Is there anything that is more precious than the natural resources we have and the world around our planet? We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. Our reporting has been expandedOn energy, the environment, and climate change David Boraks, a long-time WFAE reporter, assumed a larger role covering climate and launched the weekly Climate News Newsletter.
Boraks also worked with two special, limited series related to these beats: Asbestos Townfocuses on the history and use of asbestos in Davidson. The Wood Energy DilemmaThe North Carolina wood pellet industry is the focus of the,
Here are some of these most interesting stories about climate, the environment, and 2021.
Climate change is already a threat for the Gullah Geechee population on the SC coast.
We visited members of the Gullah geechee Nation, a South Carolina Coast tribe, while world leaders met in Glasgow to discuss how to slow down the effects of climate change. Their lives are already being affected by climate change. Rising sea levels, stronger storms and changes in the sea island habitats which affect farming and fishing all have an impact on their way of living. “The scientists have been there, Queen Quet, Gullah geechee leader, told WFAE. They’re now catching up and saying, “Oh, wow! The Gullah Geechees had something.” That something is balance. Balance is what you live.
Imagine the effects of climate changes on shipping and ports
The COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of what happens when global crises disrupt shipping and supply chains. It’s easy for us to see how climate change is affecting our supply chains and shipping. Simon Keeble, a logistics expert and logistician, said that the pandemic was a preview for what could happen when rising sea levels rise and severe weather impacts ports like Charleston in the Carolinas. Analysts are already skeptical about the resilience of major U.S. port facilities to climate change. Keeble stated that modern man is entirely dependent on logistics, and that it is something we take for granted. He believes that politicians won’t be in a position to solve the problem, so it will be up businesses.
The climate crisis presents a new mental health concern: Climate anxiety
Concerns about climate change are taking on the form A growing number of people are experiencing “climate anxiety”. Mental health professionals call this the range of reactions that we have to bad news. “People feel fear. They are feeling anger. They are feeling sadness and regret. They feel helpless and don’t know what to do,” Susan Denny, a counselor at Davidson College, said. We spoke to her and other experts in August for a feature story.A special segment of Charlotte TalksThis session was both focused on the problem as well as strategies for dealing with climate anxiety.
Slowly bubbling out: 1 Year after Huntersville’s gas spillage, the cleanup continues
August marked the one year anniversary of Huntersville’s gas pipeline explosion. This incident was one of the worst in North Carolina history. Walker Sell and Owen Fehr were high school students who discovered the leak while out riding in Oehler Nature Preserve. We interviewed them. WFAE’s description of the gasoline rising from the earth captured the seriousness and urgency of the incident. We also spoke with Colonial Pipeline employees and state environmental officials to find out what happened and how it was financed. It could take over a decade to completely clean up..
Plans for a new lithium mine are being discussed in Gaston County
As Piedmont Lithium seeks critical approvals for its proposed lithium mine, we will continue to report on it. Plans call for four open-pit mines averaging 572 feet deep. They would supply lithium for Tesla and other companies to make electric vehicle batteries. Piedmont Lithium estimates that the mines will create 500 jobs, and that they could open in 2024. The project is a compromise between climate change solutions and local environmental concerns. Last summer, Gaston County commissioners approved a 60-day moratoriumso they could develop new mining regulations. In September These rules were adopted and ratified by the commissionersThese documents explain how the project can move forward. In November, citizens continued to voice their opinions. A public hearing was held by state environmental officialson a state mining permit. We’ll find out in 2022 if the mining permit has been approved and whether Gaston County officials have allowed a rezoning. Keep watching.
Wood pellets are often presented as clean energy, but are they?
North Carolina has been a leader in wood pellet manufacturing over the past decade. Here, forests are cut and processed into wood pellets. These pellets are then shipped to Europe or Asia where they can be burned as “clean fuel.” Wood is thought to be renewable because it can be replanted. However, researchers and environmentalists are restraining the classification of wood pellets as “zero-carbon.” They argue that wood is worse for the environment than coal, which is being replaced by it. It is also an environmental justice concern because the plants are often located in low-income communities and communities of color. We spoke to experts and visited neighbors.NPR is offered at one plant in Northampton County.
This series features more from WUNC and other friends. The Wood Energy Dilemma.
New North Carolina law regarding biogas facilities raises environmental concerns
This year, another type of bioenergy was also in the news. In July, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bill to make it easier for North Carolina’s hog farms to obtain permission to turn hog refuse into biogas. It seems like a solution to both hog waste and renewable energy. However, environmental and social justice advocates claim that the law restricts community input and weakens site restrictions. It also fails to address public safety concerns. Among other things It preserves the current system of collecting hog dung in lagoons and spraying it onto nearby farms.. Blakely Hildebrand from the Southern Environmental Law Center stated that “the pollution and public health hazards that result from this lagoon and sprayfield system are disproportionately bear by black, Latino, or Native American communities.”
North Carolina governor sets ambitious goal for offshore wind power by 2040
Leaders set ambitious goals for wind energy offshore the U.S. coast this year. Cooper issued an executive directive in June calling for the development by the state of 2.8 gigawatts (offshore wind) by 2030 and 8 by 2040. This follows President Joe Biden’s March announcement that the nation would aim to develop 30 gigawatts offshore wind power by 2030. It will reduce our dependence on fossil-fuel power plants for electricity if it all gets built. This goal-setting has sparked an economic development race among states looking to be a staging ground for offshore wind development. To lobby for the industry, the Offshore Wind for North Carolina coalition was formed by 10 advocacy groups in September. Jaime Simmons, spokesperson for the Offshore Wind for North Carolina coalition stated that “there’s still a lot of economic opportunity to make North Carolina’s mark on this industry.”WFAE in September.
Although the health effects of climate change have many implications, this doctor sees some reasons to be optimistic.
Despite all the doom, gloom, and concern about climate change, there are still a few people out there who see the glass half-full. Howard Frumkin is a climate optimist, physician, epidemiologist, and professor emeritus of the University of Washington School of Public Health. He believes that new technology, improving economics and shifting public opinion will make a difference. He stated that there are many solutions and plenty of reasons to be hopeful.
Major flood insurance reforms will cause rate increases and decreases for NC and SC
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the largest changes to the National Flood Insurance Program since its inception in 1968. New rates are described to be fairer than current rates, as they include individual property values. It’s also the first time that flood insurance has taken climate change into consideration. We spoke with experts and property owners, including Roy Wright, a Charlotte resident who managed the flood insurance program between 2015-2018. WFAE was informed by Wright that price increases would better reflect the risks. “As the impacts of climate change continue the worsening of flooding, then there will be more people who need flood coverage. Wright stated that there is no better tool for communicating risk than a pricing signal.
Gov. Cooper signs the energy bill, despite some concerns that it doesn’t go far enough
This year, North Carolina’s energy future was a topic of contention for business executives, lawmakers, and utility executives. The question was how to cut greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. In October, Gov. Roy Cooper signed HB 951, a compromise bill on energy reform. The legislation was created to promote cleaner energy as well as change the regulation of electric utilities. Cooper stated that he signed the bill, even though it was opposed by business, environmental, and consumer groups and could result in significant price increases. The bill requires state utilities regulators in 2022 to plan major changes. These include closing coal-fired power stations and establishing rules for how Duke Energy can receive multi-year rate increases, bonuses, and incentives for achieving goals.
North Carolina is seeing a rise in the electric vehicle industry
Electric vehicle sales are increasing nationwide, but the Southeast is still lagging. Because of a lackluster incentive systemExperts agree. The Carolinas are becoming a hotspot for electric vehicle manufacturing and related businesses. Three economic development announcements were made in December that will bring EV batteries plants from the Carolinas.Toyota (Randolph County), British Bus and Van Maker Arrival(Charlotte) and electrical Proterra is a bus makerGreer, South Carolina. This means that hundreds of new jobs in clean energy will be created in a region that is already well-known for its banking, tech, and pharmaceutical industries.
Even with all the talk of rising sales of electric vehicles, buying one is still a strange decision for many. Where do I begin? WFAE’s “FAQ City”, a podcast that aired in two parts, attempted to answer your basic questions in a series of November and December. Part 1: Claire Donnelly talks with David Boraks, host of Claire Donnelly, about the different EV brandsThey include the cost of the charges, rebates and tax breaks and how far they can be charged. Part 2 will cover the different types of electric vehicle charging systemsHow much maintenance is required (way lower than your gas-guzzler) and how to respond if your friend questions the climate-friendliness EVs.