Thursday, April 29, 2010

Experiential: My Final Project

By Demelza Davies

My experiential component was thorough research to develop my final project. I created a survey on and was able to collect accurate percentages concerning my topic, college students and the environment. I put the link on my Facebook as well as asked my friends to spread it around to their friends. I also emailed the link of the survey to my classes. I aspired to have more surveys done, but I was satisfied with the number I received. I also researched various campaigns and images to give me further insight on my topic. Although I did not use this research in my final presentation, I was able to develop my ideas and create different tips for students to be more environmentally sound.

Overall, I enjoyed doing this project as it gave me insight on my own behavior that effects the environment negatively. I myself am guilty of every one of the topics presented (except for the smoking), and I intend to use the tips I displayed towards my own lifestyle. I am very interested in learning about the small ways someone like me who will never be an environmentalist can change to help make the Earth a little healthier.

Experiential: Recycling Program Keeps Ramapo Green

By Krysta Daniels

Ramapo College is lucky enough to have a recycling program where students under the supervision of facilities pick up students’ recycling on a weekly basis. I’ve been a student here at Ramapo since 2008 and it has been a huge inspiration to see this group of students really help Ramapo become more green.

Other colleges that have a similar program include EARTH University, The Evergreen State College, Harvard University, University of British Columbia, California State University, Green Mountain College, Yale University, Aquinas College Glasgow University. Just by the looks of these colleges listed, you get a feel of prestige and Ramapo is included in this category.

The recycling crew at Ramapo College collects bottles, cans and paper and then sorts them. ”From my knowledge, this job was created by a couple of students who thought it would be beneficial to the school as well as the environment to recycle on campus,” said sophomore Andrew Wong.

This group is important on campus for the simple reason of green awareness. Students, staff and faculty should be aware of the different types of items to recycle and what a better way then to witness students on campus doing it for you. With this program you get to become educated on recycling facts, statistics and even the causes of global warming.

I was able to walk around with the crew on a very rainy Tuesday in March and see exactly what they do. They did everything from ride the elevator with recycling bins to sort through the bottles and cardboard to teaming up and giving a lending hand to another section of the residents halls. My trip with them started in the Village, which is located not too far from the entrance from Ramapo College. I brought my umbrella and a sweater and got to work with them.

I was privileged enough to chat with three of the student staff that recycle Ramapo’s goods. They shared with me their likes and dislikes about the job and what made them get started with this special environmentally friendly job.

The elected supervisor for the students is senior Jennifer De Shields. “At first it was about the money, but after I started working my concern for the environment grew. Although getting paid is very nice, the good it does for the environment is starting to outweigh the money,” said De Shields.

“Although we have supervisors in facilities, the job is student-run, so I like that we’re the ones who are more or less in charge. Although I like working outside on nice days, it’s pretty terrible working outside when it’s raining, snowing, icing, or bitterly cold and we’ve had a lot of that weather lately,” said De Shields.

The pay varies with academic year standing. Despite the job’s environmental aspect, there are pros and cons. “Well, the major enjoyment from this job is the feeling of helping out the environment. A dislike is sorting through student bins. For example, when a student puts plastics into a garbage can,” said Wong.

The entire experience took about two hours to complete the Village complex, but overall I had such a good time. I was able to see the exact grunt work taken in order to get this job done. Regardless if it were rain or shine, this job is a necessity on our campus. We are lucky that students have this passion for a greener world and do this job to better it. If you are looking for a job on campus, they are hiring students; simply contact the facilities office at Ramapo College.

Krysta Daniels is an undergraduate student at Ramapo College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts with a concentration in Journalism. She has worked as a staff writer on the Ramapo Newspaper, Ramapo College Marketing and Communication department, as well as contributed to Ramapo College's Bischoff Halls monthly newsletter. She is currently a Resident Assistant and enjoys her job with Residence Life. She was inducted into the Resident Assistant Honors Society, Rho Alpha Sigma in April 2010. Her goal is to continue her education at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2011 and start a Christian Magazine when she is finished her masters.

Letter to the Editor: Preventing Oil Spills

By Jonathan Madden

Dear Editor:

According to the National Ocean Service, the United States alone uses about 700 million gallons of oil everyday; similarly the world uses nearly 3 billion gallons each day. This has to be transported somehow. Most often than not, oil is exported by tankers across the ocean to their destinations.

Most of the biggest oil spills into our oceans are the results of tankers carrying large amounts of oil, such as the spill caused by the Exxon Valdez. In 1989 the Valdez spilt approximately 11 million gallons of crude oil covering 1,100 miles of Alaska's pristine souther coast. This oil spill, recorded as the fourth largest spill of petroleum globally, took its toll on the environment with a casualty list of 900 bald eagles, 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, and 300 harbor seals according to

Since so much is at stake when dealing with the oceans surrounding us, I feel as if it is time to do something to reduce the risk of petroleum polluting our waters and hurting the environment. Though our country does heavily depend upon oil, we should find ways of limiting our oil intake so we do not put our environment further at risk of being polluted by such a harmful substance. Perhaps we could also work on developing new methods of transportation that wouldn't be as risky as attempting to carry it across our oceans.

Examples of how harmful petroleum can be if released into the environment has already been seen and has taken its toll. How much more must we sacrifice to address this potential problem and work on developing new ways to further limit it's risk?

Global Warming Takes Its Toll on Bird Species

By Jonathan Madden

Global warming causing climate changes around the world may not just effect temperatures, but migratory birds as well. According to The National Wildlife Federation, climate change is changing waterfowl habitats, food sources, and migration cycles.

"Migratory birds are particularly vulnerable because of their use of several habitats during migration as stopover sites for feeding, resting or to sit out bad weather," Said Bert Lenten, Executive Secretary of the AEWA Agreement.

Though many species of waterfowl and migratory birds are effected by teh change in climate, according to the U.N., habitat change is expected to hit the Actic and other high latitude regions the hardest. Habitat loss within this region will furthermore hurt migratory birds by elminating stopover spots and preventing them from finishing their migrations.

In some cases, climate changes have already shown signs amongst certain species which include birds starting their migrations earlier, change of routes, or the abandonment of migration.

"Examples include cranes which normally migrate to Spain and Portugal but now stay in Germany... they are not used to low temperatures, there is a danger that most of them wouldnot survive a hard winter in Germany," Lenten said.

Areas of North America may be greatly impacted by the climate change as well, including species of birds living wihtin the Pacific, Central, Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways. In areas like the Atlantic Flyway, which spans from Florida up the coast to Quebec, global warming is expected to affect the timing and distance of waterfowl migration. Ducks are amongst the species of birds affected in North America such as the Canvasback Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard, and Northern Pintail.

Migratory species are particularly more vulnerable to climate change than other species of bird because they require separate and defined breeding, wintering and stop-over sites. Any changes to one of these habitats could be disasterous and put them at extreme risk. With certain species already on teh threatened list, many more may receive endangered status if temperatures continue to rise.

According to a report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, "In the past year alone, 26 of the 1,226 species on their red list of threatened bird species became more endangered, while only 2 species improved in status."

Though evidence of the damages to bird species caused by climate change continues to mount, further damage can be inhibited. According to the U.N. it's not too late to help birds cope with climate change. The protecting of key stopover and nesting habitats could prove to make a critical difference in some species' survival.

News Release: Backyard Composting A Way to Go Green

By Jonathan Madden

For Immediate Release
Contact: Leonard J. Buck Garden


Instructional Meeting on Backyard Composting To Be Held May 1, 2010 at Leonard J. Buck Garden

Far Hills, NJ- An informational meeting on how to properly Backyard Compost will be held at Leonard J. Buck Garden at 11 Layton Road, Far Hills, NJ. This event will be open to the public but pre-registration and a 12$ fee is required.

The meeting will take place on Saturday between the hours of 9:30 - 11:30am. The event will include teaching those interested on how to create and produce soil amendments to enrich garden soil and how to protect our environment.

Whether making a compost pile, using a bin, or verminculture, be prepared to get dirty while learning how to go green. Speakers will include Buck Garden Foreman Jim Fleming providing you with all knowledge necessary to get started.

Additional information can be found about the event at

Experiential: Timber Rattlesnakes

By Stephanie Noda

For my experiential component for Environmental Writing, I attended the Ramapo Watershed Conference. One of the most interesting lectures was by Randy Stechert, a specialist on timber rattlesnakes, who talked about the anthropogenic impacts of rattlesnakes in the New York/New Jersey Highlands.

Timber rattlesnakes come in two basic color morphs: yellow morph timber rattlesnake and the black morph rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes do not actively go after their prey; they will wait on a log without moving in order to ambush their prey. This method is unlike most other snakes, since black snakes, garden snakes, and water snakes will actively go after their prey. The timber rattlesnake is smart about where they set up an ambush; they will find a rodent pathway, where rodents are bound to turn up. They will sometimes wait over 24 hours for their prey. The timber rattlesnake population of New York State is quite small – they only occupy 7% of the state – but this is unfortunately on the land with the most development. This area is located in the southern part of New York State called Orange County, which is considered one of the fastest growing counties in New York State.

The demise of some of the populations of timber rattlesnakes in the past are linked to “collecting.” It could not officially be called poaching till 1983, when a law was made that proclaimed killing timber rattlesnakes was illegal. 4,000 timber rattle snake were taken from New York State by one man alone over the course of 45 years, Stechert said. This man also “collected” from northern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts as well. According to estimates by Stechert, who knows the whereabouts of about 65% of timber rattle snakes’ “den colonies” in New York State, there are only about 10,000 timber rattle snakes left. This number shows how much damage killing 4,000 could have on snake populations. Today, some populations of timber rattlesnakes are recovering, but some are declining. Due to the effects of the “collecting,” they will probably never been taken off the threatened list, he said.

Development is one of the major problems affecting the population of timber rattlesnakes. A man recently put up 240 homes in Orange County; the development had taken place on a major conservancy property, which caused officials to make the owner donate 222 acres to the conservancy. Stechert did a four year study in this area, where he marked and recaptured timber rattlesnakes. There were two methods he used in tracking the snakes. The fist was just marking the snakes with Sharpie marker on their rattle. The mark will stay in place as long as the rattlesnake does not shed the rattle; Stechert had found these marks on snakes for up to 9 years now. Another way he finds the snakes is through the use of radio telemetry. Usually finding a snake in the woods is like finding a needle in a haystack, he said. If three rattlesnakes are found during one hike through the woods, that’s a lot for the year as a whole. Since the snakes are elusive, the technology of the radio telemetry is necessary to find the timber rattlesnakes. To date, Stechert has found 20,025 timber rattlesnakes, with about 600 recaptures.

To separate the snakes on the 222 acres of conservation from 240 homes, snake beds were created between the snake dens and the development. The snake beds were essentially a giant fence to keep the snakes out: it was made out of 48 inch wide metal mesh and 1 ½ inch hardware claw, which was held vertically in place with reinforcement bars every 8 feet, with the bottom 6 inches sinking into the hummus layer of the soil. However, Stechert’s study found that there were many rattlesnake locations in the development that were past the fence. The development had an excellent foraging habitat for the timber rattlesnakes, since the area of development was on a lowland. The rattlesnakes were determined to get past the fence, finding chipmunk holes to climb through or even traveling thousands of feet around the snake beds to get through to the development area. If the timber rattlesnakes continue to lose their land to development, there is no telling how much more the population of this species will decline.

Exploring the Great Swamp and the Raptor Trust

By Jonathan Madden

Somerset County, a land-locked county in central New Jersey, may not seem too vibrant to search out places where one could go out and enjoy the surrounding environment. Yet in actuality there are a few points of interest you shouldn't pass up.

The Great Swamp

The Great Swamp is a big wetland left behind from glacial Lake Passaic from about 15,000 years ago. This watershed spans across Morris and Somerset counties including 10 different towns and is a compilation of five streams; Upper Passaic River, Black Brook, Great Brook, Loantaka Brook, and Primrose Brook which flow and meet with each other within the Great Swamp. But perhaps what the Great Swamp is most recognized for is its wide variety of plants and especially animals. The Swamp is home to about 39 different types of animals which include wild turkey, otter, beaver, muskrat, wood duck, and pheasants. Birdwatchers may also find locations within the Great Swamp intriguing as it hosts over 90 species of birds, including birds of prey such as ospreys and red tailed hawks. To these birds, the Great Swamp acts as a safe haven and a place to live, as well as a key part in the migration route of many species who reside there temporarily. Yet of course this section of mother nature is also at risk, according to Naturalist Cathy Schrein, for a number of reasons, some of which include acid rain, water pollution from surrounding rivers and water run-off, and invasive species of quick growing non-native plants which choke out other species.

The Environmental Center in the Great Swamp

Located in the heart of the Great Swamp is Lord Stirling Park, where the Somerset County Park Commission set up an Environmental Education Center nesting in the tall grasses of the surrounding swamp. This building, which is maintained and operated by the Commission, is about 18,000 square feet and is home to a number of naturalists offices and a wealth of information about the Great Swamp including its long history. For years these naturalists have created classes and provided instruction to the surrounding community about the environment and the importance of conservation. The Environmental Center in the Great Swamp is also known as an educational center as well, hosting its own form of pre-school for children who live within the area.

"Everyone who lives in Basking Ridge knows about the Environmental Center and have been there on multiple occasions because there is just no place like it nearby. My little girl attended pre-school there and in some cases, I think we got more than we originally bargained for since she got the education necessary while also learning about the environment and the importance of conservation, something I wish they taught me in school." said Kim Madden, a teacher in Bernards Township and mother to 5 kids.

What seems to attract most of the attention to the Environmental Center lies outside the facilities' walls. There one can take part in a satisfying and unique experience while hiking, using the center's 8 1/2 mile trail system. No more than 100 feet in, the hiker is engulfed by tall grass as the boardwalk pathway weaves around the swamp to places otherwise unreachable by other means as you navigate from start to finish through an experience you ordinarily might have had to travel a fair distance for. If hiking by yourself isn't enough, throughout the summer the Environmental Center offers guided nature walks hosted by a naturalist, so a visitor not only has a chance to see the swamp first hand, but can learn about it and it's wildlife simultaneously.

While at my visit there I had the opportunity to speak to a college grad of the local Ridge High School, David Cymer, who told me that he still visits here on occasion because of the unique experience this area offers. "I moved away from this town after college, having frequently visited this refuge, I still find it a necessity to come back here whenever I'm in town to visit family. This place is one of those places that make you wonder why people don't do more to preserve the environment," said Cymer.

To find out more information about the Environmental Center and Educational programs, visit:

A Unique Experience to See Birds of Prey at the Raptor Trust

While in the area of the Great Swamp, one can also not pass up the opportunity of seeing first hand, some species of birds you may only read about in books or see from a long distance. The Raptor Trust is located in Millington, New Jersey near Lord Stirling Park. The Raptor Trust is an non-profit organization to protect and nurture birds of prey, created by Len Soucy. In the past, many states including New Jersey, looked at birds of prey-also known as "raptors" as vermin and killers. In some cases, states would place bounties on these birds for their destruction. Now the Raptor Trust is home to a wealth of information about these amazing species of birds, as well as 70 exterior cages and aviaries which house 130,000 cubic feet of space where visitors have the opportunity to get a close look at some of the greatest predators of our skies. The Raptor Trust also offers a series of classes to educate the public on things such as the story behind the organization, raptors, and the hawks and owls of New Jersey. What the organization is best known for is its rehabilitation program for injured birds. The Raptor Trust encourages anyone who has come across an injured bird of prey to contact them so they can take it to their rehabilitation center where it can be nurtured back to health, or if unsuccessful, has a permanent and safe home.

During my visit to the Raptor Trust, I had the opportunity to speak with a volunteer, Tom Fritz, who told me about the importance of this organization and what opportunities it presents for visitors. "The Raptor Trust is an excellent way for the people to see up close these often miss-understood predators of the sky. So many times I hear around me a child pointing up to the sky at an encircling hawk and saying mom what's that... well, here's an opportunity for the children to see what Hawks and other species actually look like first hand," said Fritz.
To find out how to donate to the Raptor Trust or seek additional information, visit:

Of the many places one can visit to experience the environment by their own means, any interested person native to central New Jersey shouldn't pass up the Environmental Center or Raptor Trust and the unique opportunities it presents. It's not often you have a chance to see what an owl actually looks like first hand or go on a hike that navigates its way through the swamp on board walks above the water.

Jonathan Madden is a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey, studying Journalism and Media Studies. He has had a variety of classes dealing with audio, video, and production and aspires to one day be a magazine or newspaper columnist.

College Students: What a Waste

By Demelza Davies

During the month of April, an online survey was conducted in hopes of receiving fresh information about college students' behaviors and how they may affect the environment. Forty responses later, it is proven that your average student's actions result negatively towards our planet Earth. For example, out of the people (mostly were students) who took the survey, 71% drive or have driven a car. This percentage is not surprising as the car is a basic necessity to most. Most of the questions were geared to college students so that they can evaluate their lifestyle and how friendly or unfriendly it is to the environment. Questions concerning laundry, smoking, and coffee consumption were asked to bring about the awareness that no matter how insignificant a lifestyle choice may seem, it can greatly affect the environment negatively. The percentages presented in this report are mere results of a survey that was taken online. In this survey of 40, 83% of the takers were college students between the ages 18 and 25.

The Impact of the Automobile
Cars are a necessity to a college students lifestyle and 71% of students drive cars on a daily basis to travel to class work or home. To fight the over indulgence on gas emissions colleges such as Ramapo College have incorporated public shuttles for their students to serve those without a car and hopefully to encourage others to use the shuttle rather than their vehicle. By using public transportation, there will automatically be a sudden decrease in the pollution that goes into the air. The Ramapo College shuttle is free for Ramapo students and visits the local shopping square (Ramsey Interstate Plaza) as well as the train station and bigger malls. If your school or institution doesn't have a shuttle, carpooling is an option to take into consideration. You spend less on gas when splitting it with people and its no fun riding in a car by yourself anyway. Start a carpooling sign up program at your school; it can be a great way to meet people in your hometown.

Snack Time
Having a healthy granola bar in between classes is a great way to be energized for your studies. But what are you planning to do with your wrapper? Sure you can throw it in the garbage but what happens to the trash? It sits in a landfill is what happens. To help decrease the amount of trash that ended up in the landfills, try not buying the individually wrapped snacks. Go for the family size option. You can get a pound of granola for an economize rate compared to the wrapped bars. Just place the portion you want in a Tupperware container. In the end you will be saving money and helping the environment.

Would you like a Grande or a Venti?
Coffee is a big thing for college students. We not only want it, but need it. However, the impact the disposable coffee cups, stirrers, and lids have on the environment is detrimental. Not only college students but most people use disposable coffee materials. It is better and cheaper to either make your own coffee or purchase an inexpensive travel mug. Most coffee places such as Starbucks even added a small discount to those who use a travel mug rather than a disposable mug. The same goes for bottled water. People have been afraid of tap water for years, but honestly, as long as you live in an area with a decent reservoir, drinking bottled water is purely a fad and a waste of money. In fact, a lot of people are unaware of the added chemicals you are ingesting through the plastic of the bottle. So when you purchase your travel mug, don't forget to pick up a reusable water bottle.

Toilet Paper

We flush things down our septic tanks multiple times a day. It is an accepted practice in our society, however, the environment does not want to accept our waste and the paper, so to make a
compromise let's change the paper. First off, ladies, don't flush your feminine products down the toilet, the box may say flush-able, but that tampon can block the pipes and create a real problem. Also, it is just added litter to the earth. Use a garbage receptacle. Place it discreetly in your bathroom and empty it when needed. When it comes to the toilet paper, try to only purchase brands that are chlorine-free and made from recycled materials. It is ideal to not flush anything down the toilet, but let's take it one step at a time.

Don't be such a Butt
It is common knowledge that cigarette smoke pollutes the air. But has anyone noticed the amount of cigarette butts that aren't discarded in the proper receptacles? Approximately 30% of North Americans are smokers and I can guess that each of them, in some point of their life, has tossed a butt on the grass without a second thought. Cigarettes are a danger to the environment even before they are created. Millions of acres of land are needed to grow the crops and a lot of energy is used. It would be great if everyone quit smoking, but unfortunately that is not possible and smoking remains as a stress relief for many. It is understandable that smoking is addictive and some people just can't go cold turkey and sometimes places do not offer the proper receptacle for ash and butts. What I suggest is to purchase a portable ash tray. They are really handy and only cost a couple of dollars. They come in various designs so that you don't feel your fashion has been compromised. The idea is that they trap in the ash and when you are able to get to a garbage receptacle you empty it out like a pencil sharpener.

Please take the responsibility to properly throw out your butts and try smoking in a private indoor place. Just be wary that second hand smoking is still at risk so in order to protect your friends and family keep the smoke to yourself and use a smoke eater or an air purifier. Smoke eaters can be expensive, but it is easy to go online and find one at the best price. Also consider it an investment especially if you're a heavy smoker because these babies make your living space and fresh and clean smelling as if you don't smoke at all.

Perfume and its fancies
Many people don't know that 95% of perfumes and colognes and other products that give off a scent (i.e. cleaning fluids) are made from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are hazardous to the environment and approximately 70% of college students use perfume. While a lot of people feel it's important to have a nice smelling body, they need to be aware of the consequences. Honestly, just investing in scented body wash is just as beneficial to smelling nice and is better for the environment. Or instead of spraying, just open the bottle and use little dabs; you don't need that much anyway.

Similar to water bottles, the added plastic used in disposable eating utensils add to the landfills. What is getting popular in the work and school environment is using reusable lunch packs including reusable plates and knives and forks. This is a big money saver and you put less plastic into the environment.

Washing machines
The survey conveys that everyone who participated uses a washing machine and dryer at least once a week. But that is not necessary to what our clothing really needs. People don't understand that if you hang up your clothing when you wear them after a day, they are just as good to wear the next day (you don't have to of course). If you hang up jeans after each day you wear them, they can be washed as little as once every six weeks. That is, considering that you shower every day and don't do strenuous activities while wearing them. By limiting the amount of times you use a washing machine, you use less water and energy and your clothes don't get worn as quickly, because they are washed less. Not everyone has the time to be devoted to the environment. If you make small changes to your every day life, the environment can be helped and save one water bottle at a time. A lot of people may think that their actions are insignificant to the environment and one cigarette butt won't make a difference. But if 76% of people use disposable eating utensils, imagine if they opted to switch to real silverware. That could make a world of difference. Overall, what the environmentalists are doing is a great impact, but what an every day person could be doing would be a greater one.


Coffee Mug Cartoon Image taken from Visit for other funny cartoon images on various subjects.

Toilet Paper Image
taken from It is a site about various issues including governmental.
Naked Butts Image
Image taken from the Surfers Against Sewage website ( This organization works hard to maintain clean beaches.
Portable Ashtray Image taken from

Demelza Davies is a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She is an aspiring author who likes music, reading, and of course writing. She will be receiving her Bachelors Degree in Communications with a focus on writing and music in August of 2010.

News Release: Become One with the Environment with these Outdoor Events

By Sharon Meyer

Are you from NJ and looking for ways to support your local environment, just to learn more about it, or even get in touch with your environmental side? Visit Here you can find all local events in the area that are going on and are open to the public.

For instance. Friday April 30th, the Department of Enviornment Procetion is offering a tour of Ringwood Manor. Ringwood is known for its woodland area, and many animals that habitat there.

The tour times begin at 10 am and 11 am followed by a tour at 1, 2, and 3 pm. Where is the location? Ringwood State Park, the adress is giventy on the website listed above. If you live quite a distance from Ringwood, the site offers other events on the same day.

Also on the 30th in the City of Newark, New Jersey Forest Service, there will be a celebration of New Jersey State Arbor Day. The celebration begins at 8 am and lasts until 12 noon.

Another Friday, April 30th event, is titled the Friday Evening Frog Hike. Which begins at 7 pm. The location of this is at Cape May Point State Park on Lighthouse avenue. For all you south jersey people here is your opportunity to support your environment.

What is also great is that all these events are at no cost to the public. And the website also offers contact information incase you need directions or any other question you may have regarding the event.

Letter to the Editor: NJ Transit Hikes

By Sharon Meyer

Dear Editor,

In light of the recent transit fare hike of 25 percent increase for train riders and a 10 percent increase for bus riders, I can’t help but think of the hole that this will burn in my college student wallet as well as the hole that will be burned in the Ozone at in increased rate due to the amount of people who will forfeit NJ Transit and drive their cars to work.

In an article I read at, the writer points out that Governor Christie is trying to fix New Jerseys budget woes through NJ Transit riders. In recent years the number of people who use public transportation has increased greatly because of high gas prices and lack of other transportation (i.e. automobiles).

The problem is that most of the people who take the train to work (or internships) like myself, have cars but find that driving to Jersey City, or NYC takes hours of commuting, sitting in traffic, burning tons of gas, and parking is ridiculous.

As a student at who is interning at an office in Jersey City and has been taking the 7:42 am train (express to Hoboken) for $5.50 one way, every Tuesday and Friday for the past few months, I have learned that NJ transit is a wonderful GREEN way to get to work. The first few weeks of my internship I drove and wasted a tank of gas a day in stop and go traffic, paid $18 dollars for parking for a “job” that wasn’t paying me in anyways but experience for the future.

When I discovered that the train would be cheaper, faster, and one less car on the road, I was completely ready and willing for the switch. Now that they are going to increase fares that can, and I quote off the article I read before, “For the 10 percent of New Jersey residents who use mass transit to get to work, that means they could pay up to $1,000 more per year for a monthly train pass. It means people could pay up to $10 more per train trip to get to New York, or face up to an $88 monthly hike if you’re a regular train commuter.”

Not only is this more expensive, but I will have to add a shift at my paying job just to afford the train to my unpaid internship that hopefully will get my foot in the door when I graduate in the fall of 2010.

Besides the money aspect of this unjust fare increase, why are the people who are trying to save the environment by not using their cars to travel to work, being punished by having to pay more for their daily commute? If anything we should be rewarded for keeping that many more cars off the rode. Look that these statistics I found off this article from

“With those price increases, getting back on the road will start to look much more appealing for transit riders. And for every commuter who decides to drive to work instead of taking New Jersey Transit, it will add an average of 4,800 pounds of global warming pollution to our air each year. In 2008, New Jersey residents saved 137 million gallons of gas by riding public transit -- reducing as much global warming pollution as if we'd taken 239,000 cars off the road.”

Those numbers are huge not only for traffic reasons, but air pollution! Wouldn’t the Governor want more people to take public transportation to work? It’s environmentally friendly!

Instead of raising transit fares, why not keep them the same and build an advocacy campaign to make people aware of how much pollution they cause driving to work and taking the train is safer and much better for the environment. If the campaign is done right, I could see more people switching to NJ transportation and the increase in riders will help the lack of funds (apparently) that has sparked this fare increase.


Sharon Meyer

Experiential: Learning About Companies Going Green

By Sharon Meyer

For my experiential learning assignment, I decided to research the companies who have “gone green” in light of the increase of concern for the environment. People have forever been concerned with the environment but more recently more people have voiced their concerns. Since their voices were getting louder and louder, Corporate America decided that the only way to keep their consumers buying the products was to change the way they treated the environment.

I have learned through this research that many companies cut corners to save money, but by cutting corners they were harming the environment greatly with air pollution, ground pollution, greenhouse gases, and many other harmful chemicals and procedures. Learning to assemble is the greatest thing a community can do for its environments’ own good. When large groups of people assembly it makes the tiny individual voices that are usually covered by the large voice of Corporate America extremely loud, loud enough to make serious change happen.

During my research, I learned of many companies that have harmed the environment and changed their ways in order to keep consumer happy and purchasing the product.

Eco-Terrorism: The Old and The New

By Michael-Thomas Marciante

(Right, Animal Liberation Front members releasing cpative Beagles)

As the United States War on Terror continues with soldiers fighting extremist in Afghanistan, there is a form of terrorism that not all are familiar with: Eco-Terrorism. Eco terrorism is one of the largest cells for terrorism in America. For years people have been committing criminal acts in the name of environmental or animal rights, to extremes that it has captured the attention of the FBI. Many have been sent to prison over the events that have shocked the public, and galvanized loyal followers across the world. Today, Eco-Terrorism has taken a new approach, in which activists lean towards the idea of Eco-Activism that’s taken environmental protection to a level matching that of Eco-Terrorism. The Sea Shepherds have not only set the sail to defend marine life from fishermen, but have been notorious for sinking whaling ships. Their example has redefined the word Eco-terrorism and set sail for a new age of an environmentally friendly world, full speed ahead.

In 2002, the FBI provided Congressional testimony entitled, "The Threat of Eco-Terrorism" in which Eco-terrorism is described as one of the biggest threats to United States. Of course at the time, the United States was a little trigger happy about dubbing anyone a threat. The World Trade Center had been attacked a few months before, former President Bush was convincing the nation Saddam Hussein was indirectly connected to the attack, people were scared. Because of this, any form of terrorism was ridiculed and sought after. Eco-terrorism is different from acts committed by Al Qaeda, which is considered international terrorism, eco-terrorism is considered domestic terrorism, which is defined by the FBI as "the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States (or its territories) without foreign direction, committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."

Eco-terrorism in the United States, like all radical things in America, is a spawn of none other than the infamous 1960’s; a time where millions would gather in protest of the government’s involvement in Vietnam, as free love and free thought captured the masses, while all on LSD. In 1963, a journalist by the name John Prestige covered a hunting event in which hunters would shoot a pregnant deer for sport. Mortified at the idea, Prestige formed Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) and gathered many followers. Later, a HSA activist, Ronnie Lee, formed a group known as Band of Mercy in 1973. This led to the creation of Animal Liberation Front (ALF), in 1976. Their mission statement: To effectively allocate resources (time and money) to end the "property" status of nonhuman animals. Their objective: To abolish institutionalized animal exploitation because it assumes that animals are property." ALF has been sabotaging, burning, and spiking major American companies in the United States who have experimented on animals. ALF’s regime are very strong and very large. They have even acquired "martyrs" and "saints" for their cause. Leaders such as Keith Mann, one of Britain’s leading ALF members, have been imprisoned in 1993 for several incidents of arson. His target was meat lorries, where animals are turned into meat products. The nature and target of the fire insinuates there was political motivation.

Since the 90’s, in which ALF’s popularity had peaked and influenced many followers, Eco-terrorists have taken a new approach. Their message was being heard by the public. Several years ago, a fad known as "Going Green" was taking over many urban, rural, and suburban cultures in America and across the world. Going Green is a systematic way of life in which people recycle, conserve resources, become specific on where their food comes from, etc. This new wave of eco-protection allowed the violent birth of eco-terrorism to evolve into something more productive: Eco-Activism.

One regime of Eco-Activism has captured the attention of the government, it’s people, and fishermen by storm: The Sea Shepherds. Born out of the womb of Green Peace, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is more than just protesting activism. Lead by Paul Watson aboard his boat the "Steve Irwin," Watson and his small crew of sailors take the high seas and hunt down whaling boats and sabotage, vandalize and sink them. They claim to have sunken 15 whaling vessels since their establishment in 1977. Today they have their own television show known as "Whale Wars" on Animal Planet. Their organization is more than what their well funded television show portrays. They were actually created to educate; a volunteer base camp out of Australia teaches aspiring Sea Shepherds about Marine life, their lifestyles, and threats they faced from everyday human interaction. When the fishing vessels were being sunk, their country leaders (e.g. Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc.) complained to the U.S. government over Watson’s activity. The U.S. government found no by lines that were being crossed.

In a request for an online interview, Paul Watson declined to answer any questions about the Sea Shepherds objectives.

If you would like to know more about eco-terrorism, visit these sites:

Michael-Thomas Marciante is a junior and avid writer at Ramapo College of New Jersey. His education started in Trenton, NJ then to Burlington, NJ where he attended St. Mary’s Hall Doane Academy. Michael is a Communications major, with a Writing Concentration at Ramapo, and wishes to continue his work after college in both Writing and Journalism.

Cancer Resurfaces in Pompton Lakes, Fingers Point at DuPont

By Jonathan Madden

Although DuPont Explosives Co. may be recognized for it’s contribution to munitions in the world wars, local residents near the old Pompton Lakes facility are still feeling the aftermath through water contamination as evidence of higher rates of cancer in surrounding neighborhoods continue to be found.

DuPont, founded in July 1802 as a gunpowder mill, is now recognized as being the world’s second largest chemical company in terms of market capitalization and fourth in revenue. Once responsible for the creation of much of the munitions used in the world wars, it is now being held responsible for the contamination of New Jersey drinking water supplies, specifically, located near the DuPont facility in Pompton Lakes, as lawsuits begin to pile up.

Contamination of the local water supply, according to U.S. Water News Online, is linked to the manufacturing, use and disposal of dangerous chemicals such as PFOA, which are also known as carcinogens. Official DuPont press releases have continued to disregard accusations dealing with responsibility for water pollution in areas surrounding the facility, “We are confident in the safety of our operations at our Chambers Work site,” the company stated.

Through recent history DuPont has been recognized as a source of water pollution outside New Jersey as well. According to U.S. Water News Online, a report by DuPont in 2003 found that PFOA was being released into the Delaware River at high concentrations. In 2004, DuPont agreed to pay $343 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Ohio and West Virginia residents who claimed water supplies had been contaminated with PFOA from a local Dupont Plant.

Tension amongst residents who live close to the old DuPont Plant in Pompton Lakes continues to mount as the number of cancer cases continues to increase. According to a report released by the Department of Health and Senior Services, significantly elevated rates of kidney cancer in women and non-Hodgkins lymphoma in men were found in a neighborhood of 450 households which have been said to have been impacted by the pollution.

Growing concerns of DuPont’s failure to safely dispose of harmful chemicals in Pompton Lakes continue to increase. According to, in 1993, 400 people filed suit against the company, claiming illness, fear of developing cancer and lower property values because of pollution and in 1997, without admitting to any sort of liability DuPont settled out of court for $38.5 million dollars.

Seven years after, residents of Pompton Lakes and of other areas affected by the Dupont Plant remain concerned about their well-being and the state of their water supply.

Corporations Going Green

By Sharon Meyer

Would you support a company taking a stand to better the environment over one that did not take the extra precautions?

Soon enough you may not have to make that decision. Many large corporations are taking the path previously less chosen and becoming eco-friendly in any way possible.

“If the entire world live like the average American, we need five planets to provide enough resources,” states a statistic taken off of Now how many Americans do you know that take the time to Reduce Reuse and Recycle? You many only have to use one hand to count the number of people you know.

Luckily, large corporations like EMI Music, a marketing company for major labels located in the Harborside Financial Center in Jersey City, are waking up and realizing that the amount of unnecessary waste they produce can be stopped by slight changes in the office.Many of the tasks that take place in this office have to do with printing hard copies of thousands of Royalties papers, printing Emails for interns to package POP, making copies of Request Time Off Sheets, as well as financial paperwork. Included in that is the packaging that gets sent out to each label, ADR, and Sales reps across the country.

Now think of every large corporate company you can, and multiply that waste of paper by the number of companies you can think of – what a waste of trees when there are other ways to get around wasting all this paper. None of this sounds eco-friendly in the least, right?

That is the way things used to be done at EMI, just one of the major companies stepping up in the fight for a better environment. To begin with, instead of making copies of all the Royalties paperwork, financial reports and every other piece of paper that needs to be copied, EMI has invested in a network scanning system. Here is how it works:

To begin, the paper is no longer copied, but when it is taken to the copy machine, it is placed on a setting called “Network Scanning.” Once the setting is selected the paper is fed into the copy machine and it is scanned to a website that the entire building has access to. Once the files are scanned, the person who is scanning them will head to a computer, and login to the website that allows access to the scans. Once the user is logged in, they can download the file and email it to any location it needs to be instead of mailing actual hard copies to the necessary destination. Think about how much paper is saved because of such a thing like “Network Scanning.”

This one slight change in the way the company runs has improved the environment in numerous ways. One instance is the power saved from not having to use existing printer equipment. Putting numerous people on a scanning network can allow many of the printing equipment to be retired, saving massive amounts of energy and financial costs.

When it comes to packaging many of the POP (posters, giveaways, and sales tools) UPS, another large company, has also joined the “GREEN” bandwagon.

UPS supplies hundreds of companies who do bulk mailing with express envelopes for them to package it in. Those boxes are not easily reusable once they are opened, until now at least. UPS has designed new envelopes that are actually green in color, and have directions on how to use the seal on the box properly, so that it can be re-used by the person receiving the package. This inspires people who are not so keen on re-using the envelopes to use them again because it is showing them the simple easy way to re-use it.

UPS is motivating large companies to take a step forward by going green. EMI is a company that uses these “green” envelopes. Being able to reuse these packages will decrease paper loss and save thousands of trees yearly. The more companies that join this fight for a greener tomorrow, the easier it will be to save our planet.

One company which was once a major contributor to water pollution, DuPont, has turned its focus to lowering its emissions of airborne carcinogens and greenhouse gases, according to The company was once known as the highest contributor to pollution emissions.

Now DuPont announces on its website, “DuPont is developing new refrigerant compounds as part of its ongoing program to seek longer term sustainable alternative solutions for refrigerants that have high global warming potential (GWP), and are used widely in automotive air conditioning, home refrigerators, supermarkets and store display cases as well as in building and home air conditioning systems. DuPont Fluorochemicals has identified proprietary refrigerants that have a reduced global warming potential (GWP) and are suitable for use in future automotive air conditioning systems.” This is one of the ways Dupont is trying to aid the environment.

Home Depot also makes the list of a previous environmental offender now is taking strides to fix its mistakes by starting a policy called “no old growth sales” which was enforced by over 45,000 customer calls and letters, according to This policy enforces the not harvesting trees from old growth rain forests. Old Growth trees are defined as, “Forest or woodland having a mature ecosystem characterized by the presence of old woody plants and the wildlife and smaller plants associated with them,” according to “Rainforest destruction contributes 25 to 35% of global warming gases to the atmosphere, thus adding substantially to the warming of the Earth,” according to a website titled Home Depot Sucks, “Tragically, Home Depot and other home improvement centers sell large quantities of tropical and temperate rainforest wood and rainforest wood-containing products.”

When communities take action for the safety of the environment, companies abusing the environment have to take action to right the wrongs they have done. By taking action they are showing large corporations that they must not take the short cuts that harm the environment to save themselves money, otherwise their consumers will refuse product and ultimately bring the company down until they surrender.

Furthermore, when large companies take an extra step and change more than what their consumers were asking them to change, like EMI Music and their environmentally friendly office practice, it makes them look even better in the eyes of the consumer.

For Further Information Visit:

Sharon Meyer is a senior at Ramapo College majoring in Communications with a focus in Journalism. She hopes to pursue a career in any field that can use and enhance her writing ability.

News Release: Music, Art, and the Environment

By Michael-Thomas Marciante

This year Ramapo College of New Jersey celebrated Earth Day in several creative and different ways. There was the Ramapo River Watershed Conference, displays of environmentally inspired art were on display along Laurel Quad, and one event that was solely constructed by a Ramapo student. Emmy S. Black organized the presentation of "Common Ground: Connecting Humans, Music, Arts, & The Natural World." Emmy’s hard work, musical friendships, and conquering of Ramapo interdisciplinary tribulations made the Common Grounds, as Emmy would describe it, "a success!"

Emmy, from Red Bank, NJ, is a graduating senior at Ramapo College. Her concentration as a Music major has inspired her to relate music and the environment. For her Independent Study class Emmy had "to create a multi-disciplinary event on campus that focused on ideas of music, ecology, art, and technology." Common Ground took place on April 22 (Earth Day) and 23,  with the H-wing filled with some of Ramapo’s prestige educators answering questions such as How do music and art connect us to the earth? How do music and art connect us to each other? Through exploration of pattern, eco-psychology, audio, and art with some of the greatest minds in the field, can we grasp this better?

"Common Ground was based off the idea of eco-psychology, a theory that says if we destroy the Earth, we are hurting the human psyche" said Emmy, who is a firm believer in environmental education especially for young students.

The event started at 2 pm on Thursday with an introduction by Emmy and her advisor Ben Neill, who Emmy said, "was 100% responsible for this event. I could not have done it without him!" The first panel included Clyde Johnson, an assistant Professor of Environmental Science; Joel Chadabe, the founder of the Electronic Music Foundation in New York City; and Amy Lipton, who is the co-director of ecostartspace, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising environmental awareness through the visual arts. Last to speak was Jackie Skrynski, who’s had countless beautiful art expositions. April 23 was the musical side of the event, with performances by Ben Neil, David Rothenberg, as well as a Computer Music Ensemble.

One of the major obstacles Emmy faced was communicating with the right people. Some incidents became very stressful. "One of the major problems with program was the interdisciplinary communication in the school. I had so much trouble setting it up," she sad. However, Emmy received a little help from her friends and colleagues.

"I would like thank Ben Neil again, Lindsay Sanchez, whose blog, ( covered the event, and Laura Sly who made all the posters," Emmy said. Emmy’s persistence and hard work paid off in the end, her message received loud and clear by her colleagues, peers, and academic superiors. "I also want to thank Anne Lepore, Anna Forenski, Dean Perry, MEISA, and RCTV, who really made this all possible."

After organizing the Common Ground event, Emmy wants to continue her work beyond this campus and on to other ones. "I feel as though there needs to be more environmentally based education. We need drastic change in how we are treating the planet," she said. "If you want to motivate change, education is key."

Earth's Day & How It All Began

By Ashleigh Schuddekopf

Earth Day, internationally designated on April 22, is a day to raise awareness and appreciate the environment we live in. With issues that affect our Earth at hand, we take them head-on, ready to start a movement that will inspire people to ‘go green’ and look for other, more organic ways to live.

The idea of Earth Day was created by Wisconsin’s Gaylord Nelson. Nelson grew up in the public school system in his hometown of Clear Lake, and studied at the University of Wisconsin Law. Then, in 1942 he served as a lieutenant in World War 2 for four years. He became one of the State Senates of Wisconsin in the 50’s and a U.S. Senate throughout the 60’s.

Nelson’s key idea was to plug environmental awareness to Washington D.C. With this outcry for help, he organized this once-a-year “teach-in” day to alert people about our environmental crisis, which eventually became Earth Day.

"Rising concern about the ‘environmental crisis’ is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam. A national day of observance of environmental problems, analogous to the mass demonstrations on Vietnam, is being planned for next spring, when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in' coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned," Gladwin Hill of the New York Times wrote in an article in September of 1969.

Several months later, Nelson’s plan took action. New York City on April 22nd, 1970, our Earth’s first official day, had over one million people filling 5th Avenue and Central Park. Fred Kent, a student at Columbia University was the ring-leader of this project. He rented out office space and recruited people for the big day’s plans.

"The big break came when Mayor Lindsay agreed to shut down 5th Avenue for the event. A giant cheer went up in the office on that day," Kent said. Pairing up with Mayor Lindsey and his staff took Earth Day to a whole new level. Not to mention the coverage by NBC, ABC, CBS, and the New York Times.

In the streets of Manhattan more than 20,000 college students from all over America joined in on concerts, lectures, and street theater to rally against pollution, over population and other potential dangers against our environment. Earth Day was one of the nation’s largest demonstrations in American history.

Forty years later, New Yorkers still have a proud way of showing their pride for the Earth. This year we celebrate Earth Day’s 40th anniversary. Not much different from decades ago, New York City’s streets are again filled with activists and members on the community all looking to make our Earth a greener place.

TerraCycle, a company based on creating over 100 products out of recycled waste, such as chip bags, food wrappers, yogurt cups, glue bottles and writing instruments, is open until May 1st outside of Port Authority.

Also, TerraCycle has an allotted area for consumers to drop off any non-recyclable wastes. Those who do so receive a discount on any purchases made during their visit to the shop.

"Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction,” wrote the New York Times the day after Earth Day 2010.

For more information, enjoy these following links.

Ashleigh Schuddekopf is a senior at Ramapo College. I am currently studying Communications with a concentration in Writing. Writing has always been a passion of mine, regardless of the topic. I hope one day to be an editor of a magazine and novelist.

News Release: Iceland Volcano Fallout

By Amanda Valenti

The recent eruption of the volcano in Iceland shook many and delayed even more flights. With the recent surge of natural disasters, it seems only normal that this was going to happen.

A large amount of information can be found by visiting

Thousands of flights worldwide were delayed. is a great site to find out which flights were delayed and where. All flights have been allowed to resume now that the dust has settled.

Many people were stuck in Europe trying to get back home. Flights were delayed for up to a week and more for some.

People had to get creative with ways to get home and some just had to wait it out. The air was so thick planes would have been unable to see and engines would have failed.

The impact of the volcano is such that almost everyone knows someone who was affected by it. It was quite the inconvenience for many, and leaves room for people to wonder what will be next.

The amount of natural disasters striking the earth has been too much for some to bare and they wonder what could possibly be next. The 2012 theory is starting the hit some people harder than others.

There are more believers now than ever before. It was like this volcano just pushed everyone over the edge.

Once is erupted for the second time people were really starting to talk. The pictures are draw-dropping and are a cause for concern for many. Around 800 people had to evacuate their homes, and even more were affected by the event.

It did not slow down very quickly, but once it did people were able to get back to their homes and flights were rescheduled.

Learning from Silent Spring's Critique

By Jonathan Madden

I found Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, to be very informative. In her book she talks about many issues surrounding the use of pesticides and it’s harm to the environment. In one of her arguments she states that the use of DDT, perhaps one of the most well-known synthetic pesticides, was a direct threat specifically to birds as it was found to be the cause of thinner eggshells. But what I felt was her strongest argument was uncontrolled pesticide use was harming and possibly killing animals, birds, and humans.

In Carson’s eyes, the chemical companies producing insecticides are negligent for not specifically outlining the risks of using the chemicals, and our actions in general should be questioned for indiscriminately spraying DDT without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health.

Following the release of her book Silent Spring, Carson was greatly criticized for her claims against the chemical producing companies. According to Time Magazine, critiques included calling her a “hysterical woman” who was unqualified to write such a book. Other criticism from a biochemist and chemical industry spokesman stated, “If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson we would return to the Dark Ages and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.”

After reading Carson’s work, I highly respect her for her claims and feel that they are just. She is completely acting with in reason to claim that we have overused these chemicals without thinking about the consequences to the environment including our own well being. History shows how often we resort to the easiest solution when fixing a problem without thinking about any long-term ramifications, and indiscriminately spraying a harmful chemical such as DDT is just another example.

Carson’s claims about the lack of responsibility by pesticide producing companies in not properly informing the public about some of the risks involved with using chemicals, I feel is also just. For that very argument is why now in more recent times, on all cans of Raid and other insect killing chemicals, we see warning messages properly conveying to the user exactly what they need to know about the potential harmfulness of the substance they are using.

I felt I learned just as much in Carson’s book about people's disregard for the environment, as I learned from the criticism she faced after publishing it. The same attitude where humanity naturally seeks to solve all problems through the easiest solution with no regards to its consequences is what’s harming our environment now. If we all focused on how to solve problems in manners that are both effective and environmentally safe, perhaps we wouldn’t have many of the problems we face today.

Letter to the Editor: Earth Distress Signals

By Amanda Valenti

Dear Editor,

A growing issue has been the recent change in weather all over the world. Natural disasters have been occurring left and right, leaving room for people to question our existence in the future.

Is it possible we have destroyed our world beyond repair to the point where the earth is giving us signs that she is about to implode?

The weather in New Jersey is generally predictable, but recently it has thrown us for a loop. The constant change in temperature is not only an annoyance, but a cause for concern in my eyes.

A volcano interrupting airline flights and earthquakes destroying homes just seems like Earth’s way of trying to send out smoke signals, so we are not surprised when the end comes.

This just makes me think whether we could have done something to prevent this from happening, what with pollution and such. Maybe the earth is supposed to end regardless of human impact, but it just leaves so many questions unanswered.

I also wondering whether or not scientists will have enough time to delve deeper into these issues before it is too late.

I think publications missed the ball on getting information out to the public. People read newspapers all the time. It just seems like one of the best ways to get serious information out to a large audience.

Maybe we all just missed the ball on this one. I just hope it is not too late to save the Earth. It feels like she is trying to tell us something serious is in the works.

-Concerned Earthling

Letter to the Editor: No Fracking Way

By Jennifer De Shields

To the editor,

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently posted an opinion piece on the good that gas mining will do for the region. A major gas mining project is about to take place in New York and is already taking place in Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing is a mining technique that shoots water, chemicals, and gels into the ground at high speeds to force either oil and gas up. The gas industry is happy about America’s endevers into gas mining, they view it as a safe, clean energy that weakens our dependence on foreign oil. They also tout it as a solution to the job crisis. These would all be great things if they were at all true, but unfortunately the gas and oil industry is pulling to wool over American eyes once again.

Although some forms of natural gas may be clean burning, the methods of extracting them are anything but clean. Before the water and chemicals ued in hydraulic fracturing, they shot diesel into the ground. Although they no longer use the diesel method, a lot of diesel fuel is burned operating each mining machine. The chemicals used to fracture the ground can be very toxic and can cause series health problems. These chemicals can also contaminate local water wells and other sources of water. Some storage facilities for chemical laden fracturing waste water are literally nothing more than tarps about as thick as your average hefty trash bag in large pits. People in towns where hydraulic fracturing is taking place are complaining that their water is filthy and unfit for human consumption. A man in Colorado can literally light his water on fire because of all the chemicals in it. Also many of the mining companies will bring in workers from out of state to do work, so it’s questionable how many local people they actually hire.

These mining companies are trying to make natural gas seem like an easy and clean solution to oil and gas, but it isn’t. I think it’s time that we start investing in actual renewable resources like wind and solar power, instead of promising to bring change with a different version of our original problem.

News Release: New Jersey Celebrates Earth Week

By Tara Lafemina

New Jersey has kicked off a week-long festivity of Earth Day celebrations. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin started the week partaking in the annual Trenton Litter March, on April 20th.

After this kickoff, there will be plenty of other free opportunities for citizens to honor the environment.

Parks throughout New Jersey are holding hikes and exploring reservoirs. The hikes focus on such issues as sustainability. Activities will include lessons on how to live green, along with exhibits and workshops designed for children.

Special events will be held at the Shore to discuss what could be done to protect the oceans. In many of these events, Martin will be meeting with school children. The children will be giving Martin tours of ocean areas and discussing issues and solutions they feel are relevant.

“On the eve of the 40th birthday of the DEP and during Earth Week, we are all reminded of the immense responsibility the DEP has to preserve the environment and natural resources for our children and future generations,” Commissioner Martin said in a statement on the NJDEP website. “I will ask all residents of New Jersey to actively participate in keeping our state green and clean.”

Earth Week was created in hopes of raising environmental awareness. On the 40th anniversary of Earth Week thousands of teachers, students and concerned people are expected to partake in Earth Day events.

The goal of the DEP is to have everyone become aware of the environment. They want people to be environmentally friendly for more then just a week a year. When people get involved and spread the word to others, Earth Day will continue on for 365 days a year.

For further information:

Experiential: The NJHEPS Sustainability Summit

By Jon Lindenauer

Held March 26th in the Ramapo College’s Ansfield School of Business, the NJHEPS Sustainability Summit saw a number of important working and student minds come together for a better understanding of New Jersey sustainability events, organizations, offices and information. Including student and faculty representatives from Richard Stockton College, Montclair State University, Kean University and (of course) Ramapo College amongst others, the event gave many individuals an opportunity to share ideas, backgrounds and goals regarding the past, present and future of sustainability in New Jersey.

The first speaker of the NJHEPS Summit (which stands for New Jersey Education Partnership for Sustainability) focused her presentation mainly on New Jersey homes and micro-sustainability initiatives. A representative of the NJ Department of Energy, she discussed a home insulation and power reconfiguration program called Energy Star, in which individuals have their homes assessed and altered to save money on heat and energy expenses. In conjunction with this program, Energy Star also certifies certain household appliances, providing tax incentives for individuals who own these appliances.

Moreover, Energy Star assesses homes on a three tiered system. The first level is 85 HERS (Home Energy Rating System) and the requirement for new homes built in the state of New Jersey. The second tier is 65 HERS, in which homeowners receive tax incentives for low power consumption. The third level is 50 HERS or less, which – if renewable energy is taken into consideration – accounts for individuals with extremely low or possibility self-sustainability power consumption (0 HERS); the ultimate goal of the system.

Beyond Energy Star and the Department of Energy, another important point discussed was New Jersey’s macro-sustainable energy initiatives. Currently, New Jersey is ranked only behind California as far as leading in sustainable energy (a rating of 530 to 125). Along with this, a program called the “Clean Power Choice” was brought up, a program in which individuals request renewable energy through their local utilities. These and many more topics were deliberated, even discussing sustainability at the campus level, with Ramapo College’s sustainability report card being shown to the audience.

Even from the perspective of someone who has no membership or association with a sustainability organization, the NJHEPS Summit provided more than its share of important and useful information regarding New Jersey sustainability issues. Information that will certainly not be lost on its eager spectators, who already began to set the gears of networking and idea-exchange in motion well before the summit ended.

Silent Spring Still Silent

By Jennifer De Shields

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring changed the way America looked at pesticides and chemical regulation and also helped ushered in the environmental movement. Ten years after its publication the United States government banned the use of the DDT, a widely used but also extremely dangerous pesticide. This book was very useful in the 60’s and 70’s, but it’s lost some of its value due to timeliness. With mounting environmental concerns at home and abroad, it’s time for this century’s Silent Spring. Pesticide use is being blamed for the decline of the bee population, the increase of skin cancers, and for poisoning our fruits and vegetables. It’s upsetting to think that even though its use has been linked to so many problems that it’s still widely used.

Lack of government regulation on these pesticide corporations are partly to blame. Too many companies are allowed to distribute their products without properly testing them to see the effects they have on food, humans, and the environment. A lot of pesticides and other chemicals are hastily put out on the market without properly testing them before hand, and I feel that proper testing would avoid many of the problems we see with pesticide use. For example, I doubt that they would have put out the pesticides that are being blamed for the decrease in the bee population if they did tests to see how it could possibly affect local wildlife. I also feel that we should be testing foods that are sprayed with pesticides to see how much of the poison actually gets into the food. Recently in China’s Guangxi Zhuang region they had to destroy some of their vegetables because it was revealed that the vegetables had excessive pesticide residue on them. It’s scary to think what would have happened if these foods weren’t tested.

The amount of pesticides that accumulate is also alarming. Pesticides are found virtually in almost every river and stream in the country, even in places where pesticides weren’t immediately applied. A city in Virginia recently tested their creeks and streams to find that they were heavily polluted with pesticides. In some areas there were pesticides in concentrations that were 40 to 1,000 times the level deemed harmful. These were areas that people fish in and children swim in, and officials are scrambling to clean their toxic waters. They also have been showing up more in the news recently because of their link to deaths and sicknesses. In Britian a pesticide used in the Wanstead Flats was found to have caused the death of 87 birds, a dog, and other wildlife.

The regulation of pesticides will probably not be getting any stricter in the near future. Although Obama has promised to have a more environmentally friendly administration, he recently appointed a formed pesticide lobbyist to the position of the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of Trade Representatives. This has various environmentalists and organic farmers upset mainly because of the chief’s support of agribusiness, a type of agriculture that heavily depends on the use of pesticides.

Wet Weather and Global Warming

By Jennifer De Shields

The severe rainstorms New Jersey and the northeastern part of the United States have been experiencing could be linked to global warming. The Associated Press reports:

“The Northeast is seeing more frequent "extreme precipitation events" in line with global warming predictions, a study shows, including storms like the recent fierce rains whose floodwaters swallowed neighborhoods and businesses across New England.

The study does not link last week's devastating floods to its research but examined 60 years' worth of National Weather Service rainfall records in nine Northeastern states and found that storms that produce an inch or more of rain in a day -- a threshold the recent storm far surpassed -- are coming more frequently.

"It's almost like 1 inch of rainfall has become pretty common these days," said Bill Burtis, spokesman for Clean Air-Cool Planet, a global warming education group that released the study Monday along with the University of New Hampshire's Carbon Solutions New England group.

The study referred to in the news article took data from 219 Weather Service reporting stations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Vermont from 1948 to 2007. The result were startling; the report found that in all but 18 out of 219 stations had reported extreme precipitation events (extreme precipitation events are defined as at least one inch of rain or snow falling over a 24 hour period). Very large storms, storms that produce 2-4 inches of precipitation in a 24-hour period, are occurring more regularly in the past. Nearly 64 inches of precipitation has fallen in New Jersey since last April, 17 more inches than the average 47 inches.

Some skeptics aren’t convinced that study shows the unusually wet weather is linked to global warming. In the article, global warming skeptic Patrick Michaels expresses his disbelief.

Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, said it would be unfair to use the recent floods as an example of what's in the study.

"You can't take an individual event and say it's a product of a certain trend," Michaels said.
Despite what may be causing the weather, it’s no doubt that these bouts of extreme weather are costing states money. The Associated Press reports:

If you're spending more on dealing with extreme weather events, what does that take away from?" said Ross Gittell, an economics professor at UNH and executive committee member of Carbon Solutions New England.

"Do you have to tax people more and that has a damper on the overall economy?" he said. "... Or does it take away from investments in education that could lead to more productivity and economic growth over time?"

This past winter’s snow removal has cost over 1 million dollars in New Jersey alone. The last rainstorm caused some of the worst damage that the northern part of the state has seen in the past quarter century. The governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island declared a state of emergency due to the heavy rains. Regardless of the cause of this extreme weather, residents and states will need a lot of money, time, and patience to deal with the aftermath. If this weather is a sign of things to come, I’m not looking forward to a stormy, humid, and hot summer.

Letter to the Editor: Bear Family Won't Get Evicted

Dear Editor,

After reading the story “Bear family won’t be evicted from den under Kinnelon deck,” I had mixed emotions. Although it was nice to see this bear family not driven away from their home, I felt as though they really should have been moved for the safety of the people living in their home and their neighbors. I’m all for the fair treatment of animals, but when we put their safety over that of human beings is where it begins to concern me.

Bears are generally not looking for humans to eat or hurt, but the fact that they live under a person’s deck could cause their behaviors to change. It is safe to say that in a fight of a bear vs. a human, a bear normally wins that fight which does not bode well for the people of this Kinnelon neighborhood. What about the children of the neighborhood? If a bear were to get out and start causing trouble with a child, what would the town do about that?

I will say I do admire the work done by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife in recognizing that moving this female bear and her two cubs could really be a deadly move. However, it seems that they have forgotten that by doing this they have put human lives at risk, which also must be recognized in this discussion.

In a situation like this, both the township of Kinnelon and the family being invaded by bears must come to a logical decision as to what to do. The problem I had with this story was that the family did not have a voice that was properly represented by The Record. I really would like to know what they were thinking? This is not something that the average family has to deal with on a daily basis, and I know for sure that if a family of bears was living under my deck, I would want them relocated for the safety of my family.

Yours truly,
Dave Ragazzo

Experiential: Green Committee Actions

By Karen Dougherty

I am the chairperson of the Green Committee at Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. The Green Committee is part of our Social Action Committee and we are always looking for ways to be more environmentally responsible. The Green Committee usually meets once a month to discuss current and future projects.

Some of the projects the Temple implemented this year were switching from disposable to reuseable items during the hot lunch days at our preschool and using a portion of our funds to pay for our paper and plastic to be recycled. I am also responsible for writing a “Green Tip of the Month” column in our monthly newsletter.

We are currently in the process of installing a large, congregational vegetable and fruit garden in which we hope to educate everyone from our preschoolers to our adult congregants about having a connection to the food we eat.

Another exciting project we are undertaking is the certification program through the Greenfaith organization. Greenfaith is an inter-faith environmental organization. We are one of a number of churches and synagogues (and hopefully soon, mosques) in NJ committed to participating in this program. The certification is a two-year process in which we must write a mission statement and commit to several eco-based sermons and educational programs over the next two years. We must commit to 25 initiatives over the two-year time frame encompassing: energy, transportation, food, water, toxics, and grounds maintenance.

Although this certification will require time and energy, our Temple strongly believes in raising awareness of environmental issues and I am proud to be a part of that initiative.

Invasive Species

By Karen Dougherty

Imagine it is a warm, summer day and you decide to go out for a stroll. You pass a flock of starlings daintily stepping along the grass on their graceful, yellow legs. You pass some rose bushes and see the iridescent gleam of a Japanese beetle picking its way along the bush. As you pass by a small pond, beautiful purple loosestrife waves its purple flowers in the breeze. This seems to be an idyllic paradise, but actually it is a disturbing ecological scene that is being played out with alarming frequency all over the country, if not the world.

What do European starlings, Japanese beetles and purple loosestrife all have in common? They are highly invasive species that are wreaking havoc on delicate ecosystems and native species.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (USC), invasive species are those that “are a harmful subset of non-native, introduced species that adversely affect native plants and animals, change how ecosystems work, carry diseases to wildlife, plants, or people, or cause other damage. It is estimated that in this country alone, over 7,000 species of non-native plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, arthropods, and mollusks are established.” The US spends approximately 100 billion dollars per year trying to control damaging invasive species.

Some of these species, such as the European starling, were deliberately introduced. According to Cornell University, around 1890, 100 starlings were released in Central Park as part of a plan to bring to the US all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. Cornell reports that “today there are more than 200 million starlings across most of the continent."

Starlings are very aggressive and crowd out native bird species, even driving them from their nests. According to the UCS, “declining numbers of woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Purple Martins and Tree Swallows are thought to be a result of the starling population boom."

Purple loosestrife is a wetlands plant native to Eurasia. According to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, purple loosestrife was accidentally introduced to North America in the 1800s. It can now be found in nearly every state and in Canada. In 1999, The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) estimated that control of purple loosestrife costs $45 million per year. So pervasive and devastating to fragile wetland ecosystems is purple loosestrife that the USFWS called it “Public Enemy #1 on Federal Lands.” New Jersey wetlands have been hit particularly hard by purple loosestrife. This is not so surprising, as a single plant can produce 2.5 million seeds per year.

Many other species have been accidentally introduced through importation of goods or in the ballast water of ships. The Zebra mussel is a prime example of this. The United States Geological Society (USGS) believes that the mussels arrived via transatlantic ships sometime around 1988, “a cargo ship takes on ballast water in one port and dumps it in another, along with any number of aquatic species.

The Zebra mussel has devastated aquatic ecosystems throughout the Great Lakes and the rivers and lakes of the US east coast. Southern California and Virginia have reported sightings. The Zebra mussel population has exploded, consuming vast amounts of phytoplankton. Native freshwater bivalves make their homes in the mud but because Zebra mussels attach themselves to any available hard surface, they clog pipes and damage boat hulls. Large numbers of their shells wash up on beaches.

It is believed that eradication attempts of the Zebra mussels have cost over one billion dollars. The Zebra mussel invasion has been so detrimental to our freshwater ecosystems that in 1990 the Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act was passed, this later became known as the National Invasive Species Act (NISA) of 1996.

Invasive species are can also occur in the form of pathogens. The American chestnut tree once grew prolifically in the eastern United States. This tree was an extremely valuable wood resource. Unfortunately, when a few Japanese chestnut trees were planted in New York around 1904, they carried a fungus called chestnut blight. According to the UCS, the blight killed 180 million acres of American chestnut trees. Ten moth species that depended on the chestnut trees for survival also perished.

There are things we can do to minimize the threat of invasive species. The federal government, through the National Invasive Species Act, continues to monitor the threat of invasive species. In order to minimize invasive threats to our waterways, ships entering the US are required to release their ballast water in mid-ocean, and the Coast Guard is proposing that even tighter restrictions be put into place.

Many states have banned the sale of invasive plants. When buying plants choose species that are indigenous to your part of the country; this also provides food, shelter and protection for indigenous animals and insects that rely on these plants. Never release exotic pets into the environment. If you enjoy water activities such as fishing and boating, be sure that all items are carefully washed so as not to transfer aquatic organisms from one location to another.

It is only through responsible and diligent behavior that we can hope to repair our native ecosystems and encourage the survival of indigenous species. Already we have lost far too many plants and animals to careless and irresponsible behavior.

Karen Dougherty teaches preschool at Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Miami and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from Ramapo College. Karen lives with her husband and two daughters in northern New Jersey.

The Dangers of Nuclear Power: Indian Point Energy Center

By Stephanie Noda

PHOTO/Daniel Case

Safe. Secure. Vital.

These words are the slogan of the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant located in Buchanan, N.Y., about 45 minutes away from New York City and right next to the Hudson River. However, nuclear power may not be as safe as many would hope.

Most of the public is unaware of the dangers of nuclear power. President Obama stated in his State of the Union Address that he is proposing “building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.” Even the president is unaware of the how harmful this power source may be.

Although many people may hope that nuclear power will be the energy source that will replace oil and coal as our primary source, there are many reasons, scientists say, why this situation would never be feasible. Not only is money an issue, but the overall safety of people living in the surrounding areas is the biggest cause for concern. These worries can include outdated equipment and containments leaking from the plant into the environment, creating health issues for the surrounding area.

One of these safety issues related to the Indian Point Energy Center is the escape plan for public schools that is to be implemented in case of an accident at the power plant.

“If you have a son or daughter, there is a plan,” said Chuck Stead, a resident of Rockland County and Adjunct Environmental Studies Professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey. “You are not to pick up your child and go outside the 10-mile radius of the site. Buses from privately owned companies come to pick up the children and travel away from the 10-mile radius. The buses would have to make three trips, sometimes five, to be able to move all the children. This would turn into a 35-minute drive, roundtrip. If there is an emergency, you’re supposed to get out within 15 minutes. Do the math; it doesn’t work.”

Indian Point Energy Center has been fined for not keeping their warning systems up to date. According to the World Nuclear News in the article “US regulator dishes out fines,” Entergy, the company that owns the power plant, was to be “fined $650,000 for being too slow to ensure public warning systems had back-up power.”

World Nuclear News adds that in January 2006, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gave the company a year to make the changes, but Entergy missed the deadline. The company failed to comply with a second deadline on April 15, 2006. The NRC refused to give Entergy a third deadline and fined them $130,000.

The reactors within Indian Point Energy Center itself can be a cause for concern. The plant is host to three reactors, all of which are not up to the newest standards.

“The plant is 20 years old,” said Stead. “The reactors are dated, which means that they are not beyond their life span, but they are on borrowed time.”

Another safety issue regarding Indian Point Energy Center is the contaminants it releases that may cause health concerns.

“Indian Point contaminates in two ways,” said Stead. “First, Iodine 313 becomes airborne. The other thing is low radioactive material has been found in the sediment. The radioactive material has the potential to seep into the sediment and then seep into the Hudson River.”

The nuclear waste that is created once the process of nuclear power is complete is perhaps one of the biggest concerns of nuclear power. Nuclear power bombards atoms of uranium together to create energy. Finding this uranium, however, is very costly and damaging to the environment.

According to Friends of the Earth, a prominent environmental organization, the mining of uranium for use in the nuclear power plants creates greenhouse gases since machinery that uses oil are needed to conduct the mining. Even if the nuclear power plant doesn’t emit greenhouses gases themselves, the process of obtaining the uranium creates just as much.

“Just to mine all the uranium creates CO2 emissions,” said Kevin Dremich, a senior of environmental studies at Ramapo College. “Even the transportation of the uranium uses carbon based fuels.”

The actual extraction of this waste once it is produced is also costly to get rid of. The waste will stay radioactive for thousands of years, meaning that finding a place to store where it will not be disturbed is an issue.

The Yucca Mountain situation is a prime example of how storage for nuclear waste can go horribly wrong. This site in Nevada was proposed as a place to put nuclear waste, which is located 90 miles outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, according to the article “Nevada: Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository stalled” by Roger Herman of the International Committee of the Fourth International. The article goes on to mention that the proposed sites “sits directly atop or near 33 known fault lines, the largest of which, the Ghost Dance Fault, runs directly through the proposed site.” If these faults were to cause an earthquake, there is potential for the nuclear waste to leak into ground, causing major environmental damage. Although this project was eventually abandoned due to this knowledge, the very fact that it was once considered is cause for concern; there is still the possibility that sites could be picked in the future that could similarly be on top of fault lines. If the Yucca Mountain situation were to occur again, there is no telling the environmental catastrophe that could possibly occur.

“It’s not the cost of building the plant that is important; it is the cost of the waste,” said Stead. “We do not take into account the full cost analysis of the waste removal.”

Indian Point Energy Center itself has the possibility of having a situation similar to Yucca Mountain; the power plant is also located on a fault line. According to an article called “New Seismic Fault Discovered One Mile From Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant” by Matthew McDermott of, a study by Science Daily showed that “not only is New York City at a greater risk for earthquakes than previously thought, but the Indian Point nuclear power plant 24 miles north of the city sits nearly on top of a previously unknown active seismic zone.” This example further proves that not enough research has been done on sites associated with nuclear power. If seismic activity were ever to occur at the nuclear power plant, there is no telling the devastation that could occur in New York State.

Advocates maintain that nuclear energy is not the way of the future. Indian Point Energy Center has proven that nuclear power is not safe, secure, or vital.

Stephanie Noda is a junior at Ramapo College double majoring in Environmental Studies and Journalism. She aspires to be environmental journalist when she graduates.