Back in 2006, when Scott Shuford was Asheville’s planning director, he reluctantly accepted a friend’s invitation to attend a meeting about the impact of climate change on local governments.
“I didn’t see how a two-degree temperature change could affect the community,” he recalled, referring to the predicted rise in earth temperatures in years to come. “But I agreed to attend, thinking it would only be about 15 minutes.
“After about an hour-and-a-half I came out of the meeting drenched in sweat.”
All the plans he had drafted up to that day suddenly seemed to have overlooked an unsettled future fraught with unanticipated challenges. Those two degrees of temperature change meant greater threats of weather extremes — of torrential rains, devastating floods, and landslides, and of their opposites, extended drought and wildfire.
“We weren’t ready,” Shuford said of Asheville’s infrastructure at the time.