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Because sustainability matters

Table of Contents

2 Earth Month 4 Composting 6 GMO

8 Food truck 10 Solar car 12 solar picnic tables

20 flood 22 glacier

17 climate stories

24 christmas tree 26 keurig

18 book review 14



1. Christian Ortiz: Senior, Journalism Major, Political Science Minor. My Dream job would be to work with a local newspaper. 2. Hee-Yeon Roh: Senior, Public Relations and Journalism Major, Business Minor. My dream job would is being the editor and chief of Vogue. 3. Patrick Kirk: Senior, Journalism Major, Film Studies minor. My dream job is being a game journalist. 4. Jenn Ciotta: Senior, Journalism Major with a minor in New Media and Digital Design. My dream job would be to work for a large lifestyle magazine like People. 5. Paola Garcia: Junior, Journalism and Public Relations major with a minor in Psychology. My dream job is to be the communication liaison for the F.B.I. 6. Carter North: Junior, Journalism Major with an English minor. My dream job is to be an author. 7. Gregory Tuman: Senior, Journalism Major with an English minor. My dream job would be to be a journalism 8. Eric Cunningham: Senior, Journalism Major with a minor in Political Science: My dream job would allow me to write about things I enjoy. 9. Jacob Turner: Senior: Journalism Major with a minor in history. My Dream job would be to work for ESPN. 10. DeLaney Flatford: Senior, Public Relations and Journalism major with a minor in Internet Studies. My dream job would be working with the Atlanta Falcons 11. Mack Stein: Junior, Journalism Major with a minor in Japanese. My dream job would be a translator for Nintendo. 12. Brad Wolfe: Senior, Journalism Major with a minor in Entrepreneurship. My dream job would be to work as a photo journalism for National Geographic. 13. Michael Pigg: Senior, Journalism Major with a minor in Media Studies. My dream job would be to work with the Carolina Panthers. 14. Michael Alessandro: Journalism Major with a minor in criminal justice. My dream job would be to be sports reporter.

earth High country agriculture

ASU Earth Month

STORY BY Brad wolfe, Christian ortiz, and Hee-yeon roh

Photo courtesy of



photo courtesy of

earth High country agriculture

Event Spotlight: Cigarette Butt Campus cleanup Christian Ortiz and HeeYeon Roh


igarette butts make up one-third of the world’s litter, and Appalachian State University is no exception with the never ending amounts of cigarette butts laying around its campus. The university’s office of sustainability targets multiple facets of preserving the environment however none of it’s many events can compare to the weekly cigarette butt clean up. Every Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. a student intern from the office of sustainability passes around rubber gloves to any participating student and begins the path for litter collection. “We don’t just limit ourselves to cigarette butts,” Katie Payne said, a senior sustainable develop major. “If you find any trash, you just pick it up.” Payne joined the team of interns around two years ago and led the clean up on Wednesday, March 28. She said even though the event is called cigarette butt clean up, they try to pick everything up. She typically finds pieces of glass, aluminum cans, plastic and more. The litter collecting path starts at East Residence Hall, where the sustainability office is located and where volunteers meet to participate in the event. The team of volunteers and interns spread out to cover as much ground as possible as they loop towards the rest of the residence halls on the east side of campus before heading towards the student union and the middle of campus. The area outside of Lovill residence hall is a place where a large number of cigarette butts are discarded because of the table

“I think that when you see other people doing things, it inspires you to do the same.” Anisha Sharma

people often hang around, Payne said. This table makes it difficult for the clean up because cigarette butts will get stuck in between the gaps in the table. It took a few minutes of shoving sticks through these gaps to dislodge all of the stuck cigarette butts. Veronica Hayes, a senior public relations major, came to the cigarette clean up for the first time on Wednesday, March 28. “I have an interest in the environment in general and doing whatever I can to protect it,” Hayes said. Hayes found out about the event through an email she received from the office of sustainability. She said she enjoys volunteering at events similar to campus clean ups and she also wants to be an intern at the office of sustainability. Anisha Sharma, a sophomore intern who studies sustainable development, said that people’s participation is also her favorite part about the clean up. “I think that when you see other people doing things, it inspires you to do the same,” she said. Both Payne and Sharma said they were not sure exactly when the clean up started, but the event was started by other interns a few years ago. Although the clean up is open to anyone every week, not many people come to the event. “Strangers will come up to you and give you a handful of cigarettes,” Payne said.this was the best part of the clean up. “One time, a guy walked up to us and said, ‘I’m a smoker but I’m also a germaphobe so I’m gonna help you,’ and he just started cleaning with us.” From participating in and leading these clean ups, Payne said she ended up doing a class project on how cigarettes affect the environment. Payne gathered all the cigarette butts she cleaned up from one

week, put them in a glass jar and poured water into it in front of the class. She was shocked to see how quickly the water was contaminated from the cigarettes. After presenting the project, Payne left the jar outside of the classroom for display and after a few days, her professors told her to move it because it was starting to smell bad, but thinking about how the cigarettes get washed down storm drains and affect the water in the town of Boone helps to put the clean up into perspective.


earth Composting at App State

A Campus Initiative and the heart behind it STORY BY Christian Ortiz PHOTOS BY JACOB TURNER


ohn Richards is a member of the grounds crew with the Appalachian State University Physical Plant. A better title for him, however, is the “campus composter.” Taking the time to compost is a free decision, John points out. Once you have purchased an apple and eaten all you want from it, placing it in a bin for composting will not cost any extra. John is always willing to have students and members of the community visit the composting facility out at the State Farm parking lot. “Here, if people notice what’s happening and the good it’s doing and what we can make out of it, it’s going to help out a lot,” John said. “I want to show that we care and that we’re trying to improve our campus through something that’s free. I mean, that apple has already been paid for. Your bread that you bought has already been paid for so why not take it and give it and make it be made into something useful?” The composting facility has been gifted with a new truck, a mixer and a green tea brewer. Each of these will make John’s job easier and will allow the reach of benefits from composting to cover even more of Appalachian’s campus. Continue COMPOSTING on Page 5


Photo: Jacob Turner

Compost is collected from multiple areas on appalachian’s campus as well as a local daycare.

Right now, the majority of compost collected comes from the food preparation areas of Appalachian State Food Services. The tomatoes and lettuce in the photos were from the sandwich preparation area. The lemons were collected from Chick Fil A as they made fresh lemonade.

earth Composting at App State

Video by Christian Ortiz and Hee-Yeon Roh

John Richards took the time to talk through the updates to the compost facility and how he hopes these updates will impact the abiliy for Appalachian State to compost.

Composting: A Simple decision for sustainability Continued from Page 4 “In 2015 App State saved 180 tons of food from wasting at the landfill and turned it into rich, organic compost to be used on campus flower beds,” according to the physical plant’s website. “This saved space at the landfill and reduced the amount of fertilizer needed in our beds.” With the addition of the green tea brewer, the physical plant will be able to use organic liquid fertilizer to spread across the grass on campus.

“I want to show that we care and that we’re trying to improve our campus through something that’s free.” John Richards

Video by Christian Ortiz and Hee-Yeon Roh

John walks through the full process of composting prior to the addition of new equipment. Aside from the mechanics of transporting the compost and mixing it, the method is mostly the same.


earth Opinion: GMOs

GMOs: An incredible tool to advance mankind STORY BY Eric Cunningham


rom serious issues like opposition to vaccines to more trivial ones like a bizarre increase in flat-earther conspiracy theories, it seems in recent years that skepticism of science has been on the rise.

One of the more dangerous anti-science movements is the anti- genetically modified organism movement. Scientists have been making tremendous strides in genetic modification, and groups like Greenpeace have prominently opposed it. To be fair, not all protesters are conspiracy theorists; some are concerned with issues like the patenting of crops. This is not an opposition to GMOs per se, but rather an opposition to capitalism. However, much of the opposition has been based on pseudoscience or fake science claiming that GMOs are harmful and need to be restricted. This is reminiscent of the old conspiracy theories surrounding fluoridated water. Despite what these groups have said, GMOs have consistently been found to be safe. According to the Genetic Literacy Project, the vast majority of 2,200 scientific studies have found GMOs to be safe and nearly 300 scientific organizations have found them to be safe. Geneticallymodified food like these plums can provide resistance against croptargeting diseases. Photograph courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture.


This is not surprising as GMOs are not really a new invention. Virtually every food you eat has been genetically modified - just not in a lab. There are not seedless fruits in nature, nor are there toy dog breeds or domesticated animals - both were developed through selective breeding over generations upon generations to bring out desired characteristics and root out undesired ones. This is why wild bananas have so many seeds that you cannot eat them, but the bananas you buy in stores have only tiny, barren seeds. It is also why the carrots you buy in the store are orange, unlike their wild counterparts. Genetic modification simply speeds along this same process, but in a completely controlled and efficient manner. Actions that once took generations can now be done in a lab with 100 percent accuracy and control over the entire process.

Photograph courtesy of Warut Roonguthai.

For many this is an innovation that is desperately needed. Genetically modified foods can be engineered to produce higher yields, contain additional nutrients or have a natural resistance to disease or insects. Continue GMO on Page 7

earth Opinion: GMOs

Ordinary white rice (left) compared to geneticallymodified golden rice (right). Photograph courtesy of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

GMOS: An incredible tool Continued from Page 6 One particularly noteworthy example is golden rice. Unlike regular, unmodified rice, golden rice has been engineered to contain a substantially larger amound of vitamin A. The goal is to help stop vitamin A deficiency, a preventable condition affecting millions of people - including children worldwide. Vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness and is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness in the world. According to Russell Reinke of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), just a single cup of golden rice can provide 50 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin A for adults. For many people, golden rice could be the difference between blindness and sight. What was the response of anti-GMO extremists? According to Mark Lynas of Slate, Greenpeace - who falsely claim GMOs are unsafe for human consumption - first bussed in a group of farmers. Then, using

“Daily consumption of a very modest amount of Golden Rice—about a cup—could supply 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A for an adult.” Russell ReinKE, IRRI them as cover, they proceeded to destroy an entire field of golden rice. This is not OK. It is one thing to critique of how biotechnology companies operate, and it is another thing entirely to make false claims and destroy valuable research aimed at preventing suffering. With all of this incredible work being done in the field of genetic modification, it is important to counter the fake news with facts. GMOs are an amazing tool that can help solve many of the problems humanity is facing, both here and around the world.


FIRE sustainable FOOD TRUCK

Meals on Wheels story and photos by: Jennifer Ciotta


ood trucks are a craze that have been taking over the country over the past few years. Whether they are found in big cities like New York, or smaller places like Charleston, South Carolina, they spark people’s interest because of their food specialties and one of a kind experiences. Starting in early 2013, food trucks began to make their way into Boone, North Carolina. On sunny days you can see the parking lots of local breweries lined with these vibrantly colored trucks, with their windows open and the hot food smell grabbing your attention. At night you can see them waiting for you outside the bar ready to fulfil those 2 a.m. cravings. According to both the long term Boone residents, as well as the students attending school at Appalachian State and Caldwell Community College, it’s safe to say that food trucks have taken the hearts of many. One food truck that

stands out among the rest is Farm to Flame: Wood Fired Street Food, located throughout the week at Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Watauga County’s Farmers Market. They specialize in “wood fired street food,” consisting of personalized pizzas, cheese breads, sandwiches and tacos. While a common dictionary defines food trucks as large vehicles equipped for cooking and selling food on location, Farm to Flame works every day in hopes of pushing out of that simple expectation. Since selling their first product in 2014, Farm to Flame has done more than just sell food. They have worked to leave their footprint in Boone while keeping in mind their three core values, community, sustainability and service. Every product found along side your food, including the plates and utensils, are 100 percent decomposable. Farm to Flame has their own recyclcing bin wherever they are located in hopes of finding a use for what others might not. “We really try to keep everything full circle,” said Ian Hunt, two-year-employee at Farm to Flame. “We take everything that would normally be looked over and make it into something awesome.” Farm To Flame works closely with AMB and the Farmers Market to keep their company going full circle. “The hops and grains that come out of the beer tanks at AMB go to the local farmers in the county, and from there, we use their products to make the food you eat here at our truck,” Hunt said.

Photo by Jennifer Ciotta

Their three core values on the side of their food truck in hopes of reminding customers of what they are working towards.

Farm to Flame @FarmToFlame Their food and products are just the beginning to what makes their food truck stand out among the rest. Hunt spoke proudly of the fact that their truck runs on biodiesel fuel supplied by a local company in the High Country and their website states that since opening they have constantly worked towards finding a balance between inovation and sustainablity.


FIRE sustainable FOOD TRUCK

Photo by Jennifer Ciotta

All of the produce used by Farm To Flame for your toppings come entirely from local farmers in the High Country. They feature a different local farmer each other.

Wheels: Fast food Spins into boone Continued from Page 8 If you ever have the chance to visit Farm To Flame when they are parked outside AMB, you will notice the 20 solar panels covering the top of the truck (pictured on page 8.) That is because when the weather is copperating here in Boone, Farm To Flame runs their truck purely on solar power. Hailey Spencer, dance major at Appalachian State, is one of many people in the community that gets excited when asked about their experience at Farm To Flame. Spencer says that Farm To Flame is the only food truck that she has heard of that works so much with it’s community. “All of the guys that I have met that work there have all been amazing,” Spencer said. “Not only do they care about incorporating the Boone community into everything they do, but they’re also

from here.” Hunt is only one of the many employees at Farm To Flame that call Boone their home. Many of them are previous students from Appalachian State that now work at the food truck while balancing jobs with AMB. Farm To Flame has nothing but progressive Ian hunt, Farm to flame plans with their business and they will continue to be innovative with everything they do. So next time you see them parked outside your favorite local brewery, remember that Farm To Flame isn’t just making great progress in food, but also in their 3 values, sustainability, philanthropy and community.

“We take everything that would normally be looked over and make it into something awesome. ”


FIRE Solar Car

TeAm Sunergy races toward By: Steven Caughran

Photos Courtesy of Diego Lewis


or over a century, the big three fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas, have powered the overwhelming majority of the world’s vehicles. Humans have been spewing harmful emissions into our atmosphere while steadily decreasing the world’s oil supply. Decades of research have gone into finding clean alternatives to fossil fuels, and at Appalachian State, one of our most well-known programs, Team Sunergy, has been doing just that. Team Sunergy was established in the fall of 2013, and has since been showcasing Appalachian State’s sustainable initiatives at international competitions and races. The solar vehicle team has been growing and developing over the last few years, and is now a part of the Office of Sustainability. The team’s members come from a wide variety of different majors, including physics, sustainable technology and the built environment, business and computer science. The team’s current car, Apperion, originated as a shell of a former Iowa State University solar car, donated to Appalachian State in 2015. “It was just the body of the car, which had the


solar array on it but it didn’t have any suspension, any wheels, and it didn’t have any batteries or electronics or anything. Our students designed and built all of that in a very short period of time,” Jeremy Ferrell, Undergraduate Program Director for the sustainable technology major and a faculty advisor for Team Sunergy, said. Team Sunergy competed in its first race shortly after the acquisition of the car from Iowa State, racing in the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas. The team received an award for “most perseverance.” The project only grew from there, receiving more funding from the university and a dedicated space to call their own. “We got a grant of $100,000 and we used it to rebuild Apperion. In 2016, we competed in the Formula Sun Grand Prix outside of Pittsburgh and we got third place,” Ferrell said. The team also qualified for a road race called the American Solar Challenge. Apperion raced from eastern Ohio to South Dakota along public roadways, earning sixth place. The team’s biggest accomplishments, however,

FIRE Solar Car

A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE came in the summer of 2017. The team returned to the Formula Sun Grand Prix in Texas to go head-to-head with solar vehicle teams from 18 other schools. “All solar-powered vehicles have to be built under specific requirements. The first few days of the event are called scrutineering, where all the cars are inspected from head to toe, making sure they meet a bunch of guidelines that are set before they can go on to start the race,” Cristian Gulisano, assistant electrical director and driver for Team Sunergy, said. Apperion weighs about 430 pounds, and has a six square meter silicon solar array. The array contains 391 SunPower C60 monocrystalline cells, which, during sunny conditions, make the car capable of travelling on its three wheels at speeds between 45 and 55 mph indefinitely with a top speed of 75 mph. Without sunlight, Apperion can utilize its batteries to travel up to 150 miles at 45 mph. The race is a three day track race with each team racing for eight hours each day. Weather conditions vary over the period of the race, affecting the output of the solar panels and therefore the speed of the car. The race focuses on endurance and the number of laps achieved. “We started in first place, and held between first and third place all three days. We ultimately came in second place, behind UC-Berkeley. We competed against a lot of other polytechnic schools from the U.S. and Canada,” Gulisano, a senior computer science major, said. “The cool thing is that most of the other schools sent their engineering departments, but you know, here at App we don’t have an engineering department. But we were definitely able to hold our own out there.”

Gulisano believes that the team has more resources and opportunity now that it has been incorporated into the Office of This design, with passenger seats and a larger body, will increase the weight and drag of the vehicle, making it more inefficient. However, some on the team believe that this is a step in the right direction as the next generation car will be more practical, and we may see elements of it in consumer vehicles someday. “We can’t continue to sustain our habits, driving combustion vehicles because we’re going to run out of fuel for them at some point. In the last few years, though, we’ve really seen a spike in the number of electric powered vehicles,” Gulisano said. “While it is very unlikely to someday have a fully solar-powered car, it is not unrealistic to one day see solar panels on electric vehicles to provide passive charging.” Gulisano also believes that the issue is especially relevant in Boone. He says that the team has received tons of support from the town of Boone and the university, and believes that generally people are very on board with the project and what the team has been able to accomplish. Over the past few decades, humanity has become more aware of its increasingly dire predicament regarding its dependency on fossil fuels. With solar vehicle teams and similar programs around the country taking the same proactive steps as Team Sunergy, the reliance on nonrenewable resources could come to an end in the near future. Sustainability. The team is now aiming to compete in the World Solar Challenge in Australia, and is working through the Office of Sustainability and the university to make that happen. 11

FIRE Solar Panel TABLes

Solar picnic tables STORY BY Hee-Yeon Roh & Christian Ortiz PHOTOS BY JACOB TURNER


hree solar energy powered picnic tables were installed at the Peacock Hall patio at Appalachian State University on Wednesday, February 1. Renewable Energy Initiative, a student-run sustainability club, collaborated with University Sustainability and the Walker College of Business to install the solar panel tables. The tables were created and installed by EnerFusion, a company based in Michigan. The tables are made from poly-recycled plastic materials, while the the structural components are made with rust-resistant aluminum. Each table has charging stations where students can utilize regular outlets, USB ports and QI wireless charging systems to charge their devices while at the tables. The surge protected electricity for these charging stations is generated from solar energy, which can also be stored for use later, even at night. With this, the umbrellas are adjustable so that the solar panels’ sunlight intake can be maximized for efficiency. Paul Matney, the chairman of REI, said University Sustainability started the plans for the solar picnic tables in summer 2017. REI funded one of the tables and University Sustainability funded the rest. Matney said $5 comes out of every App State students’ tuition each year for REI to use. He said the organization decided to use the money to pay for a table this year. “Every year REI gets money to fund renewable energy projects,” Matney said. “When it comes down to the decision making, the students in REI get to decide where other students’ money goes.” Continue TABLES on Page 13


Christian Otiz

A student utilizing the charging station at the solar picnic tables. She is using the USB ports to charge her phone in between classes.

FIRE Solar Panel TAbles

Hee-Yeon Roh

One of the three solar panel picnic tables outside of Peacock Hall on Appalachian State University.

Solar Energy: making it more approachable Continued from Page 12 REI members have already been stationed around the picnic tables to educate students about the tables while also getting feedback on what students thought. The decision for installing the picnic tables on the Peacock Hall patio was based on how little this area was used. “The space that they are located in is not very inviting so the college of business really wanted the opportunity to have a place for people to hang out and enjoy,” said Jennifer Maxwell, the program manager of University Sustainability. “Also, it was a way to show commitment to sustainability.” Maxwell said the project is a way for University Sustainability and REI students to lead by example and show the rest of the campus a different yet simple way to be sustainable. Jim Dees, the data and assessment specialist for University Sustainability, said that solar panels are most effective on a large scale in an open area, which is not easy to find in the mountains. Without the expanses of flat land here, people put their solar panels on the roof

where they are impossible to notice. “One of the things I am really interested in is kind of demystifying solar and taking it off of the roof,” Dees said. He wants to bring solar panels “down into that interpersonal space where we can actually interact with them.” Dees said other departments on campus “One of the things I am really have contacted him for interested in is kind of demystifying information on bringing more of these tasolar and taking it off of the roof.” bles to campus, he said he hopes to see them Jim Dees “spread like wildfire.” Both Dees and Matney mentioned another solar project in the planning stages that will involve a large, decorative solar panel stationed in the middle of multiple vertical poles to be used as a hammock jungle. Ideally, the hammock jungle would be ready to use by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.




or the Appalachian State University Mending Initiative, there is no rip, tear or hole that is too difficult to fix. Mary Ray, an instructor in ASU’s Department of Applied Design, co-founded the Mending Initiative along with Dr. Nancy Oliver, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Design, and Susan Poorman, a senior lecturer in the university’s Department of Communication. The goal of the initiative is to teach students, faculty and the community to members to repair clothing. “The idea of sustainable fashion is doing fashion in such a way that it has less impact on the environment,” said Oliver. The core group of menders met every other week during the fall 2017 semester to build the project from the ground up. There meetings consisted of designing a logo, creating and finalizing a name and planning and organizing events. In November of last year, the Mending Initiative collaborated with graphic design students in Appalachian’s Department of Art to host “SEAM,” an exhibition of altered, donated clothing designed to confront consumption and waste in the fashion industry. With the Mending Initiative just getting started, Oliver is passionate about helping anyone and everyone repair their clothes. “The idea of being able to show other people how to mend their clothes is an empowering thing to be able to do,” Oliver said. Going in to the next few years, the group will host a number of students, faculty and community member repair events to help fix articles of clothing. As the


Photos courtesy of Rachel Brunner

initivaite continues to grow and plan for the future, so does the group’s passion for fashion. “Fashion is an exciting area to be in and to work in that’s not going to disappear. If more thought can be put into the design and made better, that’s the important thing,” said Oliver.

Video courtesy of Lauren Merrill & Rachel Brunner

Photo courtesy of Katelyn Shumate

Photos courtesy of Rachel Brunner


The Mending Project


air climate change

People Concerned Over rapid melting glaciers By Paola Garcia


he effects of the current political climate in the White House is starting to affect the scientific community here at Appalachian State University. Last semester, William Armstrong, who is a surface process scientist who specializes in utilizing remote sensing, numerical modeling, and field campaigns to investigate glacier dynamics, gave a presentation at Appalachian State University on how glaciers have been responding to climate change. In the presentation, Armstrong talked about a study done by NASA and other researchers. The overall message of the study, according to Armstrong was that because the glaciers were melting faster that, “people are starting to get really worried.” Armstrong also suggested that in order to notice the changes in the glaciers that were caused by climate change, one could not just look at 10 years of data. Someone would need to look back at data from hundreds of years ago, and study all of it together. To also see the effects of climate change on the glaciers, Armstrong said that a person would need to use satellites. “So I learned that you can’t just tell what’s going on at the bed of a glacier by looking at the surface,” Armstrong said, “I need to spread out the variations and zoom out.” When asked if the current political climate was affecting his work Armstrong responded by saying, “So much of my data are from satellites, and those satellites are funded by NASA, and NASA is being heavily pressured to stop looking at Earth and start looking at the cosmos.” Hanna Filed, an attendee of the presentation, said “ as far as future plans I was planning on going to grad school, with geology you can usually get it paid for with a scholarship… but with the current administration (referring to the White House) there are rumors there

might not be the funding… I might have to be less selective then what I would have liked.” Matthew Eads another attendee of the presentation said that money for scholarships for science majors comes directly out of the National Science Foundation because science might not be as much as a priority to the new administration that in its own has had its effects. Eads stated, “so its either do you chose to give less people more money or more people less money kind of deal. - William Armstrong Either way, it’s not great because it either makes it more selective or the scholarship is only $2,000 and that is not going to pay for your grad school.” And finally, the current political climate is not just affecting students and teachers, it William Armstrong, Surface Process Scientist is also affecting researchers. Armstrong stated that he had a friend who was applying for grants for a project that they were working on. But because she had certain words such as “climate change” in her proposal she was asked to change the wording before she was given the grants.

“I learned that you can’t just tell what’s going on at the bed of a glacier by looking at the suerface... I need to spread out the variations and zoom out.”



Book Review

Appalachian A Great Aridness Book Review By william debuys

Climate change and the future of the american southwest

STORY BY Christian Ortiz



ook reviews and discussions are things I have often struggled with because, in my mind, I am not qualified to even attempt to dissect a book unless I have read through it enough to truly feel like I know it and I understand the author’s points thoroughly (by this standard, the only books I am fit to review are at an elementary or middle school reading level). Sitting down to read and review a non-fiction book within the topic of the environment was pretty daunting to say the least. However, after a semester of thinking about the environment around Appalachian State for my beat, I knew I owed it to myself to look outside of the High Country to the issues different types of environments are facing. A Great Aridness by William deBuys serves as a prominent illustration of climate change in a way that Americans can digest because he talks about the arid regions of our country. As someone with climate change deniers in her family, I immediately want to gift this book to a few specific people for the next holiday (we can give memorial day gifts, right?). deBuys travels around the southwest region of the United States and collects stories from the past, observations from the present and predictions for the future of the arid regions painting a plain image of what can be expected if the issues of climate change continue as scientists predict. Population sizes of both animals and humans is a main factor in the discussion of resources and how they will be divided in the future. The endangerment or extinction of many species, both plant and animal, within the Southwest is an obvious sign that everything isn’t okay in their environment. One of the main resources deBuys focuses on is water scarcity, specifically for the 40 million people who rely on the water supplied by the Colorado River. deBuys looks at the rapid population expansion this area of the coun-

try is known for and how that will impact the necessary resources for life. In following the findings of climatologists and environmental scientists as well as the experiences within the southwest, deBuys predicts greater evaporation which will lead to an even more arid climate that experiences less rain. This book is highly recommended based on the other book reviews I have read, and I will fall in line with the rest when I say I would suggest this book to anyone with a significant amount of free time and an interest in learning about the personal and tangible side of climate change.

air Book Review

Understanding Climate Change Global Warming by joseph romm

what everyone needs to know


limate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know,” by Joseph Romm is an acclaimed book within a series published by Oxford University Press. An introductory book about climate change, it is entirely in question and answer form. This makes it easier for anyone to understand and learn from it, as well as how it is divided into bigger sections that play a role in climate change. It’s difficult to pinpoint one single focus or argument from the book, as it is all preliminary information about climate change and the book covers a broad spectrum of topics. The book is divided into seven different section: “Climate Science Basics,” “Extreme Weather and Climate Change,” “Projected Climate Impacts,” “Avoiding the Worst Impacts,” “Climate Politics and Policies,” “The Role of Clean Energy” and “Climate Change and You.” In “Climate Science Basics,” Romm lays out all the foundational aspects that make up the broad topic of climate change. From how greenhouse gases affect the climate, the way climate change occurred before the industrial revolution and how human activity has worsened global warming. In “Extreme Weather and Climate Change,” Romm starts with explaining the the difference between weather and climate and then goes onto address how climate change propels extreme weather conditions such as drought, wildfires and tropical storms. “Projected Climate Impacts” addresses questions of how climate change will develop further into the future. “Avoiding the Worst Impacts” goes along with “Projected Climate Impacts,” explaining the worst consequences if, for example, the earth’s temperature continues to go up. Romm, the author, is a leading scientist in climate change. He started his blog ClimateProgress. org which gained many followers and through this, his blog was included in various top of the year blog lists and was called critical and indispensable for climate change issues.

STORY BY Hee-Yeon Roh

He has worked for the U.S. Department of Energy and has been called he is a known influencer in the global warming field. John Abraham, said that this book is a “must-read for those who want to become climate literate.” Many critics have named the book as their go-to source for anything relating to climate change because the book not only contains relevant and current information about the environment, but it also cites multitudes of sources to prove the answers. If you don’t know anything about global warming and climate change, this book will obviously be educational but even people who are knowledgeable about this issue can learn from it. It’s dense with information but simply put, so that readers can grasp how climate change occurred, how it will evolve and how it will affect them.


WATER High country Precipitation

After The Flood



he Town of Boone is no stranger to flooding. In 1916, Boone was hit by back to back hurricanes, causing severe flooding and leaving the town submerged underwater for much of the month of July. In 1940, a previously-waterlogged Boone was hit by a storm that dropped nearly nine inches of rain in the area in one day, killing 16 people and washing away the train tracks in town, permanently ending regularly-scheduled train service. In 2004, Boone was hit by three consecutive hurricanes, dropping more than 20 inches of on the town over the course of a month. Most recently, strong storms passed through Boone on October 23, 2017, causing severe flash-flooding and leaving more than 3000 people without power. Some areas saw waist-deep water, and though the water receded quickly, the damage was severe. “When you look at the FEMA flood maps, some of the drone footage that we saw showed that some of the water was at or above some of the 500-year flood marks.” Town Council Member Quint David said on the following day. Boone sees flooding and flash flooding events regularly, but every time, it seems worse and the town never seems more prepared. The issue may lie within Boone’s quick development. “So much of what goes on in Boone is related to impervious surfaces, development, concrete, asphalt, it can’t soak into the ground,” Meteorologist Ray Russell said. “It all happens as runoff. And when you have those big events like we had three weeks ago, all of that gets dumped more quickly into the streams. They do have some problems, for instance, they’ve got a culvert main over at Precision Printing, and that’s


on private property, so if you get a back-up there, everything gets backed up upstream.” The Precision Printing parking lot on Blowing Rock Road has seen its fair share of flood-related struggles. Twice within the past five years, the culverts under the parking lot have collapsed, leading to the development of sinkholes on the property. The back-ups caused by the collapses exacerbate flooding in the area, like the already flood-prone parking lot at the Boone Mall. Another problem that worsens flooding is development in floodplains. According to the Flood Risk Information System, many homes and businesses in Boone are built in and along the floodplains and floodways of Boone, which was an issue raised during 2017’s Town Council elections. “We can’t just let people keep building in the floodplain and floodway and in the same locations,” former town attorney Sam Furgiuele said the day after October’s flash flooding. “We can’t just keep approving people building in the floodplain and floodway. All of those flood maps, in my view, are off. We’re getting 100-year storms every year; we’re getting 500-year storms every two years. The numbers don’t hold water anymore.” Areas near King Street, Winkler’s Creek, State Farm Road, and more all at risk of significant flooding. When the October 23 storm passed through, much of the Appalachian State University facilities on State Farm Road found themselves submerged under feet of water. But even places outside of the marked floodplain are seeing high water levels in storms. “What happened in Boone three weeks ago,” Russell said, “I saw flooding in places that I’ve never seen it before.” Many mountain communities struggle with rainwater running off mountains, but Boone’s rapid urban development alongside Appalachian State intensifies

“The first thing he said when they started covering the streams up in Boone, is ‘y’all will regret this’” Jeannine Underdown-Collins the problem. “There are mitigating things that can be done in engineering, so as to slow the delivery of the water into the drainage systems, and into the creeks and rivers,” Russell said, “but Boone is just more susceptible because we have more asphalt, more concrete, and that kind of stuff.” Fortunately, Boone does have regulations to try and Continue FLOOD on Page 21

WATER High country Precipitation

Rainwater rushes through a stream in Boone. Photo by Jacob Tunrner

Continued from Page 20 minimize the effects of new construction on the town’s storm water drainage. “When new impervious surfaces are added to any project in town, storm water calculations are required to be submitted,” Christy Turner, senior planner for Boone’s Planning and Inspections Department, said. “Commercial projects are required to have the storm water calculations sealed by a design professional, while single-family projects do not need a seal on the calculations for their project.” So, what can be done to curb flooding in Boone? There are a few things that can help, like daylighting streams, a process in which underground creeks are redirected to the surface to allow for faster transportation of floodwaters. The Standard developers daylit a stream behind the building during construction, opening up a large path for rainwater to flow through. “Daylighting the area around The Standard eased up a little bit of some of the flooding,” said Town Council member Jeannine Underdown-Collins. “I don’t know if it really helped or not, but I know it helped in previous rainstorms.” One way to address the problem is to make changes to the Boone storm-water system, but the Town of Boone only holds power over a small portion of it. “The town controls about 10% of the storm-water

system, the county a bit more, and the state a bit more because of the roads,” Mayor Rennie Brantz said on October 24. “First you’re going to have to figure out a way to work together to begin to address these issues.” As such, addressing Boone’s flooding issues through the storm-water system might be cumbersome and expensive. “It’s going to take a lot of cooperation between political entities, and also a great deal of investment,” Brantz said. “One person said it’s going to cost upwards of $42 million to deal with this problem, and where that money will come from is a question.” Looking back, Boone has always fallen victim to frequent flooding, but over the years, the town has also made decisions that haven’t helped the problem. A long-term solution to flooding in town might not currently be economically viable, but it is up to the town council to begin taking the steps to ultimately curb flooding. “Anybody that knows my dad, who was a residential and commercial appraiser for 50 years and a teacher at Appalachian,” Underdown-Collins said, “the first thing he said when they started covering the streams up in Boone, is ‘y’all will regret this,’ and we have, we are regretting it.”



glacial melt A

STORY BY Mack Foley

nalysis of basal sliding in alpine glaciers can help predict future change in glaciers, as well as the evolution of landscapes around them, according to a presentation given by an Appalachian State University glaciologist on Thursday. “Thinking about the future, we’re interested in knowing what the future of Alaska might look like,” William Armstrong, PhD., said. “But to understand how glaciers will change in the future and how glaciers have shaped this landscape in the past, we need to understand the mechanics of how glaciers move.” Armstrong showed a graph of how water levels could rise over time. By 2100, if CO2 production doesn’t change, oceans could see as much as a .2-meter increase in depth, which could cause more problems for towns like Newtok, Alaska, which is being forced to relocate entirely because of rising sea-levels. This process would be exacerbated by something called basal sliding. Armstrong explained that there are two modes through which glaciers move: viscous ice deformation and basal slide. In ice deformation, which occurs when ice melts and slides downhill like “honey on an incline plane,” Armstrong said. When glaciers melt this way, the water slides outwards, decreasing the vertical height of the glacier and expanding it outwards, horizontally. In the second mode, basal slide, water at the bed of the glacier melts and moves at extremely-high water pressures, bringing the

glacier on top of it with it. The higher the water pressure, the higher rate of movement for the glacier. Understanding the past of these glaciers is the key to understanding how they will affect the future. “Glacier change can be tracked through ice cores, which is really interesting,” said Matthew Eads, a paleontology major in attendance, said. “They do paleoclimate using those ice cores. They can go and tell by the ice melting the different stages and overall temperature.”

“You can’t really see long term changes over three years; if you start to look over decades, like 20 years, you can see that.”

William armstrong

Armstrong said that during his three years of data gathering in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Kennecott area, he was unable to see a net increase in speed of basal sliding, which would have increased ground erosion and potentially led to higher water levels. “The annual changes in how thick the glacier is don’t really add up,” Armstrong said. “So you can’t really see long term changes over three years; if you start to look over decades, like 20 years, you can see that.” One attendee that came to learn about glaciers actually recognized one of the locations shown in the presentation. “I went up on a retreat during my master’s program in environmental education and hiked on that glacier,” Tom Randolph, who attended the talk from Mt. Jefferson, said. “I was like, gee, I know that glacier.”

22 Photo Courtesy: Martin St-Amant


Fraser firs May be “canary in Coal mine,” Expert says



hile human-caused climate change has not had any significant effects on the regionvsurrounding Boone, future projections estimate that the earth warming is inevitable. This increase in temperature has the potential to alter the second largest Christmas tree industry in the country. Christmas trees are one of the biggest icons of Christmas itself. The image of the decorated tree, presents nestled under its firs, is iconic of the season. Christmas trees are also one of the many things that are affected by climate change, and serve as an indicator of its long-term effects. A study done by Appalachian State professor Howard Neufeld, Watauga County Extension Director Jim Hamilton, and other researchers focuses on the Fraser fir — a type of Christmas tree only found in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, specifically in Western North Carolina. The Fraser fir only has about eight natural peaks in the Western NC area; entrupenural farmers took saplings from their natural peaks to lower, hotter farms. This comparison allows Fraser fir to be a a natural indicator of climate change. Neufeld and the other researchers concluded in the study that while climate change does not put the Fraser fir at risk of extinction, it does seem likely that Christmas tree farming practices will change. Temperature increases would force farmers to grow Christmas trees at higher elevations where the climate will not be as warm and dry. Higher elevations have limited land space therefore potentially limiting Christmas tree production in the future, Neufeld said. Fraser firs are one of the


biggest icons of Christmas itself. Hamilton called them the “Cadillac of Christmas Trees.” The image of the decorated tree, presents nestled under its firs, is iconic of the season. Fraser firs are also a carbon-friendly crop, according to Hamilton; their long growth cycles means that, when intaking nutrients like carbon from the soil, those nutrients stay in them for longer than year-round crops like lettuce. This means that the carbon will keep out of the carbon dioxide cycle for much longer, making it environmentally friendly. Christmas trees are an important industry in Watauga County. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services states that the North Carolina Christmas tree industry is second in the nation and accounts for 20% of Christmas trees in the United States. Watauga County stands as one of the top five producers of Christmas trees in the state. The state of Christmas trees themselves, therefore, is a critical issue for Watauga County and the state of North Carolina. Indeed, Watauga county, per Hamilton, has the reputation of being the “Choose-and-Cut Capital of NC,” referring to a popular buying method in which trees are cut directly from the farm. The agricultural power of Watauga County does not stop at Christmas trees, however. Hamilton has also cited that agriculture in general, both the production of food and food-related services, makes up a substantial chunk of the local economy, with upwards of thirty specialty crops grown. If these services were to be disrupted via outside events, like climate change, the local economy would take a devastating blow. Continue TREES on Page 25


Ben Sessoms video

Continued from Page 24

The agricultural power of Watauga County does not stop at Christmas trees, however. Hamilton has also cited that agriculture in general, both the production of food and food-related services, makes up a substantial chunk of the local economy, with upwards of thirty specialty crops grown. If these services were to be disrupted via outside events, like climate change, the local economy would take a devastating blow. When asked for an estimated timeline for when climate change will start severely affecting the firs, Hamilton could not provide an answer, citing it as “The big question mark.” Hamilton has stated that the impact, thus far, was minimal for farmers. “Climate change is not something that is impending doom in their books,” Hamilton said. However, it was also described as ‘the final nail’ on top of other, more immediate issues, like the abysmal soil quality or the ‘aging out’ of farmers. That said, climate change could easily become a more noteworthy issue for the farmers in time, as the effects of climate change can range from unusually long growing seasons to intense droughts or flooding, as well as the slow increase of temperature. A degree of farenheit or two is significant to a deceptive degree, per NASA; the last ice age had a global climate only 5-9 degrees colder. To combat climate change, Neufeld said that people

acting individually would not be sufficient. “It’s only when you have the collective whole doing something that you can make an effect on a global basis,” Neufeld said. A part of what Neufeld said he wants to do at his position at Appalachian State is to educate students and members of the general public that are ideologically or religiously motivated not to believe in human-caused climate change. “Science doesn’t care about your opinions. Science is facts,” Neufeld said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re conservative, or right-wing, or religious or not religious, it is a fact Howard Neufeld that CO2 is going up.” Neufeld said that once people can accept this fact and that humans are causing it, then something can be done to stop it. Nevertheless, the fact that Christmas trees could one day be rendered endangered or even extinct due to climate change can be a sobering idea, and a sharp reminder as to the long-reaching effects of climate change.

“It’s only when you have the collective whole doing something that you can make an effect on a global basis.”


WATER Sustainable efforts at home

Be a part of the

solution by delaney flatford


he five minutes that your Keurig may save you in the morning may be costing you, and the planet, a lot in the long run.

A simple way to be a part of the solution for climate change is to find an alternative for your Keurig. Traditional coffee pots, pour overs and french presses are great options, plus you’ll be contributing to your composting efforts every day you drink coffee. The amount of chemicals that end up in your coffee outnumber the benefit any caffeine can offer. The aluminum foil tops of the K-cup are linked to many issues: anxiety and depression being just two. Although Keurig proudly states that their cups are BPA-free, the “safe” plastic they claim to be using has been proven harmful when exposed to heat, according to a 2011 Environmental Health Prospect study. The inventor of the Keurig, John Sylvan, sold the product to Keurig Green Mountain brewing company in 1997. Sylvan said he sometimes regrets doing it and has tried to share ideas of how to improve the product, but they won’t listen.


Green Mountain released a sustainability report saying the K-cups will be recyclable by 2020, but Sylvan told The Atlantic in their article, ‘K-Cups inventor: ‘I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it’ that “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable.” The cups haven’t been made biodegradable yet, and they aren’t projected to switch over to 100 percent recyclable until 2020. Imagine all of the K-cups used in two more years. According to the 2014 article, “Your coffee pods’ dirty secret” from Mother Jones, Green Mountain produced enough K-cups (8.3 billion) to wrap around the world 10 and a half times. At that rate the planet will be over 33 billion K-cups deep.

WATER sustainable efforts at home

The number of k-cups in landfills can wrap around Earth more than 10 times

“No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable.� John Sylvan, inventor of the k


The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it. -Robert Swan

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Element magazine