By: Tara Flaherty
Summary. Scientist Raffael Ernst discovered the 'zombie frog' while doing field research for his PhD in the Amazon forest. This newly discovered species of frog lives most of its life underground and the male of its species is only known to call out during or directly after heavy rainfall. While out during a rainstorm Ernst heard a peculiar croak, one of an amphibian, but not one he had heard before. Following the sound of the cry Ernst and his fellow researchers dug in the mud until they found the source of the sound. The animal found only spanned about 1.5 inches and was orange and speckled in color. One would think that because of the species name that the zombie frog would have unusual physical features or extremely odd behavior but the zombie frog isn't drastically different than any normal species of frog. The species was instead given the name 'zombie frog' because of the appearance of the researchers after digging in the mud for hours. Little is actually known about the species itself, besides its nocturnal tendencies and physical features. Sadly Ernst believes that the zombie frog is nearing extinction. Amphibians are great indicators of environmental problems because of how sensitive they are to their surroundings, because of this up to seventy percent of amphibians are threatened with extinction. The amazon rainforest is struggling with this because of how much humans are abusing the wildlife. Industrial interests are tearing the forest up for resources including poaching, timber extraction, mining, and much more. Amphibians are dying because of decreased water quality, disease, habitat destruction and more in not only the Amazon but around the world because of humans ecological footprint.
Why we should care? Although this article isn't about a drastic issue that is affecting the entire world it is still an important topic in the fact that it reveals how little of the world is understood even by the most experienced scientists.
I found this article interesting because of how unique the species discussed is. I think as a whole frogs are a very fascinating species and this new species of frog does not disappoint. The name 'zombie frog' grabs your attention right away and it's interesting to find out that scientists didn't name them after the way they act or look but instead named them that because of how they, the scientists, looked after searching in the mud for the frogs. The frogs behave unlike many of their kind in the way that they live most of their lives underground and the males of their species only call out during or right after heavy rainfall. Making them a very difficult species to find.
Science in Action.
Dr. Raffael Ernst is a Herpetologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute.
Dr. Raffael Ernst has over 100 publications of his own discoveries that span from discussion of certain endangered frog species to the Atlantic forest hotspot. Although Ernst is originally from Germany he travels the globe for his research. I think this is valuable because his published works are all from hands on experience and things that he has seen with his own eyes. As mentioned in my summary above he was the scientist who discovered the 'zombie frog'. The discovery of new species is valuable to the science community because it gives us another glimpse of all the life that our Earth can sustain.
By: Ximena Mazariegos
Summary. Ice worms are quite mysterious considering how only about a half-dozen researchers have studied these worms. Ice worms are found in the Northwest Glaciers and grow to be only about an inch long. High-altitude glaciers are not considered hotspots for living creatures, they are usually barren of life. That is why finding these ice worms living in the glaciers was astonishing, but despite the fact the ice worms live in the glaciers, they can actually die if the temperature goes below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Since not much research has been done on these ice worms, we have no idea how they reproduce or what role they play in the ecosystem. According to Scott Hotaling, a researcher at Washington State University, winter might be the season where they can increase their energy stores on account of the fact that they are larger than when they first emerge in early spring. We do not know exactly what their diet consists of, but we think they survive off snow algae and bacteria. Researchers also hypothesize that they survive winter by burrowing under the snow. As I stated before, researchers still do not know how ice worms reproduce but seeing how they find smaller worms during the summer they assume the ice worms hatch somewhere before that. During the summer, the worms surface to the top when the sun is less intense, but we still do not know why they surface. We do know that they can withstand extremely elevated levels of ultraviolet light according to researcher Hotaling. There are still many unanswered questions about ice worms, they have gone unnoticed for far too long, but more research is being done to find out more about these creatures and what role they play in their ecosystem.
Why we should care? There are so many things we do not know about these ice worms. We don't know what role they play in the ecosystem, we basically know nothing of them. Digging deeper could lead us to finding more biodiversity that we are unaware of.
I found this particular article interesting because it talked about the return of the mysterious ice worms. I had no idea they existed, so I was intrigued from their word usage "return". This article stood out too because it mentioned something about biodiversity which we learned about in class. It goes over the hypotheses of how the ice worms reproduce, what they eat, and how they survive. It also stood out that the article talked about how ice worms could withstand high levels of ultraviolet light. I felt like this article included the most information than the others I had looked at.
Science in Action.
Dr. Scott Hotaling is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington State University.
Scott Hotaling’s research centers around the understanding of organisms living in cold places and how they have adapted to it, but it also focuses on the future of these organisms considering how climate change is affecting them or is going to affect them. I believe this research is relevant to my blog because ice worms are organisms that live in a cold climate and can and will be affected by climate change. Climate change is already melting glaciers, and this is the type of research Hotaling focuses on. He is already working on finding out more about these ice worms since they are a complete mystery to us right now.
By: Kamaya Hayes
Summary. Studies have shown that the most prominent reason of habitat loss is climate change. Due to that, there has been a 40% decline in polar bears at the Southern Beaufort Sea. Nearly all of the 19 sub populations of polar bears from the Beaufort sea to the Siberian Arctic, would face being wiped out because of the loss of sea ice. With more sea ice melting each year the bears are forced onto land, away from their food supply. Ice melting can lead to prolonged fast and reduced nursing of cubs by mother. Also, the mothers not being able to eat properly can cause them to be underweight. Being underweight leads to less cubs being born and the ones that are born are much smaller than usual. Some of the polar bears remain on the ice year round, but most areas are melting in the spring and summer, which forces them ashore as well. As the regions warm, ice in the summer has declined by about 13 percent per decade, compared to 1981-2010 averages. In 2010, 120 million acres of northern Alaska was declared as critical habitat for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. Temperature in the Arctic is rising at least twice a week and sea ice coverage is diminishing by nearly four percent per decade. Polar bears could become nearly extinct by the end of the century due to shrinking of ice, if global warming continues. So as you can tell the polar bears are at a very vulnerable state.
Why we should care? I think you should care about this topic because animals homes are being destroyed. You should take into consideration as if it were your family losing their home. Also, climate change and global warming are effecting us everyday as well.
I found this topic interesting because i love animals. I think we should treat them with the same respect as we do each other. Animals have families just like us humans and the fact that we played a part in the decline is unsettling. So we should do everything we can to make matters better for them. There isn’t just one type of polar bear, there are several different bears that live numerous parts of the world and there all at a decline. So think its time we all try and figure out a solution to help the beautiful creatures.
Science in Action.
Dr. Andrew Derocher is a Professor of Biology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.
Dr. Andrew Derocher studies the Artic, polar bears, carnivores, ecology, behavior, and climate change. His current research interest are conservation, ecology, and management of large mammals (mainly polar bears). He currently asses the effects of climate change and toxic chemicals on polar bears. He believes his research is to improve ones understanding of large carnivores with specific reference to how they are affected by human activities. For over 38 years his focus has been on polar bears, but he is still invested in his other studies. His research is revenant to my topic because that’s what my summary is about. It’s about climate change and how it caused loss of polar bear habitat.
By: Sobhie Nazal
Summary. The environment is very crucial and needs to be tended to in ways of which benefits the future of animals starting with their present lifestyles. According to the article "Birds of Prey Face Global Decline From Habitat Loss and Poisons", current habitats of birds of prey are not being guarded responsibly or considerably, causing a decline of habitats for these helpless animals and a scarcity of population. The slowly diminishing habitats are the reasons these species can not stand a chance and their numbers continuously decrease. Although pesticides on animals are a great cause for toxins entering these species bodies causing them harm, they are not the only reason these birds are poisoned. The greatest killers accountable for the this cruelty results in the negligent actions made by humans. Some species of these birds like raptors, usually feed upon rodents and dead animals and rely on their food to survive. However, toxins like lead are habitually exposed in the foods they eat due to gun residue and ammunition from the firearms of hunters. Anti-inflammatory drugs injected into animals these species feed upon is another reasoning for the possessing destruction in regards to these birds. Drugs like these used on the animals the birds prey upon were an extensive reflection of the loss of 95% of vultures after devouring carcasses with the intent to eat in order to survive. This falls into the recklessness of humans being careless to the population or habitats of these now endangered animals. Habitats have been destructed by humans who made actions based off of inconsiderate decisions to knock down hundreds of trees and call for a reckoning upon these critical animals facing extinction due to shrunken habitats. Species that fall victim enormously to tree cutting and tree burning relate to many birds like, Harpy eagles with most of their population resulting in a 54% decline and a 47% depletion of Owls. These primary birds that take on the identity of critical predators of ecosystems are no longer serving their initial purpose as mentioned by bird scientist Gerardo Ceballos. What people fail to realize is that when an animal is at the verge of extinction it is a threat to us all. This begins to affect ecosystems, life cycles, and the world all together as a whole. It should be of deep deliberation and focus to aim at a better life, better future, and better restorative approach as a society to help aid these birds of prey that deserve to live fierce and not become scarce.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because it effects both the lives of animals and disrupts the life cycle.
This article was positively content heavy and filled with information. What struck my interests the most about this article was the statistics given. The direct numbers of losses and percentages of birds of prey that have continued to decrease over time due to their habitats, really struck my interests and curiosity. This article is really interesting because it uses a few pictures to engage and entertain their community of readers showing a sense of imagery that helps us identify birds of prey. This article was also very pleasing because many very well known scientists and researchers were a part of this article and input their own personal findings or opinions in coordination with their prior investigations to help make a better clarification or understanding on statistical findings, making it more of an eyeopener to readers like myself. Nowadays many people overlook the problems animals are facing becoming nearly extinct and their homes being destroyed, and I think people need to come to a realization to try and protect the homes of animals to ensure a healthy longevity of life for birds of prey.
Science in Action.
Dr. Gerardo Ceballos is a Full Time Senior Researcher and Scientist at the UNAM Institute of Ecology.
Gerardo Ceballos is a very acclaimed bird scientist known to many people and researches topics with high relevance to the environment and the way we live and how it affects certain individuals or species. Gerardo studies issues of ecology and conversation and connects his findings to help humans utilize more efficient sustainability in the world. His research is a very essential key component to our environment and also has a great relevance to my blog topic. Gerardo and his experiments help bring awareness to endangered species which directly coordinates with my blog topic on birds of prey and the scarcity of these birds along with their habitats.
By: Emma Cockerill
Summary. Brood X debuted in North America with a mighty chorus earlier this summer. Trillions of Cicadas emerging across North America after 17 years underground did not disappoint. Blanketing the North East, Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West regions, the unmistakable sound of male Cicadas battling for attention filled the air. Cicadas are unmistakably loud, their song can reach 100 decibels, almost as loud as an ambulance siren. Brood X is particularly important as it is the largest of all Cicada broods. Broods are groups of Cicada which emerge either annually or periodically depending on the species. Periodical broods are groups of Cicadas which share the same years of emergence after a period of time. There are 15 periodicals which emerge on either a 17-year or 13-year cycle. During their time a couple of feet underground, nymph Cicadas develop and feed on sap from tree roots. On the year of emergence when the soil temperature hits about 64⁰F, after soaking rain, Cicada’s tunnel to the surface to mature and grow wings. It is a survival strategy of Cicadas to emerge in such large groups for predator protection. The purpose is to overwhelm the potential predators with a great number in the hopes that enough will survive to reproduce. Broods are numbered by Roman numerals corresponding to the emergence year since records began in the late 1800’s. Given each Broods scarce visibility over such long periods of time, research during the scheduled year of emergence is critical. Ecologists have been anticipating the arrival of Brood X in 2021, a unique opportunity to take advantage of technologies not in existence 17 years ago. Cicadas are harmless and native to North America and have been tracked and cataloged by scientists and citizens alike for over a hundred years. Not until recently, however, does every person have a smart phone with a camera and GPS. Citizen science was of great importance this year, with every willing person able to take a picture and upload the location of Brood X to community maps. Two mapping programs were created in preparation for Brood X’s arrival earlier this year. Cicada Safari and iNaturalist both launched free apps for citizens to participate, yielding results never possible 17 years ago. Tracking Brood X and comparing to historical maps can give us clues to how urbanization and climate change has affected the biodiversity and habitability of the land.
Why we should care? Cicadas are an indication of environmental health and provides essential ecosystem services. As humans ravage the landscape, it is more important than ever to preserve the Cicadas for our own benefit.
Howard Russell is interviewed in this article by Michigan Radio in April, before the emergence of Brood X began. Russell is an Entomologist at Michigan State University. He explains the historical Brood X distribution specific to Michigan and why it is so important to preserve our mature trees. Cicadas need mature trees for their roots as a food source when burrowed underground. Deforestation in the Mid-West has limited habitats available for many broods. Russell also revealed that past cycles of Brood X in Michigan have been sighted in Washtenaw, Lenawee, Genesee, Oakland and Livingston Counties. He explained that undisturbed preserves such as Cherry Hill Nature Preserve near Ann Arbor provides the perfect accommodation for the insects to live.
Science in Action.
Dr. Gene Kritsky is the Dean of Behavior and Natural Sciences Mount Saint Joseph University, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Dr. Kritsky is an entomologist who has published numerous books and journals on insects and evolution. This year, he published a book on Brood X, ‘Periodical Cicadas: The Brood X Edition’. He has studied Cicada brood history over many centuries. His previous research in Ohio discovered that the distribution of 17-year periodical Cicadas match the geographic regions created by the ice ages. Kritsky and his colleagues developed the app, Cicada Safari, to track sightings during the Brood X emergence. He explains the importance of tracking Brood X as the distribution is an indication of how their survival is faring. Periodical broods are fairly resistant to climate change but Kritsky insists habitat loss is the main threat to Brood X due to deforestation.
By: Mark Kaminski
Summary. According to the EPA, Lake Superior contains over 2,900 cubic miles of fresh water. Containing 10% of the earth's fresh water, Lake Superior is the largest lake, by surface area, in the world. This lake was once thought to be "immune" to harmful blue-green algal blooms, but the last decade has shown otherwise. A protective characteristic of lake superior is its clean cold waters, since blue-green algae normally thrive in warm, nutrient dense waters. A fundamental shift in the waters of Lake Superior has recently allowed this algal to form. Since 2012, several algal blooms have been reported, with the largest bloom occurring in 2012 and 2018. The blue-green algal forms vast clusters of cyanobacteria that survive on nutrient run off and sunlight. The blooms have been described as a chalk-green color and can produce toxins that have been linked to the deaths of livestock and pets. Climate change can be linked to the rising water temperatures and the increase in nutrient run off. Region wide warming has caused a sufficient decrease on the Lake's ice cover during the winter and warmer surface waters during the summer. In fact, a joint study headed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported that Lake Superior is warming at the fastest rate. In addition, surface water temperatures have increased 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 30 years. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Climate change has also caused an increase in precipitation intensity by 40%, in the region. With larger, more violent storms there has been an uptick in erosion, ultimately leading to more phosphorous running off into the lake. This phosphorous is thus one of the main food sources for the algal. These blooms can lead to widespread problems in human infrastructure, in addition to, devastating damage to ecosystems. Blocking sunlight, degrading water quality, and depleting dissolved oxygen levels can choke out the local aquatic ecosystems causing ripples down the food chain. This in turn can hurt the major fishing industries and drive away tourist due to the unsettling smell and color. The blooms can also damage anything that may be consuming water from the lake. For example, in 2014 a bloom in Lake Erie forced the city of Toledo to shut off water intake from the lake because the city could not properly treat the water. Overall, the blooms found in Superior have not yet reached disaster levels, but it is feared that the lake is at a tipping point. In December 2020, The International Joint Commission between the United States and Canada stated that blooms in Lake Superior are expected to worsen, and a joint effort is needed to maintain adequate water quality of the Great Lakes.
Why we should care? This topic is important because toxic algal blooms are now found in one of the worlds largest lakes. In a single decade algal blooms went from being impossible to a yearly occurrence in Lake Superior.
I found this article interesting because it is dated back in 2015, just three years after the first algal bloom was reported in Lake Superior. It also reiterated the fact that Lake Superior was warming at the fastest pace out of all the great lakes. The article focuses more on the other Great Lakes, but it does a great job outlining some of the devastation that these algal blooms can and have caused. The article also mentions that these algal blooms could cause “dead zones” which would result in more methane being released into the atmosphere, leading to more climate change. One of the most chilling things mentioned in the article is the very last sentence where Donald Uzarski, of Central Michigan University is quoted saying “…small change in water temperature produces a domino effect…”, this domino effect that just six years later we are experiencing.
Science in Action.
Holly Wellward Kelly is a Senior Research Technician and Aquatic Ecologist at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Holly Wellward Kelly is an Aquatic Ecologist who has studied everything from costal wetlands to the impact of pharmaceuticals on aquatic ecosystems. Currently she is working on monitoring the phytoplankton communities in the Great Lakes and working with aquatic invasive species. This is relevant to the Algal blooms on Lake Superior because these blooms impact aquatic ecosystems and degrade the water quality. This research is also relevant because these algal blooms are not occuring because of one factor but a verity of reasons. Kelly also has a unique perspective on this topic because Duluth Minnesota is located right on Lake Superior.
By: Patrick Carlson
Summary. Since the 1880's Sugar island has been a must visit attraction for locals from Canada and Michigan. The sweet maple trees on the island gave it the name "Sugar Island". It became such a tourist spot that pavilions, docks, and even a small amusement park were put on the island. As Great Lakes Now describes, "Grosse Ile residents often refer to the years that followed as the golden era of Sugar Island". Unfortunately the following decades the island was practically abandoned due to failed residential attempts until 2011 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased it to be part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. Sugar island marks an important spot for bird migrations and a huge spawning/nursery for many fish species. In the 1980's Sugar Island was designated as an area of concern regarding the high pollution rates of the Detroit river. Since the 1930's the island has shrunk by about 20% due to rising water levels, and frequencies of storms. The solution took many years but finally came to fruition in 2018. A series of small islands were to be put around the island to create a barrier for fish nurseries and to prevent large waves to erode the island as drastically as before. It also includes adding a rocky reef farther offshore to attract native fish. This project adds about 20 acres of wetlands and natural habitats for native species of fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians while also reducing the damage done by climate change.
Why we should care? Sugar Island is a prime example of an ecosystem that can be restored through the effort of many. It acts as a natural home for both common and endangered species, a purifier of nearby water, and a barrier against incoming floods/storm surges that erode our shores.
The News Herald explained a very interesting piece of data that was honestly quite shocking. In the last 200 years, since European settlers had arrived, almost 97% of the Detroit rivers coastal wetlands have been destroyed. Because a change this drastic occurred, both the United States and Canada were forced to create an international agreement in which areas around the Great Lakes were designated as areas of very high concern. This cooperation will allow multiple organizations and agencies to work towards a common goal of delisting some of the very important coastal areas and island; sugar Island being one of the most notable.
Science in Action.
Dr. Rani-Henrik Andersson is a Senior University Lecturer in North American Studies at the University of Helsinki.
Rani-Henrik Andersson is one of the most interesting researchers on the Sugar Island topic in recent years. His research is focused more on the development of Sugar Island since its inhabitance by Finnish immigrants in the early 1900's. Knowing what the land's uses for development can help us understand the composition of the soils, types of flora and fauna introduced by the cultivation of the land. By knowing more about the history of the Island, it may aid in future restoration and protection of an extremely important ecological ecosystem directly involved with the entire great lakes system as a whole.
By: Tommy Maloney
Summary. In April of 2021 while conducting research on sturgeon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was able to reel in a 240-pound female sturgeon from the lower Detroit River. The fish measuring in at 6 feet 10 inches long and weighing 240 pounds was estimated to be approximately 100 years old. Sturgeon being a dying species, this is a very stunning specimen to be recorded especially given the location it was caught. News of the giant being caught by Grosse Ile quickly spread around the community. The lower Detroit River is a very heavily fished area by local sportsmen so news of a sturgeon of these dimensions shocked a lot of people. After a five minutes and multiple failed attempts the group of three was able to land the fish. They estimated the fish to have been born in the early 1920’s but believe it could be even older than that. Commercial fisheries severely overfished these sturgeon because of their great taste and the taste of their eggs, also known as caviar. And if it was not the overfishing that killed one of these fish the destruction of their habitat did. Damming their natural habitats creates difficulties breeding for these fish because they require a strong current to be able to reproduce. On top of those two, water pollution has made living conditions for these fish much worse. A fish with a population so great it was seen as a nuisance now relies on us to help rebuild and clean up what they call home in hopes we can bring back their population to a safe and healthy number.
Why we should care? As an avid fisherman I believe preserving and restoring these waters is extremely important giving it is connected with the largest source of fresh water in the world to help preserve it for future generations.
As an avid fisherman in southeast Michigan, hearing of news like this really shocked me. Not only are sturgeon very rare to catch in general, to see one of this size is eye opening. Its reassuring to know that the Detroit River is still healthy enough to be home to such an astonishing specimen. I believe that it is very important to preserve our great lakes and freshwater. In the past there has been a lot of damage done to them by big companies and negligent people. There is a lot to do to restore these waters, but nothing is impossible. These waterways have been very important in producing and exporting goods and conducting trade, but more importantly we are surrounded by the worlds largest source of fresh water in the world, and we need to do everything possible to preserve it for future generations.
Science in Action.
Dr. Kim Scribner is a Professor in the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Kim Scribner is a professor at Michigan State University in their department of fisheries and wildlife. He has recently received a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. His studies focus on restoring the population of lake sturgeon in Michigan. This is relevant to the topic of my blog because my blog talked about the surprising specimen caught in an area that has been severely affected by habitat damage and overfishing and pollution. Scribner’s work is focused on restoring the population of sturgeon, like the one caught in the Detroit River, and bring them back to a healthy habitat where their population can thrive.
By: Briana Carlton
Summary. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a changing climate is likely to increase the frequency of flooding events in the state of Michigan. And while Midwest rainfall has increased 5-10 percent over the last 50 years, rainfall during the four wettest days of the year has increased roughly 35% in the state alone. Recent flooding in the city of Detroit is also consistent with a trend in increasing precipitation as a result of a warming atmosphere and the risk of flooding will remain high due to runoff from impervious surfaces largely characteristic of urban environments. As a result, more money is being allocated to find “green” ways to prevent basements, streets, and freeways in Detroit from flooding during heavy storms. These climate resilient investments include detention ponds, bioswales, rain gardens and permeable pavement. The most current example of this is the construction of a 95-million-gallon storm system in Rouge Park by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to slow combined sewage overflows resulting from extreme weather events. The Great Lakes Water Authority has also invested $750 million in water system improvements over the next five years and the Michigan Department of Transportation is working with the city of Detroit on a plan for freeway and stormwater diversion.
Throughout history, water contamination resulting in diarrheal/gastrointestinal illnesses have been positively associated with overcrowding, poor hygiene, and inadequate sanitation practices. Yet despite the modern water systems in use today – and where regulations and guidelines are enforced to ensure the protection of public health -- an increase in gastrointestinal disease outbreaks paint a very different picture as concerns grow over disease transmission through contaminated recreation and drinking water resulting from aging utilities. A well-designed and properly maintained collection system allows drinking water, storm and wastewater flows to be directed to a treatment facility to receive routine disinfection before discharge. Deferred infrastructure maintenance over time has provided several otherwise avoidable pathways of contamination of the water supply including leaking pipes releasing untreated or partially treated sewage into urban waterways, cracks in septic system tanks that permeate into the groundwater, hydraulic overload due to undersized systems in highly populated communities, and extreme weather -events that turn combined sewer systems (CSSs) into combined sewer overflows (CSOs) – exceeding treatment capabilities prior to discharge directly into surface waters.
Why we should care? Improving Michigan’s primitive infrastructure systems remains a key element in controlling and minimizing the occurrence of waterborne diseases that result in illness and disease.
Precaution has always had quite an intimate relationship with public health, and governments – even everyday citizens are increasingly presented with the challenge of balancing economic interests with environmental justice and protection of human health. Economics aside, the five Great Lakes are an unparalleled freshwater resource providing drinking water to the millions of people surrounding its basins. Improving Michigan’s antiquated infrastructure systems remains the most important component in controlling and minimizing the occurrence of waterborne diseases that result in illness and ensuring safe drinking and recreation water is within reach for the millions of people that depend on it.
Science in Action.
Dr. Janice Beecher is Professor of Public Policy in the Department of Political Science and Director of the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University.
Dr. Janice Beecher brings more than 30 years of applied research experience to her position as Director of the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University. Dr. Beecher serves on the U.S. EPA's Environmental Finance Advisory Board and has served as an appointed advisor for infrastructure and water policy in our own state of Michigan. Having read the 21st century Michigan infrastructure commission report myself, it is my opinion that Dr. Beecher plays a critical role by providing management plans for water infrastructure that enables consistent, dependable assessment, maintenance, and reliability of the water quality and infrastructure.
By: Batoul Hassan
Summary: In early September, Flat rock’s residence evacuated their home in a hurry because Ford accidentally released 1,400 gallons of benzene gasoline into the city’s sanitary sewer system. At first, Ford assumed there was a small gas leak in one of the pipes, which they quickly shut down, but it somehow became a massive gas leak resulting in Flat Rock going into a state of emergency. Ford takes full responsibility for the gas leak, resulting in the company apologizing numerous times, shutting down production for a week, and renting out hundreds of hotel rooms with gift cards and free meals to the evacuated residents. There were also family events hosted by Ford to try and soothe the disturbance they created to the residence in Flat Rock. The Ford company also pledged $1 million to residences that were affected by the gas spill. While Ford is working earnestly to fix this situation by shutting down production for a week, using firefighting foam to suppress the benzene vapors, etc., Flat Rock Officials are knocking on residence doors to recommend evacuating their homes. The officials believe that the vapors will not put the residents in imminent danger, but it would be best if they evacuate the area. There has not been any notice on when the residences of Flat Rock can go back to their home and their daily routine, while the Ford company does not understand how the gas spill grew to that size. Until then, the Ford company is working tirelessly to understand how this leak happened and to make sure this type of situation never happens again.
Why we should care? As a resident living in the same county as Flat Rock, we need to be aware that the gas leak is not over yet, and the benzene vapors coming from the sewer lines are extremely flammable and dangerous.
This article was fascinating to me because the Ford company quickly acknowledged that it was their mistake that created a gigantic gas leak and the company was more than willing to help the evacuated residences of Flat Rock. The company even rented out hotel rooms so the residents could be comfortable while this gas leak is occurring in their area. Not only were free rooms given out, but Ford also gave out free meal cards and gift cards to make the residents of Flat Rock more comfortable with their situation. I also find it interesting that Ford does not know why this gas leak occurred, but they are still working tirelessly to figure out why the gas spill happened and how never to let this type of situation happen again. Flat Rock is also part of my county, and I enjoy knowing what's happening in Michigan, even if I do not live in that area.
Science in Action.
Dr. Stefan Schwietzke is an international senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund who studies local and global emissions inventories, methane emissions, and atmospheric measurements.
Dr. Schwietzke travels around the world to look at countries' methane emissions and characterize their emissions from local to global areas. As of right now, he is working with the United Nations Environment Programme and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to identify emissions of methane and how to minimize the emissions. Dr. Schwietzke would be extremely helpful with Flat Rock’s gas leak crisis because benzene and methane are extremely similar gases, both being organic compounds, but their chemical structures are different. Dr. Schwietzke will be able to see how much emissions are in the air locally because of the gas leak and discover the environmental issues that have occurred because of the leak. Since Dr. Schwietzke has worked in multiple corporations related to biofuels, he will also be able to help Ford with understanding how the gas leak happened and dealing with the aftermath of the gas spill.
By: Hunter Cook
Summary: In the year 1676, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, also known as the father of microbiology, was the first person to discover an array of microscopic findings, including bacteria. Ever since van Leeuwenhoek's revolutionary discoveries, the scientific community has been studying lifeforms too small for the naked eye to see. Even though it was almost 350 years ago that we learned of bacterias' existence thanks to the father of microbiology, researchers continue unearthing new information that brings humanity a little closer to unraveling the mystery of life's origin story. Dr. Yuki Morono, a Japanese microbiologist who is also the lead author of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, and Oceanography Professor Steve D'Hondt, of the University of Rhode Island, led a research team towards the South Pacific Gyre during the summer of 2010. The South Pacific Gyre, a region of intersecting ocean currents east of Australia, is considered one of the planet's most uninhabitable areas due to the fact it has next to no nutrients needed for survival; a desert in the ocean. The research team extracted sediments from this previously presumed dead zone and brought the inorganic matter to their laboratory for further study. Three years later, geoscientist Yohey Suzuki from the University of Tokyo found microbes flourishing deep inside volcanic rocks beneath the Pacific Northwest's seafloor during research unrelated to the studies of Dr. Morono and Professor D'Hondt. Professor Suzuki's discovery of bacteria in such a harsh environment supported hypotheses about life on other planets. For example, volcanos on Mars, similar to the ones on Earth, could have sustained extraterrestrial life millions of years ago before solar wind destroyed the planet's atmosphere and magnetic field. It could also mean that other planets with harsh environments may host microscopic life. In 2020, ten years after Dr. Morono and Professor D'Hondt extracted sediments from the South Pacific Gyre (seven years after Professor Suzuki's revolutionary findings), they discovered that the dormant bacteria that had subsided within the inorganic environment for over 100 million years begun growing and multiplying. Dr. Morono concluded that some of Earth's simplest organisms do not obey the laws of time, thanks to this experiment.
Why we should care? Dr. Morono's, Professor D'Hondt's, and Professor Suzuki's studies are vital to understanding organic life because microbes such as bacteria hold the answers to several fundamental scientific questions.
The article regarding the dormant bacteria found in the South Pacific Gyre is fascinating for many reasons: discoveries regarding life on Earth, implications for extraterrestrial life, and inching closer to comprehending the origins of biological life. It was discovered earlier in the 2000s that certain microorganisms can survive in remarkably harsh environments, and these studies were intriguing; however, with this new research conducted by Dr. Morono and Professor D'Hondt, the scientific community can now speculate that certain microbes don't need sufficient nutrients to thrive either. What does this mean for future research: will new forms of nutrition be unearthed, or will a whole new taxonomic kingdom for bacteria that don't need nourishment to survive be found? The study of our universe is a relatively new realm of science, and each discovery made on Earth concerning life brings humanity closer to understanding more about possible extraterrestrial life. Even though the theory of evolution is nearly a proven fact, there is so much that we don't know about why the domain of life is what it is. I believe everything evolved from single-celled organisms, and the more we learn about microorganic life, the closer we are to learning why evolution happened the way it did.
Science in Action.
Dr. Yuki Morono is a Senior Scientist for the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology / Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research.
The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology is conducting the research, and Dr. Yuki Morono is the senior scientist heading these studies on the agency's behalf. He is also the lead author in charge of documenting any findings. In the past ten years, Dr. Morono led the IODP's expedition 329, where they extracted the South Pacific Gyre's sediments. He has also been in charge of incubating and studying the microbes that were once dormant in the previously thought to be uninhabitable sediments. Having spent a decade on the project, Dr. Morono is very relevant in the past, present, and future observations and discoveries regarding the ancient bacteria.
By: Zhereen Uddin
Summary: In the world now, Covid-19 is a major concern. However, climate change has slowly but surely has been affecting the world way before Covid-19. A patient that is elderly had with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who needed to use an inhaler especially because there was an insane heat wave going on in Miami where she lived. It was very difficult for her to breathe in such conditions. to breathe. People that are living in poverty these types of conditions causes bad outcomes such as illness, eviction and even death. The economic fallout during this pandemic have only increased vulnerability. Climate change is one of the biggest global health threats in the 21st century. The rising temperatures has more that comes along with it other than deadly heat waves. Wildfires, flooding and storms are another result of climate change. Due to these environmental factors, doctors see more asthma, heart disease and heat strokes. That’s not all. Other diseases such as dengue fever and Zika are being found in locations all over the world that hardly had these types of diseases. The American health care system were put to the test by what they call the “invisible enemy”. Climate change has put a huge toll on them. The healthcare system itself is a cause of climate change. This being noticed had opened new doors on ways to help out the planet for our own health and safety. Dr. Cheryl Holder co-founded Florida Clinicians for Climate Action. She works to help educate doctors, patients and policymakers about the links between climate change and health. The health risks and concerns of climate change is highly underappreciated. Gary Cohen is the president of Health Care Without Harm, calls it “the elephant in the waiting room”. Climate change also has a major impact on hospitals. Common Spirit Health, a nonprofit Catholic hospital system, almost met their goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the end of 2020. They are using solar panels for energy. The Solar Energy and Loan Fund (SELF) with the assistance of a company called Health Dignity in Florida that provides low-interest loans to low and middle income households for solar panels and efficiency upgrades. If our Earth’s healing mission is to try and change as soon as possible we must try harder to achieve.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because it is important to notice how the climate is changing and it is affecting the lives of many people.
I found this article interesting because I learned that climate change is one of the biggest global health threats in the 21st century. Temperatures that are continuing to rise bring more to the table than just strokes, droughts, or heat waves that cause wildfires, storms and flooding that are deadly. It also brings a disease Zika and the disease called dengue fever spread by mosquitos. High temperatures make it the perfect environment for these mosquitos to rise. They are being found in new locations that they were not there before. Climate change is highly unappreciated by many. These are results of us humans polluting our planet.
Science in Action.
Dr. Cheyrl Holder is Interim Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Community Initiatives; and Associate Professor at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.
Climate change has made many people with asthma suffer more. Since the pollution is on a high rise. In 2013 it was found that the Health care’s greenhouse gas emissions made up of 10 percent of the United States of America in total. Climate change is one of the biggest global health threats in the 21st century. Temperatures that are continuing to rise brings a disease Zika and the disease called dengue fever spread by mosquitos. High temperatures make it the perfect environment for these mosquitos to rise. They are being found in new locations that they were not there before.
By: Elizabeth Carlson
Summary: Global climate change can cause many different changes including temperature changes and also abnormal rainfall and humidity. These changes in the climate can create perfect conditions for diseases to thrive. Vector-borne diseases are especially subjected to the warming climate. In particular to Dengue Fever when temperature increases it also increases the percentage of mosquitos that will carry the Dengue virus inside them causing more people to come into contact with the virus. The rise in temperature will also allow for Dengue Fever and other vector-borne diseases to spread to areas that were previously free of disease. This is due to vector-borne diseases thriving in warm climates, when other climates are subjected to the rising temperatures it causes them to also be subjected to the diseases that can survive in the warmer climates. Not only does global climate change affect humans but also affects agriculture. Climate change can devastate crops and lead to a rise in plant diseases that perish many crops. Plasmopara viticola is a very devastating plant disease that affects grapevines predominantly in northern Italy. The disease is weather sensitive and thrives in wetness and without dry weather to kill off the disease it will ravish the crops. Global climate change has a major effect on viruses and diseases that can cause epidemics. Not only are these viruses and diseases affecting humans and animals they are also affecting plant life. These effects can have crippling effects on the survival of humans. Unless we want our Covid-19 lifestyle to be permanent we must address how global climate change is affecting existing and new epidemics.
Why we should care? We all have seen the global effects of Covid-19 over the course of the year. We should care about global climate change affecting new epidemics because this pandemic is just the first of many if we do not get global climate change under control.
I found this article interesting because not only is coronavirus wreaking havoc on the state of Florida, the state is also facing a Dengue Fever outbreak. As climate change continues and the earth warms it will subject climates that are being warmed to diseases that were not there before. This means the Dengue Fever outbreak in Florida will not just be contained to that state. This is interesting to me as a Michigander because this year we had a vector-borne disease outbreak. The Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus outbreak was such a threat Michigan counties had to spray an aerosol to kill the mosquitos carrying the virus and I wonder if climate change continues if this outbreak will become a regular worry.
Science in Action.
Jonathan Patz, M.D., MPH is director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Patz is part of a research team that created a vectorial model to display the effects of climate change on Dengue Fever. They did this by using disease transmission and Dengue specific parameters in conjunction with modeling changes in current climate conditions. Although the findings were pretty much undetermined the researchers believe that the influence of temperature change on vector-borne diseases should be considered. The researchers state that the increase in potential Dengue Fever risk due to global climate change is prevalent. Despite the results of the model, the researchers urge for policies that would reduce global climate change and also advancements in disease prevention. The researchers also advocate for more climate change and vector-borne disease risk analysis and assessments similar to their model. This research sheds some light onto how climate change is intertwined with epidemics and how more research is needed in this area.
By: Jessica Sabatini
Summary: According to Stanford, researchers predict that rising temperatures and increased urbanization will increase rates of diseases caused and spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals killing over 1,000,000 people per year. The two most common mosquitoes that transmit diseases are Aedes aegypti and Aedes alcopictus. These creatures can carry many different diseases to spread, malaria being the most widespread at this time. However, researchers believe that as greenhouse gases create warmer temperatures, mosquitoes will thrive and spread to places unseen. Mosquitoes are attracted to warm, wet, and humid places; and when humans live in places like these, they tend to keep their windows open. This increases their risk for bites and possibly infections. It is said that as atmospheric CO2 rise with the temperatures, mosquito evolution will rapidly increase. According to Dr. Chufei Tang, the evolution of mosquitoes may cause eradicated diseases to come back and spread even further. We have seen the increasing temperatures affect other insects that carry disease; Lyme disease, carried by ticks, had an increased spread as temperatures increased. These researchers also mention that malaria will not be the disease we need to worry about, in fact, malaria rates are said to possibly decrease in some areas! Dengue fever seems to be a recurring concern in all of these articles. More than 3 billion people are at risk for dengue (based on location). Dengue fever has very similar symptoms to those of the Zika virus; this includes fever, rash, severe muscle aches, eye pain, and nausea. Right now, there are only about 100 to 200 cases of dengue fever in the United States, and it usually only affects those who traveled internationally. This number is said to possibly increase within this century, as temperature and CO2 levels increase.
Why we should care? Malaria thrives at around 78°F and dengue thrives at around 84°F. Most US states get to those temperatures in the spring and summertime. We can all be affected by this disease eventually.
I like that the U.S. News article covers each point of this topic. I did a lot of research with many different articles and research papers and this article summarizes these pretty well. I like how the author pointed out that mosquitoes are the deadliest animals, how they used stats to support this, and how they explained the risk as temperatures increase. Also, they showed something that I didn't point out in my summary, that if temperatures get too high then the mosquitoes will ultimately suffer. Not to mention, this article also gives hyperlinks to background information on this topic, so if you are more interested you can research this even further than it has been summarized.
Science in Action.
Dr. Chufei Tang is at China Agricultural University.
Dr. Chufei Tang was mentioned in one of the articles I read on this subject. As I found his research profile, I had access to all of his publications. Dr. Chufei Tang has about 53 publications and a lot of them cover mosquitoes in some way. He does have a particular study or two that directly relates mosquitoes to climate change. This article is titled, "Elevated atmospheric CO2 promoted speciation in mosquitoes". This means that this article specifically covers climate change n relation to mosquito evolution and mutations. I covered a little bit about this in my summary, but he mentions that it is possible that as CO2 levels increase, mosquito evolution will thrive, and this could bring back some eradicated diseases.
By: Carlos Rodriguez
Summary: Rising heat temperatures are helping push ticks to the northward and westward ranges in the U.S. Ticks that are usually only found in the warmer southern states are now appearing in states like New York and New Jersey. These ticks, particularly blacklegged ticks, carry diseases which they then transmit to other species, eventually leading to humans. One of the main diseases that ticks play a big role in is Lyme disease. In just two decades, cases of Lyme disease have doubled to 30,000 cases a year in the U.S. alone. Ironically, due to the restrictions implemented to help control COVID-19, it seems that disease infections will now spread further. Since people are quarantined, a lot of those same people are actually going out to national parks more where they risk contact with these ticks; coming into contact with ticks could be very easy if one isn’t aware of what to look for in “tick areas”. Also, due to higher temperatures, ticks are becoming active earlier in the year and ending later into Autumn which increases their chances of surviving in the winter. With COVID-19 happening, it has only made the situation worse. Those who are aware of such diseases from ticks seem to underestimate them thinking COVID is the real threat since its virus based. However, bacteria-based diseases are not all easy to treat and should be given similar precaution as well.
Why we should care? This topic is important because just like mosquitos, ticks also pose a threat to humans and other species. We're currently in a pandemic and we're seeing/experiencing the disaster that a deadly disease can bring.
I found this article interesting because instead of just informing you on the dangers of climate change and ticks it also tells a story of a family that lives in Ohio. It is able to help you visualize and process the struggles and adaptations that the family must go through in order to keep living a normal life. A lot of the times people don't believe in something or aren't actually motivated to take action because they don't see how it actually affects people but adding that story in the article before talking about the issue really helps one put themselves in others' shoes and understand the severity of the situation. I also think the article did a good job in emphasizing the dangers/health risks of the diseases that are carried by ticks.
Science in Action.
Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld is a Disease Ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.
Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld studies the ecology of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases along with the effect of environment factors on tick survival and behavior. Specifically, he spent the last decade studying how climate change effects tick survival. He currently directs a 5-year study where 2 tick control methods are being tested in which he hopes to find an effective approach that could help communities control tick-borne diseases when implemented. His team is also investigating viruses that live within the blacklegged tick: what viruses they carry, how they're transmitted, and whether or not they pose a threat to the human species.
By: Zane Hammoud
Summary: Honey Bees are more important than we think! We have all heard the phrase "Save the Bees" and most of us could agree it is important. We must learn how it is important to us and the earth as a whole. Bees have a huge impact on this planet and our daily lives even though we might not realize it sometimes. We should be thankful for all the unnoticed work honeybees do for us, maybe instead of ignoring it, we should address the problem and hopefully maintain a healthy bee population for the future. Honeybees have been around and serving this earth for over 14 million years. There are 3 common solutions to help us step in the right direction of saving the bees. The first step is to ban the seven most dangerous pesticides. Secondly, protect pollinator health by preserving wild habitat. Lastly, restore ecological agriculture. By doing these steps, we can help restore bee colonies all across the world, not only in the United States. There are many organizations that are taking the next step to help these honeybees in the future. I highly recommend checking out some of their websites to learn more about what they do. Some of these organizations are The Honeybee Conservancy and The Bee Girl Organization. Both companies are based right here inside of the United States and strive to inspire communities to conserve bees, flowers, and food. Their goal is to place one million bees to support communities of need across the United States.
Why we should care? I believe we should all care about this issue more because of the consequences. Honeybees alone represent about 80% of all pollination on Earth. Across the whole world, the bee population is in decline.
This article was very interesting because it explains the practice of beekeeping in the United States, threats to honeybees, and the significance they have on our lives. It tells us that all bees are important to us, different types of bees have different roles as pollinators. It could be specialized pollination that supports biodiversity or large scale agricultural crop pollination that feeds the world. At the end of the day, it is very important to us. There are many threats to the health of a honeybee, The main ones are grouped into what scientists call "the four Ps," which are pesticides, pests, pathogens, and poor nutrition.
Science in Action.
Professor Robert E. Page, Jr. is Provost Emeritus and Foundation Chair of Life Sciences at Arizona State University.
Robert E. Page is the author of his own book called "The Art of the Bee." In this book, he goes on to say that "Honeybees are both artists and engineers." This saying could not be any more true, He understands the importance that honeybees have on this Earth. As he calls them "environmental artists", bees are “responsible for the brilliantly colored flowers in our landscapes,” and as "environmental engineers", the engineer “the niches of multitudes of plants, animals, and microbes." We all can agree that honeybees have great importance to us and it is worth our efforts to try to protect them as if we are protecting our future.
By: Cassidy Mullins
Summary: The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is an oil transportation system which spans over 800 miles over Alaskan wilderness and carries on average 1.8 million gallons of crude oil every day. Construction began in 1975, and finished in 1977. The pipeline cost $8 billion, and 20,000 people worked on it daily. Seven oil companies make up a group called the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, who paid for the pipeline. It was built in part as a response to the 1973 oil crisis, which caused a spike in oil prices in the US. Since the Trans Alaska Pipeline was completed, the state government of Alaska has relied on taxes paid by oil producers. Alaska is now the most tax-free state due to being able to cut out personal income tax as a result of taxing oil companies. There are over 800 rivers and streams crossing the pipeline, some of which are used for fishing and water collection. There is a lot of opposition to the pipeline, mainly coming from conservationists and Alaska Natives. The pipeline crosses Native land, but does not benefit them directly. The pipeline also impacts caribou herds, and blocks migration routes, making caribou herds smaller. There have been crossing points built into the pipeline to limit the effects. Natives also rely on caribou for food, as well as whales that may be scared away by the pipeline. The pipeline has been damaged by natural disasters, human error, as well as sabotages. In March of 1989, an oil tanker helping to transport oil spilled between 260,000 to 750,000 of crude oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Some of that oil still remains to this day. While this spill doesn’t directly involve the pipeline, it is the most famous case of oil spills in Alaska. The most recent pipeline leak occurred in April 2020, where fifty thousand gallons gallons of oily water had to be recovered to prevent damage to wildlife.
Why we should care? In 2010, it was estimated that the pipeline would be working through at least 2032. Alaska is legally required to remove all traces of the pipeline once it is shut down, but the damage has already been done to the environment.
Anchorage Daily News ran an opinion piece in March about how a large problem facing Alaska's economy is their declining oil industry. This was written at a time where many were worried about an economic collapse due to COVID. People staying home leads to less oil being used, and Alaska isn't sure when, or if, a full recovery will be made. This could lead to an earlier shut down of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline than what is currently expected. Closing the pipeline down voluntarily, rather than when it is no longer functional, will likely lead to less oil spills as the pipe corrodes. While there is no evidence right now of the pipeline shutting down, it is likely that in the future a decision will have to be made if it is no longer profitable.
Science in Action.
Dr. Erin Pulster is a Scientific Researcher at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science.
While not directly researching the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Dr. Pulster has recently concluded a study on long-term effects of an oil spill on marine life. After the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, researchers from University of South Florida (USF) began a study to determine how badly the spill affected marine life. They found that there was a 50 to 80 percent population decrease in deep water fish near the rig site. There has been a new study started by USF to track fish eggs and understand how spawning sites may have been impacted throughout various species. The results of these studies could be beneficial to better understand how past oil spills (such as the Prince William Sound Exxon Valdez spill) and possible future spills will affect the Alaskan environment.
By: Ethan Schiffour
Summary: The Atlantic coast pipeline was a natural gas pipeline that would have stretched 600 miles across North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia or the Appalachian Trail. The Atlantic coast pipeline was first announced in 2014 and was being created by Duke energy and Dominion energy. The pipeline was supposed to bring natural gas to homes in the three states mentioned. The pipeline’s cost was projected to be around $5 billion dollars, but through production of the pipeline being on and off the pipeline’s finish would have cost around $8 billion dollars. The Atlantic coast pipeline has received a great deal of setbacks and had to deal with lawsuits from environmental groups. The concern that people had with the pipeline was that it would cost a great amount of money and that the pipeline wasn’t necessarily needed. The pipeline would also run through many waterways and communities, such as many different Native American communities. Duke and Dominion energy had fought for the pipeline saying it would bring more energy to homes and families. The two energy companies also claimed it would bring industry to the counties that the pipeline would pass through though those were false claims. Duke energy had hoped to have completed the pipeline by 2021, but the production of the pipeline had been cancelled in July of 2020 because of the legal battles and the growth of the cost of the pipeline.
Why we should care? I think we should care about this topic because it covers many important issues in environmental science. It covers environmental justice as many minority communities would have been affected by the building and completion of the Atlantic coast pipeline.
I found this particular article interesting because the article gave background information on what the Atlantic coast pipeline is, while also explaining the production and the reasons for cancellation of the pipeline. The article draws in statements from both Duke and Dominion energy while also giving statements from the environmental groups that had protested and took legal action against the building of the pipeline. The article was able to visualize for the reader the importance of whether this pipeline was built or not. The article also explains what actions Dominion energy had taken in selling many natural gas assets to affiliates of Warren Buffet.
Science in Action.
Dr. Drew Shindell is a professor of Earth Science at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment.
Drew Shindell does research on world climate and has been studying the plan for clean energy and how to curb dangerous greenhouse gases. Shindell would like the state to permanently stop building natural gas infrastructure. Including stopping the use of natural gas power plants and stopping the building of infrastructure like the Atlantic coast pipeline. Shindell explains that natural gas most companies use is methane and that it can leak and cause problems for the environment. Shindell also explains how the use of natural gas will cause greater costs for consumers, while causing harm to vulnerable communities.
By: Nikolas de Wit
Summary: The name Keystone comes from a particular wedge-shaped piece of stone used in the process of building an arch. The Keystone is located at the apex of the arch and is essential for proper weight distribution along the overall structure. The name Keystone has been front and center for climate activists for well over a decade. Dating back to when the Keystone Pipeline was first proposed in 2005. The Pipeline has been the topic of immense debate and scrutiny, due to its mission of transporting large amounts of crude oil, located in Alberta’s oil sands, across the United States. The more recent proposal refers to a pipeline addition named “Keystone XL”, the “XL” standing for “Export Limited”. This proposal focuses on the construction of a new, more direct, pipeline starting in Hardisty, Alberta and leading to Steele City, Nebraska. This addition has received the greatest controversy because of its path over Nebraska’s Sandhills. A National Natural Landmark covering nearly 20,000 square miles of prairie land, and a portion for the Ogallala Aquifer which spans eight states and is a major source of water for agricultural irrigation and drinking water for nearly 1.9 million people. The Keystone Pipeline XL has the ability to provide the United States with large quantities of crude oil needed to supply the countries ever growing consumption of fossil fuels. While also posing a large ecological concern due to a possible spill and its effects on the surrounding ecosystem, people, and communities. All the while, promoting carbon emissions through the use of fossil fuels in America.
Why we should care? I believe that we should care immensely about the proposed installation of this pipeline. The pipeline not only transports massive amounts of crude oil, but it also promotes the consumption of fossil fuels across the United States.
The article published by National Geographic effectively communicates and outlines the Keystone Pipeline XL propostion. National Geographic is an extremely reputable source, renowned for exploring and documenting enviormental topics that occur all over the world. As well as funding hundreds of research and conservation projects globally each year. Not only was the overall objective discussed in the article, the positive and negative impacts of the Keystone Pipeline were explored as well. Verifying that this article is a great source of information for which to formulate an opinion. I would recommend this article to anyone interested in doing their part for the environment, and educating themselves on the Keystone Pipeline situation.
Science in Action.
Dr. Ken Caldeira is a Senior Scientist at the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
Dr. Ken Calderia is a Senior Scientist at the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science. The Global Ecology department was the first new Carnegie Department created in more than 80 years. The Departments goal is to study and observe the ecological processes and mechanisms at the spatial scale, as well as at the large scale of the entire planet. The department strives to seek out notable scientists motivated to understand how the planet operates, and how it will respond to future changes. With a mission to educate and raise awareness on environmental topics all across the world.
By: Grace Komrska
Summary: The Dakota Access Pipeline, otherwise known as the Bakken Oil Pipeline, is a line extending 1,172 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. The pipeline carries crude oil through North Dakota to Illinois, where it links with another pipeline network that transports the oil along the Gulf of Mexico. The construction of this 3.8 billion dollar project was highly controversial as part of it would be built under Lake Oahe, part of the Mississippi River, which is the main water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The pipeline runs 4 feet underground, and under Lake Oahu it would run around 95-110 feet beneath the surface. The main concern of the tribe is that the pipeline could potentially contaminate the drinking water and disturb sacred lands. In July of 2016, the tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S Army Corps of Engineers for violating the National Historic Preservation Act. They had claimed that the consultation process, before construction, was fundamentally flawed. They also claimed that the Army Corps of Engineers improperly issued construction permits and failed to conduct adequate environmental analysis. In late 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe unfortunately lost the lawsuit, but the Obama Administration stepped in and halted the construction of the last bit of the pipeline that would go under Lake Oahu. Despite the large and constant opposition, in February of 2017, President Trump issued an executive memorandum issuing the Army Corps to expedite the permitting process. This caused the large scale arrests of many protestors after they were ordered to leave the area, as construction would soon continue. The construction of the pipeline was finished by April of 2017, and the first oil delivered through the pipeline occurred in May of 2017. In recent news, in March of this year, a U.S District Judge ruled that the government had not studied the pipelines effect on the quality of the human environment. The temporary shutdown ordered by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on August 5th 2020, but the environmental review is expected to continue.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because the safety of water, air, wildlife, and farming could be greatly impacted by this pipeline. If the pipeline were to leak it would place thousands of people without fresh drinking water.
This article is important because it summarizes the main events surrounding the issues of the pipeline. I found it very interesting how it highlighted the problems with shutting down the pipeline, while also covering the aspect of the environmental issues This article shows how controversial this topic is, and how it can affect both sides greatly. Shutting down the pipeline will be costly, but environmental inspection must happen in order to keep the land and water safe. The indigenous people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will continue to fight for their water source and there is still so much work to be done.
Science in Action.
Dr. Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley is a post doctoral researcher at Swansea University, UK and is the president of The Society for Conservation Biology Freshwater Working Group.
Dr. Januchowski-Hartley's research focuses on understanding the impacts of infrastructure such as roads and dams on rivers and their ecosystems. The research she is doing is relevant to this topic because the pipeline can have many disastrous impacts if it were to leak. "Cleaning up leaks and spills can also take an incredible amount of resources and time; rarely fully restoring what was lost from a system. Leaks or spills into aquatic environments, like the Missouri River and associated tributaries, can have disastrous consequences beyond the direct sight of the leak or spill." says Stephanie in relation to the Dakota pipeline's many risks.
By: Erika Lyijynen
Summary: So, this topic is about the most recent off-shore drilling ban Trump announced back in September. This was an extension of an already existing ban, which he extended for another ten years, now going until 2032. This ban makes any off-shore drilling in Florida waters forbidden. This is an interesting topic for multiple reasons. One reason is that Trump is definitely not known for his progressive environmental justice policies. For example, he withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, a well-known bill attempting to fight negative environmental impacts from humans. So— this came as a surprise to a lot of people. Most people assume that this was done on his own political agenda, because Florida has a large amount of electoral votes and Trump wanted to secure the state. It is also interesting because Trump is usually in favor of oil drilling and what it does for the economy.
Why we should care? I think we should care about this for multiple reasons. One reason being that we can't depend on environmental policies to be implemented by officials who only care what it makes them look like politically-- if that was the case, we wouldn't be able to get anything done.
This is a good mainstream article for a few reasons. It's from ABC, a popular source already. But, it talks about both sides of this ban, the political and environmental, and that's why I chose it. The article goes a little deeper into why Trump actually may have implemented the ban as a last minute resort in order to secure his win for the election in Florida. This article also talks about both sides of the ban, those in favor it and those who aren't. There is always a great deal of people who support off-shore drilling because of what it does for the economy in the area. It often creates a lot of jobs and brings in a good amount of money to the area. The problem is is that the negative environmental impacts are often long-lasting and detrimental.
Science in Action.
Dr. Malin Pinsky is a biologist at Rutgers University in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources and part of environmental conservation group Oceana.
This scientist works for an environmental conservation group (located in Florida) known as Oceana, that has spoken up about this offshore drilling ban. This group contains multiple scientists that study the ecology, climate, and environment of differen areas and animals in Florida. This scientist is a good resource for me because they not only know the area in question, but they are aware of the impacts that can happen to them.
By: Johnathan Mize
THE GOOD: Fracking's positives are many. According to ourworldindata.org, the US, despite leaving the Paris climate accords, dropped its CO2 emissions from 5.42 Billion tons in 2015 to 5.27 Billion tons. In contrast, during the same period both France and Germany increased their CO2 emissions. The US was able to accomplish this by replacing coal and oil powered power plants to natural gas powered power plants, which produce as much reliable power but produce just as much if not more power. Not only that, but it has decreased the United States reliance on genocidal Nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It has also breathed new life into desiccated States like Pennsylvania that were destroyed by horrific trade treaties that still operated on the "cash for allies" foreign policy the United States used since World War 2. There is a very valid argument that Fracking is far healthier for the Earth using traditional oil powered facilities. Just getting oil from the Middle East puts a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. However, it's not all sunshine and roses.
THE BAD: It still makes CO2 and then there are the problems specifically with Fracking. First there are the Earthquakes. As one might imagine, forcing pressurized fluids into fractured rocks could cause unfortunate side effects for the surrounding rock, and everything on top of it. Then on top of that, said pressurized water is now contaminated, and is under pressure has two options, come back up or find a new place to force its way somewhere new, all too often an aquifer, which many people in the rural regions where fracking takes place. This can lead to illness as you can end up drinking oil particulates.
Why we should care? We need to have a real, nonpartisan discussion about fracking in the United States. The ability to replace extremely dirty oil and even more so coal with far less destructive natural gas could buy the world the time it needs for a more permanent solution to climate change.
The Hill article above by JOHN HOFMEISTER AND PAUL SULLIVAN provided valid criticism to a fracking ban that I believe needs to be addressed. I can agree that a shock therapy approach, even deadly for those parts of the country that get very cold, and I can even concede that switching right now would not only devastate our economy but give power to many bad actors around the world. However, fracking is a problem that still needs to be addressed. A move towards something like nuclear power should be the long term goal. We need to start removing CO2 from the environment where we can and however we can. I have to mention that there is an argument that using Natural Gas to replace oil and coal will dramatically improve the environment. Not to mention the fact that the data shows that this is indeed the case as I mentioned before.
Science in Action.
Mark Schrope is a researcher at Director at Schmidt Marine.
The work of Mark Schrope, among others, goes to great lengths to show all of the problems with fracking. They focus predominantly on the possibility of water contamination. This is because most fracking is done in rural areas where wells are the predominant water source. They note that and EPA administrator by the name of Lisa Jackson stated “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.” which lends the article credit as it steel man's the opposing argument. He makes a valid point in that small cracks often form bigger cracks which could cause an unwanted fluid exchange. Articles like this are important because rather than portraying the other side as a dehumanized enemy only to be destroyed, it portrays them as a human rival to be persuaded and convinced, something all to rare in the modern day.
By: Ian Hogg
Summary: Climate change is real and an existential threat to our way of life. Throughout the years there have been numerous proposed solutions that aim to protect and preserve our planet. Among these proposed solutions to the climate crisis are feats of global geoengineering aimed at reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere. These carbon removal techniques can be very simple and straightforward, whiles others are much more complicated and expensive to implement. One technique includes reforestation and wetland restoration, which would provide a more naturalistic and feasible approach to removing CO2 from the atmosphere. There are other more complicated and more expensive manmade geoengineering solutions. Among these are way to directly capture CO2 from the air through the use carbon capture facilities. As seen in the picture below, these facilities would take in the surrounding air and filter of the greenhouse gases and store them in storage spaces underground. Geoengineering has not yet become a feasible and productive solution to the climate crisis. In the case of the manmade facilities, they are expensive and take time require upkeep. The more naturalistic solutions are much more feasible and affordable, but also require upkeep and manpower to implement. However, now the global community is struggling to create real and lasting change when it comes to combating climate change. Governments, scientists, and citizens need to look at all the proposed solutions to this urgent issue and come together to create lasting change and preserve this planet for future generations. All solutions should be on the table; we are running out of time and the future of our planet is at stake. We need to act now. Geoengineering may not be the end all be all solution to the climate crisis, but these solutions cannot hurt when it comes to creating an environmentally conscious and sustainable global community.
Why we should care? We need to be looking at all the possible methods of reducing the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. While some of the geoengineered solutions seem far-fetched and not feasible, I believe we should still consider them.
This article provides a great look at the various ways geoengineering can be used in the fight against climate change. It also includes a number of scientists and professionals that work in the field of geoengineering and provides a glimpse at their work. These individuals provide insight on what geoengineering is and how it can be better implemented. By providing insight from people within the field =, the reader is able to get a better picture of the up and coming future of geoengineering. All of these different perspectives are interesting and provide a great base of knowledge on the possibilities geoengineering has to offer in the fight against climate change.
Science in Action.
Dr. David Keith is the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University.
David Keith’s work led to him creating Carbon Engineering, which is a company that develops technology aimed to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. His work is relevant to the discussion of carbon capture because he has gone ahead and actually created a company aimed doing just that. The work of his research and company have led to new methods in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. He is just one example of how geoengineering and geoengineers are creating innovative and interesting solutions to climate change. According to their website, the company has been capturing carbon from the atmosphere since 2015 and they currently oversee the largest Direct Air Capture plant.
By: Molly McKeon
Summary: Climate change has affected many areas of Earth. Many of these effects can be linked back to the melting of our Arctic Ice. There is a positive feedback loop in the Arctic that is classified as the worst positive feedback loop in the world. The melting of the Arctic sea ice has increased much faster than can accumulate. This could mean disaster for our planet as the ice is a key part in Earth’s albedo. Without the sea ice, the Earth is affected by much more UV light than in previous years. These effects cause other effects like temperatures climbing, oceans warming, and much more. The feedback loop must either be broken or slowed down to a more manageable state that would allow testing of environmentally friendly solutions to the problem; overall, we can not keep these greenhouse gases in further concentrations and expect something like this to be a fix. It must be a solution in the long run as we look to changing lifestyles and habits to an eco-friendlier situation for not only ourselves, but future generations also. Geoengineering has come a long way over the years. The first geoengineers were looked at poorly as geoengineering was viewed as an unnatural process. As time has gone on and we have done irreversible damage to the planet, geoengineers have been relied on to find fixes or solutions to problems long-standing. Fixing the ozone layer, stopping the sea ice melt and many more environmental problems are looked at by geoengineers. Sea ice melt is one of the largest problems needing to be addressed. Many approaches are being looked at in effectiveness and sustainability. Some may be methods to slow the process down to find a better way to go about fixing the issues and some are trying to be the permanent solution to the problem.
Why we should care? We should care about this because of the effects of the positive feedback loop. Climate change has created the worst positive feedback loop from the melting of the ice.
The article speaks about using tiny, fine particles of glass powder to spread across ice as a reflective, protective layer to help ice formation. This could help during the summer months to protect the Arctic against the Sun’s rays. The summer months in the Arctic are particularly brutal because the days are so long. Being able to have an extra protective layer of this glass powder could help the ice that was newly formed in winter last longer in duration than without the glass. Dr. Field wants to use this only in highly susceptible areas where the ice melts the fastest. The beads float in water, but the affects on diatom, algal and plankton populations are unknown and need testing. Bottom-Up effects on the food web will be unknown until further testing has been done. There is also a chance that if the beads did sink, copepods would devour them and we would have another contributing microplastics issue.
Science in Action.
Dr. Steven Desch is a Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.
Dr. Steven Desch has worked with NASA on other planets and moon’s geochemical cycles. He has used his knowledge to expand and look at Earth in the same way. His use of interdisciplinary studies and willingness to look at climate change in a new view will help give a new perspective to the situation. His plan to help produce more sea ice is to use wind power to bring cool water up to the surface so it can freeze the sea ice quicker. His study has shown that the process can increase the ice over 1m thick, which is not found in nature normally. Dr. Desch has a Ted talk you can find on YouTube where he speaks about his work on Arctic Ice Management and his plans on how to address the situation.
By: Zahra Williams
Summary: Stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is the process of injecting a layer of aerosol particles to the upper atmosphere in an attempt to decrease climate changes caused by increased levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Since climate change and global warming are often assessed by the surface temperature of the planet, the natural solution would be to cool off the planet which is what stratospheric aerosol geoengineering hopes to achieve. The amount of aerosols and how long the aerosol cloud is maintained in the stratosphere determines the amount of cooling will occur. Researchers have discovered that reducing warming by 50% by adding aerosols to the stratosphere could decrease major climate hazards in almost all regions; only a small fraction of land regions experienced worsening climate change effects. However, this method can only help fix the effects of climate change but not the main cause, which is an increase in CO₂ and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There are many benefits to this method to mitigating climate change such as an increase in plant productivity, reducing or even reducing the sea level and amount of land ice sheets melting, and cooling down the planet. However, there are also many risks. Some of the risks include possible drought in Asia and Africa, less solar power, continued ocean acidification from CO₂, and human error. There is also a concern about how much it would cost to do this and if we even have the right to. Stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is a viable option to help mitigate the effects of climate change, but not without many costs.
Why we should care? Climate change is becoming a more pressing concern over time, and this method is a viable way to mitigate the effects of global warming without disrupting the environment in disastrous ways.
I found this particular article interesting because I’ve always been interested in climate change and ways to possibly reverse its effects, and I plan to work in a career that helps develop ways to accomplish this. This article explains what stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is and how it can help mitigate climate change and global warming. It provides research obtained during tests to ensure that this method is safe for the environment as well as some quotes from people that study this topic. It also went over the possible risks that come with using this method, and how some of them have been disproved by tests.
Science in Action.
Dr. Pete Irvine is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University.
Pete Irvine is a Earth system scientist and interdisciplinary scholar working at Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program. He studies climate research and the effects of solar geoengineering. He researches the climate and broader impacts of solar geoengineering and relates them to the risks posed by climate change. His research is relevant to my topic because solar geoengineering relates to stratospheric aerosol geoengineering. Solar geoengineering is the idea that we can cool the planet by increasing the amount of sunlight reflected back to space, similar to how stratospheric aerosol geoengineering uses particles injected into the stratosphere to cool the planet.