Kudos to the Xpress and Rebecca Bowe for our city’s first comprehensive article on climate change and its relevance to Western North Carolina.
All local papers, including the weeklies and the daily Asheville Citizen-Times, are to blame for the sad fact that only 56 percent of the citizens of North Carolina know that a new coal plant is under construction at Cliffside [in Rutherford County] that, when completed, will release 6 million tons of CO2 into our atmosphere yearly, accelerating the devastation of our mountains and their ecosystems and flooding the coast. Doug Jones was quoted as saying “The polar ice cap is melting. That is our canary in the coal mine.” I would counter that the canaries are dead or dying of climate change anywhere on Earth you care to look.
Dr. Bernstein, a local IPCC author quoted by Rebecca, is cavalier in his belief that the “impact’s going to be a lot smaller than you would be led to believe.” He knows that there is already another inevitable 0.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature in the pipeline, from CO2 already in the atmosphere. Tipping points may have already been passed that will lead to devastating changes in ecosystems, affecting both human and other-than-human life. You don’t have to be a scientist to recognize that our local biome and the Earth’s climate system are drastically different and are rapidly being destabilized and degraded from the pollution of burning fossil fuels for electricity.
We only wish more scientists were like the courageous Jim Hansen. I ask them to throw out the objectivity and impartiality that they assume serves science, and speak up as responsible citizens. We need better leadership from them and the media. The planet is in code red. It has a fever that will kill life as we know it unless we mobilize all of our creativity, discipline and determination to make the necessary beginnings now. Rajendra Pachuri, the head of the IPCC, states: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”
In the final analysis, can we overcome our lack of moral courage in the face of the comforts and conveniences of modern consumer culture?
Here in WNC, we should revitalize the teachings of the best of our faith traditions, summon the spiritual will to resist the easy choice of leaving it up to our leaders or the next generation, and be actively protesting the construction of Cliffside. We must also rediscover the virtue of restraint and begin to do everything in our power to reduce energy consumption in our households, businesses, congregations and all other civic institutions, and demand all levels of government engage in real—not cosmetic—solutions.
— Richard Fireman
WNC Coordinator, N.C. Interfaith Power & Light (a program of the N.C Council of Churches)