Apr 25 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems


If there’s anything that I’ve learned in this class, it’s that education is the key to our survival. From global warming, to deforestation and water pollution, I don’t think it’s a matter of whether or not people care — it’s simply a matter of whether or not they know. Until watching the ‘Tapped’ documentary, I had no idea the effects plastic water bottles had on the environment, our economy, small towns, small businesses, and our health. Since seeing the documentary, I plan on never drinking out of another plastic water bottle again.

California in particular has a huge water problem! And despite many attempts by the media, governor and legislators, there are still many individuals in California that do not understand how dire the water situation is. California is highy populated, and is continuing to grow at an unsustainable rate — in comparision, the state wide water-storage program has not been improved for the past 30 years. The water reserves are also extremely low, and are not able to sustain the growing population or meet the growing demand; 2007 was ranked as a record-dry year in some regions.

In order to help control this problem, mandatory water regulatin polices should be imposed throughout California. California also relies heavily on agriculture as a means of income, and rather than continuing to grow crops which require unsustainable amounts of water, farmers should switch to crops more suited for the hot, dry environment. Caps on water useage would also be an effect way to control water consumption, so that if businesses or homes consume more than their alotted amount of water, they will be forced to pay a fine. The most important aspect of this problem however, as mentioned above, is education! With general awareness and education, big businesses as well as individual citizens will hopefully be more encouraged to significantly decrease their water consumption.

Because water is so wasily attainable, I feel like people take it for granted. When you turn on your sink a washing machine, you don’t really think about where that water is coming from. However, with (hopefully) new legislation in California, this will not only help to mobilize individuals in California, but in the entire nation. It will force people to conserve water, and it will force people to see water as the non-renewable resource it actually is. Water is our most precious resource on this planet, and we need to start taking better care of it!

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Apr 02 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

Facing the Mass Extinction!

This trailer explains the significant effects that we are having on our environment through our addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Throughout history, our Earth has experienced many mass extinctions. However, all of them have been a result of geologic and biologic forces -- never the result of something controllable, such as human activity. The Earth has never in its history been the way that it is today, and we are going to have to adapt to changes if we expect to be a species that survives a mass extinction.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/XbOXUza9ZeE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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Apr 02 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

Coral Reefs and Overfishing In Relation To Global Climate Change

“Climate change is as big a threat to people and the planet as international terrorism.”

          Mike Childs – Friends of the Earth campaigns director

I found this quote and agree with it entirely because I feel like a lot of people in the world today put international terrorism (along with other economic an social problems) ahead of gloabl climate changes. And while international terrorism is obviously a problem that needs to be solved, without a productive planet to sustain life, no other problems will matter.

Coral reefs specifically will be directly, and largely affected by global warming. Even the slightest temperature, and sedimentary changes can have detrimental impacts. Coral reefs are dependent on dinoflagelants, which are an algae that need specific environments to live in. These algae provide coral reefs with food and oxygen — they also need significant sources of light, meaning they require sediment-free waters.

According to the IPCC, the Earth is expected to warm by 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius this century, and it is believed that even with the slightest 1.5 degree increase, coral reefs may not survive. Coral reefs are also composed of calcium carbonate, which is dissolved by carbonic acid. As the oceans take up more of the carbon dioxide we add into the atmosphere,  the oceans become more acidic — making will also hurt plankton and coral populations. Fish populations however, are also very sensitive to acidic and temperature changes. Furthermore, plankton populations make up the base of the food chain, and if their populations are hurt through environmental changes, it will affect entire fish populations within the entire ocean. Currently, we are fishing beyond our means in a completely unsustainable way. Global fish catches has decreased significantly since the peak a couple decades ago, yet much needed changes are not occuring at the rate they should be. As with other  environmental problems however, economc gains seem to outweight the environmental problems. And until consumers see the effect that these problems are having on the environment, producers will continue to supply at the expense of the environment.

As with the other environmental problems that we have discussed, I believe a lot of change rides on the push for education. Global warming is a huge problem that will affect all areas of the globe — and in the past couple of years especially I think that there have been efforts made to generate the general public. However, it is important to make it clear what the side-effects will be if we continue to burn fossil fuels the way we are, without any thought to the consquences.

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Mar 31 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

“Managing For Sustainability”

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/72MCumz5lq4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

An ironic part of the ‘Tapped’ seminar I thought, was when the Poland Springs billboard was shown with their slogan being, “managing for sustainability”. I’m not sure what part of their plastic water bottle campaign they consider to be “manageable” and “sustainable” when only 23% of plastic water bottles are recycled in the United States. Not to mention the raw toxic materials necessary to make plastic water bottles, and the pollution that these materials are adding to our once pure water ways.

The article that I found this picture in was focusing on companies that have began “making improvements” to their products, so that they are more environmentally “friendly” and “sustainable”. To the average consumer (and to me, before I watched the tapped seminar), this ad along with other media sources presents Poland Springs in a positive light as if their product is now benifiting the environment. However, I think it’s ironic that they’re saying they’re “doing less” and that their “100% natural spring water” has lss impact on the Earth — when in reality, their product is not natural. According to the ‘Tapped’ seminar, dozens of chemicals were found in plastic water bottles that were taken right off the shelves in grocery stores. These chemicals are toxic and have been linked to obesity, ADD, and several forms of cancer. Which, I also think is interesting considering that obesity and ADD have been occuring in record numbers among American children. I think this entire add is a contradiction to “natural” products, because the real  natural product would be tap water. The plastic water bottle industry is a multi-billion dollar corporation that despite their denials, is trying to be the only supplier of “natural” and “safe” drinking water. Thirty years ago, this industry was virtually inexistent — and today, Americans are spending more money for a bottle of water than they would for the same amount of gasoline. We are told that tap water is not safe, and that water fountains are suspicious. However, in truth it is the exact opposite. Tap water is tested in facilities thousands of times a month, while in comparison, there is one person working for the FDA in charge of testing all bottled water companies in the United States. To me, following this seminar, it is obvious that this is simply the result of billions upon billions of dollars of well-researched marketing, coupled with ignorant consumers. While this is not necessarily the consumers fault (for these companies are supplying what we demand), we need to be the ones to end this process. Without demand, there will be no supply — or supply will greatly decrease.

“Environmental-wise, we go through about 50 billion plastic water bottles but the recycling rate is only 23%, so about 38 billion bottles are filling up in our landfills” (http://blog.case.edu/james.chang/2007/06/index). Another interesting fact that I found on this webiste was that while the Fiji water bottleing company “spits out more than 1 million bottles a day, half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water”. I’m sure this can be applied to dozens of other countries.

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Mar 30 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

“Business Is The Source Of All Pollution”

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/5eKYyD14d_0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The quote, “business is the source of all pollution” from the documentary Food Inc., had significant impact on the way that I now view businesses, and their overall contributions to global environmental problems. Since civilizations began to transistion from nomadic lifestyles into domesticated agricultural lifestyles, economics has been the foundation for a successful life. After studying examples, such as Easter Island, Haiti and the Incas it is clear that we are neither learning from our past mistakes, nor making efforts to improve. Rather, in my opinion, I believe big buisness has essentially taken over. These corporations are non-governmental, yet they have significant power in the United States Congress through Congressmen with clear ties. It really was unblelievable to me that these businesses had so much power! For example,  I thought it was really ridiculous when the farmer being filmed in the Food Inc. documentary had to be darkened so he was unrecognizable. Farming and agriculure is one of our countries oldest practices — and to be at a point where simple farmers are being forced by big name corporations (Monsanto) to give up their life practices is very strange to me.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/fTLrF19gpt8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

I think that there should be a balance between economic gains, and environmental concerns. Right now, all the evidence shows is that we are a society driven by economics and that the consumer wants as much as an item possible, for the lowest price. Therefore, producers have found ways to provide consumers with economically efficient goods at extremely low prices to the consumer. However, environmental costs are hardly ever considered in this process. Extraction and manufacturing methods in almost all cases are horrible for the environment, and none of this economic gain is going towards the clean-up process. Even though the documentary Food Inc. was focusing specifically on agriculture, I related it to businesses in general because I believe big business is one of our greatest global environmental problems. However, until the consumer stops buying these low-cost goods or the raw materials run out, the producer is going to keep supplying without any regard to the environment. Futhermore, in my opinion, I believe that economists should be held accountable for their theories delieved. When economic theories are presented, the means and methods to which these goals are to be accomplished are completely ignored. This can lead to unrealistically priced goods and services for the genral public, which can thereby lead to higher demands of unsustainable products and practices. Therefore, the Earth’s current standing should be taken into consideration when creating these economic models, so that we can not only maintain a healthy economy, but a healthy environment.

This is just a simple video I found, but I thought it encomassed all that I’m saying! Also liked the background song :)

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/sOdRsxF32pE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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Mar 11 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

Are Bloom Boxes Our Future?

I saw this special on 60 minutes on "bloom boxes", and was really fascinated. I think the idea of the "bloom box" is amazing, but I wonder if it can be simplified enough to make it marketable for the average consumer.

Bloom Box (part 1)

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/khK_QTWl5Nc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Bloom Box (part 2)

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/tEJhnvX36hc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Too Good To Be True?

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/dstqmciVuGQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The ironic part of the 60 minute special I thought was that they believe the utility companies will buy the bloom boxes, rather than trying to crush the bloom boxes and wipe them off the market. I thought this was ironic because in many past examples (i.e the electric car, solar, wind, and natural gas), the coal and oil corporations have successfully forced these sustainable energy companies out of business, rather than working with them for a greener future. Maybe now the oil and coal corporations are coming to the realization that we must make a change benifiting the long-term, and that economic growth through unsustainable environmental practices, is no longer profitable.


Mar 11 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

The Truth About Coal

Adverse Effects of Coal

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/cfnD6r1MITI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


Toxic West Virginia

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ziuFW-7h1LM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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Mar 11 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

Mountain Top Removal

The more I listen to people speak about environmental issues, and the problems that they encounter in an effort to counteract these issues, the more I realize how important scientific education is for the general population. Without education, politicians and large corporations can sway voters any way they want, simply through their rhetoric. For example, this website,  http://www.mountaintopmining.com/ specifically states in the first paragraph that it’s intentions are to educate people about mountain top removal, and to “provide a viewpoint no readily portrayed in the press to clarify many misstatements… so that individuals themselves can examine for themselves can examine the various viewpoints  and arrive at their own conclusions”.

This entire first paragraph however, is a complete contradiction. Not only does this webiste completely fail to present both sides of the argument, but it does not present any real data for the reader to “arrive [to] their own conclusion”. Instead, words are twisted, and data is skewed to present mountain top removal in a good light. That fact that an average citizen could be interested in learning more about this topic and to come across this website as one of the first on “google” — is not good. 

Numbers and data never lie. And I believe that members of the scientific community should specifically work to simplify their findings, in an effort to educate the general population — so that the average person with a minimal scientific background, can draw their own conclusions. I think that if more efforts are made, people will begin to support the environmental movement, rather than simply relying on their congressman or woman (etc.) to make decisions for them. Education can be applied to every scientific problem, and I really do not see large accomplishments coming for environmental groups without the support of the people.

There are many myths about mountain top removal that are circulating (such as, mountain top removal increases jobs, rather than decreases) — however, it is quite clear once presented with factual data, that this is not the case. There are many more negative side-effects to mountain top removal than there are positive ones, and they should be made known. That way, coal and oil companies will not be able to use intimidation and false education tactics to misinform their consumers. There is no mistaking the fact that mountain top removal contributes greatly to pollution and in the reduction of biodiversity, as well as significant long-term reductions in economic growth. We need to focus on a green future, with sustainable energy extractions — and mountain top remval does not fall into this future.


Feb 26 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

The Destruction of the Everglades

According to the National Park Service, the Everglades National Park, is “the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, [and] boasts rare and endangered species. It [also] has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, significant to all people of the world”.

Water in the southern tip of Florida used to flow freely to Lake Okeechobee and further south through the everglades, with the origional water sheet covering over 11,000 square miles. For thousands of years, before human involvement, this delicate system remained in balance in terms of nutrients, “biological infastructure”. However, upon the colonization of Florida, and the push for further expansion, this balance was disrupted. In an attempt to prevent flooding and protect homes as well as lives, the government built multiple canals and flood control walls to divert water away from the everglades. This however, only further increased the severity of storms and floods. Only then did scientists as well as government officals really realize the extent and consquences of their actions.

The Everglades are home to many unique animals that are found no where else in the United States — and nearly all of them are severely threatened. For example, due to the numerous roads in the Everglades, alligators and American crocodiles in an attempt to cross the roads are being killed. Also, the American Panther is extremely endangered and will most likely go extinct in the near future.

I believe that the Everglades are just another example of our societies failure to recognize the consequences of our actions, and the extent to which we can effect the environment. For a long time, I think people have believed and have preferred to believe that we have no effect on our environment and that it was impossible that we should be able to significantly change the biosphere. However, with the consequences now arising in multiple forms, it is apparent that we do have a hand in this destruction. Through education and recognition we can change our actions, and we can improve the environment in which we live in.


Feb 06 2010

Posted by under EnvProblems

Global Warming


While scientists have come to the conclusion that humans do have a negative impact on the environment, and are contributing to climate change — I do not believe we are the main source of climate change. Currently we are living in an “icehouse” Earth with an environment able to sustain human, plant and animal life. We also however, are moving from this glacier, “icehouse” environment, into a warmer, “greenhouse” environment – in which glaciers will cease to exist. Carbon dioxide content has always influenced our atmosphere and has always dictated our planet’s temperature and environment. For millions of years carbon has slowly been captured by rocks and other reservoirs allowing our environment to stabilize and to maintain a constant temperature for life. There is no doubt that Earth will continue to exist following this increase of carbon dioxide and warming period. The question however is, will the human population find a way to adapt to this rapidly changing environment. Because, while Earth in the past has been able to stay balanced temperature-wise, there is no guarantee that with our current output of carbon dioxide that this will continue to be the case.


While some fully believe technology will be our savior, I’m not so sure. In a way, technology has led to a lot of our environmental downfalls – as non-renewable resources are harvested more efficiently, and energy consumption continues to increase exponentially. Therefore, a society in which we go “back to basics” and use resources only when necessary, may be something worth considering. If we continue on our current path of unsustainable environmental consumption, our society as a whole will fall. We are no different than the people on Easter Island. We’re all humans, and by human nature we use our resources to the fullest extent without the thought of consequences. Today, the entirity of Earth is our Easter Island.

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