Boone’s Town Council has committed to take more aggressive climate action. Establishing the foundation for further action, policy and advocacy, Boone has reaffirmed its goals of climate neutrality and the sole use of renewable energies in municipal operations by 2030 and 2040.

This while setting a 2050 deadline for townwide sole use of clean renewable energies.

Business as usual has caused Boone to creep toward becoming victim to one of civilization’s greatest threats, climate change. Ignoring the warning signs and disregarding future consequences will only seal our fate in catastrophe.

“Along the North Carolina coast, sea level is rising” according to the Sea Level Rise Assessment Report prepared by the State’s Coastal Resources Commission Science Panel. From sea to rising sea, no nation, state or community will be spared from climate change as a devastating, widespread and unprecedented humanitarian crisis prepares to overcome us.

In our community nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, an overdue large scale mobilization effort to pursue a sustainable future is needed more than ever, before it’s too late.

Recognizing the local impacts of an almost unfathomable global crisis is difficult, however, they are becoming increasingly certain to occur. Published in 2020, North Carolina’s “Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan” began integrating climate justice policies into state operations while outlining our bleak future.

The future likely holds dangerously hot summers, severe droughts and devastating flooding. Higher temperatures could comprise local air quality leading to disastrous public health consequences, especially for those with respiratory conditions. Taps may run dry as droughts lead to water restrictions with clean water becoming a luxury. Flooding would decimate agriculture and infrastructure while store shelves become as barren as the fields that once supplied them.

Such predictions sound alarmist, yet they represent reality for millions worldwide. Bangladesh is sinking, Brazil is running out of clean water and Somalia is starving. On our current path, Watauga County will fall to the same fate, however, even in this potentially catastrophic situation a saving grace remains — but only if we choose to utilize it.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, greenhouse gasses caused by human activities “are the most significant driver of observed climate change since the mid-20th century.” Since we know the cause of our existential dilemma, we know how to prevent its reality. Empowered through knowledge, sustainable policies spearheaded by local climate activists are attempting to replace a grim future with a prosperous one.

In 2019, Devin Mullins led the Appalachian State University Student Government Association’s passage of the Climate Neutrality Act which called for the University to achieve climate neutrality by 2025. Now, as SGA’s director of Sustainable Development, Mullins works with university, student, and community stakeholders to ensure climate justice policies are pursued and implemented.

On Jan. 21, town council members Nancy LaPlaca and Dustin Hicks, and I introduced a “Climate Emergency Resolution” which declared a climate emergency and began the implementation of 11 other climate initiatives.

These initiatives stress the need for action and commitment in mitigating our climate crisis.

Previously adopted goals were reaffirmed and private-public partnerships are advocated for and encouraged while implementing measures for community accountability.

Our progress toward achieving a sustainable future must continue as stalling will seal our fate to a catastrophic demise. With leaders such as Hicks, LaPlaca and Mullins at the helm, may we work to prevent a doomsday of our own creation.

Recommended for you

By Adam Zebzda.

(6) comments

Please also see this study by the Breakthrough Centre for National Climate Restoration in Australia, sent to me by Ian Dunlop, a former oil/gas/coal executive with Royal Dutch Shell, who chairs the Centre's advisory board. Ian was a member of Mikhail Gorbachev's International Climate Change Task Force a few years back.

In a nutshell, the Centre concludes that:

1.5oC global average temperature increase, relative to pre-industrial conditions, will occur around 2030, a decade ahead of IPCC projections regardless of any action taken in the interim.

2oC, is now likely prior to 2050, even with actions better than the current Paris commitments. 3oC is likely early-to-midway through the 2nd half of the century.

Even rapid emission reductions will have no significant impact on the warming trend over the next 25 years due to the offsetting effect of reducing aerosols from fossil fuel consumption, which have been cooling the planet thus far.

“Hothouse Earth”, non-linear, irreversible, self-sustaining warming may be triggered between 1.5 – 2.0oC. There is a risk that climate system tipping points may have already moved beyond our influence.

Current global warming, 1.3oC in 2020, is already dangerous. 2oC would be extremely dangerous. 3oC would be catastrophic.

"In short, it is now impossible to limit temperature increases to 1.5oC," Ian says. "Also to 2oC unless global leaders accelerate action on climate change to an emergency footing, akin to wartime...(T)he current fashion for achieving NZE 2050 is totally inadequate. That outcome globally is required as soon as possible, ideally by 2030 (NZE 2030). A massive task, far greater than anything thus far contemplated officially."

Thanks kindly for the comment about communication. Your point is well taken - and please take a look at this latest report from climate scientists - titled Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future. Mr. Zebzda, who is not yet 20 years old, has shown great courage to bring the topic up, something that I've noticed most Baby Boomers would prefer to ignore.

And as for Boone: we are a sad 1-2% clean energy, and our university-owned-and-operated utility, which could do any programs it wished to -- energy efficiency, rebates for high efficiency heat pumps, fair rates to net meter solar, home weatherization and energy audits, etc. etc - does NOTHING. Zero. We have pretty much ZERO solar in Watauga County, while the rest of NC has $13-14 BILLION (not a typo) worth of solar installed; some counties are at nearly $1 billion. So go ahead and criticize Mr. Zebzda - and I notice you won't give your name, which honestly reduces your own credibility -- and do something other than complain and write long anonymous comments. I thank heaven every day that the young people have arrived to speak truth to power. I found it far too lacking in my own generation, many of whom have nice pensions, own their own homes, and don't really have to worry what happens after 20 more years because they won't be here.


So, I'm not a baby-boomer, not even close, and I've spent a great portion of my life studying and teaching these issues. There's a reason I remain anonymous on this particular platform: the politicization of my workplace and the tenuous nature of my teaching job. I'd be happy to talk in greater detail off of this particular platform. You can email me at: and I would be more than happy to talk further.

[This might be nit-picky (but hey, I'm an academic, that's my job) but the very letter I was responding to is also unsigned/anonymous...]

I could go on all day about what a terrible job both Boone and the University do in terms of sustainability: essentially jack-squat. Though the university *loves* to pretend they care about sustainability...they don't, except as an advertising tool. Nearly every RE project on campus was funded by students, not by the university.

To the main point of my comment: that yes, all of this is a big deal, but if you're trying to convince people of that, the doomsday approach *does not work.* I'm probably in agreement with you on like 99.9999% of these issues, just not the delivery/communication style, which honestly at this point, is one of the most important areas folks working in climate-related areas need to focus on. Heck, this is why there's an entire group on campus dedicated to exactly that: The Climate Story Collaborative.


Ahh, now I see why you kept referring to a "Mr. Zebzda." Generally, letters on here have a signature right below the letter itself in large print, I failed to see his name in super fine print wedged between the tags and other recommended stories at the bottom of the page. Apologies for missing that.

(note to The Watauga Democrat: your new online format is straight-up terrible)


As someone that has taught climate-related issues for going on a decade...enough with the "end is near" garbage. Your argument here, quite frankly, is only serving to muddy this discussion and the "doomsday" approach has been shown, time and time and time again, to be one of the *least* convincing tactics for getting people to realize the gravity of the situation we face. It has only served to turn away countless people (and entire political parties.) While I admire your concern and willingness to both stand up and say something (and to work to prevent it) your message here, quite honestly, is hurting the movement.

Is it a dire situation? Absolutely. Is climate change predicted to bring about catastrophic changes to our environment, and thus our place in it? Yup. Does it demand our *immediate* attention? You bet. Is it going to require restructuring much of the way we do things, from transportation, energy, and manufacturing, to farming, personal diets, and legislative policies? Definitely. Is it going to call into question the very nature of our cancerous economic system, which is founded purely on growth as the primary metric for "progress?" Ohhh yeah (there ain't no infinite growth in a finite world, y'all, simple physics...)

However, all of that said, the rhetoric used in this article is not the least bit helpful. You want folks to start caring more about climate change? You've got to work on your delivery.

Effective communication around climate change comes down to two main strategies: story-telling and highlighting the myriad ways in which we ALL stand to benefit from combating climate change: *major* economic boons, millions of full-time jobs, improvements to the health of our environment and thus ourselves, national security benefits, empowering local communities, and in a single (but key) word: resiliency in the face of an uncertain future. By storytelling I mean framing narratives around *how* we can overcome these obstacles. From highlighting already successful movements, to envisioning what a more just, sane, and climate-stable future will look like.

I appreciate what y'all are trying to do here, but please, for the sake of our future, stop with the needless fear-mongering. Have the last 30+ years of climate change discussions taught you nothing? Has the *entire history* of "prophets" not taught you anything? Right or wrong about the issue, it doesn't matter, doomsday prophets fail to mobilize people who are not already inside of the discussion. i.e. if you're not already concerned about climate change, doomsday prophesying is about the last thing that's going to convince you otherwise.

We can (and desperately need) to do better than this.


Also a bit ironic hearing all this coming from a town council which has worked to destroy the beauty of Boone through needless (extreme) over-development, which has increased pollution in our air, soil, and waterways. The same town council that has (quite literally) paved over Boone, leading to major increases in the number and intensity of the very kinds of flooding you've highlighted in your Op-Ed. But hey, slap some PV panels over it and that makes it all better, right?

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