Fracking Freaking Sucks!

I was having lunch with one of my pals the other day, when he started telling me about a fracking accident in West Virginia that one of his family members was involved in some years ago. This was the first time I ever heard of it, and its issues presented in the environment. I immediately decided that this was something I was going to write about, and jumped straight to deeper research.

Fracking, as wonderfully described by an environmental website dedicated to fracking called Dangers of Fracking, “is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.” This website is a highly interactive and fun website that takes about five minutes to visually describe the process of fracking, as well as the dangers.

Fracking is extremely dangerous due to the toxic chemicals used in the drilling. As much as 50%-70% of non-biodegradable fracking fluid is left in the ground, which can contaminate the groundwater. This is extremely problematic, especially for those people as well as animals who live near these fracking sites. Earth Justice provides a map that shows where fracking accidents have occurred, as well as where the sites and proposed sites are/will be located.

Those who live near fracking sites, are subjected to contaminated drinking water that cause a variety of health problems. According to the Dangers of Fracking website, “there have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.” This is infuriating, as a lot of people aren’t aware of the dangers since fracking companies don’t legally have to say what toxic chemicals are being used in their process.

Not only are WE affected by this injustice, but animal life as well since they have to drink from poisoned water, and fish have to swim in it. Also, an average of seventy-two trillion gallons of water are used in the US for all the fracking sites. This takes water away from fish and other wildlife. Needless to say… Fracking freaking sucks!

We Are Not Alone: Wildlife Crossings

Many humans tend to forget that we share this planet with wildlife. To some, wildlife exists in a faraway land, when in reality it exists right outside our very own back door. All over America there are natural wildlife habitats coexisting with us. We drive by them everyday, especially on the highway. As our cities expand, known as urban sprawl, more and more animal habitats are diminishing. They are being forced from their homes, being separated from others of the same species, and being cut off from natural resources.

When animals are cut off from natural resources, it’s natural for them to seek out these resources. A lot of animals however, don’t realize how dangerous it is to cross a highway. I ascertain it is our responsibility as humans, to protect these animals as much as we can since we caused this problem for them.

This past Summer, I took one of my roadtrips to visit my family since they live 5 hours away. Being on the road is frequent to me, and I’ve seen a lot of dead animals on the road. I’ve never personally hit an animal (knock on wood), but this past summer I had a near animal death experience. It was a snail. It was just a snail, as some would say, however this snail is part of our earth’s community. Luckily I was the only car on the road and I was able to miss it, but if I wasn’t, or if I didn’t see this huge snail, I would have hit it. This would contribute to Culture Change’s statistics that “everyday in the U.S., 190 million motor vehicles hit the road, and one million animals get hit by motor vehicles.” These numbers are horrifying, and what’s more horrifying is the publics lack of awareness of this problem.

An amazing solution to this problem that have been taking over Canada and Switzerland, with the first being constructed as early as the 1950s, according to WilderUtopia, is Wildlife Crossings. This ingenious idea creates a safer way for animals to travel, just as we humans have a safe way to travel from city to city. They help so many different types of animals, from bears, wolves, and deers, to amphibians and fish. They’re particularly helpful for those animals becoming extinct, and those who need to cross the road to reach resources. Bridges, over passes, and underpasses are just some of the ways for these animals to cross. It’s a fantastic way to keep earth’s balance and harmony among the species as humans take over more and more land.

Waste Waste Waste

If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that I’ve recently wrote about the impact of plastic on the world. While plastic is a huge component of the world’s waste issue, it’s not the entirety of the problem. Litter, waste, water contamination… it all leads to a bigger problem. Landfills.

Everything we use, including plastic, is eventually thrown away. Everything we buy is meant for temporary use. Even things that get passed on from generation to generation, will eventually dwindle away. Nothing is for eternity, so why do we act like the earth is?

Yes, there are efforts to make more and more things biodegradable. But what about all the stuff that was already made? Almost everything ends up in a landfill.

Many people think that everything that is waste is burned or “something” is done to it where it is no longer our problem. This is definitely not the case, as everything we do to our planet effects us, and the ecosystem. We’re not the only ones on the planet.

There are two main issues associated with landfills: air pollution and ground water pollution.

According to an organizational website called WeGreen-USA, “there are over ten toxic gases released from landfills, of the most serious of which is methane.” Clearly, this is not healthy for anyone, and this is being released into our air constantly. This is the air we breath. You may be lucky enough not to live near a landfill, but what about the unfortunate people who do?

Another issue that was initially a solution for the landfills, is the introduction of leachates. Leachates is the liquid that drains from a landfill. While the people who are in charge of the landfills, and making money off of this, fully support leachates and argue that it doesn’t effect the environment through air toxins, it definitely effects the environment through the water. The leakage releases dangerous toxins into fresh water ways that could potentially end up in your drinking water. Not only does it effect us, but plant and animal life who rely on fresh water.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

When you die, what do you want done with your remains? There are many different options, including the traditional burial. A lot of people are now switching over to being cremated, while few others are choosing less popular methods. How is dying, and burial related to the environment?

Cemeteries are over running our planet. While this isn’t a huge issue for most, and I wasn’t aware of this issue until very recently, it is something that could get out of hand. You see, cemeteries are huge plots of land that are covered in tombstones. For loved ones, it’s a great way to remember them. I would argue that this is a huge waste of land. People being buried in wooden boxes in the earth, taking up space, with tombstones above them.

I would propose a more environmentally friendly approach. Trees. I mentioned how trees are very important, and way too many are being cut down. While yes, some need to be chopped down for us, most do not. It would take a lot to get this activity to stop.

So instead of tombstones, trees should be planted! A biodegradable tree-urn was invented for those who’d like to help out the environment when they die. The body is cremated into cremains, which is nutrient rich, and placed into the urn. It is then planted, and voila, a tree is planted. Imagine a whole cemetery full of trees instead of tombstones!

Some people have argued that the remains of those in the urns aren’t actually nutrient rich, and aren’t actually helping the tree grow by fertilizing it. According to an article in Discovery News, cremains do contain nutrients such as phosphorus. Though it is true, the ashes don’t end up IN the tree. It is still a great metaphor: to become a tree, or live on as a tree when you die.

Despite the science behind it, no matter your personal spiritual beliefs, trees replacing tombstones all over the world would be a revolutionary way to bring trees back to our environment.

I Speak For the Trees

This weekend I was pondering which environmental issue I should tackle next; There are a ton of them. I was flipping through TV channels, when I came upon a really relevant movie: The Lorax. Now, I love this movie and its message. Trees are important. While the Lorax and many others realize this, there are still many who don’t care.

This is evident with all the deforestation going on, and the cutting of trees just to build another apartment complex or a Walmart. This is a huge problem because, well… we NEED trees. We need oxygen. They’re important to us, as well as the ecosystem! Material gain should not ever trump nature, and the lively hood of our planet.

I was in my stagecrafts class the other day, where we work with wood and build cool things. My professor, Max Lydy, was giving a lecture on wood. There are different types of woods (species, grades, etc.) He was telling us how there are people out there who would cut down 200 year old Oak trees just so they could have Grade A oak. This means that the wood is perfect, with no knots, and is in high demand. This just proves that there are people out there who wouldn’t give two pennies to save a tree. They’d rather gain the material and profit from the wood. Or even the space where the trees stood to gain money.

As you all hopefully can tell, trees make the world go round. Yes, we need SOME trees to live a nice life. But I will assert that we don’t need that many trees. I speak for the trees, just like the Lorax.

Planet Earth: Trash Can?

While they rarely admit as much, the general public tends to take our planet for granted. That the earth will always be here, at least in our lifetime, is the general consensus. The plastic bottles that line Randall Parkway as I walk to campus everyday are evidence of this way of thinking. The ditches are full of garbage, beer bottles, and plastic bags.

Plastic. Plastic every where. This is the real issue. It’s cheap, and so easy to make. You can go to any fast food restaurant, and buy a drink. 100% of the time your cup has a plastic lid, and a plastic straw. After a one time use, it gets thrown away adding to the plastic garbage. It’s non-biodegradable, so earth is being flooded with plastic day after day and it’s not slowing down. This build up is dangerous to our planet as well as our health.

Chemicals from the plastic end up in our bodies. One of the larger effects it has on us and many different species of animals, is a rise in hormone levels. The Dangers of Plastic goes into great depth all the issues associated with plastic, our earth, and us.

So if the earth is flooding with plastic, where does it all end up? Look around you, and identify a few things that are made of plastic. Chances are that item will end up in the garbage in a few years time. Plastic is so inexpensive that so many things in our every day lives are made out of plastic and are disposable. But are they really disposable?

Yes, it is important to recycle plastic and there are huge efforts around the country and the world to recycle. However, only a small portion of plastic is actually recycled. Most of it ends up in the ocean, effecting sea life and eventually us.

It’s important for us to cut down on our own individual use of plastic if we are to see a big change in the future. It starts with us. Hopefully, one day the world will realize that even though plastic is inexpensive, it’s still a huge cost to our planet.