Single Use Plastics

Erik Engstrom- Building and Construction Technology

Hunter Chapdelaine- Building and Construction Technology

Meaghan Asklar- Animal Science

Ellie Card- Sustainable Food and Farming

Single Use Plastics are causing damage to marine life as well as human lives.

 

 

From the outside looking in, it is quite easy to overlook the catastrophic damage that single-use plastics are causing to not only marine life, but human beings as well. Furthermore, we tend to forget that, as humans, we are reliant upon the oceans that surround us for survival, and it is the responsibility of human beings to protect these oceans to the best of their ability. That being said, it is important to educate ourselves and those around us in terms of the severity of this particular problem along with how to combat it. One particular study that attempted to do so involved the examination of a group of 256 women at Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center from 2004 to 2014 during their medically assisted reproduction process. During this study, the researchers measured the different levels of concentration of 11 phthalate metabolites in the women’s urine around the approximate time of conception. For those that are unaware, phthalates are a group of chemicals used in order to produce plastics that are more flexible and durable (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). The results showed that women who possessed the highest concentrations of phthalates were 60% more at risk of losing their pregnancy prior to 20 weeks than the women with the lowest concentrations (Messerlian et al., 2016). It is important to understand that these phthalates that are appearing in the bodies of humans and causing irreversible, long-life damage are the result of single-use plastics, particularly plastic bags, being irresponsibly released into the oceans where they will break down and be consumed by fish that are later consumed by humans. Therefore, it is vital that humans do everything in their power to combat the issue of pollution that we have created and ultimately caused irreversible and life-altering damage to marine ecosystems and humans. Continue Reading

Hydroelectric Power in The Snake River

 

Samantha Bruha: Animal Science

Shane Murphy: Horticulture

Jake Schick: Building Construction Technology

Ashley Artwork: Building Construction Technology

The Nez Perce people reside on the Snake River in North Central Idaho and still practice a hunter-gatherer way of life (Smith, 2018).  In 1855, The United States Government and five Native American tribes residing in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho signed the Treaty of Walla Walla (Smith, 2018)  Since the the original treaty, the Nez Perce Tribe has retained the right to fish, to hunt, and to graze livestock on unclaimed lands outside of the reservation (Smith, 2018).  Due to the addition of hydroelectric dams, beginning in the 1950’s on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, the Nez Perce Tribe has suffered a great loss of fishing resources from the effects of dams on the Salmon populations (Quirke, 2017).  Elliott Moffett, a 65 year old member of the Nez Perce Tribe, fights for Salmon in the lower Snake River (Quirke, 2017). “‘I like to say we are like the Salmon, we need clean, cold, swift running water. And they don’t have that because the dams have impounded their river,’” Moffett states (Quirke, 2017).  Moffett and his fellow activists at the Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment organization, have dedicated their lives to defending the environment and the Nez Perce rights (Support|Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, 2018).  Every decision the tribe makes has “seven generations ahead” in mind and the scarcity of resources is making it harder and harder to teach future generations how to live off of the land (Support|Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, 2018).

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Education Saves Golf Course Pesticide Usage

Cameron B. Ventre (Turfgrass Science & Management)

John R. Nestro (Natural Resource Conservation)

 

On a bright and sunny day in Arlington Virginia nearing the end of August, 30-year-old Navy Lieutenant George Prior heads to the Army Navy Country Club to play a few rounds of golf.  Afterwards he heads home and starts to experience flu-like symptoms and became uncharacteristically irritable for no apparent reason according to his wife Liza. His third day on the golf course he began to feel seriously ill with a rash spreading from his stomach which turned into blisters by the next day.  Doctors aren’t able to diagnose him and they can’t seem to understand why his internal organs are beginning to fail. After two weeks of being in the hospital, Lieutenant George Prior dies of a heart attack, but by that time his wife Liza says he was a “hideously disfigured shell of a man” and “death was a merciful escape.” Continue Reading

The Effects of Sunscreen on Coral Reefs

As coral bleaching continues, scientists and marine biologists   become desperate to preserve these natural wonders.

Coral reefs are known for their extreme beauty. From their vast array of shades in red, orange and pink, coral reefs have caught the eyes of millions for countless decades. Coral reefs much like The Great Barrier Reef provide food and shelter for numerous marine species. From sea sponges and anemones, to fish and crustaceans, sea turtles and even sharks, coral reefs provide housing, food and successful reproduction opportunities for all who inhabit it (SeaWorld Entertainment, S. P., 2017). Stretching 2,600 kilometers and containing over 900 islands The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef ecosystem (“Facts About The Great Barrier Reef”, n.d.). Unfortunately, as tourists from all areas of the world continue to visit, discover and explore these natural wonders, their presence causes deterioration and possible extinction of these coral reefs. These natural beauties, although resourceful and essential, can be extremely sensitive and fragile through exposure to environmental pressures. All populations within the reef ecosystem are interdependent and a part of a global food web. A thriving coral reef is beneficial to humans, aquatic plants, fish and other organisms but coral reefs are at risk due to tourism. Due to this risk the organisms that inhabit these reefs are exposed to danger through the possibility of losing shelter, thus exposing them to predation, and possible population decline. Coral reefs that are especially at risk are those in the Florida Keys and Hawaii. These reefs, although not as large as the Great Barrier Reef, are vital to the ecosystem in which they live and are at significant risk due to being heavily visited by tourist. Through their routine of sunscreen application, tourist successfully protect themselves from harmful UV rays but ironically and ignorantly pose a significant threat to the very reefs they seek to enjoy. Continue Reading

How Farming Oysters Impacts the Ocean

 

Oyster Farmer Chris Whitehead adjusting oyster cages

The district was blindsided by the lawsuit. The National Audubon Society, which is a non-profit organization that aims to fight for the conservation of the environment (“Audubon”, 2016) along with the California Waterfowl Association, sued the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District (Kraft 2017). Humboldt Bay is an important stop for migratory birds to eat and rest on the Pacific Flyway, the path of migration for many birds (Simms, 2017).The Audubon society was outraged by the unjust approval for the expansion of a commercial oyster farm (owned by Coast Seafoods and Co) into the Humboldt Bay Harbor that would hurt Canada geese, Western sandpipers, and other migratory birds (Kraft, 2017). The Audubon society claimed that a faulty environmental report was used by the Conservation District to approve the expansion, and that 200 species of birds, 300 species of invertebrates, and over 100 plant species, including eelgrass, would be affected by this expansion (Kraft, 2017). Why does a decline of a 100 small plant species, like eelgrass, matter? Eelgrass supports a multitude of marine organisms and communities, including but not limited to: crabs, sea turtles, young herring, and other microorganisms through acting as food and shelter. With the expansion of aquaculture as a business, about half of the bay would incorporate wire-like structures (Kraft, 2017). Certain methods to harvest oysters trample eelgrass in the process, which for a species already in extensive decline on the west coast, could have detrimental impacts on the ecosystem as a whole (Kraft, 2017). The spokesperson for the Audubon society, Mike Lynes, points to the fact that with a decline of eelgrass comes a decline of certain birds like the black brant and a decline in certain fish as well (Kraft, 2017). Any decline in a resident species in a habitat will affect the food chain and natural flow of the ecosystem. As if not already expected, the general manager of Coast Seafoods denied that the environmental report was faulty and insisted that the proper measures were taken to evaluate the environmental impact the expansion would have on the Humboldt Bay Harbor (Kraft, 2017). Due to the risk of negative alterations to the seagrass life cycle by oyster aquaculture, the size and number of oyster aquaculture farms must be limited in location and method of farming. Continue Reading

Dealing with Coal Mining Effects

In an area of lush green wildlife and rolling mountains, disaster plagues the lives of many who live in the Adirondack area. Not only does mountaintop removal destroy the beautiful landscape that many residents treasure, but it leaves these people with alarming conditions everyday. Maria Gunnoe of Bobwhite, West Virginia, raised by a coal mining family and left land to raise her own family on, lives in constant fear of a disaster waiting to happen. Due to a mountaintop removal project launched in 2000, Maria’s property flooded 7 times in 3 years, even washing away the access bridge to her street and the family’s dog. Because of the threatening conditions, Maria has stated that her children go to sleep prepared to be ready at a moment’s notice to leave their house whenever heavy rain ensues. Now living in a community wrecked by land degradation and poverty, Maria cannot afford nor find anyone to buy her property and cannot provide her family with simple resources, such as clean water (Palone, 2013). Rather than fleeing and giving her community over to the coal companies, Maria is a leader in the movement to end mountaintop removal and organizes to strengthen legislation that is supposed to protect her rights. “This is absolutely against everything that America stands for. And I know that we have better options than this. We do not have to blow up our mountains and poison our water to create energy. I will be here to fight for our rights. My family is here, we’ve been here for the past 10 generations, and we’re not leaving. We will continue to demand better for our children’s future in all that we do” (Mountain Heroes: Maria Gunnoe, 2012, p. 1).

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Green Roofs Effects on Urban Environments

 

 

Green roof, in France

Isabelle Kendall, Hasan Sabri & Bailey Michell

People over 65 make up a significant portion of the United States population, and the number increases every year. By 2040, the amount of people 65 and older in our population will go from 41 million to around 80 million (Kenney, Craighead, & Alexander, 2014, p. 6). This demographic is at great risk for heat related illnesses and death due to the increasing heat indices of our planet (Conti et al., 2005). A heat index is what the combination of temperature and humidity feel like to human beings, and as temperatures rise so do indices (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], 2016). Although the elderly are the most afflicted by heat induced mortality, it can happen to anyone: young or old, rich or poor. Heat waves in Chicago, Tokyo and many other cities have caused fatalities among a variety of individuals. For instance, in the summer of 2003, over 70,000 Europeans passed away during a single heat wave (Knox, 2007). Heat waves are becoming more frequent and more devastating. During a heat wave in Chicago there were nearly 700 more heat related deaths recorded than during a heat wave one year before (Whitman et al., 1997). The increased temperatures that lead to heat related fatalities and other heat related injuries are caused by the expansion of cities across the globe, and more specifically, the materials used to construct these expansions. Materials used include gravel, cement, and asphalt. These impermeable substances that make up urban surfaces like sidewalks, roads, and traditional buildings’ roofs absorb and retain solar radiation during the day then release heat gradually at night increasing surrounding air temperatures into the next day (Knox, 2007). This temperature phenomenon is called the urban heat island (UHI) effect because it causes temperatures in urban areas to be much higher than those in the rural areas around them (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2016). During summer months, the surface of a conventional roof can be as much as 50 º C (90 º F) hotter than ambient air temperatures (Liu & Baskaran, 2003). An article from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) states that in the 1800s, only three percent of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2008, half of the global population lived in cities, and by 2050, almost 70% of the world’s population will be urbanized (Population Reference Bureau, n.d.). Since the population is continuously growing, it is plain to see that any problems facing cities now will affect a staggeringly larger proportion of people over time. Thus, finding solutions to those problems like heat waves, which occur most frequently in cities, will be an integral part of future city living. Continue Reading

Polyculture (IMTA), a better way to produce fish

 

Aquaculture of the Future

Kendall Sarapas – Natural Resource Conservation Wildlife

Alexis Duda – Sustainable Food & Farming

Aaron Johnson – Building and Construction Technology

The fishing industry has been important since the dawn of mankind, being a rich and reliable food source. One of my first fishing voyages was with my grandpa on his boat in the sea. He was an avid fisherman who went fishing quite often. I caught my first salmon on his boat which made me want to explore the world of salmon. As soon as I saw the tip of the fishing pole point down towards the water I ran over. I started reeling in what felt like a ton of bricks on the other end dragging me to the side of the boat. I clenched on to that pole with all of my strength and reeled in the massive salmon very slowly. The weight of the fish on the hook squirming around below the water was a struggle for any ten year old to handle. My grandpa came running over and helped me reel in the salmon. That weekend we chopped up the salmon and cooked it for dinner. After that first salmon was caught, I needed to know more about their way of life. Continue Reading

The Effects of Snow Removal on the Environment

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Murphy, K. (2014). Crews load salt into a plow truck in Salt Lake City on Nov. 13.[Photograph].http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/13/kostigen-ice-road-technology/20239695/

Jeremy Chaitin, BCT. Brennah Beaupre, Wildlife . Dakota Horton, Horticulture.

 

What Happens To Road Salt Come Winter’s End?

Science reporter Joseph Stromberg (2014) said, “It’s estimated that over 22 million tons of salt are scattered on the roads of the U.S. annually- about 137 pounds of salt for every American” (p.1). Just like Stromberg (2014) we propose the question, Where does it go after that? When looking at road salt as a product it seems so harmless, all it does is melt ice for our convenience and safety. Besides its convenience, what about when the salt is washed away come springtime and the salt ends up drifting into the water and wetlands? Doesn’t 137 pounds per person seem a bit excessive and wasteful? According to Ramakrishna & Viraraghavan (2005) “[A]pproximately 9 to 10 million tons of sodium chloride, 0.3 million tons of calcium chloride and 11 million tons of abrasives are used annually. Highway salting rates range from 400 to 800 pounds of salts per mile of highway per application, and many roads annually receive more than 50 tons per mile” (Ramakrishna,D.M. & Viraraghavan,T. (2005), p 50). Those numbers make it clear that road salt is used in large, excessive quantities.

The department of public works in your respected city, county,or state executes snow removal in your area. Their job is to clear roadways and make them safe for public access before, during, or after a storm. Sometimes there is so much snow that the snowfall begins to affect homes and not only the roads.

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The Effect of Pesticides on Water Quality

By Jessica Kuhr (Geology), Mallory Larcom (NRC), and Laura Noe (Animal Science)

Agricultural Pesticides: Worth the Risk?

Limoeiro do Norte, Brazil, was once known only for its poverty— but in the 1990’s, the town was dragged up from destitution by an influx of agricultural industry. The growth of farming in this remote countryside city brought new jobs and fresh starts to the people who lived there, however there were darker side effects as well. July of 2008 marked the beginning of a descent into hell for one citizen of Limoeiro do Norte and his family. Vanderlei Matos da Silva, an employee of  Fresh Del Monte Produce, began to complain of headaches, fever, and jaundice that summer, and his condition continued to deteriorate in the following months, making him unable to work and eventually forcing him into a hospital in the city, miles away from his home and family (Prada, 2015).

By the time his wife and infant son were ringing in a new year, Silva had succumbed to multiple organ failure and hemorrhaging; a man who had been a healthy, loving father and husband less than six months before now lay dead after a long and painful fight for his life. Fresh Del Monte Produce was taken to court by Silva’s widow, and testimony began to unravel a story of hazardous working conditions and cover-ups, as well as the use of a pesticide which, though legal in Brazil, has been banned in numerous countries and it considered to be “highly poisonous” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In 2013, five years after the death of Vanderlei Matos da Silva, Fresh Del Monte Produce was ordered to pay $110,000 in damages to his widow to atone for her husband’s untimely death (Prada, 2015). Continue Reading