* NC at DC Forward on Climate Rally

I’m exhausted, have a sore throat, no voice, but inspired!

Sunday was a powerful, powerful day.

Our bus from Charlotte for the Forward on Climate rally in DC left at 12:05 AM Sunday morning and arrived back in Charlotte at 3:30 AM Monday morning. I have never been involved with a more enthusiastic, committed, and dedicated group of individuals that just had to go to DC to tell President Obama that now is the time for action (more on these folks in a later post).

I’m so proud of the Central Piedmont leadership team that were able to attend – Steve Copulsky, Eamon Holmes, Christine Lisiewski, David Robinson – and my wife Nancy Yudell. David did an outstanding job in arranging the bus and serving as Bus Captain. Thanks David!

Folks from around the state gathered to begin the rally. Here’s a group photo of just a few (click to enlarge)

NC Forward on Climate DC 02_17_13

There was a sea of people all around. 50, 000 people gathering in the bitter wind and cold getting ready to march.

50000 Strong

And when I awoke this morning,  I had this message from one of the crew form Charlotte. It”s a powerful message that you’ll want to share.

Powerful David! Thanks so much for being there and making a difference!!

Why I Am Attending the Climate Rally

By David Underwood

Several people have asked me why I am going to the Forward On Climate Rally in Washington DC this weekend. The obvious answer is that I want to add my voice to those who are petitioning our government to take real action to address climate change. But the question is not always that straightforward. Some of those who ask this question are implying things about the issue of Climate Change and about me personally, and I want to acknowledge and answer those implied questions and assumptions not because I feel the need to explain myself to anyone, but in order to clarify and organize my ideas about an issue with many complicated facets including the political/ideological, and physical / climatological-ecological aspects .

When I was a kid growing up in Charlotte, NC  I  enjoyed all four seasons. We always had relatively mild winters  in the Southeast compared to other parts of the country, but we always had some snow every winter. I remember being out of school for snow days each and every school year first grade through twelfth. Summers were hot and humid but bearably so. We used to run and play outside and walk to and from the neighborhood pool all summer without experiencing any serious heat stress.

We don’t have the kind of cold snaps in Winter now that we had in the 70s. There are no longer any of what my grandparents used to call “hard freezes” when the temperature gets below 20 degrees for more than a few hours. When I was in middle school  we lived near a golf course that included several fairly deep ponds that served as water traps. The winter of 1977-78 was cold enough that the ponds froze hard enough and deep enough that we actually walked across them.  That would not be possible in the NC Piedmont now.  Spring comes earlier and Fall comes later now and what cold weather we do have is broken up by mild balmy days even in the middle of Winter.

When we have a warm balmy 65-75 degree day in December, January, or February and people comment on how “nice “ the weather is, my enjoyment of it is always tinged with uneasiness that it is not natural and the thought that if the high temperature is 70 degrees in January when it should be 50 does that mean that in July when it should be 90, it will be 110?

My own observations of changes in local climate patterns are in no way scientific, and do not prove that the Earth as a whole is warming at all. Some of the people who ask me why I am attending the Climate Rally are really asking why I believe the scientific theory of Global Warming. I am not a scientist, but I believe any reasonably intelligent layperson who is willing to examine the scientific evidence in an unbiased way is capable of drawing a conclusion for himself.

When somebody asks the question “do you believe in global warming” there are actually two different questions implied.  The first question is – Is the Earth getting warmer? The second one is – Is the warming caused by or contributed to by human activity? The answer to the first question is easier to determine than the second one. We have temperature records dating back to around 1880. Of course there are fluctuations from year to year but when you plot the average global temperature by year on a graph there is a clear upward trend that begins with the start of the industrial revolution in the early 1900s and accelerates after WWII.  The second question is – are we causing the increase? The average temperature of each planet in our solar system gets lower as you get farther from the sun which makes perfect sense, but there is an exception. Venus is hotter than Mercury even though Venus is 31 million miles farther from the Sun. The reason for this is the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere of Venus which retain much of the solar radiation the planet receives. Mercury has no atmosphere and radiates more heat back into space. The burning of fossil fuels on Earth is increasing the thickness of our atmosphere and causing our planet to retain more heat. This was known as the greenhouse effect 25 years ago and is causing climate change now.

But isn’t there some disagreement about global warming in the scientific community? Not really.  The percentage of the American public  that believes the Earth is warming is around 63-64%. But among climate scientists the figure is 97%. The powerful companies that produce fossil fuels have engaged in a disinformation campaign to create that degree of doubt among the lay public. Among registered Republicans 48% believe in anthropogenic global warming. They are more likely to get their information from Rupert Murdoch’s  news outlets which unfortunately now include the Wall Street Journal. There was a Journal op ed piece published last year that refutes the evidence for global warming that was signed by 16 scientists led by the Big Oil funded Princeton physicist William Happer.  Happer et al cherry-picked their stats to perpetrate the big lie that global warming is nothing to worry about.

There are three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.

~ Mark Twain

It’s hard to get a man to believe something that his salary depends on his not believing.

~ Upton Sinclair

We have arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

~ Carl Sagan




Conservative Republicans who get their information from less biased sources are more likely to believe that global warming is real – for example the last two Republican Presidential candidates.

We have many advantages in the fight against global warming, but time is not one of them. Instead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, or the precise timeline of global warming, we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring. We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great. The most relevant question now is whether our own government is equal to the challenge.

~ John McCain, speech, May 12, 2008



Big Oil and King Coal don’t have to prove that global warming is a myth. They just have to create enough doubt so that “more study is needed” and they can continue with business as usual. This is the purpose of their disinformation campaign including the completely manufactured “Climategate”. The scientific community reached a concensus long ago. Global warming is happening. It is caused by human activity, and the climate impacts will be significant and possibly catastrophic.

When my conservative friend asks me why I am going to the Climate Rally, the implied question is – “are you one of those tree-hugging radicals”? Other implied questions are – don’t you have problems of your own and other things to worry about that are closer to home? And – do you really think you can make a difference? The Energy lobby is an elephant and you are a flea

50 years ago the people who marched with Martin Luther King, the Freedom Riders, the sit-in demonstrators, and everyone who fought against the abomination that was the Jim Crow South were labeled as radical extremists. Today everyone knows they were right. We owe a tremendous debt to those radicals for the integrated society we have today.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his own individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world.  In fact it is the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

Why am I going to the Climate Rally? This is what I believe : 50 years from now the world will be very different and the beliefs of the most radical environmentalists of today will be mainstream then. The effects of climate change will be everywhere and our descendants will ask – why did they allow this to happen? What did they do to prevent it? If my grandchildren and great grandchildren could ask me that question directly, I would like to be able to say more than “I worried about it, but was too caught up in my workaday world to do anything about it”.

David Underwood

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