In my last blog about the impact cows and the livestock industry in general has an the ecological community, I mentioned the growing problem  of Brazilian rain forest deforestation. As soon as i  read about this problem, i was instantly intrigued. How bad is it? Whose being affect? What are the Up sides? Does it really need to stop? I began my search.

      To truly understand how big of a problem this specific deforestation case actually is, I thought I would research the Brazilian/Amazon Rainforest itself. It turns out that the Amazon rainforest spans over nine South American countries and a baffling 1.7 billion acres of land. Thats about 1,545,454,545.454 foot ball fields ( yeah I actually took the time out look up

that useless, but mildly interesting fact.) 60% of which is in the country if Brazil. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rain-forests, and it comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rain-forests  in the world. Two-and-a-half acres of Amazon Rain forest contain over 750 types of trees, more than all of North America. Another interesting fact i discovered about the amazonian rain forest was that 1 in 10 species alive today live there, to me that’s insane. Also, about a fifth of the planet’s fresh water flows down the Amazon river and according to estimates, 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rain forest. Through this research, it’s easy to see how very important the amazon rain forest is to the Earth.




                Whose being affect? Actually, to date, at least 40,000 plant species, 3,000 fish, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified in the region. They are being affected. Not to mention the 28,843invertebrate species in Brazil alone. These once abundant species are, many a case, being faced with the largest battle of their lives. The Battle for existence. As bleak as it sounds, its a sad reality for a good number of the species of in this area. They are being faced with the ever looming threat of habitat destruction. This problem leaves little to no chance for the species of the amazon to survive. As the habitat is cut down or burning, the animals loose their homes and food supply, leaving them to find refuge in new areas in the forest. However, these species are becoming so compacted that there is simply not enough food to feed all the hungry mouths. 


          The animals are not the only ones being affected, the whole globe is as well. Deforestation in the Amazon is actually partly responsible for global warming. Between losing oxygen producing plants, the release of CO2 into the air in the process of cutting tress down and green house gases being produced in the are that was once forest, the deforestation of the amazon is responsible with a sizable chunk of global warming.

        So you may be asking yourself, if this is such a giant problem, why the heck are will continuing to cut down the beautiful rainforest that make our world so unique? Along with all the problems that come with deforestation there is also plenty of upsides such as: cattle ranches, agriculture, logging and commercial and residential living areas. All of which, we depend on heavily around the globe.

         What’s the future going to look like? If we depend on it’s benefits and we can’t deal with the downfalls, what exactly is going to happen? Obviously, no one know what the future has in store for the organisms of the world, but we do have a rough idea. Due to the vast amount of economically needy people in Brazil, most of the brazilian governments money must go to help the economy of it’s country. This is understandable. However, the future is sill looking good if we have will to do anything to change it. According to  The World Wild Fund, “$547.2 million US dollars would be required from international sources to compensate the forest developers and establish a highly organized framework to fully implement forest governance and monitoring  and the foundation of new protected forest areas in the Amazon for future sustainability.”  Thought his number seems daunting, with the help of everyone across the globe we might actually be able to save the habit, the animal species and our selves as well!




Wait… did you just saw cow? Yes, Yes i did and I will say it again.  Today, everyone around the globe is putting all the weight of global warming on the shoulders of the big wigs of oil, the gas guzzlers and  the factories that just ooze tones of CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere per year. However, they are not the only culprits at hand for the tragedy that is Global warming. Another such culprit is the cow, or livestock in general for that matter. Cows give off methane when they chew their cud and belch, and nitrous oxide and ammonia when they leave manure all over the barnyard.  “Methane, while less prevalent in the air than carbon dioxide, is 23 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas” the FAO report says. This means that though there is more CO2 in the air than Methane, Methane cause more damage. In fact,  livestock is responsible for 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas problem.  To me its outrageous that this major problem is just going by unnoticed or at least it seems that way.


         Unfortunately, the problem with live stock does not end there. The FAO says, “grazing takes up 26 percent of the land on Earth that is not covered by ice — 30 percent if you count the land used to grow feed for the animals.”  The raising of live stock also causes many problems with water quality around the globe. Farm waste, washed downhill by rain, carries all the cow dung which contains methane and ammonia. Then these properties are evaporated and come down as acid rain all around the globe. Then the acid rain mixes with the water necessary to support marine life and that marine life begins to fail. Ahh, the problems that couple with the cow.

        Another major problem that the need for livestock posses is that livestock needs land. A lot of land. In fact, 60-70 percent of deforestation in the Amazon results from cattle ranches. This number, to me, is truly frightening and Brazil is not the only country that is being plagued by this monstrosity.  “With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tons”, states  a UN report.

         However the UN report also goes on to show beneficial livestock can be as well, “The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 per cent to global agricultural output. For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for draft and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops.” You can see here that at this point in history we are very dependent on the benefits that livestock provides. Just as we are dependent on oil, we depend on meat. How curious!


Overfishing is a main threat to marine biodiversity. Though vastly ignored, overfishing can have a terrible effect on the world today. With other major environmental problems such as oil depletion and deforestation taking center stage, overfishing is almost entirely put to the side. This problem effects the environment and the human race as well. With 200 million people in the world, especially in developing countries, depending on the nutrients and minerals from fish, over fishing is a problem not to be overseen. Not only does this major problem affect humans it also throws the biological community in a state of need. Fish are food source for many different animals and if no fish are left to fit these animal’s appetites there will be a mass depletion of this world’s wildlife. For example, the herring is a bird that mainly feeds on fish, in particular cod, and with the number of cod drastically falling, the number of herring would drastically fall as well. Overfishing is another example of humans disrupting the homeostasis of the environment but it is not too late to stop this major problem. With fish and other aquatic animals, such as King Crab, Atlantic Cod and Bluefin Tuna, nearly depleted, it is time to stop this growing problem before it becomes too big to stop.

 Some people have noticed this major problem and have begun to act against it such as Nitin Desai, the Secretary General of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Nitin said Overfishing can not continue. The depletion of fisheries poses a major threat to the food supply of millions of people.” which was exactly my point. Nitin also believes that the only way to overcome this problem is to ban together and end it that way. He also suggests having government add funding to help make the project of destroying over fishing even more possible.
            There are various different ways to end the horrible catastrophe that is over fishing. First of all, I believe many laws should be placed to help regulate the quantity of fish taken in by each fisherman. Also many fish that are in danger of over fishing are not supposed to be. Many fish are captured in the fishermen’s nets that are not even used for food or any other product that could be used by people. A solution to this problem is to make it illegal to not use the fish taken in, and if a fisherman does take in a fish that is unneeded the should be legally obligated to release the fish back where it was caught. Another thing that should be instated to save the marine environment should be a more proficient way to track the numbers of fishes so it is easy to see when and where a certain species of fish is in danger of being extinct. Also, the government should invest more money into the research of fighting this major problem.


One organization that is a key component in fighting overfishing is the World Wildlife Fund or the WWF. The WWF if is an organization that has about 5 million supporters and they make money and invest it in world problems such as overfishing. The WWF is currently improving fisheries management, fighting to set regulations on the intake of fishes and are fighting against illegal intake of fishes. Also the WWF is promoting and investing money into the improvement of selective fishing mechanisms that sort fish and are fighting to eliminate destructive fishing practices such as the destruction of deep sea habitats. Another easy way the WFF is trying to stop overfishing is promoting the use of seafood that is caught under good regulations.

            Overfishing is a major problem in our world today and should never be taken as a minor threat. There are several different ways everyone could get involved to stop this growing problem. It is time not only think about humans but the entire environment as well.   


In 1963, the Venezuelan government issues the building of a hydroelectric dam on the Caroni River.  The

 dam raised the water level over 390 feet (120 meters) above that of the original Caroni River. however, this was just the beginning. In 1986, Venezuela finished up the project and increased the hight of the river another 164 feet (50 meters). This massive increase in the hight of the river created a giant lake known now as Lake Guri.  This massive man-made lake is the size of almost two Rhode Islands. Where there were once vast valleys there are now deep trenches, where there were once high hill tops, there are now almost-barren islands. At first, no one really expected the damage this would create. Officials believed that most species would just migrate to other surrounding wildernesss and all would be well, unfortuantaly this was not the case. The bioderversity of the region was about to be met with an unexpected disaster. 

 As Flood waters began to settle into there new found homes, the animals and plants began to feel the damage. This event is a huge example of the dangers of Fragmentation. Though this an extreme case it still holds the same qualities of fragmentation. In the beginning, the predators were the first to suffer. With  no room to roam and prey becoming scarce the predators of the area, such as pumas, jaguars, anacondas, eagles, armadillos, and some weasels were forced to flee the area. The predators were able to swim or fly away from the area, however some were starved to death or drowned in the flood waters. Without these main predators, the future looked bleak. “Taking out predators has a cascade of effects on other populations, down to the plant life,” said John Terborgh, a professor of environmental science at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. As the predators diminished, their prey, such as howler monkeys, iguanas, and leaf-cutting ants began to multiply at unseen rates. though this may not seem like a large problem, there was no where enough room and resources for them on the chains of islands they now inhabited. These animals, being huge plant eaters, began to destroy to natural plant life all around. This problem is still huge today and many ecologist still try to go to each Guri island to try to free each marooned species from there island of certain starvation. 

           Though this ecological diaster is thousands of miles away from our countries borders and doesn’t have a direct effect on our daily life, we must look at this problem and learn from the consequences. As I stated before, the Lake Guri Disaster is a prime example of fragmentation. Ecological Fragmentation occurs when areas of land are broken apart from one another creating bunches of little “islands”. This cause huge ecological problems, such as the ones created by Lake Guri. Fragmentation can also cause other problems such as the prevention of migrating species and the loss of usable land for consumers. Fragmentation does not need to occur via water however. Here in the United States, where we feel everything is so ecologically sound, we are surrounded by fragmentation. Be it large inter-states dividing forests, farm land disrupting the prairies, or cites destroying miles of natural landscapes,  Fragmentation plagues our beautiful country. If there are any positives we can take from the disaster at Lake Guri, we can look at the vast destruction and look for ways we can avoid this problem and never let it happen again.



October 30, 2008

Cars. Can’t live with them, Can’t live without them. This saying applies even more to the huge car manufacturing companies and to Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFÉ standards. As environmental problems begin to sprout up all around the globe, all eyes have been turned to the major contributors of CO2 emissions. The most obvious place to look was to the transportation world which happens to be the third largest contributor to the CO2 problem. It is impossible to walk down a street without seeing a car, truck, train or plane billowing out an overwhelming amount of greenhouse gases. CAFÉ standards urge green standards such as more efficient cars, less dependency on fossil fuels and the over all less CO2 emissions. However, its not as simple as we think to just implement these new standards. These standards take money. Money that the major car manufacturers do not want to spend and money the big oil companies want to make.
The major resistance to these standards comes down to the dollar. Simply put, it costs more money to create these clean, oil-less cars, that the CAFÉ standards are trying to enforce. Major car companies are making money selling the dirty, gas guzzling cars they have been making for years. Honestly, why would they change? In a world like today, where everything seems to down to a dollar, the car companies are simply trying to make a buck and who can truly blame them? Also, the major car companies still do not see the direct success of the CAFÉ standards that are implemented and deeming them as failures. With this mind set, it is not surprise that the companies would resist the changes.
California has always been the forefront of environmental improvements. In the seventies, California forced the car companies to deal with the smog problem in the state. “ The auto business has always had a love hate relationships with California. Obviously, they love the fact that we are the biggest car market on earth, (but) they hate the fact that we try to regulate what comes out of their tail pipes.” This quote from Terry Tamminen, California’s environmental advisor, perfectly describes the relationship California has with the car companies. California attempted to implement new, high fuel economy standards, different than the federal standards, however they needed a ruling from the EPA, which they never received due to car companies lobbying the EPA, white house, the transportation department and Congress.
However, there was a compromise. Congress implemented higher standards than the ones set in place at the time, however these standards were no where near the fuel economy standards California and 18 other states were trying to implement. If the California standards were to be implemented the CO2 emissions would have been reduced by 40%. This was truly one of the largest loses of environmental improvement in the United States.
Electric cars just like any other car have huge benefits and huge problems. Outlooks on the electric car have been mixed. Its name has defiantly been bantered over the years by being an outrageous idea and as of right now this would be a true statement. The electric car right now is no where near marketable. However, there is new hope! This hope is the new GM volt. However the volt couldn’t make it up a small hill and even died. Though there is know price or date for the new volt, GM is still hopful.

Hybrids: Whats a Happening?

October 21, 2008


With the future comes a plethora of new problems. With those problems come a multitude of inventions to combat those problems. Ironically however, with those inventions come more problems. Brutal cycle isn’t it? Well, unfortunately we are going to have live with this cycle just as we live with the carbon or nitrogen ones. One example that falls in this cycle is that of the Hybrid car. As the 21st century rolled around, so did problems with fossil fuels. We began to see fuel prices sky rocket, carbon emissions climb and global warming take affect. We understood we were in turbulent times, so we moved to step two of the cycle. We invented something. That invention happened to be the eco-friendly hybrid car. Half electric, half gas, 100% trendy. As you may have predicted however, the new “answer to our prayers” came with its new set of problems, outrageous price tags, relatively low battery life and a shear lack of power we all seem to have a biological desire for. However years have passed since the first, ever exclusive hybrid and many U.S. consumers are anxiously wondering how far have we come? Is it worth it? Will we ever be able get our grimy little hands on one? And most importantly, would it be worth it? The truth can be found in the numbers. With the numbers Mr. Mck gave us, we are gonna have to look at it from a economic point of view.

Average distance drive every year: 12,000 miles

Cost of gas per gallon: $4.00

The Cost of the Toyota Prius: $21,500

Mileage of Prius: 45 mpg

Cost of Chevy Aveo:  $11,460

Mileage of Chevy: 34 mpg

Gas tank capacity for both: 12 gallons

So! Lets open up the act with the Prius.



So if you drive 12,000 miles per year at an average of 45 miles per gallon that comes to 266.666 gallons a year. Add that to the initial cost of prius of 21, 500 and plus the amount of gallons multiplied by the cost of fuel  (266.66 x 4.00= 1066.6667) and you get just around 22,566.667 buckeroos the first year of driving green ( 1066.6667 on gas)!



Act Two: The Avevo

In short, 12,000 miles divided by the 35 miles/ gallon comes out to 352.941$ gallons multiply that by the price of gas and you get 1,411.765 dollars spent on gas per year. Add that numeber to the intial cost and you get 12, 871.765, the first year of driving the Toyota. 


Now lets put these numbers to work! Driving the Prius you would save 345.098 dollars per year. However the initial price difference would be 10,040.00 dollars. Therefore, you would have to drive that hybrid for 29 years before it would pay itself off…. this is disheartening…. BUT FEAR NOT! Besides the economical aspect, which commercial full fuel obviously wins ( Also you can add in the 3,000 bucks you would have to spend on a new battery every 8-10 years you drive that hybrid, which puts salt on the wound.  There are other aspects as well. One of which is the environment.  According to The Green Car Club, “hybrids reduce health-threatening tailpipe emissions by 90% and evaporative emissions to almost zero.  (The Green Car Club) The hybrid vehicle does contribute to green house emissions just at a reduced rate because the fuel that powers the hybrid comes from a petroleum based fuel.” That’s good news! However, from my research, it looks the Hybrids can’t even win the environmental front.   According to the green car club still, regarding the production of the hybrids batteries, ‘The caustic substances that power the batteries are very poisonous and when released into the environment leech into the waterways and poison groundwater.” That is not good news.

From my research i doesn’t look very good for the hybrid on the roads of today. However, I feel that by just looking at the pure numbers and the environmental downfalls of the hybrid we are missing the point. The point of the Hybrid is that we now have a choice. We have a choice to stop giving all our bills to the oil companies and we are given opportunity to break away from our oil dependency. As i said in the beginning of this blog, problems come with the new inventions created in hopes of solving other problems. However, we can’t forget that this cycle comes full circle. Soon someone will invent some thing to solve the problems of the Hybrids. The only way we can further our quest for the perfect fuel source is by supporting the new alternatives so they get a chance to develop and take the true form that were meant be. Hybrid owners of the world unite!


The Simple Things

September 16, 2008

We live in a very environmentally aware society. The problem is it is hard to act on that awareness. In plain truth, it’s just too hard to feel like you are making a difference. Some of the proposed solutions are too big of a changes too quickly and I think many of these once aware citizens have a bad taste in their mouth from trying too hard to save the earth, but the truth is there are plenty of easy, simple ways everyone can make a difference!

1. Unplug unused appliances. How can this possibly help burn less oil??? The amount of unused energy is the United states is very disturbing. According to the LUF Green team, “40% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while they’re turned off.” This percentage is staggering to say the least. Imagine the energy we could save by simple unplugging the old toaster that is rarely used.

The projected difference simply unplugging things would make is simple phenomenal. The LUF Green team stated in its April 2008 web blog that, “If we averted phantom loads in all U.S. homes, we could shut down 17 power plants.” This shows how much our little changes can actually make a difference! Some still may say that the hassle out weighs the conservation, but that is just simply not the case. There are plenty of ways to stop this unneeded use of our precious energy. One way is the Smart strip power strip. This device “unplugs” your appliances for you!

2. Use warm or cold water when doing laundry instead of hot. According to CES Philadephia, “Up to 85 percent of the cost of operating a washing machine comes from heating the water. Cut that energy use in half by switching the temperature control from hot to warm.” That data is gives a clear picture of how much you help the enviroment and your check book! However, many critics of this solution claim tat washing with cold water does not have the same quality of washing with warm water. This is actually not the case. Cool water detergents actually produce the same results as warm water ones!

3.  Avoid buying products that are covered in layers of packaging.  According to, “About 33% of what we throw away is packaging.” If we conserve our waste and be mindful of how much we actually threw away, we could make make a world of difference!






The debate over the drilling of oil in Alaska is a hot topic in the government today. As oil prices sky rocket and foreign dependency grows larger and larger, all eyes turn to Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. According to, the department of the interior estimates that there exists a mean of 3.5 billion barrels of oil available there. However is all the damage going to be worth it? Will the destruction of some of the last truly wild places be outweighed by the massive benefits drilling can provide? The best way to come to any answer is by looking at both sides… 

First the Pro side

If we were to pursue drilling in Alaska, the benefits would seem almost endless. First off developing the area would create an estimated 250,000 to 735,000 much needed jobs.  The second and maybe the most persuading argument for the Pro side is the fact that it would decrease our dependancy on foreign countries for oil.

Does this look pretty to you?

Does this look pretty to you? SOURCE: EIA

Today, according to the Energy information Administration we receive oil from “Canada (1.883 million barrels per day), Saudi Arabia (1.479 million barrels per day), Mexico (1.124 million barrels per day), Venezuela (1.085 million barrels per day), and Nigeria (0.946 million barrels per day). The rest of the top ten sources, in order, were Iraq (0.693 million barrels per day), Angola (0.636 million barrels per day), Brazil (0.280 million barrels per day), Algeria (0.269 million barrels per day), and Russia (0.228 million barrels per day).” Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the huge amount of dependency we have on so relatively insecure countries i.e. Iraq and Russia.

Thirdly, this action is supported by 75% of the Alaskans in the surrounding area, according to 

Also, many supporters believe that this movement into the Alaskan wild would not even distrupt the natural wild life in the area. According to,



 “Oil and gas development and wildlife are successfully coexisting in Alaska ‘s arctic. For example, the Central Arctic Caribou Herd (CACH) which migrates through Prudhoe Bay has grown from 3000 animals to its current level of 32,000 animals. The arctic oil fields have very healthy brown bear, fox and bird populations equal to their surrounding areas.” This claims to proove that the wildlife would be able to coexsist with the oil companies and even thrive.



Now for the Con argument

First off, protesters disagree with the idea that the wild life would not be harmed. Many of the different species would not be able to cope with the infiltration of their home by oil companies like the caribou do. One animal that has had probably the most attention is the polar bear.

According to, The polar bear would fac e a varity of problems including “1) death, injury, or harassment resulting from interactions with humans; 2) damage or destruction of essential habitat; 3) contact with and ingestion of oil; 4) contact with or ingestion of other contaminants; 5) attraction to or disturbance by industrial noise; 6) harassment (disturbance) by aircraft, ships, or other vehicles; 7) increased hunting pressure; 8) indirect food chain effects due to the impacts of oil and gas related activities” Does this seem uneffecting to you?

Secondly, many critics argue that the oil serge we would recieve from ALaska would not last long and we would have to wait to use it! According to a article, estimated to provide only a 6 month supply of oil, which wouldn’t be available for 10 years. Does this really seem like a good reason to destroy one of America’s natural beauties? I for one dont think so.

In my personal opinion, America would be out of its mind if we peruse this ridiculous cause. We have to focus our time, energy and money, not on the drilling of Alaska but looking at new fuel sources. We also can not add to the already long list of threats to the many endangered animals that are being abused in the Arctic. This is just how i feel i guess. I just think the bad outweighs the good on this one and i hope our government can see that.