BEND, Ore. - Climate change is a controversial topic, in Central Oregon and elsewhere, and was the focus of a presentation at COCC in Bend on Tuesday evening.
Kathie Dello, associate director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University, said rising temperatures and changes in precipitation are among the biggest concerns.
During her talk, Dello spoke about her findings of the effects of climate change in Oregon.
"If we let climate change continue on this path unchecked, we will see more incidences of asthma and we will see bigger forest fires that will burn homes," Dello said. "We are going to end up paying for it one way or another."
She said the impacts are global, but hit close to home. According to her study, the temperature could rise by 9 to 14 degrees in 40 years, meaning the snow line could rise by 1,800 feet.
"If you think about the things people in Bend love like snowmobiling, skiing, beer, and rafting, those things all have a climate base to them," Dello said. "If you think about a few winters ago, when we didn't have any snow, we were losing that because of high temperatures."
She said those temperature increases will affect everyone, especially the young and elderly.
Her organization is working toward a "climate-prepared Northwest," and she said if things continue the way there are in Central Oregon, the water and forest could suffer the most.
"We are causing it, and since we know we are the problem, we can fix it," Dello said. "We can stop emitting greenhouse gases, it's going to take a big global strategy."
Dello said driving cars and heating homes are necessary, but people could focus on limiting their fossil fuel emissions.
However, not everyone agrees on how. One Bend resident said while she believes human-caused climate change is real, taxing citizens or businesses more for fossil fuels is financially difficult on them.
"It's really hard, because it's going to cost people a lot of money, and where is that money going to go? We've got to know, dealing with carbon, smog and that kind of thing is really expensive, and people can't afford it."
But another resident said she doesn't like that the coal industry can dump things into the air and water, and big change is needed.
"If it does raise the price of gas or other fossil fuels, I'm all for it," she said.