After researching recent environmental news for my last blog post, I came across a cool fact. May 16 is National Love a Tree Day! Trees are everywhere and it is so easy to get out there and appreciate every one of them. They provide food and shelter for animals and building material for us. They create shade, block traffic noise, and soil from eroding. The best way to celebrate trees is to just get out there and enjoy what we have. Actually hug your favorite tree. Trees have been known to actually improve concentration levels, depression and stress. After you hug your favorite tree, try to find out what type of trees are around you. By looking at their leave you can see if they are the same or different. You could also adopt a tree and track its growth throughout the months. It could grow so much over the course of a year! But make sure to give it some love by watering it extra during dry times. Maybe even plant some more trees! It’ll absorb carbon dioxide and give out more oxygen. It’ll make your neighborhood more beautiful and offer homes for other organisms! Another way to show your love for the green community, is to promise to buy a real christmas tree this Christmas. After the holidays you can replant it and keep it alive or donate it to a tree organization that helps keep plants alive. We have a lot to be thankful for and trees is just one part of it. So let’s get out there and enjoy them specifically today!!!
While shopping for the summer, I tried to do my part by researching clothing that was made out of recyclable materials or eco-friendly brands in general. The classic eco-friendly brand is “Toms Shoes” whose slogan is “buy one, give one” but many other companies have followed in their footsteps to create other cool eco-friendly products. “Sword & Plough” is a company that uses wasted military surplus to create fashionable bags. They even employ veterans throughout the company to empower veteran employment. The company’s goal is to help bridge the gap between civilians and military personnel. “BottleCloth” is a brand that sells bold and graphic table linens made up of 100% of recycled plastic bottles that would have ended up in a landfill or on a garbage island. The designs are tasteful and even have the feel of a woven fabric. “House of Marley” makes speakers and headphones from sustainably-harvested woods that are certified with the Forest Stewardship Council and other recycled plastics and rubber. They also give a large portion of its earnings to Bob Marley’s foundation, 1Love Foundation. “Novesta” is a brand from the 1930s that makes shoes using materials such as natural rubber and 100% cotton and linen. They produce at the highest environmental standards using non-toxic and low-impact dyes on all eco-friendly fabric. “Oxgut Hose Company” uses old fire hoses to create colorful rugs, lightweight dopp kits, wood carriers, wine totes and many more. Fire hoses are indestructible and end up in landfills every year. They partner up with fire departments and work with designers to make handcrafted pieces. “Proof Eyewear” is a brand that focuses on using materials that are sustainable such as FSC certified wood, cotton-based acetate, repurposed skateboard decks and recycled aluminum. They have been working since 2010, and have made an effort to help the tsunami relief in Japan, child soldier rehabilitation in Africa and reforestation in Haiti. “Stop The Water While Using Me” is a brand whose name says it all. The ingredients in the brand’s products are made from certified organic agriculture and are completely biodegradable. The packaging is also recyclable and refillable. They initiated a program called Good Water Projects and donate a share of the revenue to projects that share clean water with those who need it most. “Earthy Chic” is a brand where beauty and nature combine. One of their products is a pendant necklace with an actual leaf that was dipped in gold and silver plating. Each fiber in the leaf is different, making every necklace is different. The proceeds go to Conscious Acts of Kindness, a non-profit organization inspiring people to help others and the globe by giving small offerings to the community.
I will definitely be purchasing at least one of these products!!!
One of my favorite things about going home is getting to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that I would not have access to here at St. Mark’s. My favorite fresh vegetables are Kumato tomatoes that are small tomatoes that have a brown tint, however since they are so small, they are easily bruised. I was thinking about these damaged tomatoes that are not able to sold in grocery stores when I found this article. Scientists are trying to use tomato waste to create a biological-based fuel cell. They presented their research on March 16, 2016 at the 251st National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). It will expose more than 12,500 presentations on a wide range of science topics. Namita Shrestha, a graduate student at the lab of Venkataramana Gadhamshetty in the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, says that “spoiled and damaged tomatoes left over from harvest can be a particularly powerful source of energy when used in a biological or microbial electrochemical cell. The process also helps purify the tomato-contaminated solid waste and associated wastewater.” Tomatoes are a key crop in Florida but generates 396,000 tons of tomato waste every year and lacks a good treatment process which is why this project is so important. The team “wanted to find a way to treat this waste that, when dumped in landfills, can produce methane . . . and when dumped in water bodies, can create major water treatment problems.” They created a microbial electrochemical cell that can exploit the tomato’s waste to generate an electric current. The cells use the bacteria to break down and oxidize the organic material in a defective tomato. I’m really interested to look into the results of the ACS to see how Shrestha and her team did.
On Monday, March 1, there was a bright object that flashed through the sky above northeast Scotland. There was footage captured by a camera that showed “a bright blue fireball hurtling through the cloudy sky, briefly illuminating the landscape as if it were day.” It even was recorded that it caused a loud boom as well. Robert Massey, the deputy executive director for the Royal Astronomical Society, said he believed that it was a low-altitude meteor that burned into a “fireball”. Meteors are not uncommon, but being in the right place and the right time to see it is very uncommon. People who saw it were very lucky. Weather reporters concluded this was not weather related and when rewatching the footage, Massey concluded it was a meteor.
Here is the link to the video of the meteor: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/01/europe/scotland-meteor-flash/index.html
Shell is currently being sued in London for oil spills in Nigeria. The Ogale community is made up of about 40,000 people, mostly farmers and fishermen, who live on the coast are the main victims. Spills have been occurring since 1989 and still have not been cleaned up. In a November 2015 report by Amnesty International, says that the four spill sites Shell planned on cleaning up are still contaminated. The claimants that were found on Wednesday can be lodged against Shell’s Nigerian business, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC). Amnesty International’s findings followed a 2011 report by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which found water that had been contaminated with what is thought to be a carcinogen. It suggested a 30 year sustainable cleanup of the area, which Shell agreed to. There has been also theft of crude oil in the pipelines by explosions. The victims want Shell to protect the pipelines because the water is affected by the spills from the explosions. All communities on the coast have been impacted by crude oil theft, pipeline sabotage and illegal refining which still is the main cause of pollution in the Niger Delta. The SPDC has not produced oil or gas in these areas since 1993. There has been a rise in violence, threats to staff and attacks on the facilities so access to the area has been limited. Shell lacks the technology to detect any leaks and to stop them. Shell employees have been reporting that they were concerned about the pipelines in the area and that they needed replacing. I think it is interesting that we never hear about oil spills that affect other places than America. I only remember the BP spill on the Gulf of Mexico which affected our south eastern coasts. It is so horrible that Shell has not done anything to fix this issue and I will be definitely checking back in to see if they have decided to finally close this issue.
Billionaire Paul Allen was yachting in the Cayman Islands earlier in the month and caused significant damage to a protected coral reef. His 300-foot yacht (Tatoosh)’s anchor and chain of the vessel “allegedly damaged 14,000 square feet of reef on January 14.” The boat was moored in a safe place however, the winds reportedly moved the boat closer towards the reef. When the crew found out that the chain had impacted the reef, they quickly repositioned their anchor to prevent further damage. Allen has given millions of dollars to conservations that protect or support exploration of the ocean and he was not on board his second biggest yacht, which has five decks and is staffed by a crew of 30. Big yachts like this cause so much water pollution. While Paul Allen has been donating towards the exploration of environmental issues, he has been causing major pollution in the ocean by using his yachts. The Cayman Islands are known as popular boating destinations, but this specific instance is unusual. Michael Lesser, a marine scientist at UNH who has worked in the Caymans discussed other sources of damage to coral reefs everywhere. Pollution, overfishing, acidification, and global warming are bigger threats than situations like this. There is no way to prevent things like this from happening so we should start focusing on the ocean quality and how people treat it in general.
Over the weekend, Massachusetts was hardly attacked by the blizzard “Jonas”. However, my parents were complaining about it snowing from the moment they woke up to the moment they went to sleep. They ended up with two feet of snow while we only had a few inches. My mom hates driving in the snow and she always talks about different things she would create so there would be less accidents. I decided to look more into this.
The Federal Aviation Administration is helping fund research for a “special concrete mix, studded with electricity-conducting ingredients” which would help airports and other roads necessary to be clear during blizzards. It is being tested at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and the formula includes parts of coal and steel industries to reduce costs by 60% compared to earlier trials. The “conductivity comes from “coke breeze”, a carbon byproduct of coal mining, and steel shavings that are considered industrial waste.” They would use the tiles at the tarmacs of airports instead of large runways where snowplows could easily run.
Chris Tuan (professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln) tried putting in a system in 2003 on the Roca Spur highway bridge (150 ft) in Lincoln. De-icing the bridge during a three-day storm costs $250 which is more costly than plowing or chemicals. It also destroys the life of the concrete. In the future he wants to be able to turn off the heated slabs when there is no storm. They are still collecting money to invest more time into redesigning the model.