From snow to drought, climate change is ever-present in Minnesota


Marius Elias Morse

LOCAL DROUGHT. As of Nov. 8, 6.54% of Minnesota is experiencing extreme drought, which has caused Minnehaha Falls to dry up for the second year in a row.

Global warming, greenhouse gases, and climate change — these environmental issues are more urgent to humans than ever.

As of Nov. 8th, 6.54% of Minnesota is experiencing extreme drought — which is a dramatic increase compared to 0% of extreme drought in January 2022. This drought can be seen at local parks like Minnehaha Falls, known for its beautiful water and natural life. The lack of rain last season prevented water in Lake Minnetonka to overflow into the Minnehaha Creek, and for two years in a row, Minnehaha Falls has dried up.

In addition to the Minnehaha drought, Minnesotans observed another striking climate change effect this year with an early Minnesota snow on Oct. 14. People have been experiencing more frequent temperature fluctuation along with other current environmental issues. “I went outside in my sandals and I was really surprised. It just said it was gonna rain tomorrow. I didn’t know it was gonna snow… Snowing in October and then it’s going to be 70 degrees the other day. Is it all because of climate change?” freshman Phillippe Cristobal said.

Every year in science, language and history classes, students have been educated about these environmental problems and their degrees of urgency. “I feel like we do a pretty good job educating students about climate change. In middle school, we have done a lot on the geographic impacts of the weather cycles. By the time they come into the Upper School, students are fairly well aware of the fact that the climate is changing. So that sets them up well for my class where we talk about the like underlying pieces that define why climate change is happening beyond just knowing that it is happening,” Environmental Science teacher Rachel Yost-Dubrow said.

While most students are aware, there still seems to be a lack of action in response to climate change. “I just think that people react to that stuff when it’s affecting them in a big way. And when the weather is like regular, no one’s been talking about it,” Cristobal said.

In addition to the concept of the 3Rs (reuse, recycle and reduce), oftentimes it can be difficult to strike a balance between maintaining a perfect environment and a convenient lifestyle. “One of the most impactful things you can do is limit the number of airline flights you take because jet fuel is incredibly carbon-intensive, significantly more than driving. So for example, if you’re traveling somewhere with your family and you can encourage them to choose an alternative method of transportation, that can be something that’s more impactful than you might think, like driving,” Yost-Dubrow said. Although not buying a pack of bottled water may not seem to be as big of a difference as not riding a plane ride would, each little effort makes progress toward positive change. Being a teenager may also make one’s impact feel small, but everyone can contribute something to slow down the tragedies of climate change.

I just think that people react to that stuff when it’s affecting them in a big way. And when the weather is like regular, no one’s been talking about it.

— Phillipe Cristobal

Junior Melina Kannankutty said that climate change comes up regularly in her family as a global issue: “My grandpa … as a farmer [in Cyprus], grew olive trees and made olive oil. You can’t do that anymore because even olive trees, which don’t rely on water to grow, don’t thrive if there’s no water at all. They barely have any good rain that actually waters crops twice a year,” she said. While her mom’s side of the family from the Mediterranean experiences drought, Kannankutty’s dad’s side from India experience floods. “I think that you’re seeing two extremes: at least I am with my family… that have really detrimental effects that we don’t necessarily see here in the US.”

Despite knowing the negative impact of climate change for a long time, sufficient actions have never been taken. “I think that as Minnesotans and as majority middle-class citizens, it doesn’t really affect us in our day-to-day lives. This makes it easier to ignore and maybe easier to study in a textbook setting but then, when faced with applicable challenges, it’s a lot more difficult to conceptualize,” Kannankutty said. Thus, it’s important for the government to stop procrastinating on this long-term, world-changing problem, for people to further spread awareness, and for all to start taking action.