Climate Change: More than a Snowy Spring

By April Kummerer

Climate change has recently made its effects more apparent to Americans with the growing prevalence of unseasonable weather. Characterized by frequent winter storms and varying conditions, global warming is becoming more of a hot topic with Americans, some of whom identify as climate change skeptics in the face of empirical evidence. Its affects in the United States have varied between the aforementioned frequency of storms and unseasonably warm temperatures, as well as the variation of drought and flood conditions that have worsened considerably for states like California, as demonstrated by its 2016-17 state.

As unwelcomed as our climatological changes are, other areas of the globe have incurred more severe and detrimental conditions. Multiple areas of the Horn of Africa have experienced the severely negative effects of climate change. The majority of Kenya, specifically the north, have experienced extreme droughts that have increased in both intensity and frequency. The region is no stranger to droughts that have left residents desperate for the simple relief of rain; however, the droughts recently experienced by the region are more exacerbated than those which commonly occurred. The recorded climate in Northern Kenya has been hotter and drier, and the region has reportedly dried faster in the last hundred years than in the 2,000 prior. In the last twenty years alone, the area has experienced four severe droughts that have left dead livestock and crops and malnourished populations in their wake.

Residents of this region have experienced starvation, severe dehydration, and economic hardship as a result of the effects of climate change reported by local scientists. Mariao Tede, a resident of Northern Kenya, reported an inventory of 200 goats prior to the 2011 drought. After the deaths in her declining livestock due to the succession of the 2011 and 2017 severe droughts, Tede reported that she was left with five goats. This quantity is insufficient for selling, milking, or slaughtering for meat. This epidemic has forced farmers, such as Tede, to pursue other, less sustainable sources of income. Tede told the New York Times that she now gathers wood to produce charcoal, however, this process further hinders their climate, as it strips the land of its trees. This process prevents the little rain received by the region from soaking into the ground.

These issues of climatological change have the “fingerprints of global warming,” as reported by the New York Times, and are human-induced. Scientists advise that farmers in the region reevaluate and possibly change the crops they grow due to the evolving standard of the soil and that infrastructure, such as reservoirs, be developed to accommodate for the unpredictable changes in the climate.

 

Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/climate/kenya-drought.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fclimate&action=click&contentCollection=climate&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

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New Sec of State Pick a Climate Skeptic

by Danielle Kowalski

Mike Pompeo, previous C.I.A. director is now taking the position as secretary of state.  Previous Rex Tillerson was known to be one of the last presidential advisers whose views on global warming “are in line with the rest of the world”.  Some of Mr.  Pompeo’s statements and beliefs that frighten a portion of society state that the notion of climate change as a top national security threat is absolutely unbelievable.  Pompeo has questioned the scientific consensus of human activity affecting the climate and believes the Paris Agreement is a costly burden to America.  Being one of the top recipients of oil money in the House of Representatives, it is clear that the environment is not going to be at the top of his priority list while taking his new position as secretary of state.  Mr. Tillerson, previous secretary of state urged President Trump not to withdraw from the Paris climate control agreement.  His departure follows the resignation of the president’s top economic advisor and senior adviser to the president on international energy issues who also both argued to keep the United States in the Paris agreement.  With all three departures, the forces on climate change within the administration have depleted greatly.

Foster Township, PA & The EPA’s National Priorities List

by Spencer Helm

The former site of C & D recycling in Foster Township, PA has been deleted from the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL). This site was used from 1963 to 1984 to reclaim metallic copper from old copper cables. This process resulted in hazardous waste and the contamination of soil and water. From 1984 until 2016 the site was being restored, requiring the disposal 80,000 tons of soil, along with another 10,000 tons of other contaminated media, and the demolishing of structures and reseeding to prevent soil erosion. Sites can be deleted from the NPL with state concurrence when they have been entirely restored to their natural state, and no further response is necessary. Because all site clean-up goals have been met, the EPA opened for comment on deleting the site from the NPL, and after receiving no resistance from the public, has gone through with this decision.

While the fact that the EPA saw this project through to the end is admirable, it is unfortunate that this situation arose in the first place. The tendency of the US to outsource hazardous refining and recycling processes to developing nations is very much a policy of “shallow ecology”.

https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/SiteProfiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=second.Cleanup&id=0300881#bkground

Erie, PA & Trump’s False Policy Promises

by Eric Guzy

Donald Trump’s campaign in Erie, Pennsylvania left many wide bright perspectives for the future of the hometown great lake. Promises of economic recovery were stated with strong confidence and passion, but only to be met with the exact opposite come time to take action. Residents of Erie were heart-broken to here that the budget for the great lake’s restoration from $300 million to a mere $30 million. The great lakes restoration project was an Obama administration initiative to provide fresh water to over 40 million people. This funding has allowed for local great lake initiative projects to prevent the pollution and runoff of local creeks and waterways running off into the lakes. The health of the lakes (in Erie specifically) depends on the funding that is allotted to help prevent such forms of pollution from being a problem. Pollution would also be a detriment to Erie’s tourism industry which could be a deficit of up to $1 million. This would take away even more potential funding for the lake and would even further perpetuate the issue of pollution in the lake. Pennsylvania representatives have been working rigorously to ensure that the funding for the great lakes initiative. In the Obama administration as well budget cuts were sought, just not as drastic. This does however show a lack of awareness in the White House for the issue of environmental affairs and should be addressed.

http://www.goerie.com/zz/shareable/20180228/106-million-people-watched-mash-finale-35-years-ago-no-scripted-show-since-has-come-close?utm_medium=web&utm_source=endwidget&utm_campaign=shareable

Appropriations Bills and the Environment

by Audrey Fleming

Since the approval of the budget on Feb. 9, Congress began writing the dozen appropriations bills that are likely to be apart of one giant spending measure. In 2015, the Obama administration adopted a landmark rule aimed to increase protections for smaller streams and wetlands, which are crucial to the country’s drinking water and wildlife; the bill basically restated the Clean Water Act of 1972. Farmers complained to Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA and he is now working on an alternative option to appeal to more commercial interests. The Obama Administration approved two rules to decrease emissions of methane; the EPA would regulate emissions from oil and gas wells; the Interior Department would require oil and gas companies to control venting and flaring from existing wells on public lands. The House and Senate have made attempts to rewrite these rules, which could extremely effect clean air and climate. The Sage grouse, a bird who’s numbers are decreasing, who are being denied endangered species protections from the House and Senate. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke believes that this plan is too kind to the bird and too harmful for the oil and gas companies, therefore he wants to end it. Lisa Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate interior and environment appropriations subcommittee, is looking to propose an amendment that would weaken protections against the destruction of trees in the Tongass National Forest.

What will be the cost to our environment if these proposals are passed? How badly is our climate, air quality and water access going to decrease? Our environment is at risk under these proposals by our lawmakers. In all the effects of the Obama Administration to help the environment, it is troubling that all of that could be taken away.

“The Dirty Little Deals That Would Foul the Environment.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Feb. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/opinion/republican-environment-policy.html.