Kent State University has taken steps to conquer severe climate change and exchange small tips on how to take action, through the eyes of Environmental Kent State Professors and students.
Over the past year of 2022 and into 2023, a variety of droughts, floods, forest fires and hurricanes have severely increased throughout the nation, leaving many in the environmental field to question how much more harm can be taken on the Earth’s foundation.
According to the provisional State of the Global Climate Report 2022, produced by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, global temperatures in 2022 are likely to end about 1.15C above the average in pre-industrial times, making it the fifth or sixth hottest year on record. Kent students and professors have taken action on this global issue and have given strong tips on recycling and being more aware with conserving food, water and energy.
Just this year and last year, there has been an increase in the number of monsoons and flooding along Southeast Asia. Though here in the United States, we are seeing similar things with the intensity and frequency of hurricanes coming in from the Gulf Coast.
One that many do not know about is Jackson, Mississippi.
Jackson, Mississippi gained contaminated water that crested around 36 feet at the end of August, after severe flooding occurred from an increase in rainfall, in relation to climate change.
“This is what I have been saying to my students,” Earth Sciences Professor Carrie Schweitzer said. “These are the kinds of things you are going to expect to continue to increase in frequency in your lifetime. You have to take that into consideration when you move, where you are going to buy a house and where to invest.”
But, the result of drastic water differences is not the only thing being affected due to climate change. Fires have been having a severe impact on the United States too.
“In the West Coast of the United States, we are seeing an increasing amount of droughts and wildfires,” said Kent State President of the Future Environmental Professionals Club, Justin Thompson. “A couple years ago, we saw Australia with the bushfires and tons of animals died due to it.”
Not only are fires destroying the habitats these animals are inhabiting, but they are destroying the ecosystems in themselves.
Hotspot ecosystems are being more prone to change. Amphibians take over a large amount of these ecosystems are most affected by climate change, because of their specific reproductive cycles.
Animals on the land and small ponds are not the only ones being affected by climate change. The Bering Sea in the Northern Pacific Ocean in the area around Alaska has also been having drastic effects.
“There are a couple of fisheries for two different types of crabs and that is what I study, crabs and fossil crabs,” Professor Schweitzer said. “So, the fishery collapsed and the workers had to cancel the fishing season. No one can catch any of these crabs this year, which is brutal for the economy in that region and all of these people who have ships and make their living off of this. Our hypothesis right now about what created this is warming temperatures. I think that is a very scary scenario, because they were fishing for these organisms last year and then all of a sudden bam–we’ve collapsed.”
With all of these drastic and severe environmental effects, Kent State University is trying to take steps to conquer climate change. There have been dozens of student organizations established like OceanMotion, the Kent State Environmental Society, the Students for Environmental change and ESDRI (Environmental Science and Design Research Institute), just to name a few.
“One of the things we are doing right now, is that we have a petition circulating right now on campus,” Thompson said. “We are calling on the university and foundation to divest from fossil fuels. Kent is really good about sustainable practices. Their newer buildings are leed certified buildings. They are really conscious of light energy and water sustainability as well.”
But, these things Kent State University is doing would go unnoticed if there were no helpful tips from these Kent Environmental Professors and students who are advocating for these big changes.
The biggest thing that is emphasized is the need to recycle properly and to try and use sustainable products rather than plastics. If you reduce the amount of plastics, that requires less fuel needed to ship the products around the globe.
“Be cognizant about how much trash you are wasting. For instance, if you go to Starbucks a lot, use a reusable Starbucks cup, so less energy goes into producing plastic and less plastic is going into the landfills,” Thompson said. “Plastic takes forever to break down and a lot of it you see in landfills just goes into smaller and smaller pieces. It does not decompose.”
Other tips recommended are picking up trash you see on the ground and disposing of it safely and correctly, so that wildlife does not get sick. But, also make sure you do not keep on lights or electricity for long periods of time if it is not being used.
With the higher risk of endangered species, food intake and animals should be noticed with more extreme caution than normal.
“If you can, eat more vegetarian options. You don’t have to become a vegetarian, but eating less meat allows lower energy to go into making it since fertilizer and pesticides are used. It is also very water intensive,” Thompson said. “Kent also offers the Haymakers Farm, where you can get a bunch of local produce. Buying locally or locally produced products reduces the amount of food miles and energy needed for transport.”
Kent State’s Environmental students and professors also promoted the major importance of voting, so that you can use your voice and vote for a candidate who will support environmentalism just as much as they do.
“Be that voice in local politics,” Thompson said. “Get involved in a local nonprofit or sit on a board of education or join a committee somewhere, because your voice can be heard and you can make an impact on those organizations and at those levels of government, because if somebody is not there representing your views or standing up for the environment, maybe that voice should be yours.”