Is WVU’s Party Culture Hurting More Than Just Its Academic Reputation?

West Virginia University has long been known for its impressive and well-renowned party culture, ranking at the top of countless lists for being one of the best party schools in the country.

While the students are extremely proud of this fact (and rightfully so), university administration has tried hard to turn a new page on this reputation, hoping to show the school in a more appropriate and scholarly light, even trying to curb outside-campus activities at some points.

While they fight the good fight, another problem stems from the outrageous parties thrown by students around Morgantown: the trash, debris and general aftermath left after one of these “social gatherings.” Morgantown “townies” have raised their anger and disgust with the way their city is treated by the temporary students and City Council has tried to make changes.

So, are WVU students and their parties hurting the place they love—the place they belong—even worse than the school’s reputation?

One of the saddest examples of massive amounts of discarded trash that you can see in Morgantown is the trash strewn along the Monongahela River and Rail-Trail which you can see depicted in a livestream our writers’ team did a few weeks ago.

As the weather is warming up and classes are coming to an end, students will also now have more free time to enjoy. With that, they’ll begin flocking to nearby waterholes (quite literally) with their groups of friends and six packs of white claws to beat the heat and celebrate another passed semester. Arden Falls, Blue Hole and Cheat Lake all become very popular places for the local college students to hang out—and leave their trash.

In our past articles on this blog, like WVU Strategic Communications Students Do Their Part for Climate Change or Trends That Are Saving The Earth, we’ve praised the efforts that West Virginia students have done to help the environment. However, there’s still so much more that we can do, starting here with our home.

There’s not much to say here except we need to be better. We, as students of a prestigious, brilliant, ground-breaking university that still knows how to have fun needs to be more mindful of the community that houses us. As our president said, “We work hard, (and) we play hard, but smart,” which is extremely true. Now it’s time to find a way to be smart about how we’re treating our environment, because while we may be doing amazing things for others, we also should be focusing on ourselves, too.

Instead of leaving this post on a negative note, there is still one more story of students with true Mountaineers spirit, because we can always find those who go first. After the spontaneous snow day which the university eventually condemned as shown above, students went out and cleaned up the mess left behind, saying, “We felt it was our responsibility to go out and clean up and help out our community.” Let’s go.

The Reason Behind Your Sneezing? Climate Change

Spring has sprung, the flowers are blooming, and allergy season is well underway and seemingly worse than ever. While nearly 20 million Americans are going to feel the affects, new studies show that climate change may be to blame.

Image by cenczi from Pixabay

 

 

The reason why has the do with airborne pollen, which has increased with warming temperatures, according to scientists.

Dr. Jeffrey Demain from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology gave a talk about some of the environmental changes taking place.

According to the  Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s annual survey, fewer “freeze-free” days in the year between 1995 and 2011 led to 11-27 days added to pollen season for most of the nation, and they’ve discovered that it’s been growing each year.

According to CNN’s Jen Christensen, studies show that with this comes more allergies because plants like ragweed will begin migrating north, likely bringing New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine more pollen.

Image by pixel2013 from Pixabay

Angel Waldron, the director of communications for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, explained to CNN how much we are now seeing the impact of climate change on allergies.

“Warmer temperatures allow the trees to pollinate earlier and for longer times. We didn’t used to see our cars covered in pollen before March, but we do now, and we hear from people all the time who are dealing with allergies for a lot longer than they used to when they were little. That’s definitely connected to climate change.”

A prime example of these changes taking noticeable effects happened in Durham, North Carolina this month with Jeremy Gilchrist’s #Pollmageddon photos. The former meteorologist used a drone to snap pictures of massive clouds of pollen overtaking the sky in a yellowish haze.

This is a prime example of tree pollen on the move, and North Carolina isn’t the only Appalachian state set to feel the effects of it, according to AAFA and the National Wildlife Federation’s report on the impact of climate change on people with asthma and allergies.

Their report revealed that the effects of climate change favor trees with more highly allergenic pollen.

“In particular, habitat suitable for highly allergenic oak and hickory species may expand at the expense of habitat where much less allergenic pine, spruce, and fir trees currently dominate. These shifts might be most dramatic along the Appalachian Mountains, Northeastern states from Pennsylvania to Maine, in the Upper Midwest, and along the lower Mississippi River.

When looking further into just how dramatic these shifts might be in West Virginia, the state has a low to moderate allergenic potential level on the current habitat distribution map, but is projected to be high to very high by 2100 in a high emissions scenario.

“These maps show the annual allergenic potential from tree pollen for the current distribution of tree species habitat and for projected distributions of tree species habitat under two future climate scenarios—–one in which greenhouse gas emissions are higher and one with lower emissions.” Credit: AAFA and the National Wildlife Federation

Unfortunately, things aren’t looking to get any better for allergy sufferers unless things change. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, under current environmental conditions, researchers expect to pollen counts in the U.S. to double by 2040.

According to EcoWatch’s Sam Nickerson researchers have even more reason to believe that climate change is linked to the growing severity of allergy season. The Union of Concerned Scientists has found several signs of climate change and that also drive allergen production such as Increase in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Temperature Increases, and Seasonal Creep.

The impacts of climate change can take a huge toll on allergy sufferers, and according to Vox, “can cause mild annoyances like hives or itchy eyes, or life-threatening issues like anaphylaxis, where blood pressure plummets and airways start swelling shut.”

Many have even taken to social media to express their concern and note just how much more allergy season is affecting them this year.

While many of us are rightfully frustrated, there are still some things that we can do to help. According to CNN, things such as turning out the lights when leaving a room, use energy efficient light bulbs, unplug chargers from outlets when they’re not being used, and washing clothes in cold water instead of hot are all small chances we can make in our daily lives to help slow climate change.

As well as this you can also join the action network for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to stay up to date about pending federal or state asthma and allergy legislation.

 

Lil Dicky Speaks Out on Climate Change: Here’s Why West Virginians Should Listen

Lil Dicky is a singer/song writer that is notorious for coming out with goofy, not-so-serious music. This past week, he followed his normal trend of releasing a comedic tune, but the song had a serious message behind it.

“Earth” is a cartoon music video where Lil Dicky tells the audience about how much we love the earth and everyone and everything on it. But the main focus is to call attention to Climate Change. Within the lyrics of the song, he discusses that we only have 12 years to change out habits as a society before we see serious, permanent affects to the earth and all the profits from the song are going straight to charity. The song is filled with an all-star cast. Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus are just a few of many celebrities featured. Dicky leave off with encouraging viewers to visit WeLoveTheEarth.org to learn more information and donate.

With a large group of influencers, the message built so directly into the lyrics, and the comedic aspect, it’s the perfect platform to get people aware, which is exactly what he did.

West Virginia is seeing the affects on climate change. Within the last century, majority of the state has warmed up to almost one degree.  One degree may not sound like much, but if we continue to let our climate rise, we will see direct effects such as flooding and health issues. If we don’t make a change, here’s what could happen to our almost heaven.

There has been an increase in precipitation ever since the beginning of the 20th century. Flooding is not a foreign concept to West

nbc news

Virginia. In 2016, the state saw the deadliest flood in West Virginia history, and the deadliest flash flood in the nation. It’s estimated that the average precipitation will continue to rise during the winter and spring. This, combined with rising temperatures will intensify flooding.

Health issues can arise due to the heat of some summer days.  Hot days cans be unhealthy and dangerous for everyone, but especially children and the elderly.  The air quality can be harmed due to the rise in temperature. Longer growing seasons means more pollen resulting in allergies, and ground level ozone, a key component of smog, will increase the hotter it gets.  The more the climate changes, the harder it will be to clean the air.

The affects go beyond just flooding a health issues such as

Lil Dicky

ecosystems, recreation, and farms.

What can West Virginia Do? We need to drop our greenhouse gas pollution, and burning coal is a huge part of that. Our state is the second largest producer of coal and by reducing how much we burn, could significantly help our climate.

Hopefully Lil Dicky’s message will get people talking and taking action so we can live a longer, healthier life on earth.

Mountaintop Removal: Removing The Practice From Our Hills

Concerns over mountaintop removal have always been voiced, but has somewhat come to lose its spotlight in recent years. However, it’s seem to be regaining traction in our legislators’ eyes over the past few months, especially as coal communities ask Congress for a health study to be conducted on mountaintop removal as a coal mining procedure.

Between the push to move away from coal towards renewable resources, and the environmental issues it’s caused, like landslides and deforestation, it’s questionable how the process of mountaintop removal is still occurring to this day. West Virginia and other states in the Appalachian region take pride in their homes among the Blue Ridge Mountains, so why are we still letting this terrible practice happen to them?

A controversial form of surface mining that became highly popularized in the 1970s, coal industries have taken a lot of heat over the decades for employing these tactics despite the adverse effects that come with them.

Data from a joint study from Duke University, West Virginia University, Google and SkyTruth shows that, “strip mining across the mountaintops of Appalachia is scarring as much as three times more land to get a ton of coal than just three decades ago.” This proves the theory that the coal industries are destroying more land for less money.

“Satellite images from 1985 to 2015 show how mountaintop removal mining spread across this 12,000-square-mile area of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. Credit: Christian Thomas/SkyTruth”

Not only does it hurt the environment in the true sense of the word, but also the communities of people that in these areas, too.

“To a child of Appalachia, to see the mountains laid waste, whether by clear-cutting or strip mining, is to witness a dagger plunged into the very bosom from which you sprang and which has sustained you,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent told Appalachian Voices.

But worry not! There are now murmurs of banning mountaintop removal completely. Democrats worried about the “elevated risks of  birth defects, cancer and premature death among residents living near large-scale Appalachia surface coal mines” are possibly trying to put a stop to this practice.

If you’re still not convinced why we should be more concerned about mountaintop removal and what these practices can do to our lovely, mountainous home states, don’t just listen to me, listen to Michael Hendryx, a lead research investigator on explosive types of surface coal mining in Appalachia, and what they can do to our health.

Thankfully we still have the next generation out there that’s ready to fight the good fight for our mountains. ⛰❤️

WVU Strategic Communications Students Do Their Part for Climate Change

by Shana Nelson

While #schoolstrikes4climatechange is a new movement that students across the globe are getting involved in, some WVU students are lending a helping hand to educate the world about climate change in their own way.

Credit: Project Drawdown

This semester, Dr. Jasper Fessman’s strategic communications capstone class has teamed up with Project Drawdown, a nonprofit organization which consists of a coalition of researchers, scientists, doctors, and many more, that has developed 100 sustainable solutions to climate change.

Founded in 2014 by environmentalist and author Paul Hawken, Project Drawdown was created to, “map, measure, and model the most substantive solutions to stop global warming, and to communicate those findings to the world.”

Edited by Hawken and released in 2017 Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, lays out the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming.

Paul Hawken, Drawdown. Credit: Raymond Baltar

The list of all 100 solutions can be found here, and they range from topics such as a plant-rich diet, educating girls, and LED household lighting,  just to name a few.

In terms of just how this organization and WVU started working together, Dr. Fessmann said that he wanted to use his scholarship and activism in order to help students make a difference.

“I am an activist scholar. I am a scholar first, but I really like to use my scholarship and my research to have an impact. Teaching a capstone class really allows me to also help the students and learn a lot for a real client, and at the same time make an impact.”

Credit: University of Central Florida

At the beginning of the semester, groups of students were told to come up with a campaign idea for Project Drawdown, and of those groups one was chosen to work on a social media campaigns, and another was chosen to focus on the organization’s solution of a plant-rich diet,  creating advocacy toolkits for the organization to generate awareness to their solutions.

Dr. Fessmann himself is also doing work to help on the environmental front with the recent release of a book he edited, Strategic Climate Change Communications: Effective Approaches to Fighting Climate Denial. The book, according to Dr. Fessmann, is meant to help journalists understand strategic communications campaigns that are used against them by climate denial, which is an industry with a budget of about $900 billion a year according to this research.

“There’s a very, very strong difference in the playing field. You have all of the money and expertise on one side, and this book and others try to level the strategic communications playing field to really give journalists and activists a toolkit of what techniques are used against them, and how they can counter them.”

In terms of doing their part to reverse global warming, students of today seem to have their sights set on ditching corporate jobs and doing more public interests communications and advocacy work, Dr. Fessmann said.

“A lot of the students want to do more than a traditional corporate job, and this generation is a lot more socially active. They understand how much impact they can have, especially through social media, that they can spark social movement. That makes it a lot more meaningful.”

While WVU students are working directly with the organization, other schools did their part by joining in on the EcoChallenge on social media.

Whether it’s working hands on with organizations such as these or joining movements online, there are many ways that students both locally and globally are working to reverse climate change, and thanks to organizations like Project Drawdown, we are all able to have access to solutions to help ourselves and the planet.

Reasonably Sustainable

One of the biggest complaints about being sustainable is that it’s expensive. 

It’s cheaper to buy a cases of plastic water bottles for $3, then to buy a reusable one for $30, and grabbing a free plastic straw is more reasonable than Paying $10 for a reusable one. But where do you cross the line of what is reasonable?

 

Allbirds

Allbirds is company that sells shoes. But these shoes are special because they’re made out of natural materials. The goal of the company is to be more sustainable.  The shoe is made out of either wool or treefiber and the laces are created from recycled plastic bottles. Even the boxes that they come in are made out of recycled cardboard. The brand was even voted as “World’s Comfiest Shoe”. A shoe that keeps the environment in mind, that can be yours for… $95. And don’t bother looking for a discount code, they don’t exist.

Their pricing is not completely off compared to other shoe brands.  But unlike Nike, Vans, or Adidas, Allbirds isn’t a common name or brand. So when consumers purchase these shoes they’re most likely buying them for what they stand for.

People have different opinions on where to draw the line with what is reasonable and what is not and this video gives great tips on how to save money while trying to be sustainable.

 

Businesses also struggle with the idea of sustainability being pricy. But businesses can actually save money while going green.  The Morgantown Green Coalition was brought together in 2016. Joined with the Morgantown Green Team and Friends of Deckers Creek, their mission was to help local business become more sustainable, while saving money.  31 businesses ranging from bars to boutiques joined the coalition after filling out a survey that took businesses about an hour to complete.  From there they learned tips and tricks from the local expedients on how to be sustainable and saving where they could.

Being reasonably sustainable is truly a person and businesses preference. As a community we find the balance to live a greener life.