Business management consultants and woo-woo personal development gurus alike love to repeat the cliché about planning that says “Failure to plan is planning to fail.”
Oregon’s response to catastrophic global climate disruption caused by human emissions of heat trapping gases into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution turns that cliché around, proving that it’s quite possible to do both, to plan but to plan to fail.
The chart below, from the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s 2015 Biennial Report to the Legislature — is mercifully cut off at 2035. Perhaps because it was too painful to show the ever-widening gap between the goals (the straight declining line) and the emissions projections from there until 2050. This chart clearly shows that it’s clearly possible for a Commission sufficiently cowed by the implications of the data to positively plan and plan to fail.
The Commission’s timidity is not surprising because reducing greenhouse pollution in the United States requires dramatic changes in behavior. The report illustrates that “inconvenient truth” with a graph that documents the one successful pollution reduction strategy actually employed in Oregon so far: sending industrial jobs away from Oregon.
Data from Table 1 below
Those data show the sad truth that the only effective policy that has actually produced any greenhouse pollution reductions has been a brutal recession and closure of industrial plants in Oregon. Take transportation, which the report identifies as the most important source of greenhouse pollution in Oregon — even as vehicle miles traveled have continued to decline from their 2006 peak, greenhouse pollution emissions have turned back upward.
The next chart really shows the source of Oregon’s “progress” in reducing the rate of increase in greenhouse pollution emissions: de-industrialization and loss of jobs.
What’s behind that dramatic decline? Mostly it shows the complete wipeout of the Northwest’s aluminum industry. Aluminum is sometimes known as “congealed electricity,” so energy-intensive is its production. The complete elimination of one industrial sector helps mask the “less good news” of increasing pollution emissions from cement, landfills, and industrial gases and solvents (which are split out separately from semi-conductor making, which has also caused increase greenhouse pollution emissions in the 22 years studied):
The concern for taking any comfort from the greenhouse pollution emissions Oregon has managed is that they do not reflect any global improvement in greenhouse pollution levels — globally, emissions continue to climb, faster and faster each year. The aluminum no longer being produced in the Northwest is now being produced elsewhere, using coal-generated electricity.