Louisiana Flooding Shows Need To Act On Climate

Daily News-Record, August 24, 2016

The recent article about the Louisiana floods in the Daily News-Record quotes Anthony Cox: “It was an absolute act of God” (“Thousands Hunker Down After La. Floods,” Aug. 16) Yes, it was, in the sense that Louisiana has always been at risk of flooding. But, as climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe told The Washington Post, “climate change is exacerbating that risk…” In other words, we are also responsible.

Cox also said, “We’re talking about places that have literally never flooded before.” That is the problem. As Hayhoe also said, “When climate is changing, relying on the past to predict the future will give us the wrong answer.” We are now seeing the effects of our past CO2 emissions. Reducing, and ultimately eliminating, future emissions will reduce those effects. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, has said that rather than spend money on reducing emissions, we should just adapt. Studies have shown that will cost more. It will also be more painful.

Leslie Grady Jr., Harrisonburg

Time For Honesty On Climate

Daily News-Record, June 4, 2016
H. Bishop Dansby, Opinion (Open Forum)

Climate change continues to be the greatest challenge of our era and probably in all of human history. At first, our government tried to address the issue with comprehensive energy and greenhouse emissions legislation. Lack of Republican support caused the legislative approach to fail, but in the meantime the Supreme Court made it clear that climate change could be addressed under the existing Clean Air Act, and the Obama administration took a number of strong regulatory actions to address climate change through the Environmental Protection Agency, giving the U.S. the credibility to sign the Paris climate accord. Meanwhile, Republicans, including Donald Trump, are doing all they can to roll back these gains.

There has been relatively little debate in the scientific community on the basics of climate change and our need to reduce the use of fossil fuels for a couple of decades. However, among politicians and the public, there has been continual debate, denial and partisan divide. While Democrats have generally accepted the conclusions of the scientific community, Republicans have vigorously denied them. The position of Republicans has gone from (1) there is no climate change, to (2) there may be climate change, but it is not manmade, to (3) there is climate change and man may be contributing to it, but there is nothing we can do about it. They have never quite gotten to: There is climate change, man is the cause of it, and we can avoid its catastrophic effects if we take adequate action.

Polls show that Republican voters are more progressive on climate change than Republican politicians, with Republican political leadership being the least progressive of all.

Shenandoah Valley representatives and residents are reflective of the national picture. With the action taking place in the EPA and other regulatory agencies, the only legitimate role of state and federal legislators is to stand aside and let the regulatory process go forward. Instead, elected officials such as Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Ronaoke, and Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, are doing all they can to frustrate the regulation of greenhouse emissions, whether by litigation, defunding or legislation to stop the EPA and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Climate change is an undeniably formidable challenge. Energy is the foundation of our modern economy. The discovery and development of abundant coal, oil and natural gas has made possible the modern standard of living we take for granted. Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that as the problem of climate change forces us to develop renewable sources of energy and more energy efficient buildings and vehicles, we will emerge with an even higher standard of living. While we would not have voluntarily chosen to transition off of fossil fuels, the doing so will usher in a new era of cheaper, cleaner energy.

It should be said in no uncertain terms that political leaders such as Goodlatte and Obenshain, who are ignoring the climate-change challenge, are failing us at an historic dimension. Further, the well-educated Shenandoah Valley physician, lawyer and businessman who brushes off the climate-change problem is failing us and his descendants. This is a failure of ethics, morality and imagination, and it is a failure that will have enormous practical economic consequences. These politicians and citizens may deprive us of the next and necessary era of human prosperity, not to mention depriving our descendants a livable planet.

Possibly, the world will stumble forward to address climate change without the help of Republicans. Renewable energy is competitive with fossil fuels, so the market can help solve the problem. Thankfully, most of the other major nations do not deny climate change and are moving forward with policies to address it. Even if this happens, what does this failure by a large part of our government and citizenry say about the quality of the contemporary American culture? Republican politicians and voters need to show some integrity and join the effort to legitimately and honestly address the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

Mr. Dansby lives in Keezletown.

Climate Skeptics Imperil Us All

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – May 3, 2016

Joni Grady
Opinion (Open Forum)

theaterfire.300I have a scenario running through my head late at night when I take a break from my climate-change concerns. It was prompted by the assumption that free speech does not mean it’s OK to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. The vision I have was brought to mind recently after the editorial agreeing with George Will that the attempt to prosecute ExxonMobil for its campaign of disinformation about the risks of climate change is really an attempt “to punish the climate denial apparatus” (“Stop The Dissent,” April 25).

In my scenario, there’s also a crowded theater, with people eating popcorn, drinking sodas, and enjoying the latest Mad Max movie. Some are in the balcony in the cheap seats, some are in air-conditioned boxes, but most are just sitting on the main floor. The theater begins to get a little warm but hey, it’s full, so what? It gets gradually warmer and someone goes to the office to ask for more AC. The management says everything’s fine, why not buy a soft drink? A little later some people towards the back think there’s a slight smell of smoke in the air and again go to the office to find out what’s wrong. Management says it’s just the smell of the new popcorn machine, not really smoke, why not have another bag? The buzz of concern grows louder when someone else sees a curl of smoke and a tongue of fire rising from a crack in the back wall. This time the management sprays air freshener and announces that there’s absolutely nothing wrong and that the complainers are just hypersensitive sissies who are trying to spoil the movie for everyone else.

Someone dials 911 to report a possible fire but is told all engines are otherwise occupied with car wrecks and cat rescues. The people in boxes continue to enjoy the apocalyptic film about a distant future. Those in the balcony are being overcome by the smoke and heat but few hear their cries. The management continues to scoff at the complainers and warns them about the criminal consequences of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. They’ve invested heavily in the new popcorn popper and the air-conditioned boxes and nothing can, or will be allowed to, go wrong. The publicity alone would ruin them.

Nevertheless, people begin to leave, with some of those overcome by the thick smoke in the balcony being helped out by their friends. Others are left to die. People in the boxes call in their complaints about not being able to see through the smoke and are reassured that it’s just a harmless special effect. Ultimately they too succumb. And this is the scenario with a happy ending. In the other one, everyone dies because management has locked the doors, contrary to safety regulations they philosophically oppose.

Our constitutionally granted right to freedom of speech is one of our most basic. It protects our right to espouse our own religious and philosophical beliefs. It even protects our right to tell other people what to eat but not to force-feed them. It protected Michael Mann when dissenters tried to shut down his research. It protects the editor’s favorite skeptical scientists whose work is simply ignored when it doesn’t reflect reality. And it protects the editor when he expresses his misunderstanding of the facts of climate science. Free speech encourages active, partisan, loud, even unruly debate over policy, including policy about combatting climate change.

But does it protect management when it denies the theater is on fire and tries to hide the evidence? Does it protect management when deaths occur as a result? My imagined patrons had only to leave Theater A and travel down the road to Theater B. Unfortunately, there is no Planet B. We’re stuck on Planet Earth and it’s beginning to smoke.

Joni Grady lives in Harrisonburg.

Letter to Gov. McAuliffe


March 3, 2016

Dear Governor McAuliffe:

The organizations and individuals in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area have signed this letter as an expression of support of a robust and timely compliance with the EPA Clean Power Plan.

We also strongly support going beyond the Plan with policies that incentivize and support the development of renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, and environmental protection in the broader sense.

We oppose the continued expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, as that will only delay
addressing climate change and creating a renewable future.

We are certain that such policies will benefit Virginia’s economy and quality of life, and that failure to do so will put Virginia’s future at risk.

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley
and 177 other signatures collected throughout March

300x224xApril-2-Day-of-Action-Cut-Carbon-Now-300x224This letter was prepared and circulated in support of the April 2, 2016, Virginia Day of Action to Cut Carbon organized by a coalition of regional environmental groups “… to call on Gov. McAuliffe to live up to his commitment to deliver to the people of Virginia a truly Clean Power Plan that cuts carbon pollution long-term and safeguards health and prosperity for generations to come.” – Appalachian Voices

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) members Laura and Bishop Dansby collected over 175 signatures on CAAV’s letter to Governor McAuliffe asking that he ensure Virginia’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) reduces carbon emissions and employs renewable energy. The letter, with its signatures (including the local chapter of the Sierra Club, Harrisonburg Rockingham Green Network, and the Voluntary Gas Tax group) carried a cover picture of attendees at the November “Postcard to Paris” event in Harrisonburg. Laura delivered the letter to Brian Moran, Secretary of VA Homeland Security (which includes resiliency and climate change), during the April 2 “Day of Action” Event in Fairfax: Working Faithfully With Our Leaders on Climate Solutions, at which Secretary Moran was a speaker, for delivery to the Governor. The cover picture showed the November event’s attendees displaying the large postcard asking the Governor not to forget Paris’ climate agreement. Read Bishop Dansby’s report of this event here.

Carbon Tax Would Save Lives And Environment

Daily News-Record, February 17, 2016

THE WAYS IN which current investments in carbon- intensive growth are resulting in ill health as well as climate change are well documented by a number of major international reports. A recent study by the International Monetary Fund estimated that fossil fuel combustion costs $5.3 trillion a year in health and environmental damage.

The study concluded that placing a tax on carbon would cut outdoor air pollution deaths — 3.7 million annually — by half, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 percent. This tax would raise about 3 percent of GDP, or $3 trillion per year. That revenue could be reinvested in growth-enhancing public spending — for example in health, education and the green economy. It would also save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Laura Dansby, Keezletown



The Honorable Terry McAuliffe                                                                    January 18, 2016
Governor of Virginia
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Re: An Open Letter to Governor McAuliffe on Clean Energy, Climate Change and Virginia’s
Implementation of the Clean Power Plan

Dear Governor McAuliffe:

In August 2015, the U.S. EPA adopted a “Clean Power Plan” that sets specific goals for the Commonwealth of Virginia and all other states for reducing carbon pollution. With rising seas and extreme weather constituting a growing public health and economic threat to our state and nation, the purpose of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Virginia’s power plants in a way that is fair, flexible and cost-effective.

If implemented correctly, the CPP presents a historic opportunity to reduce the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint, fight climate change and leave a better planet for our children—all while strengthening our economy, creating new business opportunities and saving money for families. Virginians will also see significant health benefits, preventing premature deaths, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and thousands of days lost from school or work due to decreased air pollution as a result of the Clean Power Plan.

In direct conflict with this, Dominion Resources has embraced a compliance approach that, if implemented, means the company would increase – not decrease – harmful carbon emissions from its Virginia power plants. The company wants Virginia to implement the CPP in a way that would not apply to new fossil fuel power plants in Virginia. This would allow Dominion to continue its massive expansion of gas-fired generation at the expense of investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Dominion’s plan is fundamentally contrary to the intent and spirit of the President’s Clean Power Plan and the interests of Virginia residents. Dominion Power does not have the authority to decide how to implement the Clean Power Plan in Virginia. By law, that decision falls exclusively to you, our chief executive.

Despite the rhetoric of fossil fuel industries and their political allies, the history of environmental regulation in the U.S. shows that reducing pollution does not hamper economic growth, but in fact spurs innovation and investment. Indeed, the renewable energy sector represents one of the fastest growing segments of our nation’s economy, with growth rates for wind and solar energy consistently in the double digits. As you recognized when you announced plans for the Commonwealth to buy 110 megawatts of solar, these technologies are good for our health, good for taxpayers and good for business.

Virginia can and should reduce its total carbon pollution from power plants at least 30% by the year 2030, by applying the same emissions limit to all plants (existing and new) and increasing our use of energy efficiency and renewable energy. With this strategy, Virginia’s Clean Power Plan will reduce electricity bills and grow our economy, while helping to meet our obligation to future generations.

Never in history has a Virginia governor had greater authority, greater responsibility and a greater opportunity to combat harmful carbon pollution. Numerous polls and surveys show that a majority of your constituents support a swift and meaningful transition to cleaner sources of energy. We implore you to deliver to the people of Virginia a Clean Power Plan that lowers carbon pollution and ensures the health and safety of Virginians for generations to come.

Thank you for your time and leadership in this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Walters, Co-Moderator
350 Central Virginia

Natalie Pien, Chair
350 Loudoun

Victoria Bragunier, Policy Director
Alliance for a Progressive Virginia

Katie Huffling, Director of Programs
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Hannah Wiegard, Virginia Campaign Coordinator
Appalachian Voices

Ashleigh Shackelford, Community Organizer
Black Action Now

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director
Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Gregory T Haugan, Sr. PhD, Group Leader
Citizens Climate Lobby, Northern Neck Chapter

Dr. William Nelson, Group Leader
Citizens Climate Lobby, Richmond Chapter

Laura Dansby, Steering Committee Chair
Cathy Strickler, Founder
Climate Action Alliance of the Valley

Rita Frost, Campaign Organizer
Dogwood Alliance

Dave Redding, Director
EcoVillage Charlottesville

Rees Shearer, Chair
Energizing Renewable Growth in Holston Valley (eNRG)

Sarah Bucci, State Director
Environment Virginia

Eric Goplerud, Executive Director
Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions

Dave Redding, Board Member
Food not Bombs

Heidi Dhivya Berthoud, Secretary
Friends of Buckingham

Olga Torres, President
Hampton Roads Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

David Redding, Director
Healthy Food Coalition

Liz Havstad, Director of Operations and Strategic Growth
Hip Hop Caucus

Joelle Novey, Director
Interfaith Power and Light (DC. MD. NoVA)

Kaye Tice, President
League of Women Voters South Hampton Roads

Terra Pascarosa Duff, Manager of Field Operations
Moms Clean Air Force

Freeda Cathcart, Chair
Mothers Against Pipelines

Freeda Cathcart, Chair
Mothers Against Uranium Mining

Quan Williams, Policy Associate
New Virginia Majority

Richard Gajarsky, Partner
Old Dominion Energy Services

David S Redding, Director
Open Source Recycling

Pat Okerlund, Community Organizer
Organizing for Action (OFA), Hampton Roads

Elizabeth K. Williams, MD

Mark E. Hanson, President
Renewable Energy Electric Vehicle Association (REEVA)

Anthony Smith, CEO
Secure Futures, LLC

Dr. Erica Holloman, Program Coordinator
Southeast CARE Coalition

Edmond Marroni, Sowers of Justice Leadership Team
Sowers of Justice in Hampton Roads

Billy Weitzenfeld, Executive Director
The Association of Energy Conservation Professionals

Glenn R. Short, Group Leader
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist, ForEverGreen

Natalie Pien, Chair
Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun Green Team

Madeline Smith, President
University of Richmond Greeks Going Green

Michael James-Deramo, President
VCU Environmental Coalition

Glen Besa, Director
Virginia Chapter Sierra Club

Jessica Greene, Climate Organizer
Virginia Conservation Network

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Barton, General Minister
Virginia Council of Churches

Kendyl Crawford, Board Chair
Virginia Interfaith Power & Light

Ladelle McWhorter, Chairperson
Virginia Organizing

Aaron Sutch, Program Director
Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods (VA SUN)

Rabib Hasan, Coalition Chair
Virginia Student Environmental Coalition

Claire Wyatt, Statewide Organizer
Virginia Student Power Network

Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome, Director of Federal Policy
We Act for Environmental Justice

Skip Stiles, Executive Director
Wetlands Watch

Misty Boos, Director
Wild Virginia

Cc: The Honorable Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade
The Honorable Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
The Honorable Molly Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources

This letter was initiated by the Virginia Sierra Club.

Photo credit: Shenandoah National Park

Editor Confused On Climate Science

Daily News-Record
December 11, 2015

While belittling the idea that climate change is serious, the editor makes much of past natural climate variability, as if that means that we are not responsible for what is happening now (“Hysteria Continues,” Dec. 3). Ridiculous!

Chris Mooney summed up the issue in The Washington Post: “To cite past warm periods as if they somehow invalidate what’s happening during the present one, is to deeply misunderstand the significance of these periods to the current climate debate, and to scientific understanding.”

Leslie Grady Jr.

Climate Scientists Are Not Hysterics

Daily News-Record
December 10, 2015

This newspaper’s editorials continue to try to bring down climate scientists and our need to get a handle on anthropomorphic climate change. (“Hysteria Continues,” Dec. 3).

To me, the hysteria is coming from the editorial board because they realize they may be on the wrong side of this issue, in that 97-plus percent of climate scientists and 60-70 percent of U.S. citizens understand that we have a problem that needs to be addressed.

They quote Matt Ridley and Benny Peiser, neither of whom denies climate change, but who have a “feeling” that a warming world might actually be good for us and doing something might hurt the economy.

This is in direct contradiction to what climate scientists tell us. It seems to me that it would be prudent to act to decrease our carbon blanket as insurance. The economic argument against doing something has been addressed by fee and dividend (Citizen Climate Lobby).

Charles Strickler

We Must Protect Our Children From Global Warming

Daily News-Record
August 28, 2015

babyAs I ate lunch in a restaurant, a 2-year-old and an infant were at a nearby table. Because an article in the Daily News-Record reported that July was the hottest month on record, I wondered what their lives will be like (“July Sets Record As Hottest Month Ever,” Aug. 21). How high will sea level rise? How will changing precipitation patterns influence agriculture? Where will people go when parts of our country become too hot to be hospitable?

Much has been made of the federal Clean Power Plan and the national commitment to cut CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, both are inadequate for keeping Earth’s temperature increase below 3.6 degrees, an increase too high to stop the ice from melting and sea level rising.

When will we take the hard steps necessary to cut our CO2 emissions drastically? Will it be soon enough to ensure a bright future for all children?

Leslie Grady Jr.

Columnist Williams Wrong On CO2

sunColumnist Williams Wrong On CO2
Les Grady
March 23, 2015, Daily News-Record

In a recent column, Walter Williams tried to discredit the idea that atmospheric CO2 levels are causing climate change (“Climate Change a Ruse for Socialism,” March14). He did so by noting that “460 million years ago, CO2 concentrations were 4400 ppm, and temperatures were about the same as they are today,” thereby implying that CO2 levels and Earth’s temperature are not connected.

Mr. Williams failed to add that another determinant of Earth’s temperature, the sun, was weaker 460 million years ago. The sun was so weak that at least 3000 ppm of CO2 was needed in the atmosphere just to prevent an ice age. Thus, rather than discrediting the role of CO2 in regulating Earth’s temperature, his example affirmed it.

Today, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest since the development of human civilization. Humanity’s greatest challenge is stopping its increase.

Leslie Grady Jr.