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!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Zion National Park

The Zion National Park is a 229 square miles, located in the Southwestern of Utah, close to the frontier between the states of Utah and Arizona. The park is made by a huge canyons that have a large variety of height. The desert climate dominates the whole park and makes the ecosystems that exist in the park.Because of the varying heights there are more species of reptiles, mammals, and fishes. Every year the park receives a lot of tourists and it's a very lucrative business for US because with a fee of $12 payed by more than 4 million tourists is equal a profit of more than $52 million beside the money that is made by the extra activities as hiking, camping, canyoning, and etc, what is so popular in the Zion National Park. All these facts make the Zion National Park have a huge importance to the United States.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Donora Smog of 1948 - Donora, Pennsylvania

The Donora Smog of 1948 was an environmental disaster that--through its devastating consequences--brought about a much needed awareness for air pollution. On October 27, 1948, the residents of Donora awoke to a thick smog in the air. This in itself was not a surprise to them. The local factories(Zinc Works and Steel--both of which contributed to a lot of air pollution), and the town's location within a river valley made smogs common. However, there was one chilling difference. Previous smogs usually went away within hours; they never lasted more than a day. But this smog remained for 5 continuous days. Scientists assert that this was because of the conditions under which Donora was at the time. The air was stagnant, and there was an air inversion. These two things combined did not allow for any of the smog to escape. So the smog only thickened as the days continued. On October 31, a wind current combined with rain saved Donora. The wind current allowed for the Stagnant air to move, and the rain eased away all the harmful pollutants on surfaces of buildings, cars, streets, etc. Unfortunately, The Killer Smog had already claimed the lives of 20 and sickened 6,000. In the months that followed, people who had been sickened continued to die. (So, the death toll was sadly much larger). This air pollution disaster, arguably one of the worst, taught America a valuable lesson--the consequence of ignorance. After the disaster, many people began to pay attention to air pollution, which they had never done before. In 1955, the Clean Air Act was passed. This new Act would help fund research that dealt with air pollution and how to do with it, so that another disaster like this would never occur again.
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This image shows a woman walking down the streets
of Donora with a mask to protect her from the toxic chemicals in the air.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson was a marine biologist, environmentalist, and an author of many books such as the " Silent spring, The Edge of the Sea, Under the Sea Wind, and The Sea around us. She also was known to alert the world of  to the environmental impact of pesticides. Carson grew up on a farm where she first started learning about nature and wildlife. As she grew up, she went to all women'c college called Chatham college and then continued her studies at John Hopkins University. This is where she had gotten a Master's degree in zoology. She then started teaching at the University of Maryland for five years then worked at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. There she would make programs that educated people on marine biology. She then became a Marine Biologist herself. During World War II, people started using pesticides. Such pesticides are DDT which was target to kill mosquitoes. Although DDT was targeted to kill mosquitoes, DDT also harmed the environment and made a lot of people sick. She wrote a book called " The Silent Spring", which rejected the use of pesticides. This book helped shape growing environmental consciousness. She died on April 16, 1964 of breast cancer.
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Monday, March 20, 2017

The Glacier National Park that is admired all over the country as well as the continent as it is frequently titled as "The Crown of the Continent". This park is a beautiful place as it attracts many tourrists every year that walk its 734 mile long ntrail. It is also home to many species such as the grey wolf, and the grizzly bears. As portrayed in its name there a number of laciers at the park 25 to be exact. Although that may seem as a lot of glaciers for a park, its only a fraction of what it used to be. According to data gatheredby scientists, in 1868 there were 150 glaciers in the park. This is clear evidence of the climate getting warmer and of the existence of global warmung which is not only destroying many glaciers its also destroying many species. Yet this park still contains its natural beauty as seen in these images here and is a great place which I hope to visit one day.

Monday, March 13, 2017

September 11th

On september 11th Terrorists Hijacked four planes mid flight, attacking the twin towers, and the Pentagon. Becoming the turning point of security in America, almost 3,000 people were killed, and 6,000 injured. Over 1,000 people in the North tower were trapped and died of smoke, or fell to their death. Almost 18,000 people were linked to have toxic dust from the debris. Due to all the debri in the air Over 2,500 substances were released in the air. Substances in the air could have caused liver, heart, and even kidney problems for many. The toxic dust filled the area for another 5 months after the planes crashed. To resolve these problems the state spent millions dollars on cancer programs, and therapy for people who were effected.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Genetically Modified Organisms

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms are organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is the modification of an organism's phenotype by altering its genetic make-up. Genetic engineering is primarily performed by simple mating or gene recombination.
When a gene from one organism is purposely moved to improve or change another organism in a laboratory, the result is a genetically modified organism (GMO). It is also sometimes called "transgenic" for transfer of genes.
There are different ways of moving genes to produce desirable traits. For both plants and animals, one of the more traditional ways is through selective breeding. For example, a plant with a desired trait is chosen and bred to produce more plants with the desirable trait. More recently with the advancement of technology is another technique. This technique is applied in the laboratory where genes that express the desired trait is physically moved or added to a new plant to enhance the trait in that plant. Plants produced with this technology are transgenic. Often, this process is performed on crops to produce insect or herbicide resistant plants, they are referred to as Genetically Modified Crops (GM crops). GMOS are toxic to the environment because they are linked to pesticides and herbicides. They then go onto the plants and then kill the bees that pollinate crops. Also since the plants are GMOS, that means less nectar is produced for pollinators. The DNA modification takes away essential nutrients that the plants need to grow which will damage the plants which will damage the food chain.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Endangered Species Act

Nature and its wildlife are considered to be beautiful and heavenly amongst a great deal of people. To preserve its beauty, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973 during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Congress realized that nature has an educational and scientific value that is beneficial to the United States and its citizens.  The Endangered Species Act provides the protection and preservation of any “endangered” or “threatened” species and their habitats. Those who deem these species as endangered or threatened are the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Before any species can be listed as endangered or threatened, the FWS and NMFS considers 5 factors in evaluating a species. These factors are: Damage to, or destruction of a species’ habitat, over utilization of the species for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes, disease or predation, inadequacy of existing protection and  other natural or manmade factors that affect the continued existence of the species. Any animal or plant, except for pest insect, can be listed. Since The Endangered Species Act is a federal law, violators will face the consequences if they are to harm, harass, or kill any of the listed species. These perpetrators can face up to a year in prison or fines up to $100,000.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon is an ultra-deepwater, dynamically positioned, semi-submersible mobile offshore oil drilling unit. It was built in South Korea by Hyundai heavy industries in 2001. BP took it on lease from 2001 from Transocean. In September 2009, the rig drilled deepest oil well in history at a depth of 35,050 feet in Tiber oil field at Keathley Canyon. In 2010, it was commissioned in the Mexican Gulf. On April 21st, 2010, there was a major disaster. The methane gas that leaked went to the generators that were extremely hot and producing hot vapor, thus causing a sudden explosion. This explosion was followed by subsequent fire and the crew members had to evacuate immediately. Only 11 died of the 126. The drilling oil unit sank a day later after the incident. Nearly 4,000 square miles of oil was spilled. (The size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined!!). 17 million dollars were lost just in the oil spill itself.  BP total cost of the disastered reach a staggering 54 billion dollars. Thousands of species were affected by the oil spill. Many fish species are at the verge of extinct such as Atlantic bluefin tuna, Gulf sturgeon, smalltooth sawfish, and the dwarf seahorse. 500 species live in the gulf and oil spill is toxic for all life stages of fish and could affect reproduction for at least decades. 82,000 birds, 6,000 sea turtles and 26,000 marine mammals were harmed. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) had many ways to clean up the oil. However, there was one that was extremely toxic; dispersal. Spilled oil naturally disperses through storms, currents, and osmosis with the passage of time. Chemical dispersants accelerate the dispersal process, although they may have significant side effects. The EPA was unaware that Corexit contain many chemicals related to skin irritation, eye itching, burns, and worst of all; cancer. Many families were affected by this disaster. Many people could not go swimming or fishing. Many children were playing around oil. The WaTCH (Woman and their children's health) orginzation did a study and found that many children and woman were greatly affected. Many experienced wheezing, extreme coughing, short breathes, itching, stuffed nose, and many other side efffects.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill had a massive impact on the US. To this day, it is the largest environmental disaster in US history. Thousands upon thousands of speacies were greatly affected. All the oil was not clenaed up. About 80% of the oil is still in the Gulf of Mexico.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Image result for chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl is a small town in Ukraine that is widely known for being home of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. This town is mainly farmland with about 12,000 residents and the plant was built in 1977 with four reactors. On April 26, 1986, operators of the nuclear plant were running a test on backup generators and a new cooling system. During the test, the reactors overheated creating an explosion and fire which destroyed the fourth reactor and released large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. Two people died the night of the accident due to the explosion and 28 other operators and fireman died due to radiation poisoning. To prevent more deaths, Chernobyl created the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Zone of Alienation forcing everyone living within a 19 mile radius to be evacuated. A containment structure was also built and captured about 200 tons of nuclear fuel and debris. This disaster was more of speculation and assumption rather than facts and evidence. Even though 6,000 cases of cancer are linked to the exposure, people panicked and feared the worst when it couldn't do that much harm to a person. But, there are many environmental effects caused by the disaster. Trees died and turned a bright ginger color, forest food products had the highest level of radiation, many animals died from exposure and radioactive materials were deposited into rivers. After the disaster, the power plant continued operation until being permanently closed in 2000. The exclusion zone is one of the most radioactive areas in the world but many thriving animals live in these areas. A new containment structure was built over Chernobyl to prevent anymore contamination in 2016 and tours are available.

Isaiah Whitaker