Throughout history, most humans have lived rural lives. As late as 1950, just 30 percent of humankind lived in cities, but huge changes were already looming. By 2000, 47 percent of us were urban dwellers. And by 2030, 60 percent of a still-growing world population will live in metropolitan areas. In the Cascadia bioregion, more than 85% of the population live in just 12% of the geographic area, clustered in what has been termed a 'megaregion' by the US and Canadian governments. The opportunities and challenges posed by this dramatic demographic transition are stunning. With the number of people who live in cities expected to double over the next 20 years, the world has begun searching hard for models of urban and regional renewability and resiliency.
The Cascadian Independence Project supports responsible growth planning, as well as the protection and stewardship of land rights and natural resources around the Pacific Northwest. Roughly 2% of forests in the United States remain untouched, and large portions of these are found around the Cascadia bioregion. This area contains some of the last old growth temperate rain forest in the world, and 7/10 of the largest carbon absorbing forests within the continental United States are in Washington and Oregon. When combined with British Columbia, these forests remain one of the most powerful tools in our regions efforts to combat global climate change.
Cascadia is also in a unique position to become one of the first countries in the world to achieve complete energy independence based on renewable resources. Already, we generate a surplus of electricity based largely on renewable resources such as wind, hydroelectric, and soon, tide generators. Large portions of this energy is exported to California, Idaho and other states throughout the Northwest. However, even these technologies have severe drawbacks and we must work hard to continue to research responsible alternatives that reduce our impact on our unique ecosystem, in a non-exploitive and non-predatory fashion.
Furthering community resiliency, self-support and empowerment as well as energy and water independence is critical for not only domestic energy security, but also for the health of the watersheds, our urban and rural environments, the population and what our future will look like here in the Pacific Northwest.