April Post; Local Climate Change News
Climate Change News
Lots of climate change news is trending just now; some good and some not so good. Let’s look at the not-so-good first. It has become clear that the problem in Texas with its loss of power and water, is mostly due to cold weather and the recalcitrance of Texans about spending money to winterize their systems. Elsewhere, a report from Japan is disturbing as it has been revealed the island nation is building NEW coal fired power plants in the wake of Fukushima and their decision to close other nuclear power plants. These new plants are likely to cause air pollution by carbon dioxide emissions for many years. They have promised to take a second look at this in October. But you need not focus on reports from distant nations as we have enough issues in the United States to keep us occupied.
First, an example of one of the expanding problems in the US: The New York Times reports on a local problem with the headline “A North Carolina Town Risks Washing Away.” The town is Avon, North Carolina and the ocean is threatening many homes as well washing away the single road that connects the island to the mainland.
Beach erosion hotspots in Buxton, North Carolina, (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
A fix for the problem is needed on an immediate basis and one has been proposed; an $11 million fix to add one million cubic yards of sand to the beach. Everyone understands the fix is temporary because the sand will wash away again. Residents want a more lasting fix; but officials say there isn’t one. Along the Outer Banks, some beaches are shrinking by more than 14 feet a year, according to the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.
The problem at Avon is a prelude for countless towns and cities along America’s coast, which are increasingly being forced to raise taxes or borrow money to protect their homes, roads and schools. As seas keep rising, so will the cost of holding back the water.
US communities large and small are reaching for different answers. Officials in Miami, Tampa, Houston, San Francisco and elsewhere have borrowed money, raised taxes and/or increased water bills to help pay for efforts to shield their homes, schools and roads. This will be a continuing problem as we continue to pollute our atmosphere with greenhouse gases causing ice melting and raising the level of our oceans.
Amidst these issues there are a few rays of light. Here at home, Michigan’s East Jordan School and their middle school students are providing a shiny one. In a March 15, 2021 published report, middle school students and their “Shoe Club” provided a status report about raising funds to build a solar panel system that will harness the energy of the sun. Their goal is to raise $70,000 to build a 30-kilowatt solar array on the middle school roof.
Nathan Newman is a senior in the East Jordan High School and was a member of Shoe Club when he was in middle school. Now 17, he has served as a mentor to the younger club members all four years he’s been in high school.
“We’ve secured $36,000 of our $70,000 goal, and we have other sources of funding that we’re confident will be coming very soon,” said Newman. “The middle school students are the real Shoe Club members, and the high school students are mentors who are helping out.”
“We’ve had some pretty aggressive timelines along the way, but we are strongly confident (we’ll make our deadline),” said Newman. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but right now we’re feeling real good about it.”
East Jordan teacher Matt Hamilton has taught middle and high school history and video production in East Jordan and he is the founder and adviser to the Shoe Club. Hamilton reports that his students have taken on their “biggest project ever” — a solar-collection system that will serve the school for decades to come. “We’ve hired Solar Winds Energy Systems to build the array,” he said, “it will produce, 30 kilowatts, enough energy to power three average sized homes.”
Students created a fundraising presentation, wrote grants, organized a Wii Bowl-A-Thon and a crowd-funding campaign on GoFundMe.
“I felt that, because of COVID, kids needed a project, something to work on and take their minds off all that is going on in our world today,” said Hamilton. “This project is perfect and it is something we can work on virtually. It allowed the kids to set a goal, work hard and give back to their school. It is something they can be proud of and hopefully, it will give them self-confidence.”
And besides all that, it is good for the environment by providing a bit more clean energy, exactly what we need.