News Flash: Natural disasters inspire change

By Jessie Krehlik

Editor-in-Chief

I am not eco-friendly. I don’t recycle. I eat fast food and I drive a pick-up truck. But, all of a sudden, I’m afraid of what my ecological footprint might do to the environment. When I see the devastation that happened from Katrina and  the disasters of the earthquakes in Haiti and now Japan, I just feel like it is Earth’s way of telling us to slow down.

This tragedy in Japan is a real eye-opener. Even though the earthquake and tsunami were devastating enough, Japan now faces new threats to their people. This time though, humans are partly to blame. Japan is in a state of emergency because their nuclear power plants are at risk for a nuclear meltdown. This, coupled with the fact that the area has already been exposed to radiation, could prove dire for the country.

According to the Huffington Post, scientists estimate that over 140,000 people are at risk. Meteorologists are closely monitoring the weather forecast, because radiation has reached the atmosphere. This means that the wind will determine what areas are exposed to radiation in the future. Nuclear power is an important resource for our world, but look at the destruction and harm it can cause to not only the environment but to humans as well.

The same sort of thing happened with the BP oil spills. No one takes into account what the consequences might be. They just expect everything to continue on perfectly while they live in a little bubble, immune from all negativity. News flash, this is real life.

As Americans, we are pretty greedy. We drive expensive cars, many of which are gas hogs and we regularly eat out rather than dining in.  We rarely think of the impact we make on the environment. Sadly enough, it seems like more people would care if they knew what was going on.

What is your ecological footprint? A simple test on earthday.org can identify just how much resources students at Seton Hill University (SHU) use, as well as how much waste they produce. Now, SHU has already taken some steps to make campus more eco-friendly, such as limiting the amount of paper we can print. The SHU App shows how many trees the user has killed. It’s a reminder to be conservative with resources. Reading electronic books on the iPad is an alternative to save some trees; however, it’s important to acknowledge that iPads still need electricity to function. With everything, there is a give and take factor.

In some ways, it seems like a catch-22. We can save some aspects of the environment at the cost of others.  Taking another look at energy resources provides excellent examples. Part of California is fueled by steam which is released from geysers. Although this lowers the amount of alternative energies to be used, this resource—an aquifer below the surface is at risk for running dry. To combat this dilemma, those in charge took action by funneling waste water back into the aquifer. Although a useful fix, it also led to instability with the tectonic plates in the area from the added pressure.  “Microearthquakes” occurred as a result.

It’s high time we think about the ecological repercussions for our actions as humans, myself included.

I drive my dad’s pick-up truck everywhere, which, of course, sucks up gas. I never recycle and I rarely eat organic food. My ecological footprint alone is pretty high. If everyone were to live my lifestyle, we would need over 3 Earths to sustain it.  The average American’s ecological footprint is slightly higher than other countries, especially the underdeveloped ones. It’s about time humans, especially Americans, acknowledged that there are others living on the earth, before it’s too late.

Regardless of your ecological footprint, there are plenty of steps to take to lower this number. Recycling is one option. Carpooling is another. Even buying more organically grown food makes a difference because it saves resources. Every little bit helps. Imagine if everyone pitched in to help.

 

Did You Know?

Most bottle caps cannot be recycled because they are made from a different kind of plastic and will not melt down properly with the rest (ehow.com). If a bottle has the cap on it they throw it away and don’t recycle it.

In the middle of the ocean rests the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This area is literally swamped with bits of small plastic and other waste that has been dumped into the ocean over the years. It all comes to rest in this area due to ocean currents and is detrimental to wildlife in the area (http://www.greatgarbagepatch.org/).

The average American uses over 500 lbs. of paper per year (ehow.com).

The popular pen brand Pilot now produces a eco-friendly version of their G2 pen made out of recycled bottles (pilotbegreen.us).

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