Aug 07 2011

Closed for business…

Published by under Mr. W

If you have just stumbled upon this blog, note that our class no longer meets and will no longer be adding new content.  Feel free to click around and see all that we’ve learned about environmental science this year. -Mr. W

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May 11 2011

Freedom from an addiction to oil?

Published by under Mr. W,On My Mind Post and tagged: ,

After watching Who Killed the Electric Car (2006), we took a look at some of the new plug-in electric cars from Chevy, Ford, Nissan, and Tesla now on the market. Are electric cars really the answer for ending our dependence on foreign crude oil? Could it be that simple? This Daily Show clip (8 minutes) is one of my favorites on the history of American presidents trying to get us to cure our addiction to oil:

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May 05 2011

Carbon Offsets: Solution or Scam?

So, your text had a section on carbon offsets, but we never discussed it in class. There are many companies out there now marketing carbon offsets to reduce your “carbon footprint.” Terrapass is a popular one. You can offset one year’s worth of air travel (an estimated 8,000 pounds of carbon emitted) for just $50.60 as of 5/5/2011. Your money goes to support wind farms and methane capture projects-that’s how the carbon is “offset.” Some companies will even plant trees to offset carbon produced by your lifestyle.

So, does this approach mitigate (lesson) global climate change or encourage “cheating?” Watch this clever parody of carbon offsetting by a couple of Brits:

*If you want to learn more, visit www.cheatneutral.com

So, what do you think?

*Try www.carbonfootprint.com to for a carbon calculator if you want to assess how much carbon dioxide results from your lifestyle.

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May 01 2011

A Nitrogen Cycle Story

As we approach the final day before the AP exam, have you reviewed the nutrient cycles? Knowledge of these cycles is critical-they tie everything together.  In the fall we learned primary reservoirs, key chemical reactions, and anthropogenic impacts.  I also had each of you write a creative short-story of a cycle.  Here is a good one by JoeY:

Being a nitrogen in a nitrate ion was getting boring, especially as I drifted through the sea. I needed to get as far away from here as possible. One day, as I am minding my own business, a denitrifying bacteria comes up to me and asks, “ Want a little adventure in your life?” I couldn’t say no to a ticket out of here. Suddenly, I am pulled away from my oxygen parts, and I start floating up into the clouds. What a view! The atmosphere was so high up that I could see everything! And I also met many of my fellow nitrogen molecules. I started drifting back down to see land beneath me. Then, as soon as I was close enough to a legume, a nitrogen-fixing bacteria takes me in and fixes me up with some hydrogen ions. But as soon as this happened, a plant sucks me into its roots. I stayed in the plant for a while, but when the plant died, I was decomposed and returned to the soil. When I was in the soil, I went through a similar process and became ammonium. But I met some new bacteria friends that converted me into a nitrite ion. Then, another bacteria transformed me back into just nitrogen, and I floated back into the atmosphere. But my time in the air didn’t last long. I was fixed into ammonium again, but this time, I was in the ocean. Some nitrifying bacteria turned me into a nitrite ion. Then I was immediately turned into a nitrate ion. What an adventure!
So, do you remember the steps of the nitrogen cycle? Do you remember the formulas for these forms of nitrogen? Do you recall all the ways humans alter this cycle?

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Apr 29 2011

Extinction Scribe post

Published by under ColinH,Scribe Post

On monday, we talked about how the US and others have turned to protecting and saving nearly extinct creatures.  The government has stepped in and created two lists of creatures that are either endangered, something that is at risk to be extinct in all or some of its natural range, and threatened, something that is at risk to become extinct. We have accelerated the extinction rate by 1000-10000 times faster than natures extinction rate would have.  This needs to be changed because wild species are very important for many reasons: utilitarian uses, aesthetic beauty, moral reasons, and ecological reasons.

These creatures are some of the most noticeable endangered or threatened species across the globe.  These creatures are vital parts of their ecosystems and are normally top tier predators that keep the other populations intact and not have them blow out of proportion.

Some ways that we have been trying to prevent these extinctions are treaties, or other pacts like CITES, or Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.  This prohibits international trade of any endangered or threatened species across international borders. Also The ESA or Endangered Species Act, protects creatures and the critical habitat from being harmed.  These are only two of the many acts and treaties that have been enacted to protect endangered species.

Some of the main reasons that creatures go extinct prematurely are in a nice acronym HIPPO, this is the five highest reasons for premature extinction.  1) Habitat Destruction.  2) Invasive species 3) Human population growth 4)Pollution and 5) Over harvesting/poaching.  This spells HIPPO.

An example of how a species succumbs to HIPPO are sharks all around the world, this video talks about how humans are depleting the sharks in such a short time period.  Shark Alert! species struggles.

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Apr 23 2011

In the news…

Published by under Mr. W,On My Mind Post and tagged:

I know things are winding down, but I was amazed by all the recent news stories that deal with our units of study. At this point in the course, reading the news is a way to study. This AP exam is constantly being rewritten as new research is published or new environmental disasters occur! Check out any that interest you:

NPR: Fukushima Vs. Chernobyl: Still Not Equal

BBC: BP oil spill: The environmental impact one year on (yes, it’s been a year already!)

NPR: Researchers Link Extreme Rains To Global Warming

NPR: Washing Away The Arctic Coastline (more on sea level rise)

NPR: Climate Change Trends: Carbon Emissions Giants (data/maps)

NPR: Tapping The Earth For Energy Savings Year-Round

NPR: Our ‘Toxic’ Love-Hate Relationship With Plastics

NPR: Repelling Bugs With The Essence Of Grapefruit

NPR: The Worldwide ‘Thirst’ For Clean Drinking Water

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Apr 22 2011

Green Week?! What?!

Published by under Mr. W,On My Mind Post and tagged:

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

If you did notice lately, it is very “hip” to “green.” I’m watching my favorite Thursday night NBC comedy shows, and seeing all these public service announcements for “green week.” Heck, even the NBC peacock logo is green this week! Check out NBC’s slick website: http://www.nbc.com/Green/

And, FOX is getting in on the act too. Check out their slick website: http://www.fox.com/greenitmeanit/

This type of public relations stuff is called “greenwashing.” Here’s a definition (can’t find or recall the source):

Greenwashing is the unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image, sell a product or a policy, or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy.

So, why is what NBC or Fox doing this week considered sorta sly? Well…do you think the network executives are doing it for the network or us (or both)? You decide.

If you want to know more, here are a few “watchdog” sites that monitor greenwashing:

Sourcewatch:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Greenwashing

Greenwashing.net

http://www.greenwashing.net/

Corpwatch:

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?list=type&type=102

So, be a smart consumer, not all that is green is good. ANY group can claim to be green-there is no government standard! Love to discuss any of this with any of you here or in class one day…can you think of other examples you’ve seen?

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Apr 20 2011

Reflection Post

How is nitrogen dioxide both a primary and a secondary pollutant?

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Apr 20 2011

Reflection Post

Are there any effects of the depletion of stratospheric ozone besides UV radiation causing skin cancer?

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Apr 20 2011

reflection post

Is SO2 a secondary or primary pollutant? I was confused when reading over my notes.

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