Climate Changes Taking away Homes

10.22.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

People around the world have begun to realize that the world’s climate change is creating a big problem for more species than could be imagined. More and more evidence of the negative affects of this increasing temperature are being found in the North and South poles where ice is melting. The Chukchi Sea near Alaska is home to many species of wildlife, including walruses.

This past September, an estimated 35,000 walruses were seen gathered on a beach. While walruses are social and large gatherings are normal, walruses prefer gathering on ice. In an article published by The New York Times, scientists share that “These massive haul-outs, as they are called, of females and babies have now occurred in six of the last eight summers in Alaska.”

Walruses have easy access to food and protection from predators by climbing up onto nearby icebergs. With all the ice melted in the Chukchi sea, these walruses are forced to crowd onto beaches. This could severely harm the species as they are more vulnerable to predators and may not be able to raise their pups as easily on the beach. The walruses also have to travel farther to get food as they prefer food in deeper water such as clams and snails that dwell on the seabed. Another risk is posed with such large numbers gathered in one area. When walruses are frightened, they may stampede and any young or weak walruses could be trampled. These large gatherings on the beaches and shores of the sea may also disturb other species’ habitats that may live and thrive off of the beach. Feeding and breeding from land is unhealthy for the walrus population because their natural home is on the ice.

Awareness of the world’s climate change needs to continue to be spread. If ice continues to melt at this rate, many species could lose their homes and become endangered. The walruses of the Chukchi sea are just one example of the danger that the rising temperature creates.

-Rachael McCabe

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/science/earth/in-alaska-thousands-of-walruses-take-to-land.html?ref=earth&_r=0

 

Climate Change Causes Impact on Various Seasons

10.21.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

After attending the Peoples Climate March in New York City, I have been extremely interested with learning more about the effects of climate change on the planet. I found an article from Science Daily that discussed how climate change alters the ecological impacts of seasons. People seem to assume that highly populated coastal areas will experience the devastation of climate change the most. Although, it is alarming that an increase of the average temperature of the Earth will cause the rising of oceans and flood landscapes those are not the only areas that will become affected. Regions by the coast will become endangered, however, no place is safe from climate change. It has been discovered that places far away from the oceans have the largest change in daily and seasonal temperature variability. Climate change is an issue worldwide and it could affect crops, malaria transmission, insects, and confuse migration patterns of birds. According to George Wang, a postdoctoral fellow from Detlef Weigel’s Department for Molecular Biology at Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, changes in temperature variability across the globe has been ongoing for over 30 years now. The variation in temperature has many negative side effects. For instance, bugs may survive for a longer period in non-tropical regions, which could in turn cause increased crop damage from pest insects along with the spread of disease such as malaria. In addition, not only are insects being affected, plants in temperate regions are also being effected. Temperate region plants are adapted to the temperature of the particular season they are which is how they know when to produce fruits and flowers. Since the temperature has changed dramatically, it is going to become more difficult for plants to behave according to season. This is the reason why some plants may produce flowers either too early or too late. A potential outcome may be that some years certain fruits may never grow. According to a study performed by Wang and Dillon, the areas of the world that have seen the most dramatic effects of climate change are the places in which are the closest to the poles and far away from the oceans. In these areas in particular, the differentiation between summer and winter temperatures has decreased. This article has posed issues that the human population should care about. People need to realize that climate change is real whether they believe it or not because we are already experiencing detrimental effects and they will continue to worsen if nothing is being done.

-Cassandra Chaves

 

Source of Article:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141009100928.htm

Improving Cities for the Environment

10.21.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Cities can be one of the most damaging factors to the environment. With a few changes to the way we insulate the buildings, use transportation, and design the city can easily reduce our carbon footprint.

Some simple projects that could cut down the carbon footprint of a building would be painting the roofs of buildings white instead of black. White reflects sunlight which would cool the building because it would absorb less sunlight that would convert into heat energy, so buildings that are in cities closer to the equator would benefit from this. Along with the white roofs, creating green space on roofs would also insulate buildings. The better insulation would mean that there would be less spending on heating and cooling of the building, which would also mean less of a carbon footprint. The plants would also help counter effect the CO2 released by the building by taking in the CO2 and releasing oxygen instead. This saves 15-45% on energy consumption. The green roofs also collect the runoff that is created from rain, and reduces runoff by 50-60%.

Another improvement that could be made for a city would be by putting parking garages under the city instead of having huge parking complexes in the middle of the city. The freed up space that would be left over from the parking garages could then be used for green space. If the newly freed up space became green space this would also then decrease the greenhouse gas effect for the city. The cement that could be used for the garage would attract more sunlight to that area, but since it would be underground the sunlight would not be as absorbed as it would if it was above ground.

Building new skyscrapers in cities creates 136 million tons of waste in America per year. Instead of building new structures like buildings in a city, use buildings that are unoccupied first before building more. This would cut down the amount of CO2 being used to create a new building. Also, the cut down of buildings would also allow for yet again more green space within a city.

Finally, public transportation should be fixed in each city. Public transportation cuts down on the amount of CO2 produced due to people using the public transportation like buses instead of their own vehicles. These buses should however become more ecofriendly by using other fuel like biodiesel instead of just using gas.

-Emily Donahue

Source

http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/10-green-ways-to-make-our-cities-more-eco-friendly

Save The White Rhinos or Say Goodbye

10.21.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

In 2009 there were eight Northern White Rhinoceros existing in the world. Leading up to this time the species had suffered greatly from human actions, i.e. poaching, as well as environmental changes. “The northern white rhinoceros is a ‘victim of evolution,’ Lewis added—it was a remnant population cut off from the southern white rhinoceros by the Great Rift Valley and the dense forests of Central Africa” (Dell’Amore).

84852_990x742-cb1413815397Since this point the population has continued to decrease. Most recently a 34 year old male rhino died at the Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Suni, as the rhino was called, is known to have not been killer by poachers as he had been monitored around the clock. However, his death is alarming as the species typically lives to be 40 or 50 years old. Moreover, Suni was one of two males left among the species.

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Suni (2010) at the Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Currently, there are only one male and five female Northern White Rhinoceros in existence. Should the species go extinct there will be serious implications on the ecosystems where they had lived. “It’s not just another charismatic animal—it’s also a species that has a very clear ecological role, and we need to be very worried that we have lost that” (Grimm). Additionally, the Rhinos play an important role in keeping the grasslands in order. The animals eat a large amount of savanna plants that other species do not indulge in.

-Caitlin Maloney

Source:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141020-rhinoceros-death-suni-kenya-science-world-endangered-animals/

Antiobiotics and Fish

10.21.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

This article was about how human resistance to antiobiotics is beginning to pose a major threat to society. Researchers at the Arizona State University Biodesign Institute have found traces of antiobiotics in the six most eaten sea creatures in the world. These are shrimp, catfish, salmon, tilapia, and swai.

“On September 18, President Obama proposed the first governmental steps to address the problem, establishing a task force to be co-chaired by the secretaries of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Agriculture.” However, the main complaint is that the new measures being taken ignore the main consumers of antibiotics, animals including fish farmed for human consumption. The animals we are consuming contain the antibiotics we need to fight off certain diseases and bacterias however, because they are coming into our systems in such small amounts we are becoming immune to them. Dr. Rolf Halden says that if we want to avoid the threat of living in a post-antiobiotic world then we need to revise current practices in the use of animal husbandry and antiobiotcs. His new study centers on the persistance of antiobiotics in farm raised aquaculture, antiobiotics that have yet to been monitored extensively. This research area is largely unexplored.

“Aquaculture has undergone rapid growth to meet the burgeoning global demand, nearly tripling over the past 20 years to an estimated 83 million metric tons in 2013. The large increase has led to widespread antibiotic use, APPLIED both to prevent and treat pathogens known to infect fish. The broad effects on health and the environment associated with these practices remain speculative.Several natural mechanisms exist to help pathogenic microbes evade immune responses or develop drug resistance over time. The overuse of antibiotics, whether for human ingestion in hospitals or for agricultural or aquacultural use, can seriously exacerbate this problem, enriching microbes that bear particular genetic mutations, rendering them antibiotic resistant. In a biological arms race, antibiotics applied to combat disease run the risk of producing multi-drug resistant organisms that are increasingly difficult to kill.”

The article states that antiobiotics can also affect the animals themselves by producing alterations in how genes are turned on or off and physiological anomalies. Antiobiotics in fish need to be properly monitored because many antiobiotics in them are the same used in human medicine.

Right now, current aquaculture projects are threatening the equilibrium of the oceans ecosystem.

“The current study offers a warning that antibiotics present at levels well below regulatory limits can still promote the development of drug-resistant microorganisms. The dramatic increase in resistant and multi-drug resistant bacterial strains documented over the past three decades indicates that much more thorough monitoring of seafood supplies is needed and a better scientific understanding of the nexus of global aquaculture, antibiotic use, drug resistance emergence, and regulatory measures.”

 

Source:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141020134908.htm

-Hannah Atoynatan

Is fur less damaging to the environment than an artificially-created product?

10.21.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Kristina McAvoy

Contrary to what many people might think, it’s far more damaging to the enviornment to create a fur garment than an artificial product. A study done at the Unicersity of Michigan showed it takes 20 times more energy to make a fur garment than a fake one. Even more, the chemicals to treat the fur from rotting are highly dangerous to the water supply. In fact, the US center of Disease Control and Prevention discovered that the number of residents near a Kentucky tannery who developed leukemia was 5 times the national average. In addition more than half of testicular cancer victimes were tannery employees according to a study conducted by the New York State Department of Health.

In addition to harming the people around the area, making fur products harm non-target animals as well. Fur companies set up traps to capture certain animals to skin for their pelt but far too often are non target animals trapped instead. An average of three non-target animals are trapped and thrown away for every traget animal that is caught many of which are endangered species. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota Raptor and Research Rehabilitation program determined that 21% of Bald Eagle admissions involved leghold trap related injuries, and 64% of these admissions were fatal. You can check out the website Bancrueltraps.org to see a list of news reposts of non-target animals injured or killed in traps.

What can you do to help?

  1. Know the difference between real and fake. (tags and labels have been proven by the RSPCA to be deceptive)
  • feel the fur. Real fur is soft and fine where fake is more coarse.
  • real fur has leather backing and is harder than fake backing.
  • Real fur, when you blow on it, separates into layers of soft wooly fur and longer hairs stick out. Fake is one layer of nearly identical hairs

Alternative options:

Fur is no longer the warmest thing available. There are fabrics such as Gore-Tex and Polyprpylene that are known for their ability to keep you warm in arctic conditions. Also, if you want the look of real fur without the cruelty and harm to the enviornment consider faux fur options.

More information can be found on http://liberationbc.org/issues/fur#environment CAUTION VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED. the website features shocking images of how real fur pelts are made.

Algae for Fuel

10.19.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

The use of biomass for fuel is nothing new. The most common application of this is the use of corn to make ethanol. An even better alternative that could save land, water, energy, and reduce waste is the use of algae for fuel. Algae is able to be grown in large amounts with limited space and water, as well as in a variety of environments, making it a perfect source for fuel production. It also does not mess with the food industry which is part of the controversy for using corn or soybeans for fuel production. It has also been found that algae based fuel most closely resembles the composition of the crude oil that we pump out from under the ocean. The petroleum that we pump from the ground is created through a natural heat facilitated process that requires millions of years to complete.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, have discovered a way to replicate and speed up the heating process so that a small mixture of algae and water can be turned into a kind of crude oil in less than an hour. This oil can be readily refined into usable gases, such as, jet fuel, gasoline or diesel, and because its composition is so similar to petrol it can be refined in existing facilities. The byproducts of this process are chemical elements and minerals that can be used to generate electricity, natural gas, or fertilizer to grow more algae. To add onto that an analysis has shown that the wide scale use of this process on a commercial scale could lead to biofuel being sold for as low as two dollars a gallon.

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The U.S. Department of Energy also estimated that to scale up algae production to meet the needs of the nation would require only 15,000 square miles of land (about the size of Maryland), as opposed to the use of soybeans for biofuel which would require setting aside half of the countries land. This fuel is clean because when burned it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that was taken out by the plants unlike the ancient carbon dioxide that fossil fuels release that haven’t been in the atmosphere for millions of years. It also does not need to be mixed with gasoline like ethanol.

The process of turning algae into oil starts with algae mixed with water, which is then continuously sent down a long tube that hold the algae at 660 degrees Fahrenheit and 3,000 psi for thirty minutes while stirring it.  This pressure cooker breaks down the algae and reforms it into oil. This process does require a lot of heat energy, but they have put in recovery systems to maximize heat by cycling it back in resulting in an overall net gain in energy.

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Something as strange as using algae for fuel seems very far fetched, but in actuality it is completely possible. As more research and technology is developed the wide scale use of the algal fuel will become more and more feasible. At some point we will run out of fossil fuels and algae is very realistic alternative.

algae-prius

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/scientists-turn-algae-into-crude-oil-in-less-than-an-hour-180948282/?no-ist

Connie Hodge

Pure Life or Pure Profit?

10.16.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

After watching The Story of Stuff online for Eco Reps, I now receive e-mails from the website every couple of weeks. These e-mails spread news about sustainabilty related issues and how we can take action in the fight. Most recently I received an e-mail detailing Nestlé’s push to privatize and gain larger control of public water resources. The company’s Chariman of the Board, Peter Brabeck, has come under fire for his statement calling a human beings right to water an “extreme solution.” Upon criticism Brabeck has scaled back but the Nestlé as a whole has not.

nestle-ceo

Nestlé has instead continued to market bottled water as status symbol in addition to lobbying for water to not be declared as a universal right. Business Insider writes that these actions taken by Nestlé and other bottled water companies have made bottled water cost 2000 times more than regular tap water. As these big businesses gain millions in revenue, we lose our access to free and clean water, our natural right to this staple of life, and large sums of money. This process is also contributing greatly to the excess of plastic which, if not recycled, ends up in landfills or even worse, fragile ecosystems.

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I encourage everyone to sign the petition against Nestlé’s policies by clicking here.

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You can also view The Story of Stuff here. It was a great, quick, watch and receiving the e-mails holds us all accountable and informed for taking the necessary action for causes that matter!

-Madison McGlone

Our Laundry’s Dirty Little Secret

10.15.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

laundromat

I’ve followed the Facebook page for Al Gore’s film/book An Inconvenient Truth for quite some time now, and it never ceases to post content on Environmental issues that peak my interest. Recently, the page linked to an article about “dirty” ingredients in our laundry detergents. For anyone who’s interested, this is the Facebook page, and I’ll link the article here.

Essentially, the article discussed that the Tide laundry detergent we all know, love, and use (especially us college students who use Tide Pods) contains corn-based ethanol, which isn’t exactly the most environmentally friendly option. The process to create corn-based ethanol generally creates a lot of agricultural waste, and getting rid of all that waste adds to more harmful carbon emissions into our atmosphere. Who would of thought our laundry detergent choices would effect the atmosphere?

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However, it seems Tide has realized just how harmful their soap is and has recently announced that they’re changing formulas on their Tide Coldwater Clean detergent to make it more environmentally friendly. Instead of using corn-based ethanol, the ethanol they’ll be utilizing will now be made from not the corn itself, but from the stalks, leaves, and cobs which will eliminate 7,000 tons of agricultural waste a year creating 0 net carbon emissions. Switching to a different type of ethanol also has no effects on how well the detergent can clean, so consumers can be sure that their laundry will not suffer. Furthermore, this Tide Coldwater Clean detergent allows users to wash their clothes in cold temperatures, which saves tons of energy nationwide as opposed to washing clothes in hot water. Each year the United States produces around 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from laundry alone. According to the article, “if people start washing loads in cold water, the energy savings could reduce those emissions by 32.3 metric tons—the equivalent of the electricity use of 3.7 million U.S. homes.”

This is one small change all of us can make to greatly help the environment. Switching to this new and improved soap may but a strain on the convenience that the Tide Pods provide, but it will eliminate thousands of tons of agricultural waste, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce energy usage with a simple switch to cold water.

-Emily Van Auken

“There is No PLANet B”

10.15.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

In high school I was given the chance to take a semester-long cosmology course. I am not talking about the study of beauty treatment (Cosmetology), as many girls in the class realized the hard way, but the study of the origins of the universe and the evolution it undergoes (Cosmology). The class was taught by one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He was a 28 year old physics teacher who previously taught undergrads and carried out research for NASA. Needless to say, he was very knowledgeable in the subject. We discussed many topics such as star formation, the big bang theory, black holes, relativity concepts, time, the inflation theory, extra-terrestrial life, and other mysteries of what we call “space”.

The class really put into perspective for me the importance of the earth to US. In an infinite universe, the earth hardly seems important or significant at all; it, along with many other planets, is just a drop in the ocean. But planets that can harbor complex life as perfectly as earth can are few and VERY far between. We do not have the technology to locate and migrate to planets that have conditions suitable for life. “There is no PLANet B” as many of the banners at the People’s Climate March on September 21st pointed out.

Actions against climate change need to be made now. Humans need to start developing and executing sustainable solutions, so that generations to come can share in the greatness of mother earth. We can all contribute in some small way, whether it be composting and recycling in the school cafeteria, reusing water bottles, or using less gasoline by taking public transportation.

I would recommend that people explore the topic of cosmology. It can really open your eyes to the things that often go unnoticed, but are the most important.

-Elaina McDowell