Climate change is happening right now and affecting people worldwide. Natural disasters are increasing in both size and frequency because of climate change. One quantitative effect, the according to the EPA, is that people have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by 40% since the late 1700s. According to NASA, “The year 2016 ranks as the warmest on record.” NASA also states that since 1900 the global land-ocean temperature index has risen by around two degrees fahrenheit. These are just some of the facts surrounding climate change.
In early November, President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be representing the United States at a climate change convention called COP 23. The convention is a UN climate change conference to discuss and advance the goals of the Paris Agreement. COP 23 is happening in Bonn, Germany beginning Nov. 6, going through Nov. 17.
According to President Trump’s official statement on climate change, “To protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.” According to the BBC , the United States and Syria are the only two countries that are not currently signed onto the Paris Agreement.
In February of this year, Tillerson was sworn in as secretary of state, making him President Trump’s chief foreign affairs advisor. According to the U.S. Department of State, Tillerson worked for ExxonMobil for over forty years, ten of which he was serving as CEO. As stated by Tillerson at a press conference in June, Donald Trump, “…ran his campaign on the intention to withdraw from the TPP and the Paris Climate Accord.” In the America First Energy Plan, it says that, “The Trump administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution.” In 2012, President Trump tweeted that, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Although every area of the world is affected by climate change, Minnesota experiences some distinct impacts compared to others.
According to the EPA, in the last century, Minnesota’s temperatures have risen between one and three degrees fahrenheit. In the last fifty years, the annual precipitation has risen by 5-10 percent. The Red River Watershed, located in the northeast corner of Minnesota, states, “The river flows during the worst flood of the year have been increasing about 10 percent per decade since the 1920s.”
The EPA also states that on the Great Lakes, ice coverage has decreased over 60 percent in the past fifty years, which affects the ecosystems within the Great Lakes and the surrounding areas. Severe droughts and floods will seriously affect the agriculture in Minnesota leading to reduced yields of corn and many other crops.
Minnesota is taking particular actions to counteract the effects of climate change. According to gomn.com, Minnesota is currently ranked 7th nationally for installed wind power capacity. According to the youth organization, Sunrise, 2 percent of the total energy generated in Minnesota is from renewable sources. According to the office of Governor Dayton, Dayton has vowed to sign Minnesota onto the Paris Climate Accord even though President Trump has withdrawn.
Governor Dayton has been doing a lot of work to protect clean water in Minnesota, including creating a, “Year of Water Action Pledge,” to encourage Minnesotans to conserve water. On Nov. 18, the youth climate organization called Sunrise is hosting a Day of Dedication at the capital to showcase youth’s commitment to politicians to counteract climate change.
St. Kate’s students have the ability to counteract the effects of climate change as well. One thing that all students can do is speak up by contacting their local representative and express their opinions about climate change and what actions they would like to see.
Professor of Sociology and Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity, Nancy Heitzeg, suggested, “We can always think about how we transport ourselves around.” Heitzeg also said that she “…would encourage people to think about what they eat, where they get their food, what their food is.”
She mentioned that students could strive to have a more plant based diet and be conscious of where any meat that they are eating is coming from. Students can also attend a meeting or event that is put on by the Food Justice Coalition (FJC). According to their description, FJC “aims to raise awareness of social justice issues related to food, the environment, and our local and global communities. We aim to support our community by finding sustainable and educational ways to spread the word and share the food.” They may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter (YourGardenStK).
Students can also take the extra few moments to sort their waste between compost, recycling, and landfill.