If you haven’t heard, this past week has been rough in Southern California. On Monday night, a massive wildfire broke out in my hometown of Ventura, California. In just a matter of hours, the fire engulfed thousands of acres and burned hundreds of homes as well as several businesses and schools. As I write this blog, I know of at least 6 friends and family members that have lost their homes as a result of the fire and many more structures are expected to burn as the fire progresses.
Although the threat of wildfires is usually highest in the late summer and early fall, the lack of rain and Santa Ana Winds (strong and extremely dry down-slope winds) have caused the fire to spread rapidly. Dry brush and plants, a result from Southern California’s drought, likely rubbed together from the extreme winds and ignited the fire. This fire is also particularly difficult to put out because the strong winds and heavy smoke have prevented helicopters from being able to fly above the flames and drop water. According to Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen, “Really, Mother Nature’s going to decide when we have the ability to put the fire out.”
Not only has the fire damaged hundreds of structures, it has also contaminated the water and caused major power outages in the area. The Casitas Municipal Water District urged residents in Ventura County to boil their water before drinking and cooking due to possible contamination from the loss of pressure as a result of fire-related power outages.
Currently, the harsh conditions has kept the fire at 0% containment causing it to continue to spread. This fire is truly an example of human’s helplessness against nature and serves as a warning for worse to come.
A picture of the fire taken from my Uncle’s backyard
Tulips are a great eco-friendly gardening choice because they require little watering.
As most people know, having a garden can have either a positive or negative impact on the environment. Dependent upon what plants you grow, the type of soil used, how much water you use, and if you use any synthetic fertilizers or chemicals, your garden could actually be hurting the earth. So, in order to keep your garden eco-friendly, I have put together a few green gardening tips.
Ditch Commercial Fertilizers
Many fertilizers advertized to gardeners have harmful chemicals that are absorbed into the soil. Despite making your plants healthy, these chemicals harm surrounding eco-systems and can make animals and insects sick. Instead, rely on using natural fertilizers such as coffee grounds, eggshells, and vinegar. Using bird feeders and planting sweet-smelling flowers attracts birds and helpful insects that can help manage aphid and other pest infestations.
Limit Water Consumption
Growing plants that require lots of water can cause hundreds of gallons of water to be wasted. Instead, grow plants that require minimal watering such as cacti, succulents, verbena, and agave. Not only do these plants require minimal amounts of water, they also do well in most climates and go without water for long periods of time.
Use Organic Soil
Organic soil is usually made up of composted fruits and vegetables and does not contain any chemical fertilizers. Because of this, plants grown in organic soil are safer for human, animal, and insect consumption.
Those are all of the eco-friendly gardening tips I have for you guys! Hopefully with these small tips and tricks you are able to grow a happy and healthy garden!
Given that we are about to get into the full swing of the holiday season, I thought it would be an appropriate time to go over some environmentally friendly gift ideas! Often, things such as wrapping paper and plastic end up in landfills and create excess waste. Instead of piling up lots of junk this gift-giving season, use these two helpful tips below to have an eco-friendly holiday!
Reusable Gift Wrap
In the U.S. alone, we create 4 million pounds of gift wrap waste each year. Because of this, there is over a 25% increase in landfill waste between Thanksgiving and New Years. Instead of contributing to this waste, reusing items such as newspaper, fabric, shopping bags, blankets, or recycled wrapping paper keep our landfills cleaner. In fact, there are many brands of reusable wrapping paper ranging from cloth sacks to custom sewn encasings. Companies such as Lilywrap, a business dedicated to environmentally friendly wrapping, have plenty of festive options for the holidays.
Reduce The Amount Gifts
To avoid the amount of waste created, focus on high quality gifts rather than many gifts for each person. Giving a loved one a larger gift instead of several smaller ones is often more memorable and enjoyable for both you and the recipient. Not to mention this method can reduce wrapping waste by more than 50%!
Use leftover newspaper as a fun and unique gift wrap
Those are all the tips I have for now! I hope that you all try to implement eco-friendly ideas into your holiday season, our planet will thank you for it!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Although Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, it also comes along with a lot of waste. Because of this, I’ve put together a list of helpful tips to ensure your Thanksgiving is more eco-friendly.
Cut Down On Travel
We all know transportation has a massive effect on our environment. The day before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are two of the busiest travel days during the year. So, if you’re traveling this Thanksgiving, look into carpooling with other guests or taking the train (the greenest form of transportation) to cut down on travel emissions.
Use Less Plastic
When buying ingredients for your feast, buy items from the bulk section of your store to cut down on packaging waste. Buying fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers markets also cuts down on packaging and supports local farmers. Also, always remember to bring reusable grocery bags when shopping, it saves the environment and keeps you from paying extra for paper bags!
Don’t Waste Food
While planning out your Thanksgiving meal, make sure you are not making too much. The USDA estimates that over 30% of groceries in the US are thrown away, meaning billions of dollars are wasted each year. Instead, focus on making an appropriate amount of food and find recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers.
Those are all the types I have for you! Hopefully you are able to have a more eco-friendly Thanksgiving celebration by following these simple and easy guidelines. The earth will thank you for it!
Try this environmentally friendly decorating idea by displaying seasonal items such as gourd and squash
We’ve gotten the first snow of the season! Considering last winter, this year’s snowfall is relatively early. So, why is this? Does it have anything to do with our impact on the environment?
When most people think of global warming, they picture higher temperatures melting the icebergs in Antarctica. However, this is definitely not always the case. Global warming, also known as climate change, simply explains a “change in global or regional climate patterns.” With both the unusually high temperatures of this past summer and the early snowfall this winter, the effects of climate change are exactly what we are experiencing here in Issaquah.
The determining factor in how our seasons play out is the tilted axis of the Earth as it revolves around the sun. While climate change does not affect Earth’s tilt, it does have potential implications for many of the other factors that influence winter weather in North America. Issues such as Arctic sea ice, the polar jet stream, polar vortex, El Niño, and many more natural weather phenomenons are all directly caused by climate change. Specifically, The polar vortex, a “stratospheric jet stream,” is a large area of low pressure/cold air along the both the North and South Pole. The vortex can expand or shift, like during the extremely cold North American winters of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. During these winters, the vortex sent freezing, Arctic air down into the central and eastern U.S., as well as into Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The expansion and shifting of the polar vortex to various degrees is regular occurrence during the winter, however the extremes we have experienced these past few years are directly caused by global warming.
It’s great to finally be blogging again! As you would expect, a lot has happened over these past months that I have been inactive. From major natural disasters to new environmental scandals, I’ll try my best to recap what has been going on.
Thinking back on these past few months, the U.S. has been hit hard by mother nature. From major hurricanes such as Harvey and Irma that devastated millions of people to the horrific wildfires that stretched from British Columbia to California, it seems as if the earth is sending out a cry for help. Despite there only being links between climate change and natural disasters, their correlations are undeniable. The primary cause of a hurricane is an increase in atmospheric heat and pressure. A common factor in the start of wildfires is an usually hot and dry summer. These issues are directly caused by increasingly high temperatures which is global warming’s exact effect on the earth.
Over the summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also faced its array of issues, especially due to their censorship of climate change studies. Recently, The EPA withheld a group of scientists from presenting their data on the health of Narragansett Bay, (New England’s largest estuary) because of its findings that show climate change’s effect on air/water temperatures, precipitation, sea level, and fish populations. It’s unclear why the EPA wanted to prevent them from sharing the data, however their censorship has sparked debate amongst the prevalence of global warming in today’s political scene.
All these important topics in one post may seem like a lot to take in, but hopefully my blog can serve as a way to pinpoint certain environmental events that will ultimately shape our future
This is my last blog of the school year! I will be back next year, so don’t get too sad 🙂 Anyways, I thought because we are all going to be on summer break, it would be appropriate to talk about some environmentally friendly vacations!
According to Brian T. Mullis, president of the Sustainable Travel International, Ecotourism, a trend that is now on the rise, “gives travelers the opportunity to directly benefit the people and places they visit by supporting conservation and protecting cultural heritage as well as economic development.” Eco-tourists often look for sustainable hotels, air-fare, and restaurants when traveling. Below, I have listed some of the most eco-friendly resorts to visit.
Campi ya Kanzi
The resort offers walking safaris led by traditional Maasai tour guides in Kenya’s prime game area between Amboseli and Tsavo national parks. Because it is mainly powered by solar energy, Campi ya Kanzi is a smart choice.
Haciendas Del Mundo Maya
Haciendas Del Mundo Maya, is a nonprofit organization that works with Mayan communities in the Yucatán Peninsula. They “promote the diffusion and conservation of Mayan natural and cultural heritage by establishing the basis to create micro-regional development poles and promoting strategies to strengthen the skills and capacities of the communities’ residents.” Hacienda has also funded 318 family orchards to struggling farmers in Mexico.
Chaa Creek is one of the first eco-friendly resorts in Belize. Established in 1981, Chaa Creek resides on a 400 acre nature reserve along the banks of the Macal River. The cottage style buildings focus on sustainable energy sources such as solar and wind energy making it a great choice for eco-friendly travel.
I’m so happy we are finally having some warm weather again! I don’t know about you but I spent my memorial day weekend laying out in the 80 degree weather at the pool and it was great. When the weather is this warm, lots of us are turning on our air conditioners in order to cool down. It may seem like a simple appliance, but are you aware of how big of an environmental footprint AC’s really have? Not only will these innovative heating and cooling systems help save the environment, they will also cut down on energy cost.
Geothermal Heating/Cooling Systems
Geothermal systems use stable ground temperatures to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. With this system, one unit of electricity creates four units of heat cutting down on energy usage. Geothermal systems use heat pumps that circulate liquid through pipes buried in the ground. The liquid responds to the ground temperature and goes back up to the heat pump which either warms or cools your house. Because this kind of system doesn’t use a lot of electricity or rely on fossil fuels, it’s a very eco-friendly choice.
Solar Heating Systems
Heating and cooling systems that use solar energy are very effective and eras that receive adequate amounts of sun. They the heat of the sun through a fluid (usually water or non-toxic products) and transfer it into the home where it collects in a storage chamber for later use. That heat can be sent through radiators, radiant floor heating setups, hot water baseboards or central forced-air systems keeping you cool or warm when you need it.
Hybrid Solar Air Conditioners
Hybrid solar air conditioners rely both on solar energy and batteries. When there is sunlight, the air conditioner uses solar energy for both power and to charge the batteries. Most of these systems can run off a single solar panel, making them an easy addition to your household.
Lucky for us, it seems as if today’s million and billionaires are taking more of an interest in the environment. It seems as the state of our planet gets worse, the more people are willing to fund efforts to support environmental groups and research. Below, I’ve listed the top 3 contributors to environmental efforts today. Hopefully, more and more people will get involved before it’s too late.
Simons is the leader of the Sea Change Foundation, one of the biggest funders in climate change and energy space exploration. Simon’s, son of mathematician James Simons, the created Renaissance Technologies, uses the funds from his father’s multi-billion dollar company for his foundation. In 2012, it was recorded that the Sea Change Foundation gave out $55 million to research in areas such as climate change and new energy sources.
Tom Steyer and wife Kat Taylor are both major environmental philanthropists.
A retired California hedge fund billionaire, Steyer aims his activism towards fighting and exploring the issues of climate change. Since he became a philanthropist, Steyer has been a dominant force in changing the politics of global warming. Both Steyer and his wife have contributed large grants and sums to environmental research groups. In 2012, the couple established TomKat Charitable Trust, a grantmaking company committed to supporting environmental studies.
Out of all three, Gelbaum has definitely donated the most money to environmental causes. Gelbaum contributed 200 million alone to the Sierra Club and another $250 million for land conservation in the West. However, Gelbaum generosity has caused him to lose most of his fortune from his successful Wall Street investments.
Not long ago, I talked about how poor environmental conditions can contribute to the development of disease. Recently, I stumbled across an article written about an experiment conducted by the American Cancer Society (ACS) in regards to environmental conditions and the rate of individuals in that area diagnosed with cancer.
The way the ACS demonstrated their findings was actually pretty cool. The researchers created a detailed map of the United States; including cancer rates in over 2,000 U.S. counties, as well as many other countries around the world. Although cancer rates have been decreasing over the past 30-40 years, the maps indicated that in some areas such as the Southeast and Appalachian regions rates have remained relatively high. Within the maps, environmental quality was measured by the Environmental Quality Index (EQI) which included data on exposures in different domains of air, water, and land. Interestingly enough, specific cancer types, especially prostate cancer and female breast cancer, showed the strongest correlation with the EQI findings with rates of those cancers being highest in counties with the poorest EQI.
Another interesting finding provided by the data of the maps showed the unusually high rate of cancer in Louisiana. Lung Cancer rates were among the highest in the U.S., especially prominent in males. After extensive research, experimenters were able to tie this phenomenon back to the 1970s when shipbuilding was especially prominent along the Gulf Coast. The high rates of asbestos likely contributed to these soaring cancer rates and the majority of patients being male was tied to the fact that mostly men worked in the shipbuilding profession.
All in all, I just find it really interesting that researchers are being able to find these correlations. In my opinion, I feel that it just further proves the urgency to protect our environment because of the adverse effects it can have on our health.
Previously, world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking had given the time humans had left on Earth as 1,000 years. However, due to heightened environmental concerns, Hawking has changed that estimate 10 centuries shorter giving us only 100 years left. According to Hawking, “With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious .Although the chance of disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years.”
So what are we supposed to do? In Hawking’s opinion, the state of our environment at this time along with the denunciation of climate change by many, our only choice seems to find another planet to inhabit. However, if we were to make some serious changes to our environmental footprint as soon as possible, we could add a couple more years to our time left on earth.
If you think that 100 years sounds drastic or maybe unrealistic, you may be shocked by how much are environment has changed in the last century. In just over 100 years, the average temperature of the planet has increased by almost two degrees fahrenheit and is continually increasing by about .15 to .20 degrees each decade. So one degrees doesn’t seem like a lot, right? Wrong. A one-degree global change is significant because it takes an enormous amount of heat to warm all the oceans, atmosphere, and land by that much. In the past, a one to two degree drop was all it took to plunge the Earth into the Ice Age.
So, not to scare you too much or anything…but we need to lessen our impact or find a new planet–ASAP.
Last Saturday marked President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office. On that day, thousands of Americans marched protesting Trump’s climate change policies. Although there are many things in regards to campaign promises that he has not yet acted on, Trump and his cabinet have been very active when it comes to the environmental policies. Trump has signed at least eight, if not even more, anti-environmental executive actions during his term. From allowing mining companies to dump coal debris and waste into nearby streams to loosening restrictions on power plant emissions, Trump’s environmental policies are causing many to become concerned.
Participants of the marches said they were objecting Trump’s abolition of restrictions on mining, oil drilling, and greenhouse gas emissions of power plants. Throughout his political career, Trump has called climate change a hoax, disputing the overwhelming findings of scientists that the world is warming from manmade carbon emissions.
The main reason Trump has abolished so many regulations is to increase production of the natural gas and oil industries. During his campaign, Trump promised coal miners to rid of all environment regulations against them saying “These ridiculous rules and regulations make it impossible for you to compete.” Within weeks of his inauguration, Trump already rid of the Obama administration’s ‘Stream Protection Rule’ that prevented companies from dumping waste into nearby bodies of water.
Over 300 marches took place last Saturday, the biggest one in Washington D.C. The ‘sister protest’ in Seattle had over 3,500 participants according to KOMO News. Hopefully, the People’s Climate March will reach some influence over Trump in his administration because the way things are looking now, our environment could be facing serious consequences.
Well I totally forgot Earth Day was last Saturday, my bad. I mean, I think it is great that we have a day encouraging to love and protect our environment however, it seems a little hallmark-y to me. I know you all have probably heard the cliche “Everyday is Earth Day!” and annoying as it may sound, it’s actually really true. Think about only setting aside one day a year to care about yourself–sounds crazy, right? Just as your body requires lots of care pretty much everyday, so does the environment!
This Earth Day, crowds around the country gathered together to support science and ‘evidence-based research’ fueled by President Donald Trump’s threats of implementing budget cuts towards agencies funding scientific experiments. At the main “March for Science” that took place in Washington D.C., demonstrators gathered at the Washington National Mall where speakers emphasized the importance of scientific research in today’s world. One main point made in the protest was the fact that Trump’s policymakers seem to be ignoring the issues of climate change. TV host and scientist Bill Nye, one of the speakers at the event, rallied supporters stating, “Today we have a great many lawmakers — not just here but around the world — deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science. Their inclination is misguided and in no one’s best interest. Our lives are in every way improved by having clean water, reliable electricity and access to electronic global information.”
Besides the main march in Washington, almost 600 other smaller marches took place around the country on Earth Day. Throughout all of the marches, all seemed to be making clear their opposition to Trump’s budget blueprint which would cut $12.6 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services and $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health alone.
This week I thought it would be interesting to talk about the fairly recent plastic bag ban in Washington state. In fact, this law was enacted in the Seattle area almost exactly one year ago!
In order to understand the significance of the ban, and just how much of a victory it really is, it’s important to look at the crushing impact plastic has on our environment. These bags do not degrade in the environment, are solid waste to landfills, are produced from nonrenewable sources, and frequently clog storm drains. Plastic bags are also a hazard to both marine life and land animals, posing as something many species recognize as food which can make them very sick.
According to a report from the City of Seattle before the plastic bag ban was put in place, over 292 million plastic bags were used annually in the city. And in an estimate conducted by The Worldwide Institute, roughly 100 billion bags are issued annually in the United States. So what can you use in replace of plastic bags? Options such as paper or reusable shopping bags have become increasingly popular and are promoted in grocery stores throughout the country. Paper bags far outweigh plastic because they are biodegradable, made from renewable resources, and are recyclable. But better yet, use reusable shopping bags because it is cheaper, produces far less waste, and uses a significantly smaller amount of resources.
Now that the ban has been put in place for the majority of counties in Washington state, those 292 million plastic bags in Seattle have dropped to almost zero. Because many other states have also chosen to enact this law, hopefully the 100 billion bags issued in 2016 will significantly drop this year. Who knows? Maybe a few years from now we can stop manufacturing plastic bags for good.