Wednesday, November 19, 2014

China & United States Landmark Agreement

To quote John Kerry from the New York Times, "The United States and China are the world’s two largest economies, two largest consumers of energy, and two largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Together we account for about 40 percent of the world’s emissions."

Taking that into account, the new agreement the United States and China made, regarding climate change and environmental protection, is monumental! The two powerful nations agreed to make every step possible to reduce carbon emissions in the post-2020 period. 


This agreement holds such powerful impact because if the two nations who are, arguably, the most prominent in the world, and that are the worst offenders of greenhouse gas emissions, make a transparent pact to reduce their pollution, then other nations will follow in their place. 


The New York Times article continued to proclaim, "Our announcement can inject momentum into the global climate negotiations, which resume in less than three weeks in Lima, Peru, and culminate next year in Paris. The commitment of both presidents to take ambitious action in our own countries, and work closely to remove obstacles on the road to Paris, sends an important signal that we must get this agreement done, that we can get it done, and that we will get it done." 


This agreement has obvious, world-wide impacts, that its significance and importance cannot be denied. Building upon that, this is also a momentous shift in the China-United States relationship. The President's of both China and the United States are in collusion with the idea that  the world’s largest economies, energy consumers and carbon emitters have a responsibility to lead. Let's hope that this does, in fact, create positive change throughout the entire world, but, at this point, only time will tell...

Debate and Biology



As a member of the Transylvania Speech and Debate team I am often tasked with knowing a significant amount about current events. Furthermore, in a debate round at a tournament this past weekend, my partner and I received the resolution: "This House should significantly change its approach to Environmental Protection". My partner and I were the government team when it comes to this specific debate so we had the luxury of defining the parameters of the resolution. How a debate works is it is either a round of "policy", "fact", or "value"; in this case, because the word "should" is in the resolution, that denotes it is a policy case. In a policy case you have to do the following as the government team:

-Define "This House"
-weighing mechanism
-Establish harms in the status quo (as it pertains to the specific house you chose and the resolutional analysis you put forward)
-Create a plan to solve for the harms that includes the following:
-solvency
-enforcement
-timeline
-funding
-unique advantages

For our case, defined the above as:
-This House: The United States Federal Government
-Weighing mechanism: more true than false (meaning if everything we say in the entire debate is more true than false then you must cast your vote for the government team… a weighing mechanism is how you judge a debate round)
-Harms in status quo of The United States Federal Government
1. Not effective enough in protecting environment
2. Not enough dissemination of awareness and knowledge concerning the environment

Plan:
-solvency (plan text that solves for the harms you put forward)
1. Officially claim global climate change as a crisis (the federal government recognizing the degradation of our environment as a crisis than we will be able to get more funding for science courts and all the immediate impetus that comes with officially listing something as a crisis).
2. Create science courts that operate equivalent to how the supreme court operates (gather a diversity of minds, from all around the world, that are the leaders in their respective fields of environmental science to operate the science courts. These science courts should have paramount ethos, equivalent to supreme courts)
3. These science courts are a separate, better operating system than the EPA
-enforcement: congress
-timeline: science courts set up within a year
-funding: the expected extra money that comes with declaring something as an official crisis
-unique advantages:
1. takes politics out of environmental protection
2. increases average, lay persons, awareness of environmental problems
3. Creates a body (science courts) steeped in ethos that will serve with longevity and ethicality

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Peaceful, Pleasing, Pinnacles

My boyfriend and I like to claim that we are dedicated to our own "health and wellness". By this, we mean that we are continuously making strident efforts to promote our fitness, be aware of our surroundings, and be a cooperative, engaged member of the world around us. While we makes these arscertions quite often, the other day we realized that we aren't living up to this ideology as fully as we could. In an effort to maximize our potential we decided that going on a hike through the Pinnacles, a mountain range in Berea, Kentucky, would be a fantastic start. We theorized this would be beneficial for us because it would help actualize our words by connecting us with nature, providing us with a wonderful workout, and provide us with the perfect scenery to contemplate our relationship with nature and the world around us.

Some pictures from our adventure:













During this trip we were able to recognize the importance of understanding the intricate relationship between humans and all other life forms on Earth. It is truly significant and important to take time out of our busy lives to connect and think critically about the world around us. Both my boyfriend and I benefited tremendously from this trip and it is highly recommended for anyone searching to maintain an overall health and wellness to get outside and explore the vast, beautiful world around you!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Taking a Moment

In our last lab, Dr. Adkins mentioned a conversation he had with another professor in which they discussed why young people today do not seem to take a moment to sit back and enjoy nature. Why are young people not doing this? They are too busy.

College students nowadays have classes and extracurriculars that take up the majority of their time. I know this is true from personal experience because I am currently taking four classes, a lab, team-teaching a class, on the softball team, on the speech and debate team, and a couple other things. I have a very reliable knowledge of the hectic nature of college students. However, I think being "too busy" is a copout.

In my mind, every college student should take at least 30 minutes to an hour three times a week to just sit down outside and marvel, muse, and wonder about the world around us. The world that lets us live, breath, and be human. The world that is integral to our very existence...

Right now, in the status quo, we are taking the Earth for granted. We utilize it as, what Immanuel Kant would abhor -- a means to an end. We take this Earth for all it will provide us but do we replenish it? Do we cherish it? Do we love it as an equal? Or do we use it as a tool that can be thrown back in the shed once we have gotten what we need from it?

To sit down and attempt to fathom the purity and breadth of life that is existing, beyond human life, is almost unfathomable. Yet, it is something we should try to value and wonder at. The first step is to take these allotted times to think about the inter-workings and happenings of the world around us. But, there is a next step.

The crucial next step is to actually do something about it..... Understand what is present around you and strive to preserve, perpetuate, and propagate. MAKE the world around us better. There needs to be both workability and solvency. We need to solve for the harms that are existing right now -- deforestation, oil spills, habitat fragmentation, etc. And then we need to IMPLEMENT our ideas into real life (workability) and actually make a difference. It has to start with us.

It is time to worry about making things other than ourselves happy. With understanding and impetus we can make the Earth elated as well.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

TIMELINE !


When you really take a minute (or multiple minutes if you're feeling adventurous) to sit down and contemplate/imagine/attempt to comprehend how the planet Earth has changed throughout the years it is truly MIND-BOGGLING! There were once monstrous Dinosaurs traipsing around as casual as when you and I grab a cup of coffee. Wait... what?? That is soooo crazy! But it's true! To build upon that, we all started from a prokaryote that just happened to evolve and develop??

The Paleozoic Era, commonly referred to as the "old animal" era was 540-250 million years ago. The Paleozoic Era is defined by the inclusion of invertebrates such as Arthropods, Molluscs, and Echinoderms and Vertebrates.

The Mesozoic or "middle animal" era was generally from 250-65 million years ago and is famous for its Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs.

BAD*** DINOSAURS

A common misconception is that Pterosaurs are Dinosaurs, but they are not! For more information outlining the differences go here:

Pterosaur vs Dinosaur


The Cenozoic Era also referred to as the "recent animal" era that consists of 5 million years ago to present day. This era is characterized by the rise of mammals.



Thinking about where it all started and where we are now highlights the complexity and intrigue of evolution.

According to Charles Darwin, evolution is a pattern and a process. Furthermore, a differential contribution of individuals to next generation causes change in the species, or natural selection. More important information that Darwin taught us is that species are not immutable, 
species arise through descent with modification, and s
pecies are related by common ancestry.

For a cool look at evolution:

AWESOME EVOLUTION VIDEO


Taking the time to truly sit down and put evolution into perspective should invoke a greater appreciation for who you are now and the world around you. It is even more intriguing to think where the world will be in 500 years. How will humans look? Will humans still exist? If they do, what adaptations will they have formed? There are numerous questions that arise out of understanding what evolution is, how it has affected us, and how it will continue to impact our lives and the lives of all organisms!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Trees !

Trees are cool.

I always used to think that trees were a rather boring part of nature. They have their inherent beauty that was always recognizable, but beyond that, I found trees rather doldrum and uninteresting. However, to my surprise and delight, as of late my feelings towards trees in general have been changing...

So much is happening "behind the scenes" when it comes to trees. The intricacies that are honestly taken for granted when it comes to trees are mind-boggling, awesome, and outrageously magnificent. Trees literally make the oxygen we breathe. Photosynthesis is a very integral and interesting process that we as humans do not appreciate enough.

Photosynthesis means "to put together with light".

This is how Photosynthesis operates: "The light is sunlight, shining on the tree, and the pieces being put together are carbon dioxide and water. When a tree has these three ingredients it uses the energy from the sunlight to combine the carbon from the carbon dioxide with the water to make a carbohydrate, or more simply, a sugar. The sugar is food for the tree, just as people eat sugar and carbohydrates. When the tree makes the carbohydrate, there is extra oxygen from the water, which luckily for us gets released into the air, giving us the oxygen we breathe." (http://www.binghamton.edu/news/the-newsroom/ask-a-scientist/?date=2011-04-13)


Because I am a GIANT fan of hip hop/rap I have found an amazing photosynthesis rap for us all to enjoy!

AWESOME PHOTOSYNTHESIS RAP HERE


To look at some breathtaking trees, hopefully with a new perspective and understanding of all that they do, go here!!

TREES !!!!!!!


Trees are truly multi-layered. They are beautiful, detailed, imperative to life, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring. Let's not forget their greatness. Let's appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's a LOVE/HATE relationship !

There are at least 8.7 million different species on this earth.

The various organisms map out like this:

-Vertebrates 1%
-Others 6%
-Beetles 22%
-Flies 9%
-Wasps 8%
-Butterflies/moths 7%
-Other insects 13%
-Plants/algae 18%
-Fungi 4%
-Other invertebrates 12%

Now, it is imperative to state that I despise insects. I think they are outwardly creepy, scary, unappealing, and every negative adjective you could possible think of to describe a terrifying outward appearance. I don't like them. Never have.

However, as I've gotten a few Biology and Human Concerns aka 'Natural History and Epistemology' classes under my belt something curious has begun to present itself. Bugs are cool. Where they are gross they are intriguing. where they are horrifying they are intricate and layered members of the biosphere. Also, in their own ecosystems, they are fierce warriors:



Click here to see an AWESOME bug battle!



I have gained a greater respect and admiration for the role that all organisms play in their particular ecosystem and our biosphere as a whole. 

I like to refer to it as a love/hate relationship. I have heated hatred and lively love but one thing is certain... when it comes to my relationship with insects... I never lack passion!


This sudden complexity to the way in which I view bugs is reminiscent of a larger problem that exists among many people in society today -- we take natural history for granted. We recognize, tertiarily, the import and interconnectedness of us and all organisms in nature but very few of us translate that into real life applicability. Furthermore, we NEED people to not only recognize the import of all biotic and abiotic organism but to do something to increase their longevity and health.