There was once an illusion that certain areas of the world were pristine, and still untouched by human influence. However, according to Dan Ferber in his article, “Sperm Whales Bear Testimony to Ocean Pollution,” pollutants have been found in many mammals, including sperm whales. Persistent organic pollutants (POP), and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), were among the pollutants found in sperm whales of the Pacific by the Odyssey research vessel. The Data was collected over a five year period, by shooting sperm whales with arrows to retrieve specimens of skin and blubber. The 424 samples that were obtained were then analyzed by Celine Godard of the University of Southern Maine. The reports came back showing that the whales tested near Mexico, and California, had twice the normal level of the enzyme CYP1A1. The enzymes function is to help rid the organism of toxic pollutants. Additionally, ecotoxicologist David Evers found that mercury levels varied in sperm whales according to the region they were found. Ever’s believes that this data could be used to measure pollution levels of mercury in different regions. The data collected from the research in Ferber’s article points out just how interconnected the web of life really is. Just as air pollution has affected many organisms on land, water pollution has affected many organisms in the sea. From the tiniest plankton, to the giant sperm whale, none of the creatures of the ocean have been able to escape unscathed by the actions of humankind.
“Electric Bugaboo” by Tim Dickinson presents the fight over renewable energy development, and attempts to convince the reader that large-scale renewable energy projects are not something that we should be resisting. Although both sides have good points, I personally agree with the author because the corporations involved are environmentally conscious, are willing to work with the environmentalist organizations, and because we need to reduce our oil dependency.
On the one side, environmentalists are fighting the development of large projects. These environmentalists believe that the projects will disturb migratory routes, encroach on habitats, or disturb traditional lands.
On the other side, proponents believe that these projects are a good thing. They argue that without them, we will never reduce our dependency on oil products by an appreciable amount. The author also points out that the CEO’s behind these projects are trying to preserve the environment, and are willing to work with the environmentalist organizations to accomplish that.
According to the author some of the CEO’s behind the projects have environmentally friendly mindsets. They are looking for solutions to our current environmental conditions. They believe that they can reduce our dependency on oil without a significant environmental impact.
He also points out the fact that the corporations are frequently working with some of the environmentalist organizations to minimize their impact.
Finally, the author maintains that the projects are a good thing, because the threat of global warming is much greater than the environmental impact that these projects would have.
The author seems to be very knowledgeable on the subject matter and presents a well thought argument with plenty of supporting information.
Global Warming: Just Let the Planet Go to the Cows
When we take a close look at our planet it may be easy for some to recognize the state of decline our planet it is in. Some of the signs of decline are the terrible heat waves, grueling storms, out of control fires, and devastating floods (Kluger, 2007, p. 1).The rampant use of natural resources has a very large effect on the climate of the planet. Many people have noticed that the weather has been warmer lately. In 1995 Garratt (1995) reported that it is possible that the past ten years on Earth were possibly the warmest out of the past six hundred years (p. 41). One cannot help but wonder if the human race will be nearing extinction in twenty years. Will our planet be flooded with water because all of the glaciers have melted? Will the rays of the sun be so harsh due to ozone depletion that we must avoid going outdoors as much as possible? Our Earth is in trouble. Global warming is defined as the warming of the entire Earth. Rogers (2008) states that scientists have listed five categories that will be affected by global warming. These categories are water, food, the temperature, our ecosystem, and health (p.203). These are all things that affect the sustainability of life. If we do not stop destroying our planet, there may not be a planet able to sustain the lives of our future generations. In essence, we are not only destroying the life out of our planet, but we might even be taking away the very lives of our future generations. If we do not take care of our planet, then our planet will not be capable of sustaining life. Once the planet has reached a certain level of climate change, and resources such as forests have been completely annihilated, we will most likely never be able to restore things back to their natural order (Simpson, 2009, p. 343). Scientists have come up with many ideas to try and save our planet. According to Stainer and Takoyuki, one idea that scientists have come up with is to cover the desserts and possibly ocean waters in reflective sheeting that will reflect the sun’s rays back off of the Earth (p. 431). Although many people have started going green, the problem of global warming is continuing to intensify because of ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions, continued global deforestation, and the rampant burning of fossil fuels.
Going green has never been so fashionable. Many celebrities are publicly showing their support by reducing their carbon footprints. According to The Carbon Footprint, a carbon footprint is essentially the measurement of how much greenhouse gas an individual produces (p.1). With global warming being such a large problem, why is it that not everyone is jumping at the chance to save the planet? One reason is that there are different opinions as to whether or not global warming is even being caused by humans, or if it is just the natural cycle of nature. Charles Keller (2009) states that some people question the validity of the science behind the theory of global warming. They wonder if perhaps our current global warming is the same as the global warming that occurred during the Medieval Warming Period (p.41). Some people wonder if the sun might hold more responsibility for global warming than greenhouse gases. Science has proven that greenhouse gasses are making a very large contribution to the causation of global warming. How is it that humans are making such a massive contribution to global warming? Gases are being produced as a reaction to the things that humans do on Earth and are being trapped in the ozone layer. Finlayson-Pitts explains that gases and particles caught in the ozone layer affect the climate. Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are some of the worst gases that can be found in the ozone layer. These gases are called greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases contribute to heating up the atmosphere and causing global warming. Daynes and Sussman (2005) state in The “Greenless” Response to Global Warming, that a study done by the National Research Council states that while some greenhouse gasses occur due to natural causes, most are caused by the human population (p.439).
According to Schellnhuber (2008), not only do scientists state that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming, but there is no way for us to control the fact that the water levels are going to rise, regardless of the action we take now. We can only hope to keep the water from rising even further than it will at the projected 2.4 degree temperature increase. If we start decreasing CO2 levels now, we may be able to keep the global temperature from warming more than 2.4 degrees. At a 2.4 degree increase, sea levels will be expected to rise several meters (p. 14239). Schellnhuber (2008) says that a two degree temperature change will result in something people have only seen in science fiction. If we take action now, we may be able to hold global warming down under a two degree increase. In order to make this possible, we would have to completely stop carbon dioxide emission by 2100 and extract CO2 from the atmosphere (p. 14239). Perhaps this may sound like a great deal of work, but it would be much better than the water on the planet rising so much that it becomes a terrible atrocity to the world. The water rising to these high levels will result in a very large portion of Earth’s land mass being swallowed up and taken over by water. Cities will flood and people will have to find new homes. When looking at the devastation that occurred in an advanced country such as the United States when New Orleans flooded, it can be easy to imagine the devastation that extreme flooding would have on the world. Many places in the world are not as equipped to deal with these types of emergencies as the United States. Many people died, violence ensued, homes were lost, and many individuals became sick. Many of the people that were victims of this flood have still not been able to return home, several years later. If extreme flooding were to happen in the world one could only imagine the war and devastation that might ensue. Imagine if the scientists who foretell that eighty percent of the Earth will be overcome by water are correct. Entire countries would be wiped out. There would not be enough land mass to provide homes for all of the people in the world. Countries would go to war over the remaining land mass.
One of the largest sources of greenhouse gasses is vehicle emissions. A large portion of the methane gas that can be found in the ozone is from animal manure. A very large portion of this manure is produced by cows. Why is it that methane gas that originates from cow manure is considered to be a human activity that is attributing to the causation of global warming? Humans eat a very large quantity of meat. Meat comes from livestock, which produces so much manure that it takes up acre after acre of farmland. of manure. How can people help? Any person that consumes meat can make a major contribution to saving the Earth by giving up or reducing their meat intake. If human consumption of meat were not so rampant, than there would not be so much manure available to release methane gas into the ozone layer. With a global reduction in meat consumption there would not be need to raise as much livestock to satisfy the seemingly insatiable appetite people have for meat.
Reducing global meat consumption also reduces the need to raise so many animals for food. Having less animals to feed will mean that fewer crops must be grown to feed these animals. Crops that are grown strictly for livestock use currently take up a very large percent of the land mass that is currently utilized for growing crops. It also takes a very large quantity of fossil fuels to transport the food these animals require. The animals themselves increase fossil fuel use as well. The livestock must often be transported before they ever become meat. Once the animal has become meat it must be transported to many different places before it ends up on the shelf at the local supermarket.
Deforestation also contributes greatly to the growing epidemic of global warming. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, deforestation has a major impact on global warming. Deforestation, according to Brown (1991), contributes greatly to the massive amount of gases that are heating up the Earth’s ozone layer (p. 445). One reason that trees are chopped down is so that room can be made to grow crops to feed livestock. Trees are also chopped down so that there is wood to build homes, wood for furniture, and wood for all of the other things people may want and or need. As the human population expands, forests are cut down to make room for more housing and businesses. Many people have taken a stand against deforestation. Unfortunately, the amount of people who are unaware of the effects that deforestation has on the ozone layer greatly outnumber the those who are aware and fighting for the survival of the planet.
At the current rate of consumption, the world has about thirty-nine years before it runs out of oil. Oil is a fossil fuel that when burned has a very large negative impact on the ozone layer. Other fossil fuels are coal and natural gas. Vehicles, power plants, and furnaces are just a few of the things that use fossil fuels as their energy source. Perera (2008), explains that fossil fuels will have the greatest negative impact on fetuses and children. The effects of global warming that fossil fuel usage will cause natural disasters such as floods. Fossil fuels will also pollute the air and increase disease (p. 987). Hobson (2010) states that fossil fuels cause most of the CO2 built up in the atmosphere. CO2 absorbs radiation, thus contributing largely to the greenhouse effect (p. 77). According to E. La Rovere and A. Simoes (2008), the world needs to quickly implement a renewable energy source. A renewable energy source will benefit the planet because large industrialized countries can than cut back on greenhouse gases by using renewable energy. It can affect the poor non-industrialized countries positively because it is more likely that renewable energy will be cheaper than the cost of fossil fuels (p. 2).
We are knowingly killing our Earth. The problem that is called global warming, and all of the issues that come with it, continues to worsen with each generation. Will we be able to save our planet from global warming? Which generation will be forced to step up to the plate? Will we miss the opportunity to fix the problem and be forced to watch as global warming becomes out of control? Greenhouse gases such as methane from cows are still damaging the ozone layer. Trees are continuing to be cut down. The population is still highly dependent on fossil fuels. In fact, the rate of fossil fuel consumption only continues to grow as time progresses. The gas that is produced by these fossil fuels is continuing to build up in the ozone layer, trapping heat, and warming up the globe. How can we help reduce the gases that are building up in our atmosphere? As a society we can try to help reduce our carbon footprints to help get global warming under control. One way for someone to reduce their carbon footprint is to decrease their use of fossil fuels. Research done by Gardner and Stern (2008) shows that transportation uses up about forty percent of the fossil fuels that are being used in the United States. Heating and air conditioning in homes uses up another twenty-five percent (p. 17).Turning the temperature down a little in the house or workplace, taking the carpool to work, and reducing consumption of meat are all great ways to help the planet. If enough people do not do their part to save the planet from global warming there will continue to be miles of cow manure leaking methane gas into the ozone layer.
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Support cost effective and environmentally sound modes of transportation at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Ridesharing, two or more people sharing a vehicle to get to the same destination, is a positive transportation alternative that is cost effect and environmentally sound. Between faculty, staff, and students, UAF has approximately 4,000 commuters driving to campus on a daily basis. Although ridesharing is not currently popular in Fairbanks, the UAF Staff Council should establish a rideshare program because it would decrease campus parking issues, encourage sustainability awareness, and positively impact air quality concerns.
While there are multiple reasons to take advantage of ridesharing opportunities, one of the most attractive at UAF would be minimizing parking issues. A standard parking decal costs approximately $250 on an annual basis. Rideshare parties could agree to split that cost, saving $125 annually immediately. In addition, parking places close to offices and shuttle stops are few and far between. If even 10 percent of current commuters elect to ride share, 400 parking spaces will open up. Due to the perceived shortage of parking on campus, UAF’s future improvement plan calls for a new parking garage at the cost of approximately $20 million. If the shortage of parking becomes less of an issue, that $20 million could be spent on other, more worthwhile projects.
Sustainability is an immense issue. Again, by eliminating 10 percent of the vehicles that come to campus, 400 people will lessen their dependence on oil and gas and wear and tear on their vehicles. In addition, each individual pollution footprint will decrease. Each small savings is a step towards saving the earth. In addition, Fairbanks has severe air quality concerns. Cold winter days cause an inversion that leaves a smog layer hovering over Fairbanks. Decreasing the amount of cars and exhaust on the road and decreasing the number of idling cars will positively impact air quality.
There are many other benefits to ridesharing. If rideshare partners work within the same organization, getting to know fellow employees and increasing social contact can make for a more positive work environment. Next, commuting is a stress related activity, so less time behind the wheel means less stress. Finally, reducing expenses beyond the parking decal issue, such as gas, oil and car maintenance is a major benefit.
These few reasons are enough to suggest that the UAF Staff Council should establish and strongly support a rideshare program. The first step in establishing a successful rideshare program is forming a small committee responsible for the set-up and marketing of the program. Committee duties would include either creating a web-page or joining an online rideshare matching site such as eRideShare.com, in addition to continued marketing of the website and the benefits of ridesharing. If the program takes off, the committee could lobby for incentives from UAF such as parking priority or discounts on campus.
eRideShare.com is a national rideshare website that links potential rideshare matches. The service offers marketing materials that could be posted on every bulletin board on campus. UAF also offers many ways to disseminate information such as the electronic Cornerstone Newsletter and global emails to listservs that include all staff, students, and faculty. A request could be made to Parking Services to incorporate information on their web-page, and a link to the online matching service.
In order to implement this proposal, the first step would be to meet with the Staff Council and provide information on the proposed program and the processes necessary to implementation. Appointment of a small committee responsible for the start up and ongoing tasks necessary to implementation will be the next step.
Dissemination of information on ridesharing programs will also be helpful to answer questions concerning safety, appropriate procedures and rules, and the possible benefits of participation. Safety issues will need to be addressed upfront. While online matching is available, the committee will stress the necessity of meeting the potential rideshare partner prior to that first ride. Procedures and rules could include how much to pay, when payment is due, where rideshare partners meet, and how long to wait if a partner is late. Potential benefits would need the support of UAF’s administration; however the program can run sufficiently without potential benefits. Such incentives and benefits could include decreased pricing on parking decals, priority parking spaces made available to rideshare participants, and recognition of participants as those doing their part to save the environment.
A ridesharing program at UAF will be fairly simple to implement and will have large impacts on the individuals involved and the community at large. Less traffic, less smog, and less driving stress can only make UAF a better place to work, and Fairbanks a better place to live.
The website Kleen Kanteen is a website that basically sells clean canteens. This website is mostly geared towards people who are aware of the health problems that can arise when a person drinks water from reusable bottles that contain a chemical called bisphenal-a (BPA). BPA has been attributed to being an endocrine disruptor, and is found to be most dangerous to in children, babies, and fetuses.
Kleen Kanteen promises that their bottles are BPA free. This website very effectively conveys that their products are safe for consumers to consume beverage from. Thee website also does a great job of explaining why BPA is dangerous for human to consume. Kleen Kanteen also sells water filters that fit onto their water bottles. These water filters will remove particles, bacterium, and protozoans that may be found in water.
This website fills a much needed niche. When a person who owns one of these water filters is out hiking and comes across a river or stream they will be able to filter the water into their water bottle and know that it is safe to drink. One source of water contamination could be animals going to the bathroom in the water. This website also fills a niche by allowing consumers to purchase water bottles that are BPA free.
This website implicates that people should be filtering their water when they are getting it from sources that are not already purified. Another environmental implication that applies more to the environment around us, rather than our natural environment, is that there are probably more than likely a lot of water bottles in use that contain BPA.
The purpose of this website is great. It is helping people stay healthy and enabling them to take comfort in knowing that they can buy a water bottle that will not make them sick.
In 2009 the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) discovered that a lot of the food being sold contains mercury. Author Alexandra Gross explains in the journal article, Eating Mercury, that mercury can be deadly to humans because it attacks the nervous system. Mercury was actually discovered in forty-five percent of the foods tested by the FDA in 2005. Mercury was discovered in seventeen of the fifty-five foods that were tested in 2008.
How is mercury even getting into these foods? Old machinery that was used to convert corn products to high fructose corn syrup use mercury cell technology. The use of mercury cell technology allows mercury to get into the high fructose corn syrup. Is mercury cell technology derived from organic or inorganic mercury? If it is derived from inorganic mercury would it be safe to assume that the mercury that is getting into these foods is going to be inorganic? Are all forms of inorganic mercury safer than organic mercury? Could the food that is being contaminated by mercury be getting contaminated from a source other than the plants that are utilizing mercury cell technology?
None of the foods have been pulled from the shelves because companies are trying to prove that the IATP research is not dependable. The type of mercury that is most dangerous for consumption is organic mercury. The test results to not differentiate as to whether or not it is organic or inorganic mercury that has been found in the food. Should the manufacturers be required to remove all these foods from the shelves until a more complete research effort has been executed? The research proving that mercury can be found in foods containing high fructose corn syrup was completed in 2005 and 2008. Has the FDA investigated these findings to find out whether or not the mercury found in these foods is either organic or inorganic? Was there any followup between the discovery of mercury in food between 2005 and 2008?
The FDA says that more than likely it is inorganic mercury that is in these foods. Inorganic mercury poses less of a threat than organic mercury because the body does not absorb about ninety percent of it. Organic mercury is predominantly found in fish products. Although it seems like it is most likely inorganic mercury that is found in our food, it would be really great if we knew for sure. Perhaps a search of more current sources will reveal updated data that answers all of these questions. There does not seem to be a lot of talk about people dying of mercury poisoning in the news. With the large amount of products that contain high fructose corn syrup, a person could assume that if there are a large amount of foods that are contaminated with organic mercury we would probably know by now. In order for that assumption to have merit we would have to know how much organic mercury a person would need to consume over a period of time before they would be diagnosed with mercury poisoning.
In 2002 about thirty thousand salmon died in the Klamath River. The journal article entitled, Reuniting a River, by author Russ Rymer explains how the Klamath River having dams placed in it has upset the local fishing and farming industries that depend on it. The dams provide electricity for about seventy thousand residents. However, it is thought that the dams cause the river to be warmer and allowing bacterium and fungi to grow infecting and killing salmon. The farmers are having difficulty because there just is not as much water to irrigate plants as there used to be before the dams were built. A lot of talk about whether or not the dam should be taken down has gone on between farmers, fishermen, people of the community, and the owners of the dams. So far, the dams are still in place.
One thing that this article did not discuss is whether or not the electricity that is provided by these dams could be easily replaced by another source. If so, it would make sense to stop using the dams. Not only is it affecting the fishermen and farmers, but the salmon found in the Klamath River also become an endangered species because so many of them were dying.
If the electricity that is provided by these dams is not easily replaced, perhaps a new power plant can be built so that the dams can be taken down. The farmers that are depending on the water from the river are not new to the area. They have been there all of their lives. For some of these farmers their farms are a legacy that has been passed down for a couple of generations.
However, the dams are a great source of energy that do not cause the kind of harm that a power plant will by polluting and burning fossil fuels. There are a lot of different things that have to be weighed in order to decided what the best outcome will be for this community. Perhaps there is another source of energy besides a power plant that could be utilized?
In the journal, The Need for sustainability, author Peter McLean defines the need for sustainability and discusses how a biology teacher can impact a person’s view of nature and sustainable living. McLean recalls personal experiences from his biology class that appear to have given him an appreciation for the simple things in nature. His teacher taught him to watch the birds, pay attention to colors, and enjoy the different smells of nature. His also learned how different aspects of nature are entwined with other functions and aspects of nature. Small things we do not think about are a part of the big picture.
This article is a call to all biology teachers asking them to help people understand how vulnerable and precious nature is. Biology teachers should teach students how our natural resources are getting used up at a very fast rate. It is important that people know we cannot sustain our lifestyles, or perhaps our very lives, if we continue to gobble up these resources. The population has doubled in the last fifty years. As our population grows our natural resources are dwindling fast. McLean states that not only should biology teachers teach people to appreciate our natural resources, but to also teach them how to reduce their carbon footprint.
This article talks about how our rampant use of natural resources is leading us towards global warming. Although we should try to maintain our natural resources and not use them all up, are we really facing global warming because we are using up our natural resources? Is global warming just a natural cycle the planet goes through? Are the computers that calculate the data we put into them accurate when they tell scientists that we are facing global warming? Whether it is or not, there are still many other reason why we should try to live sustainably. Many parts of the ecosystem are linked to one another and it can collapse in a domino effect if we do not take care of our resources.
It would be great if biology teachers were able to impart this wonderful lesson to their students. But, it is going to take more than biology teachers to make sure everyone understands and appreciates our resources. It is going to take everyone that already appreciates nature and understand the consequences to help teach those that do not know and understand.
Our Eighth Continent: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
A combined effort by the people of the world has finally created an eighth continent! This continent would not be a pleasant place to live, as it is made up of all of our unwanted filth, also known as marine litter. Marine litter has been defined as solid materials of human origin discarded at sea, or reaching the sea through waterways (Aliani & Molcard, 2003). This litter gets stuck in a swirling vortex called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. The Gyre is located in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135 ° to 155° W and 35° to 42°N (between the California coast line and Hawaii). Discoverer Charles J. Moore , noticed the patch when he was returning home through the North Pacific Gyre after competing in theTranspac sailing race in 1997. He came upon a wide stretch of floating debris, and dubbed the region the “Eastern Garbage Patch.” The Gyre is a combination of ocean currents and high air pressure that causes the water to swirl in a clockwise pattern and suck anything in its radius into its trap. We manufacture about 60 billion new tons of plastic each year (McLaughlin, 2008), and every day, with each piece of trash, this patch gets bigger and more and more sea life is harmed. 2.5–3.5 kg of rubbish per person per day was estimated to be entering the sea from ships alone. This approximates to 0.6 million tons of litter annually (Barnes & Milner, 2005). And the scary thing is, is that most of the trash is not coming from ships. It comes from beach goers and carless human beings. Given the rapid increase in plastic production, the longevity of plastic, and the disposable nature of plastic items, this contamination is likely to increase (Davis & Thompson, 2004). It has been assumed that the collected trash would be impossible to clean up, and even if it was cleaned up, the garbage would not stop coming, and the ocean would continue to fill up with our waste. Although the issue of the floating island in the Pacific is not well known, the Pacific Garbage Patch poses a serious threat to seabirds and marine life because of photodegradation, animal entanglement, and the small surface debris it creates.
When large objects float out to sea they are broken down into small confetti-sized particles by a process called photodegradation. Photodegradation occurs when an object has prolonged exposure to sunlight. The sun’s ultraviolet rays make plastic brittle, and the grinding action of waves breaks it to pieces, but polymers don’t vanish. They just get smaller and smaller (Ferris, 2009). These particles become so small that they actually go unseen by satellites and boats. The major sources of this debris include storm water discharges, sewer overflows, litter, solid waste disposals and landfills, offshore mineral and oil exploration, industrial activities and illegal dumping. The sheer volume and geographic range of marine debris is daunting: 14 billion pounds of garbage accumulates annually in the oceans and travels across the globe (Leous & Parry, 2005). Once these objects are broken into small molecular pieces, it makes the mess even more impossible to clean up. In addition, the Garbage Patch would not pose such a big risk to seabirds and marine life if the objects were too large to digest. Charles Moore, the oceanographer that first discovered the garbage patch, believes it would be impossible to clean these particles at sea. He has said that “trying to clean up the Pacific gyre would bankrupt any country and kill wildlife in the nets as it went” (DeFranza, 2009). The simplest solution is to quit using so much plastic. Each of us tosses about 185 pounds of plastic per year (Casey, 2006). It would be simple to reduce the amount of plastic each of us uses, but first the public has to be made aware of how repulsive their actions have been the past couple centuries.
Sea life living near or passing through the North Pacific Gyre are at risk of losing their lives in the floating debris that stretches for miles through the Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is generally characterized as discarded anthropogenic solid waste present in marine waterways. Composed largely of plastics, marine debris can include cigarette filters, baby diapers, six-pack rings, beverage bottles and cans, disposable syringes, plastic bags, bottle caps, fishing line and gear, automobiles and numerous other objects. The major sources of this debris include storm water discharges, sewer overflows, litter, solid waste disposal and landfills, offshore mineral and oil exploration, industrial activities and illegal dumping (Leous & Parry, 2005). Even if plastic waste disposal into the ocean should stop tomorrow, its blight would persist far into the future because of the resistance of existing waste to degradation. Beverage six-pack holders, for example, an extremely common form of plastic waste, are reported to have a life expectancy of 450 years in sea water (Connor & O’Dell, 1988). So even before trash swept out to sea has the opportunity to photodegrade, it poses a serious risk to aquatic life as a whole. Sea life can easily get trapped in or tangled in various nets, plastic ring top pop can holders, plastic bags, fishing line, and other human-made contraptions. The sea creatures that get tangled in such things suffer from injuries that limit their mobility, making them more vulnerable to predators. In some cases, marine life is drowned by the debris in which they have become entangled. Although marine debris studies have shown that plastic is quickly and intensively colonized by a wide range of species (Barnes & Milner, 2005), this does not mean that plastic is a beneficial thing to sea life. It is however, very good that creatures have been able to adapt so well to their rapidly changing home makeover. With the patch growing so quickly, marine life is going to have to adapt and evolve to live in these trashy conditions or they will be wiped out. As described by Charles Moore (the discoverer of the Patch) the Garbage Patch is two to three times the size of Texas, but in fact it might be far larger- as much as 5 million square miles, or one and a half times the size of the United States. As a marine mammal it would be quite hard to evade this significant trash mass. It is estimated that entanglement claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of marine mammals and seabirds each year (Walsh, 2005).
Because plastic never fully biodegrades, it is broken up into small particles which then form a layer of debris, which resides just below the surface of the water. Marine life and seabirds mistake this trash for plankton and other edibles. In parts of the ocean, a fish is more likely to consume plastic than actual food (Ferris, 2009). When animals eat indigestible trash, it then sits in their systems and clogs it so that no other food can pass through. Eventually the animal will die of starvation or suffocation. More than a million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals, and countless fish die in the North Pacific each year, either from mistakenly eating this junk or from being ensnared in it and drowning (Casey, 2006). On British coastlines in the North Sea, a study of fulmars found that 95 percent of the seabirds had plastic in their stomachs, with an average of 44 pieces per bird. A proportional amount in a human being would weigh nearly five pounds (Doucette, 2009). Not only does adult bird morbidity rise as a result of the ingestion of plastics, but their ingestion also devastates their offspring. In the natural course of providing their chicks with sustenance, the adult birds, in a healthy environment, regurgitate partially digested fish and other sea organisms directly into their babies’ mouths. In the North Pacific Sea Gyre this type of nurturing manifests in a death sentence for these babies. The product of the regurgitation is compiled with a great amount of plastics and other indigestible trash. The breaking down of debris also releases toxins like DDT and PBC from plastic, which are then absorbed through the skin of jellyfish and fish. When these bits are ingested by animals, they get a massive dose of these toxinsResearchers have found this can result in biological damage that affects reproduction and the health of offspring and may even cause mutations (Walsh, 2005). In marine environments, excess estrogen has led to Twilight Zone-esque discoveries of male fish and seagulls that have sprouted female sex organs (Casey, 2006). Eating fish with these toxins in them is unhealthy and can be fatal to humans. Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia who specifically studies estrogenic chemicals in plastics, says declining fertility rates in humans could be linked to exposure to synthetic oestrogen in plastics (Woods, 2007). So not only are these particles affecting marine life, but they are affecting humans as well. On Kamilo Beach in Hawaii, there are now more plastic particles than sand particles until one digs a foot down. Pagan Island has what is called the “shopping beach.” If the islanders need a cigarette lighter, or some flip-flops or a toy, or a ball for their kids, they go down to the shopping beach and pick it out of all the plastic trash that has washed up there from thousands of miles away (Drowning, 2009). It is clear that the impact of human mismanagement and lack of management of its waste products is resulting in the sickness and death of sea life upon which humans ultimately rely.
To understand the extent of the problem, as well as to combat it and measure effectiveness at doing so, temporal patterns as well as education are crucial (Barnes & Milner, 2005). Over the past five or six decades, contamination and pollution of the world’s enclosed seas, coastal waters and the wider open oceans by plastics and other synthetic, non-biodegradable materials (generally known as “marine debris”) has been an ever-increasing phenomenon (Gregory, 2009). Humankind is known for its indomitable spirit, endless creativity, and highly evolved intelligence. One may ask why then we have a problem such as this. One of the first steps to fixing a problem is acknowledging that it is there in the first place. In the case of the Pacific Gyre, our planet needs to become more aware of how this occurred, the damage it is causing to life on our planet, as well as the environment, and how we can go about fixing the damage. New laws prohibiting dumping at sea and on land encouraging recycling may slow the increase of material entering the oceans but evaluating this may prove difficult, as the number of sites surveyed is so small and from such a restricted geographic area (Barnes & Milner, 2005). Several alternatives are mentioned to stop the problem like using biodegradable plastics, recycling, and consumer tax (Coulter, 2010). If there were the incentive to handle each item of garbage separately, to put it in its proper place on some shelf, as we handle the initial packages of goods (and other items that leave a residue) when we buy the goods, we might readily manage the flow of garbage in successful ways (Hardin, 1998). Marine debris does not fall out of the sky, it comes from someone’s hands; we are the main cause of the problem, but also the key to the solution (Bamford, 2009). Sea animals should not have to endure this type of abuse; suffocating on plastic and getting tangled in old fishing line is a cruel way to go. With the sun and waves continuously working together to break up the marine debris, it will not be long until the entire ocean is filled with microscopic filth. Now is a good time to take action.
GARBAGE PATCH References
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Are pesticides supposed to be helpful for food consumption and storage? Everyone living based on good agriculture practice would probably say yes. Although pesticides are helpful in maintaining an abundance of fruits and vegetables in gardens, they are more dangerous than good because they are not regulated properly, they pose health risks, and they have a negative impact on the environment and society.
The question is, why are pesticides used anyway if they could be of potential harm? The website Why are Pesticides Used ? (2010) answers the “why” very plainly by stating pesticides are used to provide protection against plants,weeds, or insects and to protect the garden and vegetables such as corn, collards, and cabbage so we will be able to eat and sale the things we grow (Why are Pesticides Used, 2010, para. 1). Therefore, pesticides are definitely needed for the food that would later be consumed.
Damaged livestock and crops plus farm productivity reduction are eliminated and controlled by pesticide chemicals. There are several different pesticide chemicals that are used on foods which are said to be extremely effective according to its purpose. Some pesticide chemicals that are commonly used on poultry are organochlorines, polychlorinated biphenyls, pentchlorophenol and dioxins (MacLachlan, 2008, para. 1).
Pesticide chemicals are most commonly used on fruits and vegetables. Some of the most commonly used pesticides on fruits and vegetables are bupirimate, fenitrothion, fenarimol, captan, diazinon, and tolyfluanid, to name a few (Sadlo, Szpyrka, Jazwa, Zawislak, 2007, p. 314-316). There are actually thirty commonly used pesticides on fruits and vegetables. Pesticide chemicals are used on the fruits and vegetables in order to keep them healthy. Pesticides are also used on fruits and vegetables to prevent them from being wasted by diseases and infestation.
Organophosphorus is another common type of pesticide used that causes more danger than good when used on foods for consumption. Organophosphorus is used mainly in dairy products to control parasites that may be transferred from the animal carrying the milk to the milk itself. Other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, eggs and butter have organochlorine pesticide residues (Salem and Ahmad, 2009). The most widely used pesticide is known as Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT (Eskenazi, Chevrier, Rosas, Anderson, Bornman, Bouwman, Chen, Cohn, Jager, Henshel, F. Leipzig, J. Leipzeg, Lorenz, Snedeker, Stapleton, 2009, p. 1359). There is a very high concern for milk because Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane also known as DDT, was found in milk after it has been banned as a pesticide use since 1970s (FAQs on Pesticides in Milk, 2008). However, the most repeated exposure out of the two pesticides, organophosphorus and dichlorodiphenyltrichlorethane used on dairy products is organophosphorus (Colosio, Tiramani, Brambilla, Colombi, Moretto, 2009, p. 1) .
Although there are great reasons why pesticide chemicals should be used in foods there are also great reasons why pesticides should not be used in foods. A great explanation by New Rules on Pesticide Residues in food (2008) explains why pesticides should not be used in food by saying in most cases there can be a low amount of pesticide chemicals used on food products and still be considered effective for the food product. Therefore, the highest level of pesticide use that is said to be safe, is not needed at all (p. 2). Even the four journalist Sadio, Szpryka, Jazwa, and Zawislak (2007) addressed improper regulation by reporting that “samples were analyzed for residues of ninety eight pesticides “ meaning that the maximum residue level was a potential hazard to health because it was over the Limits of Determination. Improper regulation causes unexpected residue levels and health issues. The health issues are not only a concern for humans but for animals as well.
There are three main agencies that are held responsible for the use of pesticides in and on foods. One agency known as the Environmental Protection Agency has more than 20,000 pesticides registered. The Environmental Protection Agency protects the health of humans and the health of the environment from too much exposure of pesticide residues, however the Environmental Protection Agency is not strictly focused on pesticide residues. Nevertheless, the Environmental Protection Agency establishes a maximum amount of residue levels that are safe enough to remain on or in our food. Another organization responsible for the regulation of pesticide use is the Food and Drug Administration, which monitors the levels of pesticides on vegetables and fruits. The last agency that is held responsible for the examination of pesticide residues which are found in eggs, meats, and dairy products, and this agency is known as the Department of Agriculture.
Some agencies set the maximum residue level at the lowest level, in order to make sure that the pesticide is used at the most minimum level possible (“New Rules on Pesticide residues in food”, 2008). New Rules on Pesticide Residues in food (2008) reports that agencies also set maximum residue levels because “pesticides could have severe undesirable effects if they are not strictly regulated” ( p.1). Therefore, pesticide residues are regulated due to the toleration levels in and on the foods eaten. If these pesticide chemicals are not set to a certain limit then there could be serious health issues resulted. How can pesticides be set to a certain limit when there are even unknown pesticides used in food products.
Additionally, MacLachan (2008) clearly informs that the amount of residues found in food is not regulated properly by mentioning that there is not enough information available on xenobiotics in certain types of meats such as chicken and turkey being left out of the refrigerator or freezer to develop standards (p. 1). Also, pesticide residues are much of a concern to those that are amongst the Denmark population because they are very curious as to how they could reduce the amount of pesticide residues consumed (Poulsen, Hansen, Sloth, Christensen, Andersen, 2007, p.886). The different agencies informed buyers to retrieve their produce such as fruits and vegetables from certain countries (Poulsen, Hansen, Sloth, Christensen, Andersen, 2007, p. 886). However, the averse effects for the total amount of pesticide residues found in food and its exposure is impossible due to each person’s intake (Poulsen, Hansen, Sloth, Christensen, Andersen, 2007, p. 894). Additionally, many pesticides do not have a maximum residue level (“New Rules on Pesticide Residues in food”, p. 2).
Numerous amounts of pesticides are known to cause severe damage to the human body. As the four journalist Sieto Bosgra, Hilko van der Voet, Polly E. Boon, and Wout Slob (2008) noted in the article An integrated probabilistic framework for cumulative risk assessment of common mechanism chemicals in food: An example with organophosphorus pesticides, public health concern for humans is linked to pesticides used on the foods that are eaten by humans, the amount of chemicals that are added to food, and the way humans cook their foods (p. 1). For example, Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, or DDT pesticide is one pesticide that was thought to be very effective, however Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane was banned from eighty six countries because of it’s human safety and biological impacts. While humans eat different parts derived from the animal, such as diary products or meat and they are being exposed to toxic ingredients. When humans are exposed to the toxic ingredients consumed from the animals, then the humans are put at a great risk of the development of health issues.
Accordingly Poulsen, Hansen, Sloth, Christensen, and Andersen’s (2007) article agrees with the health concern due to pesticide use by stating that the purchasers are aware of human health concerns (para. 1). People that consume lots of fruits and vegetables to remain healthy are actually putting themselves in a situation where they are consuming a high intake of pesticide residues. However, humans that consume organic fruits and vegetables are not putting themselves in a situation where they are taking in a high amount of pesticide residue.
Animals are known to eat foods that are most healthiest to them, such as grass, grains, and plants. These types of foods keep the animals healthy. However, animals are fed food which contains pesticide chemicals which causes toxin to be placed in their bodies, leading the animals to health destruction. When the animals’ health are put in jeopardy or the animal becomes unhealthy, so does the food which comes from the animal. Grain is grown with pesticides and then the grain is fed to animals (in farms the animals are called livestock), and the fatty tissue inside of the animal gathers pesticide residues (meat and dairy products are made from the animals, to name a few). The factory farm systems purchase cheap grain, particularly soybeans and corn because they are protein -rich grains. Protein-rich grains causes the animals to gain more weight, which means more fat for consumption of humans, and farmers are not really be concerned about the health of the animals or the health of humans that eat the products made from the animals. Not to mention that the grains that the animals are fed from the Farm System and has pesticides in them. Certain animals’ digestive systems are not able to handle the grains and they become sick. For instance, cows could pass on the mad cow disease to humans because the factory farms add animal by-products to the cows.
Some agencies sense a better approach to the pesticide chemical residue exposure by way of reduction, regulation, and strict enforcement.There once were not any regulations or specified maximum residue levels for pesticide use, but the New Rules on Pesticide Residues in food (2008) states that there is now a new regulation which applies a “default of 0.01 mg/kg” (p.2). This type of regulation helps to reduce the limitless amount of residue that could possibly be put in or on all types of food including foods for babies, children and vegetarians (“New Rules on Pesticide Residues in food”, p.2). The consumers, animals, and the overall environment will be less impacted with the focus on and “encourag[ing] low input and pesticide free cultivation” (“New Rules on Pesticide Residues in Food, p.3). Therefore, more money could be well spent on parts of the environment that could be benefited. Approval would be needed in order to make sure the health of humans, animals and the environment are closely protected. A “non-chemical alternative” is a a new proposal being reviewed in order to regulate the levels of protection (“New Rules on Pesticide Residues in Food”, p.3). Different levels would not be much of a concern if foods did not have residue levels as high as “10, 5.5 and 6.8 mg/kg in orange, lemon and grapefruit” with the new regulation and strict enforcement on pesticide use (Pesticide Residues in Food 2008, 2009). Furthermore, supervision such as the US Good Agricultural Practice groups would help aid in reduction of pesticide exposure.
Finally, some examples of the different ways to reduce pesticide exposure on fruits and vegetables (if pesticides have already been placed in or on the food products), would be to peel the outside coating of the fruit or vegetable. Washing the fruit or vegetable very thoroughly with cold or warm water is extremely effective as well. Putting cold or warm water in the sink along with salt for vegetables, such as collards, reduces exposure to pesticide residues. Whether the pesticide is placed on the food product while blooming, growing or harvesting all of these are helpful in reducing the exposure to pesticide. However, the previous ways listed are not guaranteed to take away the full exposure nor change the effects of the exposure to the pesticide but they are helpful. Growing one’s own food reduces exposure to pesticide chemicals because the person that grows the food normally does not use pesticide chemicals on his or her food that is grown. Also, eating organic food eliminates the possibility of pesticide exposure.
In conclusion, pesticides are definitely used on and inside of food for good purpose, which is to help the humans and the environment. However, the positive purposes bring negative outcomes of the purpose, which is totally opposite of what is expected. More humans are effected from the pesticides because of their consumption of animals and other food products with pesticide chemical use. Not only are there health risks associated with food consumption, but there is poor monitoring and regulations of pesticides placed in and on foods for consumption. A change must occur for the purpose of the pesticides to be used for its full potential. Less harm more good from pesticides would be great for the health of animals, humans and the environment.
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