Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas"

Sorry for the sudden jump into Christmas and my absent post about Thanksgiving, but I am excited to write about our first snow fall of the Fall semester.  I would say first of the school year, but I am pretty sure there was a ton of snow in the Winter semester 204.  Anyway, I am excited to tell everyone about the snowfall that happened November 17, on Monday.  Although the temperatures were cold, it is always fun to experience the first snowfall of the new winter.  This excitement soon disappears when it is non-stop snowing and everything is white.  The occasional cancelling of classes is always a nice bonus.  I am writing about snow because in class today,  our professor Dr. Adkins mentioned his annoyance to the comment, "Why are we worried about global 'warming' when the weather is this cold?"  This relates to my previous blog post about climate change.  Just because the weather is cold does not mean that we should not be concerned with the way the climate is changing here on earth.  Actually, the colder it is, the more concerned we should be.  Climate change is something to worry about especially whenever there are cold winters and hot summers.  What I mean by that is, when temperatures are close to negative degrees in the winter and flirting with one hundred degrees in the summer, that is an extreme variation in temperatures which is very concerning.  A normal year would have about an average temperature both for the summer and winter.  When the temperatures are at extreme numbers, that is when we should question why the climate is often so different.  Just about everything in the climate is changing.  It has been reported that spring is occurring an average of 10 days before it should, as well as winter.  Thus, explaining another one of my previous posts about snow in October a few years ago, or even in April.  The temperatures are not staying constant.  Wouldn't that make someone question why this is happening?  That possibly, we humans, are potentially to blame for this?  Especially since trends like this have not occurred up until this past century, ironically after the Industrial Revolution.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Climate Change

On Tuesday I went to a creative engagement talk about the world and the climate change it is going under.  The speaker was Dr.  Andy Jorgenson from the University of Toledo in Ohio.  He talked about how the temperature has increased and continues to increase and we are in trouble if we do not do anything to change this.  2012 and 2013 marked the record for the highest temperature in the US.  The last time it was that warm was 130,000 years ago.  The reason the rise in temperature is concerning is because high temperatures melt the ice which then causes the sea level to rise which can cause danger to people living on the coasts of countries.  Also, warm temperatures means warm water and warm water causes hurricanes.  The warmer the water the more disastrous the hurricanes are, which causes more damage to homes and lives of people.  There were a lot of statistics presented in his research and I jotted them down in my notes, but I'm not sure if I can accurately explain their meanings and their importance. 
During the discussion, Dr. Jorgenson explained that there are 3 countries responsible for half of the greenhouse gas emissions.  Those countries are China, US, and India.  These countries make up 49% of greenhouse gas emissions.  The problem with this statistic is that both China and India are using their greenhouse gases to produce items that are being used in America.  Therefore, it is our responsibility to use less and less of the items that are being used.  Ways to do this are, buying cars with more gas mileage, or using cars less, using energy from natural sources or windmills (which is increasingly popular), we need to stop cutting down trees, and using LED light bulbs, among many other things. 
I apologize if this blog post has been scattered with information.  If you would like more concrete explanations for things, I had provided the website that Dr. Jorgenson gave us.  This website gives information about climate change and other sources of information. 

CAMEL- Climate Change Education Website

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Silent Spring

For class, we were instructed to read an excerpt from Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."  Although we only read a short section from it, I believe I understood her ideas and what argument she was trying to make.  Basically, she explains that if people remain constant in what they are doing with pesticides to "protect" their crops, there will be a very high shortage of insects and animals in the country or even the world.  Her title self-explains this idea, a spring, when all the insects and birds are making noises and chirping at the weather and new life, will no longer be the same if all of the insects and animals are extinct, due to the pesticides.  I believe Carson explains her argument well because she is not entirely against the idea of using pesticides, she just wants to see them being used less because there are multiple other ways to protect plants and crops. 
Along with reading the articles, we were also told to watch a video on one of the pesticides that is now banned.  The irony, is that the video shows the pesticide DDT being sprayed on children in the pool, while they are eating lunch, alongside roads and homes, because they thought it was safe enough for the environment.  Turns out, it is entirely unsafe for the environment, therefore leaving us to wonder about the people in the video.  What happened to them?  I was simply concerned with the idea that the people were being sprayed by a cloudy substance and they were okay with it, but then the fact that it was a pesticide really made me question their sanity.  I've attached the link to the video below.  I'm sure people in my class have seen it, but to others reading my blog (if they exist)  I would like to provide you with the video. 

http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/envh10.sci.life.eco.silentspring/rachel-carsons-silent-spring/

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Virgin Python

In the past few classes, we have been determining the characteristics of reptiles and amphibians.  We have made a list of multiple characteristics that make each of these distinct from one another.  Reptiles lay hard, leathery eggs while amphibians lay soft eggs.  Amphibians begin their lives in water and do not live on land until mature.  Reptiles live on land from the beginning.  There are many more distinctions.  The reason I am babbling on about reptiles is because I found a story in the news about a python.  I live in Louisville, KY when I am not attending school at Transy.  The Louisville Zoo is the home to an 11 year old, 200lb, 20 foot long python named Thelma and she just gave birth to 6 baby pythons.  Although this may not seem like news to the average person, there was a twist to this birth.   Thelma produced these 6 offspring on her own, known as a virgin birth.  The article from WLKY news station in Louisville states that this virgin birth is the first of its kind for the species.  According to a curator of Ectotherms, Bill McMahan says this is possible because the polar bodies adhere to the eggs which triggers development, instead of the sperm fertilizer.  Thelma lives with her roommate, Louise. I find this really interesting and honestly did not even know it was possible but apparently it is.  To read the article yourself or to listen to the news story, I have attached the website article onto this blog.  Pythons and snakes in general creep me out.  I would have to say they are one of my biggest fears.  Pythons usually live in Africa and Asia where it is wet and warm. I read on a website that pythons can grow up to 7 feet long and are a part of a non-venomous genus.  They attack their prey by suffocating and squeezing them to death.  Although they scare me to death, it is sad to hear that pythons are constantly being threatened because of their size and beautiful skin.






Virgin Python

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Leaves are Changing

Over the past few weeks I have noticed a lot of the leaves on the trees are changing.  The colors of the trees are beautiful and most of the leaves are still on the trees but some have fallen off.  My favorite thing to do is go on road trips this time of year because of the autumn scenery you see while driving.  I have a feeling that the leaves began to change quickly because of the inconsistent weather patterns we've been having in Kentucky.  Although the leaves and trees are pretty in their changing of colors, it brings me to the topic that we brought up in class one time which is "why doesn't Transylvania University allow the leaves to remain on the ground once they have fallen instead of mowing up?"   I think the leaving of the leaves gives Transy a beautiful image and raking up all of the leaves makes it seem like it is not Fall.  Transylvania claims to be a sustainable campus and they can be, but doing something like not mowing up leaves by using gas from a lawnmower.  Also, they have cut down multiple trees in order to build new buildings on campus.  I love the new buildings that we are constructing but there should be a way that Transy can incorporate those trees into the new buildings or quickly re-plant them (which they may be doing).  Also, is there a way that we could, clean up some leaves by hand by getting a group together to be assigned to pick up the leaves instead of using lawnmowers?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head, Literally.

Over the past few weeks, rain has made it's lovely appearance here in Kentucky.  Last night, in Louisville (my hometown) there was a tornado watch that lasted from about 9pm to 1am.  The winds were blowing heavy and the rain was pouring down heavier.  I'm not complaining, though.  We've been without rain for a while so it's nice to have some moisture in the air.  I've captured quite a few pictures from the recent rain/thunderstorms.  I always enjoy listening and watching the weather when it begins to act this way.  However, tornadoes are not my cup of tea.  As soon as I hear any signs of tornado warnings, I run to the basement (like I should.)  Though, a part of my still wants to be in that storm tracking van filming and tracking the tornadoes as that hit.  There is something about the intensity of those situations that attract me to doing such a crazy thing.  The weather in Kentucky is always changing.  One day it is 55 and raining.  The next day it is 86 and sunny.  Although the majority of residents in Kentucky hate the weather, including myself, we also love it at the same time.  We love to complain about the change in weather.  But how exciting is snow in April? This occurred last semester while in school.  It was April and I was walking back from class and it began to snow! Crazy.   I've captured a few pictures of these storms.  The first two are of today, where in Louisville it is about to storm.  The two at the bottom are from Tuesday of last week when Fayette County in Lexington was getting hit by a thunderstorm.
My backyard 6:30 10/14/14
My front yard 6:0 10/14/14




 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Insects Galore!

In class last Wednesday, we looked at Dr. Adkins collection of bugs.  There were about 12 boxes all filled with different types of bugs.  Rachel and I paired up and looked at a collection  through magnifying glasses.  We attempted to create a key of differences that made each insect different.  We decided that the pattern of some insects distinguished them from the other ones in the box.  Along with pattern, some insects had a certain color to them.  Next, we discovered that only a few of the insects had wings, distinguishing them from the ones without wings.  Then, some insects had antennae while others did not.  We carried on our investigation of these insects and came to the conclusion that all of them had an exoskeleton.  Some were bigger than others.  Some had also shown evidence of a battle throughout their lifetime due to the absence of some legs or wings.  The insects were very interesting to look at, especially up so close!  I don't think I have ever been that close to a bee, or even a butterfly.  I could see all types of hair, stripes, eyes, etc. on the insects.  Things I would never be able to see if they had not been captured and persevered, and looked at through a magnifying glass.  I might be able to post pictures if we look at these insects another time!