More and more people are learning that there is near 100-percent agreement by scientists, economists and other experts that weaning ourselves from pollutants is necessary if today’s children are to have a livable Earth. A growing number also understand why mitigating the worsening climate is far less expensive than continuing with the status quo.
In fact, economists and climate scientists conclude, we must act now — locally, individually, nationally and globally — to survive. In 2019 and again in 2020, Bank of England Director Mark Carney issued a dire warning, telling British firms that they will go bankrupt unless they divest from fossils and invest in mitigating climate change. By this past December, all major U.S. banks had announced they would invest no more in Arctic drilling: the Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Morgan Stanley. They were joined by another 30 major financial institutions worldwide.
We cannot wait for large organizations or governments, however effective, to solve this problem for us because local changes must happen, too. Even if home-bound, we can help reduce the impact of destructive weather events and the warming climate on Western North Carolina.
The columns that will be published in upcoming editions of The Smoky Mountain News will focus entirely on partial solutions that all of us — renters and homeowners — can act on immediately. These fixes fall under the headings of home improvement, buying practices, household management, gardening and volunteering for land and stream conservation projects. They’re a “triple-win” because they improve our health and overall quality of life, support our local economy and uphold our shared values.
Each column will address: a specific problem affecting all of WNC; what we can do now to solve or mitigate it; why it needs doing; information needed to leap into action, and; who says, the authoritative sources.
These articles are written by volunteers, most of us retirees. We are the Haywood County-based WNC Climate Action Coalition, a non-partisan group of concerned citizens formed in August 2019. We felt compelled to act because our region has unique climate-related problems that must be tackled here: farmers losing crops and livestock to extreme rains or drought, disruptions in everyone’s food supply, loss of tourism dollars, methane from a defunct landfill and damage to or loss of homes from mudslides, for example.
We are also compelled by concern for our youngest relatives and all of their generation who will inherit either the fruit of our labor or a catastrophic whirlwind. Their future depends on what we do now. Our Youth Conservation Corps, inspired by the CCC of the 1930s, is partnering with Western Carolina University, Haywood Waterways Association and other local organizations teaching young people skills needed in leadership, sciences and conservation.
Many of us are members-volunteers with Haywood Waterways Association because we know that conserving our rivers and streams is necessary to our quality of life, food supply and economy. We belong to some of the oldest and largest conservation and nature organizations: the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife, among them. A number of us have backgrounds in farming, building trades, industry, meteorology, biology, health care, gardening, agronomy and water quality. We are especially grateful for the expertise of three members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Many of us are active in churches and civic organizations. Several of us belong to two local churches in the Creation Care Alliance of WNC (www.creationcarealliance.org) — First United Methodist Church (FUMC) and Grace Episcopal Church in the Mountains, both in Waynesville. Both are carrying out climate-related projects.