What to do… What to do…

If it is important enough, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.

I believe in that quote, and recently, I believe the latter is happening more than the former. People end up not helping anyone as an excuse to be fair to everyone.

If you’re wondering how this quote weaseled its way into my post, then I’ll answer your question by saying this: saving the world is one of the causes you’d have to donate money to if you want results. Some people choose not to donate under the excuse that they can’t help everyone, and it would be unfair to donate to just one. But they’re kidding themelves- money we spend on ExxonMobil would be used better if we gave it to Feeding America. There are different ways to “save” the world: in the literal sense, we can join Greenpeace, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization focused on protecting oceans, saving endangered species, and stopping global warming. Or we can do more simple actions, such as creating a Christmas box for poor children all around the world or .

But we can’t always help. I know there have been times when our parents didn’t have cash on them to donate to the Salvation Army Bell Ringer, and we’d have to sadly walk past them. But there have also been times when we choose not to aid because of the “unfairness”. “How do you choose?” seems like a simple enough question. Not exactly. We can be suckered into pity pleas, or heart-tugging videos like the one below:

You should choose based on what your interests are. I’m particularly fond of children and the environment, so I got reminder emails from No Kid Hungry and Greenpeace, and I love giving change to Salvation Army Bell Ringers and people on the street.

Now that I’ve broken your excuse, you can’t say that you won’t help the environment because you have to worry about your job- they’re not exactly mutually exclusive. Helping one doesn’t mean you’re hurting the other. Carpooling to work isn’t going to waste you money- in fact, it’s doing quite the opposite. You only have to drive once a week if you have four other carpool members, so you can cut your gas bill by over 75%. And if you worry that you don’t have time, ask yourself- How much time does it take to turn off the lights when you leave a room? Here are some easy, helpful hints to be an effortless, green, smart-spender:

1) Turn off the water when you’re not using it (ie. brushing your teeth or shampooing your hair).

2) Check your carbon footprint to see where you could be saving energy and money!

3) Walk or bike places you don’t have to drive to (for example, I walk to a pizzeria that’s less than a mile away from where I live).

4) Carpool (check above).

5) Buy local- if you buy locally from farmers markets, the food doesn’t travel as far. This way, the farmers and sellers don’t have to charge you for the gas it takes to get to your plate.

7) Combine trips- drop off your kids from school on the way to work, go to CVS on the way back from school, etc. You already have a base distance you must travel to get to your destination- get your errands done on the way.

The point is, you can’t not donate because helping would be unfair. That’s like saying you won’t do any homework because you won’t have time to do any other homework. Donating can be one and done, or it can be long-lasting. It’s your choice, but deep inside, know you’re avoiding something and making an excuse.

no excuses

That’s right- the excuses stop here.

Red Tide

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Red Tide”? Well,I found an article that refers to the rapid reproduction of algae  a.k.a. “red tide”. Algae  can color large bodies of water red or green (the color depends on the species of algae). Recently in Australia, many beaches closed due to the bloody red water. So how dangerous are algae blooms? Some species of algae cause certain diseases or poisonings.

So can red tides hurt humans? It depends on the species that’s blooming, said Gilly. Blooms of certain dinoflagellates are associated with saxitoxin, a shellfish toxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in people. “If it’s in a harbor or contained bay, it’s probably a serious matter,” he said.

Algae not only hurts humans, algae blooms can harm the environment and all living in it severely:

Large red tides can be harmful to fish, said Lauren Freeman, a Ph.D. candidate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. “As the algae die and sink in the shallow coastal water, they decompose and oxygen is taken from the water column. This can lead to temporary low oxygen zones,” she added. These zones can kill marine animals if the oxygen depletion is severe enough.

The low oxygen zones are also known as dead zones. These dead zones can form anywhere the levels of algae increase.

Clovelly Beach in Australia

Clovelly Beach in Australia taken by Craig Greenhill

Once I read through the article, the little explanation of the cause of algae blooms inspired me to continue searching. I found another article that describes the reason of more recent algae blooms:

Read More…

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…

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.