First Year Review: Spring 2019

Before starting my first year at Ohio State, I thought college was going to be a lot of memorizing facts to pass classes in order to graduate. I thought college was simply a continuation of high school, just with a more flexible schedule and semester-long classes. However, after starting my first semester, I realized my original ideas about college were very wrong. Unlike high school, simply memorizing facts in college will get you nowhere. After my first few midterms that did not go as planned, I realized that professors cared a lot more about how you think about the information taught in class instead of if you memorized the material or not. This was a huge shock. I spent my entire K-12 education memorizing facts and procedures that I knew would show up on tests, so I had to completely change my study habits and mindset towards classes. Although this was a difficult change to make, it has helped me grow intellectually. I no longer worry about memorizing every little detail about a subject, but rather I focus on the thought process behind everything. In the real world, you can look up various information when you need it, but you cannot look up how to think critically about a challenging problem. This has really helped me understand the purpose of college: learning how to think.

Along with a new idea of what college is about, I also developed different academic expectations for myself. In high school, I maintained a 4.0 without much of an issue, and I thought I would be able to continue this in college if I put in the extra work. However, this year really taught me that getting a 4.0 is not necessarily the most important thing. Getting a 4.0 as an engineering student would require countless hours of extra work, stress, and pressure. Instead of using my extra time to perfect my grades, I could use this extra time to grow as a person. Although my grades are still a priority, I have also been able to be a part of a scholar’s program, work on campus, meet new people, and attend various campus events. These out of the classroom experiences have helped me determine my likes, dislikes, and goals for my life beyond college. Discovering these things about myself would not have been possible if I allowed myself to be consumed by my course work.

Overall, I believe this past year has been extremely beneficial to me not only academically, but personally. I have learned how to better manage my time, how to prioritize what matters to me, and how to take care of myself like an actual adult. I’ve met new people with different cultures and lifestyles, and I’ve had countless new experiences and opportunities. This year has changed me for the better, and I look forward what other changes the next three years will bring.

Global Awareness: STEM Current Event

In recent years, climate change has become a more prevalent political issue. Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has brought more attention to the issue of climate change with the Green New Deal proposal. The Green New Deal focuses on climate by proposing to stop the use of fossil fuels entirely, rely on zero-emission energy sources, update all buildings to be more energy efficient, revolutionize travel to use electric cars and high-speed rail, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of farmers. The deal also suggests non-climate related issues such as guaranteeing a job and quality health care for every American [2]. Although the deal proposes these ideas, no programs or actual solutions to these issues will be created by passing the deal. The deal would simply affirm that actions need to be taken to fight climate change within the next ten years.

The goals the Green New Deal aims to achieve by 2030 are simply not feasible. Within ten years, every American would have to start driving electric cars, gas stations would need to be converted into charging stations, and high-speed rail ways would have to be constructed. Not only would this be a major construction project, but the price of exclusively using clean energy would be substantial. The Green New Deal would argue that the clean energy industry would be a source of new jobs and would therefore help the economy. In 2016, the solar and wind industries have increased the number of jobs by 25% and 32%, respectively [1]. However, although there is an increase in the number of workers in these clean energy industries, the amount of power produced is significantly less than the fossil fuel industries. According to the U.S. Department of Energy in 2016, coal workers produced 7,745 megawatts of power per worker, natural gas produced 3,812 megawatts of power per worker, and solar produced 98 megawatts of power per worker. With these statistics, it would take about 80 solar workers to produce the same amount of power as one coal worker. This undoubtedly creates jobs in the clean energy industry, but this also increases the price of clean energy since more workers must be paid to produce the same amount of power.

Even if the United States could afford the cost of reconstructing its infrastructure and paying more clean energy workers, the actual amount of time that it would take to completely switch to clean energy would be greater than the 10 years that the Green New Deal proposes. A postdoctoral environmental fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School stated that stopping all carbon emissions by 2050 would be an “enormous challenge” that would require more rapid reductions in carbon emissions “than have been achieved historically” [2]. Additionally, the carbon dioxide (CO2) that has already been emitted will affect the atmosphere for thousands of years to come. Even if all CO2 emissions were to stop today, approximately 20 percent of the CO2 would remain in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years [3]. Although the future of the Earth may seem bleak, it’s important to remember that actions taken today can still make a difference. However, politicians and citizens need to create realistic goals and understand that their actions might not have direct results that they witness in their lifetime.

On March 26, 2019, the Senate voted on the Green New Deal. The deal failed by a vote of 57-0, with 43 Democrats voting present instead of taking a stand for or against the deal. Aggressive actions need to be taken to help prevent farther warming of the Earth, but these actions need to have realistic timelines. If the Green New Deal was revised to reach its goals by 2050 or later, the proposals it lays out might not seem so dramatic. Also, if the deal focused exclusively on climate change initiatives instead of employment and health care, which are already highly controversial political topics, it may receive enough political backing to pass. Until these changes are made or a new, better constructed deal is proposed, the United States will continue wreaking havoc on the climate that will have consequences for generations to come.

 

[1] https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/01/f34/2017%20US%20Energy%20and%20Jobs%20Report_0.pdf

[2] https://www.npr.org/2019/02/07/691997301/rep-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-releases-green-new-deal-outline

[3] https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2010/12/common-climate-misconceptions-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide/