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MailTribune.com
  • Is our planet in peril?

    Town hall meeting on Monday will focus on our moral obligation to halt global warming
  • As a distinguished professor at Oregon State University, Kathleen Dean Moore has spent long hours talking with OSU professors studying global climate change.
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    • If you go
      What: Town hall meeting led by Oregon State University philosophy professor Kathleen Dean Moore to discuss climate change and the moral imperative to make a difference.
      When: 5:30 p.m. Monday, O...
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      If you go
      What: Town hall meeting led by Oregon State University philosophy professor Kathleen Dean Moore to discuss climate change and the moral imperative to make a difference.

      When: 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11

      Where: Medford library, 205 S. Central Ave., Medford

      Sponsors: National Center for Conservation Science & Policy, Jefferson Nature Center, Rogue Valley Council of Governments and First Congregational United Church of Christ.
  • As a distinguished professor at Oregon State University, Kathleen Dean Moore has spent long hours talking with OSU professors studying global climate change.
    While she is convinced there is ample evidence of planet-wide warming caused by human activity leading to environmental catastrophe, she says it will take more than science to motivate people to change their ways.
    "What we are trying to do is create a national conversation about our deepest values," explained the co-editor of the newly minted book, "Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril." Moore will lead a town hall discussion on global warming Monday evening at the Medford library.
    The Medford meeting is part of a 20-city tour to reach out to people concerned about global warming. Other stops include Atlanta, Chicago and New York City.
    "What kind of world do we want for our children and grandchildren? What do we love and depend on in this world?" Moore asked, adding that the question of scientific fact has been thoroughly answered.
    "It is really a moral issue now," she observed.
    Published Sept. 7 by Trinity University Press in San Antonio, Texas, the 478-page hardcover book contains answers from 80 leaders in a variety of fields around the world who were asked to respond to one question: "Do we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril?"
    The participants, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, President Barack Obama, Bill McKibben, Thomas L. Freidman, Barbara Kingsolver and Gary Snyder, all answered in the affirmative.
    "We are called to understand that climate change is a moral challenge, not simply an economic or technological problem," Nobel Peace Prize recipient Tutu wrote in the book's foreword.
    "We are called to honor our duties of justice, to prevent the enormities of climate change, as the price of the lifestyles of the privileged is paid by millions of poor people, in the loss of their livelihoods and their lives," he continued.
    In his essay, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas L. Friedman agreed.
    "This is not about whales anymore," he wrote. "It's about us. And what we do about the challenges of energy and climate, conservation and preservation, will tell our kids who we really are."
    The idea for the book took root three years ago when Moore, whose classes at OSU include environmental ethics and philosophy of nature, was at a philosophy seminar. Michael P. Nelson, professor of environmental ethics at Michigan State University, was also in attendance.
    "We were scratching our heads — we noticed that scientists were doing a heroic job in getting the facts out but no one was really responding," Moore recalled.
    She and Nelson, the other co-editor of the book, decided what was missing was the moral and ethical side of the argument. They decided to launch the "Moral Ground Project."
    "We went to scientists, poets, preachers, capitalists — everybody," Moore said. "We were looking for a global moral consensus as opposed to a scientific consensus."
    In addition to those in the book, contributors to the project can be found online at moralground.com. They include Medford residents Jack Williams and Cindy Deacon Williams, both scientists. Jack is a biologist who works for Trout Unlimited. Cindy is a fishery scientist who is director of aquatic science and conservation education programs for the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy in Ashland.
    During the event at the Medford library, Cindy Deacon Williams will read an essay the two wrote about climate change to their unborn grandchildren. That essay is on the Moral Ground website. Her husband will read an essay from the book, which he says contains some of the world's best thinkers.
    "A lot of scientists get into fish and wildlife issues because of love for the outdoors," said Jack Williams, a former Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest supervisor. "When you study the environment and see it deteriorating before your eyes, you want to try to do something about it."
    While he is optimistic society will make the required changes, he says it won't be easy.
    "I don't know how they will happen, but they have to," he said. "In the short term it will be difficult. Some difficult decisions will have to be made."
    Just as she is confident there is rock-solid proof of global warming, Moore is equally convinced that Americans will do the right thing in the end, just as they did when freeing the slaves, giving women the vote and approving the Equal Rights Amendment.
    "This book is a call to those people who understand that climate change is a real threat," said Moore, a grandmother. "We owe the future a world that is as rich in possibilities as the one we inherited.
    "I think people do have the ability to change," she concluded, adding, "The question is whether they have the moral courage."
    Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or at pfattig@mailtribune.com.
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