By Lauren Khine, Summer Times Staff Writer
With glaciers shrinking, sea levels rising, and hurricane severity increasing, climate change has become a topic of conversation around the world. According to The New York Times, Greenland’s ice sheets are melting, but despite the occurrence’s seeming bleak, the resulting sediment pouring out with the water could actually help meet a growing need for sand. In a similar comparison, people around the world view climate change in different lights, as both positive or negative, and natural or man-made.
NASA’s report on U.S. regional climate effects notates infrastructure, ecosystemic, and agriculture compromisation throughout the U.S., and predicts a continuation of climate change even after this century. Inhabitants of Puerto Rico and neighboring islands have been hit with category four and five hurricanes. As oceans warm, their temperature is converted to energy, provoking the change from a tropical depression to a tropical storm and strengthening hurricanes. In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, attacking the islands head-on. With high-temperature water conditions of 84º Fahrenheit (or 29º Celsius), Hurricane Maria thrived.
“It stopped my life,” Maru Torres, a Phillips Exeter Summer student from Puerto Rico, recalled about Hurricane Maria. “Power at school returned in January, and in my home, I didn’t have power for four months.”
On June 8, New York City officially declared a climate emergency, agreeing a week later to pass a climate plan aiming to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in New York State. By 2030, 70 percent of New York’s electricity is planned to be supported by renewable sources, and by 2040, shifted to carbon-free power. On June 21, Sydney, Australia also declared a climate emergency, joining not only New York in its ruling, but also Oakland, Calif., San Francisco, Britain, Ireland, Canada, and France, the last four countries mentioned still lending support to fossil fuels.
Despite legislation supporting the fight against climate change, Robert Kincses, a student from Germany, says, “We have regulations on our emissions, but a lot of cities can’t follow them, and end up with a lot more emissions than they should.”
Extra carbon dioxide emissions affect the oceans. According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 30 percent of carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning is absorbed by the oceans. The resulting acidity impacts marine life, and as ice sheets and glaciers melt, more coastal areas risk storm surges and erosion.
On a lighter note, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also predicted a 40 percent near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, although eastern and central Pacific basins have a predicted 70 percent chance of an above-normal season. Conflicting climate factors and observations leave reason to be skeptical.
“I believe that climate change is an issue and that we should definitely do something about it, but people overreact a bit,” said Thomas Silberberg, a student from Brazil “Right now, I’m not noticing too much of a difference.”
Geological records going back millions of years demonstrate different variations in climate, caused by natural reasons such as changes in the sun and Earth’s orbit. The current largest natural temperature influencer is El Niño, an irregular series of climate change that appears off northern Peru and Ecuador as warm, nutrient-poor water. But, research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows a 90 percent likelihood of human activity causing more recent climate change.
Some students have noticed climate change affecting their lives, with Enno Behrens, from Germany, saying, “You can see it… there’s less snow than there was five to ten years ago.”
People believe climate change is natural and will eventually occur, even without human interference. Others believe it is man-made phenomena. And many believe climate change is a mixture of both; they believe humans are accelerating the process, but not necessarily perpetrating it.
Setting aside all arguments and disputes concerning climate change, many Exeter students agree that the first week of camp has been humid and warm, especially in the dorms. Partly because heat rises, upper floors in dorms can be painfully hot. Phillips Exeter Academy does not have air-conditioners in the dorms. That may sound unfortunate, but air-conditioners are damaging to the environment because of their consumption of power and discharging of hot air that can raise outside temperatures. On June 28, France hit a record 115º Fahrenheit (46º Celsius), and the heat spread across Europe, contributing to wildfires in Spain and Germany.
While not as extreme as in Europe, Exeter has managed to hit 92º Fahrenheit (33º Celsius) in the first week of summer camp. To combat the heat, Exeter Summer students can face their fans outwards while placing them against their windows. This will expel warm air from their dorm rooms, and opening up windows and doors can help contribute to a cooler room as well. Finally, when the sun is beating down, blinds should be used to alleviate the abundance of sun rays that transfer heat.
A quick tip: Because the degradation of plastic emits greenhouse gases, it might be advantageous to know that The Grill sells metal straws!