Statistics from USA Climate Change. Infographic by Madison Krell.
Recent anomalies in global climate levels have caught the attention of world leaders.
Beginning on November 30, 2015, the United Nations held Climate Change Conferences in Paris to discuss global climate change and course of action over the next few years to reduce the world’s pollution output and prevent catastrophic climate change.
The Paris Agreement includes a commitment to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees C (35.6 F). Countries are also expected to create greenhouse gas reduction targets, renewed every five years. The deal requires developed nations to give $100 billion annually to developing countries to combat climate change and promote greener economies.
The UN has high hopes for the Paris Agreement, but with the goal of a carbon-neutral world, Geology teacher Cody Kreager said global participation is necessary.
“If you really want to see a difference you need as many people on board as possible,” Kreager said. “If you’ve got five or six countries that are trying to do everything and then you’ve got five or six countries that aren’t doing anything, it’s going to cancel out. There would be no movement forward.”
Advanced Placement Human Geography teacher Caryn Jenkins said participation from all countries may not be feasible. As countries are developing, Jenkins said a debate has risen between nations on the need for fossil fuels.
“There’s a great point that India made,” Jenkins said. “India keeps saying ‘U.S., you had your chance. Britain you had your chance. You’re the ones who made the climate that we’re in. You need to give us the opportunity to develop. How are we going to do that without fossil fuels or carbon dioxide producing energy sources?’ I think that’s a great point.”
The United States as a whole has experienced warmer temperatures. Every state east of the 100th Meridian West is experiencing temperatures above average, and the rapid warming of Great Lakes have exemplified the problem.
Kreager said effects of global warming can been seen minutes away from Mason. The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission said the Ohio River continues to be the most polluted body of water in the United States for the seventh year.
“Global warming is not just emissions, it’s also the other pollutants as well,” Kreager said. “The number one polluted place in the United States is the Ohio River. There’s a steel mill down there, and they pump all these toxins and stuff into the Ohio river.”
The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) for the Ohio River recorded increasing mercury levels. In 2007, there were 61 pounds of mercury in the water. That number has risen over 500 percent, and as of 2013 there are 380 pounds in the river. Despite such a large amount, mercury is only the 48th most heavily concentrated pollutant in the Ohio River. The TRI has recorded more than 23 million chemicals that have been emptied into the Ohio River.
U.S Climate Data said Mason’s average temperature in December is 34 degrees F and 30.5 degrees F in January. Record high temperatures were recorded on December 23 when temperature rose to 69 degrees F.
While Perfect North’s season usually begins in November, this season the ski resort remained closed until late December. Marketing Director Ellen Perfect said recent warmer temperatures have prevented them from making enough snow to open the resort.
“This season, we opened on December 22 and 23 but had to close because of extremely warm temperatures and rain that melted the snow,” Perfect said. “This warm weather has had a negative effect on our business. We can’t make snow until the temperatures hit around 28 degrees, so the El Nino weather pattern has interrupted our snowmaking schedule.”
Junior Elijah Kelly has been recreationally skiing at Perfect North and said this winter’s unusually grassy hills have made skiing an impossible task.
“I knew it was going to be a risk when buying a pass in the summer it might not snow,” Kelly said. “By this time last year I’d have already gone three or four times, but obviously this year.”
A season pass at Perfect North costs $525 with daily admission costing $47. With the additional cost of ski or snowboard rentals, one would have to venture to the slopes 7 times to get their money’s worth. For Kelly and other adventurists, the possibility of getting this many trips in is becoming increasingly unlikely.
Record high temperatures and increasing levels of pollution across the globe have signaled to world leaders the dangers of the situation. Even so, the Paris Agreement won’t likely be implemented for several more years. Kreager said the further the situation is prolonged, the more negative its impact becomes.
“The earth’s still going to be here long after us,” Kreager said. “The only thing that we need to worry about is our perseverance in human beings. It’s not the earth that we’re hurting, it’s ourselves.”
Co-written with Alekya Raghavan.