By Joey Bowling
Green roofs, sea walls, electric cars, new shower heads, solar panels — schools and local authorities are resorting to a vast range of strategies to reduce greenhouse emissions and brace for the potentially devastating effects of climate change.
In a News-Decoder webinar this week, students from three schools presented research they conducted into what’s happening on the ground in Jordan and the United States.
Three students each from Friends Seminary in New York, King’s Academy in Jordan and Thacher School in California discussed different tactics adopted locally to cope with increasing droughts, rising temperatures and more violent storms.
The webinar was the centerpiece of the schools’ research and reporting on climate change, one of the themes students in News-Decoder’s network are examining this year.
“New York City is a concrete jungle,” Daphne Darwish of Friends Seminary told the webinar, noting that with few green spaces other than Central Park, the city can feel as though it’s encased in stone.
“One really important thing New York is doing to help alleviate the issue of climate change and carbon emissions is green roofs and incorporating greenery in and around New York City rooftops,” she said.
Devin Friedrich, also of Friends Seminary, said One Bryant Park — a skyscraper on Manhattan — has an advanced climate control system. The city is helping owners of buildings to paint the roofs white so the structures absorb less heat. Roofs planted with greenery can actually raise the value of the property by keeping utility bills down, he noted.
Madeline Lerner of Friends Seminary said that after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, New York is bracing itself for more violent storms. But she noted that plans to install expensive dams to control the flow of water to New York’s harbor have not received universal support.
Lerner and Friedrich worked on two stories on climate change that News-Decoder published in the past week.
At King’s Academy, Anas Badran said a flash flood that killed 21 young people in Jordan was blamed on bad infrastructure, although climate change was the root cause.
King’s Academy students noted that the school had dramatically cut energy consumption by installing solar panels and had implemented recycling initiatives.
Walid AbuAlAfia of King’s Academy said Jordan had introduced electric cars in 2015, and Uber Jordan plans for half of its fleet of cars to be electric by the end of this year. But high duties and a lack of charging points have kept a lid on consumers’ purchases of electric vehicles, he said.
Thacher School in California has seen the effects of wildfire up close. The eighth most destructive fire in California’s history erupted near the school’s campus last year, offering a “wake-up call,” according to student James Langan.
Aware of the need to save water during California’s drought, Thacher has cut its consumption in half in the past year in part by recycling water through its laundry and irrigation systems, Langan said.
Malena Solin of Thacher noted that citrus farmers were being squeezed by lack of water, wildfires and mudslides. Permaculture is being held up as an alternative, but it’s costly, she said.
Skye Neulight of Thacher reviewed moves by Ventura County, where the school is located, to combat climate change. “By 2050, we need to reduce emissions by 80 percent,” Neulight said.