Archive for January, 2009

Obama The Rebel

obamanewgreen21Let’s face it. The federal government (mainly the Bush administration) has usually supported the auto industry, merely for the economic benefit, rather than any environmental issues at hand: “In 2007, the Bush administration’s EPA administrator, Steven Johnson, denied the 14 states. . . a waiver to set their own clean air standards” (Tapper 1). But imagine their surprise when new President-Elect Barack Obama decided to implement two presidential memorandas that would drastically effect both auto emission and fuel efficiency standards. Lo and behold, someone with the power to make a difference finally cares about the environment! With both of his memorandas, President Obama is achieving what environmentalists have championed for years. Yet, critics of his plan attack Obama for ignoring the economic crisis by forcing the auto industry to obey new rules which may cost billions for the industry and millions of people their jobs. The strange irony, however, is that the Bush administration, which has supported preparation for the unexpected, is unwilling to look a major issue such as the environment in the eye even though it may, or probably will, lead to our demise if ignored. Well, maybe Bush is right. Maybe we should all just overlook the global catastrophe heading our way and instead focus on giving people jobs before we give them clean air. After all, it’s exactly as Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler Chairman declares: “We’ve got to pause and ask ourselves–how much clean air do we need?”

-Written by Thien Nguyen

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Environmental? No. Hypocrites? Yes.

Just a slogan?

Just a slogan?

When we look at the United States when it comes to environmental issues, it is safe to think of hypocrites. This is very true to a certain extent. Evidently, many people are voicing their opinions of society’s contradicting actions through blogs, talkshows, and even pictures. For one, I believe that it is not society as a whole that are contradicting their advocate, but the individuals who do so. President Barack Obama is voicing his opinions on climate change and is planning on making this an important issue by first reducing our emissions, but why must we wait for our officials to take action for us to change our lifestyles. We should be leaders and help ourselves if we really do believe that there is a problem.

The green trend that used to be very popular last year sparked fashion ideas to many clothing companies. Although many people wear these “Go Green” shirts, few are actually making a difference. According to CommonDreams.org, 62% of Americans are worried about Global Warming, yet there is no decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide that we emit. CNN tells us that we are the number one consumer of oil. There’s no surprise in that.

With our population on the rise, land will be needed, but it isn’t very satisfying to imagine living around waste. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, America produces 246 billion tons of municipal solid waste. A safe way to reduce this amount is by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Although we say these three Rs often, we don’t do them enough in order to create a huge impact. Every day I observe my peers throw away their papers into the garbage can when the recycling bin is a few inches away. I think it is extremely ridiculous how unaware or inconsiderate people are. Either they are unaware or they are selfish.  A little more effort is all that is needed in order to help the planet, but many people fail to do so. All of us cherish beauty and health in some way, so shouldn’t we preserve the planet in order to meet these concepts?

We all tell ourselves that the planet should be a comfortable place to live, but only a few of us are making it clean and pollution free. Even though problems such as Global Warming or pollution is not drastically affecting us now, we should prevent any possible risks. We also have to ensure future generations that they won’t have to receive the short end of the straw. If we do care, we should take action, not the opposite because the “Go Green” shirt would not look good on a hypocrite.

-Written by Jessie Ho

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Oil Sands in Canada worth it?

Mad Cow * Local Protest

Mad Cow * Local Protest

A recent controversy concerning oil is about the extracting of oil from Canadian oil sands. It is claimed that Canada’s oil stores are the second largest in the world, about the size of Florida. The sands are vast, yet there comes a price with drilling there, a very high price. Drilling in Canada is not only expensive, but also quite harmful for the environment. The San Francisco Chronicle states that, “These oil sands are the world’s most expensive, most polluting source of oil under large-scale production. Wringing four barrels of crude oil from the sands requires burning the equivalent of a fifth barrel. The mines and refineries release huge amounts of greenhouse gases — the equivalent each day to more than a third of California’s daily car emissions.” From this we can see that drilling in these areas are detrimental to the environment and to our pockets.

Aside from this problem, the sands raise a different problem. Once the sands near the top are drained, oil companies will have to dig even further. This process would require more money and burning more natural gas to power the operation. After the oil is brought to surface, it will have to undergo a thinning process, considering how thick the oil is when it is that deep. The entire process, from drilling, to getting the oil ready for consumer use, will emit more greenhouse gasses than 4 cars combined, but only produce one barrel of oil (San Fransisco Chronicle).

By looking at these figures we can see that drilling in Canada is not only expensive, but it is also harmful to the environment. If drilling in Canada hurts the environment and is not cost effiecient, then we must ask ourselves, is it worth it?

-Written by Rumana Kermalli

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Rainforests of the Sea Dying

Our green waters

Our green waters

Coral Bleaching Events and Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Hot Spots, 1997 – 1998

  Change is impacting our environment in many different ways. One of the most obvious, yet least discussed ways, is the deterioration of coral reefs. When we want to investigate the realistic examples of global warming and climate change, we need to look no further than our coral reefs. According to Earth Trends: Environmental Information, “coral reefs, which are extremely sensitive to changes in the temperature and acidity of the water in which they form, are being destabilized by a changing ocean environment. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that many of the world’s coral reefs are precariously close to total failure.”

The Global Marine Species, an institution that monitors approximately 40,000 species of animals, reports that nearly 1/3 of animals near the coral reef are listed as critcally endangered. Because of the delicate nature of the coral reef, in increase in global temperatures will cause a “shock.” This “shock” will progress into the coral reefs bleaching, thus loosing their color and being more prone to disease. Should more of the coral reef beign to be bleached, much of it will die, thus the organisms they support will begin to die. Parts of the ecosystem will begin to crumble merely because the coral is dying.

While we may see the coral reef as only a “rainforest of the sea,” many organisms see the coral reef as their home and their protection.

-Written by Rumana Kermalli

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Hope for the Future?

Finding the right path for our world

Finding the right path for our world

The world is filled with many paths. Some paths take us to bliss, and some exist merely to hurt others. Of the two paths, which will we choose?

Do or Die

Path A:  My wife shakes me in order to wake me up. It is a dim, dismal day, but I have gotten used to the sight. I limp to the bathroom and spit out a wad of mucus, and say to myself, “well, at least it’s not black like yesterday.” I sit down at the table to eat breakfast only to find some oats mixed with hot water. My son asks me, “Daddy, do I have to go to school today?”
I answer, “Yes son, you do.”
“Why?” he replies.
“Because you have to learn how to save this world,” I retorted half sarcastically.
“But my friend says it’s hopeless now,” my son argues.
I chuckled at the harsh reality of my eight-year-old’s comment. Well, maybe it is. Maybe the human race is finally about to meet its end. Without answer my son’s comment. I dragged my feet to the door. Before I opened it, I took a deep breath of the home’s air, and opened the door.
The sky no longer had a trace of blue. It was gray as if a cloud had eternally come upon us. It seemed that the human race was about to die because for now, we were in limbo. Who knows? Maybe if we made no more wrong choices, we could see that marvelous blue again. I just hoped my son wasn’t right…

Path B:  “Daddy! Wake up! Today is pancake day!”
I grinned and replied, “I know son, now hurry up before I eat them all up!”
“NEVER!” he yelled as he ran out the bedroom door.
“You really have a way with him,” my wife replies, “and that’s why I love you.”
I smiled at her, and got out of bed. The window above the bathroom sink shined in marvelous light, and I had just a premonition of a good day to come.
I placed myself at the breakfast table to find my son gobbling down his pancakes and it almost made me shed tears of joy to see him like that. We didn’t have much. No one did. We never had as much as we used to, but all was well because we had more than enough.
My son chugged down his glass of milk, and I offered him my portion of breakfast.
“No thanks,” he replied, “I better get to school because we’re learning about the environment today!”
I laughed and sent him off. Just before going myself, I kissed my wife and waved good bye.  Then, I opened the front door.
I was right. The sky shone as brightly as ever, but the winds still blew in from the North to balance out the sunny weather. It was these kinds of days which made one just have a picnic in the park or fly a kite instead of going to work. But I knew I couldn’t. After all, my son was right. We all had to do our part in the environment.

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Black Carbon Pollution

At what cost?

At what cost?

In recent years we have seen the change in air temperature. What about the change in air quality though? Is the air quality more important than its temperature? Why do some people consider global warming more important than air quality?
In recent years, the air quality in many industrialized cities has increasingly deteriorated. This is caused by many things, however the leading factor is the gas released by burning fossil fuels. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory states on their website, http://www.lbl.gov/Education/ELSI/pollution-main.html , that, “Black carbon pollution is the release of tiny particles into the air from burning fuel for energy. Air pollution caused by such particulates has been a major problem since the beginning of the industrial revolution and the development of the internal combustion engine. ” From this we can see that burning fossil fuels is actually detrimental to the air. If we continue to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, the air will become thick with smog.

Along with the deterioration of air quality, the ozone layer is also depleting. The burning of fossil fuels causes holes and big gaps in the ozone layer. The ozone layer is useful to us because it protects us from harmful UV rays from the sun. These rays cause things such as skin cancer. For this reason it is empirically important for us to protect the ozone, simply because it protects us. For more information on the ozone and ozone depletion, visit, http://www.epa.gov/ozone/strathome.html .

– Written by Rumana Kermalli

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Clean Air: Our Most Precious Resource?

smokestack-hugeKerr’s Green Debate Team wants everyone to be aware of issues effecting our air quality. The following is from the Scholastic Lexus Eco Challenge.

Once we are aware of these facts, the question is, “What can we do about it?”

                           FACTS ABOUT AIR

What are the short-term effects of air pollution?

o Health damage: itchy eyes and throat, breathing problems like asthma
o Natural damage: damage to trees, crops, lakes, animals
o Structural damage: buildings, monuments, statues
o Visibility problems: difficulty flying planes, difficult to see long distances

What are the long-term effects of air pollution?

o Heath damage: cancer, damage to the immune system, brain, reproductive system, and respiratory system
o Natural damage: damage to the ozone layer, creation of acid rain

What produces the most air pollution?

o Power plants
o Vehicles
o Burning fossil fuels releases lethal levels of carbon dioxide into the air

What are the most common outdoor pollutants?

o Ground-level ozone
o Carbon monoxide
o Sulfur oxides
o Nitrogen oxides
o Lead

What is the Air Quality Index?

o The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures the ozone levels and the levels of pollution in the air on a state-by-state level. Visit http://www.epa.com to find your state’s AQI. Did you know that an adult breathes in over 3,000 gallons of air every day?

Can pollutants be removed from the air?

o It is difficult to remove outdoor pollutants from the air, because this requires large-scale behavioral and policy changes that need to be enforced through government regulations and laws. Indoor pollutants can be reduced using air purifiers. Currently, the most effective way to reduce air pollution is to prevent the creation of further pollution

Adapted from The Air Factor: Lexus Eco Challenge.

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