By Jim Warren
“The truth is that we have a planetary emergency.”
– NASA climatologist James Hansen, October 2012
North Carolina has a unique opportunity and duty to help avert runaway climate change and repair our wounded democracy.
Most Americans realize global warming is serious but aren’t clear about the urgency. Hansen and others say if global emissions continue rising for even a few more years, carbon and warming already “in the pipeline” will push this crisis past a point of no return, toward a hellish reality for us all.
We don’t have to entirely solve the emergency by 2015, but we must begin to dramatically reduce emissions. Because the world’s second-largest electricity generator, Duke Energy, is headquartered here, North Carolina can make a huge difference – one that also makes economic sense.
For several years, NC WARN and allies have been urging Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers to use his clout to become a climate game-changer. We want Duke to join the clean energy revolution by phasing out fossil-fueled electricity while ramping up energy-saving programs, solar and wind – proven technologies that are abundant and cheaper than nuclear power.
Because of Duke’s size, the mere announcement of such a shift could impact energy markets, attitudes and regulations worldwide and become a positive tipping point toward climate stabilization.
This isn’t pie in the sky.
Duke has invested $2.5 billion in solar and wind out West. In the monopoly-captive Southeast, however, Duke is actually suppressing renewables while holding out hopes of building $20 billion nuclear plants – by forcing customers to pay for them years in advance.