Asheville could prosper, believes Mack Pearsall, by monetizing a unique yet little-known asset: Its federal archive of climate and weather data — the largest such collection among all the nations on Earth — curated by a local talent bank that includes several Nobel laureates and scores of climate scientists.
Ongoing habitat loss and warming temperatures present an existential threat to Western North Carolina’s only native trout species, the brook trout.
For activists like Victoria Estes, environmental scientists and others, the existential threat of climate change is taking an increasing toll on their mental health and well-being.
“Faced with significant development pressures, we must do what we can to protect some of the region’s natural habitat and biodiversity, as well as our most productive farmland.”
Increasing heat and stronger storms threaten trout populations dependent on clean, cold, oxygen-rich water. A decline in trout production could hurt farmers and recreational fishermen.
“If it was truly perceived as an emergency, then I think we would be doing more and talking about it more,” says Asheville City Council member Kim Roney, who was elected in November on a platform that included a local Green New Deal and rapid renewable energy deployment.
In a year marked by a constant churn of updating numbers — COVID-19 dashboards, economic forecasts, political polls — Assistant Editor Daniel Walton took comfort in stories that were able to report more deeply on some of the issues facing Western North Carolina.
For many environmental organizations across Western North Carolina, COVID-19 fell like a lightning-struck tree across the path to progress. But like an intrepid hiker, WNC’s activists and organizers have bushwhacked new trails for action in the world of the pandemic.
“The Asheville High School Environmental Science program invites you, Western North Carolina, to join us in a three-week engagement competition, the Drawdown EcoChallenge, which is rooted in learning about and practicing the solutions to reverse global warming.”
Deteriorating forest roads damage the ecosystem and limit access essential for forest management and the forest-product economy.
“Adding more population, cars and demand on natural resources is only going to bring extreme climate change right here faster.”
“It’s going to cost gazillions to retool the economy, rebuild infrastructure and control COVID-19. That’s just the icing on the cake. The cake is global warming.”
“Without a direct and unflinching acknowledgment of the climate crisis, we cannot ensure the future of North Carolina agriculture.”
In their first public face-off, the candidates vying for the increasingly competitive 11th District congressional seat, Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis, touted their differences on just about all issues and hurled accusations, with each calling the other “fast and loose” with the facts. Who was telling the truth?
“This is a call to action for the citizens of North Carolina to contact their legislators and demand a necessary change to support 100% renewable energy by 2050.”
“She is a breath of fresh air for our state, clearly up to facing our fiercest challenges.”
“Folks are really starting to get weary of the pattern of hurricanes and extreme weather and are looking for more stable environments such as Western North Carolina,” says local real estate agent John Haynes, about clients seeking to move to the region from coastal states like Florida, New Jersey and Texas.
Commission Chair Laura Hudson argued that the rules placed too much emphasis on tree protection and could become an untenable burden for developers. “If you jam too many requirements onto one small parcel, I think you’re going to kill the development altogether,” she said.
New research, published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, suggests that humidity plays a greater role than does the temperature in the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Weather is just another factor that we need to be incorporating in our infectious disease modeling,” says lead author Jennifer Runkle, an environmental epidemiologist with the Asheville-based North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies at N.C. State University.
“We need to act now to set better targets before society returns to business as usual.”