2019 National Climate Student Essayist

Books Motivate Foundation is pleased to announce that Jasmine DeMaria, a Brooke High School student in Brooke County, WV is the 2019 National Climate Essay Student Competition Winner. Jasmine DeMaria’s award-winning essay will no doubt inspire countless students across the United States to compete in the 2020 National Climate Essay Student Competition. We congratulate Jasmine and her teacher, Mrs. Debra Rockey who ensured that Jasmine had the information available for her to meet all entry requirements. Thank you to our donors and sponsors who make this program possible. Read Jasmine’s climate essay here!

Jasmine DeMaria

Climate change is a global dilemma that is having adverse effects on many aspects of nature. Extreme temperatures and changing precipitation patterns attributed to climate change are two major issues plaguing West Virginia, as well as many other places in the world. However, public figures, including our own president, are sweeping this under the rug in order to keep the public’s favor.

Between 1906 and 2016, West Virginia’s maximum temperature decreased by 5.3 percent and the minimum temperature increased by 7.7 percent. This change in temperature interrupts the ecosystem’s balance and routines. Since fish are cold-blooded, they have a difficult time adjusting to warmer or cooler waters than they are used to. Warmer water also causes reduced dissolved oxygen levels which could be harmful to aquatic organisms. For example, the optimum dissolved oxygen level for West Virginia’s state fish, the Brook Trout, is greater than 3 ml/g. The heat is also impacting the migration of several species of animals. Many animals rely on cues such as temperature to know when it is time to migrate. However, climate change is altering these cues and in turn removing animals’ natural cues as to when to migrate. Some classes of animals that are dependent on water during their breeding season are also at risk. Jefferson Salamanders, for example, migrate to breeding pools that form after heavy rains. However, these pools may evaporate in the higher heats, leaving the salamander’s eggs unprotected from the sun and predators.

Precipitation increased by 2.2 percent between 1918 and 2018.  This increased amount of precipitation causes more runoff than can be handled. This causes floods that have many negative impacts on the environment and humanity. These floods destroy buildings, cause mudslides, and unbalance the ecosystem. On the June 24, 2016, West Virginia suffered one of the deadliest floods in the state’s history. This flood was brought on by substantial amounts of rain. In White Sulphur Springs, For example, rain totals reached 8.29 inches. In the flooding  23 people died, more than 4,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged, and $53 million in damages was done to bridges and highways. These floods not only displaced humans but animals as well. Deer, birds, fish, snakes, and ground-dwelling creatures were forced out of their habitats due to the dangers and lack of food caused by the rising waters. Many ground-dwelling animals die as their burrows fill with water. Even some fish are transported to unfamiliar waters or stranded on land when floodwaters subside.

Coal is West Virginia’s number one export. The burning of coal releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide. In 2016, coal-fired power plants created 24% of the energy-related CO2 emissions. In 2015, the Obama administration created the Clean Power Plan in an attempt to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants. However, under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has created a new plan to replace the Clean Power Plan. It is not for the better, as this new plan aims to only reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 0.7 and 1.5 percent by 2030. While every effort is important, the Clean Power Plan was projected to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 19 percent in the same time frame. Trump stated that “We’ve ended the war on beautiful, clean coal and we’re putting our coal miners back to work.” Despite this claim, the number of people employed by mine operators and contractors is at an all-time low, approximately a thousand fewer than those under the Obama administration. The solar industry alone employs over double that of the coal industry. Why would the president support an industry that has so many negative impacts on the environment? The answer lies in those who funded Trump’s campaign. The coal industry as a whole is known to fund the Republican party. Robert Murray, founder of the Murray Energy Corporation and one of Trump’s major donors, gave Trump a list of policies that are beneficial to the coal companies. President Trump has followed through with several of these policy changes.

In order to combat climate change, laws have to be put in place to reduce emissions from all sources. Rather than being stopped immediately, coal companies need to be phased out and replaced with clean energy sources. Other programs should be put in place to counteract the damage already done by climate change.

To conclude, climate change has negative impacts on many aspects of life that are not being dealt with properly. If those in power do not take proper actions with this issue, the results could be catastrophic for all inhabitants of this planet.

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