Effects of climate change felt on slopes of Perfect North

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Statistics from USA Climate Change. Infographic by  Madison Krell.

Recent anomalies in global climate levels have caught the attention of world leaders.

Beginning on November 30, 2015, the United Nations held Climate Change Conferences in Paris to discuss global climate change and course of action over the next few years to reduce the world’s pollution output and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Paris Agreement includes a commitment to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees C (35.6 F). Countries are also expected to create greenhouse gas reduction targets, renewed every five years. The deal requires developed nations to give $100 billion annually to developing countries to combat climate change and promote greener economies.

The UN has high hopes for the Paris Agreement, but with the goal of a carbon-neutral world, Geology teacher Cody Kreager said global participation is necessary.

“If you really want to see a difference you need as many people on board as possible,” Kreager said. “If you’ve got five or six countries that are trying to do everything and then you’ve got five or six countries that aren’t doing anything, it’s going to cancel out. There would be no movement forward.”

Advanced Placement Human Geography teacher Caryn Jenkins said participation from all countries may not be feasible. As countries are developing, Jenkins said a debate has risen between nations on the need for fossil fuels.

“There’s a great point that India made,” Jenkins said. “India keeps saying ‘U.S., you had your chance. Britain you had your chance. You’re the ones who made the climate that we’re in. You need to give us the opportunity to develop. How are we going to do that without fossil fuels or carbon dioxide producing energy sources?’ I think that’s a great point.”

The United States as a whole has experienced warmer temperatures. Every state east of the 100th Meridian West is experiencing temperatures above average, and the rapid warming of Great Lakes have exemplified the problem.

Kreager said effects of global warming can been seen minutes away from Mason. The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission said the Ohio River continues to be the most polluted body of water in the United States for the seventh year.

“Global warming is not just emissions, it’s also the other pollutants as well,” Kreager said. “The number one polluted place in the United States is the Ohio River. There’s a steel mill down there, and they pump all these toxins and stuff into the Ohio river.”

The Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) for the Ohio River recorded increasing mercury levels. In 2007, there were 61 pounds of mercury in the water. That number has risen over 500 percent, and as of 2013 there are 380 pounds in the river. Despite such a large amount, mercury is only the 48th most heavily concentrated pollutant in the Ohio River. The TRI has recorded more than 23 million chemicals that have been emptied into the Ohio River.

U.S Climate Data said Mason’s average temperature in December is 34 degrees F and 30.5 degrees F in January. Record high temperatures were recorded on December 23 when temperature rose to 69 degrees F.

While Perfect North’s season usually begins in November, this season the ski resort remained closed until late December. Marketing Director Ellen Perfect said recent warmer temperatures have prevented them from making enough snow to open the resort.

“This season, we opened on December 22 and 23 but had to close because of extremely warm temperatures and rain that melted the snow,” Perfect said. “This warm weather has had a negative effect on our business. We can’t make snow until the temperatures hit around 28 degrees, so the El Nino weather pattern has interrupted our snowmaking schedule.”

Junior Elijah Kelly has been recreationally skiing at Perfect North and said this winter’s unusually grassy hills have made skiing an impossible task.

“I knew it was going to be a risk when buying a pass in the summer it might not snow,” Kelly said. “By this time last year I’d have already gone three or four times, but obviously this year.”

A season pass at Perfect North costs $525 with daily admission costing $47. With the additional cost of ski or snowboard rentals, one would have to venture to the slopes 7 times to get their money’s worth. For Kelly and other adventurists, the possibility of getting this many trips in is becoming increasingly unlikely.

Record high temperatures and increasing levels of pollution across the globe have signaled to world leaders the dangers of the situation. Even so, the Paris Agreement won’t likely be implemented for several more years. Kreager said the further the situation is prolonged, the more negative its impact becomes.

“The earth’s still going to be here long after us,” Kreager said. “The only thing that we need to worry about is our perseverance in human beings. It’s not the earth that we’re hurting, it’s ourselves.”

In collaboration with Asia Porter.

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Seniors work polls as part of ‘Youth in the Booth’ program

Since 2006, the Warren County Board of Election’s Youth in the Booth program has aimed to help high school seniors gain a better understanding of the election process with a unique behind-the-scenes look at electoral activity.

With Mason being the only high school in the county yet to get involved with the program, Senior Leah Metzger thinks that it is important for students to have an understanding of how the system works.

“We’re growing up and we’re eventually going to be that next generation voting,” Metzger said. “I think it’s really important for youth to get out and have a say in who our next president is going to be, in any election.”

According to Warren County election administrator Dee Hudson, the program has some eligibility requirements.

“Students need to be in good standing with their school and also be able to represent their school and Warren County Board of Elections well to the public,” Hudson said. “They must be a resident of Warren County and a United States citizen, a high school senior, have their own transportation, willing to commit to an all day assignment anywhere in the county and also to be able to attend a 3 hour training class.”

According to Metzger, Mason seniors will represent the school and assist in processing voters.

“Because I’m a Mason student, they’ll put me in a Mason facility,” Metzger said. “That way, we can see people we know come in. We’ll have an iPad for people to type their name in and register to vote, and pass out the little ‘I Voted’ stickers, etcetera.”

Students involved with the program have much to gain. Aside from the $136.50 earned for the day or credit received for fourteen or more service hours, seniors benefit from a learning experience that benefits seniors when it comes to college applications.

“There will always be a need for the brightest and the best to step forward and make a difference,” Hudson said. “The program is beneficial to high school seniors because it demonstrates community service and helps them to present to colleges as a well rounded applicant for continuing education or in the private sector as a job experience that involves leadership.”

Mason’s first steps will be with the upcoming primary and presidential elections. The Board hopes to build a new generation of poll workers by including a vital part of our community, the youth. Voters are likely to see an influx of younger voters participating in a reformed election experience. Hudson said this will also be a good way for seniors to get exposed to the ins and outs of democracy.

“The Youth in the Booth program allows students a front row seat in a democracy that is known worldwide as progressive and inclusive to all.” Hudson said. “ ‘We the people’ includes the youth who will someday change the lives of many.”

Allen secures another term on MCS Board after second recount

It’s official—incumbent Mason City Schools Board members Kevin Wise and Courtney Allen will serve on the board for another four years.

As of this month, the Warren County Board of Elections has issued not one, but two recounts to decide which two candidates will be elected to the Mason City Schools Board of Education to represent the district over the next four years.

Since the primary provisional count revealed a margin of less than .5 percent between incumbent President Courtney Allen and newcomer Erin Schmidt, a mandatory recount took place on November 24. With a sudden turn of events, Allen secured the second spot, but the difference between Schmidt and Allen still amounted to less than .5 percent. Consequently, on Thursday, December 3, a second recount took place, rendering the votes 4,543 to 4,527 in favor of Allen.

Incumbent Kevin Wise, who came out on top during the first provisional count, retained the favor of the majority of voters with 6,776 out of 15,846 votes in the second recount.

Schmidt, who won the first provisional count, said that running against an incumbent can be difficult but is proud of her dedication and the support she received.

“Running against an incumbent is an uphill battle, especially since we have a school board that stays relatively quiet,” Schmidt said. “In cases where a board member is controversial or ineffective, a campaign against that individual may be easier. That was not the case in this election. Although I wish the outcome had been different, I am proud of the campaign I ran and of the support I received.”

Allen said that the board needs to focus on supporting work within the district that makes current mandates beneficial to educators.

“We all recognize that there is change necessary in the roles that the state and federal governments play in education today,” Allen said. “As a school board, I believe we need to push back on these mandates and help our legislators better understand how their decisions are affecting our district. Concurrently, we should support work within the district that takes these mandates and turns them into something of value for our educators.”

Schmidt’s short term plans include continued support for Mason City Schools and its board. In the long run, she said she is considering running again.

“My plans for the future are to continue to support Mason City Schools,” Schmidt said. “ I will support the current board and Dr. Kist-Kline in any way I am able. The next school board election will be held in two years, when three seats will be up for vote. I am considering another attempt in 2017, but only time will tell.”

Schmidt, Allen forced to wait on recount, Wise wins re-election

The votes have been counted and the results are in—for now.

As of Tuesday, November 3, two members, KScreen-Shot-2015-11-10-at-11.17.05-AM-e1447172267476evin Wise and Erin Schmidt, have been elected to the Mason City Schools Board of Education to represent the district for the next four years. Due to the numbers being so close between incumbent Courtney Allen and Erin Schmidt (4,428 to 4,446), positions have yet to be finalized.

The majority of the voters favored Kevin Wise, a consecutively re-elected official who won with a total of 6,657 votes out of 15,531. According to Wise, the reason for his success is his ability to get his message to the voters.

“Every voter has different reasons when they cast a vote,” Wise said. “Mainly, the track record of success for our district and board is compelling and I think people tune into that. Getting that message to voters is important and I have tried to do that effectively as well.”

As of now, joining Wise to represent the district is newcomer and community member Erin Schmidt. Schmidt, whose decision to run came from witnessing problems in the community, said it was her sincerity that attracted voters.

“It is difficult to know exactly why people vote a certain way in elections like these,” Schmidt said. “My hope is that I conveyed a sense of interest and understanding about the current educational climate not only in Mason but in the State and country as well. I sincerely care about our teachers, students, and community and would like to think I earned the votes cast for me based on that merit.”

Wise said that the board is looking at some promising opportunities for the community in the long run.

“The plans for the board will remain on track in the short term,” Wise said.  “Long term, we are looking at exciting opportunities to renovate the middle school and take the necessary steps to get our second graders in the same building. Our plans make full use of a state program that has been in the planning for 15 years and won’t involve any new taxes.”

Because the the first count revealed a win in favor of Schmidt by a less than one percent margin (less than thirty votes), the Board of Election has issued a mandatory recount, for which results could be pending as late as November 24.

Incumbent Board President Courtney Allen is on hold for now, until provisional ballots are counted, and possibly through a recount following that. As of now, she will be replaced by Schmidt on the board, unless the recount tells a different story.

Allen said the Board of Elections is going through the process, but regardless she will remain in her position through the end of the year.

“The Board of Elections is currently going through the process of counting provisional ballots,” Allen said. “If the votes are still within .5% once provisionals are included, then an official recount will happen. Regardless of the outcome of the election, my current term does not end until December 31, 2015. Therefore positions stay as is until then.”

Schmidt said she hopes the ballot remains in her favor and she has high hopes for her term as a board member.

“I hope to understand better the challenges facing our teachers and students at a classroom level,” Schmidt said. “A large percentage of the Mason and Deerfield Township community have no children in the schools but are still impacted by the successes and challenges of the district. Reaching out beyond the walls of our schools by working together with the community, the City Council members of Mason, the trustees of Deerfield Township, and local businesses will only make our schools stronger.”

To Mars and Beyond

Advances in research and science are constantly taking us places. Our next stop? Mars. And its a one-way trip.
Orchestrated from the Netherlands, this production is complex and intimidating in innumerable ways. It’s a performance that will forever change life as we know it.

SETTING THE STAGE: A  BRIEF TIMELINE
Founded in 2011, ‘Mars One’ is a non-profit organization created in hopes of establishing a permanent human colony on Mars by the late 2020’s.

In 2013, Mars One launched an astronaut selection program inviting persons of all nationalities to apply. The application process consists of four rounds, spanning over two years. At then end of it (which should be sometime this year), 24 individuals -six teams of four- will be selected for training.Training will last until the launch in 2026. Ability and patience to spend long periods of time in a remote area is the first and main thing tested. They will also learn to repair components of the habitat and rover as well as learn how to grown their own food in that habitat. They are also trained in medical procedures.

The plan is, from 2024 to 2025, six cargo units will have landed on a relatively ideal terrain. Before the first crew starts their journey, the life support system would have produced a breathable atmosphere of 0.7 bar pressure, 3000 liters of water and 120 kg of Oxygen that will be in storage. 

For more information about the timeline, click here: http://www.mars-one.com/mission/roadmap  

ACT I: MEET THE ACTORS 

The astronauts who have signed up for this project are people like you and me. Remember: its a one-way trip. These are people with families, careers, healthy lifestyles and their whole lives ahead of them. They are sacrificing everything familiar and comfortable for the sake of science, discovery and the progression of mankind.  

So you might be thinking: Why would these people be willing to throw away their lives for this project? Hear it for yourselves…

ACT II: TAKE A TOUR

About 15 years from now, all supplies and materials required (including the people), will have landed on Mars. But what happens next? 

The astronauts will be living in habitats. These are modular units comprising of multiple inflatable units… about 250 cubic meters per person. 

Then of course, is the suit. Naturally, the environment of Mars isn’t suitable for human life. Inhabitants will wear full body suit, similar to the ones worn to the moon. It will be flexible enough to allow the wearers to work and move around, yet provide adequate protection from the harsh temperatures and the thin, carbon dioxide rich air. 
Water, oxygen and food will be produced on the planet as sending these essentials from earth is out of the question. Water will be extracted from the soil, oxygen will be derived from splitting water into its constituents and food will be produced under artificial lighting.  
 
For further information and FAQ, click here: http://www.mars-one.com/faq 
 

ACT III: THE POSSIBLITIES ARE ENDLESS

What does this Mars One project mean for the future? Provided this mission is a success, this project opens up a variety of possibilities for mankind. 

A second planet may soon be in high demand, at the rate this one is deteriorating. The results of the project could be revolutionary in several fields, be it medical, agricultural, environmental, etc.
And of course, we can be part of the adventure too. Through donations and generally raising awareness we can do our part. 
This is definitely not science fiction anymore.
Explore the website, http://www.mars-one.com/ to learn more. For more videos, visit their YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/MarsOneProject

 

 

An International Experience

2010 was an interesting year for me, to say the least. That was the year that my family packed up and moved to the other side of the world. To India. For the next four years.

Now you have to understand, to my ten year-old self, this was the end of the world as I knew it. Born and brought up in Ohio my whole life, to suddenly move to a place I hardly visited before (and even then, I was too young to remember it), was devaca637-indiastating. At the time, I had every misconception there was in the book about India.

To be fair, I was pretty young. And it seemed like nothing would go my way.

I had trouble adjusting at first. Often times I’d come home from my new school, in tears. Everything was foreign, from how people dressed, to the color of the road. But a few months in, I had quickly adapted to the way things went. Not that I particularly liked it.

I didn’t exactly love the first school that I went to. It was a big international school, with children of all kinds of ethnic backgrounds. The actual learning itself took some getting used to. Teachers had some unconventional (well, to me) methods of going about things and the students seemed to know what they were doing. But I had troubles ranging from taking notes in class to knowing the latest sports teams. And let’s not forget all the pre-teen drama. But, when in Rome…

The third and fourth year were definitely better for me. Having switched schools, I was now in a smaller environment. The student body consisted of about three hundred and fifty students. Most of my classmates were in the same position as I was. Slowly as time went by, I realized whether I lived here or there, the inner-workings of a thirteen year-old mind didn’t change. Everyone was obsessing about One Direction or wondering when the next Harry Potter movie would release. The ‘unconventional’ things turned into the norm. I made some life-long friends and got to see family more often.

I learned so much as the years zipped by. And now I’m back. Part of me likes that. But part of me misses my home in India. There, I evolved into the person I am today. It is a huge part of who I am. It’s an experience I’m eternally grateful for and wouldn’t trade for the world.