El Estoque

What climate change means for the Bay Area

by Aanchal Garg

The other green: Let’s talk economics

We have to shift the discussion about climate change to economics and business for people with power to actually care

A hoax. That’s the go-to word most deniers use to describe climate change. Despite all the developments in global warming research and evidence, people still don’t want to believe in climate change. Fifty eight percent of the Senate and 53 percent of the House of Representatives are filled with skeptics, with the most influential one filling the chair in the Oval Office. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt even has ties to fossil fuel companies, and remains unconvinced about the role carbon dioxide plays in global warming.

With all the new initiatives the Trump administration is tackling like immigration and health care, climate change has been thrown on the back burner. As a result, climate change scientists and supporters are seen as nothing more than tree huggers and hippies who don’t take baths because they want to conserve water.

And so it falls onto us, the new generation, to fix the previous generation’s problems. But how will they listen if it doesn’t concern business, economics or society? Climate change deniers don’t concern themselves with a degree rise in temperature, even if it wreaks havoc on thousands of species, raises sea levels and melts ice caps. For all they care, global warming just means more beach days for them. They aren’t concerned by all the islands that will soon be underwater and the refugees who will lose their homes, culture and heritage.

They are the one percent. Climate change doesn’t bother them because they can still afford a suburban lifestyle, all while environmental refugees are drowning under the raging tides of the Atlantic.

We are the generation meant to fix this problem and to make people pay attention. So how do we get these people, who prioritize business and politics, to pay attention to us? We change the conversation.

We need to rebrand ourselves as people who care about the immediate tangible future, because apparently we’re not doing enough right now. The deniers have made their interests and intentions clear — they will not budge.

In order to move this conversation forward, we have to revise and adapt our argument towards economic concerns and business interests. “Money talks. Science needs to talk to the money,” Diana Liverman and Amy Glasmeier said in an article published in The Atlantic. We have to make the one percent listen to climate change by threatening the thing that matters to them the most: the economy. The increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters like droughts and hurricanes will cause billions in economic losses. After Hurricane Katrina, studies showed that the economy lost $40 billion and left a long-term emotional impact on New Orleans and its people. Climate disruptions, including rising temperatures, will also reduce productivity of companies and lead to steeper prices. The thing people tend to forget is climate change will stop for no economy, no matter how rich or poor.

We’re at the point where people generally know what we’re preaching: the end of the world. Not to trivialize the argument, but these predictions don’t seem to motivate people anymore. Politicians are too busy rolling in the money they get from fossil fuel companies and industrial monopolies to worry about frazzled old people yelling that we’re all going to die. But climate change doesn’t stop just because you don’t think about it. We’re already losing the race against climate change because it’s getting worse every day. It’s time for us to evolve, because clearly the Darwin haters won’t meet us halfway. But we have to do it fast. We have to change, because no matter what we do to inspire the public, it is the people sitting in our government who we have to convince. Change will only come when the government takes action, and as Liverman and Glasmeier say, money talks.

by Jackie Way

Behind the scenes of Earth Deconstructed

AP Chemistry teacher discusses Earth Deconstructed and plans for the future

After the large turnout for 2016’s The Martian: Deconstructed event, students wanted more events like it. Among the 300 people who attended The Martian: Deconstructed were students from AP Environmental Science, AP Chemistry, drama, orchestra and art. Students had delivered presentations about events in the 2015 film “The Martian” and argued whether they could really happen.

This year, AP Chemistry teacher Kavita Gupta has taken charge of planning Earth Deconstructed: Exploring “Before the Flood,” which will be held on Thursday, May 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. It will focus on climate change, using the National Geographic documentary “Before the Flood” as the impetus for the idea. The event will feature a discussion panel of scientists, environmentalists and government policy makers that will be taking questions from journalism students, as well as student presentations tackling different aspects of the issue of climate change.

Gupta hopes that by presenting findings in front of an authentic audience and community members who are willing to take their ideas seriously, students will feel validated in their learning.

“I want an interaction between these experts,” Gupta said. “I want students, through this rich dialogue, to understand the true nature of science is that it’s ever-evolving, and there’s no right answer.”

In the future, Gupta would like to form a long-term partnership with the San Jose Tech Museum, where the events have been held. When it comes to climate change and letting students decide what they can control about the world, Gupta believes this event will empower and inform students.

“This is not one shot and ‘okay let’s forget and go about our businesses,’” Gupta said.

With Earth Deconstructed, Gupta hopes that by asking students to come up with specific small actions that they can take to help alleviate the issues of their generation, they will realize how much power they have.

by Emma Lam and Andrea Schlitt

Finding a solution

Sophomore explores methods to combat climate change

When she went up to Gilroy for a picnic with family friends a few years ago, she noticed an area among the fields. There were a few houses nearby, and the area was dominated by tall grass that felt plastic to the touch and reflected the arid air.

As a breeze weaved through the blades, a spark disrupted the peace. A small fire began to build up, slowly growing larger as she looked towards the houses nearby with concern.

For sophomore Sanjana Shah, witnessing this natural disaster unfold in front of her eyes allowed her to truly understand the impact of the changing environment, and the necessity to act now to alleviate the issue.

As Shah analyzed the situation, she realized that putting out a fire would be difficult. Watering such a large mass of land is a challenge, and wildfires, like the one that happened right in front of her, are caused by fuels like shrubs and dead grasses, which are prone to spreading fire easily.

So, when she was creating a project for MV Green Society, she looked for an idea to help prevent these environmental hazards.

One to two years later, Shah has developed her own Smart Wildfire Sensor, along with her partner sophomore Aditya Shah (not related). It consists of two main parts — the first part for obtaining data on wildfires, the second using that data to make predictions.

Step one and step two — the hardware and the software — are intertwined. There are five sensors, and each of the hardware sensors needed software to function. These sensors included ones measuring humidity, temperature, gas, carbon monoxide/dioxide and wind. Step three was inserting the data collected from the hardware sensors and uploading it to an IoT cloud called SensorInsight, which allowed Shah to see the data in real time.
The fourth step was using Google’s automated machine learning algorithm, also known as TensorFlow. The machine allows for images to be inputted, then takes those images and classifies them into 13 different categories. They first tested TensorFlow using about a hundred randomly picked photos from Google Images. With this, Sanjana and Adithya went out into the field in which they placed a device. The device, which has a camera, allows them to take pictures of the surrounding grasses and shrubs. After taking these photos, they place it into TensorFlow and made their own 13 categories, nine from GR1 to GR9, (grasses), and the other four from SR1 to SR4, (shrubs). GR9 being the type of grass most prone to wildfires; dry and not humid, as well as a high wind speed. Using TensorFlow, Shah was able to calculate how intense of a wildfire there was more likely to be. This leads to the fifth step, where Shah takes both the weather data and TensorFlow and feeds it into the RA algorithm.

“That algorithm is able to predict [fires] using camera info. and weather data,” Shah said. “[Because] the main problem as of today, [it's] done manually. The people in the fire department have to go out there and physically collect samples, with tedious work to sort out. [We] have all of this technology, and there's nothing being done in this field already. Why isn’t there?”

Shah believes the MV Green Society Club, of which she serves as the director of technology, has inspired the development of her project. In fact, she encourages others to join as well so they’ll be able to contribute directly to pressing environmental issues.

“Every single kid in the world has the idea to make the world a better place right? What our club does, is that it offers the opportunity for students who want to invent and develop solutions to place around the campus of MVHS or the neighborhood, and get real time data and see your device work,” Shah said. “[Seeing] your work in real time, that is what inspires you to do more work like that.”