The student news site of Bloomington High School South

The Optimist

The student news site of Bloomington High School South

The Optimist

The student news site of Bloomington High School South

The Optimist

South’s take on climate change

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The two degrees global temperature rise has in temperatures has many people focused on climate change. Most people are aware of this issue nowadays, but many are unaware of how it directly impacts Bloomington residents.

Agriculture and invasive species are the main places where we see a direct effect locally.

“If Bloomington experiences periods without rain or temperatures that don’t facilitate developing certain agricultural products like maple syrup (we need a hard freeze in order for maple syrup to run) then you don’t get the product,” science teacher Amanda Figolah said.

The introduction of invasive species “create[s] an environment in which certain plants can thrive where native plants are not thriving to the same level,” Figolah said.

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What affects people specifically is mostly health related.

“In Bloomington during the warmest seasons, there are health impacts for people who don’t have a climate controlled home, so things like heat stroke affect people,” Figolah said. “Sometimes, that’s disproportionate for people living in poverty who don’t have the ability to control the temperature of their inside environments.”

For South, having higher temperatures for a longer period becomes an issue since school starts at the beginning of August where 90 degree days are common. This causes the school to have to cool the buildings to a comfortable level for students and teachers which often proves to be expensive.

Other environments are affected by climate change including aquatic ecosystems.

“[Rising temperatures] can increase algae blooms, and it can impact oxygen levels in aquatic systems which can impact fish populations as a result,” Figolah said.

Climate change affects everyone on Earth, although it does impact some more than others. Current events in the news such as Easter Island eroding due to rising sea levels, Yellowstone National Park dramatically changing as it loses its forests and threatens the lives of the bison and wolves that live there, California’s wildfires being bigger than they have ever been and many more prove that the issue of climate change is an exponentially growing problem that requires immediate action.

“There was an Alaskan earthquake recently, and it impacted a family friend of mine. That was crazy, it was such a high magnitude,” junior Clara Scheutz said.

One of the most shocking things about climate change is that the federal government is still questioning if we should do something about it, several people mentioned.

In June of 2017, President Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, a pact to promise to reduce the nation’s carbon impact by 2020, because it was deemed to be too expensive.

“It’s shocking that people as a whole can’t accept [climate change] and understand it,” junior Stephie Marvin said.

Even though the federal government hasn’t taken recent action to lessen the nation’s impact, there are steps that can be made on the local level at our own school.

“There are some corporation efforts to include things like geothermal heating systems, solar panels, efficient windows and insulation, and those aren’t things that students have control over but are happening behind the scenes to make our buildings more efficient,” Figolah said.

Scheutz has other suggestions for improvement.

“We could increase our recycling availability and try to go for a zero waste initiative because as a corporation and a school, we have a lot of waste,” Scheutz said.

Some of these changes don’t have to just revolve around physical implementations, but can also include changes in curriculum.

“I think that a lot of people at South and around the community don’t understand climate change, so working to better educate kids on the topic would help,” Marvin said.

Figolah has led a couple of projects to do just this including the ‘Lights Out’ campaign that was launched a few years back and has been reintroduced every couple of years.

“We asked teachers to be mindful about using lights in classrooms: projector time, using daylight whenever possible if they have windows in their classroom etc.,” Figolah said.

South has also been working with Green Camino, a company that works to collect compost from public facilities and people’s homes.

“Our composting program definitely affects climate change by keeping waste local and not shipping it elsewhere and also reducing the volume of waste produced in the food system,” Figolah said.

Figolah also has future plans to work with her AP Environmental Science (APES) classes.

“The APES classes will start a waste audit in our cafeteria in 2019 where they will make proposals for how to reduce our waste in the cafeteria which also includes composting. They’ll think about how to change student behaviors and choices based on research,” Figolah said.

Climate change is a very broad and complex topic and there are events in the news that are happening all over the globe every day that reflect on how big of a problem it has become.

“It’s a world issue. Every single person is going to be impacted by this. It is something that humans are causing – we are responsible and there are a lot of ways that we can combat it by working together,” Scheutz said.

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