GTA Electric Bus (copy)

One of the Greensboro Transit Authority’s 10 new electric buses sits under a quick charger after it ran its first route in January.

“Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything in the universe,” conservationist John Muir said.

The Earth is our home. We humans are embedded in the natural world that sustains all of life.

Why is it then we ignore this vital connection between ourselves and the rest of our world? Our modern concept of development has become the mindless extraction and consumption of Earth’s finite resources while ignoring how this so-called progress degrades the once free and life-sustaining gifts of our planet: drinkable water, breathable air, fertile soils, a temperate climate, oceans teeming with life, natural systems that clean our air and water.

Today we are witnessing more frequent and destructive storms, devastating fires, droughts, crop failures and heat waves across the globe. People wait in long lines for water in many parts of the world. Whole communities are wiped out, resulting in an increasing number of refugees seeking relocation.

The science is clear: Because we burn an overabundance of dirty fuels, whose emissions become trapped in the atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature is warming. Arctic ice is melting, oceans are rising, the intensity of storms is increasing. People will increasingly experience catastrophic days of dangerous heat.

This is the challenge of the century. We have about 12 years to turn this around.

The good news is we humans are wired to connect. We can’t wait for governments to lead. Networks of people are coming together around the world and here in the U.S. bringing a diverse range of community stakeholders to the table to create solutions.

More than 130 U.S. cities have made commitments to transition their economies to 100% renewable energy. Apple, Ikea, Starbucks, Amazon, Target, Walmart and General Motors are leading a move toward 100% clean energy, not only because it’s the right thing to do, it’s good for business.

In Greensboro, the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign’s community mapping project interviewed more than 50 local leaders and activists who are ready to work on an inclusive plan that highlights the strengths as well as the challenges in committing Greensboro to transition rapidly to a renewable energy city.

We celebrate many community assets in Greensboro such as the Downtown Greenway, the 10 new electric buses and other plans that have been accomplished by many hardworking people in city government-led initiatives.

The city of Greensboro has chosen to engage in a LEED for Cities project that will establish major benchmarks in key areas “to support high-performance, cost-effective outcomes… focusing on the interrelationships among city systems.” While the city has increased its commitment to creating a master plan, it has not committed the necessary paid staff to facilitate ongoing regular meetings including community stakeholders.

All major change in the world has involved the collective action and voices of the people working together in coalitions and large movements to push for a fundamental change in direction.

We need a new story for Greensboro that is not rooted in commercial expansion and development but values first our health and safety, clean energy, green jobs, and an equitable distribution of resources.

Find your own path. Get involved. Link up with others such as the Solar Power Now Coalition, Sierra Club Piedmont Plateau Group, Citizens Climate Lobby, Community Sustainability Council, Greensboro Beautiful, Green Society, city of Greensboro waste-management projects and many others.

Be a part of the solution. Together we can make it happen.

Make sure you never miss our editorials, letters to the editor and columnists. We’ll deliver the News & Record's Opinion page straight to your inbox.

Kathe Latham, Ph.D., is a community educator who leads the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100% renewable energy campaign in Greensboro (RF100 Greensboro).

Load comments