Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Environmental Quality
Air Pollution Control Board
Regulation for Emissions Trading [9 VAC 5 ‑ 140]
Action Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 3/6/2019
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3/5/19  11:58 pm
Commenter: Morgan Avery Johns

Writing on behalf of posterity

To whom it may concern,

My name is Morgan Johns, and I am grateful to share my voice today on behalf of a demographic that does not often feel welcomed to.

Climate change has long been brushed aside as prophetic folklore, left to the responsibility of future generations. Now, recent and ample scientific evidence proves that this generation is no longer “future.” In fact, it’s as present as I am.

Much of our leadership may not be around by the mass extinction that is projected by the end of the century, but at 19 years old, I very well may be. I do not have the jurisdiction to make significant environmental decisions now, but by the time I do, it could be too late. Until then, I will express my urgency with everything in my power and pray that its validity is recognized.

Since my relocation to Richmond in August of 2018, I have been volunteering with several organizations, most notably the Sierra Club and League of Women Voters. Not only have I learned the logistical processes of our government through direct experience, but also how they have been exploited and corrupted for the sake of modern interests. It has also become apparent that, while leadership hears a great deal of opinions, we can never assume that our individual perspectives have already been mentioned.

Thus, I would like to take this time to accentuate the true state of emergency that we perpetuate in this country with appalling constancy. The United Nations Paris accords, which were set into to action in 2016, proposed the necessity of capping warming at 2? and devised strategies for countries to meet that goal. However, since then, emissions only continue to climb. In October 2018, the bar was raised, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that we must enact these goals by 2030. They predict that we are headed for at least 1.5? by or before 2040, with another half degree to follow soon after out of mere residuals. I will be turning 41 that year. How old are you?

We already witness the effects today, becoming desensitized to stories of the most recent hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and more. Just this past Sunday, an inconceivable string of tornadoes ravaged through a town in Alabama. And climate change does not only manifest itself into natural disaster. It directly impacts air and water quality, food and drinking water availability, and expands the injustices already inflicted upon those that do not have the resources to protect themselves. For example, the crisis in Syria can be linked to a severe drought from 2006 to 2011, during which crop failures led to social conflict to the degree of civil war. Virginia has not yet experienced such degrees of catastrophe. However, while we await such inevitabilities, millions around the world are suffering as a result of contributions for which we are just as responsible as they are, if not much more.

All of this is current, and our best-case-scenario of 2? is only ever haunting. The IPCC has expressed that the difference between 1.5? and 2? could be hundreds of millions of lives. That is considering we do, miraculously, meet the Paris standards, which no country is on track to do thus far. This would not only require reduction of greenhouse gases, or even the termination of them from now on - this would also involve “negative emissions” through technology and natural processes that actively remove them from the atmosphere. If not, we are headed to 4.5? by my 101st birthday.

It is quite obvious that the prime suspect of such emissions is continued usage of fossil fuels. The necessity to subtract them should render any premise of addition unintelligibly absurd. Yet, there are still pipelines being permitted. There are still habitats being sectioned off for corporations. There are still too many people that are oblivious to the problems of these scenarios. The fact that short-term monetary gain is being placed above the very hope of posterity is a disgusting reflection of humanity's priorities, and must be addressed with grave immediacy.

I would like to return to a subject mentioned at the beginning of this writing, namely “the mass extinction that is projected by the end of the century.” You may be surprised to hear that the fate of the dinosaurs was not the only example of such disaster in this planet’s history. No, there have been four more. All caused by climate change. Oddly, the only one we learn about occurred by extraterrestrial measures. The others have mysteriously disappeared from our textbooks, perhaps because financial interest sides with industries that perpetuate their shared cause.

And yes, in case you were wondering, we are already in the midst of one. By the end of the century, earth could not be habitable for humans. This is, quite literally, self-imposed natural selection. Eat or be eaten - unless you’re a human, for they will eat themselves.

During this General Assembly session, I was promised by an older man, without a shadow of doubt, that we always bounce back from these “doomsday” situations. In addition to ignoring catastrophe by his privilege of inexperience, he insinuated that I overdramatized reality on the basis of my own. The extension of natural disaster is not a reason to continue excusing it. In addition, none of us have been alive long enough to factually support a claim with such confidence.

I can promise that the point at which it will be positively necessary to address climate change will be the point at which it is too late. I can promise that if clean energy provisions are not met, I will attain your position as soon as my age allows. I pray that it will not have to come to that.

The most important ways to combat climate change include grassroots awareness and local attention. As far as the former is concerned, I would severely recommend a brand new book by David Wallace-Wells, “The Uninhabitable Earth.” To address the latter, the Clean Energy Virginia Initiative and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are exemplary avenues through which to instill change. It is important to note that Donald Trump actively removed us from the aforementioned Paris accords. We must take matters into our own hands, and actions such as these will only encourage others to join the movement.

I am not naive. The opposition to environmental protection will be fierce. The opposition will be rich.

I have no money to offer, nor do I have favors to grant. I have borne direct witness to the fact that “power in numbers” refers more to dollars than it does people. The definition of democracy disintegrates before my eyes, with the opinions and ignorance of a few ignoring the evidence and support of millions. Not only ignoring them, but in doing so, putting their lives at risk.

Renew my faith in the values that this country was founded on. Heed my warnings. Protect your children, as they will be the ones that have to suffer the consequences of inaction.

Support ED11.

Thank you greatly for your attention to these matters,

Morgan Johns