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, August 26, 2018

The Blue Jay

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The blue jay is a majestic but aggressive bird that can be found throughout most of the United States. It measures 9-12 inches in length, has a wingspan of 34-43 cm, and weighs between 2.5 and 3.5 oz. The bird is a shining blue with a white belly. The blue jay also possesses a crest not eh top of its head that shows how hostile or not hostile the bird is. If the crest is pointed upwards, the bird is in a hostile state. If the crest is flat, the bird is in a docile state of mind. Blue jays have the unique ability to communicate through this body language as well as having a large range of vocalizations. In addition, the blue jay snacks on mainly insects and seeds. Occasionally it finds itself wandering into another nest for other eggs, but this activity is rare. Blue jays reside on the edges of forests and can be found in both suburban and even urban areas. It prefers to build nests in oak trees and bird feeders are a huge attraction. Blue jays are able to mimic the screech of a hawk to scare other birds away from feeders, making resources easier to exploit. Due to the blue jay's ability to mimic other birds and their territorial behavior, they are not in danger. However, studies have shown a 28% population decline from 1996-2015. Scientists have their eye on this decline and are making sincere efforts to prevent any further decline.            

Monday, April 23, 2018

Kuwaiti Oil Fires

In 1991, during the end Operation Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein was on the verge of losing. Saddam's army was being pushed out of Kuwaiti,but Saddam did not want to give up so easily. Saddam ordered his men to go into Kuwaiti and blow up around 700 oil wells. The fires were so fierce that firefighters were not able stop the fires. There was also land mines found next to the oil wells that made turning off  the oil wells much harder. The oil fires lasted for ten months and did 1.5 billion dollars of damage to Kuwaiti, and Kuwaiti lost 5 million barrels of oil each day from the fires. Animals also lost their lives from the oily mist.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mount Ruiz Eruption 1985

On November 13 of 1985,the deadliest eruption Colombia ever had was to occur. At 3:06 p.m. Nevado Del Ruiz had mild eruptions creating lava flows. That was only the beginning of the catastrophe, the main explosions would just happen at 9:09 on the evening. 
The eruption itself was just considered a medium sized event, but with unlucky combinations it became a huge tragedy. Molten rock of the volcano produced pyroclastic flows and airfall tephra, which quickly mixed with meltwater from the top of the volcano, creating hot lahars. The hot lahars traveled both north-eastern and north-western, having mainly impact on cities like ChinchinĂ¡, where 200 houses were destroyed and 1000 people were killed and Armero that had most of the city and its population swept away, reaching the incredible number of 23,000 deaths and 4500 injures.
The damage cost was estimated in 1,000,000,000  dollars and this tragedy was classified as the fourth deadliest volcanic eruption in world's history.
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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. 


On April 26, 1996 the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl power plant surged and exploded, spilling tens of tons of radioactivity into the atmosphere. As the operators decided to run the reactor on low power, the cooling system failed and the temperature soared, bursting pipes and exposing the core to the environment. As the cloud of radiation spread across the majority of Europe the affect of the explosion became extremely harmful. As the initial explosion took place, two workers were killed and in the following days multiple more workers died of acute radiation sickness. A total of close to 500,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area in attempt to save them from the dangers of radiation. Contamination to human food sources and also to the large areas of pasture around the site would become a major issue to people of the soviet union. Though management was set in place to regulate the contamination, not enough caution was taken. Over 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer are linked directly to Chernobyl and the analyzation of the entire affect is still ongoing. The explosion has also taken a toll on the environment. It is known as the "Zone of Alienation" and humans are not permitted access to the grounds. Everything within a large radius of the plant is highly radioactive and the area will not be compatible for human settlement for at least another 20,000 years. However, the woodland just outside the "Zone of Alienation" is home to some of the most unique and diverse wildlife on Earth.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Cuyahoga River Fire

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The Cuyahoga river was once a filthy river contaminated from top to bottom of the river. Not until the national environmental act was passed. There have been 13 river fires from the date of 1868 to 1969. Due to the factories located near the river and dumping all of its wastes into the river it had created a oil layer in the top of the river cause it to get in flamed when trains would pass by. They only decided to pass the act in January 1 1970 after the last river fire. But it was through lots of effort they decided to keep the river clean. From the very first river fire in 1868 to the 1912 where they had a toll of five deaths and the 1952 where the cost to repair everything was up to 1.5 million dollars. After the river was completely dead in 1960 where there was only 2 species of fish left in the river they still decided to keep the river as is. But the 13th river fire the 1969 was the game changer. The fire reaching height of 5 stories after putting out the flames they decide to clean thee river. wasting billions of dollar to purify the river and now up to 60 new species of fish now live in the river.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Donora smog

Image result for donora pennsylvaniaDonora Pennsylvania was hit by a smog on October 26 in 1948. The smog was caused by the smelting of zinc and melting of  metals from plants.The people of Donora Pennsylvania were hit with a fog that trapped the pollutants from the zinc causing a thick white cloud which looked like fog. Soon after the 14,000 resident felt the effects of the smog. People with Pre-existing health conditions, mostly old people, started to die. People of Donora were in a panic trying to evacuate but was unsuccessful because of the smog being to thick for people to drive.Zinc works the company running the smelting plants in Donora finally decided to shut down the plants, this was a smart move because it improved the conditions. The Donora smog incident revived national news coverage people are more aware of air pollution in the United states. This also lead to the United States passing an act called the clean air act of 1955 which gave government funding to the research of air pollution in the U.S.A.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Glacier National Park

The Glacier National Park is located in the state of Montana near the United States-Canada border. Glacier National Park was founded on May 11, 1910 and has since been home to various types of wildlife. The park covers more than 1 million acres of land and includes two mountain ranges, more than 100 lakes, over 1,000 species of plants, and hundreds of animals throughout the entire park. Some of the plants that can be found include the subalpine fir, the purple aster, the moonwort fern, the rock harlequin, and more. Animals such as the bald eagle, the pygmy shrew, the Clark's nutcracker, and the long-toed salamander can also be found roaming around. Most plants throughout the park are described as annual or biennial plants species, meaning that they live up to one or two years. This is due to the fact that plants find it very hard to adapt to its surrounding, specifically the weather. The weather at this location is very unpredictable, during the summers it can get above ninety degrees Fahrenheit and at night it can get get as low as twenty degrees. If you go higher up the mountains it tends to get a bit chillier due to the wind, and so temperatures tend to be at least 10 degrees cooler. This park also contains numerous ecosystems ranging from tundra to prairie.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park was established in 1890 which was home to the
Ahwahneechee people for thousands of years before settlers arrived in the area. Yosemite National Park is
United States national park lying between Western Sierra of Northern California. Almost 95% of the park of the is classified as wilderness. Yosemite National Park offers an abundance of activities and sightseeing destinations. Yosemite is known for its Waterfalls which includes Yosemite Falls the largest waterfall in North America.  Yosemite National Park supports more than 400 species of vertebrates including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.Three species: grizzly bear, California red legged frog, and foothill yellow legged frog are believed to be extirpated in the park within recent history. An astounding 262 species of birds have been documented in Yosemite. Two Mammals that are being protected from being threatened at Yosemite include the Sierra Nevada Red Fox and the Wolverine.
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a body of marine debris and broken down plastic particles concentrated in the centre of the North Pacific Gyre. Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, it spans from the West Coast of North America to Japan and is a collection of the Western Garbage Patch closer to Japan and the Eastern Garbage Patch closer to America. Research shows that about 80% of this debris is land-based, 65% of which, is plastic that hasn’t been disposed of properly. Carelessly discarded plastics and other garbages makes its way into the ocean by wind, streams or rivers. Another contributor to this disaster is cargo and passenger ships. Ships lose cargo due to storms and it makes its way into the gyre. The ocean’s currents traps the debris in the center of the gyre, creating what could be perceived as an island of disposable plastic and other types of debris. Its estimated size is said to be twice that of Texas. It has been in existence for over fifty years and in that time, over one million pounds of garbage has been accumulated.

Not only is it an unpleasant sight, marine debris is harmful to marine life. Loggerhead turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellies and can choke on it. Albatrosses mistake plastic resin pellets for eggs and feeds it to their young ones. This causes the birds to die of starvation and/or disruptured organs. The garbage blocks out sunlight from the ocean’s autotrophs that depend on it for food. This then changes the food web and as a result, seafood populations slowly deplete and as seafood becomes scarce, it also becomes expensive. In an effort to clean the mess we’ve made and rid the ocean of this disease, eliminating or limiting our use of disposable plastic and switching to biodegradable resources would be a fantastic start. Throwing away our garbage in the appropriate bins is also another way to help. Recycle and Reuse while there is still have time to choose if we win or lose.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

John Muir (Man of Mountains)

John Muir was one of the most influential people in the world because of his role in creating and maintaining our National Parks as much as he could from 1855-1914. This Scottish American man was born from Scotland and later moved to Wisconssin with his family at the age of 11. Fondly enough this national park enthusiast didn't enjoy nature and thought life around the homestead was boring. After seeking a job in a factory, he suffered an industrial accident making him temporarily blind. During and following this incident he started appreciating the things around him for what they were. Muir then realized preserving nature at all costs would take top priority, and so, made it his mission to do so. John graduated from the University of Wisconsin and became an author along with the hobby of a naturalist and enviromental philosopher which he treated like a job. With education and motivation to preserve the surrounding environment, he created a organization known as the Sierra Club. This club focused on caring for parks and preservation camps such as Yosemite, The Great Rainier, and the Grand Canyon parks and still does to this day. John was so influential he even intrigued the president at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, and agreed to have a partnership with him. Together, they greatly supported these parks and today we couldn't be more grateful.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the united states and on this planet. Yellowstone national park was founded on March 1st,1872 by US congress and signed into a law by president Ulysses S. Grant. Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. 96% of the park is located in Wyoming, 3% in Montana, and the last percent in Idaho. This park was home to multiple Native American tribes, and currently is home hundreds of animal species and natural attractions. Due to the significance of this park many things are being protected, 60% of the worlds geysers and hot springs are located in these parks. Things like geothermal and hydrothermal features pools are things that make the park really interesting and attractive. The park also protects cultural information and historical information that pertained to many of the tribes. Yellowstone also inhabits many endangered species on this planet, animals like the gray wolf, bald eagle, grizzle bears and many more. This park is amazing and only hold beautify through and beyond this park. This park continues to be a home for many animals and is a huge tourist attraction for people all around the world.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sir David Attenborough: Symposium

David Frederick Attenborough was born on May 8, 1926, currently 91, in London England. As a young child, Attenborough always wanted to be a natural scientist, which is why he attended the University of Cambridge and studied Natural Sciences. Throughout his life, he became a well known Broadcaster, an excellent Naturalist, and a respected Science Communicator.  
Attenborough briefly served in the British Royal Navy before entering the broadcasting business. The ‘Zoo Quest’ series, which ran from 1954 through 1963, was his first show at BBC. Initially, the producers at BBC did not want Attenborough to host the show because they believed that he had huge teeth. However, he eventually got his shot to host the series and brought a lot of success to the network. This was the beginning of Attenborough's seminal work and contribution to environmental science. He later worked on another series, ‘Life’ (1979), which would set the standard for modern nature documentaries. At the same time he narrated every episode of Wildlife on BBC One, 253 episodes, between 1977 and 2005. In each of these shows, Attenborough describes animals and environments, bringing this kind of information to people all around the world. Attenborough also contributes to the conservation of the environment. In 2006, he publicly backed a BirdLife International project to stop the killing of albatross by longline fishing boats. After giving his support, many others followed his footsteps and eventually got the message through. Attenborough also supported the World Wildlife Fund's campaign for Borneo's rainforest, which was a victim to industrial logging. He is currently the vice-president of BTCV, vice-president of Fauna and Flora International, president of Butterfly Conservation and president of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. These are only a few of the positions that Attenborough holds regarding to the conservation of the environment. Throughout his life he has received many recognitions and awards, including a knighthood and an honorary doctrine from the University of Cambridge.