Archive | November 2012

Today in History: An Eco-Killer Created

Today, we celebrate the creation of one of the world’s most ecologically destructive companies. On November 30, 1999 the world witnessed the merger of Exxon and Mobil, two of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, to create the world’s largest company, ExxonMobil. While this may have been seen as beneficial for the job market, it was certainly not beneficial for the environment.

In its 13 years of existence, ExxonMobil has been responsible for some of the worst eco-crimes on the planet, including (but not limited to) the horrendous Exxon-Valdez oil spill and the Greenpoint oil spill. And that’s not all.

Not only has ExxonMobil caused several eco-disasters, they have also funded climate skeptics with the intention of discrediting the work of climate scientists. This is a sad example of scientific bias as well as an unethical act.

Several groups have dedicated themselves to ending ExxonMobil’s unethical practices. Leading them in the fight is Greenpeace. Greenpeace has dedicated a section of their organization to research on ExxonMobil. Exxonsecrets documents the web of corruption that stems from ExxonMobil.

However, ExxonMobil remains untouched by the media, mainly because of its influence on the job market, as well as world economics and politics.

Read More…

Advertisements

Mercury Poisoning

In my Writers Workshop class we have been working on group projects for the last few weeks. We were able to pick any subject that we wanted. I was parted with three other Boys and we picked the topic of Mercury. Our full question is “How does the emission of Mercury impact the toxicity levels of water and our everyday life?” I guess you could say that the point of this blog post is for your responses. The problem is that we have to address a particular group of people, and we don’t know who to tell. I am going to give some of the information that we have received from researching and I just really want your comments on who you think that we should address.

To begin Mercury is the 80th Element on the Periodic Table. The symbol for Mercury is hg. Mercury is also the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. This substance can be found in things like coal. Now a Disadvantage of Mercury is that it can cause nervous system failures if large amounts of it are ingested. At times it can even cause death.

When Mercury gets into water small microbes absorb tiny fractions of it.  Then comes a series of unfortunate events. The next thing to happen is a small fish comes and eats thousands of the microbes resulting in that fish being poisoned. Next a bigger fish will come and eat the smaller fish  poisoning itself. Then a bigger fish eats the other bigger fish and is poisoned by the Mercury. This of course happens over and over again, but the fish that is impacted the most by Mercury poisoning would have to be the Tuna Fish. This occurs because tuna fish eat the most fish. This has to tie in to the last part of our question because the FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) has a limit on certain fish that women can eat. Tuna is one of the top fish that women are not aloud to eat. Another way that Mercury gets into the water is when coal is burned the mercury from the inside of the coal is released into the air and when it rains it falls into the water.The Dangers for pregnant women eating fish is extraordinary. First the Mercury will affect the mothers fetus, and it also can affect the mothers breast milk. This could lead to long -term brain issues. It can also cause birth defects such as hearing impairments and learning disabilities.

The notes that we have gotten so far really answer our question and help us better understand what Mercury Poison is and what it can do to you. Now the last thing is that we wanted to talk or share our message with High Schoolers and Junior High Students. Do you think that is the right group of people to talk to or do you think we should talk to adults and also in what form do you think we should present it. Comment to give your thoughts and opinions.

 

Storms and Ice…

As many of you may have noticed, there have been a significant number of severe storms in the past 10 years such as Hurricane Isaac, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. These storms have been devastating for many people, and have destroyed homes, jobs, and lives. The question raised is “Are these storms caused by global warming, and if so is this process anthropogenic?” As of right now, we do not have an exact answer, however; many climatologists believe they have evidence that proves these storms are happening due to anthropogenic global warming. Since global warming is warming the earth,  it is warming the ocean as well. The problem is, if a storm travels through a warm patch in the ocean, it can get increasingly more violent. This means if we can reduce global warming, we are saving these horrible storms from destroying our homes, jobs and lives.

“Global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding heavier, hurricanes stronger and droughts more severe.”

National Wildlife Foundation

Another giant problem due to global warming is melting ice. Ice and glaciers in places such as Greenland, the Arctic, Alaska and the Antarctic are losing ice at a rate 5 times faster than melting in the 1990’s. To top that off, melting is happening 60% faster than the United Nations predicted it would happen in 2007 (only five years ago). At this rate, most of Florida could be under water in the next 200-300 years. The problem is, many people will not start to care about this issue until timing is way too late. If we do not take steps to stop global warming soon, it will become too late.

I’m Right! No, I’m Right!

“It is very unnerving to be proven wrong, particularly when you are really right and the person who is really wrong is proving you wrong and proving himself, wrongly, right.” – Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book 

I think that we can all admit that we like to be right, right? Of course we can! See? I just did it there; I wanted to be right and assumed that I was. We humans do this all of the time. This is often compared to the famous television series Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. In various episodes, Wile E. Coyote is shown running off of a cliff, while chasing a roadrunner. The coyote comes to a halt as soon as he runs off of the cliff, and floats in mid air. The second the coyote looks down and realizes that there is no longer ground under his feet is the moment in which he falls. The Coyote doesn’t fall until he realizes that he is indeed, wrong. 

Two sides of an argument that are always going at it are Democrats and Republicans. Once again, neither party wants to be wrong, and will never confess to their “opponent” that they were being wrong. Neither candidate directly said that he believes in global warming and he plans to do something about it in his term. That would probably ruin their chances of becoming president, because many people don’t believe in global warming.

Adding on to the fact of being wrong, our Environmental Writing class recently talked to Dr. Heidi Cullen of the Weather Channel. She told us that there is one part of our brains that process immediate threats, like natural disasters. She says that the other part of our brain processes less immediate threats, which for some people is global warming. People don’t think of global warming as something that is dangerous, or as something that we need to worry about. 

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my family and I visited my grandparents in New Orleans, Louisiana, just as every year. As I have grown older, I have noticed that there are many differences between Atlanta and New Orleans. One that really sticks out in my mind is the fact that my grandparents and everyone on their entire street do not recycle. I know that I cannot blame them for this, for recycle bins are not convenient. The fact that there weren’t recycle bins was very different for me, because in some locations in Atlanta, there are recycling stations, and materials separate the bins. I am sure that New Orleans is not the only place without recycle bins everywhere, but I’m confident that there would have to be many changes made around the country, then around the world to start to lower the temperature of the place we call home; Earth. 

Let’s Shine Some Light On This Situation

I know that I believe that anthropogenic global warming is happening; the facts are just too hard to ignore. However, this climate crises might not have all negatives. In a report from the Science and Public Policy Institute, it shows that an increase in starch production in plants due to carbon dioxide is a very probable event, and also a very beneficial one to us.

“It is therefore likely that rising atmospheric CO2 levels will significantly boost starch production in plants, thereby increasing the availability of an important raw material that can be metabolized to help sustain enhanced growth under a variety of stressful situations.”

Most people believe that global warming has no good effects to our environment and destroys everything in its path. This article, however, shines some light on the situation. Because plants breathe carbon dioxide, an increase would give them more to breathe. That would increase their ability to produce starch; starch is a plants energy source. With more energy, plants could create new tools that could help us, the inhabitants of the Earth, in a variety of situations.

The plants could produce many things, each one differing from plant to plant. If a plant is currently used for medical reasons, then those healing properties could be enhanced when more energy is added to the mix. Trees used for construction could become stronger and grow bigger. Plants that produce fruit, vegetables, and other edible items could produce much more of their item. All of these situations would benefit us a lot. The only flaw would be if there were not enough plants to get rid of the carbon dioxide in the air.

The problem of global warming is a huge, widespread problem that would be very hard to cover up. More and more carbon dioxide gets added to the air each day, and not many people take notice to it. Trees and plants are destroyed in order to build more factories that produce harmful gasses. The uncertainty of what these plants could do is simply not worth the risk of adding carbon dioxide to the air; it causes too much damage.

The small light that plants producing more starch shines on global warming is not enough to eliminate the darkness. With new buildings being built on top of the homes of many plants and trees being cut down constantly for the use of their wood, plants would most likely not be able to help eliminate carbon dioxide from the air. They could still make lots of benefits to humans, but not to the environment. In the end, it all comes down to the Earth. Humans are constantly taking away resources and putting harmful gasses into the atmosphere. This is what led to global warming. If plants were not able to help out much then, they will not be able to do much in the future, where there will be even more carbon dioxide in the air.

The Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for us to spend with our families and take a step back and look at ourselves. When I take a step back, I see a country full of people that are stagnant. There is no progress, but progress is needed. I see people that are shallow, people that care more about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West moving in together than they do about world hunger and global warming. I also see a country full of hypocrites. People, like myself, that preach taking action, but never take action themselves.

Lastly, the holiday season is celebrating your religion. I am Christian. 78.4 percent of America is Christian, and 32 percent of the entire world is. One of the main rules that God had for Christians is to take care of the earth. This is not happening. Most if not all of our politicians are Christian, and they aren’t taking action either. Al Franken had this to say about Christians:

The point is that there is tremendous hypocrisy among the Christian right. And I think that Christian voters should start looking at global warming as a religious issue that speaks to the culture of life.

I agree with this whole-heartedly. We don’t think of global warming as something that can affect our daily lives, much less the expensive culture of our country. In order to take action, we are going to have to work together. We will have to put our differences aside, and isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?

Can California Save the World?

So maybe the title is overstating a bit. Okay, it’s a bunch of hyperbole. But there still is some truth within it. An article I read talked about how California passed two cap-and-trade bills fairly recently. Now, knowing what these bills will do (starting January) is important. Their main purpose is to put a price on nonrenewable energy. However, I would like to focus on something else: how California is now using these two cap-and-trade bills to hopefully lead the rest of America into taking action. Daniel Stone, author of the article, claims California has lead the rest of America environmentally before:

” [California] adopted the first automobile tailpipe emissions in the nation in 1966, four years before they were enacted by Congress. After the Arab oil embargo, California acted more quickly than the U.S. government to cut the waste of energy-hogging appliances, with efficiency standards signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1974. California’s standards were the model for the deal President Barack Obama forged with carmakers to double fuel economy to 55 miles per gallon by 2025.”

What he is saying here is that California has always been doing environmentally friendly things before the rest of America, and thereby leading America to start being eco-friendly. Truly, California is America’s greatest leader in terms of environmental protection.

California is also setting an example for how helping the environment won’t mess up the economy. In an earlier post of mine, The Economics of Global Warming: Why We Are All Doomed, I talked about how most eco-friendly solutions to energy would kind of mess up the economy. Well, thankfully California Governor Jerry Brown knows better:

The original idea of cap and trade was to create a flexible, business-friendly system . . . . Instead of imposing rigid regulations, or an explicit tax on carbon, the government either hands out or sells tradable “permits” . . . Each permit allows the holder to emit one ton of CO2, and the number of permits issued declines over time so that they become an ever-more-valuable commodity. Companies that can cut emissions quickly can profit by selling their permits to companies that are having a hard time

Essentially, because permits are limited, they become a potential source of income. If your company runs low on money then you can sell some of your permits to other companies. It creates an incentive to emit less greenhouse gasses so your business can get more money. I think that this is a very smart plan, as it can easily reduce carbon emissions by forcing companies low on money to emit less CO2.

So what we are hoping now, is that history will repeat itself and the rest of America will follow California’s example to become even more green. Because although it is doubtful that California will be able to motivate too many people outside the US, if all of America were to suddenly go green, then suddenly any business that wants to go to the US to gain popularity is forced to change their standards. And it doesn’t make any sense for one part of the company to be green while one isn’t. So the entire company will go green. And any other competing companies might be forced to change their standards to gain a bit more popularity. And it turns into a huge cause and effect. And California ends up saving the world. It will happen.