November 20, 2013

Chapter 4.

Waste Management

People thought that sending it away would be low cost and not a big deal but in reality it was very expensive and the landfill stayed in their back yard.

People were opposed to changing the landfill into a Waste-to energy plant because of the unsightly smokestack, possible emissions and flows of garbage filled trucks still in their city.  Opinions?

Chapter 5

Garbage Patch for Days

Dr. Marcus Eriksen like Mary Crowley’s story of shock and wanted to change the world.

After reading her description how do you feel about plastic?



Chapter 6

Plastic in our lives

  • Half the oxygen we breath is made from microscopic phytoplankton
  • All the pesticides and fertilizers etc go into the ocean won’t dissolve in water so they cling to the plastic which fish eat and then absorb

Garbology Chapters 7,8,9

November 20, 2013

Chapter 7 – The Trash Trackers

-Much like agriculture is there something to be said for local disposal if done responsibly

-Is it really recycling if a ton of fossil fuels etc. are used to get the trash to a place where it can be “recycled”

-How can people and communities work to recycle responsibly and efficiently

TrashTag Trash_Visualization

Chapter 8- Decadence Now

-What does our garbage tell us about ourselves?

-Does this public surge to recycle etc. mean that we as a society are on the downswing?

-What would our garbage look like if we really spent the time to recycle ourselves and use everything possible.


R&Lady-Led-web Rathje


Chapter 9- Pick of the Litter

-Does art made from trash draw attention to our worlds need to be less wasteful

Terry-Berlier-photo recology-1



Old Diseases Making A Comeback

November 20, 2013

This article really surprised me as I heard of the anti-vaccination movement years ago but assumed it was just a fringe thing that died. As it turns out it has gained support to the point that from 2011 to 2012 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) became epidemics in some states because children have not been vaccinated. Many people like myself were vaccinated as children, but now that I’m an adult the vaccination has typically worn off. Even then, because no one got sick from the disease people like me have still been ok. The wave of vaccination refusals however has caused non-vaccinated people to get the disease, which has then spread to adults whose vaccinations have worn off. As it turns out it may become prudent for people to start getting re-vaccinated for the diseases they were protected against as children.

  The reason I was surprised to see this come up again was because I thought that the majority of the reason for refusing vaccines was because of the fear that they could be connected to Autism. Once this was disproven I  figured the issue had gone away. Finding out that it has only gotten worse makes me wonder about how we can deal with the issue of certain people becoming a danger to others because they refuse to get vaccinated. Should this be a question of public safety? Rights? Or is it instead an indicator that the way we disseminate scientific knowledge and teach it is currently flawed?


November 20, 2013

Chapter 1

  • All about a bulldozer worker named Mike
  • He builds garbage mounds and every move he makes is well thought out.
  • The mound is large enough to have its own wind pattern and micro climate.
  • What do we do with our trash problem?

Chapter 2

  • Before landfills garbage was thrown in the streets
  • Runoff caused bad water and people died from cholera
  • William Strong mad a clean-up crew, white wings, and sewer drains for clean water.

Chapter 3

  • American Dream is Wasteful
  • Trash is not always trash

Garbage has been a problem for ages and now we are going for the out of sight out of mid technique. Unnecessary waste is being thrown out each day and people in America do not care as much because it is just a side effect of the American Dream. People in other countries have waste piles like us but they are not as large. In third world countries some people live off of things they find at the dump. Recycling is the first stage in an initiative to clean up the planet but more has to be done to combat this effort.

Garbology Review

November 20, 2013

The waste in America is astronomical as detailed by Edward Humes.  I think it is currently not possible to totally “detrash” this country.  We have so many landfills that we don’t even know what are in them.  We could start programs, but at our current rate it is not possible.  Also, the government should get involved to deal with these things.

The mountains of trash that dot the United States are filled with many things.  Most of the items that fill them are furniture, clothing, and wood packaging, and it is these things that we could recycle. Reusing fabric and metals that are these items.  We do have the technology to do it.  If it is expensive, then we can definitely put money to revolutionize it.  Other fillers in our landfills include packaging, containers, and food scraps.  We can again recycle these.  Turning food scraps into mulch is a good way to help it decompose faster and put good soil back into the ground.

I think it is clear that many of the issues that we face can be easily rectified by recycling and the technology that we have.  We need to get out of the industrialization and capitalism thought pattern that we have got ourselves into.  There is no reason to buy buy. It is okay to donate things like clothes (again a type of recycling) for other people to use.  Between the influences of history and media, we are hard pressed to spend money because other people are doing it.  Is it really smart to buy and then pitch when other people are doing it?

Starfish Turning to Goo from Disease

November 19, 2013

On the western coast of North America (California to Alaska), a disease is revenging starfish populations.  They are developing lesions on their bodies and are quickly disintegrating as quickly as a matter of hours.  They are turning into what is described as ‘white goo’.  Scientists are currently unsure if the disease, now dubbed “Sea Star Wasting Syndrome”.  It could be viral, bacterial, or environmentally caused from increased water temperature.

Starfish have been observed in the ocean, in the lab, under controlled conditions, and even in ideal environmental conditions, but most specimens have died.  It is also clear that it is infectious and communicable.  It is easy passed from species to species.

The die-off is mostly affecting the purple seastar (Pisaster ochraeceus). This species is a keystone predator species, and is super important to the food chain of tide pools.   They eat the mussels that could easy overrun other animals that live in that habitat.  The disease was noticed by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Researchers are have estimated that millions of starfish could be lost.  They have also set up a tracking map to monitor starfish health trends.  (Link to another map with other species affected.)

The outbreak was first noticed in the waters around West Vancouver, British Columbia in September when a marine biologist noticed sunflower sea stars (Pycnopodia helianthoides) with missing limbs.  Photographs were taken and possible reasons were outlined on Echnioblog, a blog dedicated to marine invertebrates.

The disease has caused great concern and the potential loss of the starfish is a huge lost to the world.  They are endemic to the coastlines of areas like California and are a cultural icon.  It would be a great lost to the cultural and natural history of the areas where they live.

News Sources:

Time: Falling Stars: Starfish Dying From “Disintegrating” Disease via Yahoo News: Starfish Are Turning INto Goo, But Scientists Don’t Know Whyst

NBC News: What’s eating the starfish? Mystery rot threatens populations on both coasts

Science World Report: Scientists Plagued by ‘Star Wasting Disease’: Turns West Coasts into ‘Goo’ (Video) 


November 18, 2013

This book was especially interesting to me, because it’s a subject that I have little knowledge about. I haven’t ever really given much thought to the harmful effects that our garbage is creating. Some points in the book that I thought were really interesting was when he talked about the guy ‘Big Mike’ that worked at the Puente Hills landfill. Edward Humes discusses the details of landfills, stating that ‘Puente Hills is so sprawling that it has evolved its own ecosystem and nature preserve, spawned multiple community organizations formed to kill it, and holds enough strata of methane-spewing decomposing garbage to power a hundred thousand homes’. It amazes me that there are people in the world like Big Mike that can work in landfills and not give a second thought to the insurmountable destruction that it is doing to the ecosystem.

There is an event on campus happening the week after break that focuses on garbage elimination. It’s an event where you carry around all of the garbage with you that you accumulate throughout the week in a trash bag. You have to put everything in that you would otherwise throw away. At the end of the week, the person with the least amount of trash wins. This event is really an eye-opening experience in terms of realizing just how much trash we accumulate in a short amount of time. The American way is so in tune to ‘bigger is better’, which in turn is ultimately hurting the earth that we live on.

Eating Animals

November 11, 2013

Eating Animals was an interesting read, although there really wasn’t anything in particular in the book that I wasn’t already aware of. I think if I would have read this book in middle school or high school, however, I would have been a little more surprised and a little more concerned. As I thought about it, this unconcerned viewpoint is  exactly what’s wrong with the disconnect between American’s and their food. Most of us are completely aware that our greasy hamburger from Fast Food Chain A most likely comes from a cow (or multiple cows) that was raised in a factory, injected with all sorts of dangerous hormones, and has probably never seen the light of day for more than a couple of hours. Nonetheless, we still consciously seek out and buy this freeze-dried, cellophane wrapped food. I specifically remember a scene in the movie Supersize Me where the main character goes to the children and shows them the process of how chicken nuggets are made and all of the nasty things that goes into it. The children were visibly disgusted and told the man that they thought that was disgusting. However, when the main character asked the children afterwards if they wanted a chicken nugget, all of them said that they did. This is the exact disconnect we have between ourselves and our food. We know what’s in the food, we just don’t care.

The more I got to thinking about it, the more the idea perplexed and confused me. Instead of our food coming from the earth or from natural animals, nowadays it comes from cardboard boxes, plastic wraps, and machines. When children are asked where their food comes from, most of the answers consist of ‘the grocery store’ or ‘the fridge’ as opposed to gardens, forests, and animals. How many of us have sat down at a coffee shop with our coffee in hand and seriously thought about where the coffee beans, the creamer, the sugar-what have you- came from? When I asked a friend, where does your coffee come from, the answer was exactly as expected: from the coffee shop. And therein lies our problems.

Vibrio Vulnificus and Tar Balls

November 10, 2013

Story Link

The Alabama Gulf Coast is filled with thousands of tar balls left over from the 2010 BP Oil Spill.  These tar balls have found to contain Vibrio Vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacteria that are 100 times more than surrounding water and and sand.  Dr. Cova Arias from Aubrun University has studied the tar balls found washed up from the Alabama and Mississippi coastlines.  She stated that the tar balls attract the flesh eating bacteria because the microbes that break down the tar are a food source to them.

Vibrio is a dangerous bacteria. Dr. John Vande Waa said that the bacteria can enter the blood stream through a minor cut or abrasion if the victim was in saltwater or brash water.  It can also be obtained through consuming raw shellfish.  It causes a lot of pain, destroys limbs, and affect all organs in the body through the blood system.  Mortality is 40-50 precent. There were 24 cases of Vibrio in the last five years, according to the Alabama Department of Public health.  Florida has been recorded to have high amount of cases with in the last five years at 160.  There have been 30 cases this year alone and has been in the news many times.  (Example).

Unfortunately, there have not been many studies on Vibrio and tar balls.  Many beach goers are not concerned about the dangers presented, having picked up and dealt with the tar balls before.  BP even stresses there is no connection to be found, and that there is nothing to be worried about.  There has ben no bacteria tie to ill people with tar balls and vibrio.  In response, the Alabama Department of Public Health has not confirmed indecent  but it should not be ruled out.   Also, further study has not been made since 2010, but Dr. Arias would definitely like to follow up on her work.

The black material is a tar ball.

Eating Animals

November 6, 2013

I have enjoyed this book more than any other book we have read in class.  Mostly because I have wanted to know where meat comes from but don’t have the time to research myself and because of the different perspectives Foer gives.  I feel like he isn’t trying to persuade the reader into thinking one way or the other.  He simply is tell the facts of what is happening to our live stock.  There are a few things in the book that made me stop and think, or that I found interesting

  • Pg 51 When he is talking about the CFE, which “makes legal any method of raising farmed animals so long as it is commonly practiced within the industry.  That to me is total crap and I was shocked to find this out.” It hits close to home literally when he talks about how  “Ohio exempts farmed animals from requirements for “wholesome exercise and a change of air”         When I see cows in my county and all over Ohio I see cows in a large pasture walking, running, sitting, standing. Out in the fresh         air.  But if this is a law then it makes me wonder how many of these animals are trapped in a small barn somewhere without fresh air or the ability to move
  • Pg 53 he talks about the definition of Cruelty and he mentions that Nature is no picnic. And when I thought about it, its very true.  So many animals are brutality killed by coyotes, or coyotes are starving because they can’t find food because humans have sheltered/killed all the other animals.  Our livestock are pampered compared to the lifestyle their ancestors had.
  • Pg 59  “Most simply put, someone who regularly eats factory-farmed animal products cannot call himself an environmentalist without divorcing that word from its meaning.”  This just made me embarrassed.  I don’t believe that I am a huge environmentalist by any means, but I like to think of myself as environmentally friendly.  I don’t drive my car unless I absolutely have too.  I try to not use throw away plastic drink containers or plastic food containers as often as I can but I never thought/knew the impacts on the environment of the food I ate on a regular bases.  All the statistics of how much factory farms contribute to globe warming  was shocking.
  • Pg 115 In a letter from the last Poultry Farmer there was a statement that I really liked.  He talks about how people don’t focus on the animals life but only on the last seconds before death.  I think that is so true. I think comparing it to people as the farmer does is a little extreme but if people maybe thought about pets.


  • I have killed 5 deer in my life time.  I know the area in which these animals were raised and an idea of the food they probably consumed.  There is no question of how it was killed or how long it took to die.  I know everything that happen after I shot it.  Yet I eat this venison like I eat a hamburger from Opa.  After reading this book, it kind of disgusts me that I have put both of them in the same category, when they are really very different types of meat.