During Earth Week a few weeks ago, there was a shoe drive on campus. Fifty shoes were collected during the week.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
During Earth Week a few weeks ago, there was a shoe drive on campus. Fifty shoes were collected during the week.
Friday, April 29, 2011
The EPA has online pages for kids of all ages. For the younger kids there is an online section for the kids. It is the "environmental kids club". This club contains activities and games that are all educational. There are games, wordsearches, funny videos, and quizes. All provide information about things such as recycling, water, and climate change. The club also provides links to science fair project ideas and an art room.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
The first chapter of his book is titled "Don't be so Cerebral". In this chapter he challenges scientists and those who communicate science for a living to break out of their science training and become more public oriented. As scientists, we need to learn how to phase out confusing jargon and put complex topics into easier terms and concepts in order for our message to reach a greater audience. In order to do this he says that scientists need to get out of of the pattern of only using their heads and start using more of their heart, gut, and sex organs. By using their heart scientists can be sincere in their presentation of information, by using their gut scientists can relay information with humor an intuition, and finally through the use of sex appeal scientists will more effectively catch people's attention.
In the third chapter of his book, "Don't be Such a Poor Storyteller", Olson describes the importance of a storytelling. He describes an arousal and fulfill method where a storyteller should peak people's interest and then fulfill their desire to learn more exciting information. Without this effective story model, the message will not be effective. If people aren't aroused they will never get engaged with the message and if people aren't aroused they will walk away from a story unsatisfied. An effective story should also have a clear beginning, climax, and end. The three part story makes it easy for people to follow and since storytelling is how we communicate, it is important for scientists to also follow this model.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Jakki Dehn has created and released Rematerialise, a catalogue that has taken 17 years to create. Rematerialise contains more than 1,200 eco-friendly products for contruction industry uses that have come from more than 15 countries. Rematerialise will make its debut at EcoBuild, which is the world's largest event for showing sustainable industrial materials. The materials are open for people to come and touch and interact with. This is beneficial because usually one would not be able to see the materials until they were already ordered and delivered.
What all do these materials entail? The products of Rematerialise come from recycled materials, resources that are abundant and easy to grow, and from resources that are rarely used and often overlooked. Some examples of these products include insulation that is made from mushrooms. The insulation was only an inch thick but when one's hand was put on one side and a blowtorch on the other, the person could not feel any heat through the material. There are also countertops made from recycled glass from cars and building sites. These countertops are comparable to the highly appeasing granite. Some other used materials include coffee grounds, currency, mobile phones, aeroplane windscreens, and fibers from banana plant stems. Creative, right?
Sustainable material manufacturers and producers can submit their ideas to the program for consideration. If the ideas are liked then they might become available in the Rematerialise library.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Cryogenic carbon capture, patent pending, is used to capture CO2 from the emissions being produced by power plants. The gases produced by these power plants is filtered so that a nearly pure stream of CO2 can be separated from the rest of the emissions. This method could possibly be one of the cheaper ways of removing CO2 from power plant emissions and capturing this harmful compound.
This method does not require the building of a new facility for treatment of the gases. The emissions produced by the power plant can be processed on site and do not have to be transferred to a new cleaning facility. This can cut down on costs involved in building an off-site filtering and cleaning facility and can therefore be more cost effective than other techniques.
This technique can also separate other contaminants of the emissions being produced as well. Contaminants such as SO2, NO4, and mercury can be condensed out of the emissions during the process of condensing the CO2. The cooling of the CO2 can also be used to cool the new emissions as they pass through the processing chamber.
This can save on energy costs because the energy from CO2 capture can be harvested and used to continue the process of removing CO2 and other contaminants from the plant's emissions. Because of the multi-faceted benefits of this process, such as removing more than one pollutant and self-cooling mechanisms, this is one of the more promising sustainable solutions to pollutant removal from power plant emissions.
Cryogenic Carbon Capture Status
Sustainable Energy Solutions
It has become very important for people of higher education to be effective at educating others and providing them with useful information about their surroundings. One of the biggest challenges that educators face is how to effectively get their points across and to illustrate why what they are teaching is important. Environmental education is of great importance and there needs to be ways to effectively educate people about the environmental concerns that can affect them on a daily basis.
Many people are hands-on, visual types of learners. Being one of these types of learners myself, I can speak from experience when I say that it is much easier for some people to grasp concepts when they are able to see what is being taught and are able to interact with the instructor. Outdoor education can be used for these types of learners to effectively educate about environmental issues in a specific area. Showing the people what is actually going on instead of just telling them can have a greater impact on whether they care or whether they will remember the information you present them with.
When choosing how to educate people about the environment, it is important for educators to keep in mind their intended audience. If they are trying to educate young children, it would be important to include things that will keep their attention for a longer period of time and to bring the information down to a level in which they will understand what the educator is trying to get across. If the intended audience is higher level scholars, the important information that will hit home for them will be a completely different set of statistics and illustrations than when dealing with the smaller children.
Another important aspect of environmental education is that it must provide ways that the students can make a difference. If they are learning about all the environmental issues of an area, more likely than not, they will seek ways that they can make a difference and can become a positive influence on protecting the environment. If there is no "moral of the story" or "plan of action" that people can take away from the experience, they really have not learned very much. Environmental communication and education is very important and can be very effective if used correctly. Hopefully one day the environmental education programs will make a difference in many peoples lives and change can come about.
For more information: Elements of Effective Environmental Education Programs
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
There are several ways to increase environmental awareness and education in our communities. These ways include environmental rights (responsibilities and consequences), media usage, awareness campaigns, teaching environmental issues in the classroom, increasing awareness in target groups and the encouragement of public participation. Many sectors of society are involved in developing and delivering educational courses and campaigns. Theses include national, regional and local government bodies, domestic and international organizations, school systems, media and even celebrities.
The Media can be a powerful ally when trying to educate the public. In today's society, our primary source of information comes from computers, televisions or other electronic devices. If we can get these organizations to work alongside the media, they can educate those delivering the news through briefings. They can then inform the public about the situation. Other countries have had success utilizing the media to publicize environmental conferences and and public awareness campaigns. Information centers available to the public can also help to educate journalists with basic environmental information on a specific topic. These information centers should have recently published information like press releases, have a public library with many environmental sources and contain information on actively debated issues.
Community leaders have a very influential role in the community. The education of these community leaders can help organizations implement environmental procedures. When putting together a campaign for a specific area one must take into consideration several things. The campaign must be in the local language, it must be in a form that appeals to the people (posters, radio, TV) and it must contain a clear message in plain language so the general population can understand it.
Other approaches used to increase awareness include sustainable environmental education, information centers, environmental raffles and environmental holidays. Environmental raffles can be used to educate the public while raising funds for the organizations.
To summarize, public environmental awareness and education can be increased by the following actions:
- Generating public awareness and environmental education, particularly among targeted groups, about relevant laws and regulations and about their rights, interests, duties and responsibilities, as well as about the social, environmental and economic consequences of non-compliance
- Promoting responsible action in the community through the media by involving key public players (government officials)
- Organizing campaigns for fostering environmental awareness among communities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and industrial and trade associations
- Inclusion of awareness and environmental educational programmes in schools and other educational establishments as part of education
- Organizing campaigns for increasing environmental awareness and environmental educational programs
- Organizing campaigns for encouraging public involvement in monitoring of compliance.
Monday, April 11, 2011
A pollinating insect on a Carpobrotus affine acinaciformis flowerhead.
Using empirical tests, a pioneering study shows how plant species, such as the prickly pear, invade Mediterranean ecosystems, and can either rob the native plants of pollinating insects, or, surprisingly, can attract them, thus benefiting the whole plant community, such as in the case of balsam. The research contradicts the hypothesis of the “floral market” whereby only the invasive flowers are seen to benefit and the native flowers are no longer visited by pollinating insects.
Biological invasions (species transported by humans outside their region of origin to other regions where these species become established and expand) are one of the major causes of the loss of biodiversity. The plants fight for nutrients, space and light, and for pollinating insects.
An article about this subject has been published in the “Oecología” [Oecology] journal by scientists at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), [the Autonomous University, Barcelona], the Biological Station, Donana, CSIC [the Spanish National Research Council] and the Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados (IMEDEA) [Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies]. According to the research, the existence of invasive plants in invaded sites can increase visits from insects to the majority of native plants. In this way the “floral market” hypothesis in which only the invasive flowers are seen to benefit and the native flowers are no longer visited by insects is contradicted.
Ignasi Bartomeus, a researcher at the UAB, and the main author of the study, points out some important details to SINC: “the invasions do not follow a single pattern: for this reason it is necessary to understand the mechanisms and structure whereby the native species compete”.
The two invasive plants under study, Opuntia stricata – a type of prickly pear – and Carpobrotus affine acinaciformis – also called Sally-my-handsome or balsam – have more eye-catching flowers and are richer in pollen that the rest of the native plants and receive many more insect visits that the latter.
The study reveals that the invasive plants play a central role in the plant pollination network. This is because during the period of the study, Opuntia stricta received 30.9% of insect visits, compared to 43.4% for Carpobrotus affine acinaciformis.
The scientists discovered that the more resources there are in the plant community, the more pollinators will be attracted towards all of the plants, although it is still not known whether the impact on the seeds of the native plant is positive or not. This is the case for Carpobrotus, which can impact upon the pollination of the native plants.
The researchers observed 23 pollinating insects for Carpobrotus and 17 for Opuntia. Compared to the native plants, the two invasive plants have a different impact. In the first case, there was no insect that was an exclusive pollinator, whereas in the second case, the carpenter bee (Xylocopa violacea) was an exclusive pollinator. “The Opuntia flowers monopolise the market, attracting all the pollinating insects in the area to their flowers, whereas the Carpobrotus attracts more pollinating insects to the area, but all the plants are seen to benefit”, Bartomeus points out.
The study concludes that Carpobrotus can improve the reproduction of the native plants whereas Opuntia reduces it. Bartomeus confirms to SINC that “the presence of the invasive plants can alter the structure of the plant community, and it is difficult to predict the long-term effects of this.”
Bartomeus I., Vila M., Santamaría L. Contrasting effects of invasive plants in plant-pollinator networks. Oecologia 155(4): 761-770 ABR 2008. doi: 10.1007/s00442-007-0946-1
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
In New England the European crab (Carcinus maenas) and the Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus) are two invasive species that are causing a lot of harm... to each other. Ecologists had first expected to see that the two species would cause double the harm to the area and its organisms but really they are cancelling each other out.
The European crab came to New England by ship in the 1800s, ate through the American soft-shell clam industry, and spread rapidly into Canada and the southeastern United States. The Asian shore crab came over from Asia by ship in the 1980s. It was attracted to the same rocky holes and habitats as the European crab but it mostly fed on algae.
Upon being studied, the crabs do not do much harm to native plant and animal species. Most of the focus is on each other. The Asian shore crab would often drive the European crab from its rocky homes. Also, when the Asian shore crab was in the presence of the European crab, this caused the European crab to eat less shellfish and less food overall. The European crab's population grew slowly due to the bullying from the Asian shore crab but it is known to often get its revenge because the European crab was sometimes observed feasting on the Asian shore crab.
From this information, ecologists have drawn the conclusion that when there are two similar invasives living in one area, they often mutually attack one another. This information can better help conservationalists control invasive species. Previously a species may have purposely been introduced to kill the invasive but now it is known that if there is an invasive that a species that needs the same habitat and food as the invasive should be introduced. This creates competition and keeps either species from harming natives.
Nearly one in six (15%) of every animal species in Europe is threatened for extinction. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) carried out the assessment of all European mammals. Besides that every 1 of 6 are threatened for extinction, it was found that more than a quarter of all populations are declining. Of Europe's marine mammals, 22% are classified as threatened by extinction. Also, 13% of all European birds are threatened with extinction. These numbers are likely to be higher because 44% of all species were classified as "data deficient" which means that all of the necessary data could not be collected. Of those threatened species, the Iberian Lynx and the Mediterranean Monk Seal are at the top of the list as critically endangered, both of which reside in Europe. The Arctic Fox and European mink are also a concern, along with the other two critically endangered species. Only 8%, although better than no percent, of all of the mammals were observed to be on an increasing trend in population numbers. The European Bison is one that has come back from the brink of extinction, with its last members saved in zoos and then re-introduced into their environments.
Along with many other areas of the world the main cause for the decline in population numbers is because of habitat loss and destruction, whether it be deforestation or wetland drainage. The second largest cause is pollution and the third is from over-harvesting. For marine species, the biggest cause of population loss is because of pollution and accidents (ship collisions). Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said that Europe needs to decrease the level of biodiversity loss and create better methods for protecting their threatened and endangered species, along with all of their species overall.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
In the past 30 years, there have been major reductions in the amphibian populations around the world. These reductions have been due to viruses and other pathogens, climate change, and habitat destruction. Habitat destruction has been one of the most significant sources of declines in amphibian populations but pathogens are steadily becoming more evident as a major cause of these declines. One of the big pathogenic amphibian killers has been a fungal skin disease called chytridiomycosis. This fungus was originally discovered to be a cause of amphibian declines in Australia. Now it has been found that it is the source for declines all around the world.
There have been many species of frogs, salamanders, and caecilians that have gone extinct due to these various changes in habitat, climate, and pathogens. At least 120 species of frogs have gone extinct in Panama alone since 1980. Today there are conservation agencies and zoos that are making an effort to save some of the more critical frog populations in Panama. They are trying to develop techniques that could be used to try and bring the frog populations back through captive breeding.
One species in particular, Hyloscirtus colymba, has been of interest because of its rapidly declining wild population. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project took on the project of trying to breed this frog in captivity. Apparently this frog is very hard to maintain and to keep alive in captivity. It has been a great accomplishment of this conservation project to successfully breed and keep 28 adult frogs alive.
They did some extensive work on figuring what the best techniques would be to care for the frogs in order to keep them healthy in captivity. Because they are so hard to keep alive, there has been very little work done with this particular species. These conservationists have come up with several ways to keep these frogs healthy and fit enough to reproduce. The techniques that they have perfected could possibly be used to help save other critically endangered frog species.
Visit the ScienceDaily article for further information
Friday, April 1, 2011
The wood bison is also called the mountain bison or mountain buffalo, and is a larger cousin to the plains bison. The wood bison was thought to have been extinct through North America until they were found in Alberta, Canada. In 1957 a herd of about 200 was found. Their population is now about 2,000 thanks to the protection and restoration efforts of the Canadian government.