“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to ‘tell it like it is.’ On the basis of this obligation, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that Earth is facing a climate emergency.” (Quote from the magazine Bioscience, published on Nov. 5, 2019)
This is the bad news. How about some good news? So, what can we do at the world, national and local level of a community like Boone, and a county like Watauga, N.C.? What could our county of only about 55,000 residents, including about 19,000 students and about 3,600 faculty and staff to help stop this impending disaster which is affecting the entire world population of about 7.5 billion people?
Again drawing from the more than 11,000 scientists, many of whom contributed to this Bioscience article, the solutions involve numerous topics such as energy, natural ecosystems, food, economy and population. We have fortunately been witnessing major government, corporate and citizen activists making a huge difference in building the renewable energy facilities and energy conservation programs we need. But given the increasing threat of climate change, we are not doing nearly enough.
As we know, our current national government is, in many cases, working against our climate efforts. We are the only nation in the world that is attempting to leave the world-based Paris Climate Accord. The presidential election of November 2020 will determine whether we will actually leave or get fully back in the Accord.
So, how can we best help to stop climate change? At the national level, the best way is to reduce climate change is to reduce and ultimately end the federal and state subsidies for fossil fuels, as we increase the numbers of electric vehicles and renewable solar and wind facilities. As you will see, locally, we are already starting to move toward electric cars.
In the Boone area, we are making some of the best efforts in North Carolina to reduce the climate change threat. The Town of Boone is already turning our fossil fuel vehicles into electric vehicles. During the last year, we have purchased two hybrid-electric sedans, one a police car. The Town of Boone funded a $100,000 proposal town manager John Ward and I wrote in May of 2018 to move to electric vehicles, and to install solar panels in or near Boone, beginning with a 500 kW capacity — the total power needs of our community are about 7,500 kW .
In fact, our goal is to construct these 7,500kW by the end of 2030. Our transportation fleet will ultimately be all electric and will number about 40 vehicles. Instead of hybrid-electric, we hope to shift to fully-electric vehicles as soon as possible. No gasoline, no diesel, by 2030!
Our solar energy will have a capacity of 7,500 kW by 2030, most of which we hope will be purchased from New River Light & Power as we switch utilities from Duke Energy to NTE on Jan. 1, 2022, for our energy supply. This 7,500 kW of mostly solar power will provide all the electrical energy Boone needs, including the electric power to fuel our Town of Boone vehicles.
So, are there helpful changes that you and I can make in our personal lives to help stop the climate emergency? The short answer is a resounding, yes! Several major contributions can be made by you and your family. For me, the most expensive personal choices have included putting 16 PV (photo voltaic) collectors on my roof — solar panels have dropped about 6-8 percent in cost every year for about 10 years now, and are expected to keep dropping for at least several more years, making solar less expensive than either coal or natural gas.
Another personal choice: Regrettably, rich nations such as ours have chosen to provide meat and dairy products as a major part of our diet. Cattle (beef and dairy) and pigs (pork) require a tremendous outlay of high-protein feed. The field corn and soybeans for cattle and pigs occupy many millions of U.S. acres. You get a “twofer” when you reduce these millions of acres: 1) is for reducing beef, dairy and pork in our diet; and, 2) is for freeing this agricultural land for raising healthy vegetables for human consumption.
There are many more ways we as individuals can help, and at this time we have about 10-12 years before we must have reduced the level of climate pollutants.
That’s a big order, but we have done it twice at least, with the military buildups of WWI and WWII. What will you do to make a difference?