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Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | Pennsylvania 2018

Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | Pennsylvania 2018

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Posted on

The Pros and Cons of Seattle’s Plastic Straw Ban

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 29

The banning of plastic straws has been a topic discussed frequently in environmental circles. As of July 1st, this became not just a topic for discussion, but a reality for Seattle, Washington, which is now the largest city in the United States that has banned the use of plastic straws. This may seem like a simple act, but it has had major effects on companies and people around the country, for better and for worse.

The ban on plastic straws may be a major win for the environment. Zoos around the country have been encouraging visitors to say no to straws, and some have even had bans on straws for years. This comes from the realization that plastic straws are a major contributor to the enormous amount of waste that finds its way our oceans. One study found that 8.3 billions of plastic straws have made their way to beaches around the world. Another study found that plastic straws make up 7 percent of America’s total plastic waste. By eliminating plastic straws from the trash we create, we really are doing the environment a great favor. However, this ban is not as simple as it sounds.

Restaurant chains such as Starbucks and McDonalds have promised their customers that plastic straws will no longer exist in their stores in the coming years. While this is great news for the environment, as these stores serve billions of customers, this is terrible news for people with disabilities. Many people have disabilities such that their jaws are not strong enough to drink without a straw, perhaps they cannot lift their heads the right way to drink without a straw, or they have are unable to use their hands to hold a cup in any way. Taking away straws takes away their ability to drink anything at all. Some supporters of banning plastic straws have considered this and suggested that these people may be able to use metal or paper straws instead of plastic straws. While this is a solution for some, others need the flexibility of a plastic straw. Dianne Laurine, a Seattle resident who has cerebral palsy, admits that plastic straws were truly life-changing. Her caretaker, Bill Reeves, states that before plastic straws there were rubber straws and these, “ended up being disgusting, and hard to clean.”

So, what is the solution? Should we ban plastic straws to save the oceans from tons of waste at the expense of a portion of our population? Or should we just ignore this topic altogether in order to reduce the burden on people with disabilities? The key to the solution may be to at least limit their use whenever possible. Banning plastic straws completely may not be the solution, but encouraging those who can, to skip using straws may help. Plastic straws are an easy piece of trash to remove if you are able to drink without one, which is why this movement has become so popular. However, there are many other plastic items that could also be removed from the trash we accumulate. Plastic bottle caps, for instance, account for 17% of America’s plastic trash, 10% more than plastic straws. By skipping drinks that come in plastic bottles, an even greater amount of trash can be reduced. Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, states, “The key is breaking habits. Is something a habit because you truly need it or because you got used to doing it that way?” For some, plastic straws may simply a wasteful habit that can be changed and benefit our environment at the same time.

Sources:

Gibbens, Sarah. “A Brief History of How Plastic Straws Took Over the World.” National Geographic. National Geographic. July 6, 2018. Web. July 11, 2018.

Godoy, Maria, and Danovich, Tove. “Why People with Disabilities Want the Ban on Plastic Straws to Be More Flexible.” NPR. NPR. July 11, 2018. Web. July 11, 2018.

Posted on

Climate Change

Swamp Stomp

Volume 18 Issue 28

The average global temperature has been rising at an alarming rate for about two centuries now. Of course, this is not the hottest the Earth has ever been; during the time of the dinosaurs, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere were much higher. One does have to consider though, how hot our planet can become while remaining habitable for humans.

The Industrial Revolution, beginning in the early to mid-1800s, started at a faster rate of climate change also known as Global Warming. As our global society has grown more technologically advanced, our reliance on fossil fuels has raised the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The pre-industrial revolution CO2 level was about 280 parts per million. During the Industrial Revolution, coal began to be used as a fuel for machinery. The introduction of oil and gas later on also contributed a large number of emissions, especially in the 20th century.

Global temperature has risen a good amount within the past century especially, but global warming as a term may be misleading to some. Bringing a snowball to the Senate does not prove global warming false. Global warming leads to more extreme weather, such as an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes, and even winter storms. It also has a more gradual effect. Glaciers and ice caps are melting in warmer times of the year and at a faster rate than normal, and the colder times of year are not enough to make up for the damage. The average temperature of our oceans, which absorb much of the increased heat, have risen by about .3 degrees. Considering the fact that oceans cover over 70% of the earth’s surface, that represents an enormous amount of energy being absorbed.

In recent years, many governments have put measures into place to reduce their carbon footprints. This has helped lead to a slow-down in the rate of global warming, enough so that many people have called it a “pause”. This is incorrect because the global temperature is still increasing, albeit at a slower rate.

Around 2036, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere will reach 560 parts per million, double the Pre-Industrial Revolution level. This will cause the world to cross a climate threshold, leading to even greater environmental issues. The slow-down may give us a few more years to correct our behaviors, but only a few.

The slowdown in the rate of global warming shows us that although we may not be able to totally reverse the damage we have caused; our efforts thus far have not been in vain. Now is the time for radical changes in policy. As individuals, we can do our best at reducing our own emissions and make more environmentally sound decisions, but it can only go so far. It’s time we held governments and corporations to the same standard we hold our citizens. We need to move toward clean energy as a society, and quickly. At this point, the possibility of making Earth uninhabitable for humans is not a matter of if, but when.

Source:

Michael E. Mann, Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036, Scientific American, April 1, 2014

Global climate change – Vital Signs of the Planet, https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
Holly Shaftel -editor, July 2, 2018