TEDx at IU: Living on a Water Planet

B-Town Buzz | Gabriel Gaynor | November 30, 2015

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As many of you already know, TEDx came to IU. The topics spoken about during this lecture series included what is going on with NASA and their exploration of the universe, all the way to a talk about expressing emotion through art. We learned about who has a claim to the moon, what cities can do to become more energy efficient and much more. However, one topic that peaked my interest was Steve Fleischli’s talk, Living on a Water Planet.

Many people equate climate change to the world’s temperature rising. Though this is true, that is just the surface of what climate change really is. Fleischli discussed how these changing temperatures mean different things for different regions. His focus was the water crisis in California. The depleted water table and continuous drought in the area has become a serious issue for people on the west coast, as it affects their daily lives.

Because of these droughts and high temperatures–we find that water in the atmosphere, and what goes up must come down–we have experienced sporadic and unpredictable weather patterns in the Midwest. You might think this is no big deal but for the important agricultural aspect of the Midwest economy, it is a huge deal! In fact, Fleischli said flooding has caused $500,000,000 of lost crops.

There are already plenty of starving people in this world–the last thing we need is to see even more as crop yields are lowered by the large amounts of precipitation and flooding. Fleischli said that this is the worst drought in the Californian region for the past 1,200 years! This means people are to cut their water consumption in activities like taking showers and watering their yards. The rising temperatures also take a toll on the diverse fish and wildlife populations in the area, as the hot water temperature causes fish to die, thus effecting every aspect of the food chain.

Fleischi discussed ways that people can help fix the problem, as well. For the science majors and SPEA soon-to-be-graduates out there, he touched on how water recycling and desalination could be their greatest hope. First, however, they need to improve their technology to get them there. For people interested in environmental issues after college, California would be a great place to start, as they have many current and pressing issues that need our help.

On the NASA website, you can find the evidence for climate change, as well as what it means for us. Some of their evidence includes the fact that the sea level has risen 6.7 inches in the past 100 years. With the continuation of that trend, we will see many coastal cities and homes vacated and in need of relocation. Of course the temperature rise is mentioned, but what many don’t know is that NASA says we have been in a decade of decreased solar output but have still managed to raise the global temperature. They discuss swarming oceans and surface water, which, as explained earlier, has a huge impact on aquatic life. We may see a dramatic change in the animal and fish populations if this trend continues to worsen. Lastly, they mention the shrinking of ice sheets, as well as Arctic sea ice, which only raises sea levels to new heights.

With all these consequences of the change in climate, we can only wonder what our world will look like in the next century if solutions are not acted upon. We should learn how we can fix this problem before we see even more dramatic results.

It’s our world, and it’s definitely our responsibility.

Photo courtesy of Maximillian Tortoriello and the TEDx Indiana University Facebook Page.