By: Ivy Eifert
Summary: The changing climate, led primarily by anthropogenic causes, is leading to major changes in regard to foliage. Leaves are beginning to remain red, orange, and yellow for longer periods of time than what they typically have in the past. The process of leaf senescence is lengthening due a steady increased temperature later into the Autumn season. Typically, this event caused by a steady increased set of temperatures extends the time period in which they are undergoing senescence, however it is important to note that periods of extreme drought and high heat will cause senescence to happen much faster. In other words, the warmer temperatures prevent the trees from losing their leaves completely and prohibit the tree from entering its hibernation period for the winter, or with drought in the mix, the period is shortened greatly, stripping the trees too early. Greenhouse gas emissions, a leading cause of the changing climate, are indirectly causing this issue, leading to the conclusion that - because humans are responsible for the large majority of greenhouse gas emissions - they are also indeed causing the bulk of this issue. Although this topic might seem insignificant, an extension of these periods of bright colored leaves has its costs and its benefits. An example of this is both economic boom or strife, depending on the region and its weather events. Additionally, this issue boasts several concerns about biodiversity across multiple ecosystems. Specifically, climate change and its effect on foliage is an indicator of a potential migration of multiple different tree species further north, altering the variables of ecosystems all across the United States and Canada. This issue is seen most notably in southern parts of Canada as well as the midwestern United States and will display noticeable effects in both the short and long term. This issue is one that is affecting our current global situation and is one that will affect even more aspects of our society in the future.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because its long term effects influence the biodiversity of multiple ecosystems across the country. Further than that, its short-term effects are influencing tourist communities as well.
I found this article interesting because it discussed both a prolonged and a shortened period of senescence. Also, toward the beginning of the article, it went into detail about specific examples of this phenomenon occurring in different areas across the globe. I found this interesting because it granted the article relevancy to various groups of people. The article also touched on the gravity of species migration, specifically that of the sugar maple, in regard to the loss of colors humans will see as a result of it. The author also gave examples concerning anthropogenic causes of climate change outside of the realm of greenhouse gas emissions, validating the vitality of our part in this topic. The examples given were pathogens and pests, as well as invasive species that are aided in their destruction because of the warming temperatures, thus proven as an indirect cause of human activity. Finally, this article firmly clarifies that some long-term effects of this issue are already completely apparent. This fact allowed me, as a reader, to fully grasp how important this issue is in regard to the health of our planet, all while making the issue both tangible and understandable.
Science in Action.
Dr. Amanda S. Gallinat is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Utah State University.
Dr. Gallinat’s research is relevant to this issue because it involves climate change’s effect on plant and animal species, and how those species will be affected in both the long and short term. Specifically, she is experienced in researching climate change’s effect on birds and the fruit that they feed on. Because she has made conclusions about the relational aspects of different species undergoing changes due to climate change, her research can help us to better understand the other species or communities that will be affected by this change in the duration of leaf senescence. She has also done research on leaves in their winter and spring periods, which is relevant to this topic because the way that trees respond to this autumn phenomenon can be viewed throughout the following seasons as well.
By: Alex Day
Summary: For majority of human history, we have lived in areas that fell in a small range of temperatures and that had the ability to produce large quantities of food. At our current rate by 2070 the amount of barely livable hot zones on earth will increase to 19 percent from where we are currently at 1 percent. This would inevitably cause people to have to move for survival. Right now, in Guatemala almost all citizens are experiencing some sort of food insecurities. This is causing children to develop with weak bones, bloated stomachs, and stunted growth. El Nino, an event of droughts an irregular storm, is becoming more regular which leads to this food insecurity hurting Guatemalans. They are expected to lose 60 percent of rainfall which would than cost farmers 83 percent of water they use to keep the soil moist. This could lead to crop production being one-third of what it is currently by 2070 in Guatemala. So as climate change continues similar situations to Guatemala’s land failure will appear from Mekong Delta to Sudan to Central America resulting in a global migration unlike anything seen before. The area of livable land will narrow down to cooler, northern areas. Although some won’t migrate from these countries and will opt to try to endure the conditions by 2100 even being outside for a couple hours could kill you from the heat in parts of India and Eastern China. Due to these severe conditions the world population is going to have to remap, and northern nations such as the US and UK will be looked to for support. This has caused these northern countries to react by setting immigration laws backed by nationalist governments. Examples of this type of mass immigration have been seen in Europe when Syrian refuges fled drought and war, causing the discontent that led to Brexit. And keep in mind this was with 2 million people. With a current model made by The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica joined with the Pulitzer Center shows that 30 million immigrants would head to the US over the next 30 years. The model also shows the relation between climate change and migration, which is that as climate change increases so does migration. So, if governments were to take action to reduce emissions it would lower the number of those migrating by 680,000 people from now to 2050, if no action is taken on climate change the number of those of migrating per year will be over a million.
Why we should care? We should care because as citizens of the United States we will be looked at as a haven by these immigrants escaping climate change. This can also be used to gain support of climate change policies by those worried about immigration.
What I found interesting about the article is that valid issues each party in America are concerned about, immigration and climate change, are closely related. Issues of immigration can be helped relieved by combating climate change. By keeping the climate sustainable for these southern countries, it will reduce the need for them to leave their land and migrate north. This rhetoric could be used as a way to convince others that combating climate change is important and won’t only create new jobs but protect those jobs as well as other jobs too. But unfortunately, I do not see this being the route taken by the government and politicians.
Science in Action.
Abrahm Lustgarten is a Senior Environmental Reporter at ProPublica.
I believe this scientist’s research is extremely relevant to the issues discussed in the blog, because he is also a reporter. As a reporter he documented the actual stories of people who were in these unfortunate situations due to climate change and had no other options but to migrate north. Abrahm meet a man in Guatemala named Jorge who was a farmer effected by El Nino due to it destroying his crops that he needed to support his family. He eventually signed away his house for an advanced for seeds that were also destroyed by El Nino. So, he pawned off his remaining goats at a 100 percent interest to afford to pay for his families migration. Abrahm also went on to form a team with other organizations to create a model for this exact situation of climate change’s effect on immigration.
By: Sophia Price
Summary: As we continue to pollute our atmosphere with greenhouse gasses, we see the increasing effects of climate change. As greenhouse gasses are trapped in the atmosphere, they collect heat, causing an increase in surface temperatures. In Michigan, climate change is effecting the Great Lakes, where water temperatures are at record highs. The Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System (GLCFS) reports that in July 2020, the average water temperature of Lake Huron was a shocking 11 degrees above average at 72.2 degrees. This is Lake Huron’s warmest mark on record this early in the year. In addition to Lake Huron, GLCFS reports that the water temperatures in all 5 Great Lakes are 6-11 degrees above average. Slightly higher water temperatures might not seem like a pressing issue, but climate change is already beginning to show it’s negative impact. In the Western waters of Lake Erie, an NOAA aircraft has photographed blue-green algae, these blooms can make both humans and fish that come into contact with them sick. Jason Samenow, a writer at the Washington Post reports, In 2014 cyanobacteria from Lake Erie entered Toledo’s water supply. Residents were told not to drink or touch their water. The possibility of an event like this occurring again is becoming more likely, as cyanobacteria is able to grow faster in the warmed water temperatures of the Great Lakes. Humans are not the only ones affected by a rise in Great Lakes water temperature. Fish are being squeezed into a smaller region of the waters, between the surface, which is too hot and the bottom, which does not contain enough oxygen. This poses a threat to the ecosystem as fish are now competing for resources in a smaller environment.
Why we should care? The Great Lakes are the largest source of freshwater on the planet. We should care about their preservation of its waters because of all of the services they provide; food, drinking water, economic opportunity and recreation.
This article struck my interest because of the multiple viewpoints it references. With an array of expert opinions, along with those of everyday people, it was very well rounded. It was interesting to see a contrast between a swim instructor who mentions, loving the warm waters, to an expert talking about the destruction of cyanobacteria. Another thing that made this article worth the read was the amount of visual aid while reading. A wide variety of maps and graphs were used to visually obtain information. I always find it helpful to realize the impact of an issue when looking at a comparative graph. The sources of these graphs and maps were all credible and established organizations, which gave me confidence in the information I was receiving. I know that in some articles there is bias around the issue of climate change, however this article was not the case in its strictly factual approach.
Science in Action.
Dr. Andrea Vander Woude is a Physical Research Scientist at NOAA- Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab.
Dr. Vander Woude is a satellite oceanographer, data scientist and geologist. She has studied the Great Lakes for over 5 years to understand the physical and ecological processes that take place. Vander Woude does this through the use of her 20 years of experience with remote sensing. She works with NOAA and USGS in order to obtain further satellite imaging and stop issues from the air. Her opinion on what we can do in terms of algae blooms is to think about the choices we make that contribute to greenhouse gas production. This will weaken the link in the chain of events created through climate change and the warming of the Great Lakes.
By: Nil Akbari
Summary: When you think of Siberia, you think of the super COLD temperatures that drop below 0 F. However, this year, Siberia had a heatwave that could not been possible without the global climate change. In the winters the average temp is -13°F and in summer the average temperature can get up to 63 °F However, this year, according to the World Weather Attribution, Siberia experienced a heat wave with staggering high temperature of 100 °F. This was recorded in the town of Verkhoyansk on June 20th. This set off few wildfires, had in impact on the local pests and also caused damage to permafrost. This made the snow to melt and causing ice to melt which destroyed many wildlife habitats. The current Siberian heat has contributed to raising the world’s average temperature to the 2nd hottest on record for the period January to May. Using public scientific methods scientists looked at a large region spanning most of Siberia, inclusive of the area affected by the prolonged six-month heat and the town of Verkhoyansk that recorded the record daily temperature for the Arctic region. While the record temperature north of the Arctic circle on June 20 made many headlines, impacts linked directly or in part to the extreme heat have been widespread. Persistent and unusually many wildfires have been observed. About 7,900 square miles of Siberian territory had burned so far this year as of June 25, compared to a total of 6,800 square miles as of the same date a year ago, according to official data. The result of these fires led to a release of 56 Megatons of CO2 in June 2020. This is more than the yearly CO2 emissions of some countries. Further impacts include health impacts on the population and the melting of permafrost which led to high damages, including environmental pollution. A scientist explained BBC that “A fuel tank near the isolated Arctic mining city of Norilsk burst in late May after sinking into permafrost that had stood firm for years but gave way during a warm spring.” Officials said. It released about 150,000 barrels of diesel into a river which had a significant impact on the sea wildlife.
Why we should care? If we let climate change win, we could lose a lot of wildlife species that we see on out planet. Temperatures start to warm up in places that used to be super cold leading in melting ice. This results in the local wildlife finding hard to live.
I found this article very interesting because I would love to visit Siberia one day. I really want to experience the record low temperatures and I watch a bunch of videos about their climates, wildlife, and the culture. I would have never thought that Siberia would have ever had a time where they reached 100°F in the summer. That really sparked my interest since it is never been heard of in the history. Climate change is real! We need to start change the way we live our lives and really need to think about how our activities are impacting the world. It causes a series of problems that just seem to trickle down.
codScience in Action.
Andrew Ciavarella is a climate scientist with The Met Office, the national meteorological service for the UK.
Scientists at The Met Office have done numerous environmental reports from specific topics to studies on the ecosystem. On this specific topic they have conducted studies and have contributed to a full report on the World Weather Attribution website. The report consists of 35 pages. The World Weather Attributions is an organization that haves’ scientists create reports on our ecosystems. They have scientists write about issues we are having in our world like the California Wildfires, Heatwaves in certain regions which is not normal to general topics of the environments. The organization also takes parts in projects which can raise awareness to the general public.
By: Izabela Lewalski
Summary: On August 16, 2020 at 3:41 p.m., the temperature in Death Valley reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 130 degrees Fahrenheit would be the highest reliably measured temperature on the planet. Previously, a record temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit had been recorded in Death Valley in 1913. This record has been put in question because it may not have been reliably measured. The temperature recorded on August 16 is the world’s highest temperature officially recorded since 1931. There may be places on Earth that are hotter, such as the Sahara Desert, but these places are too remote to monitor reliably. The reason that reliably measuring temperatures is difficult is because the thermometer should be shielded from the sun and above the ground. The standards for reliable temperature measuring was set by the World Meteorological Organization. The Death Valley instrument, a thermistor, meets the standards and sends readings hourly to a satellite. Record temperatures are then validated by the Climate Extremes Committee. Death Valley is the driest, lowest, and hottest location in the United States. Heat records such as this one typically are recorded in July, the hottest month in the Northern Hemisphere, which makes August record stand out. The record temperature was recorded while a heat wave swept through the Western United States. This is the heat wave that could be connected to the intensification of the wildfires in the area. The record temperature, and the heat wave, can be connected to the issue of climate change. Scientists have found that the intensity of the heatwaves are increasing due to human-caused climate change. Climate studies have also concluded that climate change is having an effect on wildfire activity in the United States. Jeremy Pal, a professor of environmental engineering at Loyola Marymount University, believes that this is not surprising. He said, “as climate continues to warm, we’d expect more of these events and more of these record-breaking temperatures.” The record breaking temperature recorded in Death Valley is likely not an isolated event.
Why we should care? I believe that we should care about this topic because climate change affects all people. Climate change will eventually affect all aspects of life and record temperatures like this are only the beginning.
I found this article interesting because it does well in explaining the history of record high temperatures and what the causes could be. While it might be cool to some people to have the place with the highest reliably measured temperature is in the United States, this article points out the problems that this could cause. Heat waves and record high temperatures are associated with the West Coast wildfires. The wildfires are devastating to the environment and the people that live there. It is important to monitor temperatures because the recorded temperatures can be used to monitor some of the effects of climate change. I thought that this article was informative and interesting to read because it did not only give the immediate facts. It included how record high temperatures will continue to happen and people will begin to notice because it will affect their lives.
Science in Action.
Dr. Daniel Swain is a climate scientist in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California.
Dr. Daniel Swain studies the physics, dynamics, and impact of the Earth’s changing climate. He studies how climate change affects the character and cause of regional climate extremes, including wildfires and droughts. He recently began to study the climate-related factors driving the wildfires in California with his colleagues. He is also the author of the Weather West blog, which has information on California and Western North American weather, climate, and regional change. Dr. Swain was interviewed by the New York Times after the record temperature on August 16th in Death Valley. He believes that the high temperatures are a part of a variety of atmospheric phenomena that have unfolded in recent years. He believes that events like these will only become worse as time goes on. He also believes that as the climate continues to change, temperatures of 130 degrees will be recorded in places where people live.
By: Justin Yarrington
Summary: As of recently, we have been finding more and more trace amounts of microplastics in the atmosphere and in our waters. This not only has a direct impact on the biotic and abiotic factors of our ecosystems. It also has a direct impact on us humans as well. As of now we are not entirely sure of the implications that these microplastics have on our health. Some scientists believe that the ingestion of microplastics can cause health problems like diabetes and cancer. However the scary part about all of this is how easily these microplastics are ingested. They can be in the air and we can come in contact with them via breathing or we could eat fish or other aquatic species that have consumed plastic. These are just two ways however it's kinda frightening because all of the animals in the water and the ones that breathe air are also susceptible to these dangers. This is truly sad because these microplastics were brought about by us and we naturally bring down other species with this pollution. According to a study done by the Annals of Internal Medicine on the amount of microplastics in human stool all of the eight participants had over nine different microplastics in their stool. These microplastics ranged from polypropylene to polyethylene terephthalate. This is quite alarming however it is questionable because the study had a low sample size. In a journal about microplastics in seafood and the implications of human health, Jambeck suggests that the toxicity of these plastics is dose dependent. Meaning it depends on how much seafood a person ingests to determine how damaging the effects are. This is alarming because the journal also says that nutritionists suggest that we double our intake of seafood.
Why we should care? We should care about this issue because these problems are directly caused by humans and if we do not care then humans will begin to see the negative aspects first hand.
I choose this article because webmd.com clearly outlines the specific health risks associated with these Microplastics in our organs. Some of the dangers they include are obesity, diabetes, and even becoming infertile. Along with this the website also includes specific figures on how much plastic we might be consuming. One of the statistics included are we consume about five grams of plastic a week or about a credit card. When I heard this, my jaw dropped. Along with this, I enjoyed how webmd.com included some ways we can cut back on potentially ingesting these particles. One of the ways listen was use reusable water bottles and eat less packaged food. Webmd also included almost exactly how small these particles are. They said that although they are barely visible to the eye they are 5 millimeters in diameter or about 0.2 inches.
Science in Action.
Charlie Rolsky is Director of Science, North America, for Plastic Oceans International.
I included Mr. Rolsky as a scientist that covers this topic because I really admire how diverse his works range from. Rolsky is the director of science for North America at Plastic Oceans International. Plastic Oceans International is a non profit organization centered around creating awareness for the large amount of plastics in our ocean. Along with this Charles Rolsky is also involved with research at Arizona State University. Something that I admire about Rolsky is that he studies the ocean by networking with people around the world so that he can get samples of ocean water to test the microplastic content. Rolsky said he loves doing research this way because it encourages people from all walks of life to be passionate about environmental issues. Along with this Rolsky is also involved with a youtube series called breaking it down which is all about educating people about environmental issues.
By: Shelby Wilson
Summary: We have all heard of pollution and know that it is affecting our oceans. We have taken a stand trying to reduce the amount of plastic straws and bags we use, but is that helping as much as we think it does? According to Sophie Lewis, a writer at CBS, plastic bags and straws account for less than 1% of the total oceans plastic. She also states that over 10 million tons of plastic ocean waste enters our oceans each year. Most of that plastic we can't even see. Most is taken to the deep ocean floor by currents. Just because we cannot see that plastic doesn't mean it still isn't there not only affecting us but all other organisms. If microplastics are not filtered correctly out of factories, they can easily enter the ocean and be absorbed by living organisms. Not only do microplastics have a huge impact on marine life, but it has an impact on all living organisms. After it has entered the food chain, those microplastics can end up on our dinner table. Researchers said the amount of plastic is so high, it has become part of the makeup of the ocean floor. Those microplastics were never a part of the makeup of the ocean floor before, and they shouldn't be now. Currently scientists have uncovered the highest amount of microplastics ever recorded. A very unsettling 1.9 million pieces. There are “hotspots” where most of these microplastics have settled. By tracking ocean currents, we can estimate where these microplastics may end up. These currents carry oxygen and nutrients needed for deep sea organisms to survive but are disrupted by the microplastics. Plastic pollution is happening everywhere on earth.
Why we should care? I believe we should care about this topic because we are the ones who made plastic and are most of the reason it has ended up in our oceans. We should take accountability for our own actions.
I found this article particularly interesting because of the numbers involved. I was unaware of how much microplastic was not only on the ocean floor but in the entirety of the ocean. When I read that 10 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, I was in disbelief. I also found it interesting that plastic straws and bags only account for 1% of all that plastic. I feel that we need to broaden our view and not only focus on straws and bags. It is also clothes fibers and takeout containers. This article really opened my eyes to just how many microplastics are on the ocean floor and it is much worse than I could have ever thought.
Science in Action.
Dr. Ed Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Biology at San Francisco State University.
Ed Carpenter researched that not only plastic bottles, bags and straws (all the mainstream plastic many people think of) is not the only factor contributing to the oceans microplastic problem at the seafloor. He researched the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean. He found that the plastic emitted into the ocean is affected by sunlight, wind and waves which all weakens the plastic and breaks it into smaller and smaller pieces. Along with breaking down bigger pieces of plastic, the beads that are in body scrubs and exfoliants products are also on the seafloor and are microplastics. I thought this scientist's research was very interesting because he mentions that when he was on a cruise he saw tiny white pieces of plastic floating in the ocean very far off shore and was shocked to see it. I believe that many people don't know just how bad the microplastic is and how badly it can affect everyone. We should be concerned for not only ourselves but our marine life and our plant.
By: Mckenzie Weiss
Summary: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are synthetic organofluorine chemical compounds that are found in many household items such as cleaning products, paints, nonstick cookware, and stain resisting coats found on carpet and other fabrics. This substance has raised concern because of its potential toxicity to humans and wildlife. It is also known as the “forever chemical” due to its persistence in the environment and how long it takes to degrade. PFAS has been found to be linked to a wide range of health problems from different types of cancer to endocrine disruption. In recent studies, PFAS has been newly found in the Arctic seawater. On a research ship, a team collected water samples along two currents going into and out of the Arctic ocean and along a path from Europe's North sea to the Arctic Ocean. Higher levels of PFAS were detected in the water exiting the arctic compared to the water entering the Arctic. When discussing the effects of the substance on wildlife, it has been found to be linked to cause harm in many things such as the immune system, it can cause kidney infection, and affect liver function of bottlenose dolphins as well as the immune systems of sea otters. A build-up of PFAS in Arctic polar bears can cause neurological damage and cause trouble with reproduction. Due to the substance being found more exiting the Arctic than entering, it indicates that the PFAS is coming from the atmosphere and not the ocean and it is considered that snow and ice are what is holding these compounds. We have yet to discover something that accurately lowers the levels of PFAS in the Arctic, but this issue needs to be evaluated.
Why we should care? I think we should care about this topic simply because of the harm it is causing to our wildlife and humans. It causes so much harm to wildlife among a variety of species and a variety of different health effects.
I found this to be particularly interesting for a few reasons. One being that I never knew it was part of our everyday life but it is still harmful to us humans. As mentioned before, PFAS is in household products such as cleaning products, paints, non-stick cookware, and stain resisting coats. I never knew about this substance and the harm it causes which made it more interesting and made me more aware of the harmful effects of it so I can try to be cautious if/when using any of the products that contain it. The article went into depth about the substance and its compound which I found really interesting. I also found it interesting because I do not typically hear about this kind of subject like I should so I enjoyed doing research on it and learning about it.
Science in Action.
Dr. Cora Young is an Associate Professor and Rogers Chair, Department of Chemistry, York University.
York University atmospheric chemist Cora Young as well as Amila De Silva, a chemist at Environment and climate change, did research and came across traces of PFAS in Arctic ice. She decided to focus on smaller compounds that have not been studied as much as others. There were previous hypotheses that these smaller compounds were rising, but Cora Young was one of those to prove it. They found that PFAS, among others, have been rising since as early as 1990. They also found traces of trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), and per fluoropropionic acid (PFPrA). This information is of course relevant to the topic because it provides further information about PFAS, the levels, and how long it has been rising for.
By: Michael VanPaepeghem
Summary: On a federal level there is no established legal limit to the amount of PFAS in drinking water. PFAS or Per/polyfluoralkyl substances are a family of chemicals used in a variety of commercial products. Products such as household cookware, food packaging, and firefighting foams. One of the largest contributors polluting the environment is firefighting foams. When these chemicals get into drinking water they can have adverse health effects on humans, such as reproductive and developmental issues. The EPA on a federal level currently has a nonbinding advisory recommendation in place. To set enforceable limits the EPA must work through the court systems to establish policies to regulate PFAS in drinking water. There is much opposition from large corporations who are guilty of leaching these products into the environment. The opposition is due in part to the cleanup costs associated with the pollutants. PFAS have been widely used since the 1940’s. They have been on scientists/environmentalists radar since the early 2000’s as potentially harmful chemicals. In 1996 Congress revised the Safe Drinking Water Act which established the limiting of 90 contaminants in drinking water. The EPA had to and continues to enforce these 90 contaminants. To date the EPA has added no additional contaminant limits, such as PFAS, to the Safe Drinking Water Act. If the EPA decides to limit PFAS in drinking water it can take up to roughly four years before the regulation becomes law. A handful of states have taken matters into their own hands instead of waiting for the federal government. States such as Michigan, Colorado, and Vermont have initialized state guidelines, concentration limits, and health advisories. There is much work to do before the federal government implements a drinking water standard for PFAS.
Why we should care? PFAS exposure over time can have numerous health effects on humans and the environment around them. When people go to drink water they should not have to worry about the ingestion of toxic chemicals.
I found this article interesting because I personally thought there was some form of limiting in place on the federal level for PFAS. In recent years the term PFAS is widely heard and known by much of the population. Living in Michigan we all have a strong connection to the Great Lakes, it brought me some relief to see that our state has made an effort to limit these chemicals in drinking water. The other handful of states that have taken action have not been as successful as Michigan’s legal limits. Other states have only guidelines and advisories in place, leaving it up to the people as to whether or not to abide by them. The article itself was not written by a government agency which to me brought the issue at hand to a more personal level.
Science in Action.
Dr. Theodore Slotkin is Professor of Neurobiology in the Duke University School of Medicine.
Dr. Slotkin and his team wanted to study the effects of four PFAS and its health effects on the neurological level. The study was conducted on rat neuron cells in the lab and evaluated the neurotoxicity of four PFAS. Their findings exhibited that each of the chemicals impacted neurological development. I found this article to be supporting of the issue at hand due to the clear evidence of health effects PFAS have on animals and humans. The continued research conducted on the negative health effects of PFAS will build a stronger case to implement federal limits in drinking water.
By: Maissa Hamieh
Summary: Michigan has new water drinking standards, and they may finally actually do something in the state’s best interest. Considering everything Michigan’s water has been through, from the Detroit river to Flint, finally after about 2 weeks of session days Michigan Legislature’s Joint Committee passed a new rule which takes effect August 3, 2020. Michigan’s regulations will limit seven PFAS (toxic chemicals in the water) chemicals in drinking water and will covers over 2,500 different water supplies around the state and is stricter than the current US EPA rules currently held up to code. This new PFAS standard forces an immediate effect on existing rules for cleaning up Michigan’s water. Existing groundwater will have a 70 ppt for PFOS and PFOA and the new groundwater standard will be 8 ppt for PFOA and 16 ppt for PFOS and also will be a result in 42 new sites being added into MPART’s portfolio of ongoing PFAS investigations which prior consisted of landfills and manufacturing sites. The EPA has continuously denied calls made by the state so Michigan went forward and made it’s own regulations and by it being stricter than the EPA’s, they cannot deny us these standards. This water that the people of our state drink deserve to have it be clean. Water we bathe with, wash our food with. Considering Michigan has had such a high count in PFAS contamination it’s a good thing that our new rules and regulations are among the strictest in the United States. This forces not only corporations who package and make our food and drink and companies that use the water in whatever they are selling us first, but Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy itself to watch for what is being given to us in our water and keeps us safe.
Why we should care? This water is water we use to cook, clean, take care of our property with. If we are not careful we can ruin not only the planet but our health as well. We deserve to have clean drinking water.
Michigan has had a long running issue with clean water and I’ve seen what has happened to the people of Flint, I’ve lived in the Middle East and have seen what not having access to water has done to them there. I’ve been places who don’t have this issue and see the way they flourish. Being able to have access to clean water is a basic human right and should not be political or a classist issue. Everyone should have it and human rights are something that hold an importance to me, someone who’s lived every side of the class scale, a female, and a person of Arab descent. Human rights should not be a political problem.
Science in Action.
Dr. Cory Rusinek is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Dr. Rusinek's research focuses on what ways PFAS negatively effect the body and the community and is looking for a new method to breakdown and destroy PFAS. He has studied their chemical structure and since they are near impossible to break down because they’re so complicated, he believes by using electrochemical oxidation, he is able to break it down and get rid of the toxins, which is exactly what the state is attempting to figure out to rid these toxins from our water which is the reason why they’ve made such strict regulations and advancing their investigation to more places that might be a contaminant.
By: Arpita Patel
Summary: My post is about seeing the orange haze over the Michigan clouds. This orange haze is due to the massive wildfires that are spreading through the Western side of the US. According to Stephanie Hengesbach, a meteorologist and air quality forecaster with EGLE, she claims that the smoke has transferred from the west through the clouds. Few of Michigan residents became concerned about the air quality and what the effects will be. An air quality test was then done The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s air quality forecast which showed that Michigan still has a healthy quality of breathable air. Stephanie Hengesbach also talks about what the Michigan residents should do for now and explains how the fires will have a grand effect on the air quality. She explains that as of now, residents don’t have to worry about air quality. In the future, if the fires get out of hand, the entire mid-west area can see a change in air quality. Of course, the weather pattern also plays a HUGE role in this. She explains it's super unlikely to happen any time soon but soon we can predict based on state weather and air quality. The blog also talks about climate change and could there be an event like this in Michigan. State Climatologist Jeff Andresen of Michigan State University described how we are already seeing climate change happen. The past five years have been Michigan’s wettest five-year period on record, Andresen said. Last year was the wettest since record-keeping began, with a statewide average precipitation of 41.8 inches—a full 10.7 inches above the long-term average. And with more rain comes more flooding and more loss of life and property. He has explained that we are seeing climate change and change in the rain since 2014. Since 2014, 2 major dams in Michigan broke open and damaged more than 900 homes, and cost $100 million in public infrastructure damages. His message to the Michigan people is that there may be a little smoke from the tinted sky, but we are already in a major climate change that is happening right now, and it is transforming our ecosystem. We need to worry about that instead of the tiny smoke that we see in the sky.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because yes, it outlines the smoke from the Western side fires, but lays heavily on climate change that is occurring in Michigan.
I found this article to be very interesting because of the title. I did not know that there were effects in Michigan from the fires out in the west. When I read the blog, I was shocked to hear that people are seeing a pinkish haze sky in the early morning hours and also a photo to prove the point. It also talks about the air quality and what this will mean for the Michigan residents. I also like this blog because it talks about Michigan climate changes that we are going through. With record heat and record rainfalls, it tells us, what we are doing wrong and how we can prevent all these events from happening.
Science in Action.
Kelly House is a write for Bridge Michigan.
Kelly House covers all environmental issues for Bridge which is for Michigan. She has written articles about issues from public parks to Great Lakes anchor strikes to climate changes. This is relevant to my blog post because she works on all environmental issues Michigan is facing. Kelly House has been working for the Bridge since March of 2020. She also works with the residents of Michigan and helps them to raise their voice about our environmental issues and how we can speak against the government to tell them to do what’s right. She also writes blogs on how people can be safe for the COVID and ways we can prevent them.
By: Allison Partin
Summary: Scientists, researchers, and even the general public are starting to understand just how disastrous the recent wildfires in California over the past 3 years are becoming not only to our quality of air, but to our water supply as well. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), approximately 80 percent of the U.S.'s freshwater resource originates on forested land, and more than 3,400 communities rely on public drinking-water systems located in watersheds on forest lands. Because of this, wildfires can cause significant harm to these water systems, with one of the main problems being an influx in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs in both the water itself and the pipes it runs through. One of the main VOCs, benzene, is a harmful carcinogen that has been shown in several water samples after wildfires in California at exceeded limits. The effect on water quality by these wildfires can occur while the fire is actually burning and even after for years to come. While burning, the ash can settle upon the reservoirs and lakes directly contaminating the water supply, increasing the amount of sediment and erosion according to the USGS. After burning, wildfires can cause an influx in VOCs as previously mentioned, as well as pipe erosion, increased turbidity, shortened reservoir lifetime, and increased maintenance costs of these reservoirs and groundwater systems. Because of how apparent these wildfires have become within recent years, some policies and regulations are beginning to be put into place. For example California has implemented guidelines and regulations to tackle wildfire water safety, causing other states like Oregon to begin to implement. However, there is still a long way to go for protection of the public health from these wildfires, as the policies and regulations that have been implemented already are either not clear or do not offer enough protection.
Why we should care? It is important that we not only take into account the damage these wildfires are causing to the air quality of our earth, but to our drinking water as well. These wildfires in California are becoming more and more common.
This article from the New York Times really gives us insight on how the problem of contaminated water from the wildfires has been a known problem since 2017. Specifically, it gives us a good idea on how exactly the contaminated water moves within the network, descriptions on the types of chemicals that become apparent due to the fires, and observations from researchers in the past. I found this particular article interesting because it gives us some insight on how the residents of California are handling the contaminated drinking water, and the inconsistencies that the leadership of California are giving to these residents.
Science in Action.
Dr. Caitlin R. Proctor is a postdoctoral fellow in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
Dr. Proctor has done research on how wildfires have affected and contaminated drinking water widespread since 2017. Taking into account specifically the first two wildfires where chemical contamination was found after the fires, The Tubbs Fire (2017) and the Camp Fire (2018) in California, Caitlin and her colleagues have researched and outlined several insights that coincide with a rise in contamination due to the wildfires, including higher benzene levels, higher volatile organic compound (VOC) presence, and depressurization of the water distribution network in California. Caitlin and her colleagues work within this research not only gives us a look into several causes of how exactly the wildfires can affect and contaminate drinking water, but it also can give policy makers some insight on how to better protect public health.
By: Grace Young
Summary: The wildfires in Oregon have caused tens of thousands of people to leave their homes and many more are ready to leave if needed. The fires have caused residents close to Portland to leave as the fires got dangerously close to the suburbs. At the time of these articles, six people from Oregon had died and plenty of people had gone missing and sadly those numbers were only expected to rise. Splitting Oregon in half the east side is known to be more dry and the west side is normally wetter because of the Pacific Ocean. Areas in Oregon that don't normally have wildfires are burning as those places are “normally too wet.” Climate change has affected precipitation and temperature patterns so the west side is drier than usual. The heat is making the vegetation become dry allowing it to burn easily. The dry vegetation added with temperature, humidity, wind and solar radiation are setting up for a perfect storm as those are key factors to the fire. Oregon was met with the strongest wind that they have seen in the past 30 years. The windstorm carried hot air from the eastern part of Oregon and over the mountains allowing fires to spread into the western part of the state. The air moved through river canyons that compressed the air making it warmer and pushing it faster. This fire was able to move very quickly when that wind met with the dry conditions. Over 1,500 square miles have burned and these fires have caused the air quality in Oregon to be at an all time low. The smoke from the fire covers the state make it difficult to have air tankers come in and other resources that help with control the fires.
Why we should care? I think this is an important topic and that we should care because Oregon continues to burn and some of these fires are another byproduct of climate change.
I found this article interesting because it gives a general overview of the fires and what is happening but also breaks down why it's concerning where the fires are. These fires are affecting people's lives as they are having to move away so that they are safe. The fires on the west side are abnormal as the conditions are normally wetter so they didn't have to worry about fires. Then the article connects those fires with climate change as that is the reason the terrain is different. The article also explains how the wind plays a role on how one of the fires started.
Science in Action.
Philip Mote is Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School of Oregon State University and an active member of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute.
Philip Mote is an active member of Oregon Climate Change Research Institute. Climate change is one of the many reasons some of the fires started. His research is relevant to the wildfires as combating climate change could help to stop the wildfires in the western part of the state. The fires on the western part of the state climate change had an impact on. The western part of the state saw less snow and had hotter than normal temperatures which eventually caused some of the wildfires. Finding ways to combat climate change could help decrease the fires and even give us ways to prevent them in the future.