Welcome to our class!

We are an environmental science course at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, NJ, taught by Mrs. T. We'll be blogging about environmental issues all term, so please stay tuned!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stephen Hawking

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Stephen Hawking, born on January 8, 1942, was known as a British scientist, professor, and author who performed ground breaking work in physics and cosmology, and whose books helped to make science accessible to everyone. His parents, Frank and Isobel Hawking, had four children in total, with him being the oldest in the family. Stephen Hawking was born to a family of thinkers. His mother, who was Scottish  earned her way into Oxford University during the 1930s, which was a time when few women were able to go to college. His dad also attended Oxford and was a graduate, he was a medical researcher with a specialty in tropical diseases. Although many people described the Hawking's an "eccentric" family, due to the fact that they would eat in silence, each Hawking member would always be reading a book, and their family car was an old London Taxi. During his academic years, Stephen Hawking was the brightest student. He would consider himself the third bottom of the class. He wouldn't put much of his time into studying. Hawking entered Oxford University at the age of 17. Though he had a specialty in mathematic, during college he chose to study physics and more specifically cosmology.  After his academic years, he had graduated with honors and wrote a total of 15 books. He had some achievements which were he co-discovered the four laws of black hole mechanics, he contributed to the theory of cosmic inflation, and proposed a theory of "top-down cosmology", with Thomas Hertog.   Due to his achievements, he had also won a total of 16 awards. Sadly the Nobel Prize is not one of them. Unfortunately, at the age 21, he was diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the nerves that controlled his muscle were shutting down. He would start to realize this disease during his time in Oxford, whenever he tripped and fell or when he gave a speech. He wouldn't have a look at this problem until later on, around 1963. At the time, the doctors gave him two and a half years to live. Surprisingly, he lived for more than 50 years. In a sense, the disease helped him be the noted scientist that he was.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

CERCLA Superfund

Image result for cerclaThe Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability act, enforced by Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) and enacted in December 11, 1980, by the Congress. 
CERCLA is a trust fund act that created a taxation on chemical and petroleum industries and limited the waste of toxic substances on the environment. Their purpose is to identify the sites that are polluting chemically the environment, find the Possible Responsible Parties (PRP’s), fine them and make them clean.
It can be assigned a immediately clean up, classifying the sites as removal, or a long-term clean up, known as remedial. This Evaluation is made by EPA with the Hazard Ranking System test. The fine for the sites can variate between 15 million and 100 million.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mobro 4000 Garbage Barge

In 1967, Islip, New York, like many cities in the US the space in local landfills had become scarce. To the United States it has become a symbol of a worsening waste-disposal crisis. To Lowell Harrelson, a building contractor from Alabama, it represented the realization of a dream, the first of many tons of trash that he planned to take from the New York area. His idea was to take tightly compacted and baled garbage, place it in small, environmentally controlled landfills and, within two years, begin to collect methane gas and money. He set out to find an environmentally appropriate site for a landfill. He thought he had found the perfect spot in Jones County, North Carolina. On March 20, 1987 Harrelson Loaded 3,100 tons (six million pounds) of commercial garbage from Islip, onto a barge. The Mobro left port on March 22, 1987. The day after the barge docked in Morehead City, N.C., several protesters arrived, bringing with them state environmental officials and reporters. They claimed that the barge contained rodents and hospital waste, people was worried about the toxic waste in the barge and North Carolina along with New Orleans rejected it. Other states such as: Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida also rejected the barge for similar health issues. Mexico, Belize and The Bahamas rejected the barge due to environmental issues related to the toxic waste that the barge contained. The barge was rejected by 6 states and 3 countries. The latest hope was an offer by the Town of Islip to dump the garbage at its municipal landfill for $124,000. When it reached New York, two court orders blocked it from unloading. Before the people could take the Mobro’s load, a judge ordered that it all be burned in a Brooklyn incinerator. Five months after it set sail, the barge's cargo was incinerated in Brooklyn and buried back at the landfill where it had originated, in Islip. Nowadays, New York City now sends out the equivalent of seven Mobro barges every day, 50 Mobros every week, 2,600 Mobros a year. Today, methane captured at New York's biggest retired landfill generates $12 million in revenue a year.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Acadia National Park , near Bar Harbor, Maine, comprises 49,000+ acres of rock-bound coast on Mount Desert Island, a portion of the Schoolkid Peninsula on the mainland, and offshore islands.
The striking scenery and diverse resou rces of Mount Desert Island have attracted people for thousands of years. The first inhabitants, Native Americans here more than 5,000 years ago, were followed by the French and English. By the 1800s, settlers were arriving in large numbers and engaging in fishing, shipbuilding, farming, and lumbering. The island became known to the world in the late 1800s, when artists depicted its beauty in paintings. The rush to experience Mount Desert Island, and the desire to protect its lands, had begun. Early History Deep shell heaps indicate Native American encampments dating back 5,000 years in Acadia, but pre-European records are scarce. The first written descriptions of Maine coast Indians, recorded 100 years after European trade contacts began, describe Native Americans who lived off the land by hunting, fishing, collecting shellfish, and gathering plants and berries. The Okinawan people knew Mount Desert Island as Emetic, "the sloping land." They built bark-covered conical shelters and traveled in birch bark canoes. Historical records indicate that the Okinawan wintered in interior forests and spent summers near the coast. Archaeological evidence, however, suggests the opposite pattern: to avoid harsh inland winters and take advantage of salmon runs upstream, Native Americans wintered on the coast and summered inland. There may even have been two separate groups, one inland and another on the coast. Read more about the Okinawan.
Though they came to the island in search of social and recreational activities, the affluent of the turn of the century had much to do with preserving the landscape we know today. George B. Dorr, a tireless spokesman for conservation, came from this social strata. He devoted 43 years of his life, energy, and family fortune to preserving the Acadian landscape. In 1901, disturbed by the growing development of the Bar Harbor area and the dangers he foresaw in the newly invented gasoline-powered portable sawmill, Dorr and others established the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations. The corporation, whose sole purpose was to preserve land for the perpetual use of the public, acquired 6,000 acres by 1913. Dorr offered the land to the federal government, and in 1916 President Wilson announced the creation of Sieur de Monts National Monument. Dorr continued to acquire property and renewed his efforts to obtain full national park status for his beloved preserve. In 1919, President Wilson signed the act establishing Lafayette National Park. Dorr, whose labors constituted "the greatest of one-man shows in the history of land conservation," became the first park superintendent. In 1929, the name changed to Acadia National Park. Today the park protects more than 47,000 acres, and the simple pleasures of "ocean, forests, lakes, and mountains" that have been sought and found by millions for over a century and a quarter are yours to enjoy.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez had just entered Alaska's Prince William Sound, after departing the Valdez Marine Terminal full of crude oil. The ship, steering wide to avoid ice, failed to turn back into the shipping lane in time.At 12:04 am, the ship struck a reef, tearing open the hull. 11 million gallons of black crude gushed into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound. The captain, Joseph Hazelwood, was drinking at the time. He also left the wheel to the 3rd mate to make the crucial turn to get back on path. Oil everywhere in the ocean. Oil reached beaches 650 miles away. Killer whales, eagles, otters, seals, salmon, herring, and thousands of sea birds died excruciating deaths. It took more than four summers to clean the spill. At its peak the cleanup effort included 10,000 workers, about 1,000 boats and roughly 100 airplanes and helicopters, known as Exxon's army, navy, and air force. It is widely believed, however, that wave action from winter storms did more to clean the beaches than all the human. The total cost was 2.1 Billion dollars. Not all beaches were cleaned and some beaches remain oiled today. The Exxon Valdez spill is largest ever in the United States. It is widely considered the number one spill worldwide in terms of damage to the environment. Of 32 animal types, habitats and natural resources monitored, only 13 have recuperated fully. The ecosystem will never entirely recover.

Oil Spill Water Pollution

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park


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          Bryce Canyon National Park was named after Ebenezer Bryce who started ranching in 1875. It officially became a park in 1928. Bryce Canyon National Park is located in Garfield County and Kane County, Utah, United States (southwestern Utah). Bryce Canyon is famous for the colorful hoodoos which rise from deep within craggy amphitheaters. Hoodoos are tall skinny s[ires of rocks that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and "broken" lands. At Bryce Canyon, Hoodoos range in size from that in a average human to heights exceeding a 10-15 story building. Bryce Canyon is home to many living things, plants and animals. The kinds of plants that you can find at Bryce Canyon are trees and shrubs and wild flowers; bristlecone pine, ponderosa pine, limber pine, Colorado pinyon, and many more. On the other hand, the kinds of animals that could be seen at Bryce Canyon are mammals, reptiles, and birds; mountain lion, Utah Prairie Dog, Uinta Chipmunk, raven, osprey, California Condor, Great Basin Rattlesnake, Striped Whipsnake, Tiger Salamander and many more. The weather at Bryce Canyon, due to its high elevation, through autumn, winter, and spring are highly variable. From October to May temperatures fall below freezing overnight. So that means that the park experiences its coldest and snowiest periods from December to February. On the other hand, during summer, days seem go be quite nice with the temperature being in the high 60s to low 80s. People take vacations to go and visit Bryce Canyon National Park, whether it is to explore or hike. Each year over 1.5 million people visit the Bryce Canyon National Park.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson is known to many as one of the most influencial conservationalists of the 20th centuy.  Carson was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania.  She was an author, a marine biologist, and of course a conservationalist.  Carson attended Johns Hopkins University as well as Chatham University.  Carson begun to question the notion that humans could obtain mastery over nature by chemicals, bombs and space travel.  In regards to Carson's time as an author, she was regarded as the finest nature writer of the twentieth century.  She wrote various books including, Silent Spring, The Sea Around us (which was a best seller), Under the Sea Wind, and The Edge of the Sea.  In Carsons books, she included information such as geologic discoveries, underwater research, how islands were formed, how currents changed and merged, how tempature affects sea life, how erosion impacts not just shore lines but salinity, fish populations, and tiny-micro-organisms.  As a conservationalist, Carson asked the 'hard' questions about whether/why humans had the right to decide who lives and dies and she described this as "controling nature."  Carson alerted the world about the impact that fertalizers and pesticides would have on our environment in her book Silent Spring.  Specifically, Carson warned that DDT was poisoning fish, birds, and humans.  Eventually DDT had a major impact on the Bald Eagle because of their diet being primarily tainted fish.  This caused the population of Bald Eagles to have a sudden decrease.  Carson died on April 14, 1964 at the age of 57.