Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Humans to Blame for Bioinvasions? Part 4

Human Growth, expansion, and sprawl has spread throughout all continents and with this continuous growth, biological invasions have increasingly manipulated existing natural ecosystems everywhere. Our social system has been on a fast track for the continuous desire for more stuff. We are always in need for the best product and newest Apple product. One aspect we never think of as a society, is how we are disposing of these technologies. It is important that homes, businesses, educational institutions and government agencies comply with the need for technology recycling. Most electronic devices contain high amounts of hazardous materials like lead, and mercury. Without electronic recycling programs, toxic chemicals are disposed in landfills where they gradually cause damage to the environment. So far, the most serious effort to reduce these harmful threats is being carried our by state and federal governments which are enacting legislation that requires proper disposal of old electronics. Most electronic programs become outdated every couple of years so it is crucial that households and businesses have a clear understanding that it is important before throwing out any old computer parts or electronics to check with the appropriate government agencies to determine the proper methods.

Unfortunately, because of our constant need to consume, society is on a path of destruction. One indication of our social system lending a hand in biological invasions is our dependence on burning fossil fuels. Everything we use in our growing world uses fossil fuels. Whether the product itself emits toxins or the process of making a product clouded our air, we are always emitting pollution. Global warming is a clear consequence of fossil fuel over-use. Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been using fossil fuels to power machines. Now, nearly everything you consume, nearly every product you buy, and many of our daily activities involve the use of fossil fuels. Reducing emissions is a process that must be promptly reduced before climate change becomes irreversible.

Whether we over-fish our oceans by enjoying sushi, or use fertilizer to make a more green grass; society must come to the realization that all consumption choices make some sort of environmental impact on our planet. As recent studies have shown, there is no reason why we should continue to ignore the damage already done. Certainly, we should not start making the zebra mussel an ingredient in our chowder.

Global Warming a Bioinvasion? Part 3

One of the most commonly known global effects of bioinvasion is global warming. In a study completed by the National Invasive Species Awareness, it was discovered that rising air temperatures affect “marine ecosystems by raising air temperatures, decreasing oceanic pH, altering stream flow patterns, increasing storm events, and contributing to sea level rise”. The overall health of a marine species is dependent on its interaction with the environment. If the condition of the environment is changed by even a degree, marine species are threatened. Many fish in our oceans are heat sensitive and any change in water temperature can demolish a whole species. Just think about how hard it is to have a salt-water fish tank: most people have a hard time keeping fish healthy because the water temperature fluctuates too often. It’s the same sad story with our oceans. With rising temperatures, we are already seeing a loss of the sea-ice habitat with polar bear populations decreasing at alarming rates. Ice is melting at a alarming rate leaving polar bears limited ice caps to live on. Climate change has also increased the occurrence of severe weather around the world. An example would be the recent monsoon in Pakistan that affected nearly 13 million people and killed over 400 people. The three day flood wreaked havoc on northern Pakistan and left many climate scientists concerned for the future. An Article by BBC News described the monsoon to be larger than the combined effects of the three worst natural disasters to strike in the past decade. Climate change is clear indication of the extent of global bioinvasions. A recent study conducted by a group of Purdue students found that “future climate change will influence monsoon dynamics and cause less summer precipitation, a delay in the start of monsoon season, and longer breaks between rainy periods”. These changes will undoubtedly affect the fragile ecosystems who cannot handle the shift in temperature and changing weather patterns. As time goes by and temperatures continue to increase we will be faced with deadly weather systems. We must cut down our carbon emissions and educate others to do the same in order to make a positive change for our environment.

Bioinvasions Rapidly Expanding: Part 2

Many travel from far destinations to experience San Francisco clam chowder or fresh seafood dishes but some bay area residents are starting to realize that not all shellfish is welcome. On a local scale, we are also suffering from environmental invaders. In the bay area, and other local communities, waters are continuously being contaminated by the zebra mussel. Zebra mussels have managed to contaminate large areas of the world and have numbers that are steadily climbing considering their fast reproduction rate. With our need for constant consumption, cargo ships from China, Japan and many other countries are continuously trafficking our bay, carrying goods from all over the world. Zebra mussels are a marine hitchhiker on these cargo ships by tagging along in the ballast water of the ship. The ballast is filled with water at the ships origin, and is sometime emptied upon arrival at its destination, leaving behind organisms that are not native to the waters. The zebra mussel is one such organism. With the ability to multiply quickly, the zebra mussels have become invasive to small marine species which cannot compete with the alien mussel. Zebra mussels are not only killing off marine species but they also create clogged piped and infest waterways. “Zebra mussels have inflicted tremendous damage to native ecosystems and to facilities using water, like power plants and municipal water suppliers. Millions of dollars have been spent by water users, to control and eradicate zebra mussels”. Recreational boats contaminate California lakes and reservoirs without being properly treated by educated professionals. Zebra mussels are an example of bioinvasion that burdens California residents, and while these mollusks threaten our local ecosystem, we also have larger, frightening global bioinvasions as well.

There are an endless number of species in our waters and countless species that have been unaccounted for to date, that are at serious risk of destruction from biodiversity threats. With over 100,000 synthetic chemicals in our atmosphere, existing species have little chance of survival simply because they have not evolved with these deadly chemicals. Many marine ecosystems are fragile and extremely vulnerable to damage. Bioinvasion changes these ecosystems greatly and countries around the world are recipients of unwanted visitors each year. Obviously, The San Francisco Bay has not been immune to these unwanted visitors. If we are seeing bioinvasions expanding rapidly locally, it’s only evident that the rest of the world is being damaged too.

Environmental Invasions: Part 1

California is a wonderful place to live, the attractions offered to residents are endless and people all over the world dream of living in California but humans aren’t the only species migrating to the golden state. On a daily basis, our environment is invaded by unwanted guests who wreak havoc on our ecosystems. The effects of human carelessness are taking over our environment at an alarming rate. The impact the human species has done to alter the planet is drastic and is evident through the environmental consequences that conscious people see today. Human growth, expansion, and sprawl has spread throughout all continents and with this continuous growth, biological invasions have increasingly manipulated existing natural ecosystems. There are various ways invasive species have altered landscapes from the every day rise of synthetic pollutions, which leave species and ecosystems little opportunity to adapt. With the subsequent effects on nature, the destruction and loss of plants and animals has become ecologically and economically damaging and unfortunately, will continue to worsen.

Increased human population density has created an increase in international travel and trade, and with it an increase in production. Human behavior is dependent on production which enhances the spread of invasive behavior. Most of today’s society would describe an invasive species as a weed in their garden, or the mice in their attic, but a biological invasion is a complex relationship between human behavior and the effects it leaves on the environment and its native communities. As defined, a bioinvasion is the rapid expansion of a species into regions where it had not previously existed, often as a result of human agency. Bioinvasions are taking a toll on all territories of the world. Also referred to as invasive alien species, bioinvasions are a serious threat to habitat loss and generally become noteworthy when damage has already taken place. One of the more prominent bioinvasions takes place in our oceans. There are an endless amount of species in our waters and millions more unaccounted for. Many marine ecosystems are vulnerable to damage and countries around the world are recipients of unwanted visitors each year. The overall health of a marine species is dependent on its interaction with the condition of the environment. With rising temperatures, we are already seeing a loss of the sea-ice habitat with polar bear populations decreasing at alarming rates.

A High Line for Sustainability

A development called The High Line, in New York City, is a project that offers its city dwellers an escape from the hustling city streets. The High Line was built in the 1930’s and originally used for freight traffic. The rails were lifted 30 feet in the air which removed dangerous trains from the crowded streets. Through time, growth of interstate trucking led to an abandonment of the line. In 2009, The High Line was repurposed and became a public walking park that is elevated above the city streets, with views of the city skyline and the Hudson River.

Along with being a safe place to walk, The High Line offers many benefits to the neighborhood which include the world’s longest green roof, gathering areas, and a rise in neighborhood interest with many restaurants, and store openings. The High Line should serve as a model for other cities to adopt as a way to create sustainability. During construction, community input sessions were held to encourage neighborhood residents to share their ideas. These are tactics that all American cities should use in order to represent an opportunity for citizens to become more involved in sustainability planning. With thousands of people walking The High Line in a day, it is evident that American cities could only benefit from creating a more friendly walking space. The best part about The High Line is that it was created by using space that had been previously abandoned, unused and dilapidated. Walking is the cleanest and most affordable mean of transportation, so we should all have a walking opportunity to walk on a innovation like the High Line!

Vote to Save Our Planet

In 2006, Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into California state law, a very important environmental emissions legislation, Ab32, that forced large companies to control their greenhouse gas emissions. The law required that large corporations would be monitored and required to cut down their greenhouse gas emissions to the levels they were at in 1990 by the year 2020. It was a landmark bill that was attempting to create a more environmentally conscientious state and did in fact create an upswing in green energy jobs and environmental innovation. However, the past four years since the bill was passed have been tumultuous in California to say the least, and critics have blamed the bill for limited job growth in established manufacturing jobs. In an effort to repeal the bill, the oil industry has funded an initiative to overturn the landmark AB32 law. Valero, Tesoro Companies, and Flint Hills Resources are three large contributors to the initiative donating over $6.5 million dollars.

To repeal AB32 would be detrimental to California and the nation as a whole. There is no doubt that businesses need to manufacture and distribute their products in a more environmentally conscious way. Day by day Californians are doing their part to are taking large steps to contribute to a cleaner state. Now it’s time for manufacturers to do their part, and so it is essential that voters let it be known that Ab32 needs to be voted NO on. To argue that job growth has been limited because of of AB32 is just not correct; job growth has been limited because of the economic problems of our whole country. If anything, saying yes to Proposition 23 is going to contribute to the growth of clean energy businesses who will be working day in and day out to ensure that California businesses are able to operate under the new guidelines, which will benefit all of us.

DIY “Green” Home

From energy efficient light bulbs to composting your dinner scraps,  there are many ways to contribute to the well-being of our planet in our very own home. In an article on sfgate.com, there’s an article about introducing and educating people on how to “green” their own homes. Some of the innovations mentioned are easy to do like composting meal scraps but many of the ideas are just downright expensive.

The article describes about 10 ways to “green” your home but all of them will cost the average neighbor thousands of dollars to do. Let’s be honest, in order to get a bigger population of people to be more environmentally friendly, we need to make green products cheaper.  With the economy the way it is, people aren’t going to spend $3,000 on a solar generator. It just doesn’t sound right to the typical shopper to spend a crazy amount of money on a generator when they can easily spend $200 on a gas-powered generator. Another idea mentioned is a “green” shed made out of recycled wood and windows for a low cost of  $1,500.

Articles like this are awesome and a great way to educate people but I wish they would have mentioned a few cheaper ideas for us to try before spending thousands of dollars.