When I think about climate change, I think about my brother-in-law Tillman, who spent his career with Big Oil. He traveled the world finding places to drill, baby, drill. He’s now comfortably retired in Dallas, Texas. And he’s a Republican

You may suspect he’s a climate-change denier. Wrong.

Tillman has a PhD in geology from UNC. He’s smart and studious. Some years back, he delved into a study of climate change.

Like most geologists, he concluded it’s real — so real he tells his eight grandchildren that the family’s vacation home on North Carolina’s Outer Banks may be gone when they’re his age. “Act now,” he writes, “to slow the change and preserve this wonderful place.”

The question is whether we, the world, the nation and North Carolina will get real about fighting climate change.

In North Carolina, environmentalists want Governor Roy Cooper to join Virginia and 10 other states to our north in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The other states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The goal: reducing carbon emissions from power plants 70% from 2005 levels by 2030.

President Biden has set an ambitious national goal: an overall 50% reduction in emissions from power plants and transportation by 2030. Joining RGGI would jibe with Biden’s goal and allow North Carolina to do our part, environmentalists say.

Polls show that Americans, especially young people, believe climate change is real and that real action is needed. Yet, there is a stubborn resistance, much like the resistance to masks and Covid vaccines.

Climate-change deniers rely on scare tactics, not science. They claimed Biden’s climate plan cuts “90% of red meat from our diets by 2030.”

No, it doesn’t.

Biden framed his plan not as cutbacks and restrictions, but as an economic engine. He said it would create “millions of good-paying, middle-class, union jobs” — building a resilient electrical grid, cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells and abandoned coal mines, building electric vehicles, installing charging stations and building clean-power plants.

And maybe saving the Outer Banks.

Gary Pearce was a reporter and editor at The News & Observer, political consultant and an adviser to Gov. Jim Hunt.

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