Chapel Hill: Opinion

Dana Davis: Come talk about climate change

In the 40 years I’ve been alive, I’ve witnessed the climate steadily change in a way in which it doesn’t seem likely to return to its old patterns.

At a recent seminar I listened to law professor Donald Hornstein, member of UNC’s Institute for the Environment, speak about climate change’s impact on the insurance market and how both insurance and society must adapt to it.

The folks in the insurance business understand risk mitigation. So when they provide statistical evidence of a significant rise in catastrophic storms and damage occurring over the past 30 years, with a projected steady rise in such events over the course of this century, the time has come for us to take notice.

It will take a nation, in fact, all nations, to plan for the future, but nations start with individuals who form communities. The trouble is that many of us feel overwhelmed, apathetic, or even unwilling to accept the existence of climate change. The thought that it will yield unpleasant results, or that we caused it, and the feeling many have that we are powerless to do anything about it, further lends itself to the notion of an inconvenient truth. We’re busy and overcommitted. Folks have grown weary of the guilt that comes with the messages we receive about our everchanging world in which we live.

I understand that weariness and have felt it as a practitioner in the nonprofit world. So I was glad when Town of Carrboro Environmental Planner, Randy Dodd, called on the Planning Board to reach out to the community through a series of meetings this fall entitled, Carrboro Community Scale Energy Use and Climate Change Adaptation.

This is an opportunity to make this discussion local, accessible, and lasting. The aim is to inform, learn and strategize ways in which we may all recognize our shifting way of life and work together to improve the quality of life for all that inhabit this planet, our home.

Hornstein spoke of the difference between adaptation and resiliency. In short, resiliency is the resulting society that remains due to change. The adaptive society seeks not only to accept, but understand the changing environment, proactively seeking improved ways to lead a more symbiotic coexistence between the natural and built environments, believing that the world is too small to ignore this relationship any longer.

To this aim, the Carrboro Planning Board is working with the Environmental Advisory Board and Transportation Advisory Board to host a series of three events at the ArtsCenter, with the first one set for 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22. The topic will be Urban Forestry and Climate Change Adaptation, and the discussion will be led by our Environmental Advisory Board.

The second community meeting will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, with a focus on the future of transportation. The final seminar will take place Wednesday, Nov. 5, and will be on sustainable building practices and more efficient energy use.

Our talks will be engaging, and we are fortunate enough to welcome several speakers with expertise from each field to discuss these issues with the community, including Brian Litchfield (director of Chapel Hill Transit), Lyle Estill (founder of Piedmont Biofuels), Johnny Randall of the N.C. Botanical Garden, and Carrboro environmental planner Randy Dodd, to name a few.

I look forward to seeing you there and sharing ideas for the future.