Climate Change and Clean Energy
I have seen the first-hand effects of global warming. Friends of mine deal with asthma and allergies more frequently, my friend’s town was destroyed in a flood and people I know have been struggling with the drought in the Midwest all because of climate change. So when the opportunity arose to attend Will Steger’s presentation on clean energy, I was definitely interested. Will Steger is a recognized authority on Polar Regions and he is, like me, a first hand witness on the effects of climate change. J. Drake Hamilton works at Fresh Energy, a privatized nonprofit energy organization.
Will Steger gave a very somber and eye opening presentation. He started by first stressing the importance of the arctic because it regulates temperatures on earth. Currently, the glaciers are moving 3-8 miles per day, which creates pressure ridges and causes the ice to break. When Steger went to the Arctic in 1995, he began to see a lot of open water and now when he goes there, he is able to canoe. Last year alone, 2/3 of the Arctic was open water. The receding glaciers threaten walruses and 20% of the polar bears in the region. Greenland especially is experiencing the thaw – at 10,000 feet, it was 48 degrees Fahrenheit, which clearly isn’t in the norm. Some of Greenland’s glaciers are moving 15 miles per year. We experience the effects of global warming close to home as well. The floods in Duluth, the great drought in the Midwest and Hurricane Sandy were all intensified by global warming.
Next, J. Drake Hamilton began to tell us about the science behind global warming. Minnesota is very dependent on fossil fuels and we have no way to support ourselves so the private company Fresh Energy was created. In the beginning of her lecture, she showed us a list of the many things that are affected by climate change. The list included where we get our food and water, ocean acidity, air pollutants, and rising sea levels. Climate change is not just a trend,; weather patterns are varying drastically away from the norm. Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide levels have all spiked in the last twenty years. In Minnesota alone, precipitation has increased by 31%.
Despite the impending doom of climate change, Hamilton stressed during her lecture that there is hope. 92% of legislators voted for the clean energy bill in MN. which should cut our carbon emissions in half by 2050. There are many renewable resource options. Many people don’t realize that the number one source of global warming pollution is the energy needed for electricity, so it is very important that alternatives are found. Wind energy is a good option because it has already created over 2,000 new jobs in MN. In addition to this, people can build wind turbines on their property and save money. With a little creativity and patience, global warming can be stopped or at least the effects can be made less severe.