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!

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Meaning and Purpose of Nature

We, as a class, probably have a lot of different views about what the natural world is meant to do for us and what it is meant to be for our planet.  For instance, some people feel that everything in nature is at humans' disposal and we should take whatever we want, however we want.  Others feel that nature is to be cherished and protected, as it contains many life forms.  There are so many points of view.

What is yours?  You may find that your point of view is influenced by political, religious, or cultural beliefs and practices, and that is fine.  Your comment should clearly communicate your beliefs and why you believe them.  Always proofread, spellcheck, and read over your post aloud with a friend to make sure it makes sense.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Acadia National Park

The park was founded in 1916 by Charles Eliot and George B Dorr, with the help of Charles W Eliot, Charles Eliot's father. It attained federal status when President Woodrow Wilson established it on July 8, 1916. The fire of 1947 began October 17,1947 burning 10,000 acres beginning along the Crooked Road several miles west of Hulls Cove. It ended on the 14th of November, and was fought by the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, and local residents. The park includes mountains, woodlands, lakes, and an ocean shoreline. In total the National Park consists of more than 47,000 acres. There are over 40 species of mammals; red and grey squirrels, chipmunks, white tail deer, moose, beavers,muskrats, and porcupines, foxes, coyotes ,bobcats, and black bears. The park is found in Maine. Acadia National Park is the third oldest National Park east of the Mississippi. 

Light Pollution

Imagine viewing the night sky in rural Pennsylvania. Next, imagine moving to an urban city. You'll immediately notice the difference in the night skies. Light Pollution is a type of pollution that many overlook. Light Pollution is an excess of artificial lights. It consists of four components: Urban Sky Glow, Light Trespass, Glare, and Clutter. Each of these components play a crucial role in how the environment is affected. Interfering with our internal sleep schedule called the Circadian clock, along with interfering with the activities of Nocturnal animals. Although artificial light has allowed us to work longer at night, it also hinders our ability to wake up in the morning by disrupting our internal awareness of night and day.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch refers to a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. It spans from the west coast of North America to Japan. Additionally, the Western Garbage Patch (near Japan) and the Eastern Garbage Patch (between Hawaii and California) are linked by the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, which is located in the North Pacific Subtropical "
Gyre" (system of rotating currents). The circular direction of the gyre drives debris to the center and since the water moves slower towards the center, it traps the debris.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was discovered by Charles Moore in 1997 as his team was sailing from Hawaii to California. According to the National Geographic, 80% of debris comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia while the remaining percent comes from boats and large cargo ships(mainly in the form of old fishing nets). The plastic in the patches does not biodegrade (get eaten by bacteria and other living organisms). Instead, it photodegrades (breaks down from sun exposure) and breaks into tiny pieces (microplastics) that act like sponges and absorb toxic chemicals. These pieces of plastic are hard to discover because they cannot be identified by the naked eye, may look like other small marine creatures, and may not rise to the surface. As the plastic lingers, it can entangle other creatures, prohibiting them from breathing, moving or eating, which ultimately leads to death. Also, other creatures may mistaken the plastic products for their prey and if enough plastic is consumed, their intestines will be clogged and they will starve to death. The debris disrupts food webs because the microplastics block sunlight which hinder the rate at which primary producers such as plankton and algae can produce food for the other organisms in the ecosystem. As a result, the different populations of species will suffer due to the lack of food.

Marine Debris easily accumulates in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch 
There has not been one individual country that has made a strong effort to clean up this mess because it is very far from any country's coastline. However, individual organizations like "The Ocean Cleanup" are trying to raise money to clean up the mess. Besides the efforts of similar organizations, scientists and explorers have urged the public to refrain from using disposable plastics and to increase our use of biodegradable resources. This monstrous problem can be contained if it is a communal effort.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

James Lovelock

My presentation was on James Lovelock. James Lovelock started as just another curious young boy who hunted what he wanted to know. When James Loveock was a four years old his parents gave him a box of wires for Christmas and he wondered why he needed two wires to pass a current when dealing with things like gas or water. James received his degree in chemistry from Manchester University, his D.Sc in biophysics from London University, and his Ph.d in medicine at the London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. James Lovelock was most known for inventing the electron capture detector and his Gaia hypothesis. James' Gaia theory proposed a whole different view of our planet.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989 and spilled 11 to 38 million US gallons of crude oil. The Valdez spill was the largest in US waters until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in terms of volume released.The region is a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The oil, originally extracted at the Prudhoe Bay oil field, eventually covered 1,300 miles of coastline. Captain Joseph Hazelwood, who was widely reported to have been drinking heavily that night, was not at the controls when the ship struck the reef. The radar was not turned on. In fact, the tanker's radar was left broken and disabled for more than a year before the disaster, and Exxon management knew it.It took more than four summers of cleanup efforts before the effort was called off .Chemical dispersant, a surfactant and solvent mixture, was applied to the slick. Because there was not enough wave action to mix the dispersant with the oil in the water, the use of the dispersant was discontinued. One trial explosion was also conducted during the early stages of the spill to burn the oil, in a region of the spill isolated from the rest by another explosion. The test was relatively successful, reducing 113,400 liters of oil to 1,134 liters of removable residue, but because of unfavorable weather no additional burning was attempted. The cleanup effort included 10,000 workers, about 1,000 boats and roughly 100 airplanes and helicopters. Exxon says it spent about $2.1 billion on the cleanup effort. Thousands of gallons of Exxon Valdez oil still pollute areas; this oil is still toxic and still hurting the ecosystem near the shore. The government considers, as of 2010, only 13 of the 32 monitored wildlife populations, habitats and resource services that were injured in the spill as fully recovered or very likely recovered. This includes a pod of orcas, which lost 15 of its 22 members after the spill with only of older female left. Persistent oil poisoning, and a cascade of ecological effects, continue.

Monday, January 11, 2016

John Muir The Father of National Parks

       My presentation was on John Muir. He is known as "the father" of our national park system. He got the help of President Theodore Roosevelt they laid the foundation of Roosevelt's innovative and notable conservation programs. John Muir founded the Sierra Club and helped establish Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.John Muir was most likely this country's most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Chernobyl is a town in Pripyat, Ukraine. The Chernobyl nuclear Power Plant was commissioned by the government in 1977. The Chernobyl accident was the worst nuclear power plant accident in recorded history. The accident was mainly due to human error and machine malfunction. Once home to 14,000 residents, an estimated number of 500 people reside today due to radiation. The nuclear fallout was greater that of the intentional bombing of Japan with the atom bomb in Hiroshima. The possibility of a second explosion caused scientist to get back to work. As a result, 500,00 soldiers would fight for 7 months to stop the explosion. The explosion would have had a reaction of 3 to 5 megatons, causing half of europe to be wiped out. The government lied about the effects of the Chernobyl explosion. Telling everything was fine, although over 10,000 people had already been admitted to the hospital. Out of all of this, the most dangerous thing was not the explosion of Chernobyl, but the lie of the government.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle is:

Actions should be taken to prevent damage to the environment even in cases where there is no absolute proof of a causal link between emissions or activity and detrimental environmental effect.  Embedded in this is the notion that there should be a reversal of the "burden of proof" whereby the onus is now on the operator to prove that his action will not cause harm rather than on the environment to prove that harm (is occurring or) will occur.

In other words, should those who wish to introduce a new chemical, a new industrial process, a land-use change, and so on, have to demonstrate that their change will not harm the environment before proceeding?

QUESTION:  Do you accept or reject the precautionary principle?  Explain and defend your answer.  Examples of why you accept the principle, or why you reject the principle, are always good to include.

Proofread your blog comment for grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.