious threat to all of us because our fresh waters are what keep us all here and make agriculture possible. Whether that water comes as rain or snow, and how long it stays in the mountains, that's up to us. Capturing that water in reservoirs that will only heat up with the climate is a sure route to more fish kill. We need to protect what we have.

It's time to get real about what we face and what it will take to deal with it. The old ways are gone. It's time for the new ways to take hold. That's the voice we all need to speak with.

Norm Cimon

La Grande

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