In a crowded room on the third floor of the Donna E. Shalala Student Center, students learned about the impacts of climate change on the wintery Arctic Circle. John Morales, chief meteorologist from NBC 6, talked about this topic based on his own journey to the area this past summer.
Presented by the Energy and Conservation Organization (ECO), Morales traveled with the National Geographic Explorer Ship to a place where the sun never sets, the weather never goes higher than 50 degrees and about four million people call the Arctic Circle home. He was able to set some myths straight to best explain the warming effect on the ice.
“It’s a land of contrasts: it’s so interesting to see so much green, more than I imagined, juxtaposed with barren rock and ice in the background,” he said. “You can have a sea of rocks, a pebble beach scenario, ice and the mountains in the background, and even more snow.”
The area is also home to flowers, lichen and animals such as birds, walruses and polar bears. However, there is a decline in the ice mass in Greenland that might make homes for the vegetation and animals impossible to find.
“Not only is the ice cap shrinking… but it is not as thick as it used to be. The ice is not lasting as long as it used to,” Morales said. “The ice used to be thick and would last for about nine years but now the ice melts quicker and is much younger, thinner and even easier to melt”
The meteorologist also explained that as warm water passes underneath the ice, it also melts it from under the water.
“We’re headed in the wrong direction,” he said. “The U.S. is the only country that treats [climate change] like a political controversy.”
Andrea Candelaria, a member of ECO’s Green Committee, helped put the event together after the election results made her feel like climate change should be discussed “now more than ever.”
“I knew I wanted to have some sort of talk with a well respected speaker to get people engaged and learn more about what is actually going on,” she said. “I had seen John Morales post on Facebook some articles about climate change and how we needed to be active in our communities… I felt that maybe he could bring the same message to our campus.”
Although the event concentrated on events happening in the Arctic, Candelaria feels like it is still important to know what is going on despite the distance.
“It’s still really important to keep climate change and the rest of the Earth in mind, not only during election season, but in our everyday lives as well.”
Those who were in the audience, like sophomore Liztiffany Couceiro, also enjoyed the presentation and Morales’ personal touch with his own photography of the Arctic.
“He was so genuine and you could tell that he has a passion for this,” said Couceiro. “I really enjoyed that he left politics out of it and said that it shouldn’t be a political matter but a scientific one.”
Alina Zerpa is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, a major Oreo enthusiast and spends way too much time on Tumblr.