May 2012 Archives

I. Like. Turtles.

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How We Can Be the Solution

When the baby sea turtle leaves the nest, it can become so disoriented from the artificial light that it fails to find the ocean. The hatchling also becomes susceptible to dehydration and predatory violence from animals in the surrounding area. The output of light flow from artificial lighting has increased by 73% from 1960 to 2008 measured in Lux (lx), a measurement of each unit of light flow per square meter along the coastline of the United States. (Raymond 2008). Even with the presence of light increase, there are still multiple, inexpensive, and extremely effective ways to manage the flow of light onto the beaches. The first step is to simply turn the lights off. Private property owners can be more conscious; using curtains or blinds to keep unnecessary light from reaching the ocean at night. In addition, outside lights should exist on the side of the house facing the street rather than the beach. Lamps used to illuminate the beach for safety reasons can use sensor technology to turn off and on when people are present. Moreover, illuminated walkways that lead to the beach can be put in place to reduce the overall number of light sources that directly penetrate the beach. A compromise can be made with restaurants and commercial business to turn off their exterior lights during the nesting-hatching season, but remain on the rest of the year. These alternatives are much easier and more economically sound options that do not inhibit the surrounding beach area if the region continues to develop. (Raymond 2008). The intent this research is not to draw attention to the problems that only affect the sea turtle population, but to draw attention to other potential problems. I hope that this will help you recognize another crisis in your own area of interest. The ability for a light source to have such negative long-term effects, really puts into perspective how even the smallest change in the environment can produce enormous shifts in day-to-day life.  

Works Cited:

Mrosovsky, N., and S.F. Kingsmill. 1985. "How Turtles Find the Sea." ProQuestEducational Journals. Pg. 26-27. Web. 22 April, 2012.

Podolsky, Richard. 2003. "Bright Lights, Big Ocean." International Dark-SkyAssociation (IDA)-Information Sheet 193. Pg. 1-2. Web. 21 April, 2012.

Raymond, Price. 1984. "The Effects of Beach Restoration on Marine turtles Nesting in South Brecard County, Florida." University of Central Florida Press. Pg. 112. Web. 22 April 2012. 

Rossotti, Harold. 1983. "Optic Orientation in Hatchlings of the Sea Turtle." PrincetonUniversity Press. Princeton, New Jesery. Pg. 23. 16 May 1983.

Witherington, Blair. Martin, Erick. 2000. "Understanding, Assessing, and ResolvingLight-Pollution Problems on Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches." Florida Marine Research Institute Technical Reports . Pg. 1-70. Web. 21 April, 2012.

I. Like. Turtles.

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The Current Problem

Two thirds of the world's largest cities are located on the coast. These numbers are just as striking in the United States, as the coastal lines are inhabited by almost half of the country's population and housing developments. Furthermore, the coastal populations in the U.S. have grown by more than 47 million people from 1960 to 2008. (Podolsky, Richard 2003). The increase in population along America's coastline has resulted in an influx of environmental problems plaguing the sea turtle population, that stem from something as habitual as turning on a lamp. Turtles jeopardize the livelihood of their hatchlings as their nesting sites become consumed by the presence of artificial lighting. (Witherington, Blair and Martin, Erick 2000). As the city's limits grow and the shorelines of the continent become more developed, the presence of artificial lighting from homes, streets, and commercial businesses are growing at an alarming rate. This poses the greatest threat to the birth rate of the sea turtle population because when a hatchling leaves the nest, it depends on the light emitted by stars in the sky to navigate its way to the ocean. (Rossotti 1983). Artificial light handicaps the light emitted from the night's sky, tempering with the nocturnal behavior of the hatchling. Studies have demonstrated that mechanisms in the eyes and brain of the hatchling use brightness as a navigational cue to find their way to the ocean. When a baby sea turtle is born, the hatchling is partially blindfolded by the second layer of eyelid used by the eyes as protection from the sunlight. Therefore, baby sea turtles rely on the level and arrangement of light in the sky to find their way to the ocean, known as the Complex Phototropotaxis System. (Mrosovsky and Kingsmill 1985). This system becomes obsolete if the brightness of the sky is altered by light pollution because baby sea turtles will move in the direction where there is the most light. The level of light pollution affecting traditional nesting beaches has grown to the point that artificial light pollution has been found to cause almost 1,000 hatchlings deaths per nesting season. A typical nesting area produces over 4,000 hatchlings per year, but the statistic above indicates that one-fourth of the baby sea turtle population are being sacrificed due to the presence of light. (Podolsky, Richard 2003).

I. Like. Turtles.

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Similar to the YouTube sensation of a little boy advocating his fondness for turtles during a Halloween celebration, I would find that most people support the statement above. However, it seems that turtles are just another animal being added to the list of species threatened by the human population. Six of the seven species of sea turtles that inhabit the earth are recognized and classified as an endangered species due to dangers such as: accidental capture, entanglement in fishing gear, the lost of nesting and feeding sites to coastal development, poaching, and ocean pollution. While these problems all pose a significant threat to the sea turtle nation, there has been a lack of attention geared towards the importance of conserving nesting and feeding sites. Locations where sea turtles lay their eggs are constantly facing industrial encroachment that increases the level of artificial lighting along the beaches. Today, artificial light pollution is one of the main contributors to the rising infant mortality rate of baby sea turtles, but it also remains to be a one of the easier problems to control and eventually irradiate.

Support the Reburial of Jim Thorpe

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Earlier in the semester, we briefly talked about Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe was a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma. Some have called him the greatest athlete of the twentieth century. Few dispute the claim. Regardless of his accomplishments in life, the source of much of his fame has come from a decade's long struggle over his remains. The borough of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania and Thorpe's two surviving sons are the combatants.

When Jim Thorpe died, his entire family made arrangements to have him buried in his home. He would be returned to his native land, as he wished, and services would follow the traditional Sac and Fox Nation rites. His wife interrupted the ceremony and later, when his planned memorial was repealed, began dragging the remains around the country to find a place that would build him a proper memorial and pay her for it. She eventually came to Mauch Chunk in Pennsylvania. The town was renamed Jim Thorpe and a mausoleum was built.

I have personally visited this town several times; certainly not pay homage to Thorpe the man. At no point during my visit was I under the impression that the townspeople were touting their status as the burial place of Jim Thorpe. It seemed secondary and not at all fitting for the greatest Native American athlete ever. The town believes it must honor its contractual obligation to Thorpe's wife. It sees the current struggle as a mere family issue that Thorpe's sons will have to get over and not an issue of Native rights.

The fact is, Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 1990. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/battle-over-athlete-jim-thorpes-burial-site-continues/2012/02/21/gIQAn5DLES_story_4.html) This act was meant to "undo" the unacceptable grave robbing of Native burial grounds that has occurred since 1867. Skeletons and remains of native peoples were displayed in museums. To me, the Jim Thorpe memorial in the town is just a museum. I believe it is astonishing that the remains have not been returned to his home yet, if not even out of respect.

Reference, previously shared by Mr. Dubose:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/battle-over-athlete-jim-thorpes-burial-site-continues/2012/02/21/gIQAn5DLES_story.html

For more information about the Sac and Fox Nation, go to:

http://www.sacandfoxnation-nsn.gov/

To show support for the reburial of Jim Thorpe, go to:

http://www.jimthorperestinpeace.com/Support.HTM

The Circle of Life: Seafood and Penguins

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The little bird who is always tuxedo-suited-up is in danger of extinction.  Once again humanity is the reason for this unfortunate occurrence.  Penguins are in trouble and we have got to do something to help them.  Their home is being destroyed as a result of what human industrialization is doing to the environment.  The countless ships traveling throughout their waters have been terrorizing the African Penguin's home for many years--in the last eight years the population has decreased over 50%!  Half of the African penguin population is gone!  Oil spills have assisted in destroying their food supply, we all need to eat to live and now the penguins have nothing to eat.  Fishermen threaten whatever amount of the food supply that isn't destroyed by pollution.  We often forget that the food we buy in the grocery store came from the wild--who knew! 

The oceans are taken advantage of so badly it's impossible for the fish to replenish themselves as fast as humans are capturing them.   Fishing seems like a swell activity that will result in lasting memories with grandfathers and grandsons on a holiday, the world needs to realize it will also result in extinction of many animals.   Elliot Norse of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Washington said, "We're not really fishing there.  We're mining there." when asked about deep sea fishing.  Did you know that it takes some types of fish 40 years to mature? That means certain types of fish do not have the ability to reproduce as quickly as we capture them.  The popular film Happy Feet features friendly penguin pals facing environmental difficulties.  The film has partnered up with Seafood Watch in order to raise awareness of the rapidly growing problem of overfishing. http://www2.warnerbros.com/happyfeet/seafood.html <-This link features a video entitled Where did all the fish go? That shares shocking statistics like "90% of the big fish in the world's oceans are gone." GONE!  Please check out the links below to learn more about how to help save seafood and our penguins.

 

References:

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

 

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-02-19-overfishing-depths_x.htm

http://www.care2.com/causes/penguin-species-in-danger-of-extinction.html

Landfills on both solid ground and floating in our lakes and oceans could be diminished through recycling.  The list of things that are thrown away instead of reused and recycled is shocking.  I am ashamed to say I wasn't educate about the simple things I can do to stop adding to the landfills. One woman, LuAnn Foty, began recycling by teaching her children the importance of reusing old crayons by melting them down to create new ones.  Foty's idea blossomed into a company, Crazy Crayons, LLC with her main belief remaining, "If you teach the kids, they teach the parents."  Crazy Crayons has stopped over 80,000 pounds of crayons from entering landfills.  Reading information on this site moved me to send an e-mail to my elementary school asking them to join me in helping to improve the environment. 

Any tennis player knows how quickly the balls lose their bounce, making them virtually useless to an avid player.  I discovered that there is also a company dedicated to putting the bounce back in these balls, the company is so dedicated to the cause they send the donator of the old balls prepaid shipping labels--it costs people NOTHING to recycle something they would have just tossed aside.  The organization, reBounces, has recycled 1,897,808 balls in the last four years. This eliminates countless tons of garbage from landfills.  My summer gym credit was a tennis class, each student had to purchase nine tennis balls because they would lose their bounce so quickly.  This really makes me wonder how many tennis instructors are aware that this type of recycling effort is available to them. 

I found so many different ways we can all help reuse everyday items, I want to share one more.  Sneakers.  Remember a few months ago when a certain C.E.O stole every Penn Staters heart, if you forgot you can watch this again, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbkZFriUZLk - Well, I found something else we can start to love about Nike--the Reuse a Shoe movement. http://www.nikereuseashoe.com/ On this website I learned that you can take old shoes to almost ANY Nike store and have them recycled.  I am ashamed that I never knew how simple other people are making it to save the planet.  The website not only tells people how to recycle shoes, but gives a few other useful tips on how to make a difference.  

Landfills are a problem.  One we contribute to without giving it a second thought.  If you think what you do doesn't make a difference on the world, please, take a moment to read some stories of the inspiring people who decided that they CAN change something.  Take something away from their story and start making your own.

 

References:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/slideshow.cfm?id=earth-day-10-surprising-recyling-efforts

http://www.rebounces.com/ -

www.crazycrayons.com

Pebble Mine

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In southwest Alaska, plans are underway to construct North America's largest copper and gold mine.  Called Pebble Mine, the mine would endeavor to harvest North America's largest known deposit of gold and copper.  Gold has its value in many things, ranging from jewelry to electronic parts, and copper is used in today's technology as well, with its value also seen in the emerging green economy.  Supporters of the mine praise its eventual ability to generate more jobs, and that it will generate immense tax revenue for the state of Alaska.  Also, if successful, the mine could generate around 80 billion pounds of copper, and over 100 million ounces of gold.  However, the bulk of the controversy surrounding the mine comes from its location, which serves to be problematic due to the high environmental hazards that mines can have. 

            Pebble mine would sit between two rivers that drain into Bristol Bay, home to a large fishing industry.  A mine of Pebble's size would produce massive amounts of environmentally hazardous tailings, which could produce acid mine drainage, which I talked about in my first post.  The acidic drainage could seep into Bristol Bay, poisoning the water and killing large populations of fish.  To prevent this, plans have been made to create large dams to store the tailings, filling two valleys with large lakes.  However, the location of the dams would reside in a high earthquake risk area, and if ever an earthquake were to hit, the dams could be damaged to the point where large quantities of sulfuric acid could drain into Bristol Bay. The mine would also have a very significant environmental footprint.  Massive quantities of energy would be needed to power the mine, and roads built to supply and ship material could disrupt eco-systems surrounding the area, potentially throwing off the migration patterns of certain animals, and hindering the hunting practices of local native tribes.  Also, the amount of money generated by the fishing and tourism industry is far more than the possible tax revenue generated from Pebble Mine.

            Pebble, however, has taken these concerns into consideration, investing almost $120 million into research, research which includes studying the potential environmental aspects of its operation.  The mine offers the possibility of mining vast quantities of valuable resources, and studying how it may be developed in an environmentally safe way has become very important.  Alaska as a whole has strict regulations when it comes to mining, and according to the Anchorage Daily News, "Modern Alaska mines have achieved success where others have failed because of the environmental care required by the state coupled with responsible practices exercised by conscientious companies that take environmental stewardship seriously." This is of course in contrast to earlier mining, when things weren't so regulated, and it was much easier to get away with things then it is now, and because of this, it's quite possible that earlier in the 20th century the mine may have been built without a problem. I personally think that it's a little difficult judging just how harmful the mine will be if it hasn't even been built yet. Using past mining operations as an example for the environmental hazards that mines of this caliber can have is an efficient way of predicting what could happen, however until the mine is actually put into motion, one could never know.  There have been mines in the past that have been very successful with tailing storage, and have never had a problem with acid mine drainage.  I feel that as long as they fully study and understand the environmental aspects that Pebble Mine could have, adhere to the regulations put on them by the state, and create roads that wouldn't interfere with the local ecosystems, then Pebble Mine could be an interesting success for Alaska.

 

Works Cited

Taylor, Ken. "Concerned About Pebble Mine? Read This Document."

                   COMPASS: Other Points of View. Anchorage Daily News. 17 March 2012.

                   Web. 30 April 2012

http://www.adn.com/2012/03/16/2375545/concerned-about-pebble-read-this.html

 

 

Coil, David, McKittrick, Erin, Higman, Bretwood. "Pebble Mine (Copper/Gold Prospect)."

                   Ground Truth Trekking. 13 April 2012. Web. 30 April 2012.

http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/Issues/MetalsMining/PebbleMine.html

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