This letter was sent to our local elected officials by student Nick Gomer. Nick grew up in Cape Charles and is currently in his final year at the University of Virginia pursuing a degree in Global Environments and Sustainability.
Senator Lewis and Representative Bloxom,
I write to you to encourage the swift creation and support of stringent environmental legislation in the upcoming general assembly. I am a graduate of Broadwater Academy and soon-to-be graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in environmental sustainability. In my time as a student I have extensively studied climate change and the severe impacts of this problem ranging from mass species extinction to dramatic sea-level rise to widespread food and water shortages. I have also studied how many of these problems will disproportionately affect those who have done the least to create climate change, namely low-income people and people of color. Meanwhile, in my time as a resident of Cape Charles I have directly seen the effects of our environmental degradation occur as our town floods more and more often and as the barrier islands are increasingly washed away by each passing storm.
Mitigating climate change, however, is not a matter of individual responsibility. Rather, ensuring an environmentally-inhabitable future will be the result of sweeping reforms that must happen at a systematic level. Virginia’s impending entry to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will be taken as good news, yet still it will be a day late and a dollar short.
The Virginia legislature must act boldly to be a voice of regional environmental leadership to fill the total void of federal environmental leadership. Our commonwealth must listen to the outcry of its citizens and reject Dominion Energy’s proposal for an unnecessary pipeline to transport methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than CO2. We must instead invest in the enormous potential of offshore wind in our state which would create both clean renewable energy and a workforce to build and manage that new infrastructure. We must invest in local and statewide public transit which would not only initiate dramatic reductions of fossil fuel emissions but also ensure a more equitable economy and society.
I ask for your service in creating and supporting progressive and necessary legislation such as this as a citizen and a constituent. But, I also ask for your service for this issue specifically because it is an existential threat to humanity, and I, as a young person who has done nothing to create this problem will be dealing with climate change’s growing effects for the rest of my life.