Straight out of the cornfields and back into more cornfields: My name is Greg Margida from Alliance, Ohio and I am a senior at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. I am majoring in Biology and French. I plan to go to medical school, even though much of my undergraduate work has dealt more with ecology.
In northeast Ohio, I was always within a mile of an oil well. They littered every landscape like grazing metal horses. Soon the oil wells were replaced with fracking, the closest site being just a half mile down the road from me. Needless to say, I was raised in an environment that was not very focused on sustainable energy. The truth is, I never even knew the dangers of fracking until after I went to college: all of the CO2 that is released into the atmosphere while transporting the 1-8 million gallons of water needed at each site, the methane gas that leaks from the fracturing site into the water supply, not to mention all of the carcinogens and other harmful chemicals that are left in the ground. People back home don’t really see fracking like this, though. They see it more like utilizing a resource and creating jobs, never fully considering all of the dangers it poses to our environment and to us.
It was refreshing when I got to Grinnell and got to work with other students who want to take action to protect the environment. Who don’t deny that climate change is real. In fact, the whole state of Iowa, not just Grinnell College, is actually seemingly steps ahead of Ohio in sustainable energy.
One baby step is ethanol. Iowans love ethanol. Mostly, they love it because corn is everywhere out here and it seems like a great idea to put it to use for fuel. Unfortunately, ethanol is really not too much better for the environment than gas due to the large amounts of fossil fuels used to make and transport it. Still, Iowans should be given credit for simply acknowledging that a replacement for fossil fuels is needed.
A much bigger step that Iowa has taken is visible across much of the northwestern portion of the state. This summer, I drove to Lake Okoboji in Northwest Iowa to run the Okoboji Marathon. During the trip I was in awe of the massive wind farms I drove through, each seeming to have hundreds of colossal units. Anyone who has tried to walk anywhere during the Iowa winter knows too well how windy Iowa is. And what a beautiful site to see all of this turned into energy we can use, not to mention the jobs it creates.
So that has been my climate change journey thus far. And I cannot wait for it to continue throughout my COP21 experience. Let’s get to work!
For more information on fracking, visit http://www.dangersoffracking.com. Credit: http://www.dangersoffracking.com/