Pleistocene Park- Hope for the Mammoth?

It doesn’t take a genius to know that Woolly mammoths are extinct. But will they be extinct forever? Could it make a comeback? Multiple specimens of frozen mammoth carcasses in Canada and Russia prove that it could help the idea of cloning mammoths and resurrecting them.

Now, this idea isn’t new. The big summer blockbuster, Jurassic Park (and its various sequels), focuses on the cloning of dinosaurs. While the method for cloning dinosaurs is proven to be impossible in real life due to the half-life of DNA, what about Mammoths? We have various specimens, some as recent as 12,000 years ago, opposed to the 66-million-year minimum of dinosaurs. We actually can clone a mammoth. Japanese scientists are already working on doing it. They have been working round the clock since 2011, and said that they will have the first mammoth clone by 2020. They already have the funding and the means to do it.

But where would we put the cloned mammoth, if it were to happen? Russia has already answered that question, in the form of Pleistocene Park, which is in Siberia. It is a park already home to dozens of Caribou and Yakutian horses, as well as European bison, Altai wapiti (Elk), Musk oxen, Moose, Eurasian brown bears, Tundra wolves, and other sub-arctic animals. The Russian government is planning on releasing endangered animals into the area for conservation purposes, such as Bactrian camels, Saiga antelopes, and Siberian tigers. This park is the main area where we would put cloned Woolly mammoths. Who knows, in 2040 we could have a functioning park home to herds of Mammoths and a stable population of other animals. Only time will tell.

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Trendy Recycling

With the warm weather upon us, it’s time to put the long johns and wooly sweaters away. It’s time to replace the winter layers with shorts, sleeveless tops, and open toes. Maybe even add a couple additions to your wardrobe…consignment style.

This season you may be going through your closet and realize some of those shorts just don’t fit you the way they did last season. Remember that these clothes are still valuable and someone else could probably fit into them in the mean time!! Especially as a college student you could make a bit of cash off of your old clothing, or write it off on your taxes by donating to the GoodWill. There is more than one way to lessen your ecological footprint, so let’s be smart and really start reusing more than just silverware and cups.

Not only can you find valuable clothing at a consignment shop, but you can also find items for your household (or dorm) that you may really like to put to use. While I was home on Spring break I decided to venture to some local consignment shops to see what they really had to offer. I was excited to see that there was a whole world of items that were available at a cheaper price! Not only just clothing, but mugs, desks, chairs, bookshelves, BOOKS. Honestly you name it, and you will definitely find it.

So with Spring cleaning in full swing, remember to consider taking some items down to your local consignment shops. They will be more than thankful for it, and so will the next person purchasing.

Keep in mind that everything old is new again.

Here are a couple of local places just so I can get you all started on your consigning journey’s…

Fairfax Locations:

Chic Envy Consignment

Inova Fair Oaks Thrift Shop

Second Chance 1 Thrift Store

Consignment Boutique

 

 

Unclear about Nuclear

There have been many arguments about whether or not nuclear energy is a reliable source of energy to power cities and even states. When people hear about nuclear power plants, people think of Chernobyl and Fukushima and the disasters that happened at their nuclear power plants. We all know that at both those places there was a nuclear disaster at nuclear power plants which gave nuclear power a bad rap for being a wide source of energy. However, do most people know why the power plants failed and had such catastrophic problems?

With Chernobyl, the scientists wanted to test to see if the turbines could pump enough coolant in the reactors in case of power outage. They turned off all the safety systems to test this which was one of the biggest mistakes they could have made. Turned out that the turbines could not pump enough coolant into the reactor but before the scientists could turn everything back on to normal, there was a high energy spike in the reactor which caused the gigantic explosion which turned Chernobyl into a vast wasteland.

At Fukushima, there was an earthquake that caused a tsunami which caused the power at the reactor to shut off completely. Usually in those certain situations the back up power would kick in but at the plant they had their back up generators on ground level which happened to be where the water was from the tsunami. Most nuclear power plants should have their back up generators on the roof to avoid problems like the one at Fukushima.

What I am trying to say is, that Nuclear power may be dangerous but only in rare situations and it could possible be a better alternative to fossil fuels. Nuclear power is non-renewable but it gives off little pollution compared to burning fossil fuels. Nuclear waste, however, is very harmful to humans and the environment. It is very expensive to build but once it is done building its costs go down because it is easier to generate electricity from plants than it is from the other non-renewable resources. Nuclear power may have a bad reputation with the events at Chernobyl and Fukushima but they both could have been prevented if they took better safety precautions.

Waterslide

The past several weeks have had me interested in the plethora of water related challenges we face. I would like to share some of these issues and provide some of the insight I have gained in this field.

Recently, in a geology class I am taking, we have begun to discuss glaciers. While we exit the ice age we are currently in, these glaciers are melting all over the world. Also, in the north pole, there are many shelves of ice being held in place above the water. If one of them were to collapse, the world sea level could rise up to 5 meters due to displacement. Both of these scenarios exhibit problems that result from a great excess of water, however, many of the problems made popular today involve a lack of water.

Water scarcity can be a result of several constraints: geographic, financial, and resource. Each of these can be observed in different societies. The World Economic forum says that resource based water stress will be the norm in China while finance constrained water stress will be the norm in Africa. Characteristics of these societies can tell us why these problems arise. In china there are massive concentrations of population which greatly divides the supply of clean water available to each person. Still, more than 70% of water resources in any country are used for agriculture; to produce an unnecessary abundance of food.

Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

For my Environmental Toxicology class, I have to write a letter to the editor on a scholarly journal article that was published. I found this article about the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis. According to the article, it was interesting to see how it all started. The city of Flint was originally getting their water supply from Lake-Huron. The pipe that was supplying water, needed to be replaced, so the city decided to switch over to getting their water supply from the Flint River. The city decided to go with this switch because it was temporary and cheaper. Turns out that this was not the way to go because residents were complaining of water changes, taste, odor and various health issues. When the pipes were examined, it showed that there was a large amount of lead in the water because lead pipes were being used in the Flint River. Another problem that contributed to the Flint Michigan water crisis was that the area is not the best because people are dealing with poor nutrition and poverty. Since children’s bodies are already lacking the nutrients that they need for survival, the concentrations of lead are bound to increase even more.

The study was mainly focused on children who were ages five and younger. It proved that there were health effects associated with the water because of the presence of lead. Children were tested before the water pipe was changed and then after and the results showed that they were affected by the change in pipes. The article stated that the Dose-Response Relationship for children 1-5, showed that for every 1ppb increase in water, the blood-lead level increases 35%. This is really high because children already absorb about 40-50% of lead compared to adults who absorb 3-10%. I am curious to know why the city didn’t examine the pipes before making the switch or replacing them years ago instead of waiting until now?

Lead is one of the chemicals that have serious health effects on everyone. I think the only good thing that it does is protect us from radiation, because it acts as a “wall” so that the radiating energy does not harm our bodies. In order to try and reduce the contact that we have with lead, we should try to remove it from paint, pipes and anywhere else it may be. So definitely double-check everything, to prevent health issues. It is important to understand the health effects of lead because if not caught immediately, it can lead to cancer and possibly death.

Fighting Climate Change

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/09/opinions/sutter-oregon-kids-lawsuit-climate/

As we all know, our climate is changing rapidly, and more action needs to be taken immediately. This article talks about a group of students from 8 ½ to 19 are taking action against the Obama administration and other Environmental agencies to see changes take place faster. The Obama administration has started to support climate change by cleaning coal-fired power plants, but it is not enough to prevent global warming. These children are worried because they are watching the changes take place right in front of them. Droughts, hurricanes, and floods are all affecting them. It is hurting them more because if nothing is done, they lose the land that has been in their family for generations and will watch the organisms that live there disappear.

According to the article, the government knows that the burning of fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests is increasing the amount of CO2 in the environment and is making the Earth hotter, which is contributing to global warming. With the help of a NASA Scientist, the children have taken their complaint to court. They have started by trying to do something about the fossil fuels that are extracted in the United States because they are more dangerous than people realize.

Another issue is that the Constitution talks about the rights given to U.S. citizens, but does not mention anything about the environment, which is why this battle is much harder for students. Also, the lawyers that are fighting this case seem to care more about their business and their money according to one of the children taking part.

I believe that one way to start getting the government on-board with taking action towards climate change would be to take action ourselves. Taking action towards something that we care about can show people that there are little changes that they can do to help our environment. Also, I believe that the right lawyers and companies need to get involved. For example, that may mean reaching out to professors here at Mason, or other universities and even professionals. I believe that if we come up with a plan and receive feedback, we can take it to court and show them the concrete evidence and that this is not about the money, it is about the environment and something needs to be done. Lastly, I think that if we can find a way to reach them on a personal level, it could make them realize that action needs to be taken because the climate change is affecting us all.

More Than Politics

In the political chaos of the Middle East, cultural warfare and societal conflict immediately over-shadow any environmental impacts. However, it is important to keep ecological casualties in mind when tallying the costs of international conflict and internal uncertainty.

Human intervention has made a great impact on the survival of marshes in both destruction and restoration. The region of former Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) surrounding the Euphrates and Tigris rivers was spotted with healthy marshes prior to the 1950s. As dams and the popularity of hydroelectricity boomed, many of these wetlands disappeared. The areas once covered with thriving marshes were dammed for flood control, canals, and agricultural reservoirs used for irrigation. These marshes sustained further damage in the 1990s at the hands of Saddam Hussein (former President of Iraq, 1979-2003). Upon his orders, vast areas of wetlands were drained to impede upon anti-government rebellions against his political leadership.

In the political turmoil following the end of Hussein’s rule, numerous dykes were destroyed and marshes re-flooded. Although these marshes were not originally healthy (as many of them lacked aquatic vegetation), the wetlands showed significant progress between 2004 and 2005 as signs of algae growth appeared. However, by 2008 the marshes still failed to thrive in comparison to healthy wetlands. Muddy, reddish water plagued the region, showing the ecological consistency of puddles rather than wetland ecosystems. The political and social conflict surrounding Iraq during this time can be evidenced even in the region’s water sources today.

Field research conducted by the United Nations with the collaboration of Iraqi and American scientists showed a “remarkable rate of reestablishment’ within the marshes, though their gradual restoration will continue for decades. Officials report that the affected wetlands are ecologically isolated, susceptible to local extinctions, and at risk due to low diversity. Although the discovery of algae formation presents researchers with hopes of recovery, the marshes will continue to struggle and remain unhealthy for several decades.

Help Yourself, Serve Others

In my Introduction to Environmental Policy class, we watched a documentary titled Burning the Future: Coal in America. And I have seen documentaries touching this issue before but it basically talks about the coal mining industry in West Virginia, its huge influence, and the impact it brings to the communities that have been living there for generations. I have known about the problem of mountaintop removal for many years now but it was another wake-up call to see this documentary of people who don’t live that far away from us and to see how they suffer every day because of the coal companies. They are destroying natural landscapes that have been there for thousands of years, all to contaminate the drinking water sources of these rural populations. And it brought the thought of the fear that I would feel if I had to live somewhere like that. Their homes that have been passed down through generations are nearly under attack. It comes in the form of coal ash that intrudes their breathing air and surrounds their homes. It comes in the form of the contaminated water flowing out of their faucet, forcing them to haul water from safer sources, most likely paying premiums on them. It even comes in the form of blasts heard from the destruction of their homeland. Their livelihoods are changing because of these coal companies that don’t even provide much employment to the residents in those areas.

If there is one environmental issue to ever focus on, it has to be this one. We always hear about how developing nations are in need of clean drinking water and they need our HELP. But actually, living right next to the state in where the same injustice is occurring, we have no excuse in turning the other way. Cleaner technologies need to be invested in now to drive these old coal industries to bankruptcy. Our government must not allow these companies to set their agenda for them and not address these citizens’ concerns. Our closest neighbors are suffering and each and every person should be making their grievances to be heard about it. However in the world of environmental justice, or any social justice, we must not act as their saviors. We don’t know what it is like to have water inaccessible to us, to have our simplest form of sustenance to be taken from us. We don’t know what it is like to wake up from the blasts of our backyard landscape, or find your home covered in ash. This is why we must have a mindset of SERVING a community, not helping. We serve them because they know what is best for their home, not us. And as an environmental advocate, it is not about job security for this field. You want to see a day where you no longer have to serve this community because they brought themselves up thanks to their hard work and dedication. From the documentary, we see how strong these justice leaders are in these rural areas and they are not giving up. We can all bring awareness, we have nothing to lose. This is how these issues can be set on the political agenda.

Burning the Future: Coal in America- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQPYKD4WGew

 

The Solution to Pollution

This coming weekend I will be helping Zach with his second cigarette butt cleanup. I know campus but be filthy and filled with them, but I have no idea how many people smoke, or how much. This is just one part of the pollution problem on campus and Nationwide. I think Zach and his group are doing a great thing that people will remember. By showing the impact of cigarettes by pilling them in the North Plaza later this month, Zach’s group will demonstrate how one seemingly small thing can add up, hopefully making people more aware of their actions, and the consequences of those actions.

The cigarette butt cleanup could be the beginning of something great, what if the Mason community could be invigorated to stop pollution in their every day lives? Fairfax, not only George Mason University, would be a much cleaner place. If the project was continued and expanded to include all trash, how shocked would Mason students be to learn the full impact George Mason has as a whole on the local environmental scale? Enough to pick up a cup or bottle and put it in the trash or recycling? What if we showed them how much of their trash could be recycled? It could make just one more person recycle every day. Just one more person over their lifetime can make a difference. Statistics could be shown on the estimated impacts of one person. The impact on the local plant and wildlife could also be shown through statistics. For example, how many animals are found dead on campus due to pollution.

One person can inspire many to do better. I hope Zach’s project goes well, and I am looking forward to helping him. If his event can alter the view of just one person and make them more aware, then something will have changed to make the future just a little brighter.

 

Gratuity of Public Transport

In Paris, the threshold for air pollution has been exceeded for the fifth consecutive day and still could be increasing this weekend … or even next week. Over thirty departments around the capital were affected Thursday by maximum alerts to air pollution. To reduce the rate of pollution, measures more or less pleasant, exist. The “Nouvel Observateur” highlights the main one, which I read and thought was interesting.
There is talk to make public transport on days when the pollution is high..It is the flagship measure put forward by the Minister of Ecology, Philippe Martin. The objective is simple. Pushing, when pollution peaks, the inhabitants of French cities to choose public transport instead of the car.
Paris, Caen, Rouen, Reims, Lyon and Grenoble (major French cities) offer free transport some weekends. The President of the Ile-de-France region Jean-Paul Huchon, head of the transport authority in the region, said that this gratuity would be ensured in the Ile-de-France “throughout the duration of the expected peaks of pollution. ” There will not, however, discount on weekly or monthly passes. In some cities, free should only expected for Fridays unless otherwise specified.
The challenge is to be able to absorb these additional users who have agreed to leave their cars at home. Another challenge would be getting the companies managing public transport to agree to make public transport free throughout certain weeks when pollution is high. Public transport is mostly used during the week to access work and so it would minimize pollution on those days.
In America, the use of cars is more frequent because of the lack of accessibility to public transport in some states. I think it would definitely encourage people to use the metro and the bus if there were some days when it was free to ride.