Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It seems that when there are not so many resources we become more "resourceful"!
Have a look at this video:
Where we can see that it is easy to take things for granted when there is abundance!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Water use in fire fight!

Recent news about the amount of water used in the LA Fire are informative and interesting More than one year's supply of water has been used!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Conservation in our own backyard by Eric, Jennifer, and Danielle

Eric Blevins, Jennifer Rattanapaibooncharoen, Danielle Springer
PHS: 100 Environmental Studies Online
Dr. David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
September 23, 2009

Biological Diversity is the sum total of all organisms in an area, taking into account the diversity of species, their genes, their populations, and their communities.
As humans, we are depleting the Earth’s diversity of life. Global extinction of plants and animals is more than a thousand times higher than typical throughout life’s history on Earth because of humans.
A solution to global biodiversity is most effectively obtained through site conservation. The best approach to doing so is tackling the issues on a larger scale, since species cannot be conserved one at a time. Site-level conservation is prioritized by vulnerability and irreplaceability.
The species that are found to be in need of conservation the most are dealt with sooner than species that are not in as great of danger.
Endangered Species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it’s either few in numbers, or is threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. An endangered species is usually a taxonomic species, but may be another significant group.
White-tailed Deer:
The White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus) is also called the Virginia Deer. It has two subspecies that are currently endangered. The Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) and the Columbian White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus leucurus).
White-tailed Deer can be found and is listed as endangered in Florida, Oregon and Washington (along the Columbian River). The status/date they were last listed as endangered was March 11, 1967.
Bald Eagle :
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey found in North America. It is most recognizable as the national bird and symbol of the United States. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle. Bald Eagles can be found near large open bodies of water with an abundant food supply and old growth trees. They are found in most of Canada, Alaska, the continental U.S., and northern Mexico.
The species was on the brink of extintion in the late 20th century in the continental U.S. while flourishing in Canada and Alaska. It now has a stable population and has officially been removed from the U.S. federal governments list of endangered species. The Bald Eagle was officially reclassified from “Endangered” to “Threatened” on July 12, 1995 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On July 6, 1999 a proposal was initiated “To Remove the Bald Eagle in the Lower 48 States from the The List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife” and was delisted on June 28, 2007.
Green Sea Turtles :
Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia Mydas) are one of the largest and most widespread of all marine turtles. They can be found in the warm tropical waters of New England, South Africa and in the Pacific from Western Africa to the Americas.
Found only in tropical waters, these turtles rarely leave the water except for mating and nesting. Sea turtles will literally migrate hundreds of miles across the ocean to the place where they hatched to mate.
Green sea turtles are mainly threatened by predation by animals and humans. They are overharvested for their meat and eggs. Their meat is a delicacy and is highly prized. The cartilage underneath the plastron is used for making turtle soup.
Another major threat to Green Sea Turtles are fishermen who accidentally catch them in their fishing nets; hence, Green Sea Turtles are legally protected in the United States, and in United Kingdom from excess harvesting. The status/date they were listed as endangered was July 28, 1978.
Stellar Sea-lion:
Stellar Sea-lions (Eumetopias Jubatus) are also known as the Northern Sea-lions and are the largest of all seals and sea-lions. Steller sea-lions are both land and sea creatures that prefer colder waters. When not in the water, adults can mostly be found on rock shelves, ledges and sand beaches where they gather to breed and give birth.
Steller sea-lion numbers have declined because of accidental capture in fishnets, loss of food source to fishermen, and hunting. Some are shot each year by fishermen who consider them competition or pests to the fishing industry.
This species is now legally protected by the United States, and intentional killing of any Stellar sea-lion is prohibited. They are currently endangered in the following locations: Alaska, California, Canada, North Pacific Ocean, Oregon, Russia, Washington. The status/date they were listed as endangered was April 10, 1990.
Humpback Whale :
Humpback Whale (Megaptera Novaeangliae) are commonly found in coastal or shelf waters of the northern oceans in the summer for feeding. In the winter, they migrate to tropical or subtropical waters where they mate and raise their calves. They are found in the waters of the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific Oceans, the Bering Sea and the waters surrounding Antarctica.
There are only about 6,000 Humpback Whales left in the oceans. In the early 1900s whaling was very popular; thus, resulting in the killing of over 60,000 whales. Commercial whaling has been banned since the late 1950s, and currently whaling has been minimized significantly. However, the threats today still include accidental deaths by entanglement in fishing gear or collisions with ships. This has significantly caused the Humpback Whale’s endangerment. The status/date they were listed as endangered was June 2, 1970.

Causes of Endangerment
Habitat Destruction:
Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitats are rendered unable to functionally support the present species. In this process, the organisms which previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction is currently ranked as the most important cause of species extinction worldwide. It is a process of environmental change important in evolution and conservation biology.
Human activity has caused habitat destruction for the sole purpose of harvesting natural resources for industrialization and urbanization; hence, clearing habitats for is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging, trawling, agriculture use, and urban sprawl.
Additional causes include habitat fragmentation, geological processes, climate change, invasive species, ecosystem nutrient change and human activities as mentioned.
A species that faces overexploitation is one that may become severely endangered or even extinct due to the rate in which the species is being exhausted or used.
Another form of overexploitation is the trade in animal parts. Many species continue to suffer high rates of exploitation where human demands for items like rhino horns and tiger bones are on the rise in several areas of Asia. Traditional medicines made from these animal parts create a strong market that results in endangerment.
Introduction of Exotic Species:
Exotic species are interlopers. These species are introduced into new environments by way of human activities, either intentionally or accidentally. These exotic interlopers are seen as foreign elements by the native species.
Native species are those plants and animals that are part of a specific geographic area. They have been a part of a particular biological landscape for a long period of time and are well adapted to their local environment. Native species are accustomed to the presence of other native species within the same general habitat, but do not enjoy the company of the foreign species.
Exotic species may seriously disrupt delicate ecological balances and may produce unintended yet harmful consequences. The worst of these unintended yet harmful consequences arise when exotic species put native species in jeopardy by preying on them. This can alter the natural habitat and may cause a greater competition for food.
Species have been biologically introduced to environments all over the world. The most destructive effects have occurred on islands where the introduction of exotic insects, rats, pigs, cats, and other foreign species have actually caused the endangerment and extinction of hundreds of native species. Introduction of exotic species is certainly a significant factor leading to endangerment.
Much More:
Disease, pollution, and limited distribution are more factors that threaten various plant and animal species. If a species does not have the natural genetic protection against particular pathogens, an introduced disease can have severe effects on that specie.
Why Even Bother ?
Medicines have been made from plants for centuries. $150 billion in sales are generated each year from pharmaceutical products which were created by studying chemical compounds present in wild animals. Rosy periwinkle produces compounds that treat Hodgkin’s disease and a form of leukemia. In Australia, a rare species of cork (Duboisia leichhardtii) provides hyoscine which is used to treat cancer, stomach disorders and motion sickness.
Genetic diversity within crop species and their ancestors is enormously valuable. New potential food crops are waiting to be used. Sweetener that is 3000x sweeter than sugar and babassu palm, which produces more vegetable oil than any other plant are some examples. Salt-tolerant grasses and trees are available and farmers can water them with salt water. These plants also produce animal feed.
High levels of biodiversity has been found to increase the stability and resilience of communities and ecosystems.

Costa Rica was paid $1.1 million so that a pharmaceutical company called Mereck, could research organisms that can provide new drugs, foods, medicines, or other valuable products. The controversy involved is that they would be harvesting indigenous species to create commercial products without compensating the country of origin, this is called biopiracy. Mereck pharmaceutical company has solved this issue by paying Costa Rica the $1.1 million.
A direct source of income is brought by tourism. It brings jobs and income to areas that otherwise might be poverty-sticken. Costa Rica benefits from their rainforests, Australia has their Great Barrier reef, Belize has reefs, caves, and rainforests. Kenya and Tanzania have the Savanna wildlife and even the United States of America has national parks which draw in millions of visitors, domestically and from all around the world.
How You Can Help
Conserve Habitats:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of you, the American public. They manage a 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System with more than 530 individual refuges, wetlands, and special management areas. They operate 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 78 ecological services field stations; local offices near to you, where we work to conserve natural resources. They enforce Federal wildlife protection laws, such as the Endangered Species Act. They manage migratory birds and restore nationally significant fisheries; conserve wetlands, and help foreign governments with their conservation efforts. (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009)
Make Space:
Planning is necessary for attractive and productive wildlife habitat. You have both a horizontal area to work with -- the size of your lot -- as well as a vertical area that stretches from your soil to the treetops. Trees and shrubs are the backbone of any landscaping design and are important for wildlife shelter.
v Identify all existing plants, if any. Note
v Make a sketch of your yard noting all existing plants, buildings, utilities, and pathways. You may even consider removing some plants. In some cases, trees have been planted too close to buildings or have grown much large
v Add trees, shrubs, flowers, and groundcovers to your plan
v Plant a variety of trees first. Select evergreen species for year-round cover and shelter. Select fruit or nut-bearing plants for a food source.
v Select plants that flower and bear fruit at different times of the year. Some shrubs that produce berries can provide food throughout the year
v Fill in with smaller shade-tolerant understory trees and shrubs
v Wildlife is more likely to come out into the open for viewing when the boundary of the yard is designed and maintained as a retreat for animals.
Recycle, Reduce, & Reuse:
Recycling Saves Natural Resources. Our finite reserves of natural resources are being depleted rapidly, particularly with the increasing use of disposable products and packaging. It is projected that Americans will generate 218 million tons of waste by 2000, 152 million tons of that is expected to be disposed of in landfills and incinerators (California Department of Conservation 2009)
Recycling Reduces Pollution Risks. Recycling reduces environmental damage caused by mining, logging and manufacturing raw materials. Recycling reduces the risks of air and water pollution from manufacturing processes. Recycling paper cuts air pollution by about 75%. Substituting steel scrap for virgin ore reduces air emissions by 85% and water pollution by 76% (California Department of Conservation 2009).
Plant Native Plants:
Native species are those that occur in the region in which they evolved. Plants evolve over geologic time in response to physical and biotic processes characteristic of a region: the climate, soils, timing of rainfall, drought, and frost; and interactions with the other species inhabiting the local community (Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program 2009).
The use of native plants is on the rise across the country as more people discover their many benefits. An ever-widening selection of vigorous, nursery-propagated native plants is available from specialty growers and many larger nurseries as a result of this increased demand (Department of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program 2009).
In North America, plant species are generally described as native if they occurred here prior to European settlement. This distinction is made because of the large-scale changes that have occurred since the arrival of the European settlers.
The benefit of growing plants within the region they evolved is they are more likely to thrive under the local conditions while being less likely to invade new habitats. Native plants are well adapted to local environmental conditions, maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and often require less fertilizer and pesticides than many alien plants (Department of Conservation and RecreationNatural Heritage Program 2009).
Join An Organization:
Atlantic Salmon Federation, The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is an international nonprofit organization which promotes the conservation and wise management of the Atlantic salmon and its natural habitat. The ASF has played a key role in restoring Atlantic salmon runs to the rivers of New England, eastern Canada and abroad since 1948. (Atlantic Salmon Federation 2009,
Laws to Help
Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act:
This law provides for the protection of the bald eagle (the national emblem) and the golden eagle by prohibiting, except under certain specified conditions, the taking, possession and commerce of such birds. The 1972 amendments increased penalties for violating provisions of the Act or regulations issued pursuant thereto and strengthened other enforcement measures. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act. (Digest of Federal Resource Law 2009).
Airborne Hunting Act:
This Act, Public Law 92-159, approved November 18, 1971 (85 Stat. 480) and subsequently amended by P.L. 92-502, approved October 28, 1972 (86 Stat. 905) added to the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 a new section 13 (16 U.S.C. 742j-l), which is commonly referred to as the Airborne Hunting Act or Shooting from Aircraft Act, prohibits shooting or attempting to shoot or harassing any bird, fish, or other animal from aircraft except for certain specified reasons, including protection of wildlife, livestock, and human life as authorized by a Federal or State issued license or permit. States authorized to issue permits are required to file reports with the Secretary of the Interior containing information on any permits issued. (Digest of Federal Resource Law 2009).
Endangered Species Act:
The 1973 Act implemented the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (T.I.A.S. 8249), signed by the United States on March 3, 1973, and the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere (50 Stat. 1354), signed by the United States on October 12, 1940.
Through federal action and by encouraging the establishment of state programs, the 1973 Endangered Species Act provided for the conservation of ecosystems upon which threatened and endangered species of fish, wildlife, and plants depend. (Digest of Federal Resource Law 2009)
Habitat loss presents the single greatest threat to Oregon’s biodiversity, and the extent of this threat can be approximated from species-area curves and rates of habitat loss. The spread of non-native species threatens many local species with extinction, and pushes the world's biota toward a more uniform and widely distributed sub-set of survivors. Climate change threatens to force species and ecosystems to migrate toward higher latitudes, with no guarantee of suitable habitat or access routes. These three factors are of great concern. Through action from citizens, community organizers, and the federal government, the damage can stopped and reversed.
2009 Atlantic Salmon Federation
Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
2009 California Department of Conservation
Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
2006 Department of Conservation and RecreationNatural? Heritage Program
Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
2009 Digest of Federal Resource Law Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
Earth’s Endangered Creatures Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
Endangered Species Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
2009 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Contact@
Retrieved 22 SEPT 09
W.E.S. – Endangered Species

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cleaning up the mess!

"Superfunds" were created in order to clean the mess that some industries leave behind when they are dissolved. An interesting article in The Oregonian
gives an account of one here in Oregon that is worth mentioning. EPA is proposing to put the old Black Butte mercury mine in the list of high priority cleanup sites.

Save our Planet by Eric Blevins

Earth is an awesome place to live, as far as we know, its the only one of its kind. With all of the vast amount of precious resources, its no wonder so many movies have been made about other civilization from distant worlds that have wanted to conquer us. The verse “from sea to shinning sea” has a definite true meaning too the beauty it describes.With all of this beauty at our finger tips, why would anyone want to cause harm to it, for the sake of expansion, profit, or industrialization? The choices we make in our free society about resource use can have grave consequences if we don’t use them wisely and responsibly. These choices can negatively influence the biodiversity in an area.The text Environment: The Science Behind the Stories, defines biodiversity as the sum of all organisms in an area (Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 115) Biological diversity or biodiversity is the diversity of plant and animal life in a particular habitat.The negative impact of population growth and over consumption can lead to the decline of many organisms or extinction. (Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 295) According to our text there is a connection to biodiversity loss and extinction, Extinction is only part of the effects of biodiversity loss. Some of the major threats to biodiversity are the loss of species and ecosystems caused by a growing human population. As the human population passes the six billion mark, we have used roughly half of the world’s forests. We use roughly half of the world's net primary productivity for human use. We use most available fresh water, and we harvest virtually all of the available productivity of the oceans. It may be a coincidence, but it seems to me that the relationship between human usage and species disappearing and ecosystems being destroyed are related to each other. (Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 295)Many species today have been either diminished or eradicated.” (Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 304) It’s as if the “circle of life “is on fire going. This may not have too much of impact on you or me, we can run down to the nearest Subway and grab a bite, but for developing nations it can be drastic. I spent 18 months chasing down Taliban in Afghanistan, and clean water was hard to come by. You would be surprised at the value of bottled water. Young children were not interested in chocolate, they wanted my water.The negative impact on biodiversity also has a trickle down effect on our planets ecosystem. A perfect example of this is when, a larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops; greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms; and healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters.Ecosystems are defined by the text “a collection of living things and the environment in which they live” (Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 180). Biodiversity helps ecosystem maintain its productivity. The text states that high level of biodiversity helps increase the stability of organism communities. It acts as a natural shield from disturbances. It could be looked at as nature’s tolerance to change. Just as we have developed immunity to certain types of disease. Everything is linked together and if one thing fails the whole house can come crashing down. (Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 311)There are many other actions that also contribute to population depletion of certain species. Over hunting , poaching and over harvesting can cause, habitat alteration. Some causes such as climate change are still being debated. There always seems to be politics in the middle of science when it comes to environmental protection. Extinction can also be Mother Nature’s way of cleansing the planet. I am not to sure how the dinosaurs and us would have co- existed. Our text states, “If organisms did not naturally go extinct, we would be over run by dinosaurs, trilobites, ammonites, and the millions of other types of creatures that vanished from Earth long before humans appeared”.(Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 301) Science has proven there have been five mass extinctions during the past half- billion years of Earth history. “At the end of the Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic, and Cretaceous periods, 50-95% of the world’s species appear to have gone extinct. This can compared with forest fires today. It seems as if the opinion of such fires is changing. I am not too sure if Smokey would agree. The cleansing process allows our ecosystem and biodiversity to rebound to equal or higher levels, but it takes millions of years”. (Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 302) I don’t want my generation to be responsible for the next “mass extinction”. There is documentation of hundreds of cases of “human induced species extinction over the past few years such as the “Gray Wolf”, Do Do , and almost the Blue Whale. Our own national icon the “Bald Eagle” has had to fight for its survival as well. Have you seen the claws on that thing, I would not want to fight one. (Withgott & Brennan, 2006, p 302) Today, extinction rates are higher than normal due to our accelerated population growth. Making room for modern society by development of land reduces natural habitat which in turn declines the population of our endangered species, which may lead to starvation and extinction. “The worst thing that can happen during the 1980s is not energy depletion, economic collapse, limited nuclear war, or conquest by a totalitarian government. As terrible as these catastrophes would be for us, they can be repaired within a few generations. The one process ongoing in the 1980s that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly that our descendents are least likely to forgive us.”- E.O. Wilson, 1985In conclusion, Biodiversity refers to the number and variety of species, of ecosystems, and of the genetic variation contained within species. Roughly 1.4 million species are known to science, but because many species are recorded, an estimated 10-30 million species likely exists at present. Biodiversity is threatened by the sum of all human activities. It is useful to group threats into the categories of over-hunting, habitat destruction, and invasion of non-native species, domino effects, pollution, and climate change. Habitat loss presents the single greatest threat to world biodiversity, and the extent of this threat can be approximated from species-area curves and rates of habitat loss. The spread of non-native species threatens many local species with extinction, and pushes the world's biota toward a more uniform and widely distributed sub-set of survivors. Climate change threatens to force species and ecosystems to migrate toward higher latitudes, with no guarantee of suitable habitat or access routes. These three factors thus are of special concern.
PHS 100 Environmental Studies. Professor: David Terrell
Warner Pacific College September 21, 2009,
References:Wilson, E. O. 1971. The Insect Societies. Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA.
Withgott, J. , & Brennan, S. (2008). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories (3rded.). New York. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN: 13: 978-0-8053-9573-

Monday, September 14, 2009

Energy efficiency and conservation

When talking about energy most discussion goes around the production and use and a little goes around efficiency and conservation but this Sunday the Oregonian has expanded the discussion in this topic. There is a compelling argument to use energy more efficiently because we can actually save equivalent ammounts as we are able to produce by conservation.