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Ashlanders step up as planet protectors

People have a range of reactions to the increasingly dire news about climate change and what it might do to us and the planet. Some push it to the back burner and just go on with their lives. Others do what they can, get solar panels, electric vehicles and bike more. Still more become activists, hoping to change laws and engaging the old saying, “Think globally, act locally.” On the other end of the spectrum, some actively deny global warming.

Members of the Southern Oregon Climate Action Now note that it’s a common reaction for people to say the heat-trapping carbon has already been released into the atmosphere by a century-and-a-half of fossil fuel use and can’t be put back in the ground, so we just have to learn to live with it.

But SOCAN and groups like Rogue Climate and the Geos Institute are doing their best to overcome the “it’s too late” attitude, emphasizing that while climate change is occurring, every bit of action we take will lessen the impact.

On Friday, Ashland launched a citywide Climate Week, with scores of events, lectures, games, movies and more, from now through Nov. 15, with the goal of putting climate change on the front burner. Among other actions, the city of Ashland and other organizations are working to develop a plan to shrink the town’s carbon footprint by 10 percent. The week's events culminate with a Climate Change Kickoff starting at noon Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St.

Climate Week also involves an Ashland Climate Challenge, in which individuals are asked to cut their own power bill by 10 percent, talk to neighbors and friends about it and use alternative, non-fossil fuel transportation at least four times a month. For more on Climate Week and the challenge, see www.ashlandclimatechallenge.org.

We asked Ashlanders what they are doing in their own lives to lessen their impact on the planet. And we found out they are doing a lot.

Judith Milburn — I bought a green-built house. I consolidate errands. I recycle, of course. I cook my own food and it’s organic, local. I grow part of it. I keep my old car instead of buying a new one. It’s a good car. It also keeps me from having car payments. I am walking more.

Izzy Brann — I compost more. I walk more. I’m not flying anywhere. I’m educating my children… . It’s a lot of work, educating them about recycling and reducing water use.

Karen Staunton — We recycle. We use energy-efficient light bulbs. We buy local produce and meat. We live in the country so we walk a lot. We own Northwest Raw, which offers organic, non-GMO raw juices, salads, wraps.

James Stephens — I drive an electric car, a Prius that I customized, a plug-in. It was 15 miles per charge and I quadrupled that to 60 with an auxiliary, high-voltage battery pack that cost $9,000. I got a federal rebate of $7,500 and a state rebate of $1,500, so it was free except for my labor. It took a day to install it. ... I research electric vehicles and alternate fuels that lower carbon footprints. ... I’m president of Southern Oregon Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Association.

Presila Quinby — We use less plastic. I drive an electric Mitsubishi MIEV. If I keep the needle in the green for maximum efficiency, then it keeps me under the speed limit and I can make two trips to Medford before recharging. We turned off the natural gas and got small ceramic EdenPure heaters that plug in and are very efficient. We cut $100 off our heating bill. We pay $15 a month for pickup of our organic waste, which is turned into compost for farmers.