Heat is on for Charlotte with changing climate

Story by Hart Walker, Photo Editor

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Temperatures over 100 degrees F in October. Fall-like weather in June. 

Few questions that Charlotte has been experiencing climate change, yet little has been done about it. As rising sea levels threaten North Carolina’s Outer Banks and record high temperatures pose a genuine threat, bureaucratic inaction and non-solutions frustrate Charlotteans.

Climate change has had a threatening presence for years as summers reach record high temperatures consistently, sea levels continuously rise 1/8th of an inch annually, and extreme weather increases in severity and frequency. Having to face the consequences of our actions is a growing trend today as our careless treatment of the Earth starts to catch up with us. Charlotte has been working towards becoming a more sustainable city, but you would be hard-pressed to notice these changes if you were not actively looking for them. 

Charlotte’s Strategic Energy Action Plan, or SEAP, hopes to minimize carbon emissions from city buildings and vehicles to even homes and other buildings by 2050. These steps, however, are still being worked on and are yet to be truly set into effect. I believe that our environment, as well as Charlotte, could benefit greatly from Charlotte’s transition towards becoming a truly green city. As defined by the Green City Concept (GCC), A green city is a “city that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy in all its’ activities, extensively promotes green solutions, applies land compactness with mixed land use and social mix practices in its planning systems, and anchors its local development in the principles of green growth and equity.” 

One of the greatest and most easily recognizable green cities is San Francisco. San Francisco has been working to create innovative ways to have more energy-efficient buildings, and along with a majority of emission-free and hybrid public transit, are becoming leaders in clean energy. Along with this, San Francisco is spearheading the battle to reduce plastic waste, an issue that is very prevalent in the media today. 

As Charlotte continues to grow and new buildings, apartments and housing pop up everywhere so there is no better time to start implementing large scale clean energy into our city. Along with the beneficial environmental impact, the transition to a green city could also help Charlotte establish an identity. Charlotte will always be more to those who live here, but as it grows I believe we are struggling to establish character, and we offer very little allure on any non-economic level. Unless banking has become the new black, Charlotte could use a new, more positive and appealing image and I think sustainability could, at the very least, help establish that image. Environmental concerns are growing, and Charlotte actively and aggressively working to alleviate these concerns could really shed new light on the city, and would allow it to be more than just a place of commerce. 

I believe that Charlotte has many incentives to work towards becoming a green city from economic to social. The threats posed by climate change to Charlotte are very real, and with so many paths moving forward, continued inaction is unacceptable.