Chemistry and the Environment
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I strongly agree with you that municipalities need to find new ways of waste disposal because landfill spaces are rare and it is a threat to the environment. You proposed compost as an efficient way to dispose of the organic waste and I found one city in the United-State that is not only mastering this technique but also the overall champion of zero waste. San-Francisco will soon reach his goal of 100% recycled waste and is proving to the world that this objective is possible and profitable. The Pier 96 is the 20000 m2 biggest center of recycling in the world and was build to achieve a goal they established in 2013 to have zero waste by the year 2020. In 2015, they were already at 80% of recycled waste, which mean they are getting very close to their objective. In this huge recycling center of San Fransisco, the organic matter that is collected at night is used to produce 650 tons of compost that is then sold to the farms in the region. What is also great with the Pier 96 is that it created 178 jobs really well paid and reserved for people living in poor neighbourhoods. Furthermore, the enormous Hilton Hotel of this city has, since 2000, compost all leftovers from its 7500 meal served daily. They were able to save 250000 dollars per year just by reducing the costs related to the picking up of waste. This is why in 2005, the 4500 restaurants in the city followed the Hilton example and started to compost. I think that San Francisco sends a very positive image to other big cities and prove them that everything is achievable.
The impacts of meat consumption on the environment are of great concern as you mention in your article. Nevertheless, they are often overlooked by environmentalists. Hence, I congratulate you for having taken the time to explore this issue.
First, I completely agree that food production takes a large portion of the US land area. As a matter of fact, this is a global problem. Specifically, the livestock production takes 70% of all agricultural land, and 30% of the Earth’s global surface (Ilea, 2). Thus, one of the main causes of global deforestation is animal farming (Ilea 8). Indeed, large areas are necessary for animals to graze, and for the production of their feed (Ilea 8). For example, from 1990 to 2000, the Amazon rainforest lost “an area twice the size of Portugal […], most of it to pasture” (Ilea 8). Similarly, 50% of the global production of corn and 80% of that of soy is intended to feed farm animals (Ilea 8). As you partly noted, meat production can, as a result, cause biodiversity losses, soil erosion, and deforestation (Ilea 8).
However, while reading your second paragraph I did not see how your argument proved your conclusion. Indeed, while you state that the US food production, may it be for meat or for plant, use a large amount of energy and is not sustainable, you conclude that a vegan diet is much more sustainable than a meat-based one. Although your conclusion is reasonable, the statistics you provide do not prove it. Nevertheless, in addition to the other environmental consequences aforementioned, the livestock sector does have a significant impact on global warming. As a matter of fact, the livestock sector is responsible for 18% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than those of all transport (Ilea 2). More specifically, meat production is responsible for 68% of anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions, 64% of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, and 35–40% of anthropogenic methane emissions (Ilea 4). While methane and nitrous oxide respectively have a global warming potential 23 and 296, nitrous oxide also contribution to the ozone depletion and ammonia plays a significant role in the acidification of rain (Ilea 4).
Similarly, meat production also consumes much more water than the production of cereal, as you noted. Nevertheless, the statistics you provide do not match those I found. Indeed, you mention that producing 1 kg of animal protein requires 100 times more water than 1 kg of grain. What I found, however, is that the production of 1 kg of meat takes from 2.5 to 20 times more water than the production of 1 kg of grain (Ilea 9). As a result, “diets based on meat from grain-fed cattle may take two times more water than pure vegetarian ones” (Ilea 9). Nonetheless, this is a real problem, especially with increasing water shortages that are expected; in fact, “64% of the world’s population is expected to live in water-stressed sectors by 2025” (Ilea 9). Furthermore, the nutrients from livestock’s manure are important sources of water pollution (Ilea 9).
Finally, the rapid population growth will indeed make all these problems worse if no changes are made. The population of the United States is indeed expected to increase, as the projections are now expecting, to 447,883,000 people in 2100 (United Nations, 28).
Hence, while some suggest that the population growth should be controlled, it is certain that developed countries’ consumption of animal products will need to be decreased (Ilea 12). In fact, if the global trend is not changed, the world livestock will consume as much as 4 billion people by 2050 (Ilea 12).
United Nations. “World Population Prospects.” Department of Economic and Social
Affairs, 2017, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2017_KeyFindings.pdf
Ilea, Ramona C. "Intensive Livestock Farming: Global Trends, Increased Environmental
Concerns, and Ethical Solutions." Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, vol. 22, no. 2, 2009, pp. 153-167, Research Library, https://proquest-crc.proxy.ccsr.qc.ca/docview/196572554?accountid=44391, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10806-008-9136-3.
The article you have written on wind energy is extremely interesting. You bring up a great point near the end stating that wind power is the most affordable form of generating energy, costing around 2 to 6 cents per kilo-watt hour. I believe that, such an investment will prove worthy as eventually expenditures will never surpass the initial investment, thus elevating profit margins for years to come. Also, something that wasn’t mentioned in the article that could potentially increase desirability for wind energy is if studies were made to analyse the costs associated when the government internalizes externalities of non-renewable energy methods. Polluting companies are never charged directly with health problems, and ailments suffered by society, although, the government will have to subsidize potential treatments and medical needs of civilians affected by the pollution of certain energy methods. Another interesting point that I would like to add is regarding employment and wind turbines. A lot of politicians and officials believe that prioritizing wind power energy will decrease labour resulting in a loss of jobs. This, in my opinion is in part due to the fact that wind turbines are relatively self-sufficient. Ultimately, the concerns that wind energy will decrease jobs is false, on the contrary wind power energy will increase and promote new jobs, higher technological jobs which will help stimulate the economy with better technological advances, optimizing resources.
Your post was very interesting and I was able to learn more on the melting of the glaciers. I agree that scientists should do something before it's too late and should act now. If I can add to your text, it's not only global warming and the dark water surrounding glaciers that make them melt. There is also the issue of algae that grows on glaciers. A type of algae grows on glaciers and because of them, the amount of sunlight that the snow gets makes it melt faster. In Laura Hamers article, "Algae speed up melting of glacial snow", it is proven that Chlamydomonas nivalis (the algae species) is responsible for approximately 1/6 of the snow melt. Since this species of algae develop in cold water and glaciers are in the water they often attached to them. Furthermore, the darkening of the algae makes the snow melt faster and that this melt will give the opportunity to grow more algae, this creating a feedback loop that accelerates the melting by a lot. Also, in the glacier, there are some nutrients as nitrogen and phosphorus. When the concentration of those are high it also contributes to the growth of algae. To prove this, they made a 100 days study to compare zones with algae and zones with extra algae using fertilizers too see if algae were really a problem for fast melting glaciers. The results were pretty clear, areas with the extra algae were three times likely to melt compared to the other zones at the end of the 100 days. In only one summer, algae grew over a glacier about the third of it and was responsible for 17% of the melt. As we can see, there is a direct link between algae and the melting of glaciers. Added to that, like you said, a major part is from global warming and dark waters surrounding glaciers. However, it's not the only two problems that scientists should take into considerations when analyzing the problem.
More Green Solutions
Hi Audrey, I found your article very interesting and appealing. I believe that it is a good thing to be concerned about the air pollution caused by our main transportation, cars. The solutions used by Utah government are also very interesting and could definitely be used as an example to the entire world to keep our air clean. However, did you know that there are many more ways and solutions to keep lands green? Of course, the most popular are to bike more, take public transits or even walk, but it not everyone that are able to use such ways. So, there are services provided by cities to help its population to put in action. In fact, there are bike share programs to rent bike for a day and also carpool services for people who wants to ride together. Moreover, most people can make personal decisions that can make a difference. People should plan better their small trips to the store to go to every store needed instead of doing many trips. Moreover, the choice that we make when we drive can also make a difference, the way we press on the gas pedal and the way we brake can produce more air pollution if we are not careful. Also, it is important to choose a car, when comes the time to buy one, that does not consume a lot or that does not produce too much air pollution. To conclude, there are many ways to keep our world in good health, we only have to respect them and help one another.
Is it incredible to see how our homes, and the ways on building houses can have an impact on the environment that surround us. As you point out, passive house standards are a really simple way to build an efficient home that would help us to reduce the heating bill and our ecological footprint.
However, there is a new trend that is rising since couple of year that bring this concept of efficient house to the next level; Self-Sufficient houses. This type of house his basically built in order to produce all the energy needed for the house, and would also produce all the food required by the habitant of the house. Many benefits are known for this type of houses such as:
• Lowering the risk of malnutrition
• Slow the advance of global soil problems
• Reduce the energy needs for agriculture and housing
And many more benefits for our health and the health of our planet. Passive house standards and self-sufficient home are a need for our modern society due to our obligation to reduce our ecological footprint.
I invite you to look at this article to learn more about this subject:
Moench, Mel. "Self-Sufficient Homes." Futurist, vol. 38, no. 3, May/Jun2004, pp. 45-50.
EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com-ebsco-crc.proxy.ccsr.qc.ca/login.aspx? direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=afh&AN=12804327.
This is a very interesting article and you did a really good job of depicting the problem as well as exposing the solutions the government has come up with to prevent more deaths. It would also have been interesting for you to discuss if marine pollution has any effects on this endangered species. For example, belugas, when found dead contain so much PCBs, mercuries, and other chemicals that their bodies are classified as chemical wastes. You could also have touched upon whale hunting. The narwhals are an example as they are often killed off for their ivory tusk which can sell for a lot of money.
This si a pressing issue as the right whale is not the only specie of whale in danger, or Marine creatures for what it matter, to be in danger. it is an important subject to touch upon as in a few decades, the whales we are used to see might not even exist anymore. For example, another endangered species is the bowhead whale, which has been hunted so much that its population has been reduced to 8% of what it used to be. We could also think about the gray whales whose population has been reduced to 100.
I found your article very interesting to read! I did not really know that the ocean was oxygenated through, other than photosynthesis, the waves and the wind mixing the air and the water together. Your article helped me think beyond the consequences of what our actions does on our quality of life and also the quality of life of all species surrounding us. At first, it was your title that made me want to read it. I was thinking: If the ocean has no oxygen, how will it be able to produce oxygen or even feed the growing fish demands of the people? With this class I have this semester about climate change, I developed an interest in the impact that global climate change has on marine ecosystems. Your summary clearly provide a lot of info about some of the issues that they are facing. It is important for people to be aware of the consequences of our actions on all scales. It is not only the direct impact on humans but also the impact of animals and environment, which we live in.
I found an article about water pollution in Russia. It is about a lake called Karachay that were totally polluted due to the Soviet Union in 1934. It is sad to see how much humans pollute natural sources. I feel like we need to do something about it. Read this article and tell me what you think about it. The more I read about those stories the more I think we must do something. At first we must show the world what is wrong in order to change it.
Segerstahl, Boris, Alexander Akleyev, and Vladimir Novikov. "The Long Shadow of Soviet Plutonium Production." Environment, vol. 39, no. 1, 1997, pp. 12-20, Research Library, https://proquest-crc.proxy.ccsr.qc.ca/docview/224014520?accountid=44391.
I found your way of approaching the topic to be very interesting. So what would be the problem; fisheries going out of business, or is there an environmental problem behind it? I asked myself who would be the bad guy: the fishermen keeping their money, or the fisheries for wanting to take over the whole fish business? I actually found an article, that describes that overfishing has actually an impact on ecology as well. Like you said, overfishing has reduced the number of species of fish in markets and consequently in the ocean, but the problem goes further than business. It can destroy the environment and marine ecology. It could disrupt the food chain, and affect even more species. For instance, the herring is a vital prey species for the cod.
Hey! You are right about the fact that the human being in our society is not helping the situation. We take decisions that are not healthy for our planet because of a matter of simplicity and self-importance. Based on information related to the quality of air, the smog alert you saw was maybe held only for a couple of hours or days. According to The Weather Network, the quality of the air in Montreal, at this time, is pretty good but it obviously depends on the day. People that would see this alert and the quality of the air a couple of days after would maybe deny the existence of a possible danger and not understand the effect smog has on our society. Smog is pretty harmful human health since it can be responsible for cold, pneumonia, irritation or even lung cancer. People need to be careful and need to understand what is really going on since that might be messed up with the difference of data day after day.
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