Health Impacts From Gulf Oil Spill On Children

April 22, 2012


This week was the two-year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While most of the oil has been cleaned up and many areas impacted by the oil are back to working order, there are still some areas effected by the spill that are not fully recovered. Julie Crepples lives in a mobile home right on the water, with her six children. She said her one child, 2 years, suffers from constipation and skin rashes. Almost her entire family suffers from daily headaches. Her one daughter must undergo cardiograms for her heart palpitations. In total the family fills 17 prescriptions at the local drug store for all their various aliments.

Many other neighbors of Crepples also have some of the same sort of health problems that they claim they did not have before the spill. During the Summer of 2010, Crepples says that when her and her children would go outside they could not stay out for long because they would start to cough, feel ill and their eyes would start to burn. She and her neighbors claim that the oil spill itself and then the clean up process is what caused her family to become ill. She says the fumes from the burning oil slicks and the chemicals used to clean up the spill are the sources of the family ailments.

Though Crepples and her neighbors claim to be sick from the spill, there has been much research done on previous oil spills as well as this spill that point out no health problems for people living near the spills. Though there are many skeptics how then did this seemingly healthy family become so ill after the 2010 BP oil spill?

Dog Poop: More Than Just An Unpleasant Smell

April 22, 2012


Dog poop sucks…no one likes picking up after their dog, but your dog’s poop may be more hazardous then you might think. According to the Huffington Post, dogs in the US create 10 million tons of poop each year. That much dog poop is enough to fill 3,800 trucks which would stretch from Boston to Seattle.  According to the article, just three days of 100 dogs poop is enough poop to cause serious problems. The article says that this much dog poop is enough to shut down 20 miles of watershed or bays for swimming and shellfishing because of the amount of bacteria in the poop.

K-Cups Cause Danger To Environment

April 22, 2012
Most Americans love their coffee, and with the creation of Keurig’s K-Cups making a cup of coffee has never been so easy. K-cups come is all ranges of flavors and even from your favorite coffee-house like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. What most people don’t think about after they make their cup of coffee is what happens to that little “pod” that you just throw in the trash?
K-Cups are made out of three layers. The outermost layer is the layer that scientists say causes the biggest issue to the environment. The third layer is supposed to be durable, this way no O2, or light gets into the Pod. Because of its sturdiness the Pods are not biodegradable and when they reach landfills that do nothing more than just sit there and pile up. Keurig does know that this has become a problem ever since their popularity has sky rocketed. The company has looked into ways to make their Pods just a durable but more environmentally friendly, but as of right now no solution has been made.


Tsunami Debris Reach Alaska Coast

April 22, 2012



A few weeks ago a fishing vessel from Japan was nearing the coast of Alaska. The boat was floating by itself, unmanned, since last years devastating tsunami in Japan. The unmanned boat was causing issues for boaters in the area near Alaska, and the Coast Guard asked ships to stay away from the boat. Because of the hazard the boat was causing, the Coast Guard decided to sink the ship, before it reached land. Now there is new debris making its way to the shores of Alaska, a volleyball. Radar near a small island is Alaska picked up a soccer ball, and a volleyball floating in the waters. The balls were retrieved and traced back to a school in Japan. These balls are one of the first pieces of debris to reach the US from the disaster last year. NOAA has been tracking a larger group of debris making its way across the Pacific, but the two rouge balls seem to be the first to make landfall in the US.

Transportation Surveys

April 18, 2012

So I re ran the survey Bobby came up with in the spring of 2011 that dealt with driving practices of OWU students.  For the most part there was little change in the responses from then until now.

Student Survey

Faculty Survey

Again there were two surveys one for students and one for faculty.

For both surveys I did receive less responses than Bobby did but that is mainly due to the fact that I could only run it for one day through the OWU Daily but that is a different story.

A few things to make note of that I did not include in detail on the comparison documents, is  that only about 10% of students drive to class, but they use their cars 3-4 days a week.  I feel this is explainable by the weekends in which students use their cars to go home or go out, that takes care of two days.  The other two days I assume that they use their cars to run errands or to drive to class to save time or avoid bad weather.  This also shows perhaps that the only places to go to do things or run errands are not within walking distance.  To get groceries or go shopping one has to go to Polaris or down 23 a ways.

Bad weather was really the only reason that students needed to drive to class, and also to save time.

Biking does not seem to be big at OWU, however people did make note that biking in bad weather is hard, and that possibly sheltered bike racks would be nice.

Faculty all drive to OWU for the most pat and most live fairly close to campus and only drive to and from work each day.

Faculty made note that they felt that it was alright for students to drive to class for obvious reasons, and that it was understandable to drive to save time, or to avoid bad weather.  Some also felt though that students should walk more, and that there is little reason not to walk or bike.  Some commented that the music department is too far away from the academic side of campus and that perhaps a shuttle or better scheduling could alleviate this problem.

most faculty don’t own a hybrid or electric car and their reasons for not owning one were mainly related to cost.  Most said that they already own fairly fuel efficient cars (30mpg on average) and that it costs a lot to buy a hybrid or electric car that would take years to pay for itself off of the savings that it made from consuming less gas.  Also electricity comes from coal which on faculty member mentioned is worse than gas. Furthermore one faculty member said that the environmental impact to build a new car from raw materials is greater than using a used car which they say they have always used.

As far as CNGis concerned both students and faculty either answered Yes they would consider it or they were unsure.  One faculty member said that if the CNG  was produced by fracking then that deter them from buying one, because fracking is as destructive if not more destructive to the environment than other fossil fuels.  Also CNG is a non renewable resource, and even though its cheap now it is still bound to the same fate as Gasoline as a limited resource there is only a finite amount of it.

Finishing Up Course Projects, Spring 2012

April 18, 2012

Our next thee meetings consist of presentations about your course project, progress on it, and work to do. The presentations will allow you to get feedback as the semester draws to an end.

Below find a series of project reports from previous courses and independent studies. Your project should be documented in a similar manner, and submitted as a Word document (so I can edit if need be).

Besides this project report, I need (from each of you) a Digital Portfolio and Individual Assessment, as detailed on the Final Evaluation tab of the blog.

Pipe Down!

April 4, 2012

That Noise Might Affect Your Plants

A recent article from NPR investigates a study on the effect of noise on plant growth.  At the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in North Carolinathere are thousands of gas wells, about a third of them pressurized by ear-splitting compressors.  These compressors run 24 hours a day 7 days a week and since 2005, their effect on the the birds in the canyon has been studied.

They found the noise effects each species differently.

Black-chinned hummingbirds, tend to prefer and settle in Noisy landscapes, and Western scrub jays ten to avoid these noisy areas


These different reactions to noise from birds has an interesting side effect on the plants that grow in these areas. The jays are important for seed dispersers for pinon pine and they found fewer pine seedlings at noisy sites. In addition, the few that were found in these areas were often eaten by mice.

However, in contrast, a flower pollinated by hummingbirds did better near the compressors, since hummingbirds like the noise since it drives away competitors and predators that might eat the hummingbirds’ young.

Lawn People

April 4, 2012

I think one of the biggest overall themes we picked up in the book was how most of this need or want to have the “perfect” lawn is factored in to the idea of public image. Perhaps more so as Americans we tie in this idea of having a yard as part of our cultural image. How many of us have always heard part of the American dream in having a house, a dog, and a yard with a white picket fence? Can we say this image has really changed today? Well that’s what Lawn People helps to elaborate on.

The dream home?

In Chapter 2 we see how the lawn has evolved. Its roots in England with the wealthier members of society with wider tracks of land simply dedicated to open spaces of grass. For the times it was a symbol of prestige and a more successful life in being able to afford the property and being able to maintain it’s look. In America perhaps that  image has been taken for granted as we now include lawns as part of the property in many of our suburbs. Lawns became part of the symbol of home ownership in the growing suburbs and gated communities in America. Of course you have to be sure to keep it maintained and keep attentive to it or else face the scrutiny of the community and it’s value at large.

With cities being built in larger size and increased capacity the space for lawns were just about non-existent. Planners built in parks to add in a natural and more lush contrast to the rising skylines and industrial make ups of the urban colossi. In a way these parks became the lawns for the masses, a place where you could escape the grey tones or the urban setting and walk about in a resemblance a more natural setting. Best part for them is that you don’t even have to maintain it. A giant yard and lawn free of charge. However while the masses don’t take any over significant part in it’s maintenance, it still must be maintained by somebody and somehow in a manner like those in the suburbs.

What we found out overall is that while the lawn offers a nice look to the home and to the neighborhood at large, it is in fact quite a tedious hassle. You spend days and days mowing, seeding, and for some protecting the quality of the grass. The lawn here changes from just a symbol, an image, to a yearly phase of outdoor maintenance, which can, and in some cases will, cost you time, sweat, and a little green out of your wallet. But to do this you may have to take a few risks, so you’ll need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?

Our society has built an entire industry, in some cases worth up to $2 billion (yes, billion with a B), to help you, the lawn owner, keep that yard green and perfect. Of course it means you will have to dabble with chemicals, exposure to products, and perhaps even the risk that it will all fail and cause you nothing but trouble. The sane industry will also tell you that the natural growing grass and plants, many of them that society now affectionately calls weeds, is wrong, and that they can help you every step of the way to make sure you get that ideal image of a lawn. It works hard to convince you that the natural growth of grass and what comes with it is not the best kind of lawn to have.

To some this is the lawn enemy.

But does that go against the growth of natural beauty?

So here are the questions that the book and us are left with to try and discuss and decide upon:

Turf grass vs. Natural grass? Which is more useful or necessary?

Is the lawn really a symbol of our culture or something that is over-hyped or overrated? Has it been upgraded or downgraded since its earlier mentions in England?

Do people or communities work to hard to make sure that the lawn (not just theirs but yours too) is perfect in maintaining a particular image?

Does the lawn care industry work to make you want to keep your lawn as pristine as humanly possible?

Can you have the perfect lawn without having to use chemicals or products?

Is the natural look of grasses really as bad as it’s made out to be? Are weeds really that big of an issue?

Lawn People

April 4, 2012

“Why was it that weeds had never bothered me until the day I was responsible for “caring” for a lawn? (xi)

Negative impacts

  • “lawn-care services have a negative impact on local water quality” (xii)
    • Use of chemicals

Is Lawn Care a Personal Decision?

  • Robbins stresses that everyday we make conscious decisions that affect the environment
    • How much we drive, whether or not we recycle, how long we keep the water running…etc.
    • However, society forces us to use fossil fuels, receive excess packaging materials..etc.
    • “It is increasingly clear that the range of choices open to even the most apparently wealthy and powerful people in the world is severely restricted” (6).
  • Is lawn care a personal decision?
    • Not for Ketha Robbins whose neighbors cut her lawn in the middle of the night.
    • The city has regulations on how your lawn looks
    • “Individual actions are not the result of “free” decisions by any means” (6).
    • “What we need to understand and empirically evaluate in the case of the lawn then (as we explore in this volume), are the contextual pressures of real estate, community, and municipality, which may or may not together enforce high-input lawn care choices” (7).

In considering lawn people then, we see a type of individual who acknowledges a potential hazard in lawn maintenance behavior, but whose risk calculation involves the decision to continue such behaviors, nonetheless. (9).

American Culture

  • Our culture has given the perception that a well-maintained lawn is the result of a responsible, hard working, successful citizen.
  • Can have detrimental effects on health
    • use of chemicals and fertilizers


  • “Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines, which have had unregulated emissions until very recently, emit high levels of carbon monoxide, VOC’s and NOx producing up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution and a good deal more in metropolitan areas.

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a traditional gas powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars each being driven 12,000 miles.”

Our infatuation with perfect lawns has done us more harm than good. The chemical use is harmful to human health and can pollute our water supplies, and the pollution from lawnmowers alone is enough for us to think twice about this mentality.  We often forget that we have a choice in how we grow and maintain our lawns and that we can make decisions to help reduce the negative impacts of our actions.

What is Fragile?

April 4, 2012



Amazon Rain Forest Deforestation:

Breakfast of Biodiversity focuses on 6 factors that contribute to the biodiversity of a rain forest. These six factors are essential for sustainable biodiversity in any ecosystem setting.

Species diversity, sex ratio, animal diet especially herbivores, dispersal of offspring, and the rate of death are all important factors concerning conservation of biodiversity.

I have studied in previous classes the importance of these characteristics. Species diversity represents a healthy ecosystem. This is because having numerous different species means that natural resources are abundant and the climate is favorable to living organisms. Large species diversity represents a balance between animals, and plants. There are no overbearing checks on the ecosystem such as an uncontrollable predatory species or lack of natural resource. The vast species diversity in rain forests is not only a sign of ecosystem strength but also derives an aesthetic value from humans.

Sex ratio is an important concept for species diversity because there is an effective population size. Any population below this effective population size is not sustainable for long term regeneration. If there is a great majority of males compared to females, the effective population size of a species may be in danger of declining sharply.

Death rate is also important because each species must have a steady death rate. If one species begins living longer or shorter than usual this will create a unbalance in an ecosystem. Death rates can also have sudden increases due to changes in the environment such as a natural disaster, aka, a fire from slash and burn or clear cutting and deforestation.

These external factors obviously affect the biodiversity of an ecosystem. However, negative checks have always been imposed on ecosystems, and eventually with time, positive checks restore the area to a healthy ecosystem.

So how fragile is the rain forest? Slash and burn has been a common practice among many agriculturists. What is the fine line that distinguishes degradation of an ecosystem beyond the point of return? There are several factors that indicate ecosystem health, and several factors that lead towards ecosystem health, no matter how fragile an environment may seem. However true this point may be, what is the ethical reasoning between ruining an ecosystem? And how much damage can be imparted on an ecosystem before causing permanent changes? The rain forest soil is generally untenable once the forestry has been removed due to a lack of nutrients actually embedded in the soil.  When and how will conservation endeavors and human development endeavors ever be the same?