Top Five Reads for an Environmental Science Major

Being an Environmental Science major is a bit like being an ecologist, you need to know a little bit of everything because one environmental problem can affect multiple areas of the biosphere. Soil contamination can affect water and consequently, air quality and detrimental elements can easily be cycled and transferred to completely different areas than they originated. Since environmental science is such a comprehensive field of study, here are the top five books for an environmental science major to read. Of course, the list is not complete because there is a constant need for new information to cure new problems that arise, but this is a good list nonetheless to get you started. I’ve found that these books provide a wide range of knowledge to help the environmental scientist pinpoint the area they’d like to gain extertise in.

 

Silent Spring

This is a classic book that every environmental science major should read. It started an entire environmental revolution and caused concerned citizens to question the safety of the chemicals we pump into our environment. This book was written by Rachel Carson in 1962. It brought up the concern of pesticide use and the role it played in pollution. Specifically, the book focuses on DDT, although the ideas are transferrable to many other environmental problems. This is a must-read, which is why it was placed first on the list.

The Omnivores Dillemna

This book is amazing, because it tackles the question of- Where does our food come from? It skillfully provides an in-depth description of what goes into modern agriculture and even devles into the topics of organic agriculture and sustainable agriculture, which are not as similar as you might think. This book provokes you to question the direction of food production in America and think about the best possible system for modern agriculture.

Flower Confidential

This book is surprising, because it takes a topic as seemingly frivilous as fresh-cut flowers and unravels an entire industry filled with a long-standing history, competition, and lots of flower breeding. My favorite story from this book is that of Leslie Woodriff and the Stargazer Lily. Woodriff was a bit of a hippie who adored breeding lilies and he happened to create one of the most sought-after lilies ever created. This book shows you how intricate any business is and even gives a new perspective of how unsustainable the big-business flower breeding can be.

Field Notes from a Catastrophe

This powerful book focuses on the topic of climate change. It’s an incredible read and I highly recommend it for both environmental scientists and the layman. Kolbert go delves deeply into the science behind climate change theories and lays it out in such a simple way that anyone can understand it. It’s a balanced view at a topic that attracts plenty of alarmists and nay-sayers, and it will leave you with a healthy understanding of the situation we currently find ourselves in.

The Prize

This book is quite the read and I will warn you- it’s a challenge to get through, but only because of how long it is. However, the information you’ll gain from reading this book in its entirity is, as the title says, the prize. This book discusses our global dependence on fossil fuels. It goes back to the Industrial Revolution and takes you through how our economy has become dependent on this resource. It explains the politics and science behind the fossil fuels industry in such elegance, that it’s truly worth the read.

 
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Save $$$ and the Environment

These are practical, down-to-earth ideas that anyone, anywhere can use with success.

You will actually feel good about your contribution in saving the environment and will see your rewards in reduced utility bills! You will be setting a positive example utilizing these basic steps that anyone can perform with 100% success. Putting into practice these suggestions has been proven to reduce utilities bills by up to 45%, saving hundreds of dollars a year.

The biggest user of energy in your household appliances is the clothes dryer. For $15.00 or less you can easily purchase a metal clothes dryer that takes up little space and will normally hold one large load of clothes. It can be quickly folded up for easy storage. If you live in a dry climate you will undoubtedly appreciate the added humidity in your home and won’t need to run your humidifier anymore either, giving you double the savings. There are such a wide selection of fabric softener fragrances available that your home will be filled with whatever fragrance you choose, thereby, also saving you real money on air fresheners!

 

The next biggest user of energy is your dishwasher. It not only uses more water than you would by washing your dishes in the sink, but uses a lot more power in keeping the water hot and in drying the dishes. If it is sterilization you are particularly concerned about, you can simply add 1 tablespoon of bleach to your dishwater in your kitchen sink. This will ensure your dishes are clean and all bacteria will have effectively been eliminated, your sinks stay sparkling clean with no additional effort from you. The actual cost of the soap and rinse agents that are required to run your dishwasher far exceed the price of simple dish soap. You will notice a remarkable reduction in your electrical bill by simply eliminating these two appliances that are such substantial consumers of energy and in the case of the dishwasher, unnecessary water consumption.

Have you ever wondered how you could conserve more water? One of the biggest consumers of fresh water is the toilet. Older toilets use, on average, 5 gallons per flush. Consider changing your toilet to a recent model that uses only 6 liters or less per flush. A clear rule of thumb for flushing is “if it’s yellow, let it mellow”, in other words, use it a few more times before flushing, but “if it’s brown, flush it down.”

You can also conserve water by changing the shower head to a water conservation one. Showers typically use 1/3 of the water than a bath, so consider taking showers instead of baths. You won’t notice the decrease in water as you have your shower but the environment sure will! Put the plug in the tub prior to your shower. Save the water. In the chilly months the heat from the warm water will help to heat your home. Using a plastic juice container, scoop the water out of the bathtub and use it for flushing your toilet. It is simple, instead of pushing down the handle to flush the toilet, simply pour the water from the plastic container into the toilet. It will force the water and waste down the toilet. This will save numerous gallons of fresh water per month per person. The instant savings will be especially noticeable on your water bill. An added benefit to the water you have saved in your tub is using it to water your plants, both indoors and out. Plants love water that has soap in it, and bugs don’t like it, so your plants will be perfectly healthy and green and thriving while the insect population that is detrimental to your plants will be disappearing. If you are genuinely committed to saving water, you can also remove your dishwater out of the sink, instead of sending it down the drain and put it in a bucket. If you add the bleach to your dish water, this makes excellent water for flushing your toilet as it certainly will keep the toilet smelling fresh and keep it clean due to the bleach in the water.

These are just a few practical ways …

An Environmentally Safe Method for Ridding Your Home of Fleas

Many of us who have household pets share in a common problem of how to control fleas which are brought into and frequently infest our homes.

This is particularly a problem when pets alternate between indoor and outdoor living or for pets that are frequently boarded at kennels which are not adequately cleaned between guests.

An increasing number of pet owners are hesitant to expose our pets to harsh chemicals whether these be found in pet collars, ointments, creams, powders, and even injections which are said to protect our pets against flea infestation.

Even with the best groomed pet fleas can present a problem. This is because we can temporarily eliminate the fleas on our cat or dog, through frequent bathing and grooming, but we have not eliminated the flea population which may lurk in any of many flea friendly areas in our homes. These include pet beds, pet linens, carpets, and any area frequented by the pet in which the flea may hide temporarily during the grooming of the pet.

Fleas are tiny, but smart little parasites. Their host and preferred place of residence is your pet, but when fleas sense a threat, whether in be a combing of the pet or the application of a chemical or powder, they quickly abandon the pet and hide in the pet’s bedding or in a rug or carpet on which the pet sleeps.

If you have ever treated a pet with a flea powder (something I would not recommend) and have observed closely you will have seen hundreds of fleas ‘jumping ship’ in order to avoid the irritating powder (This is something your pet probably would like to do as well).

The problem is that these fleas, having escaped the local treatment of the pet now just lie in wait in the pet’s bedding (or other ares frequented by the pet) until it is safe to return, at which time they happily return to their host animal.

One environmentally safe method I have found for addressing and controlling fleas which inhabit the pet’s home turf is both simple and effective.

If you are troubled by recurring flea infestation please try this. You will be surprised not only by the simplicity, but by the results.

1. Begin by bathing and grooming (thoroughly combing) your dog or cat. (preferably outdoors, but if in winter in a bathroom or laundry room)

2. Next, identify all areas which the pet most frequents, and especially the area where the pets sleeps or naps.

3. Primary target areas would include the pet’s bed, rugs and carpets on which the pet sleeps, and furniture frequented by the pet.

4. Once these areas are identified simple ‘flea traps’ will be used to capture and eliminate the existing fleas and prevent them from returning to your pet.

5. ‘Flea traps’ will be deployed at bedtime.

Deployment of ‘Flea Traps’:

1. You will need one flea trap for each identified target area (pet bed, Carpet, rug, etc.). Depending on the size of the area you may need two traps. Typically you will need one trap for every 9 square feet of target area.

2. For each trap you will need one six inch in diameter dinner plate.

3. Fill the plate with enough water to reach within 1/2 inch of the rim.

4. To each plate add four drops of liquid dish detergent (Ivory, Joy, etc.), and stir.

5. At bedtime place one plate in the center of each identified target area.

6. Adjacent to each plate, and preferably over hanging the plate, place a light or lamp containing a 60 watt or greater bulb.

7. Turn on the light and leave on over night.

8. The next morning check the water in the plate. Flea infested areas will have anywhere from a dozen to a hundred or more dead fleas floating in the water. (these appear as tiny black or brown specks).

9. If after initial deployment no fleas are found in the water relocate the trap.

10. Repeat this process with a fresh water-soap solution until no fleas are found in the water.

This process works by taking advantage of the flea’s attraction to the light …

10 Ways to Be More Environmentally Friendly in the Workplace

10 Ways To Be More Environmentally Friendly In The Workplace

Let’s talk about 10 ways to be more environmentally friendly in the workplace. Rest assured, these eco-friendly tips will be very easy to implement and will ultimately help the environment.

1) Recycle as much paper as possible. Depending on the workplace, there is a reasonable chance that a lot of paperwork is generated throughout the course of the day. Don’t throw this into the trash. Instead, shred it and set it aside for recycling.

2) After lunch break, make sure that any recyclable soda cans or water bottles are placed into the recycling bin. There is no need for these items to end up in a landfill.

3) Carpool to work or use public transportation. This cuts down on CO2 emissions released by automobiles and is environmentally friendly.

4) You may want to think about making suggestions at your workplace to cut down on CO2 emissions generated by whatever it is that is being done where you work. These types of eco-friendly suggestions are usually welcomed by most employers because it will help them save money.

5) During the colder part of the year, if such conditions exist where your workplace is located, consider asking management to keep the thermostat set somewhat lower while everybody wears a sweater or jacket. This will reduce energy consumption.

 

6) See if there might be a way to utilize solar power or wind power to help generate some of the electricity that is used at the workplace.

7) If your workplace happens to be in a corporate park, see if some of your coworkers will volunteer to help you occasionally go around picking up litter. This helps the environment because the materials collected might be recyclable and small animals are prevented from potentially ingesting dangerous substances.

8) Try to reduce the amount of waste that is generated by being more efficient with the use of materials at your workplace.

9) Ask if it might be possible to purchase environmentally friendly office supplies. Any time your workplace is able to utilize different things that are made from recycled materials you are being eco-friendly.

10) Perhaps the best way to be more environmentally friendly in the workplace is to encourage coworkers to all play a role in trying to help the environment. It’s not enough if just one employee tries to do everything — it really needs to be a team effort.

By following this advice, the workplace can be made to be more eco-friendly so as to help the environment while also possibly helping the company save money.

by Chad Peterson…

Ways to Protect the Environment Via Cell Phone

You can profoundly impact the environment by your cell phone habits. Your cell phone is a tiny compartment of precious and toxic metals. There are over 140 million cell phones in use in the United States alone. Being the tech junkies we are, Americans get a new phone approximately every 14 months. We are a consumer driven society driven by the latest and greatest technology.

 

Before you run to the wireless store, take this into consideration. Last year more than 100 million cell phones were discarded, while only 10% were recycled. The threat of the toxic chemicals that these cell phones contain are lead, arsenic, cadmium, antimony, copper, and worst of all Tantalum. Tantalum, links our tiny piece of handheld convenience to the Congo in Africa. Tantalum is a metal made from Metallic Ore Columbite. This precious metal is what allows your phone to run and store data. The fierce demand has fueled civil wars and decimated the gorilla population. The gorilla’s habitat is being clear cut and mined, this leaves the gorillas hungry and vulnerable to trappers.

More cell phone companies are making an effort to recycle phones. Some carriers have an easy drop while others you may have to ask. If you desperately need a new phone, think about getting a refurbished phone. If your carrier does none of the above, look into recycling centers in your area. It is convenient to turn them in and they pay you for your used phone. I made $60 off of two very old phones that sat in my drawer for years. You may also want to consider donating your phone to a philanthropic cause such as Cellphonesforsoldiers.com.

Recycling phones is a type of urban mining for all the gold, silver, and copper that can be extracted. Who knows, a couple years from now you might see signs from your local jeweler, that reads, “cash for phones.”

Sources: “Congos Colton Rush,” BBC News 8/2001…

Products of Our Environment: Is How We Are Raised Affect Who We Become?

People usually say that a child is a product of their environment. I believe that poverty, wealth, addiction, or abuse, what we see and what is around us has a major affect on who we become. Not everyone agrees with this but there is some truth behind it. I’ve tried to break down the areas that can set the stage or define who we are or who we’re going to be.

Single Parent Homes-Being raised by a single parent can have its advantages and its disadvantages. For example If a person is being raised by a single mom they can learn what it means to be responsible, how to be focused, how to put other people before your self, and how to raise children alone. It also teaches you to take the initiative and you can learn how to be self sufficient. In this way you pick up the reigns and move forward without depending on anyone else. However this can be a catch 22 because if the single parent meets someone that they’d like to settle down with, they had been self sufficient for so long that they may not know how to let someone help them. And handing over the reigns to someone else may be very difficult. Another negative would be lack of time being spent with your children. In order to provide, you have to work, but unfortunately working more than one job may be necessary depending on the financial needs of the family. If the parent is away for the majority of the day, the child may feel lonely and possibly unloved. This isn’t the case for every family. I was personally raised in a one parent household and I grew up feeling very loved.

Foster Care-Being in foster care for any length of time can have a profound effect on who a person becomes. At times, news stories or front page headlines shock society on what has happened in a foster home at the hands of foster parents. Some children are loved but others are abused and neglected. If this is the case, the child can grow up and not know how to express love to other people and they too can become an abusive parent. In addition the person may struggle with feelings of not being wanted by their biological parents. However, for every horror story that I’ve heard, there are twice as many success stories and not all foster children grow up in a negative environment.

Addiction-Drug and alcohol addiction are quite common in our society. It’s a parents job to raise their children up the best way that they can. Unfortunately many adults struggle with some type of addiction. For a child to see this kind of behavior they may grow up thinking that this is a normal way to live. Having an occasional drink may not be a cause for concern but living with a parent that is addicted to drugs or alcohol usually sets the stage for their own drug and alcohol abuse. It’s a learned behavior and some children are predisposed but not all children follow the same path as their parents.

Economic Status-In today’s economy many parents aren’t able to provide for their families in the way that they would hope to. Not having or having too much money can have an affect on children. For the child that grows up in a home that is wealthy they may not value or know how to appreciate hard work because things are just handed to them. Or as some people say, the children are “spoiled”. On the other hand the child that is growing up in poverty may not know what it feels like to be secure. They may be worried about whether or not they’ll have a meal that day or if they’ll have a pillow to lay their head at night. This can usher in fear, worry, and anxiety which may be carried into adulthood.

Abuse-Child abuse is everywhere. Whether it’s in the form of physical or verbal it does happen in many homes across the United States. When a child is raised in a home where child abuse occurs it’s common that they grow up …

How to Make Your Home More Environmentally Friendly

Making your home more energy efficient can both help the planet as well as lighten the burden on your monthly gas, electric, and water bills. The website www.climatecrisis.net -a site originally dedicated purely to the film An Inconvenient Truth but since become a guide to green living- is a truly fantastic resource for accomplishing the goal of energy efficiency.

 

The site lays out some basic suggestions on how you can impact the environment through your daily life on an incremental basis. Here are some highlights, both from the site and my own suggestions/experiences:

Purchase fluorescent light bulbs. 
This is possibly the most basic yet effective method of reducing the amount of energy and natural resources you draw on in your home. Fluorescent bulbs use less energy, last longer, and, lets be serious, with their spiral shape, just look cooler. It is estimated that this will reduce your carbon emissions by 150 pounds per year/per light bulb.

Low flow shower heads. 
This, in effect, does two things to produce a positive environmental impact. First, the very obvious effect of using less water for each shower you take. Worldwide water shortages, particularly in the American Southwest, make it necessary that water conservation methods be foremost on our mind. Secondly, if you are like me and enjoy hot showers, the low flow head will decrease the total amount of hot water you use, lessening the need for energy to warm the water. It is estimated that this will reduce your carbon emissions by 350 pounds per year.

Use cold water instead of hot. 
Whether it is washing your clothes or washing your hands, cold water saves an expediential amount of energy when compared to warm or hot water.

Monitor your thermostat. 
Cooling your home in the summer and heating it in the winter uses a considerable amount of energy. By lowering your thermostat in the winter and only turning on your AC on the hottest of days in the summer, you will be limiting your carbon usage by a significant amount. Insolating your house properly is also a big factor, since it limits the amount of air actually needed to cool and heat your home. Many companies have begun to pop up in major cities offering a full inspection of your home to discover where poorly insulated spots may be. I would not dissuade anyone from utilizing these services, since they can be beneficial, but with a can of compressed and a watchful eye you should be able to find the problematic spots in your house and insulate them on your own.

Purchase energy efficient products. 
Virtually every electric appliance on the market now has an energy efficient counterpart. The best part is, most of them include the “Energy Star” symbol which is only added to products that undergo an independent review process, thus weeding out the frauds.

Unplug you appliances. 
Most people don’t realize that every second an appliance is plugged in, whether it is in use or not, it is utilizing energy. Granted, the amount of energy actually used at any given point in time is minuscule, however, as is the case with almost anything, in the long run it adds up. You should unplug things not in use and unplug everything when you go on extended trips.…

Clean Your Home Using Environmentally Friendly Chemicals

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past decade, you have heard how chemicals are spoiling our health and our environment. These harmful chemicals are everywhere. Did you ever think that while you are cleaning the house, you are harming your health? Those wonderful cleaning agents that help us clean the house may not be helping us live a healthy life.

As we learn more about the chemicals in our lives, we become more concerned about the effects. We are hearing more stories about health related issues because of our polluted environment. More and more people are developing allergies and upper respiratory irritations. Asthma seems to be growing even in children. Doctors and medical people are telling their patients to look closely at their cleaning agents to see if they may be the cause. Have you thought about what you do with your cleaning products when you are finished with them? Well of course, you throw them done the sink. Well those harsh agents are not great for the water I’m sure.

Not only are we endangering our own health, but also the health of our environment. Keep in mind we are also talking about our home environment, and how that can become polluted. It is no doubt obvious that one way to combat this flood of harsh chemicals in our homes is to use less of them. The chemical agents used in cleaning products are a huge culprit. We need to learn how to replace these with friendlier, safer chemicals. There is no better time than now to seek out natural non-toxic products.

 

You will have an initial investment of some basic natural cleaning agents, spray bottles, sponges, mops, brushes, and rags. Most everything you need can easily be found in local hardware stores or variety stores. May I suggest to you that the cleaning products you use can easily be made from common, harmless ingredients. Below are a few samples of safe cleaning products.

Disinfectant

Mix ½ cup borax (a natural mineral that kills mold and bacteria) with one gallon of hot water

Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme

Steep for 10 minutes, strain and cool

Store in a recycled plastic spray bottle

Floor cleaner

Mix 1 cup white vinegar with two gallons of hot water

For greasy floors, add ¼ cup washing soda and one tablespoon vegetable oil based soap to the above mixture

Window washing fluid

Mix one cup vinegar with 4 cups hot water

Oven cleaner

Make a paste of baking soda and hot water

Sponge onto stains and wipe clean

These are only a few of the many mixtures you can find at the resources below. Get the whole family involved. Not only can it be enjoyable, it could be a great learning experience for the kids. There are companies that sell perfectly safe cleaning products. If these homemade recipes aren’t for you, take the time to seek out safe and non-toxic cleaners in your area.…

Fuel for the Environment

Our planet is at the crossroads and wondering where to go from here. Which path our planet takes solely depend upon the choices we make. If you believe in fictional advocacies then our planet is already trying to wipe us out so that at least a few species will survive. With the increased number of natural disasters one has to wonder if that statement is true or not.

 

We surely need to realize that we are toxic for the earth and try to fix this problem. We all want to live but evidently nobody cares about death unless it comes knocking on ones doorstep. There are so many simple ways to save ourselves and yet disappointingly people are more interested and booze and sex. What has this world come to? Anyway, for all of those who are interested in living longer here are a few easy ways to cut your carbon footprint.

1. 1. Open the windows in daytime and let the natural light flow in or if you are building a new house make sure that there are more windows. This will reduce your dependency on artificial lights.

2. 2. Take a walk to the store or even ride a cycle. There are 2 advantages to this, it will keep you healthy and at the same time reduce your carbon footprint.

3. 3. Rainwater harvesting is easy and mostly every architect out there will know about this. You can use the water you have stored for gardening and even for taking a bath.

4. 4. Stop drinking bottled water. Have you ever wondered were there plastic bottle end up?

5. 5. Turnoff your computer when you are not using it. This will help your computer give you a better performance and also help save the planet.

6. 6. Try and buy solar energy charging points for your cell phones.

These are but a few ways to help preserve our planet natural environment. I hope you change your ways so that we can all enjoy this planet a little bit longer.…

Troubled Environment

 

There was a time long ago
When streams gushed with a crisp flow
When the air was pure and full of life
When ducks would quack happily
And you could grab a rabbit or a blueberry
and eat is right away, without worrying about
arsenic and lead and mercury and nasty plastic
and hydrofluorocarbons and strange poisonous
pesticides that were invented in microwave ovens
full of three-week old cheese and bits of aluminum foil
Let us bring back those peaceful and healthy days
Just a little bit at a time, so that generations from now
they will thank us and speak of us with honor

 
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