Considering the recent trauma of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, numerous restaurant owners have noticed a drop in customers due to questionable resources being both used and served in the meals. both the EPA and the city worked hard to convince the public that the water was indeed safe to drink, but tests performed on the water supply had something else to bring to the nation's attention. Restauranteurs eventually switched to using bottled water and purifying filters in an attempt to show the public that it was perfectly safe to use, but the damage was already done and seemingly irreversible. Several restaurants have gone to the extreme to show that their water is safe for consumption, by methods such as displaying their water tests results in the windows of their businesses. Regardless of this measure taken to ensure public safety, the underlying problem of the Flint water crisis still exists, only being reinforced by the public's constant question- is this Flint water?
Hopefully this doesn't happen to Turlock any time in the near future...
In the county of San Diego, the DEH, Department of Environmental Health, had to issue a general advisory that stated there are high levels of bacteria in the oceans due to a combination of urban runoff and the stormy weather. These storms are apparently washing up bacteria from animal wastes, decomposing vegetation, and soil- a good enough reason to keep civilians out of the water for at least 72 hours. Usually there are warning signs by every coastal drainage system in San Diego, but even in places without these signs, the people of SD are advised to refrain from going into these contaminated waters. Factors like rain density, weather conditions and the volume of runoff will determine whether or not these elevated levels of bacterial contamination will persist after the storm has passed or die down.
Runoff seems to be a big issue for southern California, which does not surprise me. Once again, that region is further contaminated, whether it be from runoff or simply pollution. It irritates me because if the ocean water is being contaminated, what else is being contaminated? Their drinking water? If they do not get this under control in time, I can easily see this turning into a small catastrophe that possibly could have been avoided.
These three month old penguins in Antarctica huddled together in a blizzard, making an attempt to not freeze to death. These huddles usually consist of mainly young emperor penguins and a few adult penguins to keep the young ones together. While the group is huddled, one of the few adults go and fetch food for the rest of the group, jumping into the sharp, cold waters of the arctic. These shelters created by the penguins are geared towards sheltering the young and providing warmth, which is proven to be surprisingly effective. Scientists observing these furry creatures recorded internal temperatures of the adult emperor penguins to be around 37 degrees Celsius, in contrast to the -24 degrees Celsius outside. These 'colonies,' as scientists call them, huddle together for hours, if not days, before the next feeding cycle, and can be comprised of hundreds to thousands of birds of all ages. One German scientist, Gunther Riehle, made an astounding observation that as the storm picked up, the penguins in the middle actually proceeded to lie down to suffer from less wind exposure. The natural responses in these animals is truly mesmerizing and demonstrates that creatures on earth other than humans are capable of showing the natural born abilities to problem solve.
Endangered green sea turtles off the coast of North Carolina have recently recovered at the Greensboro Science Center from a sudden temp drop in the ocean. These turtles suffered from a condition referred to as becoming "cold stunned," where the temperature becomes too cold before they are able to migrate to a warmer area in the ocean. Upon their internal freeze, they begin to float with the current as opposed to swimming, forcing them up onto the shore to become prey. Approximately 600 of these creatures arrived on the shore this January; the ones that have been rescued plan to be release back into the wild when they regain their strength. Many other turtles have gone through the rehabilitation process and have been released, which is all dependent on the specific severity of each situation, their health, and the weather. Lindsey Zarecky, VP of conservation and research at the science center, stated that "Putting them back in cold water kind of defeats the purpose. They were found in 50-degree water, and 70 degrees is probably realistically comfortable for them." Ultimately, the release of these creatures is up to the science center's faith in the turtles' health, and the Greensboro Science Center hopes to help out with situations like this in the future.
The alleged "El Nino" is coming, and is predicted to be the most powerful on record. This storm is also supposed to peak next month, prior to when it dies down in the springtime. The western portion of the U.S. is going to receive more desperately needed snow and water and experience surprisingly mild temperatures throughout the northern portion as well. According to climatologist Brian Fuchs, "Many more storm events are needed through the rest of winter to really put a dent in the drought," especially since too many reservoirs and wells are devastatingly low. Just like the water, the temperatures are going to warm up a bit like last December after a few upcoming weeks of the frigid cold. However, there is apparently a 40% chance that the sister storm referred to as "La Nina" could surface later this year, emitting an unusual increase in Atlantic hurricanes.
This could possibly be a good topic to consider for our classes project, preparing for El Nino. We could make it a really fun way to gather supplies, raise awareness, and plan for future agricultural disasters that are sure to arise after this storm. As a class, we can go around Turlock and plant grass on everyone's yard or in public places, so that they can thrive from the potential surplus of water we will have.
On December 30th of 2015, the world was presented evidence that the ice at the north pole was melting, being a whole 50 degrees Fahrenheit above average. An unlikely factor that comes into play when talking about climate change is the conservation of our tropical rain forests, since it accounts for nearly half of the warming on earth. While the promise was made in Paris last year to reduce carbon emissions, a more beneficial approach on top of that would be to pull carbon out of the atmosphere (which is exactly what rain forests do.) By regrowing and protecting the millions of acres of rain forest, we can see the result of massive absorption of carbon into the trees while continuing to grow. This is more likely to happen now than trying to cut out usage of fossil fuels completely, which would stun the world's economy.
My thoughts when reading this article were definitely in favor of this method, because despite believing that the fossil fuels we use are severely detrimental and downright terrible, I have trouble foreseeing that our advanced society would be willing to "go backwards". I believe that this would make for a good project topic, like the one for our class, simply because it is a problem that is world wide and would make a difference upon our implementation. We would not have to plant trees by any means, but simply plant grass, shrubs, and other botanic species ( that also don't require too much water due to our drought ).
In San Diego County, approximately 72 million gallons were wasted on the illegal marijuana farms from corporations, enough to potentially serve 440 families for an entire year. DEA Assistant Special Agent Gary Hill made the statement that “With the ongoing drought here in California, we’re all aware of how important it is to conserve water ... but what most people don’t realize is how much water is used to grow a marijuana plant and that most of that water is stolen," during a conference on Thursday. he also added that a majority of the indoor and outdoor pot operations that have been closed used stolen water or water taken from natural resources. Not only water seized for illegal pot operations, but also water seized in any way can undo the effort that citizens of California are making to conserve this water, and in extreme cases, result in heavy fines due to falling short of the water conservation quotas set by counties and cities. Despite this atrocity, the amount of indoor operations stayed constant from 2014 to 2015, but the outdoor operations actually decreased by 20%, since water is clearly scarce.
This really angers me because southern California already takes up enough of the water for our state as is it is, but knowing that a large part of that water being taken is for illegal drugs such as pot just makes it a million times worse. Considering it could have been used to serve 440 families really says a lot about our generation, and how we would rather use clean water to grow something that slowly kills you than to use it for SURVIVAL. What a sick world we live in.
Scientific research done by a team of scholars from St. Petersburg State University has revealed the stunning notion that all cheetahs contain very similar genomes. This closeness is one of the reasons that support the fact that the main cause of rapid cheetah population decline and why they persist on dying from viruses. Upon coming to this conclusion, the team decoded the genomes of seven different cheetahs and then proceeded to reassemble entire whole genome sequences. The results yielded the fact that their loss of genetic diversity has amounted to a whopping 90-99%. These scientists had to go back several thousand years and analyze their demographic history, which showed this species had had two major population declines before, one 100,000 years ago and another 10,000-15,000 years ago. The first time was due to migration, however the time still remains unknown. The scholars came to the consensus that this reasoning explains why cheetah transplants almost always work, due to similar gene structure easily accepting the other's organ. Yet still, some of these genes appear to be broken, which gives way to the fact that they so often die from viruses that many other feline family members would regularly survive.
Places with historic importance were discussed by a group of scientists about the detrimental effects to a rising sea level in Florida. The Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) put on this event and addressed several questions regarding sea level rise and climate change, how it will effect homeowners and businesses, and most importantly, public ownership of landmarks with historical significance. Thomas Penders, a cultural resource manager, admitted that this problem has already been cutting into the coats of this peninsula, and that every storm just deepens the impacts it has on their beaches and standing structures close to the coast. The Air Force has been working with Florida in recording this data so future generations will have the necessary information to be able to potentially avoid this catastrophe again. Researchers are claiming the coast of Florida should see at least a three to five foot rise in sea level, concluding that these important historic structure either need to be reinforced or elevated.
New information has surfaced recently about the living conditions of killer whales in SeaWorld from a former employee. This former employee, Sarah Fischbeck, who spent over six years training and performing with these aquatic animals, made a rather spine chilling statement that "If people knew what I know, or saw what I have seen, they wouldn't sell another ticket". Describing what she had seen upon working at SeaWorld, she mentioned the regular findings of long black rubber strips at the bottoms of the tanks of these creatures. It appeared to insinuate the regular fighting of these whales, which was so brutal to the point where they would sink one's teeth into the other and peel off it's skin. These horrific accounts also included the animals chasing each other and even attempting to jump over the caged fences in order to get away from the other whales. After these stories had been released, SeaWorld was ordered to no longer breed orcas, even though they invested nearly $100 million dollars on the expansion of their tanks.
This information is not news to me after watching the Anti-SeaWorld documentary "Blackfish". The only thing I do not understand is how even after this movie was made and SeaWorld was blatantly called out, they STILL continue with their hostile tendencies towards the animals. You would think that after being blasphemed worldwide and ultimately exposed by their own workers that they would at least take steps in the right direction towards loosening up their cruelty. But now after reading that they cruel conditions are clearly not being works on, it makes me really want to see SeaWorld plummet and close down for good. This senseless captivity is sickening.
The New York Department of environmental Conservation (DEC) decided to spend $2 million dollars on aiding organizations that will help in preventing invasive aquatic species from spreading throughout important New York waterways. These grants are meant to help in turning these species away and install decontamination stations for the areas still threatened by these creatures. State Senator Michael Nozzolio made the statement that protecting the world renowned Finger Lakes Region will surely benefit from these protective measures, and so will the residents, farmers, business owners, sportsmen, vacationers, and boaters. Nozzolio makes the great point that "By investing in preservation and minimizing the harm aquatic invasive species cause, we are investing in the region’s economy and in the future of our communities." These grants, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 each, are subject to be given based on high priority, especially for businesses and projects bordering bodies of water with at least 50% public ownership. I personally find this state funding to be a great idea, as long as this so called removal of species is not excessively destructive and is safely regulated for both the public and creatures.
The LADWP, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, announced on Tuesday that starting in the 2016 calendar year, LA residents will be charged a bonus 3.6% percent to their monthly bill for water and electricity. Reasoning behind this was the fact that LA brought in $110 million dollars less than they had believed they would in the last year, putting them at severe risk of not being able to pay for the funds going towards services in the LA county. The LADWP has made it clear to LA residents that this increase in money they have to carve out will only last until 2016 is over, yet they are making a push for a 5 year steady increase in percent of pay that will total to an increase in around 34 percent. Due to the evident drought California is undergoing, the reduced usage of water decreases revenue in their funds, in turn increasing costs of their infrastructure. Sandy Brown, the president of a property owning association, says that LADWP will always be in the hole if they are constantly trying to repair a decaying infrastructure. Brown clearly supports the increasing rates of a water bill based off of the belief that if you do not prioritize infrastructure in a city like LA, the rates will have to increase even further, which would then become a major problem. However, the chair of a community council Steven Sann believes that not only should the rates be lowered for LA residents, but that they should be rewarded in order to have an incentive to keep saving water. I agree in Sann's logic that there needs to be an incentive in saving, because it isn't rational for people to just be okay with saving water especially after their rates heavily increase. Although, I also believe Sann's logic is greatly flawed in which for one, LA IS NOT ACTUALLY SAVING WATER, they are directly sucking it all up from northern California and using it in the south, because that's CLEARLY WHERE THE AGRICULTURE OF CALIFORNIA LIES ( heavy sarcasm ). I think its dumb how LA is attempting to complain about water of all things when they are not the one's who need it most. all in all, LA needs to be put in check for their "I'm more important than the north" behavior.
Based on a recent study, a decrease in certain oceanic predators will directly effect the large fish populations that serve well for obtaining carbon and storing it long term. Apparently, larger fish populations are crucial in the on going accumulation of carbon and the storage of it in certain coastal seaboard regions, like salt marshes and sea grass vegetation. The mass over harvesting not only effects the climatology of the world, but the environment's aquatic food web. Professor Rod Connolly of Griffith University in Australia stated in a recent news release that their impact on this food web "ultimately changes the amount of carbon captured and locked up in the seabed." Due to a growing recency of shark attacks of the coasts of Australia, this idea of a shrinking shark population has been brought up in heated debates as to whether or not the culling of sharks is a good idea after all. The people do not see that large predator removal has long term and seemingly instantaneous effects as to how much carbon is locked up in the seabeds. Along with the predators' help, the coastal wetlands have a key role as well; burying the mud in the carbon for hundreds and thousands of years. "When we change the abundance of higher order predators, this affects the number of smaller animals living in the mud, and that has flow-on effects for carbon storage in coastal wetlands" (Connolly 6). These wetlands are so beneficial that they manage to take a quarter of a trillion kg of CO2 out of the atmosphere per year. The vital role played by all large ocean predators cannot be matched by anyone else, nor can their high position in the food chain hierarchy be overlooked.
It has recently been discovered that mealworms may be able to live off a diet of non-biodegradable plastics such as Styrofoam and other plastics. The very reason the mealworms make this possible is due to their ability to biodegrade polyethylene from microorganisms in their gut's. Researchers from Stanford and Beihang University say this is the largest environmental science discovery made in the last ten years, and even went as far to state that it has the potential to end the world's plastic pollution problem. These same researchers ran a test on one hundred mealworms that ate around 35 milligrams of Styrofoam a day and found that the worms' health neither got better nor worse, and remained the same as mealworms that only consumed bran. The plastic consumed by these tiny organisms created carbon dioxide, biodegradable waste, and worm biomass that was safe for crop and soil use. Something to take into consideration, said by the researchers, was the fact that the mealworms contain a certain bacteria that makes this all possible. In a separate experiment, the worms were fed antibiotics prior to Styrofoam consumption, resulting in the worms' inability to degrade the plastic material. With this recent breakthrough, scientists plan to tests whether or not other plastic compounds can be broken down by the microorganisms living in their gut, like polypropylene. Not to be mistaken with a substitute to recycling, these worms can help increase the percentage of plastic recycled each year by the U.S., which is currently only 10% of 33 million tons of plastic.
Recent studies find that small, plastic microbeads are found in personal hygiene products such as face washes, toothpastes, and shower gels. The reason these abrasive beads are placed into these products are for the desired 'scrub' that people desire in order to really polish their teeth, eliminate dead skin, and wrinkles. However, these particles, when finally washed down the drain, completely bypass the water treatment systems and are exposed to the natural waterways of lakes, oceans, and etc. Aside from poor fish eating them, thinking it is food, these particles cause some severe environmental damage. Upon entering the oceans, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water, the beads are considered to be microplastic marine debris, which can stay in water habitats for decades. However, measures have been taken to prevent this from further ecological damage. 18 states in the U.S., Canada, and Europe have either agreed or prosed the idea of banning all microbead incorporation in hygienic products. The overall issue of plastic in the environment still persists. This is proven by the staggering amounts of money in environmental damage, which is a whopping $13 billion a year. Several companies have already pledged to eliminate their usage of the microbeads in their products, such as Johnson and Johnson, Crest, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, L'Oréal, and Colgate- Palmolive. This ongoing problem has received promising growth of awareness as well as corporate initiative, but is still an enormous task to take ahold of.
A recent study at the University of California Santa Barbara analyze the use of life expectancy assessment, LCA, to prove that indeed agriculture does not necessarily always change at a constant, minimal change. A professor at UCSB by the name of Sangwon Suh stated that, “People tend to think of agricultural as an industry of the past that doesn’t change much and has environmental impacts that are more or less constant over time", which makes many producers believe that it is okay to use 20 year old data from LCA's to assess agricultural products today. Both Suh and one of his students decided to publish a paper describing what characteristics make agricultural today rather diverse, such as climate change and advancements in technology. They ran tests on four different crops: corn, wheat, soybeans, and cotton, each one being measured for their acidification, eutrophication, human health criteria, and smog formation. A large majority of the tests remained consistent to their old data, however, in corn and cotton, the ecological balance of freshwater systems, such as rivers, streams, etc. heavily declined anywhere from 50-60% per acre. GMO's and genetically modified crops that don't need as much pesticide are said to be the reason for this vast decline. Suh's research makes it clear that it is vital to understand what does and doesn't promote change in environmental impacts, and that based on what information you find, you can decide whether or not to use older LCA data, frequently change the constantly updating LCA data, and just making key decisions on how to go about the concept of the impact of agriculture.
New research from Duke shows that 3 major coal-producing industries in the U.S. contain radioactive, harmful contaminants in the polluting smoke. The radioactivity in the ash is said to be 5 times greater than that of normal soil, and shockingly 10 times greater than that of actual coal. Avner Vengosh says that the only contaminants usually found in the coal ash were normally arsenic and selenium, but that now they have to be on the look out for radioactive elements like isotopes of radium and lead-210. Both of these are found naturally in coal, but upon being burned, the radium and lead-210 become more concentrated and reattach to their old, airborne ash particles, making the ash in the air suddenly radioactive. However, due to the ongoing problem of neglecting to monitor the landfills these ashes are stored in, no one, not even these researchers, know just how much of an impact these pollutants have on our environment and the overall health of the our population. These scientists have developed a way to predict how much radioactivity the coal and ash will emit by taking samples of the parent coal's uranium levels, which fortunately can be applied to all basins that potentially express this problem. Consistency of the isotope ratios between the coal and coal ash are unique to each basin, but can determine whether or not the problem is in the ash, or from another factor that reacts with the ash. Its clear that steps have been taken to help resolve this problem, and that the health of the public near these basins and plants are being watched over with a careful eye.
Companies are already turning waste CO2 into useful products and in turn contribute to getting rid of a greenhouse gas and slow down climate change. A companies like Novomer, Joule, and Skyonic have already developed ways to convert the CO2 into other useful commodities such as plastics, construction materials, and beginning parts for bottles and fibers. These companies are using waste CO2 that are being polluted from other industries, making sure to not take away from the CO2 vital to us. However, since CO2 is only considered to be o.o4% of our earth's atmosphere, they are having to extract it from large amounts of air in order to gain enough carbon dioxide to actually use. Certain companies have been turning atmospheric CO2 into graphene carbon nanofibers, which have been put towards positive items like aircrafts, wind turbines, and cars. Even sports equipment such as the graphene strings of Andy Murray's tennis racquet shown above have benefitted from the nanofibers. Depending on whether or not nanofibers can be produced cheaply and efficiently, they can be used in mass quantities going towards vital building materials. In this case, quantity has proven to be more valuable than quality when quality is already present. Climate change may not be a very important or convincing subject matter to everyone, but the ability to make money and also support the decrease of climate change is sure to open the mind of more people to idea of making the world better.
Contrary to popular belief, forest acreage in Northeastern America has steadily been increasing since the early 1900's and only decreased slightly in the 1960's during suburbanization. This trend is prominent in other zones of the world, despite deforestation in tropical climates. In all, worldwide loss of forest acreage has slowed down substantially, and the global demand for wood may have hit an environmental peak.
Analysis of this chart suggests that perhaps humans will reach a peak impact before the 21st century is over. Despite economic and population growth, the amount of resource use has either been maintained or even decreased. Per capita farmland requirement and water consumption have steadily declined in the last half of the century, raising the question as to if this decline is perhaps just a component of a cyclical drop, or "the beginnings of a plateauing in the world's demand for things". However, the actions by the government and other private institutions depict whether or not peak impact is certain. The spread of high tech agricultural advancements proves to be crucial in diminishing production and need for these commodities. What must happen is the creation of a system that reduces the substantial cons between the environment and worldwide development.
Our environment's value seems to be diminishing due to a combination of human advancements and climate change, and people do not really seem to make an effort to care or feel badly about it. To understand why people do this, researchers decided to work together and run MRI brain scans to see how humans make and rank these environmental decisions. The two researchers, Nik Sawe and Brian Knutson, observed twenty people who were deciding whether or not to donate their money to national and state parks. They found that by showing their participants positive images of the environment people tended to feel happy and stimulate the part of the brain that associates with good memories. However, showing them pictures of damaged and destructed land and parks made the participants feel negative, which in turn stimulated the negative memories in their brain. The researchers predicted that they would be more likely to donate money after seeing the negative images. They then proposed that the people weren't basing their values off of the positive memories or aspects they had of a place, but instead on the anger they felt towards seeing a happy place being destroyed. Sawe and Knutson decided that when it comes to environmental decision making, people's emotions and the cost-benefit of a situation actually compete with one another. "'The value we derive from the natural world may be clearest only when that world is threatened,' Sawe said". This analysis shows that further steps can be taken in finding new ways to create smarter decisions.
The Global Commission on Economy and Climate is planning to put major cities on a plan with larger public transit, smarter waste management and energy-saving buildings. These so called climate-intelligent cities would create a better quality of life and economic expansion, all while drastically decreasing carbon pollution. Depending on whether national governments decide to fund these advancements will depict how much money will be ultimately saved. Researchers found that by 2015, savings could reach up to $22 trillion. However, skepticism towards this notion, like being too expensive or ineffective, run high in the governments' faith. But to the contrary of disbelief, putting cities on a low carbon "trajectory" is shown to be not only sustainable but smart economics. The greater underlying importance here is that by moving towards a cleaner energy source, we are also moving away from use of harmful fossil fuels. The horror of air pollution can be significantly diminished in major urban areas by implementing these ideas, which in turn can quite possibly save people's lives.
Land owned by the University of Texas is being used for the practice of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Within the last 10 years, over 4,100 Texas wells have been subjected to fracking on UT grounds. Acts such as this have caused major environmental instabilities. Despite Texas being in a stubborn drought, this practice had used over six billion gallons of water that only helped Texas dig themselves deeper into a limited water supply. Other environmental atrocities include over 8.5 million pounds of methanol being used and released into the air during fracking, which has been proven to cause birth defects. Also, lack of responsibility has been displayed among this practice in which more than 1.6 million gallons of harmful pollutants have been spilled on UT land, and were not bothered to be cleaned up. The Environmental Research group at the University Lands office would like to place certain restrictions on these companies to not frack on land with environmental importance. Such importance a include prosperous land inhabited by certain birds and endangered species as well. Cleaner air standards and significantly less water usage have also been made a priority for the University Lands office to prohibiting.
AP Environmental Science student.