Southern California Wildfires

Hey Guys!

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

Eco-Friendly Gardening

Tulips are a great eco-friendly gardening choice because they require little watering.

Hey Guys!

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!

Thanksgiving

Hey Everyone!

 

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!

IMG_3162

Try this environmentally friendly decorating idea by displaying seasonal items such as gourd and squash

Snow!

Hey Guys!

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.

IMG_0199

I’m Back!

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

.stock-photo-hurricane-harvey-flooding-in-spring-texas-a-couple-miles-north-of-houston-speed-limit-sign-704663569

Last Blog of the Year!

Hey Guys,

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.images

Campi ya Kanzi

Kenya

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

Mexico

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

Belize

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.

Major Environmental Fund Contributors

Hey Guys,

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.

Nathaniel Simons

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.

1024x1024

Tom Steyer and wife Kat Taylor are both major environmental philanthropists.

Tom Steyer

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.

David Gelbaum

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.

Cancer and Pollution

Hey Everyone,download

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.

How Much Time Do We Have Left On Earth?

Hey Guys,

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 yearsdownload.

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.

Trump’s Environmental Polices

Hey Guys,

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 becafp-hx74lome 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.

Earth Day Protests

Hey Guys!

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 suppScience_March_84951.jpg-2f4a9_c0-211-5000-3126_s885x516ort 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.

 

Plastic Bag Ban

Hey Everyone!

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 sicanvas-grocery-bag1ck.

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.

Global Warming & Wacky Weather


Hey Everyone,

With the warmer weather and sunshine, as well as spring break just days away, it’s really starting to officially feel like spring. Despite having started the spring season several weeks ago, the winter we have experienced this year in Washington has been especially harsh as well as long. The multiple snow days and snuggling up by the fire were all enjoyable. However, with this record breaking winter comes concerns.

arctic_oscillation

Many people associate global warming with warmer temperatures, however it can also cause cold snaps similar to those we experienced this winter.

The fluctuation of our weather may seem intriguing and sometimes humorous, however global warming plays a large role in the unpredictability in intensity and length  of our seasons.

Seattle’s average is approximately 5.9 inches of snow per winter, although we have experienced several winters in the mid 1900’s that have seen much more. According to records kept by Sea-Tac airport, “The one-day record for snowfall at Sea-Tac is 20 inches on Jan. 13, 1950—although the city’s overall snowiest 24-hour period occurred from Feb. 1-2, 1916, when 21.5 inches was measured at the Federal Building in downtown Seattle.” This past winter, we experienced over 8 inches in a 24 hour period; much more than what is typical.

Back in autumn, early forecasts of a La Nina winter (winters that typically are cooler and wetter than normal with large amounts of snow) were predicted but then called off due to the record heats neighboring states were experiencing. The unpredictability and increase in heat, caused by the over-flow of CO2 and other harmful emissions causes our earth’s temperature to fluctuate rapidly damaging species and ecosystems.

All in all, I think most Washingtonians are delighted with the warmer weather and bits of sunshine that are being reintroduced. Although extreme weather such as snow or high heat can be fun and exciting, it is also a call for help issued from our planet in regards to cutting down pollution.

Can Pollution Cause Cancer?


Hey Everyone,

In a world where each year 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 7.6 million die from the disease yearly, many of us are wondering how we can avoid this tragedy. With so many different forms of the disease, there are also many different factors that can contribute to developing cancer.

Ultimately, researchers have found that cancer is caused by changes to certain genes that alter the way cells function. Although some of these genetic changes occur naturally when DNA is replicated during the process of cell division, others are the result of environmental exposures that damage DNA and cause malfunction. Because the environment we live in today is full of pollutants and harmful chemicals, many of us, no matter how healthy of a lifestyle we live, develop cancer due to themaxresdefault exposure.

Water, air, and soil; three things that the average human encounters on a daily basis. Although they may seem like harmless necessities, these three elements are all heavily polluted in today’s environment. Because we interact with these substances daily, they can have a harsh impact on our health.

According to the World Health Organization, the air we breathe is heavily polluted and contains cancer-causing substances. Because of the massive amounts of cigarette smoke, car and factory emissions, as well as other contributors to CO2, the World Health Organization argues that the air we are breathing could most definitely be labeled as a carcinogenic

In regards to water pollution, the World Health Organization states, “water contaminants of concern include arsenic, asbestos, radon, agricultural chemicals, and hazardous waste. Of these, the strongest evidence for a cancer risk involves arsenic, which is linked to cancers of the liver, lung, bladder, and kidney.”

Anyways, I hope this information motivates you to be kinder to the environment–your health may depend on it!