Friday, May 31, 2013

Farming Runoff

Some farmers have a routine of chemical fertilizers and manure on these fields. But, the land poses a far greater environmental problem to freshwater lakes than previously, potentially polluting the water for hundreds of years, according to new research. Phosphorus in those substances has built up in the soil and can slowly end up in many lakes, where the nutrients lead to plant and algae growth. The environmental problem, known as eutrophication, can turn pristine lakes into smelly, weed-filled swamps with lots of dead fish. 

The National Academy of Science from University of Wisconsin Stephen Carpenter said “the buildup largely on industrial agriculture’s use of fertilizer and manure since the 1940s. The concentration could cause the eutrophication of lakes for centuries as the treated soil slowly washes into lakes and streams. The problem leads to fish kills and the growth of toxic algae that can make lakes unsuitable for swimming. A very small percentage of the phosphorus moves into the lake each year and that small amount is sufficient to cause a great deal of water pollution,” Carpenter said. The study concluded saying that we need major changes in soil management to preserve what is left. We need the government to act with an urgency to stop the phosphorus before it gets into the lakes and streams. Stephen Carpenter did a study in Lake Mendota (Urban Lake in Madison, WI), where he found that the lake water quality has declined over the years. This is a popular spot for fishing. The main reason for farmers to use chemical fertilizer over natural fertilizer and manure is cost. They simply can’t afford it, so many use the cheaper option. 


The light green water color in Southern California’s Salton Sea (lower right) is an algae bloom caused by farm fertilizer runoff.

Prevent Toxic Runoff

Protecting the waterways across Oregon is one of the most healthiest things we can do to protect our community.  Here is a list of solutions to prevent a disaster in our water. As much as we like the rain, there is a downfall when the rain washes the oil, chemicals, and pesticide into the streets an down our drains. This affects the lakes, rivers, beaches, and off course our drinking water. This can put our health at risk, along with the economy.

Here is a picture showing all kinds of toxins going into our oceans.



Here are some elements that can help us with the water.


  • As the future is coming near, going green is every where. Green technology is part of now and the future. We must adapt to it to lessen the damage. Green garden has shown that it can reduce the pollution effectively at a lower cost. This is a cheaper option versus storm water infrastructure. We want developers to have permit where they use cheaper methods. 
  • We must have a reasonable balance of green space to the pavement, natural filtration system, and effectively stopping toxic runoff with a natural and affordable method. Cost is the key because how the local budgets have tighten up, we must use cheaper methods then before. 
  • We can't have any loopholes for developers to come through. By contacting the local city officials and the mayors office and letting them know we can't have any more runoff's. For example, the city permits for developers gives them an option to opt out of multiple exemptions, this allows them to opt out of clean water solutions. 

What Does Sustainability Mean to You?

What is sustainability?

Typically, most individuals know what recycling means and what the three R’s stand for. We know that disposing of harmful chemicals correctly, and driving our vehicles minimal distances will reduce our carbon print on this planet, but do we know what sustainability actually means?
A more significant step to practicing sustainability could also mean learning about green technologies such as wind turbines, hydroelectric energy, and water purification mechanisms and how to apply it. For example, for the past two months I have been working for an environmental services consultancy, where I focused on the development of renewable energy projects like mini hydroelectric power plants in the Andes of Peru. Not only was this concept new to me when I first started my work here, but I had no idea that what I am involved in was called sustainable.

Using natural resources to produce energy for consumption can yield a great benefit for the environment. For example, one of the projects we developed in the Peruvian Andes was marketed towards mining companies in the area. Generally, mining companies pollute the environment—a negative externality inherent to the industry, but with our efforts to provide them with a clean source of energy, their impact could be parameterized to that of mining only since they no longer had to rely on coal or petroleum.

Sustainability is a complex subject. Not only does it encompass green initiatives but it also possesses economic attributes—which is what I personally want to emphasize in this blog post. For me, sustainability has a slightly different yet still pertaining meaning. Although measuring the value of intangible costs may involve a more sophisticated approach than just a simple cost-benefit analysis process, we can easily asses the value of the cost of what we are incurring when we do certain things that affect the environment. In the case of farming, we can calculate the damages of unsustainable farming practices by subtracting the value of prime agricultural and cultivated land at a previous point in time by a later value of that land. Whatever is left over is the declining change in price, which we can then divide by the time since the first valuation of that property—then we have a change in price over time period. We can then use this metric and multiply it by a factor, which could depict the magnitude of damaged land in a certain area.

Costs can also be regarded as the future decline in profits from an affected farm land. It could also be viewed as the health costs that these farming runoffs afflict on individuals—or the costs afflicted on other surrounding non-farm lands that are practicing sustainable farming methods.  Perhaps it is these forms of perspectives that we need to start emphasizing on.

  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Simple Ways to Reduce Water Pollution and Run Off

Simple Ways to Reduce Water Pollution and Run off

The way we live effects how our water is being polluted. Everyday household activities, for example, oil from our driveways, paint, and residue from the wall and deck leads to water in the sewer system or the local lake get contaminated. But, there are simple things we can do as a community to reduce pollution. We must have a conscious mind when dealing with household activities that cause issues with our water.


  • Having fewer hard surfaces of concrete and asphalt will reduce runoff from our properties. Landscape with vegetation, gravel or other porous materials instead of cement; install wood decking instead of concrete, and interlocking bricks and paver stones for walkways. Redirecting rain gutters and downspouts away from the building and to rain barrels and gardens, soil, grass or gravel areas. Planting vegetation at lower elevations than nearby hard surfaces allows runoff to seep into soil.




  • Native plants need less water and it can help reduce unnecessary maintenance, which is costly. By applying natural fertilizer and soil conditioner this helps stimulate plant growth and retain soil moisture. By creating your own compost (peat, rotted manure, and bone meal) they have compost bins which can be purchased at any hardware or plant nursery.  Composting can decrease chemical fertilizer (helps retain soil moisture) which will help divert waste from landfills.



  • Watering plants and lawns can be an issue if you are over-watering them. It is important to keep it at a minimum because it is estimated that we use 7 billion gallons (residential use) of water on a daily basis, according to the EPA. Avoiding the sidewalk, curbs, and pavement is important because homeowner waste water on those areas that don’t need it. Using a rain gauge helps tell the homeowner how much water is being used. Preventing over usage is key to lowering water pollution and your water bill.



  • Recycling and disposing of all trash is as important as all the other steps I mentioned already. Never flush non-degradable products down the toilet. For example, diapers and plastic tampons. This will damage the sewage treatment process. If this is done then it will litter our beaches and water. 



  • The following products cannot be put in the drain, sink, or toilet: paint, oil, solvents, pool chemicals, insectcide, and other harzardous chemicals. These products have chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite , phenol, cresol, and etc. which can enter the water system.  Contacting your local sanitation, public works, or environmental health department to find out about hazardous waste collection days and sites, or check Earth911.com for local recycling options, are great. If a local program isn't available, request one. 


  • Recycling motor oil will reduce pollution as well. Really important not to pour it down the gutter or storm drain. A single quart of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water. 



  • Skipping the home carwash helps eliminate over usage of water. Taking it to a professional car wash is the best thing for anyone to do.


  • Help identify polluters. Join an environmental group that monitors sewage treatment plants and industries. You can go to epa.gov to find a local group near your area.






Vehicle vs. Earth


        Vehicle emissions can affect the environment in many different ways, and this is no surprise to anyone. It has been well known the effect that gasoline emissions have had on the planet but not much change has occurred. The average person knows that cars emit greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, which has been linked as a huge influence of global warming. “Transportation caused over half of the carbon monoxide, over a third of the nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons in our atmosphere in 2006”


       Vehicles contain many different fluids, including motor oil, antifreeze, gasoline, air-conditioning refrigerants, and brake, transmission, hydraulic and windshield-wiper fluids. Some of these fluids are very toxic to both humans and animals, and can pollute waterways if they leak from the vehicles or are disposed of incorrectly. Some air pollutants and particles from cars can be make its way onto soil and surfaces of water as well. When this happens some of these pollutants can be found on food that is ingested daily by huge numbers of animals. Having these pollutants in our food is extremely unhealthy for the environment as well as the many species it affects. These substances can affect the reproductive, respiratory, immune and neurological systems of animals. Transportation is a huge component of air pollution so in any effort to reduce this problem, vehicles should be the main focus. Although we have made great strides in cleaning up auto emissions, we are also driving more then ever before.

http://teachers.yale.edu/curriculum/search/viewer.php?id=initiative_08.07.09_u#e


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why Buy Organic?



Did you know that organic farmed food uses 30 percent less energy than conventional farming, and that organic farming produces 48 to 60 percent less carbon dioxide then conventional agriculture? 
 So you may be asking yourself well why does this matter to me?

 It’s simple by supporting farms that care take the environment you are in turn lessening your own carbon footprint and eating a better quality of food for yourself and your family.

  Organic farming produces 48-60 percent less carbon dioxide than conventional farming not to mention that organically farmed soil holds more carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, which in turn contributes to global warming.
Did you also know that organic farmers don’t use pesticides this helps preserve ground water and pesticide runoff which is good for our environment and helps prevent erosion.  

 When buying foods that are grown by your local organic farmers your dollars help support the farm and this helps contribute to the well-being of your community. 

 In our local community there are so many great farmers markets and food co-ops which sell local and organic produce and other food products. So next time you are in your local store think about all of the pesticides and toxins that you are putting into your body.  Here is a link to some of Portland's local farmers markets that sell fresh organic produce. http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org





Photos courtesy of www.greenplanetethics.com  










 Do you want this on your plate?

Monday, May 27, 2013

How You Can Help Solve The Problem: Weekday Veg

     The task of changing your lifestyle in order to help reduce environmental impacts can seem daunting. After all, what can one person do when the problem seems so huge? According to Graham Hill, founder of treehugger.com, practicing weekday vegetarianism is a great way to effect change. By decreasing meat consumption for a portion of the week environmental impacts from large-scale factory farming are decreased. Basically, if you eat less meat, less meat needs to be produced and less waste from factory farms pollutes our environment. Even cutting out meat from your diet for one day a week will help! 
     This program has positive effects for your health, wallet, and our environment. Give it a try, I think you will find it's not that hard to skip a burger once in a while. As Graham says, "If all of us ate half as much meat, it would be like half of us were vegetarians." Watch the video below for more information. And remember, a little change can go a long way, especially when we are doing it together!



Sunday, May 26, 2013

What Happens To Pesticides When It Rains?


What happens to pesticides at farms when it rains? This is a problem that I think many people are unsure of.  We all know that most farms use pesticides in order to prevent crops from going bad. Sometimes the farms do not have a choice but to use pesticides. When it rains hard or even sprinkles pesticides will runoff from the farm into the ground and the water supply. This creates a health problem for people and families all over the world.  
There is another side to the pesticide story. Some think that is sometimes a good thing when there is runoff.  According to the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, “The leaching of some herbicides into the root zone can give you better weed control.”  When people put down chemicals on the land because of the leaching others plants will “go” away or suffer because of it.

So what happens when the pesticide is put down on the farm? The first step is the farmer putting down the chemical on the land. Then according to the Ministry of Aquiculture, “These processes include adsorption, transfer, breakdown and degradation. Transfer includes processes that move the pesticide away from the target site. These include volatilization, spray drift, runoff, leaching, and absorption and crop removal.” Now if we take rain and add that to the equation you will get a nasty situation that will devastate the environment for years to come.  Chemicals on farms are not the best situation for the environment but when it rains it creates and even worse scenario for the environment.

http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/pesticides/c_2.htm

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Harm of Air Fresheners

 
 
There are many types of scented air freshners on the market. Some release scents continously and others spray scented fumes at specificed times. It is a fact that air freshners contain many chemicals that can potentially cause health problems.
 
 
Studies have proved that exposure to pthalates can alter hormone levels which can harm the fetus. Furthermore, they can even alter hormone levels in males, leading to reproductive problems. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that sicne pthalates are found in many household items, therie isa danger of high exposure and of being exposed to more than one type. Therefore, over time this can lead to a build-up of dangerous levels in the body.
 
 
Other health risks would be headaches,gastrointestinal symptoms,asthma,allergic reactions- which many scented products contain chemicals known as volatile organic compunds,nerve and organ damage. The Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia states that many ari freshners workd by deadening the sensitivity of nerves that help pick up scents.
 
 
Therefore, it would be best to avoid the usage of air freshners which could cause medical conditions.
 
 

The Effects of Chemical Fertilizers

 
 
 
 
 
We all are aware that fertilizer are any substance used to add nutrients to the soil to promote soil fertility and increase plant growth. However, my question is "Are all fertilizers healthy for the soil"? The answer is no, the effects of chemical fertilizers aren' spoken about because they are largely untested.
 
Soil health relies on a balance of macronutrients and micronutrients, as well as microbial health. It's vastly more complicated then simply adding nitrogen,phosphorus and potassium to the ground.
 
The biggest issue facing the use of chemical fertilizers is groundwater contamination. Groundwater contamination has been linked to gastric cancer,goitre,birth malformations,hypertension,testicular cancer and stomach cancer.It is a fact that excessive air and water-borne nitrogen form fertilizers may cause respiratory ailments and cardiac diseases. We shouldn't forget that they can "inhibit crop growth and increase allergenic pollen production and potentially affect the dynamics of several diseases.
 
The awareness and understanding the effects of chemical fertilizers doesn't help us without taking action. What is important is that we have to protect our health. We can consider to have our water tested regularly by reputable tab,support organize and sustainable agriculture,take part in safeguarding organic practices and educate ourselves more about chemical fertilizers.
 
Shouldn't we think twice and care about our health?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Changing Minds-- Approaching a new form of intelligence


Changing Minds-- Approaching a new form of intelligence

Understanding what knowledge on multiple intelligences means can help make a better blog by attempting to convince an audience through various effective strategies. Howard Gardner speaks on the matter of how individuals can distinctly learn and process information. Some are born with certain inclinations or intuitional methods of synthesizing information, thus developing target strategies for these “target markets” can greatly influence such individuals. Those that are characterized by a form of intelligence can better create a channel for those who empathize with that capacity. The benefit of having a group work on the same material is crucial to better deliver the content of the blog. Allowing for diversity in methodologies and information synthesis by a broad group of individuals that can identify with these varying forms intelligence can help achieve better results. In finance and economics, diversification is a term that is of great discussion, although loosely used at times, but in the case of this class—having a group of students with different intelligences can better promote the message of this term’s goal i.e. achieve greater results.
A pseudo-intelligence that struck me most was something Gardner calls “Existential Intelligence”. This pseudo-intelligence depicts the demeanor one possesses when filled with passion about something. Consequently, turning those around you into a believer due to one’s own conviction about what one feels. This form of capacity can replace science under certain circumstances by answering some of the most complex questions. Although, many believe the world of business is mundane and practical, this form of conviction can be used as a tool or skillset to provide people with faith and reassurance that they are doing the right thing. An audience can be moved and persuaded when directed with passion and utter genuineness—existential intelligence can provide that.
Although, Gardner does not believe that “Existential Intelligence” does not qualify as a true intelligence. I believe that this form of biological cognition is often used in television, film, music, and rhetoric effectively. In all, using all forms of intelligence at once may be impossible but attempting to understand them all individually can help us (the authors) better reach our audiences more effectively. In the book, Gardner uses the example of a Musician, who encompasses all feedback from an audience and learns to adapt to what the audience wants. In fact, we can this strategy by using the analogy of the Musician, by putting information out there and waiting to hear feedback—what appeals more to the majority of our audience and what does not.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Are Agricultural Treatments, Pesticides, and Fertilizers Truly Bad for Our Environment?


   Farms produce and release a ton of chemicals to promote growth and to treat for diseases. When farms distribute these chemicals it eventually goes back into the environment. It does this in the form of water, air, and soil. The chemicals can eventually flow into rivers, lakes, streams, oceans, and even the air. The chemicals can also be sucked into the ground and can harm soil and other water resources.  This creates a serious environmental issue for everyone on this planet.  To answer the question above yes, treatments, pesticides, and fertilizers are extremely bad for our environment and other methods must be used to stop the devastation that they are creating.

   According to the GRACE Communications Foundation a group that, Builds partnerships and develops innovative media strategies that increase public awareness of the relationships among food, water and energy systemsestimated that, “Only 0.1% of applied pesticides reach the target pests, leaving the bulk of the pesticides (99.9%) to impact the environment.” The rest of the pesticides are not doing what they were intended to do and that will have a huge impact of health worldwide.

   This is a topic of discussion that should not be pushed aside and needs to be discussed in an open forum. Change will happen and people are continuing to think of news ways to prevent health risks and promote farm growth.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What's in Your Water?


                      What's in Your Water?
           
Summer is coming and many of us are going to start heading for our local lakes and river to have some fun in the sun, but have you ever thought about what is in your local recreational water source? Since we are learning about factory runoff I have also learned about algal blooms, which are the result of the excess nutrients that can originate from fertilizers that farms are using. These fertilizers that farms are using contain phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium in large amounts. These seem like extremely harmful chemicals to be swimming in don’t you think.  These chemicals seemed to be used in excess so when it rains these chemicals are washed away into our ecosystem. These chemicals then are washed into our lakes, stream, and oceans. When phosphates enter into a water system in a high concentration it causes increased growth in algae plants. What is so crazy is that the algae grows so quickly but is also short lived with the high concentrations so if dies off quickly leaving behind a dead organic matter which then in turn starts to decay. When this happens the decay starts to consume the oxygen in the water resulting in hypoxic conditions this then kills off fish, plants, and animal in the water. This can result in the shutdown of local lakes and rivers because they become so toxic to everyone and everything that comes in contact with them. So my concern is how can we as a community come up with some ideas to prevent these toxins from continuing to pollute our lakes and streams.What can you do as an individual?

 Do you really want to swim in this?