Opinion: Climate change puts these readers’ rural towns at risk. Why they want to rebuild them.
In a little town in northern Michigan that once boasted a thriving agricultural and industrial economy, the residents are reeling. In June 2017, the US Forest Service closed down the town’s two major industrial sites: a factory for a company that manufactures high-end watches and a paper mill run by a giant from North America famous for its paper packaging. The company, C&A, said it was closing the plant because it couldn’t make money with its high-tech watch factories, which had brought down much of the town’s jobs. In the town center, the building housing the town council was burned out. Residents were out in the streets, speaking out in protest. They said that they had to take action to protect what was left of their community – not just the town, but also the land where the old plants had stood. C&A said that it would relocate the plant elsewhere.
The citizens of this small community fought back, and they are not alone. In the USA and around the world, tens of millions of people are fighting climate change. In the last year alone, people in South Africa and India have organized mass opposition to the country’s policies to mine coal for its industries after the catastrophic deaths of people who work on them and to take local action against the destruction of rain forests, which were the source of much of the carbon dioxide emissions in the air.
Now, the small town of Elkhart, Michigan is struggling with climate change and its devastating impacts on its rural nature. To some, this is just another example of how the effects of climate change are spreading, even in places – like Elkhart, a small city that is now struggling to find solutions to protect itself – most Americans think are safe from the worst effects of climate change.
But in rural America, where people work hard to produce food