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, 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.