By: Amelia Gonzalez
E: Nature Journal. September 26th, 30th and October 1st, 2014. 4-4:30PM.
While it might have seemed like I simply sat outside and did not do anything or wasted my time, I truly experienced nature, and in my very own backyard! For thirty minutes on three different days, I did simply sit in my backyard or on my front porch, however, I was observing nature and also gaining an appreciation for its beauty. Prominently, I noticed how rapidly the trees are changing colors and losing their leaves. As you can see in my first picture, my neighbor's tree already lost a majority of its leaves into my backyard, but the tree in my front yard, the second picture, has just began changing colors. I find it very interesting that all trees move at a different pace when changing colors and shedding their leaves. Additionally, with the transition from summer weather to fall weather, I noticed less animals outside than I usually see or hear, significantly the decrease in the chirping birds.
But what does this have to do with environmental science? Plenty. While observing nature, I was able to better appreciate its beauty, especially on fall days. Also, rather than watching television or using energy in my house, I was able to spend some free time with the environment, without harming it. As I sat outside for these three different days, I began to think of how harshly and neglectfully we treat our environment. We take for granted this beautiful creation from God that we have at our fingertips. We need to appreciate it, realize the damage and harm we are inflicting upon our environment, and change our actions.
Online Magazine Article
O: Sielen, Alan B. (2013 Nov 1). "The devolution of the seas: the consequences of oceanic destruction." Retrieved September 30th, 2014, from http://find.galegroup.com/grnr/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=DateDescend&tabID=T003&prodId=GRNR&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchId=R1&searchType=¤tPosition=10&qrySerId=Locale%28en%2C%2C%29%3AFQE%3D%28KE%2CNone%2C11%29overfishing%24&userGroupName=chic12414&inPS=true&docId=A351788691&contentSet=IAC-Documents&docId=A351788691&docType=IAC.
Although overfishing seems to be a threat solely to oceanic creatures, it is also a major threat in our lives. By destroying this ecosystem and the organisms living in it, we are damaging our future. This ecosystem legitimately sustains our life on earth; without it, jobs are lost and food becomes scarce, which results in an unhealthy life and severs the promise to better the future for future generations. Additionally, another major problem for the ocean is pollution. Careless chemical spills, the build up of litter, and the use of transportation are ruining the miraculous diversity and ecosystem of the ocean.
Here is where the government needs to step in and use its power to fulfill its duties. For example, it "could create and expand protected marine areas, adopt and enforce stronger international rules to conserve biological diversity in the open ocean, and place a moratorium on the fishing of dwindling fish species, such as Pacific bluefin tuna." However, the government is too concerned about the cause of the devolution of the ocean rather than trying to prevent it.
In my opinion, we must limit our fishing to some extent, but not altogether. I agree with Sielen's examples of what the government should be doing in order to prevent further devolution of the ocean, however, it may have a valid reason as to why it is not acting yet. The government could want further research about which animals are endangered and which species of fish we should stop fishing. A possible problem of creating and expanding marine areas too soon would be a decrease in the fish market as well as a decrease in citizens' diets. On the other hand, a benefit or an advantage would be that the animals in the marine areas would live in complete safety and have the opportunity to begin reproducing and increasing the numbers in the ocean.
Online Magazine Article
O: Technology Times (2014 July 27). Massive deforestation causing rise in Islamabad. Retrieved 2 Oct. 2014, from
Recently, Islamabad has experienced a rapid increase in temperature and scientists and meteorologists have discovered that the cause is the popularity of deforestation in the region. If action is not taken to attempt to better this situation, it will only worsen and the climate change will be more drastic than it is currently. A former member of Islamabad's environmental protection agency has admitted that the country needs more space for construction projects, which is why they are cutting a large majority of their trees down. Under the country's eighteenth amendment, "no project on protection of forests has been undertaken by any department in the country."
With the drastic and dangerous increase in temperature in Islamabad, I believe that the government should be acting out against deforestation for the common good and protection of the people. The advantage is obvious: safe living and normal temperatures. On the other hand, it is understandable that the country is completing major construction projects in order to advance their civilization, however, their projects should be taken elsewhere or cancelled if not extremely necessary.
E: Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanical Gardens. October 19, 2014. 2pm-4pm.
On October 19th, I went to Lake Katherine in Palos Park to observe nature and to go on a nature walk. Since my visit was during the fall, it was beautiful; the trees were various colors and the weather was lovely. I was in awe of the beauty and felt extremely lucky to be there and to live in such a magnificent world. There were countless people there respecting and taking in the beauty of this place. It was awesome to see so many people caring about nature's pure, natural beauty. However, of course the people and myself had to drive in order to arrive, so we were creating a substantial amount of pollution. Additionally, that are some electrical poles in the distance behind the lake, which may distract people from its beauty and reminds us how dependent we are on technology/electrical appliances.
Even though I chose to visit this location for Environmental Science, I would definitely return on my own because of how breathtaking my experience was. It made me realize that nature can be unbelievably beautiful and also that not all parts of nature are plagued by pollution and litter. It also made me want to save and preserve nature's beauty, especially in a place like Lake Katherine.
O: Dublin, H. (2014, August 18th). Endangered species. Retrieved December 10th, 2014 from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/186738/endangered-species
Human activities alone mainly cause species to become threatened, then, eventually, endangered. By the early 20th century, human beings became known as the greatest threat to biodiversity. Humans destroy the habitats of animals, especially through deforestation, introduce new species, create pollution resulting in global warming, and hunt at their leisure. However, humans are not doing all the damage; some events occur naturally in nature. Forest fires that occur destroy the homes of animals and also kill the animals at times as well.
Through global media, global controversies and problems are highlighted and discussed about in order to raise awareness. The population of certain bird species, such as penguins, albatrosses, and petrels, has declined because the population of fish is declining. Cranes, rails, parrots, pheasants, and pigeons experience habitat degradation and habitat loss. Additionally, the population of certain sea creatures, such as sharks, rays, chimaeras, and whales, has decreased because of the high demand of their meat and fins. Hunting has become chaotic and the number of these animals is decreasing rapidly.
I believe that uncontrolled hunting is ridiculous and extremely unfair to the innocent animals whose lives we are taking. Yes, I understand that we need their meat for food and clothing in order to survive and we sometimes need their habitats in order to create more living space, but uncontrollable hunting and deforestation is not the answer. There are simple solutions to this problem: create stricter hunting laws, leave time between hunting periods, and many more. Many people do not understand the repercussions of over-hunting. We are causing more and more species to become endangered. So, what will we do when the animals that we need for food and clothing are gone?
O: Cheng, M. (2014, March 25th). Air Pollution Kills 7 Million People Every Year, World Health Organization Report Finds. Retrieved December 10th, 2014 from:
According to a World Health Organization report, seven million people a year die from the repercussions of air pollution. One in eight people die from the effects of air pollution so it has become the largest environmental health risk. The main risk of pollution is inhaling tiny particles from the air which linger in your lungs and sometimes cause lung or bladder cancer. Experts believe that it is mainly up to governments to minimize pollution by "moving power stations away from big cities and providing cheap alternatives to indoor wood and coal stoves." Experts have suggested that individuals should avoid traveling at rush hour or take smaller roads. People have suggested wearing masks in order to protect themselves from pollution, but "the real problem is that wearing masks sends out the message we can live with polluted air. We need to change our way of life entirely to reduce pollution."
Nowadays, pollution is almost inevitable, but if we follow experts' suggestions, we can take baby steps toward creating a cleaner more inhabitable earth. Death, and possibly cancer, would decrease drastically. More people would be able to live healthier lives. We do not need to make extreme changes to our lifestyles, rather, simple and easy ones. We have the potential to create a healthier world, we just have to work for it.
E: New Orleans Mission Trip. February 10-16, 2011.
On February 10th, 25 other juniors and I had the privilege of traveling to New Orleans for a mission trip and for the best week of our lives. We boarded the plane with our own expectations and judgments of both the trip and one another. We had no idea that by the end of the trip we would be one, big family.
No, we did not receive the assignments of building houses or even doing repair, demolition, or remodeling work, which disappointed all of us in the beginning. Little did we know that we would create strong memories at each worksite we were assigned to.
The first day, my small group and I traveled to Hope Food Pantry (fourth picture) and packed boxes with food that people would soon come to pick up for their month's supply of food. Every person that came for their food greeted us with warm, welcoming smiles, but sometimes broken smiles too because of the devastation New Orleans has faced and is still facing today. Everyone was so grateful and it was such a different dynamic than that of Chicago.
The second day, my new small group and I went to a garden where food is grown and kept by the employees there (pictures below). This garden is mainly for people with developmental disabilities to work. While we were there, we rebuilt a compost wall, we weeded several rows of the garden, and we dug irrigation trenches, which was not easy. The crazy thing about this place is that after Hurricane Katrina it was under thirty feet of water. It was so surreal.
The third day, we all went to a farm and cleaned horse stables, cut grass, and turned over the "gardens" as the owner called them (yes, it was horse waste). But even though some of us were cleaning horse waste or even ankle-deep in it, we did not care. We were always having a good time together (picture one).
On our last and final day, we were able to go on a nature walk in a national park in the bayou (pictures one and two above). Being in this different atmosphere was really exciting and beautiful to see, especially seeing the different animals there, including an alligator.
My experience of New Orleans 2015 was truly amazing and unforgettable.
O: Turner, T. Marine Habitat Destruction: Coastal Areas are Bearing the Brunt. Retrieved 25 February 2015, from
A majority of the areas in oceans around the world are experiencing and have experienced habitat loss as a result of the harmfulness of humans as well as the harmfulness of natural disasters. This habitat loss results in a large decrease in biodiversity of the ocean in its entirety. However, human harm is much more severe than natural disasters. Wetlands are destroyed in order to accommodate urban, industrial, and agricultural development, and cities, factories, and farms create waste, pollution, and chemical runoff that can ruin reefs, sea grasses, birds, and fish. Also, deforestation, even a distance away from shore, creates erosion and sends silt into the water, blocking the sunlight from the coral that is necessary for its survival. Tourism and overfishing create lasting effects as well.
I believe that it is extremely saddening that we as human beings are not following our moral obligations to be stewards of the earth. I feel as if we are trying to destroy it more than we are trying to save it. This environmental problem does indeed come full circle and will one day have a major effect on us. For example, our pollution may reach areas where we get our water supply from, or we may cause the extinction of a variety of fish we use for food. We need to stop and think of our actions before we follow through with them because little do we know that, in reality, we are harming ourselves.
O: Foley, J. A. (16 Dec. 2013). Caribou in Canada May Be Doomed by Climate Change and Habitat Loss. Retrieved 26 Feb 2015, from
Unless the caribou in Canada become able to adapt to the increasing temperatures, they face the possibility of extinction. Caribou are facing population isolation, a decrease in population, and the threats of these increasing temperatures. The primary threats to caribou, however, are deforestation and the pollution of oil and gas factories in surrounding areas. Another threat is the roads built through the habitats of the caribou. These roads are built to serve the factories which leads to commercial development, further destroying the habitats of the caribou.
Attempting to save the caribou from extinction is not entirely impossible, but does require some research and hard work. I think it is completely worth it. The thought of these beautiful animals going extinct because of human actions breaks my heart. It is disappointing, disheartening, and somewhat embarrassing that humans are treating these animals in such terrible ways. Now I know that it is almost impossible to relocate all of the caribou or to completely stop commercial development in the area, but I believe something should be done, such as creating a national park for caribou.
E: Tree Planting. April 21, 2015. 1:00PM.
Having the opportunity to plant a tree at Marist High School with my fellow classmates was a great privilege. I learned so many new things about trees and the proper ways that we should care for them. For example, it is unhealthy for the mulch surrounding the tree to cover the very bottom of the tree trunk. Also, trees are very fragile and the slightest damage done to them could kill them. Something as simple and running your lawnmower into the tree on your parkway has the potential to kill your tree. Trees do not heal. Once they are damaged, they will not work to heal themselves, but they will begin to die. As this occurs, the inside of the tree becomes weak and could come crashing down during a storm.
I am overjoyed that I was able to partake in planting this tree because I know that a part of me will always be left behind at Marist. Branching off of that, Marist has always been a home for me and now I have literally rooted myself here. Ten, fifteen, or even twenty years from now, when I visit Marist or take part in alumni celebrations, I will always know that there is a part of me here and I will remember to pay a visit to the tree each time I am at Marist. That is an indescribable feeling.
E: Field Trip. April 27, 2015. 8:00AM-2:00PM.
My experience at McClaughry Springs was definitely a good one. To begin, my group and I went on a very long nature walk because we went farther than originally intended, but I was okay with that because I was able to exercise and appreciate the nature of this area. After, we tested the chemistry of the water in order to see if the water was of good quality, which it seemed to be. Then, my group and I got ready to go into the water, which I was not very enthusiastic about in the beginning, but I actually ended up enjoying it, even though I did not catch any macroinvertebrates in my net and I almost fell down.
After all of these activities, we had snackie time and then sat by ourselves and filled out the rest of our packets. I loved this time to myself because I was able to listen to the sounds of nature and enjoy it more thoroughly than usual. This was a calming experience, which was much needed amidst the chaos of school. Because of this day, I have developed a stronger love for nature and for the environment.