Trees Not Towers

When I was younger, and from time to time, my mom would have our family take hikes in the local woods. In my town, Sudbury, we have about three maybe more forest areas in which people walk. Recently in my town I have been seeing these signs and posters plastered with phrases such as, “Trees Not Towers”. I did not really know much about this topic, so I talked to my mom and did some research. This protest, called Protect Sudbury, is a fight against the corporate deforestation in my small town.

The company Eversource presented the idea of cutting down an eighty-foot wide field of trees and in it’s place, putting hundred foot poles carrying high-voltage transmission lines. The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Seating Board wants to ensure, “a reliable energy supply for the Commonwealth with a minimum impact on the environment at the lowest possible cost”. This is a funny and ironic statement because the low price of this project comes at the cost of the environment. In addition to concerns about deforestation, many people have spoken about their worries surrounding ideas such as possibly the health impacts of Eversource’s pesticides use plan, the effect of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from the transmission towers, the impact on home values and abutter rights, protected species that inhabit the forests that will be affected by the plan and more.

We have learned in and outside of class the negative impacts that deforestation has on our environment. Deforestation drives climate change, strips away habitats for animals, interferes with the water cycle and more. Although these impacts are remarkable to the environment, another devastating fact of this plan is that the appearance and character of my town would be changed forever.

It saddens me deeply to think that my small town could be taken over by a large company, determined to destroy the habitats of many and the natural beauty of the land. It is even more remarkable to me to think that on my drive to school everyday, that instead of passing trees I would be passing huge towers. I am very pleased that there are organizations such as Protect Sudbury working tirelessly towards stopping this plan.

If you are interested in getting involved or reading more about this topic, below is the Protect Sudbury website and it has a bunch of interesting blogs to read. A lot specifically on the negative impacts that this plan, if implemented, would have on the landscape and animals inhabiting it.

http://www.protectsudbury.org/

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Edible Utensils?

Think about the last time you ate a meal. You probably used utensils, right? And every day after you use utensils you either wash and reuse them or, if they are plastic, throw them away. Recently, a start-up company in India developed “Edible Cutlery” as they call it.

This project started because India is one of the highest users of disposable cutlery in the world, throwing away an impressive 120 billion plastic utensils away each year. The company designed the idea because they became concerned with the negative impacts that throwing away plastic has. Thrown away plastic is not biodegradable, so it sits there for long periods of time and can have extremely negative effects on the environment.

The spoons are designed so that they are edible, made only of millet, rice, wheat and water. They contain no preservatives and they can decompose in 4-5 days if not eaten. They are relatively cheap, costing only $4 for 100 utensils. Although this is slightly more expensive than plastic, it is worth it. The creator of Edible Cutlery expects that once he starts producing more utensils, the price will go down and be just as inexpensive as plastic utensils. This is a really amazing invention, and can be a really big step towards helping the environment and reducing the amount of plastic we use and dispose of. If you want to watch the video and read more about this the links are below:

 

To reduce plastic waste, this Indian startup thinks we should start using edible spoons

 

Climate Change Changing Allergies?

If you are anything like me, then your allergies always seem to get the best of you at least once or twice during the year. Allergies are caused by pollen and pollen makes some people sneeze because their immune system defends the body from it like it would a parasite. When pollen enters the body, the immune system tries to get rid of it through sneezing and other common symptoms.

Reports of allergies first started during the time of the industrial revolution. This is interesting, because as we have talked about in class, climate change spiked during this time. Scientists know that when plants are exposed to higher levels of CO2, they grow more aggressively and produce more pollen. The combined increasing levels of temperature and CO2 will also increase the amount of pollen produced and thus affecting allergies.

Here’s where it gets really bad: This doesn’t just affect people with allergies, but also those who don’t have them. People who already have allergies are more sensitized to them than those who have never had them before. Because they will continue to increase, people who don’t have pollen allergies already with start to have them. These symptoms can also include more asthma attacks for those who suffer from asthma.

That being said, there is a positive part to this blog post! Some scientist are suggesting that consuming honey is a natural way to make your allergy symptoms better. But the best way to keep from sneezing and sniffling too much is to keep your house clean and keep your windows closed.

http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Global-Warming/Global-Warming-is-Causing-Extreme-Weather/Allergies.aspx

read more about the conflict over the idea of whether or not consuming honey helps allergies here:

http://www.unitedallergyservices.com/will-honey-relieve-my-seasonal-allergies/

 

Killer Whales or Killing Whales?

I often times think about the trip that my family took to Sea World in San Diego, California because it was one of my favorite trips that we have ever taken. We walked around to the various exhibits and were amazed at the different things that the animals did. But, of course, the most memorable thing was seeing the famous “Shamu” act.

The show was amazing, and seeing what the trainers at Sea World could command Killer Whales to do was crazy. One of the things that sticks out the most for me, is seeing a video of Killer Whale and trainer accidents which explained how and why is usually happens. For a nine year old, this video was pretty alarming and it made me question why and how people get into this profession. But it also made me wonder why they capture these animals from their homes in the wild.

In recent news, it was announced that Sea World’s most famous Killer Whale, Tilikum, is dying. Veterinarians suspect that he has an infection in his lungs; although he is being treated for this, there is no cure for his illness.

Tilikum’s story was published in the documentary “Blackfish”, which raised awareness about the alleged mistreatment of animals at Sea World. He has been at Sea World for about 23 years and was taken from his wild family at the age of 2. During his time in captivity, he has been involved in three extremely public human deaths. It is suspected that Tilikum’s along with other wild orca’s aggression is a result of stress and confusion about being in captivity. Tilikum has been seen showing signs of stress such as floating in the water for hours (which is extremely abnormal for wild orcas) and breaking his teeth from biting on the side of his tank.

Tilikum’s condition is known to be more common in orcas in captivity because of stress and the poor water quality levels. Unfortunately, Tilikum’s illness is not the only one at Sea World right now. Five marine animals have died since last summer, including Tilikum’s daughter. Hopefully Tilikum will survive and recover, but it does make you wonder: maybe seeing these amazing animals perform in a tank is not worth the harm to them and it is just better to let them live their natural lives.

https://www.thedodo.com/seaworld-tilikum-sick-1649765261.html

 

 

 

K-Cups Killing the Planet?

Almost everybody these days has a Keurig Machine. I know my family has one, and we use it about 3 times a day. As a matter of fact, almost 1 in 3 American homes have pod-based coffee machines. But something I have never even thought about is: what happens to all those Keurig pods that we throw away? Well a campaign has begun called “Kill the K-Cup”. This organization is spreading news that K-Cups are severely harming our environment and their slogan is “Kill the K-Cup. Before it kills our planet.”

They get their slogan from a couple facts. One being that if you lined up all the K-Cups used in the year 2014 that it would circle the earth nearly a dozen times (That’s a lot of times). They are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable given that they are made up of a mixture of plastic and aluminum.

A spokesperson from the Keurig Company told the media that their goal is to have 100% of their K-Cups to be recyclable by 20/20. The creator of the Keurig has even been quoted saying, “I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use…Plus it’s not like drip coffee is hard to make.” In addition to campaigns like “Kill the K-Cup”, Hamberg, Germany launched a new green initiative that includes a ban of bottled water, beer, plastic plates and cutlery, and single-use coffee makers in government buildings. They came to this decision of banning machines like Keurigs because they cause “unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation”. Although so far the campaign to stop the production of K-Cups has been unsuccessful, and Hamberg is one of the only cities making bans like this, they will most likely not be the last as the news of their negative impacts is spreading quickly.
The comical video that the Kill the K-Cup organization has made to spread awareness along with other information can be found here: http://www.killthekcup.org/

The Biggest Ocean Cleanup in History

Recently I saw this video on Facebook about a man named Boyan Slat who was determined to find a way to clean up the ocean. He found his inspiration for The Ocean Cleanup Project when he was 16 years old. He was alarmed by the amount of plastic bags and trash that he found in the ocean when he was travelling and became determined to clean it all up. He wanted to fight the idea that there was no way to clean it up, but only a way to prevent it, so this is why he started the project.

The mission for this project is to clean up the millions of tons of plastic that are trapped in the oceans and clean up the 5 gyres that are filled with rotating plastic. The project has a three-step plan. The first is extraction. Boyan Slat designed a system where a contraption is attached to the bed of the sea, which allows the ocean to basically clean itself up by using the ocean’s currents. The second step is prevention in order to keep the waters clean, and they are doing this by raising awareness about ocean pollution. Finally, the third step is interception, to keep the polluted water from rivers from travelling into the ocean. So far they have completed the feasibility study and are half way through the model testing with 3-D testing.

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The first clean up barrier test is going to be places in the North Sea, off the shore of The Netherlands. This test is being used in order to see what the possible environmental affects that it might have. If all goes as planned, this project can completely clean up the Pacific Patch in 20 years, where as current efforts will take approximately 79,000 years. To me, this idea seems like a great plan because instead of sitting back and trying to prevent the problem from getting any worse, they are attacking the problem and attempting to provide a solution for the problem. More specific details about the project and the clean-up system’s design can be found on this website:

http://www.theoceancleanup.com/?gclid=CMOHq_T-_MoCFU1bhgodAA8F_w

 

Lead in Flint

About 70 miles away from the largest group of freshwater bodies in the world lies Flint, Michigan. Recently, a new epidemic has struck the area and that is that their tap water is completely contaminated.

Two years ago, for financial reasons, the state made the decision to switch their water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. This Flit River is known for being a tributary, which means that the water it receives flow from a connecting lake or larger stream of water. The water was turning shades of black and brown, but the most dangerous thing was something that the naked eye could not see. Lead was leaking into the water because so many service lines to homes are made of it in Flint, and because the water wasn’t properly treated it became contaminated very quickly.

Lead poisoning is dangerous for numerous reasons that can result in skin lesions, hair loss, vision loss, memory loss, depression and anxiety. Further research shows that exposure to Lead can affect a developing child’s IQ and result in learning disabilities. Flint switched their water supply back to Lake Huron this past October, but it has caused many issues for the states. A group of researchers discovered that the level of Lead in children’s blood was doubling and in some cases tripling. They are working hard to solve this problem; however, it is not an easy thing to fix.

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/10/see_step_by_step_how_lead_is_g.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/18917466-mmmain.jpg