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!

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.