In terms of knowing about climate change, I was a fan of science fiction years ago and there was always these doomsday stories about how the air got so bad people could not live on earth anymore, they had to go somewhere else. You start to realize that these guys were right.”
All of the signals that should have set off alarms that something was not right are swimming around in Ed’s mind. He remembers “living in Los Angeles in the 60’s and 70’s, the air pollution was horrible. We moved to Washington DC and we noticed that the air quality was getting worse, there were just too many cars, the pollution was just coming along.”
Ed and his wife, like many retirees, chose the beaches of South Carolina to retire by. “By the time we got to retirement, we had our house paid for. We were not in debt at all. It was really nice that we were able to do that without being super rich. We can live very comfortably, that is my American Dream at least.”1 Once the Yaws settled in and became part of the local community, the threat of offshore drilling came to the Atlantic Coast. “I would move if offshore drilling came here,” Carolyn says looking out from her sunroom over the thinly-lined trees standing between them and the next house. She remembers growing up playing on the beaches of California and the tar from the oil rigs washing ashore in clumps.
“One of the reasons we bought the house here was not only because we like living here but it is something we can leave to our kids and grandkids so we hope this area stays nice.”2 This is one of the biggest reasons Ed got involved in the grassroots movement Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic (SODA). The idea of keeping fossil fuels in the ground is something that interests Ed, especially since he is concerned about climate change and what it will do to future generations. “It’s the kind of thing that at some point you realize it’s tipping and you can no longer pass it on to somebody else saying that is going to be your problem.”
“I got to the point not too long before I retired, I realized I was just doing the same stuff over and over again. It was like, been there done that sort of thing. Once I got into retirement, I was able to simply try new things, that's how I got into writing letters to the editor. I had time to think about that stuff and take sides on issues.” Ed Started writing letters to the local newspapers about offshore drilling and it did not take long until he was debating pro-drilling proponents through the newspaper. The amount of research he puts into offshore drilling and energy is apparent when he starts rattling off statistics to help support his position.
All of this has caused Ed to make changes in his own life. “I gradually started replacing all of my light bulbs with LED about three years ago. I think I could make enough changes and technology has come along far enough that I could pretty much maintain the way I live, the only difference is that it costs more.” There is an inner conflict between making drastic changes and holding on to the comfortable life he has worked hard to build over the years. “Drastic change is becoming more and more necessary. Had my generation done something about it even 10 years ago the changes wouldn’t need to be so drastic.”
In the end, SODA won the battle over offshore drilling when the Obama administration withdrew leasing off the Atlantic Coast leaving the coastline safe from oil and gas drilling for now. The group met at the beach to celebrate a sweet victory that at times seemed almost impossible.3 “I have a million things I want to do, retirement allows me to do that because I now have the time for it.” Protecting the future of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are a top priority. “They are going to be at the peak of their life in 30 years and 30 years from now if the world keeps going the way it is it won’t be very nice for them.”
South Carolina is rapidly growing in the over 65 years of age range. Like Ed and Carolyn, many people find coastal South Carolina a welcoming place to retire.
As climate instability increases, so does the vulnerability of South Carolina's coastal communities to sea-level rise.