There are plenty of issues that immediately impact college students — financial aid and health care, to name a couple — but what about climate change, caused crop failures and flooding across the nation this summer? Students living in the Midwest without air conditioning know what global warming feels like, and want to hear what a re-elected President Barack Obama will do about it.
In Madison, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences Arts and Letters found that Lake Mendota and Lake Monona saw a significant increase in harmful blue-green algae because thinner ice throughout our mild winter allowed bacteria to flourish beneath the surface. Water temperatures and surface levels in our neighboring Great Lakes are also expected to rise, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts reports that many farmers are gearing up for the problems longer frost periods, moister soil and warmer, earlier spring temperatures may pose for growing crops — especially on smaller farms. These impacts have been noticed across the country and have affected food resources, energy and public health. Yet climate policies have not been at the forefront of either Obama or his opponent Mitt Romney’s campaigns.
I think it would be wise for Obama to explain his position on the environment and highlight what he has done so far. Students want to hear the solutions he is proposing for regional and global climate change. He should do this not just because the Madison’s residents and government happen to think of themselves as environmentally-conscious; this hardly matters from a state or national standpoint. More importantly, the environment is a matter of compelling interest to us all.
Sarah Witman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior majoring in journalism and environmental studies.