Climate Conference of Madrid, Spain
What is climate change? Why do some people take it so seriously? Will it affect me? Will it affect my family and children? These are questions I think about over and over again. When I look outside and it is beautiful and sunny and 90 degrees out. Then the next three days it’s raining and below 60 degrees. What does this mean? Why is this happening?
Several times I speak to family, friends, peers and I ask those questions about the climate. Do they believe this is real or that it does not exist at all? After The People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st I think it’s safe to say that our voices matter. It is time for us to speak up and become educated on the issue rather than wait any longer to make a change.
Countries need to work together on the issue and not create more chaos and worry. This can be achieved by monitoring more carefully and enforcing laws more strictly. Climate data recently showed that Central and South America are going to face decreased food quality and production, and declining water in availability over the next decade. That is not the only part of our Earth that is in trouble either, we all are.
Our generation should be more concerned about what they can do to help and why they should gain knowledge on climate change. Scientists believe that the Antarctic Sea will lose a total of 1/3 of its volume by 2100. Because of this, more ice will melt and many species of animals will be in danger. The sea ice supports whales and serves as mating habitats for all of the Antarctic Wildlife (mostly seals and penguins). I know most college students are not thinking about this on a daily basis, but learning about climate change is important. Not just for us humans, but the animals on this Earth as well.
One of our main goals is to use social media because almost everybody owns a cell phone or a smart device. Keep people updated on maintaining a low-carbon economy and using renewable energy, recycling, using solar technology, and reducing deforestation. Climate change IS affecting the Earth, the loss of stratospheric ozone and the increase in greenhouse gases. It is time for our generation to take on the challenge of realizing that we are all affecting and being affected by climate change.
Cool Science Fact of the Day: Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the winter in Mexico and Central America. To get there from North American, some birds fly nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico. The journey is 525 miles and takes around 20 hours!
If you have not read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I urge you to cancel plans with your hot date tonight (date night with Netflix included) and run to your local bookstore immediately. I can tell you with complete sincerity that this book has had a tremendous positive influence on the way I perceive and interpret the world. So I want to begin this blog with a quote…
“There is only one way to learn. It's through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Now my journey began when I was a wee little girl going fishing and hiking with my dad in a small rural town outside of Philadelphia. This childhood love for the outdoors spurred my interest in environmental science. As I matured and learned more about the Earth’s interconnected systems this interest in the environment transformed into a desire to understand how we, as humans, are impacting the world around us.
"The human pressure on the Earth System has reached a scale where abrupt global environmental change can no longer be excluded. To continue to live and operate safely, humanity has to stay away from critical 'hard-wired' thresholds in the Earth's environment, and respect the nature of the planet's climatic, geophysical, atmospheric and ecological processes," says lead author Johan Rockstrom, director of Stockholm Resilience Centre.
***According to the Guardian, Earth is the home of approximately 8.7 million species**
Now it is easy to forget that we are just one of the 8.7 million species on Earth. We are a part of an interconnected and dynamic system that scientists are still working to understand. Now a system can be referred to as any assemblage or combination of interacting components that form a complex whole, driven by the flow of matter and energy. And every system has its limits. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have a lasting negative impact on the world. I want this world to exist in balance for generations to come, for my future children and their children after them.
So what are the limits to the Earth’s system and how can we ensure that we don’t exceed them?
Thankfully I was not left to answer this question on my own. The Stockholm Resilience Center has conducted research on the Earth’s boundaries. The article linked above provides some great insights about humans’ impact on the Earth.
The hard truth is that we are on our way to exceeding the limits of our planet.
According to this centre, humanity has already exceeded the earth’s limits for biodiversity loss and the nitrogen cycle. The research also shows that we are on our way to crossing the “safe operating space” regarding climate change. Once a boundary threshold is crossed, the damage could be irreversible.
This is the motivation behind my journey. I will do everything I can to ensure that we do not pass this climate change threshold. I want to find out how we can live more sustainably and limit our negative impact on the environment.
While attending the University of Pittsburgh I traveled to Yellowstone National Park for a field studies course. It was there that I developed my interest in protecting vulnerable environments. After learning that energy has a huge influence on climate change I traveled to Brazil through a program titled “Engineering for a Better Environment.” I learned about renewable energy in Brazil and discovered that I didn’t understand enough about the energy landscape in the United States. To accomplish this, I interned with BP as a Health Safety Security and the Environment Intern. My internship with BP had a huge positive influence on my decision to attend graduate school in order to learn as much as possible about the energy industry. Now I attend Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment where I am pursuing a Masters in Environmental Management concentrating in Energy and the Environment.
Now I want to understand more about climate policy. I hope that COP 20 will provide a great foundation for a binding international agreement to reduce GHG emissions next year in Paris 2015.
As stated in the quote above, there is only one way to learn and that is through action. This is why I am honored to be representing the American Chemical Society at COP 20. I am excited to share my journey with you! I am very interested in learning about
· The relationship between population stabilization and energy use
· Possibility of sustainable economic development
· The relationship between national security and climate change
When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
This past week, there has been surplus of scientific studies showing the increasing urgency of global climate change:
Call me naïvely optimistic, but these frightening statistics contain hope.
Like most, I stumbled upon the climate change movement and inadvertently found myself enthralled and engaged. I grew up in Crystal Lake, IL: a bustling suburb of Chicago. It just so happens that AptarGroup’s international headquarters and one of their North American factories is located in the neighboring town. It also happens that they have a robust and serious internship program, which I have been fortunate enough to be a part of for the past three summers. What is Aptar you ask? Aptar is a $2 billion publically traded company and the world’s leader in the dispensing systems industry. They manufacture pumps, aerosols, closures, and other dispensing solutions. I worked for their Beauty + Home sector in the applications laboratory, where I was responsible for bench work and directly testing products for some of the largest distributors in North America (sorry I can’t name drop).
I am bet some of you think that I am playing for the other team due to the fact that I have interned for an aerosol company, where I actually had to fill cans with liquefied gas, hydrocarbon, and blended propellants. I want to assure you that this cannot be farther from the truth, and I look forward to discussing the beauty and home industry in the future for its strengths and its flaws.
Currently, I am attending Aquinas College located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I am a chemistry major with mathematics and biology minors. One of the most wonderful aspects of my school is its commitment to sustainability. In conjunction with the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, the college is actively working towards having zero municipal solid waste by the end of 2014. This is not just a few really enthusiastic students working together, but rather students, staff, and administration working together towards eliminating waste and making a commitment to better the environment.
These two experiences instilled a passion and vigor to do something to truly help make a difference in the climate change movement. One of the most important aspects of this journey is the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge.
As terrifying as this is to admit to you, I do not know everything about climate change and nor will I pretend to. That is what is so remarkable and unique about this project; we can learn and change together. I invite you to join me in this (somewhat) fearless crusade in trying to make sense of lofty environmental studies and cutting-edge green technology.
What comes with this is responsibility. I am not talking about life-shattering changes wherein you boycott all motorized transportation. Instead, try making small changes, such as using Tupperware instead of plastic baggies or recycling a can instead of simply throwing it away.
Climate change is always talked about in the future tense, but you need to realize that climate change is having real impact on the world here and now. Never forget that you have an impact, you have a voice, and you can make a change. Therein lies the hope from the above terrifying reports, remembering we can and will make difference to this world.
GETTING THE DISCUSSION GOING
For us as young people, climate change is inevitably going to be one of the greatest challenges that we will face in our lifetime. Unfortunately, many young people do not understand the importance of climate change and the potential effects that it may have on our lives.
An important force for climate change legislation that has been lacking is the public awareness and understanding of climate change. I have often brought up climate change in discussions with many of my friends, and a lot of them aren’t very familiar with it. In fact, only a few of them had ever heard of the Kyoto Protocol. And on the news a couple of months ago, a poll asked, “What are the most important issues facing America?” Climate change was voted the 19th most important issue out of the 20 choices in the poll. These are just a couple of instances that have made it clear to me that many people simply do not fully understand climate change, and the effects that it may have on our lives now and in the future. Also, many publicly elected officials have not taken a strong stance on promoting climate change policy, and that needs to change.
So what can we do about it?
We can all have a positive impact on this by getting our friends involved in the discussion on climate change. The young people of today will live through and have to deal with more effects of climate change than any other group of people. So in order for us to make a meaningful difference with respect to policy on climate change, young people need to understand what’s going on and take an active role in the discussion. Due to the fact that we will be impacted the most by climate change, we have the power to be the strongest advocates for legislation geared towards limiting greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change!
Using social media as an informational tool is an excellent way to promote climate change literacy. By using various social media platforms, we can get more young people involved in the discussion on climate change. The effectiveness and far-reaching capability of social media in communicating climate change literacy with others was showcased during the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st. It was the largest gathering of people that has ever united in one place to show support for action on climate change! It was really encouraging to see thousands of young people put aside whatever they were doing to take part in this historic march. Even more encouraging though was the number of young people talking about climate change on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites.
It is imperative that we initiate the discussion on climate change with our friends as soon as possible, and continue the discussion on social media websites. We have the power to be a strong voice to advocate for meaningful climate change legislation that will have a positive impact on OUR FUTURE!
LET’S DO THIS!