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.
By: Michael Knust
Summary: Organic sources of carbon are naturally stored deep within permafrost. This is because dead plants and animals get frozen in the soil and do not decompose. The reason the organic material freezes before decomposing is due to the glaciers during the last ice age. In the summer plants would grow in the sediment layer left behind by the receding glacier. Then when the glacier spreads southwards in the winter it will cover and freeze these plants as well as some dead animals in its path. When the glacier retreats again, it will cover these frozen organisms with a new sediment layer and the process starts over, adding a new layer every year during the ice age. The frozen organic material is mostly roots and other plant matter, but there are some animals. When permafrost thaws, which is being sped up by climate change, microbes in the soil are able to eat the dead organisms. The decomposition releases large quantities of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The microbes produce methane rather than carbon dioxide when there is no oxygen available. Oxygen is not available to microbes in environments such as swamps and wetlands and a large portion of the southern region of the Arctic, where permafrost is melting, consists of wetlands. As global temperatures rise, more permafrost thaws, contributing further to climate change.
Why we should care? Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and is a significant contributor to climate change. Melting permafrost adds more methane to the Earth’s atmosphere and is not accounted for in most climate projections.
This article does a partially good job at concisely explaining the methane released from thawing permafrost. It explains that microbes produce methane rather than mathan and carbon dioxide when there is no oxygen in the soil and that there is little to no free oxygen available in water saturated soil. It also explains that methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas when compared to carbon dioxide (thirty times more devastating to climate change). Greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost will significantly impact the climate budget and previously has not been estimated to have this great of an impact.
Science in Action.
Dr. Katey Walter Anthony is a professor of aquatic ecosystem ecology at University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Dr. Walter Anthony researches the effect of the release of methane and carbon dioxide from melting permafrost. Her research focuses on thermokarst lakes in the arctic. Thermokarst lakes are shallow freshwater lakes that form from ice heaving. These lakes tend to produce sudden large releases of methane and carbon dioxide as these formations trap the greenhouse gases in their ice. Part of Dr. Walter Anthony’s research is estimating the amount of methane that will be released by these lakes as the permafrost melts. She estimates that by the end of the 21st century that melting permafrost will be the second most devastating source of greenhouse gases.
By: Ben Matthews
Summary: Waste production and management is an increasing large issue in many urban areas around the world. For example, Brazilian communities collect over 216,000 tons of trash every day. A large portion of that trash ends up in unsanitary landfills which fail to protect the surrounding soil and groundwater. Another consequence of open landfills is methane emissions, a greenhouse gas generated by decomposing trash which contributes to global warming. These open dump sites can also place nearby community members at risk for disease. Brazil’s solid waste is estimated to generate the equivalent of over 47 million tons of carbon dioxide every year. Carbon financing can help improve Brazil’s waste management by incentivizing landfill improvements. Landfill operators must agree to specific requirements involving a yearly reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Each milestone achieved is rewarded with a payment through the program, and under-performing could result in an interest rate increase. Methods used to reduce emissions are improved infrastructure and treatment of methane gas. The World Bank partnered with CAIXA, one of Brazil’s largest public banks, to create a program that improves the country’s carbon finance by connecting landfill improvements and emission reductions to financial investment. This has incentivized the improvement of landfills in Brazil which has a positive result for the environment and local communities. These landfills can also take the extra step of generating electricity from collected methane. With the possibility of turning trash emissions into electricity, it makes landfill investment much more appealing. Investing in landfills can help maintain environmental stability with the bonus production of electricity.
Why we should care? Mismanaged waste can harm the environment and its inhabitants. Methane emissions contribute to global warming. Investment in landfills helps maintain environmental stability and has the bonus of electricity generation.
It blew my mind to see how much waste is produced on a regular basis. And how a large portion of that waste is not properly managed, causing threats to the environment and people. The World Bank, an international development organization, works to improve economies and the standard of living of the people in the participating countries. I love the fact that by investing in landfills you can also help the environment and the locals. And introducing advancements in technology to better understand the field is fascinating. These sorts of innovative partnerships and solutions are what will lead us into a cleaner future.
Science in Action.
Antonis Mavropoulos is President/Chair of the International Solid Waste Association.
Antonis Mavropoulos acts as the president of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and has been in the waste management sector for over 20 years. He has participated in writing several books and scientific publications and worked on more than 150 projects in 20 countries. He is also the founder and CEO of D-Waste, a waste management consulting company with the goals of easy access and cost-effectiveness. It’s people like Antonis who innovate to provide better solutions who will bring us to a cleaner future. Some of his most recent research deals with globalization, megacities, mobile apps and the internet of things.
By: Ella Ford
Summary: Seeps of gas hydrates have found their way from the Atlantic Ocean floor to the atmosphere in regions such as the Gulf Stream and locations surrounding Antarctica and South Georgia Island. Gas hydrates, also commonly referred to as methane hydrates and "climate time bombs," are a type of clathrate, a substance in which a crystal-like cage-forming structure of a water molecule encloses a gas. The formation of gas hydrates requires specific geological, physical, and chemical conditions in the realms of water temperature and pressure. Although the best conditions for gas hydrate formation is in waters of low temperature and high pressure, warm water temperatures and very high amounts of pressure with great depths allow for these clathrates to form, as well. Primarily configuring in continental slopes of the ocean floor, gas hydrates begin to shape at depths of around 500 meters in the open ocean and when brought to the surface, the lumps of gas hydrates resemble ice surrounded by the ocean floor. Methane is suspected to be leaking into the atmosphere due to delays in the consumption of the gas by microbes within the ocean sediment or the water column above the ocean floor. Researchers studying the seafloor in Antarctica have found that microbes were late to arrive at "seep sites," causing the methane to escape into the atmosphere during the time they were not present. Leaks of gas hydrates are believed to be set off by climate change, as well, as the warming of ocean water causes the greenhouse gas formations to dissolve at a more rapid pace. If gas hydrates become unstable and unfreeze, enormous volumes of methane may pour into the ocean and eventually roam into the atmosphere, contributing further to ocean acidification and climate change.
Why we should care? I believe that humans should care about the release of methane from the ocean and sea floors because, as mentioned, the leakage of methane into the atmosphere contributes further to climate change and ocean acidification.
I found this particular topic interesting because I have seen photos of bubbles rising from the ocean or sea floor before, but I do not think that I had ever questioned where these bubbles came from and what was causing them to escape from the ocean and sea floors. I did not have previous knowledge concerning the release of methane from the sea and ocean floors, and I think that this article explained how the delay of the microbes arriving contributed to the escape of the methane into the atmosphere very well. I also enjoyed how the author included two scientist's perspectives and overall knowledge on this issue, Andrew Thurber and Jemma Wadham. The picture attached to this article of the seastars and microbes on the sea floor of a dive site in Antarctica drew me in, as well!
Science in Action.
Dr. Andrew Thurber in an Assistant Professor at Oregon State University.
Andrew Thurber is an Assistant Professor at Oregon State University with over 20 publications of research ranging from topics like food-webs and viral outbreaks in coral to ocean biogeochemistry and polar ecosystem dynamics. Thurber's profile mentions his research interest of the impacts cross-domain interactions have on ecosystem function in marine communities and the research he is currently embarking on. Presently, Thurber is aiming to pinpoint how what an animal eats impacts the biogeochemical processes of bacteria and archaea. His profile details the two specific habitats of Antarctic Spionid beds and deep-sea methane seeps that Thurber works in for his current research, as "each allow a different approach when studying these interactions." This scientist's research is relevant to my blog because he has contributed to and lead studies directly relating to the release of methane from the sea-floor, and his current research within deep-sea methane habitats revolves around my chosen topic, as well.
By: Kyle Merandi
Summary: Led by California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, 20 states and 4 municipalities have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to block their rollback of methane emissions standards. According to the EPA’s own report, this rollback would increase methane emissions by 850,000 tons over the next decade. The agency says that the methane standards were “redundant,” and that incidental reduction emissions already occurs due to standards covering volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The previous standards were set by the Obama administration, who argued that, while reducing VOCs does also lower methane emissions, direct regulation of methane is important in the reduction of greenhouse gases. AG Becerra, in a statement announcing the lawsuit, highlighted the increase in wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, and “super-tornadoes” as evidence of the fact that we are not doing enough to mitigate climate change. He asks, "How many wake-up calls do our nation‘s leaders need to take climate action?” This lawsuit marks the 54th challenge the state has brought against the Trump administration regarding environmental protections. Other cases have fought a reduction in vehicle emissions standards, the suspension of air and water pollution monitoring, and relaxation of asbestos levels.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because these decisions, whether they are made at a national or state level, and whether made by agencies, legislatures or courts, affect us all.
This article was interesting in that it shows that our unique system of government allows states to make decisions that are not necessarily in lock-step with the federal government. California’s economy makes up almost 15% of the national GDP. The decisions they make as a state on these kinds of issues can affect the entire country, especially today, when interstate and international trade connect supply chains the world over. It also highlights the need to reach a national consensus on environmental issues, as standards set will not be as effective if relaxed or reversed every time a new administration comes into power.
Science in Action.
Dr. Katey Walter Anthony is an Associate Professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Dr. Walter Anthony studies the methane released by permafrost melt. Her work suggests our current trends in global temperature will surpass those seen after the last ice age, releasing even greater quantities of methane than before. This is important because global climate change, if not mitigated, will continue to melt these ice-covered regions, creating a feedback loop of further emissions. We must recognize these secondary effects of our actions and how they exacerbate our impact on the global climate.
By: Jenna Steele
Summary: The second largest human-caused greenhouse gas is methane, right behind carbon dioxide. Methane is substantially stronger in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide and can stay in the atmosphere for about 12 years. Methane emissions come from natural gas, enteric fermentation (fermentation that happens in cattle digestive systems), manure, landfills, and coal mining. From the years 2008 to 2017 the total methane emissions in the world was around 596 million metric tons per year. This would be a 9% increase from the previous ten years, and it is still increasing in 2020. Before 2006 there are a slowdown in the amount of methane emissions, but since then there has been a steady increased in total emissions. By the end of 2019, the amount of methane in the atmosphere was 2.5 times higher than that of the emissions in pre-industrial times. Over the past few years, the largest component as to why methane emissions are rising are from agriculture, or consumption of red meat, and fossil fuels, or natural gas and leaking pipelines. By the end of 2020, in the equivalency of carbon dioxide metric tons the total emissions of methane are predicted to be around 9,390 metric tons. This would be the highest amount of methane in the atmosphere ever seen, and it does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The increasing global temperature, due to greenhouse gases such as methane, account for heat waves, drought conditions, loss of sea ice, sea level rise, and other intense weather patterns. Not only do these conditions mean hotter temperatures, but a potential loss in crops, species, and harmful weather to humans and animals.
Why we should care? Methane is a greenhouse gas which is found in ozone, which not only contributes to global warming but can also affect human health. We, as humans, currently are responsible for around 60% of total methane emissions worldwide.
I found this article interesting because it was incredibly informative, using statistics and figures from multiple scientific studies. The findings as to why the methane levels are rising that were stated in the article, were not at all surprising to me, but the fact that the emissions would be so high in the midst of a pandemic are astounding to me. The article also gives insights of scientist who study greenhouse gas emissions which I found to be more important than comments from politicians. The article also acknowledges the fact that we know where the high concentrations of emissions are coming from and the researchers believe that in order to get emissions down, there needs to be some reform on fossil fuels.
Science in Action.
Edward J Dlugokencky is an Atmospheric Chemist at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
As an atmospheric chemist, Dr. Edward Dlugokencky studies the carbon cycle and how it plays into climate change and greenhouse gases. He works closely with the Global monitoring Division of NOAA, which calculate and track global means of atmosphere gases at their marine sites monthly. At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Dlugokencky, has done a multitude of studies, some of the most recent covering the carbon dioxide and methane emissions at marine surfaces. This relates the topic of my blog, the rise in global methane emissions, because marine surfaces account for water levels in oceans. Water levels in oceans are directly connected to increased global temperature due to the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, one being methane.
By: Mallory Evatz
Summary: As climate change escalates, the Arctic ice that polar bears heavily depend on for hunting and traveling, is melting. By 2040, scientists predict that the majority of ice in Northeast Canada and Northern Greenland region will be gone as the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe on average. This is significantly affecting the survival of polar bears because as the ice melts, bears are spending roughly 30 more days on land while they must move longer distances to hunt for food and keep up with the retreating ice. The difficulty polar bears face when trying to hunt is resulting in starvation, as bears spend roughly 50% of their time hunting yet are only successful less than 2% of the time. At this rate, the global polar bear population is projected to decline by 30% by 2050 which is two thirds of the polar bear population. Additionally, toxic pollution including oil spills as well as the increase in large scale hunting poses a threat to the survival of polar bears. The rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere as well as other greenhouse gases are making the Arctic Ocean more acidic which is making the ice melt faster. Since 2008, polar bears have been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Why we should care? Polar bears’ endangerment is concerning to everyone because they play an integral role in the health of the marine ecosystem. They are at the top of the food chain so without polar bears, the rest of the food chain will be affected.
Looking into the endangerment of polar bears was interesting to me initially because I love animals and I believe it is important to protect all wildlife. The more I researched, I was fascinated that the endangerment of polar bears is not only a threat to them but the entire Arctic ecosystem. The issue of climate change is the main threat to the survival of polar bears which we need to address. We can protect the arctic by reducing short-lived greenhouse pollutants including ozone and methane and well as carbon dioxide. Immediate action needs to be taken at all levels of government.
Science in Action.
Dr. Péter K. Molnár is an Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Toronto.
Dr. Peter Molnar of the University of Toronto in Ontario studies the ecology and conservation of the Arctic species, specifically the polar bear. Molnar says that polar bears have become “the poster child of climate change” as the entire Arctic is threatened by climate change. Molnar estimates when different subpopulation will decline and establishes the timing polar bears can go fasting before they will rapidly decline, He uses the predicted numbers of days without ice to determine the number of days polar bears will have to survive.
By: Austin Vilk
Summary: As a result of great white sharks and the species they feed on being protected and thus growing they have expanded in number and also need more space. They have been migrating to more places as they need to for food and shelter and are able to because they aren't affected by cold or warm waters as much as other species. They are however more easily affected by other things, like water pollution, since they are a K-species so they have less offspring and the population is more vulnerable and can decline much easier. In that sense they are a fragile species and still many fishermen have a desire to kill them and the species they feed on due to competition for fish. These thoughts however do not keep in mind how it may affect the rest of the oceans species as well as the plant life in and near the ocean. Not to mention that certain species could grow out of control, or cease to exist as a sort of butterfly effect. Many people are also worried about safety at beaches but at the very least acoustic tracking devices could warn beaches as to when to get out of the water and there have also been other things recommended to fishermen to avoid for the sake of safety. As for the population of great white sharks being tracked it has been something ongoing for over ten years by Dr. Greg Skomal. For every worry there has been measures in place and for good reason as it is suggested that these aren’t record levels for these sharks but rather what used to be normal levels for their population.
Why we should care? Currently the seals that are protected feed on fish which compete with fishermen. While many fishermen don't like that and want to kill them at the same time, I think it would be more important to protect species richness.
I have liked sharks since I was a kid, I have always found them fascinating. So, for me to see them come back to a good population level provides me a certain level of relief to know they won’t disappear any time soon (as long as we continue to protect them as a species). On top of that the ocean is a vast and largely unexplored environment which I would love to see explored more. However, I would argue the ocean can be affected much quicker than on land since everything is connected by water rather than soil which is a denser form of matter.
Science in Action.
Dr. Greg Skomal is an aquarist and Marine Fisheries Biologist and author of many books.
Dr. Skomar is directly cited in the article I have looked at for this subject and has been studying the great white shark migration and their population increase in Massachusetts for over a decade. He has been cited in more than just this one national geographic article on sharks as well so he is academically and professionally acknowledged.
By: Heba Chokr
Summary: Hurricane season of 2020 has included numbers of severe storms and hurricanes-- to an almost record breaking point. This season of hurricanes is unlike anything seen before-- from intensity, to duration, and to damages caused. Hurricanes are tropical cyclones that form over the Atlantic Ocean and hit coastal areas. These storms include heavy rains and strong winds that have taken a strong turn this season-- which lasts around 6 months, running from June to November. The hurricane season of 2020 has already seen 29 storms-- 28 of which were named, 12 of which were hurricanes, and 5 of which were major storms. The severity of these storms over the last couple of years have increased, causing unfathomable destruction-- such as flooding, deaths, displacement of peoples, habitat loss, and billions of dollars worth of damages. The increase of category storms, or the severity of these storms, can be linked to climate change. Due to the rising water temperatures and precipitation, researchers have found that those factors increase the intensity of the storms. The warmer temperatures have added power to the intensity of the storms. The number of storms and hurricanes in 2020 is almost as many as the most active hurricane season in 2005. These storms have been rapidly developing which is why we are seeing the number of these tropical storms increasing within each passing season. The world is seeing not only an increase of severity and the amount of hurricanes but also the increase of duration-- they are lasting longer than ever before. These hurricanes are affecting every aspect of human life and those who have to endure the storms are suffering. There are very little drastic measures being taken to solve this issue. Of course, there is no immediate or easy solution to climate change, but there needs to be more action taken to limit the impact these storms are having on people and places.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because with such heavy rain storms, thunderstorms, and strong prevailing winds-- it leaves coastal areas prone to terrible and immense damage, and so many people suffer for it.
This was an interesting article to read because it brings to light just how harmful and damaging the increase of hurricanes are on coastal areas. So many people have lost their homes to these tropical storms that, in some way, we've become desensitized to reading about the damages these intense hurricanes have on people and areas-- since we don't get many hurricanes in Michigan. It was quite intriguing reading about how climate change has been increasing the severity of these storms and how, as a society, we haven't taken more drastic methods to come up with a solution to this obvious connection between storm intensity and climate change. There is no simple solution to climate change but there needs to be more drastic measures taken in order to ensure that the future generation isn't stuck with the same dilemma that we are currently experiencing in 2020.
Science in Action.
Dr. James P. Kossin is an Atmospheric Research Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), and Center for Weather and Climate, Madison, Wisconsin.
Dr. James Kassin’s research is very relevant to this topic because by using his data, people are able to see how over the last several years, hurricane activity, severity, and duration is increasing. Dr. Kassin’s satellite imaging can prove that hurricanes are literally increasing in size, with correlation to increasing water temperatures in the Atlantic. The research done by Kassin also shows how the intensity of tropical storms differs due to the different variations in different regions. This research showed, not only how climate change affects hurricanes but, how different factors play into the increased activity.
By: Brielle Mears
Summary: La Niña is a climate event where the Pacific Ocean surface cools more than normal and the air pressure decreases over the western Pacific. It occurs typically every 3 to 5 years. For places like Asia, India, Africa, and Brazil, this means an increased amount of rainfall in the summers. For places in the Northern tier of the United States, like Michigan, this means more cold and dry winters. Because La Niña is a naturally occurring event, there is nothing in our power that we can do to prevent it. The only thing we can do is prepare for it. The most important thing we can do, besides the obvious such as buying warmer clothes and paying our heating bill, is prepping our homes. Make sure to have your water running relatively consistently to avoid the pipes from freezing. Make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed and air tight so the cool air cannot seep inside. Make sure to safely remove heavy buildups of snow from your roofs and gutters to prevent them from caving in. By now, if you are a native to Michigan, these should be standard procedures that you’ve most likely been doing already to winterize your home. La Niña is not something that is new to us. If anything, most welcome it! Winters like this means more snow and more consistently cold temperatures. It is every winter lovers dream! La Niña produces ideal conditions for snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, etc. For ice fishers, La Niña helps bring up bigger game to catch. The upwellings in the Pacific Ocean carry the nutrient-rich waters to the surface. These waters then draw the smaller fish and crustaceans to the surface to feed, which in turn, brings up the larger predators to prey on them. In the southern tier of the United States, in places such as California and Florida, La Niña produces warmer and drier conditions. Environments like this increase the risk of wildfires and droughts. For example, La Niña is thought to be a cause of the Dust Bowl drought in the 1930s and the 1988 drought that hit the American Midwest. This cost the United States nearly $40 billion in damages. La Niña can also be tied in as one of the factors that contributed to the intensive wildfires we have experienced along the west coast this year.
Why we should care? The temperature fluctuations that La Niña produces could directly affect our crops. The colder temperatures could cause premature frosting which could kill the crops, therefore directly affecting our farmers source of income.
I have chosen this article as I think it does a good job further explaining how La Niña works. They incorporate useful charts and graphs into their work as well for those who are more visual learners. These charts depict the sea surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean in order for us to predict just how cold of a winter we have in store for us. This article is also consistently being updated and it provides a link that you can check at anytime for updates on how La Niña is/will affect our winter here in Michigan.
Science in Action.
Dr. Jacob Bjerknes was been a meteorologist at the University of Leipzig.
Dr. Jacob Bjerknes is actually the man accredited with the discovery of La Niña. In the 1960s, while he was studying Canton Island in the Southern Pacific Ocean, he found that there was a change in the ocean pressure pattern and temperature during different cycles of time. This cycle became known as Bjerknes feedback. During La Niña, the eastern Pacific Ocean cools, and the air begins to sink and dry out. This is what causes the cold and dry winters in the Northern part of the United States, and the drought-like conditions in the southern part of the U.S.. In the western Pacific Ocean, the temperature of the ocean warms, causing the air to rise, moisten, and thicken. This is what causes the heavy thunderstorms and floods in places like Asia. This rising and sinking motion of the air then produces strong winds that blow from the east to the west. These winds push the water from the eastern Pacific to the Western, which causes upwelling of the colder water. This cools the surface even more (producing those stronger winters). These same winds help push the warm surface water that’s in the western part of the Pacific over to places like Indonesia, producing the tropical conditions.
By: Connor Edelstein
Summary: This year, scientists are saying that the surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean will be lower than usual. This drop in surface temperatures is what is referred to as a “La Niña”. La Niñas influence weather patterns across the globe, and unfortunately for the already dry American Southwest, it can bring warmer temperatures and drier weather. Typically, dry regions like the Southwest rely on the snowmelt for a large amount of water that is used from spring, to summer, and into fall. Due to this year’s forecasted La Niña, many areas will not get enough water to supply them trough the summer. Meaning that they will most likely remain in a state of drought until at least next winter, until scientists are able to determine whether it will be a La Niña (Low Pacific surface temps), or an El Niño (High Pacific surface temps). The implications of this are huge. During drought conditions, people living in that area are not able to use as much water, cutting down on accessible water for bathing, cleaning, and cooking. The lack of water could also mean that the regions farmers will have a difficult year, and will most likely have lower than average yields, and that isn’t even considering the factories that utilize local water during the manufacturing process. On top of all that, the likelihood for wildfires remains high, which have already torn through many states like Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The La Niña is not going to affect just the American Southwest. Even though the dry weather will not reach the eastern United States, the lower air quality from wildfires will be noticeable, just like the hazy sky in Michigan this summer.
Why we should care? Fortunately in Michigan, wildfires aren't all that common, but the thought of one is absolutely horrifying. Obviously they are a natural process and serve a purpose, but they are happening more frequently.
To me it is interesting to think that the Southwestern portion of our country may be the driest it has been in 1000 years. In Michigan, one can drive for an hour and see many full lakes, cross over plenty of raging rivers. In the Southwest one will drive past the occasional reservoir and drive over bridges built over rivers that have since dried up. It makes me wonder how different I would be had I been raised in the dry Southwest. When I see it’s raining, I go oh crap, more rain. Would I be more grateful, and pay more attention towards resources that I rely on? Also makes me wonder about how this will affect the many species of the region.
Science in Action.
Dr. Michael Crimmins is a Professor and Extension Specialist of Climate Science at the University of Arizona.
Dr. Crimmins, who was a guest speaker in our Environmental Science 1500 class, is a Professor at University of Arizona. Dr. Crimmins does research on climate and conditions in the American Southwest. His research is relevant to my blog topic, because through Dr. Crimmins’ research, we will get a better understanding of what the Southwest is currently going through. This understanding will allow local officials to make better decisions on how to handle drought conditions and wildfires, and hopefully how to help prevent them. Understanding what happens before, during, and after these conditions will allow us to improve our current measures, and hopefully help prevent such conditions in the future.