Environmental Science - Mod G
Marist High School
I Planted a tree with Marist Students. It was a great experience that helped me to recognize the beauty of life. All things start from something small, and with a little help, they can be magnificent.
The other day, I took a walk in nature. I was feeling stressed about graduation, finals, prom, and my personal life, and I felt as if I needed an escape. As I was driving home, I passed Wolfe Wildlife. I remembered back to first quarter when I went there to observe nature and the overwhelming calmness that it brought me. I decided to go home and change my clothes, and then I went back and walked through the trails.
I put my headphones in my ears, playing soft and slow music, just loud enough to hear the music from my phone along with the chirps of birds. It was cloudy that day, and as I sat on the area where people watch the ducks, it began to rain. I laughed a little because of the irony. I was sad, and naturally it began to rain. It wasn't the kind of pelting rain that makes you run for cover, though. It was the kind of rain that you can feel. Some people only think rain makes you wet, but I think it is the most relaxing feeling and sound. I decided to take a walk on the trail to get some shelter from the trees. As I began, I came to a fork in the trail, and it reminded me of Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," which happens to be my favorite poem. I chose the path that did look to be less traveled. I saw no human on my short journey on the trail, and I knew that my decision had made all the difference. It had allowed me to escape from reality and the stresses of life, even if only a short while. By the time my walk was done, the sun was shining. I laughed once again at the irony. The sun was shining and the rain had cleared, just as my mood had brightened. It was like a movie scene.
My experience reminded me that even when life gets you down, there is always some place to go to clear your mind. The calming effects of nature are remarkable. I hadn't been able to sleep well for about a week leading up to this, and directly afterward, I went home and napped for three hours. I truly appreciate my opportunity to take Environmental Science this year because it has brought me closer to nature. Without this class, I would probably be a lot more stressed than I am right now because I would not have been inspired to take that walk in the first place. Thank you, Mrs. Coy, for everything you have done this year.
P.S.- This is actually a true story. Monday (5/11/15) I was frantic about my 2 AP Exams coming up the next day, my Math Final Part 1 on Wednesday along with my last day of school, then there was Prom on Friday and Graduation on the 21st. After my nature walk I felt so much better about everything. I've decided to add the poem that I mentioned previously because I believe that it really connects and ties my experience together
The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
University of Kent. (2015, February 27). Modern logging techniques benefit rainforest wildlife. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150227112647.htm
Researchers at the Durrell Institute of conservation and ecology surveyed wildlife communities over a five year span before and after timber harvesting in their study of Reduced-Impact Logging (RIL). They discovered that RIL had little impact on birds, bats, and large mammals in the rain forests of Central Guyana. They found that the natural rates of change were greaer than the rate of this community. Researchers hope that this study and its results will persuade governments and timber companies to change from conventional logging methods to RIL.
I think this study is significant because deforestation has become a huge problem in the world. The loss of habitat often results in the endangerment and even extinction of the organisms that once lived there. However, this study could also encourage governments to think that if they use this method, then cutting down rain forests is okay. While the animals may be surviving with RIL, trees are not surviving. Trees are essential to earth in terms of ecosystems and biodiversity. Without trees, life would be extremely difficult. It is good that these techniques help animals in the habitat, but what does it do for the future of the earth?
Cell Press. (2015, February 26). Bumblebees make false memories, too.ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150226131940.htm
According to the first study of false memories in non-human animals, bumblebees have false memories, just as humans tend to have. The study was conducted on bumblebees because they are clever animals who can remember patterns, color, and scents. The experiment was conducted by first training the bumblebees to expect a reward when visiting a solid yellow artificial flower followed by one with black-and-white rings. Then, the bees were given a choice between flowers: a solid yellow one, a black-and-white ringed one, and one they hadn't been exposed to yet, a yellow-and-white ringed flower, which was a mixture between the other two. Minutes after the training, the bees showed that they preferred the one that used to reward them. One to three days later, the bees were put to the same test. At first they chose the one that rewarded them, but as the day went on, they begin to get confused and chose the flower with yellow-and-white rings.
I think this discovery is very important. If bumblebees can have false memories, then the possibilities are endless as to how many other animals can have false memories, too. It also shows that humans are not alone in the way they think. In my opinion, it's almost comforting to know that humans aren't the only ones susceptible to false memories. I expect similar studies to be done on other animals now, and I'm excited to see the results.
I took a trip to Brookfield Zoo to experience animals and nature. Unfortunately, we're in the middle of winter, so I didn't witness very much nature due to freezing temperatures. The animals were mostly kept inside in order to protect them from the frigid weather. However, I think that if we kept the animals in their natural habitats, we wouldn't have to worry about that.
I understand that zoos exist in order to protect animals, but I don't like how zoos have become a business. Those animals were not put on this earth to entertain humans. They have a purpose in nature, and taking them from their purpose in order to show them off isn't right. For animals born in captivity, they never have the opportunity to experience life in the wild or life in their natural habitat, and if they are released at some point, they are not likely to have the skills to find food or protect themselves from predators. However, in the cases of endangered species and habitat loss, zoos can be a great benefit for animals.
In class, we have talked about deforestation causing habitat loss to many species. Zoos can take in these species so that they don't become extinct. A zoo can provide food and shelter for animals without homes. I believe that zoos are both beneficial and detrimental to animals. They are beneficial to those who have lost their shelter, but they are detrimental to animals born in captivity.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2014, December 11). Major comeback for sea turtles: Highest reported nest counts in Nicaragua. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 12, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141211115318.htm
In Nicaragua, there has been a dramatic increase in the nesting of the endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Scientists in the region report that the total nest count has increased from 154 in 2000 to 468 in 2014. They also noted that poaching rates have decreased by eighty percent. In 2000, the Hawksbill Conservation Project was established with the goal of raising awareness about the endangered species. The recent nest count shows that the project was effective. The area is still being monitored, and it is hoped that nesting numbers will increase even more in the coming years.
All species are important to the earth, even endangered species. Every present species contributes to the biodiversity of earth, no matter how big or small the population may be. It is important to raise awareness on any endangered species in a given area. Even the smallest act can go to great measures. The Hawksbill Conservation Project is a great example of people taking initiative in order to help the environment. If everyone aided an environmental group to raise awareness, more endangered species would be saved. One act can go a long way, especially in the world of science.
Plataforma SINC. (2014, December 11). Tourism poses a threat to dolphins in the Balearic Islands. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 12, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141211081114.htm
A small population of bottlenose dolphins living between the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands is being put in danger due to human activity. The subpopulation has been declared "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature after decreasing by thirty percent in the past sixty years. The dolphins tend to be loyal to their habitat, which could have dangerous effects. Overfishing, habitat degradation, and tourist boat disturbance are only a few of the issues that these dolphins are facing. Scientists call for management of fishing, prevention of pollution, and control of tourism in order to resolve the issue.
I think this is an issue that needs to be brought to the attention of the people of that area. If the people are the problem, then they are also the solution. The scientists' resolutions are simple, and they can be very effective. People need to keep in mind that we are not the only species inhabiting this planet. The bottlenose dolphins were there first, and the humans in that area need to protect them from harm instead of causing it.
Picked Up Trash at Wolfe Wildlife.
Littering is an increasing habit. When people finish cups of coffee or empty packs of gum, why carry it to a garbage can when you can just throw it on the ground? To save the environment, that's why. Litter has been an issue for as long as I can remember, so as my Experience, I decided to do something about it. Dane Mayer and I visited Wolfe Wildlife in Oak Lawn, where we picked up trash thrown carelessly on the ground.
There was a disturbing amount of trash. I find it amazing how people can throw their garbage on the ground without remorse. There are garbage cans placed throughout the park, too! Is it really that hard to carry garbage an extra twenty feet? It really upsets me that people can throw their trash on the ground and expect no repercussions.
Littering affects the issue of global warming. The more trash thrown carelessly on the ground, the worse it gets. Protecting the planet and throwing trash in garbage cans really isn't that hard. Also, litter affects the beauty of nature. Wolfe Wildlife is a beautiful nature preserve, but the plastic bags stuck to the tree branches distract you from that. Cleaning Wolfe Wildlife was a rewarding experience because I know that every piece of trash picked up counts. Every piece of garbage properly disposed of can save our beautiful planet. I just wish others would realize that, too.
Frontiers. (September 30, 2014) "Biodiversity in the Mediterranean is threatened by alien species." ScienceDaily. Science Daily, Retrieves October 2, 2014 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140930171526.htm
The ocean environment in the Mediterranean is being taken over by invasive species. These species disrupt the balance of the environment by taking over habitats and food sources. 20% of species in the Mediterranean are not found anywhere else, and because of invasive species, it is possible that they may go extinct. Scientists are trying to map the spread of these invasive species. If they are able to do that, they may be able to predict the outcomes on the environment. Because of these species, scientists expect future ecosystems to be much more different than they are now.
Biodiversity creates a balance between species and the environment. Invasive species disrupt that balance and affect biodiversity. Invasive species are often introduced by human activities. Humans need to be more careful when moving from place to place because without even knowing, they can completely alter the environment around them. Invasive species need to be maintained in order to sustain balance in the environment. I think that if invasive species continue to spread, biodiversity will fall, and the environment would be greatly hurt. If biodiversity falls and climate later changes, species unable to adapt will become extinct, and there will be few species left. Invasive species are a major issue in the environment, and we need to work fast to find a solution.
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. (October 1, 2014)"Predicting impact of climate change on species that can't get out of the way." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141001133125.htm
"When climate changes, organisms have three choices: migrate, adapt, or go extinct." Trees and plants are rooted in the ground and are unable to leave an area when climate changes, So, that leaves two options for them: adapt or die. Scientists have recently conducted genetic studies to see how trees can adapt to climate change. Their findings showed that each tree within a species can react differently, just as all humans react differently to an illness. Some trees are already adapted to handle climate changes that can occur within the next few decades, while others are not, causing them to be a lot less likely to survive. Scientists are also now looking at places where climate change will occur and have the greatest effect on the environment.
Climate change is an unavoidable situation that occurs. Great climate changes have occurred over the history of the earth, such as the Ice Age, and the end of the Ice Age when glaciers melted. Climate changes affect all organisms. It is important to understand how certain organisms can be affected in order to predict the outcome of a certain change or situation. With this study, scientists ave a better understanding of how trees adapt to climate change, or lack adaptation to climate change.
I think this study can relate to our observation of trees and phenology. There are several of the same types of trees in our area, and we can observe how they react differently to the climate. Not all trees will have the same responses. Some may lose their leaves in the fall quicker than others. Some may have buds before the others in the springtime. Reading about this study on trees during climate change helped me to understand trees' adaptations from a genetic perspective.
Observed Nature at Wolfe Wildlife. October 1, 2014. 2-4 PM.
Nature is not nearly as appreciated as it should be. On October 1, I spent my time appreciating nature and observing it at a local wildlife preserve. Wolfe Wildlife is located in Oak Lawn. There is a small pond surrounded by trees and plants. There is an area where one can sit and look out at the beautiful scenery. I sat on the wooden bench and disconnected myself from the world for a while.
I found that the beauty of nature and the effect it can have on a person is incredible. I was having an absolutely terrible day. I needed to clear my head and reflect on my life and myself. By disconnecting myself from the world around me and just enjoying the scenery, I was able to find a certain calmness that I hadn't felt in a while. The sound of the leaves rustling from the breeze, the birds chirping in the trees, squirrels climbing along branches, and ducks swimming in the pond had an overwhelming effect on me. It allowed me to stop worrying about trivial matters and appreciate the beauty of what was around me. I am a very anxious person, and to be able to forget about my anxiety, even if only for a little while, really helped me to relax and reflect without worry.
In Environmental Science, we learn about the studies in nature and environmental issues throughout the world, but one can not be taught the true beauty of nature. That is something that a person must experience for himself or herself. Today, we are uprooting trees and clearing forests for the creation of new homes or new businesses. After sitting in nature for only a short time, I can not understand how someone could knock down a forest without remorse. It makes me realize that clearly they haven't taken the time to appreciate it. I hope that people realize how beneficial nature can be not only to the environment, but also to their mental state. I have nature to thank for helping me through difficult times, and I know that I will be returning to Wolfe Wildlife soon.