Archive for Pollution

The Not So Silent Spring Summary

The author of Silent Spring is Rachel Carson and it was published on September 27, 1962. The book focused on the detrimental effects of certain pesticides on birds such as DDT. The pesticide causes harm to birds eggs and makes the shells thinner. The book even suggests that DDT caused a decline in the reproductive rates of birds. She mentions how the chemical industry that produces this pesticides using disinformation to misinform the public about the effects of DDT.  Uncontrolled and unexamined pesticide use in the environment has the potential of harming and even killing not only animals, but also affecting humans as well. The title even suggest the long-term effects of DDT could produce a spring season where birds are extinct and society is unable to hear the songs of birds; creating silence. It became quite popular after its publication and made its way to the Book-of-the-Month-Club as well as the New York Times best seller’s list. Finally, the novel became so popular in 1972 that it generated enough support to ban DDT in the United States. Finally, President John F. Kennedy directed the Science Advisory Committee to investigate the claims made. After investigation, there was an immediate strengthening of the regulation of chemical pesticides all around theUnited States. We can see how our environment was threatened and through voicing a strong opinion, change in policy can make a long-lasting difference in our community.

 -Nicholas Chan


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Koffing and Weezing.

Currently, policy analysts are arguing for a reduction of restrictions on air pollution because society has made so many developments in reducing the impacts of air pollution. However, even though there has been significant process, it doesn’t mean the problem of air pollution is eliminated altogether. Granted, we have been able to reduce outdoor air pollution, we have not eliminated the problem. High concentrations of air pollution still kill people and cost lives. We continue burning coal which emits pollutants and still rely on fossil fuels as an energy source, so until we find alternatives to all of these problems, we will continue to have problems of air pollution. Also, diseases are said to be linked to air pollution such as a high exposure or concentration of nitrogen oxide, but because nothing concrete has been found, regulations should be reduced too. Although we haven’t tracked nitrogen oxides as the root cause of some diseases, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t the cause of it either. There is still the high possibility that they are related. I don’t think the regulations should be relaxed or tightened because neither side can be proven, but we can’t rule out any possibilities so we should just keep policies the way they are. A significant step forward is not a signal to stop, but to continue stepping in the right direction.

-Nicholas Chan

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BioChar: The New Approach to Carbon Sequestration.

Coal, a fossil fuel, emits foul and harmful gasses into our atmosphere, and with a lack of political support for clean coal, a new alternative is here, biochar. Biochar is a newfound way of trapping carbon with so called “green coal”. Biomass waste we would never think of using, such as peanut shells actually release carbon when it decomposes. However, by burning the remains in a process known as pyrolysis, what’s left over is biochar or green coal. South American societies began this process and dug back this green coal in the ground in order to lock in carbon instead of allowing it to widen the hole in the ozone layer. If this process is applied efficiently and effectively, scientists agree that billion of tons of carbons could be sequestered in soil instead of being released into our atmosphere. Carbon sequestration can be an effective approach to runaway global warming. This new green coal is proved to be more effective than nature’s natural approach to the problem. While trees or plants lock in the carbon for only 15-20 years, biochar could possibly lock in carbon for possibly 100 years. Along with its obvious benefits, the nutrients brought back into the soil could also spur the industrial agriculture sector, signifying a thumbs up from not only farmers, but those attempting to combat climatecharcoal_d change.

-Nicholas Chan

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All Bottled Up.

When we first think of water, it carries the connotation of a natural thing necessary for life that we’re surrounded by with our oceans. However, the container carrying the resource is actually a bit more harmful to our environment than we ever imagined. In attempts to live a hydrated a what’s thought to be a cheaper and safer alternative to tap water, are we all willing to pay the price of harming our environment? The plastic bottles that are purchased by consumers actually rely on fossil fuels. The raw plastic material is heated and shaped into a bottle; however, the energy used to heat the material comes from electricity or natural gas. The shipping and transporting process also has a hefty price because trucks travelling across the country also run on fossil fuels. Combined with the cardboard boxes needed to ship the bottles and the mere production of this product is a disaster. Even though it is a common misconception that we can simply recycle the plastic bottles when we’re through drinking our water, rarely do they even land inside a recycling container and instead decompose excruciatingly slowly in landfills. And finally, as they decompose, a harmful gas is released from the plastic bottles. A simple alternative to this problem is to stop purchasing bottles of water and begin using filters that easily attach to our sinks. This process will s afely purify our water and make it a healthier resource without all the excess baggage…or bottles.

-Nicholas Chan

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Gifts wrapped in Green


Christmas is mostly about giving, no matter how big or small your gifts may be, it’s the thoughts that count. Usually the gift isn’t enough, so we gorged our gifts in pretty wrapping paper and fancy bows. But in reality, how much carbon dioxide does your Christmas wrapping output? The answer is once again, a lot. However there are fancy alternatives to Christmas wrapping paper just lying around your house, waiting to be discovered. Here are a few suggestions:

1: Newspapers: Now there’s nothing better than wrapping paper that makes you laugh. Yes folks, wrap your gifts with the comic pages and on the bright side if your gift isn’t really what the person desired, at least they’ll have a comic to laugh at. How about those unused newspapers? Collect those and with a few crayons, you’ll have one snazzy looking wrapping paper.  

2: Fabric; Have you tried wrapping something but gotten the wrapping paper torn and had to start over? Annoying isn’t it? Well if you wrapped with fabric, you wouldn’t have this problem. Just look around your house and scavenge for some unused fabric, you can even be creative and make fancy patterns with it!

3: Jars and Cans: Here’s an odd way to give your gifts in. If you have a gift small enough, why not put it in an old jar or coffee can. After that you can decorate it with bows or wrap it up with fabric. Plus, the person receiving your gift can reuse the can or jar that you gave them, so essentially, it’s a win-win.

Although these suggestions might be a little bit funky and odd, the person receiving your gifts will definitely see your intentions to go green and that’s the best gift anyone can give.

~Phil Pham

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Aluminum is Greener than Plastic: The Evolution of the Water Bottle

When is the last time that you drank from a water bottle? When is the last time that you recycled a water bottle?

In today’s society, efficiency and cost-effectiveness has taken precedence over environmental concerns: a person would rather throw a plastic bottle into the trash than walk an extra ten feet to the nearest recycling bin.

According to a National Geographic Kids article on Feb. 14, 2008, approx. “for every six water bottles we use, only one makes it to the recycling bin. The rest are sent to landfills. Or, even worse, they end up as trash on the land and in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Plastic bottles take many hundreds of years to disintegrate.”

So where is the disconnect? Why are people choosing to deliberately pollute the environment when they could simply recycle their bottles?

Because it is not convenient.

GreenBottle™, an aluminum water bottle corporation, is working to make environmentally-friendly acts coincide with “conveniency.” On their website, they provide excellent information on the importance of the green movement, and allow schools to raise funds for their programs through selling these environmentally-friendly bottles. Varying in shape, size, design, and even species (for humans and dogs!), these bottles are an perfect way to recycle, while having a mobile container of the drink you like.

– Cameron Clark

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Waiter, there’s oil on my shrimp.

 Yesterday, I spent four hours of my Halloween looking for shrimp. Yes, shrimp. Apparently my mother has this specific type of frozen fresh shrimp that she usually goes to the nearby store for, however it wasn’t there, so we went to about 3 other stores and instead of finding shrimp we ended up buying other groceries. My mother spent 100 dollars on groceries that day. THe only reason that I could think of that that would explain why the shrimp wasn’t at the store would probably be the lack of certainty on the saftty of the shrimp. Recently there has been extensive testing of seafood coming out of the Gulf of Mexico. Federal scientists have concluded that there isn’t enough of the dispersant that was used to eliminate the oil on the actual seafood to make it harmful to humans. However, my endeavor shows other wise, fishermen are reluctant to fish no matter what the government says because occording to some there are still visible signs of oil in the waters where they work. This disagreement must reach some sort of conclusion because the jobs, and in this economy the lives, of many fishermen hang in the balance.

~Jesse Anyalebechi

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