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Guest Opinion: We send this message to Paris

At Place de la Republique, flowers, candles and pictures of the dead. On a government building near Esplanade des Invalides, a poster:

“Plus tard ce sera trop tard. #COP21Paris”

The message from France is: “Any later will be too late.” COP21 is the United Nations’ annual Conference of Parties, a meeting of states and nations aimed at producing international agreements to address climate change.

On the plaza in Ashland at noon today, you will see people with signs: Global Climate March, Paris 2015.

It does not take a CIA analyst to connect these dots to a well-known sequence. Atmospheric CO2 on Nov. 25, 2015 reached 400.10 parts per million. (In Nov., 1965, it was 318.87 ppm.) CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat. News from the World Meteorological Organization on the front page of Thursday’s Mail Tribune: 2015 is the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set in 2014.

For years climatologists have told us that a warming planet will see extreme weather events of all sorts: droughts and floods, sweltering heat waves and the occasional polar vortex. But the global trend will be toward hotter and dryer. Glaciers and ice caps will melt. Deserts will expand.

In Syria, between 2006 and 2011, half of the country suffered the worst drought on record. Nearly a million farmers fled to overcrowded cities. The ruling Assad regime offered them only increased repression. Peaceful protests morphed into armed conflict. The regime imploded. Many cities and much of the countryside fell under the control of militias and religious fundamentalists. The most extreme of these groups, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria, blossomed.

On Friday, Nov. 13, ISIS sent a delegation to Paris armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades.

COP21 kicks off Monday in Le Bourget, a Paris suburb.

Now it is our turn to speak out. Thanks to social media, we don’t need to fly across the Atlantic to be heard.

This is our message:

We join Parisians in mourning the innocents slaughtered by ISIS two weeks ago. We too light candles in their memory.

The most meaningful memorial to those who died in this attack will be immediate, effective international action on climate change. This will require a global cap on greenhouse gas emissions and measures to significantly reduce these emissions within a decade.

We must also adapt to a climate that is already altered. This will mean developing technologies and programs to manage water, sustain forests, change agricultural practices much more.

Of course actions speak louder than words. The message from Oregon must include a comprehensive statewide program to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2016.

Thanks in large part to our state Rep. Peter Buckley, legislation to create such a program is being drafted this week and will be introduced in Salem when the 2016 short session commences on Monday, Feb. 1.

Among the political leaders who can guarantee the successful passage of this legislation, the most prominent are Senate President Peter Courtney and Gov. Kate Brown. Ashland’s message to Paris should include a copy to Courtney and Brown with this note:

“If you care about the victims of ISIS, if you care about the future of our planet, if you care about the economy and the people of Oregon, tell us that you will give your full support to a climate stabilization measure in February.“

Or, as Phil Knight would say, “Just do it. Now.”

If you are ready to just do something, join your neighbors on the plaza today at noon. Thank Joyce Woods and a coalition of Ashland environmentalists for organizing this event. Add your voice to the messages that we are sending to Paris and Salem.

And bring a candle.

Diarmuid McGuire lives in Ashland. He and his wife, Ashland City Councilor Pam Marsh, were in Paris at the time of the ISIS attack.