March 11, 2021

Oped by Danielle I. A. Adams, Former North Carolina Soil & Water Conservation Supervisor, Elected Officials to Protect America National Leadership Council

Danielle I. A. Adams, Former North Carolina Soil & Water Conservation Supervisor

Our planet is in peril, people are dying, and we as a nation are not prepared. We were not prepared to face this pandemic and we are not ready to face all of the crises that climate change is going to cause. We are not prepared to deal with the devastating effects of global infectious disease, natural disasters, increased severity of storms, flooding and food insecurity that the climate crisis will cause. We need action on a federal level or the climate crisis will decimate our communities, especially communities of color, in ways few have ever imagined.

I served for 12 years as a Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor in North Carolina and saw firsthand the impact environmental degradation has on communities and the uneven distribution of these struggles. I witnessed the impacts of drought, urban runoff, massive storms, heat island effects, and saw how unprepared we were to deal with these situations. We, as a state, had to adapt to protect people from these disasters. We had to balance the need of local farmers with urban residents. We had to balance real estate development while maintaining the integrity of our existing communities and our land. In a state already plagued by inequalities in access to clean water, healthy food, and quality health care these events emphasized how broken our system is. In a time of crisis those who were the most in need proved to be those that were the furthest from help.

But this is not a North Carolina specific problem, it is not contained by borders, it is not contained in coastal communities. I can attest to that, as a recent transplant to the Denver Metro area. But the same issues we face in coastal communities are also faced here in the Mountain West.

Here we are seeing native and indigenous communities struggle.The lack of access to clean water, because it’s being sold off to global fossil fuel communities, has made game scarce and is impacting their ability to live. They are plagued by the same injustices I saw in North Carolina where their access to basic necessities like food and water are threatened. They are facing infectious diseases without access to quality healthcare. They are dying at disproportionate rates, just like the communities I worked with in North Carolina and this cannot stand. 

Our country is infected with inequity and we cannot let this stand.

Communities of color are dying because of preventable issues that our government can help address. There is a need to be proactive with helping people access health care, food, clean water, housing, jobs and economic security. We need a federal plan to have resources to protect vulnerable communities, build resiliency, protect our natural resources, and protect our people. We can’t just place a band-aid on these problems, we need to tackle them at the root. We need a fair and just system to protect all residents of this county and we need to tackle the climate crisis before its stranglehold on our planet and communities worsen. 

We need bold action. We need the federal government and the Biden administration to declare our climate crisis a national emergency. We need a national climate plan that’s comparable and just as ambitious as our global partners. We need to rejoin our global partners in making sure that we are fighting together because climate change doesn’t know borders, it doesn’t stop whether it’s a city, county, state,  or nation. This is a global crisis and requires global solutions. And it starts here, at home.