Climate Change and Clean Energy

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2012 by Madeline Johnson

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.

 

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About Madeline Johnson

Junior

Madeline Johnson

Biology/History with a minor in Chemistry

I may have the most generic Scandinavian name but I like to think I’m far from ordinary.

For 20 years of my life, I have rocked the suburbs like Jon Bon Jovi did, except that he was talented (as Ben Folds would say). In high school, I was involved in speech, debate, concert band, marching band, and volunteer work. To this day, I enjoy tossing the Frisbee disc with friends, reading an absurd amount of books, writing poetry and listening excessively to every genre of music excluding country.

At Concordia, I play the flute in the Symphonic Band, play ultimate frisbee, am an orientation leader, am a leader in science academy, work for the admissions office, do biology research, and am working to bring an organization to campus called Girls In Real Life which is meant to improve the self esteem of women everywhere. I also enjoy volunteering at Sanford hospital on the weekends. My majors are biology and history with a minor in chemistry and I will be graduating in 2015. I hope to join the peace corps after college and then attend graduate school for public health and possibly law.

In the future and in the present, my main goal is to make a difference in the world. I believe people are inherently good and I search for the upside in every situation. People have described me as a ray of sunshine, but I’d just say I am an opportunist who believes in love and lifelong happiness.