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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Faces and Voices of Environmental Protection in Charlotte

Dec 29, 2019 11:21AM ● By Shannon Mc Kenzie

The 2019 United in Science report compiled by the World Meteorological Organization, a high-level collaboration of the latest climate science updates, summarizes the following: 

·      2015-2019 is on track to be the warmest of any equivalent year on record and 1.1 C above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times

·      CO2 emissions from fossil fuel continue to grow by over one percent annually

·      Limiting temperature to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels goes hand-in-hand with reaching other world goals such as achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty

·      The current level of nationally determined contributions (NDC) needs to increase fivefold for the 1.5 C goal

Many in the Charlotte area of all ages are concerned with the state of the environment and are actively working to translate that concern into action by bringing it to the forefront. Natural Awakenings Charlotte interviewed local residents dedicated to reversing climate change and protecting the environment.


Ollie Ritchey 

Ollie Ritchey, age 18; Senior at Community School of Davidson.

NA: What drives you to attend the Friday Youth-Led Climate Strike at the Government Center in Charlotte?

OR: I strike because the science is clear. It’s confusing to me sometimes why everyone is not there, but I know that it is in part due to a lack of education. If our being there just sparks someone’s interest and results in them researching more into the climate crisis, then it’s worth it. I think, also, I strike to keep some hope. It’s hard to do that these days and it can get disheartening to be in this field of activism, where we get so much media attention and no real action. 


NA: What would you most like to see the older generation do to help you?

OR: We, as children, don’t necessarily get to choose what lifestyle we practice because we don’t have the money. Rather, our parents and grandparents are the primary determiners of our lifestyle. Adults choose where the money goes, and money is what drives this catastrophe. So I would say the best thing they can do is research how to use their money responsibly, to boycott polluters, to support sustainability, and to help those less fortunate. We cannot have climate policy or reform without addressing the justice aspect of things, and a lot of that injustice comes from the major income gap that we see in America. Not everyone can live a sustainable life, and that’s something we need to address with equal empathy and passion.  


NA: What would you most like to see the younger generation do to help you?

OR: I would love to see more young people do their own research and form their own opinion on this topic. If they would like to join us, we are working on big things with our fellow youth activists and there will be more opportunities coming up very soon for youth wanting to have a larger role in action planning and climate activism in Charlotte.



Ritchey is a co-coordinator of Extinction Rebellion Youth Charlotte and helps organize local climate action events. For more information, visit Rebellion.Earth, follow @XRYouth.Charlotte on Instagram or email [email protected].




Jerome Wagner


Jerome Wagner, age 61; Father of three, Grandfather of four.


NA: What drives you to protest climate change and protection of the environment and how long have you been doing so?

JW: I became concerned about global warming and climate change in 2009. I was moved to conscious action by Al Gore’s book, “An Inconvenient Truth.” I worked for 30 years as an environmental engineer and I found the graphs, photos, and narrative to be gripping and compelling. Over my decade of activism, I have worked with and led groups focused on climate advocacy. I have spoken at municipal council meetings; written to legislators; marched with 100’s of 1,000’s; fasted on water only; been arrested for civil disobedience; and supported other climate groups – such as our local youth.

Sadly, those actions seem to have gotten nowhere – literally. Rather, carbon emissions continue to increase, we continue to construct new gas pipelines, and we are turning our backs on global climate agreements.


NA: What would you most like to see the older generation do to help you?

JW: That we put aside our many distractions, that we inventory the people, things, and activities that we love, that we consider that those may not be available to our children and grandchildren, and then commit to and execute the most effective climate-friendly actions we can imagine doing.


NA: What would you most like to see the younger generation do to help you?

JW: I hope that more and more youth start to challenge adults to imagine what their (the child's) world will look like and to commit to real progress in turning around climate change.


Wagner is the organizer of the Charlotte branch of For more information, visit 350 Charlotte on Facebook, email [email protected] or call 607-348-5773.


For more information on the 2019 United in Science Report, visit

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