climate change

The World Might End Soon, Here's Why

We really need to get our sh*t together, ASAP.

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Recently, rapper Lil Dicky released his new music video for his single called "Earth," which features 30+ artists, ranging from Justin Bieber to Ariana Grande to Snoop Dogg, and there were also appearances by Kevin Hart and Leonardo DiCaprio. Lil Dicky came out with this song to address the problem of climate change and global warming. This sparked major conversations on social media, causing it to skyrocket to #2 trending on Twitter in less than 12 hours. After watching this video, it really scared and I realized how in danger we really are. You should definitely check out the video, maybe it will make you make an immediate change like I did.

Lil Dicky - Earth (Official Music Video)

Scientists say we have less than a decade left on this Earth to take immediate action or else we are all doomed. The world's ozone layer is deteriorating, the overall temperatures of the planet are rising, the polar ice caps are almost gone, and we as humans are mostly to blame. We cut down so many trees every day, 27 soccer fields of trees a minute to be exact, which is reducing our oxygen supply immensely. The oceans are overflowing with plastic and other trash because we dump our trash just about anywhere. If you don't believe me, take a look for yourself.

pollution

Many of the times, we overlook the simple thought of throwing out things that could be recycled or using a plastic, single-use cup instead of taking an extra $3 to spend on buying a reusable cup. We shouldn't though, because if each person thinks like this, that means that billions of people have the same habits of littering and not reducing, reusing, or recycling. Thus, causes the cycle of dumping into our oceans, the destroying of our reefs and ocean life, and leads to more buildup. Most plastics are not biodegradable, and many are often consumed by ocean life, when floating in the water.

When the Earth's temperature rises, because of us polluting the air with aerosols and greenhouse gases, the ozone layer in the stratosphere depletes, which causes the UV rays to come through at a higher concentration which then causes the world's glaciers to melt. This, then, causes the sea levels to rise and will set off natural disasters like avalanches, hurricanes, tsunamis, and more. According to scientists, the Arctic is supposed to have their first ice-free summer by 2040. In my opinion, this is terrifying. I love this planet, and I don't want our Earth to die because of humans being stupid.

But there's good news! If we all start making some serious changes, we can save the Earth!

Here are some ways you can help:

1. Transition to 100% renewable energy

Transitioning to renewable energy won't be an easy task, nor will it be done overnight, but making small steps can lead to a big change in a few years. Some ways you can transition to renewable energy is by buying LED lights, installing a solar panel on your house, and by only using lights when needed and making sure to turn them off. These are just a few things you can do to help with preserving energy.

2. Sign petitions and donate to funds that advocate for rapid preservation of nature

More organizations are being established in order to save and preserve lands where endangered species are. There are so many people and organizations that are actively working to fix this problem and to save these precious animals from going extinct, because of humans. These programs provide funding to preserving wildlife, preserving the land that the wildlife lives on, and also protects laws against the killing of these animals.

3. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Although this famous saying has been around for as long as anyone can remember, no one actually does it. By reducing our number of plastic usage every day, it could make a huge impact. Instead of using plastic bags for food storage, use reusable plates or bowls and cover them with biodegradable covers or wraps. By reusing our plastic bottles, it causes less of a buildup of single-use plastics in the oceans. Things that are single-use like straws and plastic cups often end up in landfills and oceans and do not disintegrate, because they are made from a combination of dozens of different plastics. Plastic straws take 10 minutes to make, 20 minutes to use, and they stay on the Earth forever because they do not decompose.

4. Eat a plant-based diet

1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for climate change. By reducing our consumption of meats and animal products, we are reducing the rate of which greenhouse gases are being emitted into the atmosphere, therefore causing air pollution. We can still get the majority of our nutrients through plant-based diets that we would in a normal meat-eater diet. Even if a vegan or vegetarian is deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, there are hundreds of different vitamin supplements that are sold over the counter at local drug stores.

5. If it's close enough, walk! If it's more of a trek, take a bike or roller-blade!

Burning fossil fuels and gases is one of the most common greenhouse gases that are polluting our air.

6. If you're old enough, vote!

Vote for someone who supports and promises that they will work to save the environment and make the country greener. There are many options for representatives and candidates that want to help preserve Earth as much as possible and will sign bills and make sure laws get passed in order to help fix the environment. If you plan on voting, it is as simple as just researching a little on each candidate and what their opinions are on the environment.


There are many more ways to get involved, but we all need to take serious action, so we all have a beautiful, amazing planet for many more centuries to come, so our future generations do not have to deal with the mess that we can fix today. Together, we can turn this around, and we can save the planet, literally. The one time you use a reusable cup instead of a plastic one, the quick five-minute shower you take instead of your typical 20-minute one, the extra energy you save by turning off the lights and TV makes a difference. No action is too small—if everyone did something small, it would end up being a huge change.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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The Flint Water Crisis Is Affecting More People Than We Know, Including The Unborn

Flint is not the only city with water pipes contaminated with lead. At 40 weeks pregnant, I have to worry about the lead in my home’s water.

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Many Americans are familiar with the atrocities in Flint, Michigan. Flint received nationwide coverage when it was revealed that residents were being restricted access to clean water and were exposed to water contaminated with lead for many years. After the state discovered the lead, the residents were left with the contaminated water and still have it years later.

I have watched many documentaries on Flint like "Here's to Flint" and "Fahrenheit 11/9." The scenes from the documentaries are haunting and much resemble a war-torn, third world country. I was especially surprised when I received a letter in the mail from Chicago's Department of Water Management. The letter looked like nothing special and had been placed in a pile of junk mail that none of my roommate's wanted to read. I eventually went through the mail and was shocked at what I read. The letter casually says that my home uses a water meter and water meters activate lead in pipes.

It continued to say that most homes in Chicago test under the U.S. EPA's benchmark level for lead in drinking, however, 17.2% percent exceed it.

As a pregnant woman, this is horrifying news. I had been pregnant for months drinking and cooking with contaminated water before reading this letter. Drinking water contaminated with lead has long term effects for the whole family. For example, it affects the brain and nervous system development in children and increases the risks of things like kidney damage and high blood pressure in adults. The CDC itself says that there is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood.

I especially remember a scene in "Fahrenheit 11/9" where they talk about the effects lead has on the babies born to pregnant women who consumed it. It can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. There are pregnancy complications like low birth weight, premature delivery, preeclampsia.

Babies whose mother consumed lead water have been reported to have behavioral problems, lower IQs, and learning disabilities.

My own home soon resembled that of a developing country. I had stacks and stacks of water bottles. I have to use these bottles for everything. Just like residents of Flint, I have to brush my teeth with water bottles. I have to go through about five water bottles to boil water to cook. If I am out of water bottles, I just have to wait it out because the alternative is not worth it.

Having to worry about lead in the water is very stressful. Along with all the other stresses of pregnancy, I have to stress about accidentally poisoning my baby. I know that I have to take precautions in my own home, but am unsure where else is contaminated. I don't know where is safe. I don't know who else received the same letter I did, but ignored it as junk mail.

I recently had a house guest stay from another state. He asked why our water had an odd smell. I had to casually tell him not to mind that, it's just the lead in our water. I find it very disheartening that the city, state, and country don't prioritize the health and safety of its pregnant women, babies, or children. It is sincerely unfortunate how things like access to clean drinking water in America are just a luxury.

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