Monday, October 17, 2016

Environmental Writing Spring 2017

Ramapo College, May 2015        (photo: Jan Barry)


Ramapo College offers a course in Environmental Writing that combines research, field trips, writing for the Web, and discussions with guest speakers on the cutting edge of environmental journalism, scholarship and activism. This 4-credit elective is designed for students majoring in environmental studies, environmental science, journalism, communications and is open to all interested students. Alumni are welcome to audit the course for free.

ENVIRONMENTAL WRITING
COMM 307
Wednesdays, 6-9:30 pm

Create a portfolio of writings on environmental issues. Post on Ramapo Lookout website and showcase your best work.
Explore probing questions about environmental topics. Research environmental issues to pinpoint the problem and what’s being done about it. Concisely present an informative environmental story.

Designed for Communications, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies majors and open to all interested students. (Contact instructor for prerequisite override.)

Instructor: Adjunct Professor Jan Barry Crumb
(Jan Barry is a national award-winning journalist and Ramapo College graduate. His “Toxic Legacy” reporting for The Record of Bergen County is featured in the HBO documentary Mann v. Ford.)                  
 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Environmental Writing 2016



Ramapo College, April 2016   (photo: Jan Barry)


“Pilgrim Pipeline Debate Flares in Towns along Proposed Route”

“Indian Point Power Plant Leak Sets off State Alarms”

“Water Crisis in Newark Opens Up Widespread Lead Pollution Problem”

“Is Lack of Connection to Nature Harming Our Children?”

“Honeybees: Campaigning for the Creatures Who Help Feed Us”

These are just some of the timely and essential ecological issues that 10 student-reporters at Ramapo College of New Jersey explored in the Spring 2016 Environmental Writing class. This flowering of feature story projects is posted on our class website, ramapolookout.blogspot.com.

Also posted is a wide array of eco-themed assignments throughout the semester, from assessments of Rachel Carson’s historic expose of chemical pesticide and herbicide poisoning in Silent Spring, to profiles of North Jersey environmental reporter Scott Fallon of The Record and Secaucus Environmental Director (and Ramapo College alum) Amanda Nesheiwat, plus explorations of other current issues in the Ramapo River watershed and beyond discussed by a number of other distinguished guest speakers. Take a look at how students viewed these vistas.

"We should be grateful for reporters who work to inform the community about undisputable facts that could lead to health risks in their own backyards. The public has a right to know who was responsible for the poisoning of their water, soil and air." --Jonathan Sanzari, in "Environmental Reporters Shine Light on Environmental Injustice"

"One aspect of Professor [Howard] Horowitz’s visit that really intrigued me were his poetry maps. The poetry maps shared were 'Idaho' ... and 'Manhattan,' which appeared in The New York Times. Poetry maps, for those who don’t know, are exactly what you would think. The poem is shaped as a map of the chosen area, and each landmark can be found in the poem where it would be found on any regular map...

“'Manhattan' is read as if the reader is taking a trip through the city. That’s the beauty of these poems. They take you on a trip through an area. Of course, there is an advantage to knowing the area, where you can see in your mind all the places mentioned. The works can still be enjoyed by anyone, as Professor Horowitz is so descriptive as he takes readers on such a beautiful walk." --Marissa Erdelyi, in "Maps, Poems and Environmental Writing"

"I believe it to be a common misconception that change can only be enacted from huge sources such as national non-profit organizations. But, in reality, change must be localized, as Dr. Chuck Stead of Ramapo College, frequently tells his students. His recommendation for those wishing to make change is to start at the most local level possible. Perhaps by going to a town hall meeting in your own town." --Melanie Schuck, in "Change Campaigns Start Local"

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Pilgrim Pipeline Debate Flares in Towns along Proposed Route


Chathamborough.org


By Jonathan Sanzari


Residents of the small suburban town of Pequannock, NJ have been quite vocal in opposing the plan for the Pilgrim pipeline.

Talk of the proposed 178-mile-long pipeline has been a reoccurring matter at town meetings. Many residents have called for the municipal council to file an ordinance against the pipeline. However, it isn’t the only town debating about fighting against the Pilgrim pipeline. The $1 billion pipeline would stretch from Albany, New York to Linden, New Jersey to transport Bakken oil from North Dakota.

The proposed pipeline would run through five New Jersey counties and five New York counties, cutting through forests and river corridors, highway shoulders and backyards in more than 50 municipalities.

The plan for the Pilgrim pipeline was made public in October 2014 and the first public presentation was on Oct. 21 in the Kinnelon Municipal Courthouse. It stirred up a town-wide debate.

“I’ve worked with gas companies and performed leak tests on pressurized petrochemical systems for a few years and leaks are inevitable to the designs,” David Young, 22, a Pequannock resident and chemical engineer for CB&I, said in an interview.

“There’s acceptable leak specifications and requirements but leaks occur nonetheless at any and all fittings and flanges because molecules in the pipelines can be smaller than the threads used,” he added.

Survey: Americans Favor Move to Renewable Energy

The Energy Initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a survey over the course of ten years that got views from Americans’ about energy usage. The outcome of the survey was that American’s would like to move away from using fossil fuels and focus more on incorporating renewable technology. The proposal of the Pilgrim pipeline shows that there are no indications of relying solely on renewable technology just yet.

The survey’s findings show that American’s favor reducing use of traditional fossil fuels like coal and oil. They’d like an increase in renewable energy sources, especially wind and solar power. However, American’s also suggested keeping the use of natural gas and nuclear power at the same rate we’re using it today.

In Pequannock, a discussion of the pipeline at a town council meeting in August 2015 frustrated many residents. The council rebuffed pipeline opponents' arguments by saying that they didn’t want to file an ordinance against the Pilgrim pipeline because they believe it would get dismissed in court and end up being a waste of the town’s money.

The town council said it wants to treat the Pilgrim pipeline plan just like any other construction proposal that has been brought to their attention. The council stated they don’t want to single the company out just because they’re an oil company.

“We shouldn’t further facilitate fossil fuels and the corporate agendas of major petroleum companies if we want to consider ourselves either technologically or morally progressive in any sense of the word,” said David Young, the chemical engineer critical of gas pipelines safety record. “Accepting this pipeline would be a major step backwards for environmental preservation efforts and for providing support to alternative energy development.”

Pipeline Opposition Rises in NJ Towns

However, other towns aren’t backing down against the Pilgrim pipeline proposal. “Some 25 of the 28 towns along the route in New Jersey have passed resolutions opposing the project, with more expected to come on board, according to the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, which is organizing an opposition effort,” NJ.com reported in January 2015.

Jo Sippie-Gora, 75, a local activist, member of Kinnelon Conserve, and a retired Kinnelon resident said that “it’s satisfying” knowing that Americans are against fossil fuel usage.

Sippie-Gora said one of the negative effects the pipeline would possibly bring is, “[lack of] responsibility, the burden is really going to be for the people that live along the pipeline and not on the company. They’re not going to indemnify any of the homeowners or any of the residents and businesses that could be affected.”

Sippie-Gora additionally mentioned that the pipeline would create only short-term jobs. The community needs more long-term jobs and the pipeline only positively effects Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC. New Jersey’s unemployment rating in March 2014 was 5.5%, it remains among the highest in the United States. “Of 302,000 unemployed residents in New Jersey in 2014, around 41 percent, or 125,000 people, have been out of work at least 27 weeks,” according to federal labor data.

President Obama announced on Nov. 6, that he would be rejecting the request from a Canadian oil company to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would of been 1,179-miles long and would have carried 800,000 barrels a day of petroleum from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It has been in review for seven years and finally has ended. Obama cited climate change as a key factor of his decision to deny the pipeline being built.

Perhaps the denial of the Keystone XL pipeline will convince local officials in Pequannock and other towns that would be affected by the pipeline to think long-term.

According to NJ.com, on Jan. 16, 2015 a spokesman for the Pilgrim pipeline announced that the company is “going full steam ahead” regardless of the disapproval that the pipeline has been receiving ever since the plans were publicized. 

Pipeline Company Dismisses Opposition

Paul Nathanson, the spokesman for Pilgrim stated, “We remain confident that it will go through.” The residents that will be affected by the construction will certainly disagree, especially since most of the towns have passed resolutions against it. According to NJ.com, “Nathanson pointed out that the resolutions carry no legal weight and continued to predict that the plan ‘will gain support’ after people learn more about it.”

NJ.com noted that Nathanson claims that the pipeline will be safer and environmentally friendly, among have other benefits. NJ.com also revealed, “In the interview with the editorial board, Paul Martin, director of permitting and licensing for an environmental consulting group, said Pilgrim will need approximately 20 permits from the DEP, along with reviews from the state's Highlands Council and Green Acres program. He estimated it would take 12 to 16 months to get all the necessary approvals.”

If Pilgrim gets all the proper permits to build the pipeline, the New Jersey Sierra Club plans to combat Pilgrim legally as a last resort. 

Sippie-Gora said, “If we’re going to leave a livable planet for our descendants, we have no choice. We have to move away from fossil fuels.”


Jonathan Sanzari has an A.A. from Passaic County Community College and is receiving his B.A. in Communication Arts in August of 2016. He is a contributing writer and copy editor for Meadowlands USA, a publication created by the Meadowlands Regional Chamber. He plans to pursue a job that will cover local news that’ll benefit the community. He is also interested in environmental writing and potentially become a freelance writer.

The Importance of Herbal Medicine & Essential Oils


Ginger plants (Wikipedia.org)


By Tara Glickman
                                   

Society’s lifestyle has become dependent on pharmaceutical drugs that move us away from nature, yet we cannot escape from nature because we are part of nature. What nature can store in our bodies has not fully been discovered. European and Oriental countries have been studying and fulfilling the use of herbs as a practice of medicine for centuries.

The overall benefit of herbal medicine is that there are little to no side effects. These remedies align with nature, which is a positive factor in comparison to industrial chemical-based medicine that can often have serious side effects. The most important factor is that the use of herbal treatment is plausible for any age group.

 Herbs can cure diseases, provide relief because of the active drug that is produced by it, and also combines the chemicals from a plant and how it can offer a sense of relief. This doesn’t necessarily means it works for everyone, but there are commonly no side effects, including the risk of drug addiction.

Herbal medicine is the use of herbs and medicinal plants as the first medicine, which is a universal phenomenon. It can provide a positive quality of life and just as effective as synthetic drugs but without the side effects. Herbal medicine is about 70% of Traditional Chinese Medicine that is accessible deeper within the body to treat the root cause. This creates a more potent and effective treatment to confirm quicker reactions to re-establish health and balance.

Let me illustrate some personal herb medicine and oils that I use, and explain the purpose for each treatment.
     
Ginger

The history of ginger goes back to as early as 500 BC. Ginger was a highly prized herb commonly associated with wealth for thousands of years - in the 13th century, a pound of ginger was traded for a sheep! It is most commonly known for its ability to help digestive ailments (nausea, indigestion, gas, and diarrhea) and relieve aches and pains. It can be consumed fresh, dried, steeped in tea, in fresh vegetable juice or lemonade, in culinary spice mixes, or in essential oil form - diluted and inhaled or rubbed on your tummy for direct relief.

Tumeric

Tumeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herb that has been used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat just about everything from liver problems to pain to depression. Today, researchers have shown turmeric as an aid in treating and preventing certain types of cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes (just to name a few).

This potent natural medicine benefits every system of the body and may just be one of the best things for your overall health to add to your diet. It's pretty mild in flavor, and should definitely be added to your cooking spice cabinet. It is even suggested to throw it in any spicy dish, stir-fry, or even a smoothie. Turmeric is more effectively absorbed with black pepper and is also fat-soluble, so always take it with a bit of fat and black pepper to optimize absorption. The ancient recipe of Golden Milk is a great way to do this (turmeric + black pepper + coconut milk).

 Olive Oil

Olive oil does wonders for your health because it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune system boosting properties. Consuming good quality olive oil daily can help protect against degenerative conditions like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's. It can even be used for moisturizing and rejuvenating damaged skin. If the olive oil isn’t filtered or artificially flavored, it makes a big difference.

Yerba Mate and Lemon Balm

Yerba Mate herb is a plant loaded with vitamins and minerals that are native to South America, known for its energy boosting, mentally stimulating, digestive and immune tonic effects. Lemon Balm herb, of the mint family, used primarily to calm the nerves, relax muscles, relieve indigestion, promote concentration, and treat insomnia, anxiety, and thyroid problems.

Herbal Fat Balls

Homemade stress-fighting herbal fat balls use coconut oil, organic peanut butter, hemp powder, raw honey, chia seeds, cinnamon, and licorice powder. It is loaded with omega 3, protein, magnesium, fiber and vitamins. Licorice root prevents the breakdown of cortisol (our stress hormone) while cinnamon and honey help regulate blood sugar levels. All three of these natural goodies gifted from nature are also used for digestive, immune and cardiovascular health.

Cinnamon (Wikipedia.org)
Cinnamon

Cinnamon is also one of the most delicious medicinal plants a person can consume. Cinnamon helps regulate blood circulation which allows oxygen get to your organs so you can metabolize and function in a healthier way. This "brain food" stimulates mental activity, and is a pain relieving anti-inflammatory, and a digestive tonic. Your body and mind will thank you for sprinkling some good quality cinnamon onto your food whenever you can: oatmeal, coffee, cereal, yogurt, pancakes, baked goods, and smoothies. The options are limitless. It is also recommended to combine it with honey for an extra boost of natural healing energy.

Good nutrition does not mean boring. A delicious dish can be made from a red potato, zucchini, red onion, jalapeƱo, cherry tomato, avocado, egg, jack cheese--scramble in garlic olive oil topped with chia seeds. This is a digestive formula “to ease tension in the mind and gut,” which is perfect for anyone with nervousness or anxiety. Bitters are the secret to digestive enzymes and helping to get your digestion moving. We are chronically lacking bitter tastes in the standard American diet, but our bodies need it for optimal functioning.
                                                                                     

Tara Glickman is studying global communications at Ramapo College of New Jersey. “In my free time I enjoy hiking with my dog and exploring different state parks located near me. I also enjoy cooking and experimenting with different ingredients. I also have a great appreciation for art, independent films, and all the animals in the world. I try living a positive lifestyle at all times and always hope to pass along the energy to those around me. If we can all be kind to one another, the world could be a very beautiful place. It has always been my goal to leave people better than I found them. “Hug the hurt, kiss the broken, befriend the lost, love the lonely.”

Indian Point Power Plant Leak Sets off State Alarms



Indian Point power plant on Hudson Rover  (csglobe.com)


By Tyler Blackman


Earlier this year New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a hazardous radioactive agent has seeped into groundwater at the Indian Point power plant, which is only 25 miles away from New York City, as well as Bergen County, New Jersey. The power plant on the Hudson River in Buchanan, NY is the main source of power for over 23 million people in the New York City area.

“The company reported alarming levels of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well's radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent,” CBS News reported. Tritium, which can cause birth defects and cancer, was found in some areas around the plant peaking at 8 million picocuries per liter. Curie is a measurement of radioactivity, a picocurie is 1 trillionth of a curie. Though the radioactive material did not seep into the Hudson River there was a high possibility of the agent contaminating drinking water.

A spokeperson for the plant, Jerry Nappi, said the leak could’ve came from water spillage “as a result of a mechanical issue during pumping of water during January.”  Spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Neil Sheehan agreed with the statement, adding “it was water build up from a contaminated drain,” but did not have any comments as to why it went overlooked for so long. In 2009 the same plant was under federal investigation following the release of 100,000 gallons of contaminated water. Five years later the plant tested for high levels of tritium during a plant shutdown.

After Governor Cuomo called for an investigation of the plant in February, samples were taken immediately. Since then more tests have been done and have shown that the contamination levels are over 75% higher than the previous samples taken earlier this year. Cuomo is joining efforts by environmental groups to get federal approval for the plant to be shut down.

"It's a disaster waiting to happen and it should be shut down," stated Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, a watchdog organization that works to protect the Hudson River.

 But former director of licensing for the plant, John J. Kelly, said “It’s more of a regulatory problem than an environmental problem”. Entergy, the company owner of the plant, stated that the contamination will not affect local communities since the groundwater is on their plant land..

State officials see a bigger problem.

 “For over 40 years, Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear facilities have been damaging the coastal resources of the Hudson River estuary…New York is home to four commercial nuclear facilities. When properly located and safely functioning, these facilities are regarded as important generators of electricity… However, by virtue of its location as well as its operations, the Department cannot make the same finding as to Indian Point,” Secretary of State Cesar Perales said.


According to news reports, the plant continued to spew toxic radioactive material, in some places as high as 65,000 percent increase compared to previous tests. When will they fix this problem and why does it keep happening? Though the public may not know all the answers to these questions, one question that was answered was the potential termination of the plant. Due to a series of mishaps in the past and present, the investigation called by Governor Cuomo can potentially have a huge influence in the closing of the plant.

“This latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable," Cuomo said, "and I have directed Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to fully investigate this incident and employ all available measures, including working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to determine the extent of the release, its likely duration, cause, and potential impacts to the environment and public health.” 



Tyler Blackman is a graduating senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey pursuing a Multimedia Journalism degree through the school of Contemporary Arts. "After learning about citizen journalist in a class I took, I decided to change my major from Journalism to Multimedia Journalism aiming to gain experience in different fields such as journalism, video production, web/app design, augmented reality and even foreign film."

What's the Big Deal about Tiny Houses?


Tiny house, Globe, Arizona   (photo: Jan Barry) 


By Cassandra Bernyk

      
You may have heard about or even seen within the past couple of years a house that is much smaller than your typical American home. Tiny house living is a movement that is becoming increasingly popular in our nation.

To understand what exactly a ‘tiny house’ is, a typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, and the typical tiny house is between 100 to 400 square feet.

Americans making the decision to downsize to these small homes are becoming more environmentally conscious as well as addressing financial concerns. About a third to half of a typical American’s paycheck may go towards living in a ‘regular sized’ house. This is hard for some families to do over the course of many years. Converting to a tiny house can help simplify your life and help make sound fiscal plans, enjoy life adventures, self-sufficiency, and become more environmentally consciousness.
        
Owning a tiny house can make you more environmentally conscious and friendly, too. Having such a smaller space encourages you own less clutter  and to have a much smaller ecological footprint.

In terms of electricity, a tiny house consumes about 914 kWh/year, which amounts to 1,144 pounds of CO2. In comparison, an average sized home consumes about 12,773 kWh/ year, which amounts to 16,000 pounds of CO2 released into our atmosphere. Heating a tiny house produces about 558 pounds of CO2 per year; compared to heating an average sized home that produces 8,000 pounds of CO2 per year. Cooling a tiny house produces about 286 pounds of CO2 per year; compared to cooling an average sized home which produces about 4,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

In total, a tiny house releases about 2,000 pounds of CO2 annually as compared to an average sized home releasing about 28,000 pounds of CO2 into our atmosphere.
          
Now that many facts about owning a tiny house have been covered, there are tons of different types and models of tiny houses out in the world today. There are different projects and companies that have taken their own spin on this tiny house movement. For example, in Eugene, Oregon there is a tiny house village that was built specifically for people without homes and making it realistic for them to live in one.

The tiny house village is called “Opportunity Village Eugene” and has recently paired up with the company, SunJack, that makes portable solar chargers. These solar charges were placed on the roofs of the tiny houses, making the energy bills of the homes much lower while teaching a community about renewable energy. Each tiny house is about 60 to 80 square feet. All together over 30 homeless people now have a place to live with kitchens, bathrooms, computer and Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and more. The residents of this village pay a $30 utility fee per month along with doing community service hours.

This project is a brilliant way to help out those who are without a home, due to how expensive owning a full sized house can be, along with engaging them with a community teaching them ways to live more sustainably.

An example of a company that is embracing the tiny house movement is “Tumbleweed: Tiny House Company.” Taking a look at the models Tumbleweed offers, they just prove that you do not have to sacrifice beauty for a smaller living situation. Every inch of space is utilized in a way that it is efficient yet not too crowding. While offering four already made models, Tumbleweed encourages the “Do It Your Own” aspect of this movement. They offer floor plans, workshops and more, to make it as simple as it can get to build your very own dream tiny house.
          
While the tiny house movement’s ideal is to downsize and live small, there is nothing small or tiny about the environmentally friendly impacts they are having on our Earth. This movement is proving to be a great move to live more sustainably, while giving folks who currently have no place to call home, the opportunity to do that. Hopefully, with time we can further expand these projects and companies to make an even larger impact on the world.


Cassandra Bernyk is a sophomore at Ramapo College pursuing a B.A in Environmental Studies with a minor in Food Studies.

Water Crisis in Newark Opens Up Widespread Lead Pollution Problem


www.cbsnews.com


By Omar Keita

The entire nation has been exposed to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and what it has caused in the city. However, in the past few months it has been discovered that water in schools and other major facilities in Newark, New Jersey have been contaminated with large amounts of lead. Although many environmentalists say this problem could have and should have been confronted a long time ago.

While Newark seems to be the city that is most affected by lead contamination, smaller amounts have been found in water in Morristown and other communities, as well as at the Passaic Valley Water Commission, which provides water to towns across five New Jersey counties. This water crisis reveals a huge risk that could affect a large amount of people. It also shows that health departments need to raise their standards and have better testing to prevent possible huge outbreaks from happening.

What makes this even more unsettling is that most of the contamination was inside Newark schools, so it could have potentially put a large amount of children at risk.
      
The water crisis in Newark is not nearly as bad as the one in Flint, Michigan. However, it was definitely a “wakeup call” to a growing public health issue in New Jersey, said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. Tittel has previously brought up many of the health problems that have been affecting the state and has constantly been critical of the public health system and what it has been failing to do.

"We need to do a better job of testing throughout the state and fixing these problems. We can't allow our children to be put at risk," Tittel said to Dan Ivers of NJ.com. "While the governor acts like it isn't a serious issue, we're seeing school children and hospital patients being exposed to a dangerous neurotoxin."
        
Tittel brought up a very good point, and health officials know that they must do a better job. But at the same time, they are down playing the problem and trying to lower concerns about the lead levels in the water by telling citizens that the only reason for the lead contamination is because of aging buildings and compared to Flint, lead levels are not nearly as high and dangerous as in Michigan.

No Safe Level of Lead

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe lead level for children. Even at the lowest possible levels, there are signs that show any consumption of lead can affect a child’s intelligence, as well as the ability to pay attention and achieve academic success.
         
In order to make sure that the levels of lead are not toxic and harmful, Newark public schools shut off their fountains to prevent kids from consuming the contaminated water, and they have been drinking from water bottles for the time being. Yet after all the testing and the caution that has been put on the water, health experts have stated that although there has been lead found in the water supply, it is not likely that the lead levels will cause any serious harm to the kids.
       
The word has been put out about water inside Newark public schools being contaminated with lead. Now it is time for the Health Department to take action and do what is necessary to get rid of the water contamination problem before it gets any worse and spreads throughout the city.


Billion dollar Tag to Fix City Water System

However, the process of removing the lead from the water may be a difficult and very expensive task.  To jumpstart the renovation of the Newark water system, Mayor Ras Baraka met with other city officials including Grace Spencer, the city's Assemblywoman, recently to discuss how to gain support for a possible bill that would create a 10-cent bottle deposit in the state, according to NJ.com. The proceeds from each bottle would be put towards the funding to update the outdated water systems. Estimating the total costs of repairing the entire city water system, including old pipes, water mains as well as sewer overflows, would come to more than $1 billion.

 "It's a huge undertaking to just deal with the water systems in the schools, and then the infrastructure problems that we have as a city would be huge of course," Mayor Baraka stated. "We don't have the money and the resources to do that." For that reason the process of rejuvenating Newark’s water system may be even more elongated.
        
If not already, more people will soon have the fear of using the water in their own homes, just for the sake of not being poisoned by the water contaminated with lead. Andrea Adebowale, the city's water and sewer director, tried to make it clear to residents that water at the majority of areas around the city have been tested this past year, and most of the test samples came back with lead levels well below those considered to be dangerous.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency requires those tests to be performed every three years, but due to the recent scares and warnings that have been made about the water in the city, officials are planning to do them on a six-month basis instead to reassure the safety to the city’s residents.


Omar Keita is a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey pursuing a Communications degree.   He enjoys writing and is very interested in learning about the environment and exploring new ways to make the world around him a better place.

The Passaic River: Layers of Pollution


 
commons.wikimedia.org


By Marcus Miles
                                                                        

The Passaic River used to be a beautiful sight but then the manufacturing industry came into play and has changed the river ever since. According to npr.org, “Layers of pollutants sit at the bottom of the lower end of the river. It's predicted to take years to rid the Passaic of dangerous chemicals and it will cost billions." Furthermore, runoff from parking lots and roads adds to erosion and poisoning of the river.

The poisoning reached as far as the Great Falls in Paterson and living not far from the site, over the years I witnessed the river become contaminated and recently haven't see any progress. This summer there will be city council meetings in Paterson to set up a clean-up plan regarding the city and the Great Falls.

 New Jersey's Passaic River became a framework of the country’s inexperienced industrial business. Because of the contamination in the river parts of New Jersey are paying the price. The river begins in the hills of Morris County and runs about ninety miles to Newark Bay and is becoming one of the toughest clean up jobs in the country.  Because of all the manufacturing in small towns and cities, this created a series of dumping areas and many people thought it would be a good idea to continue to dump waste into the Passaic River. This would go on for decades with the river used to flush away sewage and industrial waste.

 According to NorthJersey.com “Some parts of North Jersey are a lot like Flint, Mich.: old, industrial and poor, with many people living in houses built before World War II, drinking tap water that streams through pipes and fixtures made of lead.”  Paterson is one part of the pattern of pollution in the Passaic River. New Jersey's largest city, Newark, is just miles downstream. Recently, people in Newark are reporting that lead is appearing in their drinking water. Between these two cities, the river has suffered two centuries of human garbage and manufacturing junk.

The river became so badly contaminated that the state Department of Environmental Protection banned eating fish that people catch in the river. The disappointing thing is that it getting worse day by day. According to npr.org “Some pollution experts say if you scrape away one layer of poison in the river, you find another. Deadly dioxin covers a layer of mercury. Dig deeper and you find polychlorinated biphenyls — PCBs — which were once used as coolants and insulating fluids.”

Deadly dioxin and yet no one seems to care about this issue, which is hard to understand because people's loved ones are becoming sick and dying.

On March 31, police discovered a dead body in the Passaic River in Paterson. Not only there are toxics, there are also dead bodies appearing in the river and still no alarming reaction. This is the water that people consume and fish in and no major clean up job is in effect. It seems like the government and other environmental organizations are not attempting a cleanup because they do not see how they will benefit from this situation financially.

My father, Bobby Miles, who currently works for DPW, says there are meetings among workers and government officials in Paterson every summer concerning the Great Falls area of the Passaic River. He said “they are not willing to spend large amounts of money for two reasons...Paterson simply does not have the funding for it and, second, they do not really care.”  Paterson is the third largest city in the State of New Jersey, so one would think that there would be more attention to this issue but there isn’t.

The stretch of river in Newark and for several miles north is getting more attention. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on March 4 its $1.4 billion plan to clean up the most polluted portion of the Passaic River, an area made so unhealthy from corporate dumping that people are forbidden from eating the carcinogenic fish and crabs that come from it,” nj.com reported.

This clean up would generate close to 500 jobs and EPA representatives say that taxpayers will not drop a single dime for this work. The clean up will be paid by more than 100 companies that caused the pollution in the river with chemicals they dumped. However, most of companies have not signed any documentation stating that they will support the clean up and take blame. Nj.com states that negations could take more than a year to complete and then another 10 years to devise a plan to start the cleanup.

Furthermore, EPA administrators said the plan to clean up the lower eight miles of the river will take over 11 years to be completed and even after the clean up is done the fish in the river still will not be safe to eat.

EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said there about 100 toxic compounds that have caused health problems for residents in Newark, including dioxin, a spin-off of the herbicide Agent Orange that was used throughout the Vietnam War and was manufactured by the former Diamond Alkali facility in Newark.

 According to the EPA, short term exposure to dioxin may cause skin cancer and damage one’s liver. The long term effects may cause reproductive and developmental problems, trouble making hormones function, harm the immune system and thyroid function, and various kinds of cancer. Administrators state that the pollution from the river can also cause asthma.

The Passaic River is important because it is affecting many in the state and the sooner it is cleaned up the happier everyone will be.


Marcus Miles, a  junior at Ramapo College of New Jersey, is majoring in Communication Arts: Journalism.

For more information
www.npr.org/2010/11/19/131167397/the-dirty-truth-about-that-other-jersey-shore
www.northjersey.com/community-news/tap-water-at-risk-closer-to-home-many-pipes-in-north-jersey-made-of-lead-1.1519652?page=all
www.northjersey.com/news/traces-of-toxic-chemical-found-in-north-jersey-water-supplies-1.1530489
patersontimes.com/2016/03/31/body-pulled-out-of-passaic-river-in-paterson-police/
www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2016/03/epa_14b_passaic_river_cleanup_will_be_paid_for_by.html

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Garfield Orphan Pollution Site Worries Residents


EPA map of chromium pollution site

By Larissa Ledo


Residents in Garfield, New Jersey, live in fear hexavalent chromium is infiltrating their basements, putting themselves and their family in danger, and that their house could have lost its property value.
   
About 30 years ago, three tons of cancer causing chromium leaked from a tank at the E.C. Electroplating plant on Clark Street. At the time, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection stopped the cleanup after only 30 percent of it had been recovered, despite de evidence that is was traveling throughout the neighborhood. The state officials came to the conclusion that since there were no wells for drinking water in the area then there was no threat to the public health.
 
This story was revealed by The Record, according to archives at northjersey.com, after reporters spent months investigating the spill and related documents. It was found that engineers had reported that the chromium was migrating from the E.C. plant towards the Passaic River. They did some investigation but not well enough, as the test wells were dug far too shallow to reach the bulk of chromium. Four months later chromium was found in E.C.’s basement after heavy rain and a decade later in a firehouse a mile away. The city closed the firehouse as a health danger to firefighters. Yet no testing was ever done. And lastly, the DEP went years without checking on the site when the company, which had closed, was supposed to file regular reports with the DEP.
  
The US Environmental Protection Agency, which took over the case, has now spent millions to clean up basements, demolish the plant, and remove 5,700 tons of chromium-contaminated oil, 1,150 tons of concrete and 6,100 gallons of polluted water.
    
E.C. Electroplating was opened by Edward Calderio in 1935. Workers did a very dangerous task of chemically plating copper and chromium onto machine parts. The company, which was to be passed down through generations, became a successful small business. The type of chromium chosen at E.C was hexavalent chromium which is cheaper but more toxic.
      
At 4:30 pm on Dec. 14, 1983, a tank was closed outside of the factory with capacity for about 7,280 gallons of chromium. Around 2 am, it was discovered that the tank had leaked half of its content. An inspection found that a flange had broken causing it to leak into the ground for hours. E.C. did the right thing and alerted the city officials and the DEP.
    
The DEP failed to gauge the extent of contamination, approve a cleanup plan, and make sure the work was done, according to The Record.
    
The US Environmental Protection Agency then took over the site –several city blocks stretching from by Van Winkle Avenue to the north, Monroe Street to the south, Sherman Place to the east, and the Passaic Rive to the west – and declared it a Superfund site in 2011. Since then is was discovered that the contamination had traveled under the Passaic River into the city of Passaic, but deep enough, EPA said, to keep its residents out of risk.
    
A pilot study using vegetable oil to remove the cancer causing chromium was made however, it produced mixed results and scientists were unsure of how to clean up the contaminated groundwater. The study plan was to pump vegetable oil into he contaminated plume with the idea that it would generate enough bacteria to break down hexavalent chromium to less toxic trivalent chromium. Another solution would be to pump the contaminated groundwater to the surface and treat it there.
   
However, once the EPA selects a plan Garfield will most likely go on a national waiting list for money to do the work, The Record reported. Garfield is an “orphan site” which means the company is bankrupt and the government had to pay for the cleanup. The EPA panel determines which orphan sites receives money based on risk to human health and the environment.


Larissa Ledo, a junior at Ramapo College of New Jersey, is studying for a BA in Communications Arts: Journalism. After graduation, she hopes to be working for a newspaper.

Is Lack of Connection to Nature Harming Our Children?





By Melanie Schuck


We are a society in trouble. We have a broken political structure rife with corruption and greed. Our people choose to be friends with their devices and rely on them more than actual people. Violence and crime are very high. We have more people in prison per capita than any other nation on Earth. And these are only a few of our societal problems. The worst of them all is global climate change and overall destruction of the natural environments of the Earth. This is the worst because it directly affects humans and once it starts affecting us (as it already has) it will be next to impossible to stop it. The implications of this disaster are enormous. This story will seek to address the issue between this destruction and the growing trend of humans being disconnected from nature.

With an increasing faith in technology, humans are becoming more and more disconnected from the natural world. This phenomenon is known as nature-deficit disorder. The term nature-deficit disorder was coined by journalist Richard Louv to describe the current trend of disconnection between humans and the natural world. It is not an official diagnosis that is being used by therapists and psychologists but it is a very accurate description of what is currently happening in our world.

Is it a possibility that the prevalence of nature-deficit disorder has a direct correlation to our destruction of the natural environment? I believe the answer to be a firm yes. The more we urbanize and get disconnected from nature the more we become apathetic to the destruction of the natural world. The more we become apathetic towards nature the more we destroy it and become disconnected from it. Thus, it becomes a vicious cycle between nature-deficit disorder and destroying many of the Earth’s natural environments. Therefore reconnecting with nature goes beyond improving ourselves as humans.

It we are to connect with nature we are less likely to destroy it and more likely to preserve it. The more we preserve it the more it saves us as a species because we need the environment in order to survive, but it doesn’t need us. As can be seen from that above explanation, we have everything to gain in terms of reconnecting with nature.

Solution to Climate Change

Could one of the solutions to climate change be reconnecting with nature? Again, I believe the answer to this question to be yes. This hooks directly into the first question I posed in this piece. If we reconnect with nature, we are more likely to respect it therefore we might even go out of way to prevent further destruction from happening. If this is the case then one solution to climate change could simply to respect nature more than we do now.

In his book Last Child in the Woods, there is a quote that Mr. Louv includes that states “‘our brains are set up for an agrarian, nature-oriented existence that came into focus five thousand years ago,’ says Michael Gurian.” Using this statement, we can see the implication of the effects technology has on us as a species. As the quote says, our brains are calibrated for existence in nature not our current existence of constant technological stimulation and fast-paced life.  

However, we as humans can adapt. But, if our brains are set for the agrarian society that our world used to be then what damage is it doing to us? Not to mention the damage our planet is taking? Mr. Louv answers the first question in Last Child in the Woods, where he looks specifically at the effects nature-deficit disorder has on children. In this book, he talks about disturbing trends in children in the last few decades. Diagnoses of Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder (ADHD), childhood obesity and the prescribing of anti-depressants to children are all on the rise. Mr. Louv argues that this is directly connected to children’s lack of time in nature.

The most obvious connection is childhood obesity. If children are increasingly spending more time indoors than outside, then they are more likely to be overweight because they are not getting enough exercise. The reason they are spending so much time indoors is due to the new technology available (tablets, gaming systems, computers etc.). Since these devices require electricity to power them, the children would need to be near outlets to charge up or use their devices. In addition, the extended time spent in front of screens can damage their development.
  
Screen-Free Week

This is one of the reasons why the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood is sponsoring their annual Screen-Free Week right now. It is from May second to the eighth this year and it encourages families and individuals to go a week without using any devices with a screen (with the exception of usage for work or school). Another reason why they sponsor this event is for the reasons in this story: reconnecting with nature as well as with friends and family.

Yesterday, my aunt told me about a news story she had heard of a thirteen-year-old boy stabbing a fourteen-year-old boy. She asked me ‘what’s wrong with our society?’ I firmly believe that there is a solid link between this disconnection from nature and the violence in the example of that story.

Some people may believe it is a stretch to make that claim but I disagree with that. Studies have shown that violence in the media whether it be video games, television shows or movies causes an increase in aggressive and violent behavior. If these children are spending all of their time playing a game such as Grand Theft Auto (the crime that the game is centered around is in the title) and they see these violent acts day after day, they are more likely to act like this or, worse, think that is acceptable to act in such a way. If they were to spend more time in the general serenity of nature then perhaps it would calm them and maybe even reverse the damage the video games and media have caused.



Melanie Schuck is a student at Ramapo College of New Jersey with a passion for writing. She will graduate with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. She hopes to make a difference with whatever job she gets after graduation but her ultimate aspiration is to publish her novels that she has been working on since high school and build a career out of her writing.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Honeybees: Campaigning for the Creatures Who Help Feed Us


bringbackthebees.ca



By Marissa Erdelyi
 

Do you think you could go a day without your morning cup of coffee? I know I couldn’t, but I might have to. What about losing that fresh lemon in your water when you go out to eat? You could lose that too.

You know those pesky little black and yellow creatures that we swat at whenever they come near us, the honeybees? If we lose the little creatures, we could lose a lot more. Due to the high use of pesticides, this loss is more than a slight possibility. 

Apples, mangos, strawberries, onions, avocadoes… that’s just the start of a long list of foods that would be lost along with the honeybees. 

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind the queen, food and a few nurse bees to care for the young. When this happens, a colony is able to sustain itself for a while, but without enough workers bringing in food, the hive will die.
 
Bad News for Bees

Colony collapse disorder has been happening for some time now. The honeybee population has been noticeably declining for decades, with a 57% decline in colonies between 1985 and 1997 in the United States, according to treehugger.com. In 2005, it was clear that the loss of bees was becoming troublesome when agricultural workers suffered great losses due to the decline in the pollinators (the bees). According to the National Resources Defense Center, in 2015, 42% of bee colonies collapsed.

 So why is this happening? More importantly, why should you care? We’ll start off with the causes.

Colony collapse disorder has been found to occur for several reasons. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some of the events that are known to cause CCD include pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control, changes to the habitat where bees forage (gather nectar and nutrition), and inadequate forage or poor nutrition.

Bad News for Us

So now why should you care? Well, people need bees for many of the foods we enjoy eating. A good portion of the food we eat comes from crops that rely on animal pollinators. I mentioned just some of these crops before, but if you head over to FIX, there’s a list to put this in perspective.

As stated previously, people need bees, and now bees need people. There is a lot that can be done in order to save the population of honeybees in the U.S., and popular companies have noticed this. Companies such as Burt’s Bees and General Mills have been taking actions to help save the honeybees.

#BringBacktheBees Campaign

Burt’s Bees, an American company that provides Earth friendly personal care, health, beauty, and personal hygiene products, recently launched their #BringBacktheBees campaign on social media. The campaign prompts users to tweet b-less. For every b-less tweet, the company will plant 1,000 wildflowers in said tweets honor. Users can also purchase one of the company’s limited edition lip balms in order to help bring back the bees. 

The company’s goal is to plant 1,000,000,000 flowers in total. The campaign is running until June 30th, and has already pledged to plant over 800,000,000 wildflowers. The flowers are set to be planted next to farms in order to offer the honeybees a “nutritious and much-needed feast.”     

General Mills, the company behind Honey Nut Cheerios (a cereal that clearly depends and supports honeybees), has also taken initiative to help save the bees. In April, the brand announced that by the year 2020, farms that Honey Nut Cheerios gets oats from will house about 3,300 acres of pollinator habitat on 60,000 acres of farmland. 


The trend to save the bees is not a new one among companies. Back in 2009, Haagen-Dazs, the ice cream company, launched “HD loves HB.” The company’s public relations campaign included a Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream flavor; a $250,000 research grant to Penn State; a print partnership with National Geographic, Martha Stewart Living and Gourmet, which featured custom advertorials.

The company also released the first ever plantable, seed-embedded paper-insert ads. Readers could crumple these ads up and plant them in the ground. If you’re wondering what Haagen-Dazs has to do with the honeybees, the company depends on bee pollination for over 40% of its flavors.

Clearly, a lot is being done to save the honeybees, but more needs to be done to protect the colonies. To help save the honeybees, you can, of course, support these companies that have promised to help save the honeybees. There are also other steps that can be taken to help, such as planting your own nectar plants, reducing the amount of pesticides you use, and helping educate other people to this crisis.


For more information:
www.savehoneybees.org.

 
Marissa Erdelyi is a senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She will be graduating with a BA in Communication Arts: Writing.

Pilgrim Pipeline: Potential Nightmare in the Making

Great Blue Heron fishing in Ramapo River      (photo: Geoff Welch)

By Daniel Mercurio

 Imagine a ferocious explosion of an oil pipeline near Ramapo College, as has happened in many parts of the United States in recent years. That possibility is underscored in a pipeline environmental assessment that a number of Ramapo College students worked on this semester. 

Students pursuing Ramapo College’s Environmental Studies major are required to take a course titled Environmental Assessment. This 400 level capstone course is offered to students during their senior year. Students enrolled in the course are expected to learn about the environmental assessment process and apply it to a real life situation.  

According to hrsa.gov, “An Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a concise public document that helps public officials make decisions that are based on an understanding of the human and physical environmental consequences of a proposed project and take actions, in the location and design of the project, that protect, restore and enhance the environment.”  


This year, students taking the environmental assessment course were presented with an opportunity to assess the environmental impacts of a pipeline project being proposed by a company called Pilgrim.  

The Pilgrim Pipeline Company plans to construct two 178-mile long pipelines that would run between Albany, New York and Linden, New Jersey. If approved by government agencies, these pipelines will transport bakken crude oil to the south and send refined products like home heating oil and kerosene to the north. This largescale project has the potential to negatively affect the environment and humans, particularly, those living in the New Jersey Highlands Region.  

The proposed pipeline would be placed in trenches dug along the New York Thruway, including much of the Ramapo River corridor upstream of Mahwah, and through the Ramapo Mountains near Ramapo College. 

Students have been assigned to create an environmental impact statement on Pilgrim’s pipeline proposal. This document is to detail any potential impacts to humans and the environment caused by the construction and operation of the pipeline. These impacts fall under several different environmental indicators like health and safety, environmental hazards, socio-economic, and culture and history. Such indicators have been researched by students. The impacts identified within these indicators will provide the groundwork for the assessment of the company’s proposal to construct the pipeline.

Threats to Human Health

Students’ research into the health and safety indicator found that the Pilgrim Pipeline Project could exasperate pre-existing health related issues within counties that make up the New Jersey Highlands region along with those in lower New York State such as Orange and Rockland. Most of the counties in this region of interest (ROI) have higher rates of aggravated asthma and lung cancer. As a result, the Pilgrim Pipeline could worsen the problem, as toxic fumes from potential fires and explosions may occur with a pipeline infrastructure in place.

Another health and safety issue concerns impacts caused by pipeline spills. Data provided by an online source revealed that counties within the ROI have experienced several pipeline spills and leaks between 1980 and 2016. According to the Right-To-Know Network, “Morris County had a total of 14 pipeline related oil and fuel spills while Bergen had 16 and Rockland County had 15.”  

Even though spills don’t occur frequently, there were still a fair number of incidents over this 35-year period. The Pilgrim Pipeline Project could increase these spill statistics and adversely affect human health. For example, the Pilgrim Pipeline could threaten humans if hazardous liquid material from a pipeline spill contaminates groundwater drinking sources such as aquifers and water supply streams such as the Ramapo River.

Threats to Wildlife and Forests

The environmental hazards indicator team researches any environmental hazards presented by the Pilgrim Pipeline Project to wildlife living within the New Jersey Highlands Region. Previous research conducted within this indicator revealed that there are several preexisting contamination sites within the region that are already impacting the health of flora and fauna. As a result, the operation of the Pilgrim Pipeline could result in more pollution entering the surrounding environment from potential pipeline incidents such as spills, leaks, or explosions. This means that living organisms may suffer to an even greater extent from a newly constructed pipeline.

Another serious concern presented by the Pilgrim Pipeline is habitat fragmentation, which can affect the Highlands forests, which provide clean water to water supply streams and shelter migratory birds and other wildlife. According to a student in the Environmental Assessment Capstone Course researching the environmental hazards indicator:

“Clearing large strips of vegetation to create the ROW for Pilgrim Pipeline will cause fragmentation of the surrounding forest. Fragmentation will lead to a plethora of effects, such as creating a wind corridor, opening up opportunities for invasive species to move in, degrading habitat for fauna, and changing the levels of light exposure on the vegetation and soil. Increased wind and light exposure will potentially create a new microclimate that will make it more difficult for the native flora to thrive as it normally would. Wind exposure could make it more difficult for young plants to survive by putting extra stress on them and weakening their foundations. Moreover, the open soil along the ROW will degrade in quality as the wind causes erosion.”


Threats to Property Values and Cultural Values

The socio-economic indicator team found that Pilgrim Pipeline could have a negative impact on property values as there is a greater risk of a spill occurring near homes. Dr. Robert A. Simons, an expert in the real-estate business from the Cleveland area, noted that spill incidents from petroleum pipelines generally result in decreased property values. He stated, “The properties adjacent to a spill are significantly devalued by 10-40%, while those nearby, lost up to 8% of their value.”  This issue can lead to less business for real-estate agents who will have fewer homes to sell since potential buyers won’t want to spend money on a property that runs the risk of being damaged by pipeline related incidents.

The cultural resource indicator team looked into how the Pilgrim Pipeline Project could have a negative impact on the Ramapough Lunaape Indians’ ideological beliefs. The main reason concerns how construction of the pipeline can ruin the land in the Ramapo Mountains on which they base their vision of how the world was created. A student researching this indicator discovered that, “The traditional belief of natives including the Ramapoughs is that everyone lives on Turtle Island. Turtle Island is the traditional story that Sky Woman fell down to Earth when the world was covered in water. Animals tried to swim to the bottom of the ocean and bring dirt to create land. Muskrat was successful in doing this by gathering dirt and putting it on turtle’s back which grew into land which is North America.” With that said, the construction of the Pilgrim Pipeline will make the story less credible since it will sever the tribe’s deep spiritual connection to the land. In the end, it will also ruin their system of beliefs.

The potential impacts found by the Environmental Assessment class raise serious health and safety, water supply, socio-economic, forest and wildlife issues as the proposed pipeline project seeks government permits.



Daniel Mercurio is a senior at Ramapo College where he is pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Studies. In addition to Environmental Assessment, he has taken several courses that emphasized the importance of protecting and preserving the natural environment through the implementation of sustainable approaches. After college, he wants to apply his knowledge and understanding of the environment to real world applications. His lifelong goal is to give back to society by preserving the environment’s natural resources. This way, future generations will be able to live comfortably.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Environmental Reporters Shine Light on Environmental Injustice

Scott Fallon on Twitter

By Jonathan Sanzari


The environmental writing class was visited recently by a staff writer for The Record, Scott Fallon, who covers environmental stories. He wore what you would typically see in newsrooms: a button-up shirt, a tie and khaki pants. He stopped by the classroom to pass on his own experience about getting into environmental writing, among other topics.

Fallon told us that he isn’t an avid hiker or into advocating for an eco-friendlier planet. Most likely, because that would be a journalistic violation. He decided to cover environmental stories for The Record, he said, because he believes in responsibility. He wants to put the spotlight on companies and individuals that are causing environmental injustices. 

He wants the companies to clean-up after the mess they leave behind. He used an anecdote about his daughter as an analogy to get his point across as to why he got into environmental reporting. He said, “My daughter spilt milk on the kitchen floor and I teach her to take responsibility for your actions. She has to clean up after herself.” 

Fallon feels the same way about how Ford Motor Company thought that they could avoid taking responsibility for their paint sludge that they didn’t properly dispose of. That was until the "Toxic Legacy" articles by former Record staff writer Jan Barry with an investigative team of fellow reporters, came out and put them under public pressure. Soon after, the site where Ford dumped the paint sludge was relisted as a Superfund site that the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered to be properly cleaned up.

Fallon believes in leaving behind a livable planet for future generations. Many companies continue to be negligent to the proper disposal of chemicals that they use in their products. However, reporters like Fallon and Barry aren’t scared to expose the company for the environmental contamination they have committed. 

We should be grateful for reporters who work to inform the community about undisputable facts that could lead to health risks in their own backyards. The public has a right to know who was responsible for the poisoning of their water, soil and air. It’s shocking to find out that a lot of newspapers still don’t cover environmental dilemmas in their community. A lot of companies fund the local newspaper through advertisements and may cause the story to not see the light of day.

However, Fallon is not easily persuaded to abandon his journalistic integrity. He serves the community the facts without holding back any details. In The Record and on Northjersey.com, Fallon recently reported, “Test results compiled by the federal government in the past three years show 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, in Fair Lawn, Garfield, Pompton Lakes and several other towns that rely heavily on wells. It has also been found in almost 80 other water systems in every part of the state, from Shore towns to Highlands communities.”

Fallon enjoys bringing awareness of local health risks caused by not properly disposing of chemicals. He made sure to include the company’s names who contaminated the local water supply. “The water comes from the Westmoreland Well Field, one of the region’s oldest Superfund sites. It is contaminated with solvents from Eastman Kodak, Fisher Scientific and Sandvik Inc. that leached into the water supply.”

Hopefully the rise of more environmental reporters will keep companies in check to appropriately arrange the disposal of their toxic waste and to prevent industrial side effects that cause pollution.

 

Silent Spring Alerted Public to Dangers of Widespread Pesticide


By Jonathan Sanzari


Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring conveyed vivid detail about nature and the impact of chemicals on the environment. She also did a very good job of incorporating different approaches into her writing style. Many people call her writing style an “ecological” approach. I concur with that statement, being that her previous published books were Under the Sea Wind, The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea

She is passionate about her writing and about the subjects she covers. In Silent Spring, Carson addressed the rising problem of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, commonly known as DDT. It was being sprayed all over natural habitats and she shows how that would permanently affect them and the humans that it came in contact with the chemical. 

The book was published in 1962. According to NRDC, DDT was “developed in 1939, it first distinguished itself during World War II (WWII), clearing South Pacific islands of malaria-causing insects for U.S. troops while being used as an effective delousing powder in Europe.”

Carson was born in 1907. That means she was 32 when the government was developing DDT to use during WWII. Carson was influenced by the heavy usage of the chemical and the role it had as the commonly used chemical that prevented mosquito outbreaks and killed weeds. 

It wasn’t until 1958, however, that she really took action on this issue. Carson was 51, when she received a letter from a friend in Massachusetts explaining that all the birds were dying in an area on Cape Cod due to the DDT sprayings that were being done, according to NRDC.

Carson’s Silent Spring was a book that was truly impactful and eventually led to the halt of manufacturing DDT. Carson’s educational and informal book served partially as a public service announcement. She warned that the commonly used pesticide was a horrific chemical concoction that has long-term health risks and even impacts nature permanently.

Her book featured statements by well-known scientists and chemists that raised attention to DDT’s side effects. Silent Spring was on the New York Times best-seller list for 86 weeks and was also an international best-seller. Her research, detailed storytelling and imagery did not go unnoticed. She is a one of kind advocate that is all about supplying the facts to the people. I highly doubt the government was planning on announcing the side-effects of DDT to the public anytime soon.

Carson’s Silent Spring made citizens reevaluate their use of the dangerous and harmful chemical. She really put pressure on the government once she published the book. She was on a mission to deliver the truth and to paint a picture of the future if we continue to use the chemical. Readers were influenced to really look out for the poisonous pesticide and to prohibit the use of it. Since DDT was eventually banned, the companies that made it found alternatives to still profit. They produced cousin products of DDT that are still available to buy today. Make sure you do your research before you by a lawn-care product.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Trails of the Ramapo Reservation

View from Ramapo Reservation     (photo: Melissa Edrelyi)

By Melissa Erdelyi    


The Ramapo Reservation in Mahwah, New Jersey is a Bergen County park of over 4,000 acres of forest on the edge of the New Jersey Highlands Region. The park features hiking trails for all levels of experience, tent campsites from April to November, cross-country skiing during the winter, canoe and kayak access to the Ramapo River, and fishing with a NJ state fishing license.

The reservation offers several marked trails, ranging in distances from 0.3 to 3.5 miles. Hikers can choose to take a short, but steep, hike up to picturesque Hawk Rock. Once completing the hike, hikers will be open to a panoramic view of such sites as Ramapo College and Lake Henry.

Another longer, yet less strenuous trail brings hikers up to MacMillan Reservoir. The hike to MacMillan Reservoir is popular among visitors who bring adventurous dogs on leashes.

For those who do not wish to take such a strenuous trek, the park also offers leisurely strolls. Upon entering the park, strollers can take a walk around Scarlet Oak Pond. Around the pond, there are also several open areas and tables where visitors are welcome to enjoy a meal with the pond in view, so long as they clean up after themselves using one of the many trash receptacles offered.

If you’re interested in taking a hike at the Ramapo Reservation, visit www.co.bergen.nj.us/DocumentCenter/View/1135 for a map of the trails. Maps are also available for pick up in the parking lot of the reservation.

A short walk from the entrance to the park is the Darlington Schoolhouse, now the headquarters for the New York New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC).

The NYNJTC has been working since 1920 in partnership with parks in order to create, protect, and promote a network of over 2,100 miles of public trails in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. It is because of the NYNJTC that the Ramapo Reservation has so many safe and open trails for the public to enjoy.

The NYNJTC is a nonprofit organization that has 10,000 individual active members and 100 clubs that have a combined total of 100,000 members.

Becoming a member of the NYNJTC not only gives one the opportunity to volunteer and enjoy the outdoors, it also offers benefits such as a free subscription to the Trail Walker and access to the Hoeferlin Library. To become a member of the NYNJTC or get more information on the trail conference, visit www.nynjtc.org/panel/aboutnynjtc .

Hybrid Vehicles: A Sustainable Mode of Transportation

www.greencarreports.com

By Daniel Mercurio


Hybrid cars are much better for the environment than traditional vehicles since they burn much less gasoline. In fact, the term hybrid originated from the idea of designing a vehicle that can run on two different sources of fuel. Like a traditional car, hybrids can also run on gasoline. However, the hybrid car burns much less gasoline than traditional cars since they can tap into energy generated from a secondary fuel source such as electricity or hydrogen once the gasoline runs out. The significant decrease in the amount of gasoline burned by hybrid vehicles can have major benefits for the surrounding environment. However, this will only occur if the vehicle is largely integrated into the fabric of society.       

A large enough adoption of hybrid vehicles by society can significantly decrease the large amounts of gasoline burned by traditional vehicles and help preserve the environment. One reason is that hybrid cars achieve better miles per gallon of gasoline burned when compared to traditional vehicles. Another is due to a hybrid vehicle’s use of alternative sources of fuel. The combination of these two factors will result in travelers having to refill their gas tanks much less frequently.

This would have an impact on the amount of crude oil that gets brought up to the earth’s surface via hydraulic fracking practices, which can harm plant and animal species. Moreover, this would also prevent vast amounts of fossil fuel emissions from entering into and contaminating the atmosphere from solely gasoline powered vehicles that emit tremendous amounts of toxins. In fact, survey information acquired from www.bcairquality.ca states, “Cars emit nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and smaller amounts of other pollutants such as Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3).”

There will be much less atmospheric pollution as energy efficient cars such as hybrids become more integrated into society. In fact, five U.S. states along with several overseas countries plan to pass regulations that ban the creation of traditional gasoline powered vehicles in the near to mid future. According to Business Insider’s Bryan Logan’s article titled "Eight US states want to ban cars that run on gasoline only by 2050," “In 35 years, California, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts — plus Oregon and Vermont — will prohibit automakers from selling new gas or diesel-powered vehicles in their states. In addition to those eight states, Quebec, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom are vowing to implement similar bans.”

On Assignment with Scott Fallon


By Larissa Ledo

We had the great opportunity to meet Scott Fallon, an environmental reporter for The Record, as he visited our class. Although he writes and reports about the environment he is not interested in saving the planet, he said, but in bringing awareness about what is going on in our planet. He spoke about many topics, one of them being the chromium issue in Garfield, New Jersey, which many people are not aware of. 

According to Scott Fallon’s reporting in The Record and on NorthJersey.com, in 1993 on Clark Street three tons of cancer causing chromium leaked from a tank at the E.C. Electroplating plant. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection showed poor judgment and stopped the clean up after only 30 percent of it had been recovered, despite the evidence that it was migrating throughout the neighborhood.
      
At the time it was declared no significant threat to the public health, however today is said otherwise. A few months after the spill high levels of chromium were found in E.C.’s basement, and years later in a firehouse a mile away. And now it has progressed in the groundwater to many homes, apartment buildings, and stores. The owner of those homes not only have their health threated but also are unable to sell their homes.       

The same problem has occurred with the Superfund site in Ringwood that was declared clean when it was still polluted. The only difference in Garfield is that there is an entire city neighborhood on top of the pollution, which makes it a lot more dangerous and difficult. 
    
Scott Fallon’s visit was very interesting and gave us all an idea of how it is to be an environmental writer. Even though he is not someone who wants to save the planet he still is concerned with what is going on and wants to help his reader know the facts about threats to public health.

         

Wind Energy Can Help Power the Future

By Marcus Miles

                                                       
Watching a YouTube video about wind power, I noticed how much the United States can benefit from wind energy financially and for the environment. The video demonstrates how important wind energy is by limiting fossil fuels, creating electricity, available 24/7 and finally the most important reason wind is free. Also in the video, it shows that wind turbines are the future of wind energy and providing a healthy environment. A wind turbine is like an opposite of a fan that doesn’t require electricity to run and convert kinetic energy into mechanical energy. The video provides different kinds of wind turbine such as vertical and horizontal axis turbines and as well shares where the best places to place these turbines are.

 It is a good choice to place these turbines on land because of large fields that provide enough space to support the turbines and near highways because some wind turbines will create lots of noise. Wind turbines are also effective built off shore because ocean winds at times can be strong and will provide a ton of energy. Although it costs money to put up wind turbines, once they’re up that energy is free. It is one of the cheapest renewable energy resources made. Wind turbines emit no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases into the air, meaning there is no carbon footprint. Advances have been made in wind energy, where wind turbines can be used in developed countries and third world countries. According to boem.gov “Wind resource potential is typically given in gigawatts (GW), and 1 GW of wind power will supply between 225,000 to 300,000 average U.S. homes with power annually”

A few negatives about wind turbines: although there is not an exact number, scientists believe that high numbers of birds are killed by wind turbines annually. They can be inconsistent at times since wind is not constant, if there is no wind, there is no energy being produced. Wind turbines are generally noisy because of the rotor blades; which is unappealing to many people. In order to provide electricity to entire communities, many turbines must be built which will cost a lot of money. 

Even though they have negative side effects, wind turbines will provide a bright and long future. With wind, this type of energy can be used as a source of energy to in areas. Wind energy costs are lower than the costs of most other sources of energy since it is almost free to run. The country should take advantage of this source of energy, especially the government which likes to save money when dealing with environmental issues.


For more information
www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiSWe3_GEUA
www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/environmental-impacts-wind-power.html#.VxlF2qPmpMt
http://energy.gov/eere/wind/how-do-wind-turbines-work
www.boem.gov/renewable-energy-program/renewable-energy-guide/offshore-wind-energy.aspx