“The whole planet will get warmer.” I heard that from a geologist friend in the late 1970s. “The sea will rise.” He said, and he doubted that there would be enough done to change that.

All seemed far-fetched to me, a non-geological or climate-educated person.

Now look at these recent headlines:

  • Extreme weather patterns are raising the risk of a global food crisis, and climate change will make this worse. (Source)
  • Generation Z Fears Climate Change More Than Anything Else. (Source)
  • Climate Change Is Accelerating, Bringing World ‘Dangerously Close’ to Irreversible Change. (Source)
  • ‘Any growth is more than we can afford’: Carbon dioxide pollution hits record high as planet warms (Source)
  • And how about this one for a region like the Southeast, prone to hurricanes: Community characteristics shape climate change discussions after extreme weather. (Source)

Yet we read news stories or corporate press releases about record amounts of solar or the development of new wind resources.

What gives?

Energy news is a composite of some positive and not-real-positive data. That interplay may be best described in a recent article in The Atlantic, which included this: “For the third year in a row, carbon emissions from fossil fuels have hit a record high.”

It is a quick read given the gravity of the topic. Really, put the ringer on your phone to silent and take some quality time and look it over just to digest some of the facts.

ECC has been writing primarily about energy in the two states, North and South Carolina, with excursions elsewhere when there is a point to make. From my standpoint, which has been involved in utility, research, education and economic development organizations, I see a path that I hope citizens in the two states can help blaze.

It is this. Citizens and policymakers in the Carolinas have a terrific foundation of energy knowledge and experience that can benefit the states, other states, and countries: Solid carbon-free nuclear, surging renewable resources, available hydro and wave resources, universities available for research, and a workforce with hands-on skills.

Together they are a base on which we can build the energy future. That will require putting aside past regional differences, reconciling utility organizations that are not clear-sighted, and shaping current attributes into an innovative climate-friendly, and cash-rich future.

The inspiring leadership to impact climate will have to come from somewhere. They will be first and have a corner on the market of respect and innovation. Who and where? Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas? New England? The Pacific Northwest?

It is a choice. Will our states grow into that role?