Letter to the Editor: It’s time to tear down the coal power plant representing SIU


SIU’s power plant is seen from a pedestrian overpass over South Illinois Avenue on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Carbondale. (Autumn Suyko | @AutumnSuyko_DE)

By Noah Leverett

I didn’t know climate change was real.

I was an 8-year-old kid riding my bike around Carbondale. I was crashing into UPS trucks. Five years later, I even broke my arm riding my bike, feeling the wind too heavily in my sails. But heck, I didn’t know what global warming was.

Not until I was lucky enough to attend an AP environmental class and graduate high school, did I have the slightest idea what it was.


Trash filling oceans. Rising waters. A hockey shaped curve in the graph that illuminates us to the drastically rising temperatures.

Before I knew it, I was in college. I applied to SIU with a mission to learn about the Earth; I started in plant biology. After being rejected by a field opportunity in the Canada Tar Sands, I switched gears to mathematics.

I learned about curves, about sudden changes in trajectories, about trends.

There are two curves I have noticed — two trends — both of which are reflections of some of the problems that need solving in Carbondale.

One, of course, is the rising wealth inequality in the United States of America. Of course, it is a free country, and the rich deserve some of their riches, of course. I would argue that they don’t deserve the wealth that brings overwhelming harm to the environment.

Researchers at SIU and elsewhere have found coal to be one of the most harmful fossil fuels to extract from the environment.

But the rich keep getting richer, right? At least the administrators. At least the politicians. While SIU students and faculty (some, of course) are in debt.


Meanwhile, we do the research. We bring in the ideas, the writing, the educational insights; learning how to fix the cars.

But it’s jobs. It’s employment. It’s manufacturing. Coal does, in fact, live near the heart of many American families. But let me offer a solution, of course, because I have mentioned the problems.

How about raised beds? A massive greenhouse, or multiple greenhouses, for that matter, with the nice big label: Southern Illinois University Carbondale. All of which can bring food to underprivileged families, as well as horticulture therapy for those affected by war or tragedy. This is important not just for our environment as a globe, but for our community as Carbondale.

I think our students, many of whom know the issue of global warming all too well, would rather their grandparents drive to a town for graduation that doesn’t blatantly represent coal, something we now know is a disaster for our globe.

We’re doing the research about the environment and about agriculture. We’re even doing research about therapy.

But why aren’t we walking the walk?

SIU student Noah Leverett is a senior from Carbondale studying therapeutic recreation. 

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