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, April 19, 2021

    Cotopaxi National Park

  A national park primarily known for its volcano, located in the Province of Cotopaxi, Ecuador.

  • The highest active volcano in the world, located in the Andes in central Ecuador. Its name is Quechuan and means “shining peak.”

  • One of the popular tourist activities in Cotopaxi National Park is climbing to the summit of Cotopaxi Volcano

  • Cotopaxi volcano is part of the chain of volcanoes around the Pacific plate that is commonly known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. Its last eruption was in 2015 which caused the neighboring towns major damage leaving the park closed for almost 3 years.

  • There are estimated to be about 200 different plant species found in Cotopaxi National Park. 

  • There are several vegetation zones to the park because of the varying elevations.

  • National Park include foxes, bears, pumas, wolves, wild horses, condors, and rabbits

  • Fun fact, you can actually see Ecuador's national bird in this park

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Camp Fire (California's deadliest wildfire)

The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history. The fire began Thursday, November 8, 2018 at the Camp Creek Road and was finally contained on November 25, 2018. The cause of the fire was a 100-year-old electrical transmission line owned by Pacific Gas and Electric. High temperatures, gusty winds and parched vegetation contributed to its rapid spread.

 The fire burned 153,336 acres of land.The fire destroyed 18,804 structures, with most of the destruction happening in the first 4 hours of the fire. The towns of Paradise and Concow were almost completely destroyed, each losing about 95% of their structures. The fire killed 85 people and 12 civilians and 5 firefighters were injured. The Camp Fire cost a total of $16.65 billion, $16.5 billion in damage and $150 million in fire suppression cost. 

 Pacific Gas and Electric the company responsible for the fire plead guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter and one count of illegally setting a fire. The company estimated its wildfire liability at $30 billion, much of it for the Camp Fire. PG&E has pledged to improve its practices and reduce the risk of fires by, trimming and cutting trees along its power lines.The company will pay $13.5 billion to those who lost their homes and businesses. 

 Cities like Paradise have slowly but surely start to recover because of the fire. The task now is to remove the hundreds of dead and dying trees, and then follow the guidelines of the town’s priorities laid out by its long-term recovery plan. The town of Paradise is on a steady path to rebuilding the city but plans have been postponed because of COVID-19. But this has not stopped them from rebuilding their city, residents live in RV’s and work everyday so that they may be able to live again in a place they once called home.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

  • Located in the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley, in southern Colorado.  This park features North America's tallest dunes, rising over 750 feet high against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

  • The dunes cover an area of about 30 sq mi (78 km2) and are estimated to contain over 1.2 cubic miles (5 billion cubic metres) of sand.

  • After the lake in the valley disappeared, only sand was left, and the southwestern wind forced it to head to the mountains , eventually forming a huge field of sand over tens of thousands of years.

The four primary components of the Great Sand Dunes system are the mountain watershed, the dunefield, the sand sheet, and the sabkha.

Sand Systems

  • Watershed- The valley flows from alpine tundra and lakes through the Appalpin and Montana woodlands, and sand from the bottom of the valley is captured and transported back to the valley. The recycling of water and wind contributes to the height of the sand.
    • Dune field- where the tallest sand hill reside. It is stabilized by opposing wind directions creeks that recycle sand back into it.

    • Sand sheet- the largest component of the Great Sand Dunes geological system, made up of sandy grasslands that extend around three sides of the main dune field. The sand sheet is the primary source of sand for the Great Sand Dunes.

    • Sabkha- forms where sand is seasonally saturated by rising ground water. When the water evaporates away in late summer, minerals similar to baking soda cement sand grains together into a hard, white crust.


    • Evidence of human habitation in the San Luis Valley dates back about 11,000 years

    • This was toward the end of the last Ice Age, when large amounts of sand and sediment were washing into the valley, and began blowing in the wind as the waters retreated.

    Sunday, March 21, 2021

    John Muir "World's Greatest Conservationlist"

    John Muir

          John Muir is an influential Scottish naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, and glaciologist. He was born on April 21,1838 in Dunbar, Scotland, and later immigrated to America when he was 11. As a child, he always had a knack for learning and would begin inventing tools for his family farm at a young age. These inventions were things like a table saw, horse feeders, and wooden thermostats. One day during a fair, John Muir was recruited by the University of Wisconsin after seeing one of his inventions. But in 1863 he eventually left the University of Wisconsin and pursued his dream to study botany and explore the world on foot.     John went on to travel places like all over the world by foot and during every exploration, he would make detailed sketches of the terrain he traveled and write ecology-oriented articles. But as he went from place to place he took on different jobs to support himself. There’s even a story about when he was working at a factory in 1867. He was involved in an accident in which caused him to be blinded for some time. But once he regained his sight, he focused back on his devotion to nature and walked from Indiana to Florida.     In the 1870s he went to the California Yosemite Valley, while there Muir began having his articles published in newspapers. His first printed essay appeared in the New York Tribune and In the paper he offered groundbreaking theories about Yosemite’s geological structures being formed by glacial activity, countering previous scientific ideas. Along with that he also published many other essays pushing for nature conservation. Muir went on to do this for other places like Sequoia, California, Mt. Rainer, Washington, and Grand Canyon, Arizona wherein his articles he pushed for the government to conserve these places so the wildlife and attractions there can be protected. Which then lead to those places all becoming national parks under the US Government, and John Muir was given the nickname ‘father of national parks’.     In 1892 Muir co-founded the Sierra Club and was president of the environmental-advocacy organization for more than 20 years. With the Sierra Club, he made history in 1903 and hosted a three-night camping trip with Theodore Roosevelt. This helped the president make conservationist policies and protect wildlife in the country. Even after Muir’s death on December 24, 1914, in Los Angeles, California, the Sierra Club has played an important role in many environmental projects and government policies. Today the Sierra Club still advocates for nature and has made it their job to educate people about nature and how to take care of it. Also, John Muir is remembered with the metal John Muir Statue which is located in Dunbar, Scotland, and a wooden statue in Sequoia National Park where he is labeled one of the world’s greatest conservationists. Thank you John Muir for your service to nature!


     Great Smog of London


    • Great Smog of London, lethal smog that covered the city of London for five days (December 5–9) in 1952, caused by a combination of industrial pollution and high-pressure weather conditions. 

    • There was a combination of smoke and fog brought the city to a near standstill and resulted in thousands of deaths. Its consequences prompted the passing of the Clean Air Act four years later, which marked a turning point in the history of environmentalism.

    Big Smoke Settles In

    • The smog was so dense that residents in some sections of the city were unable to see their feet as they walked. For five days, the Great Smog paralyzed London and crippled all transportation, except for the London Underground train system.

    • Every was canceled due to all  of the smoke in the air. Conductors holding flashlights walked in front of London’s iconic double-decker buses to guide drivers down city streets.

    • Authorities advised parents to keep their children home from school, partly from fear they would get lost in the blinding smog. Looting, burglaries and purse snatchings increased as emboldened criminals easily vanished into the darkness.

    Health Effects of the Great Smog

    • Heavy smokers were especially vulnerable because of their already-impaired lungs, and smoking was common at the time, especially among men.

    • The smoke was lethal particularly for the elderly, young children and those with respiratory problems.

    • Initial reports estimated death rate was about 4,000 died prematurely in the immediate aftermath of the smog.

    • After five days of living in a sulfurous hell, the Great Smog finally lifted on December 9, when a brisk wind from the west swept the toxic cloud away from London and out to the North Sea.

    Sunday, March 14, 2021

    Great Pacific Garbage Patch

     The great pacific garbage path is a garbage patch located in the central north pacific ocean.

    It covers a lot of area with trashes. It almost a twise the size of texas.

    This garbage patch is divided into two area. The eastern Garbage patch between hawaii and california. And  the western garbage patch japan to hawaii islands

    This garbage patch is consist of big and small trashes. But there are some tiny microplastic and this microplastic is hard to removed from the ocean because there is no Technology or equipment for this large amount of tiny trashes.

    And also it is difficult to deal with this beacuse this area is too big so it coast a lot and need lots of work.

    Because plastic takes a lot of time to get rid of. The level of pollution is  rises highly every year.

    In addition, this garbage patch  damage a marine life and a human life.

    For example the turtle see the platic bag as a jelly fish and the turtle consume plastic bag. 

    A fish eats nicroplastic and other trashes and that fish is coming to our meal. And we are eating the plastic

    Experts say that new technology is needed to dispose of this large amount of garbage.

    Sunday, February 28, 2021

    Chernobyl Disaster

      The Chernobyl disaster was a steam explosion that happened in a nuclear power plant in Ukraine on April 26, 1986. On that day operators were performing safety tests on the RBMK reactor (An RBMK reactor is a giant tank that holds radioactive elements) which included putting the reactor in dangerously low power state. During this low-power state, xenon began to build up causing the nuclear fission process to be blocked which also caused the core temperature to rise, making the water to boil and produce steam. The steam makes the nuclear fission more efficient, speeding it up. This produces more heat which boils the water faster, creating more steam. With all this steam built up and no possible way to escape the steam caused an explosion. This steam explosion caused another explosion where graphite was shot into the air creating a chemical reaction that terminated the nuclear reactions in the core and it was so powerful it made a big hole in the reactor building. The disaster resulted in the death of 28 operators and firemen. In the months to come, several others would die because of the amount of radiation that was exposed to them.

    The accident caused the largest uncontrolled radioactive release in the environment. Radioactive substances were released into the air for about 10 days and traveled over Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and to some extent over Scandinavia and Europe. A forest close to Chernobyl has been named the “Red Forest” because so many trees turned reddish-brown and died after absorbing high levels of radiation. No animals died as a direct result of the explosion but Soviet officers were ordered to shoot any stray animals within the 1000-square-mile this was the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

    Since there are 11 operational RBMK reactors in Russia changes were made for safety reasons. The Vienna Convention was reformed, to be an international agreement regulating treaties between states. It establishes comprehensive rules, procedures, and guidelines for how treaties are generally operated. (this convention will be exclusively relevant to a nuclear incidents).