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Life in the Sacrifice Zone - Barb Jarmoska

I live in Lycoming County, PA – dubbed the “bullseye of the Marcellus Shale”, where there are currently nearly 1700 permitted fracked methane wells. Close to 200 of these are in my township, many in my immediate neighborhood.

My home is in the woods, on 20 unleased acres accessed by a narrow, no-outlet country road that dead ends at leased Loyalsock State Forest land. During active fracking operations, I am often unable to come in or out, my country road dangerously transformed into a diesel-truck, gas drilling superhighway.

Methane extraction is personal and heartbreaking for me and my family. The fossil fuel industry has forever changed the aesthetics of the neighborhood and the character of this once beautiful land. Two climate-change-driven super storms in the past decade have done great harm the clarity, beauty and course of nearby mountain streams and the Loyalsock Creek the tributaries flow into.

Climate change is here, and the threats are looming larger with each passing year. We are rapidly approaching tipping points in atmospheric CO2, ocean acidification, sea level rise, species extinction and more, the results of which are impossible to reverse. Without an all-out effort and change of human behavior, life in the future promises to become a challenge for every sentient being on the planet. The entire planet is rapidly becoming “the sacrifice zone.”

Each person has a role to play in this dire need to immediately reverse the course of human history. We have the science to prove the reality of the ever-increasing threats, we have the technology to make the necessary transformation in energy production and consumption possible, we have the means to reverse course immediately, before it is too late. We lack only one key factor: the political will.

Although much has changed in the way American democracy works since the days of Abraham Lincoln, I continue to cling to Lincoln’s statement, “Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.”

The Climate Convergence in Harrisburg on June 11, 12, and 13 is the largest gathering of its kind in the history of PA. For myself, for my family, for generations yet to come, I will be there. I hope you will, too.

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