Local impacts of global warming

Do you love North Carolina, its unique mountain forests, stellar beaches and productive farms? If so, actively support legislation to stop global warming, because our natural heritage is at risk. Local damage is already occurring from increasing temperatures, changing rain patterns and rising seas.

Western North Carolina's mountains feature unique and beautiful plant communities evolved to occupy the highest peaks east of the Rockies. As temperatures warm, plants migrate north and uphill. But, on WNC's highest mountains those special plant communities cannot move higher, nor to the north, so they face extinction.

Chances are that you vacation on the beautiful beaches of the Carolinas. Some of the fondest memories of my youth formed there. But, with global warming comes local sea rise. Already, the government spends millions on sand replenishment for Carolina beaches. Already, beachfront communities are more vulnerable to dangerous storm surges. In the decades to come, scientists say that NC is one of three states most vulnerable to loss of land to sea rise: not just the barrier islands, but tens of thousands of acres behind them, too.

WNC supports a wonderland of small farms that provide us with nutritious local food. Rising temperatures, though, cause heat waves and drought, with obvious repercussions for agriculture. Also, heavy rain events are more frequent, increasing flooding, runoff and erosion: more bad news for our farmers.

Don't buy into industry-driven “debate”: more than 95 percent of climate scientists agree that we have already significantly raised global temperature by burning dirty coal and oil. Exxon and Koch Industries peddle doubt to avoid regulation, just like the tobacco industry did for decades. Delay means gargantuan profits for them, at the cost of our natural heritage. Political action is the answer: contact the president, and vote for climate realists, not deniers, in upcoming elections.

— Benjamin Gillum

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