Climate change group forming across valley

With apologies to Mark Twain, "Everyone talks about climate change, but nobody does anything about it."

But retired university professor Alan Journet and others concerned about climate change — Twain was referring to the weather in his famous 1897 quote in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant newspaper — have decided to do more than merely talk.

They are launching a non-partisan group tentatively dubbed the Rogue Valley Climate Protection Organization.

The goal, said Journet, who lives near Jacksonville, is to form a grassroots organization whose members would work together to come up with ways to prepare for climate change while doing what they can to reduce it.

Their first meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Medford library, large community meeting room, 205 S. Central Ave.

"By meeting in Medford, we are making the point that this is a broad-based Rogue Valley group," Journet said.

"The organization and meetings are not designed for those wanting to debate the science of climate change, but for those who are concerned and want to take personal or collective action to address the problem," he added.

Journet, 66, is an ecologist and conservation biologist who retired from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Kathy Conway, Journet's wife who also retired from Southeast Missouri State, is joining in the grass roots effort. A native Oregonian, she is teaching math at Rogue Community College's Medford campus. She and Journet formed a similar group in Missouri called the Southeast Missouri Climate Protection Initiative.

Other local residents helping to organize the new group include Marni Koopman and Keith Henty. Both are on the staff of the Ashland-based Geos Institute which is dedicated to educating the public about climate change. Joining them is Jim McGinnis, a member of the Ashland Conservation Commission and a longtime advocate of sustainable living.

In its first session, the group will identify activities they believe the fledgling organization should become involved in, Journet said.

In general, there hasn't been a regional effort to address climate change, he said, adding the group will focus on filling the void.

"If climate change happens in the way it is projected, the result will be a profound disturbance in our natural system," he said, referring to everything from increased floods to larger wildfires.

In the Rogue Valley basin, projections by the Geos Institute and other climate watchers indicate the climate in the future will likely include higher average temperatures, less snow in the mountains and increased flooding in the coming decades.

For instance, a compilation of those predictions by Journet shows average summer temperatures increasing by up to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040 and winter temperatures increasing by 3.3 degrees during the same period. By 2080, the annual average temperature increase could be 8.1 degrees, he said.

"Weather variability is likely to increase with increased winter and spring run-off and consequent floods," he noted in his compilation. "Both wet and dry cycles are likely to increase in length and severity. Many more days are likely above 90 degrees and 100 degrees."

In our region, that would mean increases in both flood and wildfire severity, he said.

Journet said local residents can take steps to both mitigate and address the problems posed by climate disruptions.

"We also need to be part of the global community to work to reduce our greenhouse gases," he said. "Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit in this whole arena."

The goal is to learn how to learn how to adapt for inevitable climate change, he said.

"I don't have any problem debating the issue but the reason for this group is to get folks involved who are already concerned about climate change and want to do something about it," he said. "Our main concern is to promote awareness and education."

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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