Garbage Matters Notes + CurrentEvent

November 16, 2016

By Amanda Apicella

I found the ways in which the author divided up the approaches/views towards waste in various works to be pretty interesting and a pretty accurate/effective way to distinguish between these schools of thought. We have talked a lot in this class about divisions and viewing things as “separate” from humanity/us and where those divisions lie or if they are not entirely founded in reality (aka are arbitrary to varying degrees) so considering how often it comes up this is a significant distinction when it comes to topics like this. This time though it is our relationship with waste and how it is treated. Although none are necessarily “wrong” as the author states, it does give insight into different ways people view waste and how it relates to us/our society as a whole. Considering that I don’t often hear of people referring to waste in a positive manner due to the word’s connotations, It is interesting to see how many different ways it is viewed/addressed that I never really considered before (most of the time I hear about waste it is in the “waste as hazard” way of addressing it). The waste as a resource section was particularly relevant to me as I have always been interested in recycling and the extent/effects of it. The idea of viewing recycling and waste as a resource in terms of being similar to other cycles/systems that we also see in nature was something I was aware of but never really fully thought about to be honest. When it comes to “nature” we tend to think of everything as a cycle when it comes to animal waste/leavings and even death but when it comes to our own waste/leavings we tend to fall into the “one way street” way of thinking, even if it isn’t intentional. The waste as a commodity section was something I didn’t even realize was a “thing” so to speak as it just never seems to be thought of that way by people not familiar with it. The trade and market regarding waste considered hazardous just never really came to mind and I honestly plan to look into it more as it seems to be a fascinating topic.

 

Current Event: Study finds limited sign of soil adaptation to climate warming

Soil is releasing 9x more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all human activities combined due to natural respiration of soil microbes/plant roots. Due to the increased temperatures of soil across all biomes, there is significantly increased respiration as well as releasing of stored carbon dioxide in previously frozen soil in the Arctic. Data regarding the effects on and of soil in relation to climate change is needed to be studied and gathered more extensively as they also need to obtain data from non/under-represented regions to include in the wider dataset. Considering the significance of their contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gases we already know about, this is a serious issue that we need to look more into and potentially find a way to address it (or at least mitigate the problems it will likely cause).


Pacia Purcell: Current Environmental Event

November 16, 2016

Nation’s First Offshore Windfarm to Debut

NBC News

On a tiny island off of Rhode Island the nation’s first offshore wind farm has been built. This wind farm is going to provide energy for all of the island and some will even be sent to the mainland. Some of the residents of the island believe that this will be a good thing. One woman who was interviewed believes that this new form of energy will help bring down the cost of her electric bill and knows that this will reduce the use of diesel fuel burning, which is what is currently used to provide energy to the island. However, others believe that the wind farm will raise the price of their electric bill because it is coming from a third party company, who can jack up the prices as much as it wants. Additionally these same people are also displeased with the disruption of their coastline view.


Pacia Purcell: Current Environmental Thing

November 9, 2016

“Cooling Down Chicago: How Green and Cool Roofs Could Impact Urban Climate”

engineering.nd.edu

The majority of people today live in cities, and those populations are only growing. The great amount of infrastructure in cities causes there to be an urban heat island, meaning that the temperature in the city is much greater than that of the surrounding rural areas. The University of Notre Dame conducted a study that compared the effects of using non-conventional roofing, and the effects of Lake Michigan on the temperature and air quality of the Chicago. They found that both green roofs and cool roofs had significantly lower temperatures than conventional roofs. They also looked at wind patterns from Lake Michigan to see how they would affect air quality. They concluded that because the temperature of the city is cooled by the green roofs, there will be less of a difference from the incoming cool air from Lake Michigan. This will cause there to be less mixing of the air and may therefore be able to cause air to stagnate close to the surface.


Pacia Purcell: Current Environmental Event

November 2, 2016

“Can Birth Control Save Our Wild Horses?”

National Geographic

Wild horses are rapidly overpopulating their lands. They are living in an area that cannot support their vast numbers causing land degradation reducing the already strained amount of food and water available. Wild horses are protected, however because of their increasing population federal and state agencies suggested the euthanasia of some of the animals. This was met with protests from the public, and was thus not used. Next they suggested sterilization of mares, which was also met with protests from the public. They thought that this would affect the behavior of the mares, causing them to become just regular pasture animals. Finally, they decided that a yearly vaccine of birth control was worth a try. Although this was also met with some protests, there seems to be little other options. Now the only thing to do is wait to see if the birth control has any effect on the population size of these wild horses.


Amanda Apicella – Current Event

October 26, 2016

This Article by National Geographic describes the recent discovery of the cause behind the mysterious changing of colors in Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker’s feathers, as well as demonstrates the ripple effects of invasive species.

In the last few decades, ornithologists noted that some yellow-shafted northern flickers had their yellow feathers turned red. At first they thought it was due to interbreeding with the red-shafted northern flicker in the west yet the oddly red birds were found in areas extremely distant from them. Apparently new research has discovered that it actually had to do with their diets (as red, orange, and yellow pigments in bird feathers tend to be attributed to) and due to the importance of coloration in signaling it could have massive impacts on populations (including in finding mates).

One of the first clues to finding the truth was based on a study of the changes in cedar waxwing’s coloration that occurred in the 1960s. The yellow tips of some of the cedar waxwing’s feathers were turning orange and due to lack of red-feathered relatives they looked into the diet. Apparently it was due to the birds eating invasive honeysuckle berries (imported by horticulturalists in the late 1800s for landscaping, bird habitat and food then spread rapidly to become an invasive species) which appealed to their voracious appetite in regards to berries.

In their study regarding the northern flickers, they analyzed the chemicals in the pigments of both the red feathers and honeysuckle berries and confirmed that the red hue did in fact come from honeysuckle berries. This issue may lead to problems for the northern flicker’s ability to find mates and it is unknown how many other bird species are experiencing similar problems as well.


Current Issues: Max Kerns

October 5, 2016

Mongabay: World’s watersheds lost 6 percent of their forests in 14 years

(https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/worlds-watersheds-lost-6-percent-of-their-forests-in-14-years/ : August 31st, 2016)

 This article highlights the devastating effect that deforestation has on the some 230 watersheds worldwide. Using satellite imagery, World Resources Institute (WRI), tracks the deforestation of these watershed that shows tree cover loss from 6-14% with some cases showing loss of upwards of 22% over the last 15 years. Some of the most extreme cases are highlighted in Indonesia and Malaysia, due to heavy agriculture for oil palm and wood fiber. This has dire ramifications for local species and communities that rely on the tree cover that helps with a multitude of benefits from preventing erosion to the filtering of groundwater. Deforestation of the watersheds has also been linked to massive landslides, flooding, pollution, and fire specifically on these islands. Though the article also points out that deforestation has been going on much longer than the last 15 years, these same effects can be seen elsewhere still, in places like the watershed of Krishna, India.


Pacia Purcell: Current Environmental Event

October 4, 2016

Embry-Riddle Research on Space Plasma Hurricanes Could Lead to New Sources of Energy

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

In space the solar wind originating from the sun creates space hurricanes at the boundary of earth’s magnetic field. These hurricanes can transport solar wind plasmas into the magnetosphere. This process transfers the kinetic energy from the solar wind into the heat energy of magnetospheric ions. If they could utilize this mechanism effectively in plasmas created in a laboratory, they could create energy from water. Further research would need to be done to figure out just how much energy this process would be able to transfer.