7 biggest threats to the environment – why we still need Earth Day

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

This Saturday is Earth Day , and while it’s a time to celebrate our planet, it’s also a prime opportunity to take a closer look at the serious environmental issues we’re facing and the solutions that need to be put in place to alleviate them. Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore the damage we’ve done to the environment, especially when the effects have been hitting so close to home . If you want to make this Earth Day an opportunity to educate yourself about the problems, read on as we break down the 7 biggest environmental threats facing our society right now and how we might be able to solve them before it’s too late. Climate Change Climate change is first and foremost an issue because people can’t even agree on whether or not it’s an issue in the first place. Before we even get into the solutions, we all (regardless of political party) need to come to the realization that yes, climate change is real and yes, it is affecting us in ways that we can see and feel.  If you still believe that the freakish weather and heat waves we’ve been experiencing have nothing to do with climate change, you might want to ask your neighbor what he or she thinks because the majority of Americans say they believe global warming is causing these incidents . You might have noticed that the weather’s been hotter than usual , or you might have noticed a drought in your area or conversely, unusual storms. Furthermore, even small temperature changes are causing crops to die, decreasing the amount of food available. On top of all that, higher temps are causing the polar icecaps to melt, flooding certain areas and leading to an imbalance for wildlife. So we know the threat is real, but what can we do to prevent climate change from being exacerbated even more? Some small steps you can take in your own life are to use less electricity by turning off your lights when you don’t need them, driving less, switching to LED bulbs and eating less meat . On a more global scale, leaders have come to an agreement on how to curb the harmful greenhouse gases each nation emits into the atmosphere, and steps are being taken to plant more forests (which act as natural carbon sinks). Every bit helps, but in order for us to reverse the current course the Earth is on, the United States needs to commit to the Paris Agreement  and, along with the rest of the world, work towards a greener planet. Deforestation We mentioned planting more forests above, and sadly at a time when we need more forests, trees are being uprooted at an alarming rate.  Deforestation is a rapidly-growing problem in areas like Africa, Central and South America. Not only does this mean less trees, less cleansing oxygen, and the displacement of the wildlife, deforestation means a dangerous decrease in a natural fighter of global warming – the #1 threat to our Earth right now. Removing trees also leads to much drier climates, as trees extract groundwater to release into the air. Our tropical rainforests, which are crucial to stabilizing the climate and to human survival, are being chopped down at a breakneck pace – one and a half acres of rainforest are lost every second . Humans have already chopped down about 50% of the rainforests that once existed on the planet and at the current rate of destruction, we will completely destroy the rainsforests in the next 40 years . If rainforests are so important, why are they being destroyed so carelessly? Short-sighted governments and multi-national logging companies only see the forests as a way to make money by selling timber – they don’t consider the long-term effects . Luckily, deforestation is an issue that we as individuals can combat. By using recycled paper, we can decrease the need to cut down as many trees and by buying goods made with FSC-certified wood, we can show retailers that we don’t want them to support brands that obtain lumber irresponsibly. Last but not least, why not plant a tree or even a hundred trees like this man did . Pollution Pollution comes in many forms and no matter where you live, you’ve probably seen some form of it. From litter on NYC city streets to the smog that lingers over LA to the plastic trash that floats in the  Great Pacific Garbage Patch , the visible signs of pollution are more than evident. The main reason for why pollution has gotten so out of control is that our desire for more “stuff”  has led to our old stuff being thrown away at an alarming and unnecessary rate. For more information on this, watch Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff . This need for manufactured items also leads to the air and water pollution emitted from factories, which in many countries are highly unregulated. Looking at the bigger picture, government oversight and sloppy industrial practices on the part of big companies has also exacerbated our pollution problem. The first thing we can all do to reduce the amount of pollution in our streets, air and water is to make a mental change. Before buying a new product, ask yourself if you really need it or if you might be able to purchase it secondhand. It could make a big difference in the amount of trash we see in our landfills. Secondly, if you don’t already  recycle , get into the habit. If everyone adopted these easy principles, the world would be in a much better place. Loss of Biodiversity Each species has a role in our planet, and when one dies out, it can have catastrophic effects on the rest of us. We don’t want to get all “Butterfly Effect” on you but even a population dwindling can cause major problems for the human race. For example, with their role of pollination , the decline of the  bee population has a direct effect on both the environment and food production. Currently, many other animals are in danger of becoming extinct, either from being forced out of their habitats by man or by climate change. This particular problem is more difficult for individuals to combat but we can start by educating ourselves with the facts and donating to organizations like the World Wildlife Fund that facilitate the preservation of animals on the brink of extinction. This problem is also closely linked to deforestation and unchecked habitat destruction so by fighting those two issues, we can also slow down loss of biodiversity. Melting Polar Ice-Caps and Rising Sea Levels Climate change (are you seeing a trend here?) also contributes to another dangerous problem – melting polar ice-caps, which in turn causes rising sea levels. According to the NRCD , average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast they are elsewhere and the ice is melting and rupturing. NASA satellite images reveal that the area of our permanent ice cover is shrinking at a rate of 9% every decade. At that rate, the Arctic could be totally ice-free in the summer season within decades. And if all of that ice melted, where would it go? You guessed it – our oceans. You might think that rising tides are only a problem for people in a few isolated areas, but major cities like NY and London could be underwater soon if we don’t do something soon. Manhattan alone has already dreamt up ways to deal with the potential rising tides over the next few years, but coming up with solutions after the fact is not enough. In order to reverse the melting of polar icecaps, we have to start at the root of the problem. See our section above on climate change to learn what you can do personally to keep global warming from continuing on its deadly course. Oceanic Dead Zones Along the coasts of heavily populated communities, scientists have found more and more dead zones – areas where depleted oxygen levels cannot support marine life. 146 dead zones were found in the world’s oceans, caused by high levels of chemicals in the waters. North America’s Gulf Coast has a high concentration of dead zones, which causes fish to become unable to reproduce. You might think that if you live on land, you won’t be affected by oceanic dead zones but if you eat seafood, seaweed, or care about air quality, you won’t want to ignore this issue. The good news is that dead zones can be reversed, though it is difficult. The  Black Sea dead zone disappeared in 1991 and 2001 due to the discontinued use of fertilizers. To find out more about how you can help with dead zone cleanups, visit Oceana.org . Explosive Population Growth It’s usually true that the more the merrier, but not when the human population is growing to a point that our society and systems can’t handle. Last year, the world population hit a whopping 7 billion , and while we welcome the newcomers with open arms, we also want to make sure that we don’t continue to put a strain on our water, food, well-being, space and sanity (yes, we’re talking about you, Tokyo subway system ). If everyone were more conscious of the fact that our limited resources need to be shared (how many times have you grabbed a fistful of paper napkins when you only needed one?), we could make living together, even with such a large amount of people) a lot more pleasant. Another example is our world food supply. Statistics show that we have enough food to feed everyone on the planet but we end up wasting so much (according to the  National Resources Defense Council , Americans waste a whopping 30 to 50% of all food produced) that others go without. While we might not be able to stop the population from growing, we can educate the people who currently live here and the new ones that are being born to make smarter choices and consume more responsibly. Images from Wikimedia Commons, Shutterstock, © James Cridland , @ Kevin Crejci , and @ No Minds Vision    

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7 biggest threats to the environment – why we still need Earth Day

BP oil and gas spill near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under control

April 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A BP oil and gas well in Alaska blew out late last week, uncontrollably spilling crude oil and gas just around 60 miles away from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge . The well was out of control through the weekend. The Arctic oil spill happened just days before the seven year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Last Friday morning the BP oil and gas well in the Prudhoe Bay area started leaking natural gas from the well while crude oil sprayed out onto the drilling-well pad. On Saturday the oil spray halted, but natural gas continued to spew throughout the weekend. Frigid temperatures made it difficult for teams to shut the well down. Oil service company Boots and Coots finally plugged a damaged pipe and pumped a saltwater solution into the well to kill it – after it had vented natural gas for three days. Related: Alaska gas leak endangering beluga whales won’t be fixed until the ice melts It’s unclear what caused the oil and gas spill. 1.5 acres near Deadhorse were affected, and native communities were notified. No injuries were reported. Natural gas production hasn’t been kind to Alaska recently. Around 210,000 cubic feet of gas per day poured out from a pipeline near Cook Inlet for almost four months; last Friday Hilcorp Alaska said a temporary repair finally halted the leak. And the recent spill doesn’t look good for BP; April 20 will mark the seven year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill which killed 11 people and harmed wildlife. Sierra Club’s Alaska Program Director Dan Ritzman said in a statement, “Oil companies continue to treat Alaska with reckless abandon, threatening its pristine waters, wildlife, and communities. Big Oil has repeatedly proven it can’t drill for fossil fuels safely…It’s past time that Donald Trump and his friends in the fossil fuel industry put Alaska ahead of corporate polluter’s profits which only threaten the state’s beauty and environment .” Via EcoWatch and The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and BP Facebook

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BP oil and gas spill near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge under control

Tom Di Liberto: Plan for extreme weather but be optimistic

August 31, 2015 by  
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“America’s Science Idol” DiLiberto says data tools are available to provide a fairly accurate picture of what extreme weather events will happen in the future. He’s a meteorologist with the Famine Early Warning System, which forecasts flooding and droughts in the developing world, Along with working to mitigate climate change, Di Liberto suggests that businesses plan around a future of extreme weather, using data to figure out where it will occur.

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Tom Di Liberto: Plan for extreme weather but be optimistic

How She Leads: Kathleen Shaver, Cisco

August 31, 2015 by  
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She helped Mattel win the respect of Greenpeace. Now the policy expert is zeroing in on the complex high-tech supply chain.

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How She Leads: Kathleen Shaver, Cisco

Sunshine coast of Australia gets hit with heavy snowfall

July 21, 2015 by  
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A mass of Antarctic air has turned the usually mild Australian winter into a snowy winter wonderland. Regions known for their sunny weather, like Queensland, experienced an uncomfortable snow fall last week, paired with record low temperatures for the month of July. The usual 50 degree F winter weather has dipped down as far as 24 degrees F in some areas, making for the coldest winter in over twenty years. Read the rest of Sunshine coast of Australia gets hit with heavy snowfall

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Sunshine coast of Australia gets hit with heavy snowfall

Japanese Study Shows Climate Change Could Mean More Girls Are Born Than Boys

October 24, 2014 by  
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A recent study carried out in Japan warns of yet another unexpected consequence of climate change : the study shows that male human fetuses are more sensitive to temperature differences than female fetuses and are more likely to spontaneously abort when exposed to extremes of heat and cold in utero . While similar studies in New Zealand and Finland have not confirmed this finding, the Japanese team believe they have an explanation for that. Read the rest of Japanese Study Shows Climate Change Could Mean More Girls Are Born Than Boys Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , extreme weather , fetal mortality , global warming , infant mortality , Japan , miscarriage , temperature variation linked to male fetal death , temperature-dependent sex determination

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Japanese Study Shows Climate Change Could Mean More Girls Are Born Than Boys

Pentagon Report States Climate Change Is an Immediate Risk to National Security

October 15, 2014 by  
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That hotbed of leftist, green activism – the Pentagon – is at it again, having just released a report that nominates climate change as a “threat multiplier” for national security. Oh, wait a minute … Jokes aside, the story is true: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has just signed off on the 20-page Department of Defense report, the  2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap , which demonstrates just how alienated  from official U.S. government policy climate change deniers  are becoming. In his introduction to the report, Secretary Hagel notes, “a changing climate will have real impacts on our military and the way it executes its missions.” Read the rest of Pentagon Report States Climate Change Is an Immediate Risk to National Security Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Chuck Hagel , Climate Change , department of defense , extreme weather , global warming , military , national security , pentagon , report , Secretary of Defense , threat multiplier , united states

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Pentagon Report States Climate Change Is an Immediate Risk to National Security

Leviathan Transformable Antarctic Research Facility Acts as a Hub for Environmental Tourism in Antarctica

September 30, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Leviathan Transformable Antarctic Research Facility Acts as a Hub for Environmental Tourism in Antarctica Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: antarctica , architecture student , environmental tourism , extreme weather , harsh weather , research station , student work , Transformable Antarctic Research Facility , transformable architecture , transportation hub , Vienna architecture student , zaha hadid

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Leviathan Transformable Antarctic Research Facility Acts as a Hub for Environmental Tourism in Antarctica

HUD Launches $1 Billion National Disaster Resilience Competition

September 18, 2014 by  
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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is partnering again with The Rockefeller Foundation to help communities become more resilient in the face of increasingly severe weather from a changing climate. Building upon the successful Rebuild by Design competition, new HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Rockefeller President Dr. Judith Rodin on Wednesday launched a $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition . The 67 eligible applicants at the state and local level can now begin applying for funds. Read the rest of HUD Launches $1 Billion National Disaster Resilience Competition Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , extreme weather , housing and urban development , HUD , Julian Castro , National Disaster Resilience Competition , Rebuild by Design , Rockefeller Foundation , severe weather

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HUD Launches $1 Billion National Disaster Resilience Competition

Czech Republic’s Prefab Pavilion is Built Around a Swimming Pool to Keep Cool at the 2015 World Expo

September 18, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Czech Republic’s Prefab Pavilion is Built Around a Swimming Pool to Keep Cool at the 2015 World Expo Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , 2015 Milan Expo , 2015 world expo , Chybik + Kristof , czech republic , czech republic pavilion , Federico Diaz , green roof , Jakub Nepras , Luke Rittstein , Maxim Velcovsky , modular architecture , modular design , Prefab , prefab architecture , swimming pool , world expo

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Czech Republic’s Prefab Pavilion is Built Around a Swimming Pool to Keep Cool at the 2015 World Expo

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