By Daniela Johnson
Homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew are falling into the ocean.
The windswept stretch of shoreline on the eastern tip of Folly Beach is my favorite place in Charleston. At low tide, you can walk past the bone-like trees out onto a flat, sprawling surface of sand and seashells. Across the harbor, Morris Island lighthouse watches over calm water. It is the intersection of sky and sea, a quintessential vision of the Lowcountry. The spot seems timeless and protected from the evolving city around it.
But Charleston and the surrounding areas are increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Recently, The Post and Courier published a piece on the crumbling houses of Beaufort County's Harbor Island. Homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew are falling into the ocean. As sea levels rise, the island’s remaining beachside properties face similar fates.
Globally, fires rage. Temperatures soar. We’re left asking, “What can I do?”
I found hope in Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), a nonprofit working to reduce carbon emissions through national legislation. CCL supports the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend (H.R. 763), an act that will impose a revenue-neutral fee on fossil fuels and decrease carbon pollution by at least 40% in 12 years. As carbon costs rise, gas and oil companies will turn to cheaper, cleaner energy sources. Money from the fee will be allocated to the American people in equal shares.
CCL offers opportunities for action on a local and national scale. Members write letters to congressmen, submit op-eds to local publications, and meet with leaders to discuss effective climate solutions. Volunteers also work to teach the community about the climate crisis, and CCL provides resources for climate education.
No matter what your qualifications are, you are needed to support the most urgent cause of our time.
It is one of many groups in Charleston tackling climate change, and some are joining forces to fight for clean energy in our state. Audubon South Carolina is working on a campaign that would require Santee Cooper to replace their coal-fired power plants, which they are shutting down, with clean energy alternatives. CCL supports this initiative and recently attended a workshop on the campaign.
Other local groups include Charleston Surfrider Foundation, an organization devoted to protecting beaches and waterways across the U.S., and the Charleston chapter of the Climate Reality Project, a group working to fight the fossil fuel agenda and pushing for clean energy. Another organization, the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, recently helped a class of Mt. Pleasant second graders write postcards to congressional leaders about their environmental concerns. Check out a list of additional organizations here.
You don’t have to be a scientist or master a new skill set to get involved. These groups rely on grassroots movements and empower volunteers to bring their own talents to the table. No matter what your qualifications are, you are needed to support the most urgent cause of our time.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world must be off fossil fuels by 2055 to halt the worst effects of climate change. With 35 years left, our best hope is to address the larger systems at play. We can work together to demand a change from our political leaders. You can be a part of the solution.
To find out more about CCL, visit citizensclimatelobby.org, and check out @clcharleston on Instagram or Citizens’ Climate Lobby Charleston SC on Facebook. There is a meeting every third Thursday of the month. The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 19th at the Houston Northcutt Starbucks in Mt. Pleasant.