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Hannah Wiegard: Binge-watching “Doctor Who” and Bettering Virginia’s Energy Options

Hannah invites you to travel in time and help rewrite clean energy history

Appalachian Voices’ new Virginia campaign coordinator, Hannah Wiegard, invites you to travel in time and help rewrite clean energy history.

In my college years, I discovered activism and cultivated a belief that we could generally solve the world’s problems. I’ve kept my optimism, yet over time I began to worry as I learned that Virginia, my home state, is in trouble, with mountaintop removal coal mining destroying our mountains and fossil fuel energy doing damage to our air quality and the climate.

I joined Appalachian Voices to help steer Appalachian Power and Dominion Virginia Power toward clean energy. Over the recent winter break, I got a jump on this massive undertaking in what may seem an unusual way: by becoming utterly engrossed in a Doctor Who marathon. I maintain that it was time well-spent in the fight for clean energy sources and efficiency for the Old Dominion.

For non-Whovians, suffice it to say that nearly every episode of the sci-fi show is based on the premise that events happening now shape the world decades into the future. And I got to thinking, what if executives at Virginia’s electric utilities truly realized their power to affect Virginia’s energy landscape for years to come?

Over the next few years, Virginia will commit itself to one of two paths where our energy sources are concerned and, as the Doctor might say, create one of two possible future versions of Virginia. The future we must avoid is one in which Virginians are robbed twice; first, when they pay more to heat and cool their energy-inefficient homes and businesses, and again when utilities put an extra charge on their monthly bills to build costly, dirty fossil fuel plants. The health care costs and environmental losses from continued over-reliance on fossil fuel in that scenario are tragic, and the carbon footprint of the new power plants that would be built is frighteningly enormous.

But that doesn’t have to happen. With skilled leadership and diligent citizen involvement, we can write a better ending to the story of Virginia’s energy choices. By increasing access to energy efficient home improvement programs, for example, we can use Virginia’s talented and well-trained workforce to reduce energy demand and electricity bills. In addition, Virginia can meet its future energy needs by bringing clean, renewable energy projects online, like offshore wind and rooftop solar installments. The fossil fuels that would have been needed for conventional power plants stay in the ground where they won’t pollute the air and water.

That’s what I call an alternate future where lives are saved Doctor Who-style. And it brings us closer to the big-picture ultimate goal for humanity: sustaining a livable, stable climate for planet Earth.

It doesn’t take a time traveler to understand how cause and effect work. Every citizen in Virginia has the potential to rethink the course we’re on and act in favor of the greater good over the long term. We have a narrow window of opportunity to address this future catastrophe. Like the Doctor, we won’t accept injustice and irresponsibility. That’s the lesson I draw from binge-watching the BBC, and to my companions in the struggle for New Power for the Old Dominion, ‘Allons-y,’ ‘Geronimo,’ and let’s fight on.

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6 Comments

  1. matt on January 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Actually, you guys are absolutely right. Somebody should take inspiration from Game of Thrones to blog about climate change. Hey, wait a minute…

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/09/1830771/summer-is-coming-is-hbo-hit-fantasy-show-game-of-thrones-climate-change-parable/



  2. Chris Wiegard on January 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    But I love your article, Han, keep writing!



  3. Chris Wiegard on January 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Yes, Song of Ice and Fire would also apply: “Humans focus on wealth, power, sex,and pageantry, while the planetary climate drifts towards a new paradigm that will cause untold suffering to the descendants of the time wasters….”. 🙂



  4. matt on January 21, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Ha! I think you put your finger on the problem – I skipped the “thinking about it” step. Silly me!



  5. Hannah on January 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks, Matt! And I’m sure if we thought about it long enough a metaphor for this work would reveal itself amongst the dragons and white walkers, too. Summer is coming?



  6. matt on January 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Yes! I choose the future with a livable, stable climate! But now I’m disappointed that I didn’t come to such profound revelations from binge watching Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones – what am I missing?



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