A Rotarian’s Guide to Saving the World

We can lead the way to carbon neutral!

Eugene Rotary’s Dr. Richard Barnhart comes with solutions.

Oregonians are nature lovers. And maybe we’re not as worried about climate change as we should be. 

If you’re feeling hopeless and overwhelmed about climate change, know that it’s not too late. We can make the changes we need to save our beautiful planet. 

The Rotary Club of Eugene Metropolitan was pleased to welcome concerned guests from Romania, Chile, and Canada to hear Dr. Barnhart’s talk and to learn more about being the leaders and early adopters of impactful changes. 

We strongly encourage you to invite Dr. Barnhart to share this crucial information and hope-giving ideas with your club. His presentation was compelling and generated deep conversation with lots of questions. 

Our Romanian friend Dacian Coita from the Rotary Club of Oradea set his alarm for 4:00 am and Zoom-ed in to be a part of such an important discussion. 

Here are three key takeaways: 

  1. The climate crisis is urgent

Sweeping changes need to be made and they need to be made yesterday.

2. Make every lifestyle change you can afford to make – take fewer flights, buy electric vehicles and combine errands and trips so you’re driving less frequently, eat less meat, particularly beef, (particularly if it’s not local), install an electric heat pump instead of using natural gas, get better insulation so you use less AC, and install solar panels. 

Those of us who can afford to drive, fly, eat meat and use AC are disproportionately causing climate change but we are the least affected by it. We are also in the best financial position to relocate when sea levels rise. The people who are most vulnerable to rising sea levels have the lowest carbon footprint. 

3. Individual lifestyle changes are crucial as a collective. But we need to make massive-scale changes with international impact. Vote for candidates who will implement carbon charges. Dr. Barnhart explained that these carbon offsets are not taxes. He shared a great example from Canada. Charging carbon producers $40 CAD per ton incentivizes businesses to adopt and create carbon-friendly products and practices. Initially, this will increase prices so the Canadian government sends what are essentially refunds to consumers for the higher prices they pay for flights, gas, or anything else with a carbon footprint. Change takes time but entrepreneurs can be just as motivated to save money as to protect the environment for generations to come. 

We need to make macro and micro changes, my fellow Rotarians. We have to do both. We believe in service above self and we are people of action. We can do this! And we can do it together. 

Photo credit © Miguel Carraça, Banff National Park 

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