On Wednesday, October 14, the People’s Climate Movement called environmental activists to Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall to rally on climate change.
Dominion Power’s potential installation of a pipeline that would run throughout Virginia wildlife areas was the big issue, and the free speech chalkboard was filled with “No Pipeline” signs, buttons and stickers opposing Dominion.
Olivia Lewis, a student at the University of Virginia and a member of the Climate Action Society, explains, “This is a really important issue for us because this is where we live and it’s going to negatively affect Virginia.”
Many others at the rally felt the same way. Elizabeth “Lil” Williams, a member of a local grassroots organization called Wild Virginia, explains that the pipeline might endanger rare species like the Cow Knob salamander, which is unique to the Shenandoah region.
Williams says Virginia faces a very real threat from climate change, of which the flooding in Norfolk is a direct example. She says the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which would put a price on carbon and provide funds for climate change mitigation efforts like solar power, is the next step forward and she remains optimistic that climate change can be halted.
“I think that it’s really going to take a grassroots effort,” Williams says, “of people all over the country and all over the world to stand up and say, ‘We have to face this huge problem,’ and I am hopeful that… if we can face the reality of what’s going on, we can make a change.”
Several of the speakers expressed similar sentiments, both about Virginia and about climate change as a whole. Adrian Jones, who grew up in Union Grove, reminisced on his childhood and the slow depletion of our resources.
“When I was growing up,” Jones says, “you could live off the lay of the land—the fruits, the wild berries, your neighbor’s garden… We would even drink from the streams and the freshwater there. Those things are now threatened.”
Many older members in attendance nodded their heads in agreement, sharing in the memory of an environmental age they hope to gain back.
For those in attendance, though, Dominion Power’s pipeline is not a part of this plan for the future. Kirk Bowers, another speaker at the event, mentions that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would set tackling climate change back by 20 or 30 years.
“But,” Bowers says, “we don’t have 20 or 30 years to wait.”
Updated October 19.