The West Virginia Climate Alliance, a new coalition of 20 state and local organizations, hosted a virtual forum to discuss the risks climate change poses to residents and the economy.
Perry Bryant, co-founder of the alliance, said the state should brace itself for more events like the unprecedented heavy rainfall that flooded rural communities this weekend in neighboring Tennessee, killing at least 20 people. He added West Virginia’s mountainous terrain and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns make it vulnerable.
“The biggest threat to West Virginia from climate change will be heavier precipitation events leading to flooding, as we saw in Tennessee recently,” Bryant asserted.
Bryant noted speakers from the National Wildlife Federation, the West Virginia NAACP, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Ohio River Valley Institute, and other groups will be part of tonight’s conversation, which is free and open to the public.
Bryant added in 2018, West Virginia had among the highest levels of carbon emissions per capita in the nation from the fossil-fuel industry, and in 2019, was the nation’s second-largest coal producer.
“I think it’s really important for people just to be informed,” Bryant urged. “Regardless of how they decide where they are on the solutions for climate change, they need to be informed, and they need to be engaged in the debate.”
A recent United Nations report put the blame on climate change for the extreme weather events, in the U.S. and across the globe. The report’s authors said without immediate action to reduce carbon emissions, the earth’s average temperature will likely increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades. That’s 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.