The article in the New York Times, “Rain in California Brings Relief, and New Problems,” from February 28th, describes the benefits and problems associated with the recent rain in California. If you have read the blog post from about a month ago, you may be aware that California has been experiencing a terrible drought. Meteorologists are describing California’s drought as the worst drought the state has experienced in over 100 years.
Fortunately, in late February, California received some much needed rain. Meteorologists predicted as much as 10 inches of rain in some parts of the state. The rain is a good occurance, however, the amount is not nearly enough to make up for the amount lost. California needs approximately 20X the amount of rain they have just received in order to replenish water levels.
While the rain is a much needed resource for California, it is also causing many problems throughout the state. Because the soil is extremely dry, it is less able to absorb water. This reduced ability to absorb water has caused flash floods throughout California. In addition to the flash floods, many areas are experiencing mud slides due to the lack of water and vegetation as a result of drought and forest fires.
I think that an important thing to keep in mind is that relief from one problem such as drought can also add problems in other environmental areas. Due to the severely dry soil, the solution to the problem is much more complicated. This rain gives the state hope, but it will be a long and complex journey to recovery.
One of our Eco-Reps, Juno, wrote an awesome piece for the Dickinsonian about the new athletic Eco-Reps program that is just getting started.
Essentially the program came from student athletes who were interested in sustainability and wanted to green the athletic programs. CSE agreed to help get them started and a few months later they are taking on the Kline.
Way to go athletic Eco-Reps and nice work on that Dickinsonian piece, Juno.
I live in the sustainable living community, also known as the Treehouse, on campus. Each week, one of our housemates gives us an update on environmental news. These updates range news articles on the Keystone XL updates to the California drought.
This week, two of the articles really caught my eye. The first article took an economic approach to tackling climate change. Retired investor and billionaire, Tom Steyer, is forming an environmental SuperPAC in the hopes of bringing climate change to the fore-front of politics. Mr. Steyer intends to use this superPAC to put politicians in office (regardless of affiliation) who are willing to take strong action on climate change.
Personally, I’m not really sure how I feel about the idea. I understand that “everyone is doing it” and that this could be a way to finally enact meaningful climate policy, but it doesn’t necessarily sit right with me either.
The second article was written by a photographer who decided to take pictures of the industry which drives her profession. She took pictures late at night using long exposure giving her photographs an eerie beauty symbolizing how scary the impacts of these images are.
I both love and hate this idea. I think that pictures like these have the potential to make climate change more accessible to a broader audience, but they are also kind of beautiful and I fear that they don’t make me want to get rid of those industries.
These are two very different approaches to the climate change issue. One is taking it on from the economic side and the other is using art. Ultimately, I think both are important tools which have their place in climate change.
A capsule containing the Hydrogen isotopes that briefly achieved fusion.
For years scientists have strived to achieve the theoretical goal of achieving nuclear fusion, and until recently this aim has seemed impossible. Nuclear fusion, the process that occurs in the sun where two nuclei combine has been achieved in small amounts, but until now it has produced less energy than was put into it. At The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, 500 megajoules of energy were focused through lasers, onto a target millimeters thick. Not all the 500 megajoules were actually absorbed into the target, and the energy released was only marginally more than was used. However this represents a step in the right direction for nuclear fusion, and the other technological advances that could arise from research into it. In theory, a super efficient fusion generator would be a self-sustaining, infinite energy source, which would make fossil fuels obsolete and release no harmful byproducts. This is still an improbable dream, but other sustainable energy sources are becoming more prominent. Super efficient fission reactors, are already being planned, and these produce more energy that conventional nuclear reactors, release less radioactive waste, and have little to no chance of
One of the three massive solar arrays that are now functional.
of melting down. Combined with the recent opening of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the largest solar plant in the world, things are looking better for renewable energy sources. Perhaps someday soon Dickinson will be able to purchase its energy from a sustainable fusion or fission generator.
Over 100 Olympic athletes have signed a pledge encouraging world leaders to take up the climate change issue. If anyone can see climate change happening right before there eyes, its the winter athletes. ”Only 11 of the previous 19 Winter Olympic host cities will be cold enough to reliably host the Games by mid-century and only six will be viable sites by 2100 if global warming projections prove accurate.” The athletes are feeling it in Sochi right now as the weather warms up into the 60s.
Climate change touches everyone everywhere. Last week I discussed the drought in California, and this week we see Olympians representing our countries asking our leaders to take the climate change issue seriously. I think its a great first step and I appreciate all of these inspirational people coming out and saying the places “I love to ski or hike ect are changing and I’m mad about it.”
Today I was reading an article in the New York times about the severe drought that California is experiencing. This three year drought is, “on track to be the worst drought in 500 years.” Forty-thousand people living in rural communities are in danger of running out of water within the next 60 to 120 days. The state is putting in emergency measures and are getting prepared to truck in water. The scariest part is that this is the rainy season in California.
This drought is forcing the citizens of California to think about their water consumption in ways we don’t typically need to in the United States. They are being forced to take short showers where they turn the water off while they lather up. They can’t water their gardens, their lawns, or their cars. Even recreational past times like camping and fishing are being temporarily outlawed throughout the state to protect the salmon populations and prevent forest fires. In a country where we are very used to being able to get what we want when we want it, this is quite a wake up call.
I am glad to see that the state is hosting drought survival sessions to equip people with the tools they need to help each other get through this drought because everyone must conserve water in order for there to be enough water for everyone. I think people might finally begin to see how climate change relates to them. In the United States we are removed from the land. Most of us go to the supermarket and buy our meat nicely wrapped in a plastic case and a fruits and veggies are in a big bin with a whole bunch more. It’s hard to see where that food came from and the struggles that the person who grew it may have gone through. We don’t really see a food crisis because we can always import it in bulk from another country but for the people of California, this drought is undeniable. People can’t look the other way because they can see it drying up before the eyes.
Drought dries up rivers in California.
The farmers especially, are in a very sticky spot. They need water to grow their crops, and without water how can they do so? There are drought resistant crops, but nothing can withstand the current conditions in some areas of California. In addition, the cultivation of medical marijuana has become popular in the state because it is one of the few areas where it is legal to do so, but marijuana is a very water intensive crop and it is putting a serious strain on the salmon population.
This article call all of our attention to the growing issues surrounding climate change. It is our responsibility to take a long hard look at how we might be able to reduce our footprint. If everyone made a commitment to take a shorter shower or carpool to work, think of the water we could conserve or the emissions we could prevent.
It’s the first week of classes and we are back in action! It’s mid-semester but we are fortunate enough to have 10 new Eco-Reps on board. Welcome to the crew: Jackie G., Zhu, Jack, Carmen, Natalie, Jackie S., Cora, Caroline, Michaela, and Silvana. We are so excited to have you.
This semester our theme is once again energy reduction. Two years ago we had an Energy Challenge at Dickinson where we tried to reduce our energy consumption for three weeks in the month of March by ten percent. We were not successful in meeting our goal, but we did have a good time. There were a lot of kinks in our first energy challenge because of the difficulties of comparing residence halls of different sizes, ages, and energy sources. This year we are taking on the challenge again with a whole new perspective. We are creating different levels of competition so that gas powered buildings are not competing against electric ones. In addition we have exciting news! Dickinson will be getting LUCID energy monitoring technology for some of the residence halls which means we will be able to get all sorts of cool data, graphs, and real time information.
There will be power downs, low lighting in the caf, power strips, and CFL light bulbs coming your way. Get ready to learn all about how each of us can play our part to reduce our energy consumption. There is a lot Dickinson can do to increase our sustainability, but it means nothing if we, the students, don’t take up the cause and reduce our own consumption.
Well, we have two more days of classes left and then our semester is officially over. It seems like it has been a frantic dash after Thanksgiving to get everything done, and of course this is the case for the Eco-Reps as well. We are now in the process of recollecting all of the compost bins that we have sent out this semester both in the residence halls and the off campus housing.
In addition all of the end of the semester scrambling we will be having our end of semester party! It will take place at Gia which is the most delicious restaurant right down in town.
I am currently working on awards/ suprlatives which include (but are not limited to):
Most thorough audit
Most attendance at event
No name audit
Talked to the most students during audits
I am really looking forward to a great time tomorrow!
Just a friendly reminder: if you live in off campus, small apartments (good year, denny, 2527) or you live in a special interest house….
Then come bring your compost bin back to CSE. If no one is around then you can leave it right outside the door. Please clean it with soap and water because otherwise it will smell! You will be able to get them back out next semester, but we can’t risk leaving food in a compost bin to ferment over the winter break…
I wish everyone the best over the next week and a half! We’ve almost made it!! Also, I hope that everyone has a lovely holiday break and that they come back rejuvenated and pumped about next semester. I already can’t wait to meet all of the new Reps and I know you will all show them how it’s done!
Eco-Reps have been having there events over the past few weeks and some of them have been really great! We have reached over a hundred people through these events, and they aren’t over yet!!
Here’s a little sampling:
Eco-Reps Orli Segal and Katie Mattern hosted an event this weekend where they made a patchwork quilt from sold old fabric that they scraped up. Then everyone wrote what they are thankful for on it! It turned out great.
Eco-Rep Kenze Burkhart hosted a Bow-ties and Bottle caps event where she took old ties and turned them into bow-ties and she took bottle caps and made earrings out of them.
We also had a crew make cornhole games out of cardboard boxes for common room corn hole! There pics should be coming very soon!
Another group made little personal notes chalkboards out of old posters, boxes, and pictures that they spray painted with that fun chalkboard paint!
Eco-Rep, Max Rubinstein, has a pretty awesome blog and his most recent article is about some cool local attractions that Dickinson students could easily get to via bike. So check that out!
Also Eco-Rep, Kenze Burkhart, is having her Eco-Rep event tonight so if you are interested in making bowties stop by Conway tonight at 5:00.
So this weekend there will be an Eco-Reps conference at American University and it looks like its going to be awesome! The conference is for Eco-Reps in the Mid-Atlantic region and it looks like its going to have a bunch of really cool workshops and presentations. I’m so bummed I can’t make it, but to all my fellow Eco-Reps out there have an awesome time!
Up and Coming…
A bunch (50 so actually a lot) of students from India are coming to Dickinson next week to check out CSE because they are trying to make their own sustainability center at their school. They will be touring all of the important sustainability hotspots on campus as well as having lunch with students interested in