If you are in Charlotte, North Carolina then you just breathed in air from the country's 10th smoggiest city, according to the American Lung Association accounting of our ozone. Yikes!
Most of us have read the news about the effects of the climate crisis in terms of large scale natural disasters as well as changes in icebergs and polar conditions. We've read about the destruction of our oceans and extinction of vital species.
Yet, the truth is that the climate crisis is already affecting our families and children here in our homes. You don't need to seek out large scale natural disasters but rather look to the insidious effects of pollutants impacting our daily air quality. In Charlotte, for example we have 56,000 pediatric cases of asthma. The cause, you might ask. In part, because of our hot summers but also attributed to the fact that so many Charlotteans commute to work with cars, which contribute to our air pollution. And then there is the problem of our energy source--the coal fired power plants. While our own Duke Energy is considering closing seven power plants (likely in part because of the cost to adhere to new environmental standards, see Article on Duke Energy), they still are nearing the end of construction for the Cliffside plant in Rutherford County which promises to increase our demand on coal energy.
So, climate change is already in our own backyard as pollutants threaten the safety of the air we all breathe. It's not only a question of cinematic images of tidal waves, but also a much-less-media-captivating image of diminished air quality.
Fortunately, North Carolina is blessed with community activists and faith leaders who have not only protested the Duke coal plant but also continue applying pressure on Washington to end mountaintop mining (another way pollutants can be released, not to mention the immediate ecosystem impact). For more information see the Washington Post article on Mountaintop protest in D.C. We are blessed in North Carolina with some excellent organizations that help combat the air crisis as well as mountaintop removal. I encourage you to check out Clean Air Carolina and Repower North Carolina as well as Appalachia Rising(not local to North Carolina, but a critical group in this work). None of us has to reinvent the wheel to have impact.
We are fast approaching 10/10/2010 the "Global Work Party" created by 350.org, an organization begun by Bill McKibben (author of the 1989 global warming book The End of Nature). 350.org is creating a global movement seeking solutions for the climate crisis. The number 350 signifies the safest limit, 350 parts per million, for CO2 in the atmosphere. We're currently at about 390. The "Global Work Party" is a chance to join millions around the world in seeking solutions for climate change. I encourage you to check out 350.org and find an event near you to join. No matter how small, you can have an impact. The world is changed by the transformation of one heart at a time into one action at a time. It's possible to preserve this earth for our generation as well as the next.
This really isn't just about air particles, coal plants, and mountaintops, though any one of those would suffice for a global movement. It's about living a life of faith grounded in the belief that we are connected to this earth from the air we breathe, the ground we walk upon and the water we drink. We are pieces of a much larger communion of life: the interdependent web of existence. We each play a salvific role in that web when we become conscious of our connection and decide to act in accord with all that is our life.
Amen, and Happy Global Work Party Day.