The true impact of climate change

Melissa Nuñez – General Assignment Reporter

To understand the cause of climate change James Tait, Ph.D. professor for science education and environmental studies, said rising earth temperatures are the source.

“The most important thing to focus on is the average temperature of the earth and then we look at climate changes on the earth as a whole,” said Tait. “What is happening is the temperature of the earth, the oceans, as well as the atmosphere are increasing over time and it changes the average climate locally and globally.”

Tait added that locally, climate change has caused Conn. to go into a drought for the past several months. Tait stated: due to the drought, water in the aquifers, reservoirs and streams are down, as well as soil moisture.

Tait said Conn.’s unusual weather patterns could have lasting detrimental effects for citizens, especially farmers.

“[Climate change] is going to change the types of crops you can grow,” said Tait. “People who are dependent on a type of food source will find themselves less likely to grow that food. We have an industry of creating maple syrup from sugar maples. In the kind of precipitation and temperature pattern we are seeing, we may lose those. In the long run, the sugar maples will not be able to grow in New England at all.”

Tait said that positive changes need to be made in an effort to stop average earth temperatures from rising to a critical and irreversible level.

“We do not want the global climate to warm more than about 2 degrees past the temperatures from pre-industrial days, 2 degrees Centigrade,” said Tait. “At that point things would kind of snowball on their own and it would not matter if we stopped burning fossil fuels or not.”

Natasha Fitzpatrick, junior and public health major said that despite warmer temperatures, people argue whether climate change even exists.

“Well it is definitely happening. I think some people are a bit in denial, but it is definitely happening,” said Fitzpatrick. “You can tell with the warmer weather, even though it is winter over here.”

Fitzpatrick said that some ways to combat climate change are through carpooling as well as turning off lights and conserving energy when it is not necessary.

Suzie Huminski, coordinator for the Office of Sustainability said along with 700 other campuses globally, Southern has pledged to become net carbon neutral as soon as possible or by 2050.

“In terms of carbon reduction, the new science building and the school of business are both environmentally friendly designs,” said Huminski. “We have purchased some electric vehicles to reduce vehicle emissions, and we are also working on solar feasibility for campus. We have two smaller solar installations on Brownell Hall and the other is on the School of Business.”

Huminski added that the Office of Sustainability encourages students to get involved, that they offer internships, fellowships, volunteer opportunities, as well as various forms of community outreach.

Tait said students may be surprised at the small ways they can make an impact against climate change.

“Google, ‘how I can live more sustainably’ and a list of a zillion ideas will come up. Things you do that have an impact on climate are sometimes things you are not even aware of; when you use a lot of hot water, [it] has to be heated. Heating requires energy, that could be heated through the use of burning natural gas which puts greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Or individuals can educate themselves and then educate a friend.”

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


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