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 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 .

Hybrid Vehicles: A Sustainable Mode of Transportation

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 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, 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 “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

Silent Spring: Intriguing Spring Break Read

By Larissa Ledo

In Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, read over spring break, the chapter that caught my attention the most was chapter nine, “Rivers of Death.”  Silent Spring is an environmental science book that documents the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds.

As I read the book, when I reached chapter nine the name of the chapter itself caught my attention, which made the read easier and more interesting. In that chapter Rachel Carson paints a complete picture of the salmon cycle of the Miramichi River of New Brunswick. In 1954 the Canadian government sprayed the forests with DDT for the spruce budworm to save the trees. The spray fallout included dead salmon in the river within two days, and dead birds as well. This solution is only temporary so respraying is always needed. 

Nature intervened to save the salmon and Miramichi River with Hurricane Edna. It all turned out well because there was only spraying affecting that part of the river for only a year. In late 1950’s the US Forest Service allowed spraying in Yellowstone Park. There were dead salmon all along the shore with DDT in their tissues. Sometimes they did not die immediately which meant fishermen were exposed to the poison. 

Throughout the chapter she goes on about alternative methods of forest management, including natural parasitism and microorganisms. Carson explains disasters many fish suffer such as agricultural run off and salt marsh spraying.

The big fish kill on the Colorado River in Texas in 1961 was also a topic. Hundreds of miles downstream from a chemical plant leak in Austin, 27 species of fish died and the fish population was altered for years.

The whole book was fascinating, filled with so much information and written in a way making it so interesting to read. However, for me, “Rivers of Death” was the most interesting and with a title that can catch anyone’s attention, which makes the reader a lot more intrigued to read.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cattus Island County Park Nature Center Reconstruction Underway

News Release

Contact: Cassandra Bernyk

TOMS RIVER, NJ--The reconstruction of the well known and loved Cattus Island nature center in Ocean County has begun and will open in summer 2016. Ever since the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the popular nature center has been closed due to the flooding. The doors were finally opened again to begin the road to recovery for the Cooper Environmental Center known for fun educational programs about the environment and home for various kinds of native animals. The $905,000 reconstruction will keep most of the original design while now meeting Americans with Disability Act standards and having the ability to withstand a super storm like Hurricane Sandy, say officials.

As of April 1, the demolition of the building’s interior is complete and the interior framing, all rough mechanical installations (which include HVAC, electric, and plumbing), are all about 90 percent complete. As Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr previously said, the hold up on reconstruction was due to permit complications that were essential to the project. Other reconstruction options were available to the county, however it was decided that the best option was to use storm-resistant materials. Seeing the reconstruction of the Cooper Environmental Center really being kicked off has residents and visitors anxious--as reflected in comments in the Cattus guestbook-- for the re-opening of their favorite place to learn about the environment surrounding them.

New York City Earth Day Events

For Immediate Release

Contact: Larissa Ledo

New York City, NY-- Earth Day 2016 events in New York City will be happening Sunday, April 17 from 12 to 7 pm. The annual Earth Day New York events are a fantastic way to connect to environmental campaigns, green products, and interesting organizations doing great green work. There will be dozens of exhibitors, interactive displays, live performances, and kids’ activities.

It will be happening at Union Square, North Plaza – E. 17th St. and Park Ave., New York, NY.

If interested in exhibitor and sponsor opportunities, get in touch at or 212-922-0048.

They will be presenting their annual Earth Day Initiative / NRDC-NY Awards to chef Tom Colicchio, DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and urban farmer and food justice advocate Karen Washington at 12 noon. The presentation will be followed by brief speeches and life music. The annual event is a great way to connect to thousands of green-minded New Yorkers and visitors.

Also the annual Earth Day 5K Green Tour will be held Friday, April 22, from 9:30 am to noon. It will be the second time the 5K will be happening. It is a way to raise money for all year around environmental education programs and visit great places such as the underground park Lowline, the eco-friendly 1 Hotel Central Park, and a natural food cooking school.

For details and to register to participate: or 212-922-0048.

FLOW Green Film Festival to Show "Mann v. Ford" April 26

For Immediate Release

Contact: Melanie Schuck

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. – The documentary Mann v. Ford will be shown at Ramapo High School (331 George Street, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey) on Tuesday April 26 at seven p.m. This showing of the film is part of the Third Annual FLOW Green Film Festival. Among the other documentaries being shown as part of the festival are The Tiny Seed and Racing to Zero scheduled for the Wyckoff Library on April 17 and April 28, respectively.

The film festival is a joint venture of the Franklin Lakes, Oakland, Wyckoff Environmental Commissions. Working with the commissions are the Wyckoff Public Library and the Ramapo High School Green Team. Immediately following the showing of Mann v. Ford will be a discussion hosted by the Ramapo High School Environmental Club on the question of what will it take to undo the damage?

The film is about the struggle of the Ramapough Indians to get Ford Motor Company to take responsibility for their actions and clean up toxic paint sludge and other industrial waste that had been dumped by the Ford plant in Mahwah on land where the Ramapoughs in live in Ringwood and other areas.

Ramapo River Watershed Conference at Ramapo College on Earth Day, April 22

For Immediate Release

Contact: Geoff Welch,

Mahwah, NJ--This year the annual Ramapo River Watershed Conference at Ramapo College welcomes Suzy Allman, creator of the popular site MyHarriman, and Dan Van Aps, noted Rutgers professor and water resource expert. Other speakers include US Environmental Protection representatives, environmental activists and college students who developed an environmental report on the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline.  

The event, which is free and open to the public, is at the Trustees Pavilion, Ramapo College, 505 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ. 

The conference begins at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 22 with coffee and bagels and a greeting from Ramapo College President Peter Mercer at 10 a.m. The conference ends at 4 p.m. with a reception immediately following.

The program includes a presentation by Ramapo College Professor Chuck Stead on the progress of Ford Motor Company’s paint sludge cleanup along Torne Brook in Hillburn, NY. That will be followed by a presentation by EPA officials on “Community Engagement at Superfund Sites in North Jersey” with a focus on Pompton Lakes, Ringwood and the lower Passaic River.

Another point of view on the Pompton Lakes cleanup of Du Pont industrial contamination will be presented by Bill Wolfe of NJ PEER.

Suzy Allman will share another aspect of the region, talking about popular “Trail Towns along the Ramapo River.” Geoff Welch will present slides of historic Ramapo River bridges. And Nancy Gibbs will offer a multimedia show titled “A Sludge Dumping Song for the Ramaoughs/Ramapos featuring the Sludge Dumper Blues.”

Daniel Van Aps, who previously worked on the NJ Highlands Regional Master Plan, will speak about protecting water resources through county and municipal master plans. 

Kate Hudson of the Hudson River Keeper and Matt Smith of Food & Watch will address environmental issues of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline, which would cut a path along the Ramapo River and through Highlands forests to carry crude and refined oil. 

An environmental impact statement on the proposed pipeline will be presented by members of the Ramapo College environmental studies capstone class. 

Emile DeVito, chief scientist at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, will address additional threats to the New Jersey Highlands forests. 

For more information and reservations, contact

--Jan Barry

Scott Fallon: An Enviromental Reporter at Work

Scott Fallon at Ramapo College   (photo: Jan Barry)

By Melanie Schuck

When Scott Fallon came to visit our Environmental Writing class, I was interested in what he had to say because of the nature of his career. Since he is a reporter for The Record, he is on top of breaking news constantly. His specialty is environmental reporting.  

He explained, however, that he is not an environmental reporter with the goal of saving the planet. He specializes in it because he is concerned with the health and safety issue of environmental problems. For example, he is more concerned with concentrations of toxic elements in water supplies because it directly affects humans. As a parent, he said that he is concerned for the safety of his child. He is concerned for his child’s sake because of the increasingly toxicity of this world, from cleaning supplies to baby products that claim that they are safe but in reality have dangerous chemicals in them.

Another thing that I found interesting about Mr. Fallon’s talk was how he described his writing and working process. He said that he brings two notebooks with him to an event that he is covering. One is to take notes in and the other is to write down ideas for future stories.

The second notebook is as important as the first because in the fast paced world we live in, stories have to be reported quickly within hours of the event. If they are not reported fast enough then it will be considered old news by the time it is brought to press. The second notebook is also important because if he wants to stay in the journalism business he must constantly have ideas for stories for his editor, otherwise his potential assignments could be given to another reporter.

Madison Holding Sustainable Community Green Fair

For Immediate Release

Contact: Daniel Mercurio

Come and experience Sustainable Madison’s Green Fair this Saturday, April 16 from 1 pm to 3 pm. This environmental event will be held at Madison’s Public Library at 39 Keep St, Madison, NJ. There is ample parking and the facility is handicap accessible. Those in attendance will gain an understanding of how Madison Borough and its local schools have implemented sustainable initiatives that benefit the environment, human health, and the local economy. This wealth of knowledge will allow the attendees to become well-versed in sustainable initiatives.  

At the event, Sustainable Madison Advisory Committee members will highlight several important achievements that have made the town an emerging and well-respected leader in the field of sustainability. According to, “Madison is receiving $20,000 from Sustainable Jersey allowing it to restore a 20-acre area piece of land in the borough to its natural state. The section of land to be restored is the only native wooded wetland tract in Madison’s park system and one of the few remaining freshwater wetlands in the state.”   

Education-related highlights include the major environmental and health benefits associated with programs that encourage children and teens to walk to school. Visitors will also learn about the importance of using environmentally friendly cleaning products, especially those that satisfy the standards set by Green Certification Cleaning Solutions.   

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Silent Spring: 60's Book Raises Universal Concerns

By Tara Glickman

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson was a book that came out in the sixties concerning the environmental damage that pesticides effect on the environment. Specifically, DDT made bird shells so weak they would break, leading to massive population drops in birds. This effect was like mercury poisoning, and it got more pronounced as it moved up the food chain. 

This book was able to exemplify a few things for me: For one, her words brought a relatively obscure and underappreciated issue into the mainstream, which gave people an emotional connection to the natural world. Secondly, I think it was admirable that Carson was essentially saying, “The problem is so great but the solution is within reach.” One concern I have about the book is how effective it is now for introducing environmentalism, and our connection to the natural world, into the public consciousness and influencing others to act. I am not sure what we can acquire from Rachel Carson’s work.

Above all else, I thought this book was beautifully written with methodically sourced facts. Also her sound analysis was a very powerful argument. With its scientific sound, this book exposed the effects of industrial revolution on species diversity and the natural world in general. Carson told the truth in an unalloyed fashion about the imminent dangers of the industrial world. From this we can learn that it is important to tell the truth, and stand up for the facts.

Although this book is quite outdated and not all major concerns have been spoken about, it is important to understand how long a time frame has to intervene before such matters of a truly disastrous nature follows the process of scientific suspicion, investigation, verification, then the slow seepage into public consciousness, then the denialism and finally the first baby steps of public policy. I believe reading the book after a long period of time, its audience is intended to go beyond the book and apply the current issues that we face. It is not the facts or the issues that are important, it is the attitude that Carson conveys. 

It’s just impossible not to be mesmerized by the tone of Carson’s sentences. She presents her arguments with such a magnetic persuasion, I can’t help but to be convinced of their justice. Although I am not an environmentalist, her descriptions of cell life, soil creatures, and beetles truly gave me chills. Her words about pesticides are chilling, and after reading her book, I have been finding myself wanting to know more and researching things I can do to help the environment. There were a few times I had to take a break from her book because the truth of what is happening in our world is mind blowing and sad. 

What also makes this book absolutely wonderful is its universalness. Carson focuses on the consequences of the use of chemicals in agricultural production but its thesis can be applied at any time or situation. In fact, as technological developments increase exponentially, it becomes questionable as to how this affects the environment, plants, animals, and even humans in both the short and long terms.
Its mind blowing that we are still using some of the chemicals she shows so much evidence against using. Her well documented atrocities that our government has perpetrated against us are chilling. I never trusted the government to begin with, but now I don’t trust them even more so.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ramapo College to Host Earth Day Climate Conference

For Immediate Release

Contact: Harriet Shugarman

Mahwah, NJ--On April 23rd, come join Ramapo College clubs and organizations for their Earth Day Climate Conference. The event is set to start at noon at the Trustees Pavilion on the Ramapo College of New Jersey’s campus, 505 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ.

The conference is set to be more than a one-way discussion. The focus of the day is to be interactive. Attendees are invited to share information, questions and ideas regarding climate change. 

The event will also include a “get out the vote” theme. Students will be informed on how they can register to vote in upcoming elections. 

Starting at noon, lunch will be served and student club booths will be open for visits and discussion.   

At 1 p.m., the event will feature a welcome by Ramapo environmental studies professor Michael R Edelstein. Following the welcome, Harriet Shugarman, executive director of ClimateMama, and Amanda Nesheiwat, Secaucus Environmental Coordinator and RCNJ graduate, will give an introduction to the impacts of climate change and climate justice. The presentation will use the tools of the Climate Reality Project developed by Vice President Al Gore and the insights of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network. 

Perspectives of representatives from the Global South and on the impact of the United Nations Paris Agreement will also be given.       

Students will then meet with environmental groups to speak about actions, solutions, and empowerment. Groups include Food and Water Watch, Mevo, Sierra Club and Following the group meetings, students will be able to present ideas on what the Ramapo community can do to move the discussion forward. 

--Melissa Erdelyi

Agent Orange Effects Still Unfolding

Veterans For Peace Agent Orange Campaign

By Jonathan Sanzari

Agent Orange was a toxic herbicide used during 1961 to 1971 in the Vietnam War. According to the Aspen Institute, it was created to “defoliate trees and shrubs and kill food crops that were providing cover and food to opposition forces.” However, it was uncovered that Agent Orange had horrendous side-effects that could harm the health of whoever it came in contact with. “It was a 50/50 mixture of two herbicides: 2,4-D and 2,4, 5-T. It remained toxic for only days or weeks and then degraded. but it had a toxic contaminant, dioxin, that did not degrade as readily and is still causing health problems in Vietnam.”

The Vietnam war took place from 1954 to 1975, according to Britannica, with the bulk of US troops serving from 1965-1972. According to, “about 3 million people served in the US military in Vietnam during the course of the war, about 1.5 million of whom served during the period of heaviest herbicide spraying from 1967 to 1969.” When veterans returned from Vietnam symptoms would vary. Some veterans got cancer, children with birth defects skin rashes and other health problems.

A recent study done by the National Academy of Sciences that was published on March 10 regarding the effects that Agent Orange has on humans found that Agent Orange and other herbicides that were used during the war may lead to bladder cancer, spina bifida, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s disease, among other health problems.

Although Agent Orange was discontinued, chemical companies continued selling a harmful herbicide in that formula. According to Penn Live, “Production of Agent Orange halted in the 1970s. While the herbicide is not used, one of its components remains widely used in dozens of garden products.” 

The continued use of 2,4-D should raise concerns to everybody who is looking for lawn care products. People must do their research on a lawn-care product before you apply it to your property. You don’t want your dog or children to be inhaling such harmful herbicides into their lungs. Later in life, they could potentially develop a health problem that could of been avoided by simply reading a label for the chemical that was used in Agent Orange.

The government has been neglecting its actions to rightfully compensate those Vietnam veterans who were affected by the deadly Agent Orange. The first lawsuit was filed in 1978 against Dow Chemical and other chemical companies that produced it. The government, however, still hasn’t compensated all Vietnam veterans in 2016. 

Many veterans feel that the government is trying to sweep the problem under the rug. “About a million and a half of us are already gone,” Paul Sutton, former chairman of the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Agent Orange Committee, told the Chicago Tribune in 2009.

The report done by the National Academy of Sciences is the last one that is mandatory to produce due to the Agent Orange Act of 1991. However, according to Science Daily, “the [Veterans and Agent Orange] committee also called for a careful review of evidence concerning whether paternal exposure to any toxicant has definitively resulted in abnormalities in the first generation of offspring.” There are still organizations dedicated to carrying out the fight against Agent Orange, regardless if veterans who were affected have passed on.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Highlands Coalition Offers Grants to Grassroots Groups

By Melissa Erdelyi

The New Jersey Highland Coalition is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and restoring the New Jersey Highlands, with a focus on the drinking water that many New Jersey residents depend upon. The coalition represents and works with several diverse organizations and individuals in order to meet their goal to keep the Highlands a safe and healthy area, as well as keeping those dependent on the area in good health. 

According to the New Jersey Highland Coalition’s website, the organization focuses specifically on safeguarding the water resources and many other aspects of the Highlands, promoting the development and implementation of a strongly protective Highlands Regional Master Plan, educating the public and decision-makers on, and serving as an information source for, New Jersey Highlands preservation issues.

In order to assist those that the coalition represents, the coalition has a small grant program. With this program, the coalition is able to award several grants to assist organizations that are working within the New Jersey Highlands or that are associated with protecting its resources.

Eligible for the grant are “grassroots organization” groups, defined as a non-governmental organization that has a total annual operating budget of less than $200,000. In successfully applying and being awarded the grant, organizations can gain a maximum $5,000. Also, the organization, if not already, must become a member of the New Jersey Highland Coalition.

While the New Jersey Highland Coalition gives to other organizations in need of their assistance, they are also noticed by other New Jersey residents and rewarded for their work.         

In October 2015, Wells Fargo granted the coalition $1,000 in support of their mission to protect, restore, and enhance the water and other natural and cultural resources of the N.J. Highlands, according to a news release. This grant was given as a part of Wells Fargo’s Community Connections program. For the program, each store manager was to identify a non-profit organization to reward with the grant. In Wells Fargo’s Northern New Jersey region, a total $139,000 was distributed.     

"The New Jersey Highlands Coalition was entirely chosen by our local branch team members, who witness and experience first-hand the positive and lasting impact the organization has made in their neighborhood where many of them and our customers live and work," said Fred Bertoldo, Wells Fargo’s Northern New Jersey region president.       

To read more about the New Jersey Highlands Coalition, check out their webpage:

Why Silent Spring Was So Effective

By Cassandra Bernyk

For anyone who aspires to be an advocate for our sick environment and wishes to make a change in our world, the best place to be inspired is Silent Spring written by Rachel Carson. Published in 1962, Carson’s book turned already known facts about how harmful DDT was becoming to our environment into a must-read experience that appealed to millions of concerned people. This book single handedly kicked off the huge environmental movement of the 1960’s, which happened due to many aspects of the book.          

This book had such a profound effect on our world for many different reasons, in my opinion. One of the biggest reasons was that Rachel Carson was able to take scientific facts that were only known among scientists, and made them appealing to the everyday person so that they could be informed.

Carson was able to do this because she grew up in an environment just like an average American experiencing the same things and the same environmental hazards. This gives Carson a great perspective on a pressing issue for the American people who don’t have time or maybe even the knowledge to just understand scientific facts. She related a huge hazard to something simple that an everyday person comes in contact with, birds. Silent Spring is written in such an intriguing way that is interesting to non-science interested citizens, which is really key when trying to inform the majority on such a pressing issue.         

Another reason Silent Spring had such a huge impact on the society at the time was that it was the first book to really stress an environmental issue. Before this, Americans didn’t know that something that felt so normal in their society could have such harmful effects on things they loved and, potentially, on themselves. Being the first book to really do this sparked interest and passion in other people, which then creates a domino effect. More people becoming enlightened and interested leads to more light being shed on these hazards, with a bigger following.


Witnessing What's Effecting the World

By Melanie Schuck

Rachel Carson’s landmark book, Silent Spring, essentially launched the modern environmental movement. First published in 1962, the book is still being reprinted and sold. I took out the fortieth anniversary edition from my town library, proving that the material of the book is still relevant to today’s world.  

In the chapter “Needless Havoc,” Carson discusses an intriguing concept: the witness. Carson points out that given the fact that two different entities can tell two different stories about the same event, it is important to have a witness. However, the creditability of the witness must be taken into consideration.

She notes that “the professional wildlife biologist on the scene is certainly best qualified to discover and interpret wildlife loss.” Meanwhile, other professionals might not be as qualified even if they are on the scene. Their specialty may lend them to be useful but ultimately they do not have the best qualifications to diagnose the entirety of the situation. Another point that Carson raises is that despite these extremely qualified witnesses in certain situations, federal and state agencies may still deny any and all evidence that the pesticides and insecticides are harming wildlife.

It is clear that even with blatant evidence in their faces, agencies will spin it to their liking. Carson wrote “on the one hand conservationists and many wildlife biologists assert that the losses have been severe and in some cases even catastrophic. On the other hand the control agencies tend to deny flatly and categorically that such losses have occurred, or that they are of any importance if they have. Which view are we to accept?”  

Which view do we accept? If we are to accept the wildlife biologists then we could be struck down by those that accept the federal agencies’ sides of the story and even the agencies themselves. If we are to accept the federal agencies spin on things then we would be lying to ourselves and doing a disservice to the planet, as well as humanity as a whole, since pesticides and insecticides will only continue to poison us.

Consider weed killers such as Roundup that is manufactured by agriculture giant Monsanto. In an effort to make our lawns and driveways look perfect and weed-free we risk poisoning ourselves and our children. Paul Tappenden, a forager who visited my Global Ethics class, told us a brief story about a man he saw spraying Roundup around his children’s playset to get rid of the weeds surrounding it. His response to this scene was his half-joking, half-serious remark that “if the weeds don’t attack the children, the toxins in the Roundup most certainly will.”

Poisons Rachel Carson Warned About Still Surround Us

By Omar Keita

Rachel Carson introducing the hazards of pesticides to the world brought up a major risk in our environment. The chemicals used to kill pests surround us because we use them in our garden and in our yard and we touch and move around in it as if it is nothing and it is totally fine. Her book, Silent Spring, sent the pesticide industry in an uproar and for that she received a lot of criticism, but at the same time plenty of praise. Reviewer Walter Sullivan in The New York Times compared Silent Spring to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was called one of the most controversial American books of the nineteenth century. Spokesmen for the chemical and agricultural products stated that Carson’s claims were not accurate and they were just ignorant misstatements.

However, after all the backlash, Rachel Carson started an environmental movement in America that would try and change the course of chemicals in the environment for years. Still til this day people have been making an effort to preserve the environment and change the way companies are doing things, because they are slowly affecting our lives and the world as a whole.
Mark Stoll of Environment and Society stated, “Carson’s sensational best seller helped transform and broaden the older conservation movement into more comprehensive and ecologically informed environmentalism. Moreover, through dozens of translations, Silent Spring affected events abroad and prepared the way for the rise of environmental and Green movements worldwide.”

At first, many people were not interested in the idea that Carson was proposing about the effects of pest control chemicals and the way they are abused. She tried to get other authors interested in the idea but no one else was really interested. So she decided to write a book about it and it became exactly what she expected it to be.

Carson’s book was a great thing because as a people, we have been making great strides to better ourselves and help modernize ourselves for the future by bringing in new technologies and different products. However, many people, including the ones inventing the products, have never taken into consideration what the effects of their chemically induced products may be doing.

As soon as I read what Carson was saying about how quickly chemicals can affect bodies of water, It made me think of the Pompton Lakes contamination from Du Pont and the Ramapo River and what the Ford Motor Company pollution has done to it. The Ford factory had stopped manufacturing cars more than 30 years ago, however its toxic waste that was dumped into the water is still affecting it and residents in Ringwood where more of the toxic waste was dumped.
 Although Carson made it to known to the world that chemical pesticides can be hazardous to the environment, companies and factories have still been ignoring her warnings to be careful with industrial contamination and soon the atmosphere will feel the effects of our carelessness.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Speaking of Climate Change

By Larissa Ledo

 Recently, we had a guest speaker in our class, Amanda Nesheiwat, environmental director in Secaucus. Her presentation was very interesting, warning us about all the climate changes that are happening around us.

Of all the topics she spoke about, one in particular drew my attention the most. According to her presentation, 2012 was the hottest year so far, with extremely high temperatures. That gave me something to seriously think about.

Everyone is always complaining about how cold it is; or how inconvenient snow is and I have heard many people saying “remember that warm winter we had a few years ago?” Well, that warm winter was nothing but climate change happening. Many people are always hoping for warmer days but we all have to remember that winter and cold weather exist, and is completely normal.

In 2012 heat waves made March seem like spring and by May it felt like summer had already arrived. Being in a warmer planet not only affects human beings, it also affects animals and plants. Many animals suffer with the heat leading to many deaths, putting their species in danger. The North Pole looks completely different with warmer weather coming earlier than usual, putting the lives of many animals at risk. Polar bears, for example, are in serious danger of going extinct due to global warming. 

Also, the number of natural disasters have increased. Hurricane Sandy was classified as one of the most destructive hurricanes in history, just behind hurricane Katrina. Even after years many people are still recovering from it. In my town for example, Weehawken, after hurricane Sandy many people including myself helped others get their belongings and anything that could be saved out of the houses of those who were affected by it. No one had electricity for a whole week with the exception of a couple blocks. Many people had to stay at the hotel near by because their houses were completely filled with water.  

With all the climate change happening so fast in our planet the chances of such disasters happening are higher, putting everyone’s life at danger.

The best part about the whole presentation was that Amanda has such a positive attitude. Her job in Secaucus was created by her; her town did not have an environmental director before her and now Secaucus is the number one town in recycling in Hudson County. She has helped her town grow and have a better education about what is happening to the planet and how everyone can help prevent it from getting much worse.

A Planet In Trouble: Silent Spring Revisited

By Melissa Erdelyi

 In 1962, Rachel Carson published her environmental science book Silent Spring. Carson’s book portrayed a future world that had been overtaken by pesticides, or biocides as she refers to them. In this world, the birds no longer sing.

In the first chapter, Carson warns her readers about the dangers of DDT, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemical use in the environment. A town is portrayed, a happy town, that lived in peace with the nature around it. The small town had been made famous due to its beauty. People came from all around to see the town’s majestic atmosphere and bask in the nature.

Then, everything began to disappear. Farm animals became ill, stopped reproducing, and died. Even the residents, old and young, became deathly ill without explanation. No visitors came any longer, as there was no greenery to enjoy and the fish that had once lived in the streams also passed.

All of this death and destruction had been brought upon the people by themselves.
As disastrous as this story is, the town is not real. However, the fate of the town is very possible.

While this chapter is simply a short precursor of what is to come in the following chapters, it’s impact on the reader’s mindset is monstrous. The chapter sets the scene for the remainder of the book.

The chapter foreshadows what is soon to come, both in the book and possibly in the world. We see the poisoning of animals, people who eat these animals and pass away from the chemicals that they had infected them with, and the animals begin to adapt to these infections and begin to survive.

While the first chapter is fiction, Carson did her research before writing this expose. The happenings throughout, while they may have been “made up” are very much possible, and even happening today. For example, we see the fish in the Passaic River inedible due to toxins placed in the river years ago. This is a similar reality compared to the fiction world we see in the book.

In the closing of the opening chapter, Carson poses the question “what has already silenced the voices of spring in countless towns in America?” She credits her book as “an attempt to explain.”

Writing this now, I am sitting in my room with an open window. It’s a pretty windy day, so I can hear the rustling of the trees in the wind outside. Every few minutes I’ll hear a bird chirp.

When I close my window, I hear nothing of the outside world. This makes it easy to imagine what Carson is describing. This death and destruction was caused by human’s interaction with nature. While we interact with nature in order to survive, no pesticides and chemicals should be used in order to make out lives easier, as it will just end up being the downfall of humans.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Reducing Carbon Footprints, One Town at a Time

Amanda Nesheiwat, Secaucus Environmental Coordinator 

By Jonathan Sanzari

A recent speaker in the Environmental Writing class at Ramapo College of New Jersey was Amanda Nesheiwat, the environmental coordinator for the town of Secaucus, NJ. She has been making plans to alter programs in the town in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

One of the many accomplishments that Nesheiwat was responsible for was that she got the town to buy hybrid cars for the police department. Besides cutting down on gasoline fumes, she said, hybrids cost the town a lot less for gas than using a regular cop car, like a Dodge Charger.

She gave a presentation on the Climate Reality Project which was created by Al Gore. The presentation included charts of how the global temperature has been increasing decade by decade. The highest temperature recorded was in 2011 in multiple countries. The following year had the hottest month ever recorded which was July 2012. 

She mentioned how greenhouse gases come from melting permafrost, oil production, crop burning, forest burning, coal mining and coal plants. Greenhouse gases are extremely harmful to the atmosphere and have been contributing to increasing global disease outbreaks. For example, the recent Zika virus is now more widely prevalent due to the increasing warm weather. The global ocean temperature is also increasing due to the widespread carbon emissions. The ocean absorbs the carbon emissions and warmer water makes hurricanes to form faster and making them more destructive.

The permafrost melting will result in huge amounts of methane being released into the atmosphere. The presentation also covered how there are more frequent droughts in the Midwest and globally. Due to the more repeated droughts the weather has becoming increasingly more intense. Snowstorms, rain and flooding are occurring more often than usual.

According to Climate Central, “carbon dioxide is the most important long-lived global warming gas, and once it is emitted by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil, a single CO2 molecule can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.” The impact from humans polluting the atmosphere and environment has been substantial, creating a lingering problem that needs to be addressed. 

The presentation informed us that actions to address climate change have closed down roughly half of the oil refineries across the United States. But that doesn’t fix the atmosphere right away. We need immediate action in order to start restoring the planet’s atmosphere and to make the planet livable for future generations.

Nesheiwat, a Ramapo College grad, believes that the millennial generation will be known for creating their jobs. Her position didn’t exist in her town before she approached the mayor who eventually hired her full-time. It’s never too late for change and to get back on the right track towards a more progressive world.