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Denmark, Oregon tackles climate change on the Oregon Coast
Port Orford
Port Orford DockInternational talks on climate change begin next week in Copenhagen, Denmark. For months Denmark, Oregon has been considering the impact of climate change on their small town.

... the Denmark Project, producer Christy George found new voices – psychologists, philosophers and poets - wrestling with the enormity of the changes facing the place they call home.

The tiny town of Denmark sits on Highway 101, halfway between the two tourist towns of Bandon and Port Orford. That whole stretch is unincorporated, so you could call the area “greater Denmark.”

Denmark itself is still home to the descendants of the Scandinavians who first settled the area in the late 1800’s.

...climate change means generally warmer, milder weather. But scientists say it also means hotter summers and more rain than snow on the mountains to the east; warmer water and higher waves on the Pacific Ocean to the west. And above all, more unpredictable weather.

...There are only six ports in the world quite like Port Orford.

There’s no breakwater here, so fishermen tie their boats to a 25-ton winch and they’re lowered right into the open ocean.

This unique port is home to a different breed of fisherman.

Aaron Longton: "I am a salmon fisherman first, but I don’t get much opportunity anymore."

Aaron Longton is president of the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team, or POORT, a group of fishermen who’ve done some radical things.

Over the last decade, team members voluntarily put several square miles of their fishing grounds off limits, in a marine reserve.

And right now, the fishermen are trying to cut out the middlemen and sell directly to restaurants.

Aaron Longton: "We want to maintain our heritage, and maintain access to our fisheries."

Lyle Keeler: "We definitely do have climate change in this area."

...Aaron Longton: "It isn’t like all of a sudden the water is fluorescent green or purple or anything. You know what I mean, it’s just little things that you see, maybe more dead birds."

...Science writer Joseph Cone of Oregon Sea Grant was on the lookout for a coastal town where decision-makers were preparing for climate change, to test a new way to communicate about climate change.

Joe Cone: "The old model of turning the fire hose of science onto unsuspecting civilians and hoping good things happen, I just don’t think it works very well."

...Bob Doppelt: "We’ve been measuring the changes that’ve been happening in the environment, in the climate, through good science, to understand that we have a problem, but now, really, we have to focus in on the root causes of problem, which is our economic and social practices and policies."

...The benefits of acting aren’t simply financial. In fact, social scientists say money is not the key to changing people’s minds about climate change, or anything else.

...Aaron Longton: "So many things seem to be out of our control, at least in any immediate type of change. Right now, if we stopped carbon emissions, they say it probably wouldn’t peak for another 50 to 100 years. But we can control what we discharge into the ocean now."

...Dominic Della Sala: "Denmark fits within a bioregion, an eco-region known as the Klamath-Siskyou, which is considered world-class by a number of ecological measures, the conifer richness, the uniqueness of place and the unusual number of species known nowhere else on Earth."