Category Archives: Science

Humanity and Heartland need Science.

Humanity and the Heartland Institute need science.
Heartland needs Humanity to sell its Koch-funded agenda.
Science needs neither Humanity or Heartland.

Linked below are two very timely articles by Ethan Siegel

 

“At a time where science is critical to the future of humanity, it’s important that we all agree on the facts. We may disagree on policy, on the best course of action for society or the world, or on which concern is most paramount in terms of importance. But we have to agree on the same facts as a starting point.

If the only way you can make your argument for your desired policy position is to tell lies or distort what we actually know, then no amount of reasoning will change your mind.

You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.

The only reason to write about validating climate skepticism is to reinforce pre-existing beliefs. That’s not science, nor is it science communication.

We have to do better. We are the world, and we have to demand accurate information.”

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

“Society didn’t get to where it is by focusing on dissenting scientific voices; it advanced by valuing and listening to what was validated and known. We didn’t advance by delaying until we were 99.99999% sure we had it right; we took the best information we had and acted. And we didn’t invest in the future by cutting funding for the enterprise that makes future advances possible; we chose a boldly ambitious project and saw it through, 100% of the way. It’s up to humanity to write our own future, with science providing the ink in our pens.

If we stop listening, stop investing, and stop valuing the lessons it has to teach us, it’s only a matter of time before we suffer the same fate as an untended yeast colony.

We can be better than that, but only if we decide to choose and value science.”

Ethan Siegel, Forbes

The End… Final Posting

As I am wrapping up my project, I can surely say that I have accumulated a deeper belief and point of view on the importance of keeping our environment healthy, especially our New York City environment. As you all know, my project was focused on green space within urban environments. I focused on why they are necessary for our personal health and for the overall health of the city. I have always loved the outdoors and nature. That is what initially pointed me in this direction, but after spending a lot of time creating and investigating this topic and coming up with a final piece, I have a different relationship with the parks in our city. I have discovered that they are more than just a place for wildlife and trees to thrive, they are also a place for us to exercise, play and essentially escape. They hold so much importance.

Initially my idea for the project, was to interview several people about our green space and create a video montage of their responses. As I was in that process, I realized that it was turning out to not be the most creative or effective way to get the point across.

SO I kept the footage I took but instead of filling the video with interviews, I filled it with a mix of my voice, breath and music that I placed over the video clips. I wanted to find the more creative edge, to really capture the audience and catch them off guard. The video leaves space for the audience’s interpretation, but requires them to think introspectively and openly about what our inner city environment is doing to us. We call ourselves the Big Apple, but our red delicious is in fact rotting at the core. I took this idea and translated it by relating it to the body’s breath patterns.

The music I chose for the piece is from a site called “Epidemic Sound.” This site is created for video makers to choose from the music library provided. The songs are all 100% royalty free and content ID safe and cleared for all multimedia projects. The song is called “Nonchalance and Fabulance 2” created by Marc Torch. It is under the film category and sub category beautiful.

This was an exciting and grueling experience for me, since I am new to working with Adobe Premiere Pro 2015 and took this as an opportunity to challenge myself and create an artistic piece in a medium that was somewhat foreign to me.

Here is the finished piece…

 

“Embracing All Kinds of Nature”

Since my last update, I have changed a piece I previously made, and created a few new garments. Below are pictures I took of the clothes on a friend of mine. I tried to start to think about how we may want to frame the pieces through photography. And now that I have seen them on someone, I can begin to create an idea of styling or how each piece might connect to a larger scene. Some of the fabric used was found in a recycling container at Parsons, and some of the other fabric was left over from previous projects and costumes. I have not been finishing the edges on most of the pieces because I like having an allusion to the idea of incomplete, or unsolved. I believe this quality is echoed in the state of our environment and the choices we now get to make.


I listened to a podcast recently that has shaped my idea of what is occurring to our planet and what role we play in the destruction, preservation, and reshaping of the natural earth, animal species, and plant diversity. I came across the podcast while listening to the TED Radio Hour sponsored by National Public Radio. The topic: Age of the Anthropocene, or a new geological age, defined by humans and their unprecedented impact on Earth. It is broken down into six segments answering, “What’s The Anthropocene? How Do We Embrace All Kinds Of Nature? Are We Headed Into Another Mass Extinction? How Can Dinosaurs Help Us Understand Our Own Species?” and “Can We Preserve Seed Diversity For The Future?” The topics discussed were varied and allowed me to question the environment in ways beyond how we usually approach our consumption crisis. The podcast balances hope and concern well as well as addresses topics we may not know about and deepens topics we may know well.
In this new light, I continue with my final project, thinking of ways to deepen its impact and meaning. Finding out where I can express concern and where we can find hope and activism in the project. Alex and I are in talks right now about how to frame the garments and I know the ideas that have stuck with me must be interwoven. Especially, what I have gained from the segment Emma Marris did on embracing all kinds of nature. Marris brings us back to being a child and experiencing the wonders of life beyond us through the lens of raising her own children. The ideas that the younger generations will hold of the environment will inevitably be different from ours. But, it is still our responsibility to foster a care within them for the same thing we have loved, and lost in some cases. She brought light to something I too often lose sight of, nature in an urban setting. I know that at the very least, this is something that will come through in my final project.

Trees Need Lovin’ Too

 

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As I am further looking into the importance of parks and trees within city areas, I  came across this Pinterest post covering an extreme problem called “deforestation.” Deforestation is the act or result of cutting down or burning all the trees in an area As defined in Merriam Webster Dictionary. Our country only makes up 5% of our world’s population, but we are responsible for using nearly half of the world’s industrial wood…This is a problem that we first need to recognize in order to stop it.

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What Can Be Done?

 

50 Jobs For The Environment                      Education                         Tree Breath                     

Bark As Medicine                                   Air Quality                      Tree Food

 

Way of the Future (thoughts on global population growth)

Over the past 55 years, the global population has doubled. There were half the people there are now on this planet when my parents were born. At this rate, the population of earth will be over 11 billion by 2060. Terrifying statistics when one considers the strain on our planet’s resources with the population earth has now. In the documentary Climate Refugees  former US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, states that “everything in nature is related, so overpopulation, competition for resources, food, water, energy; all have an impact on each other.”  The founder of Earthday, former  US Senator Gaylord Nelson, shared a similar sentiment, that addresses the severity of consequences :

“The link between population growth and environmental degradation is made often in retrospective studies, which is why they aren’t really considered valid, but clearly more people living better lives is the hallmark of progress.  Activists worried about the environment don’t want better lives unless it means fewer lives too.  More people means more cars, trucks and buses, more air pollution, more parking lots and less green spaces.  In their progressive dystopian future, there are more chemicals, more trash and more runoff cascading down super sewers into our streams, lakes and oceans means more damage to California’s biodiversity hot-spots.  Plus, more people means more pressure on declining water supplies”

-Gaylord Nelson

The current annual global energy consumption rates are only getting higher. We have surpassed the equivalent of 3 billion metric tonnes of oil in global energy needs every year. As we all know, fossil fuels are a finite resource. For our planet to achieve such a massive annual energy quota, it is necessary to switch to renewables. I feel it almost silly to make this argument, because the facts are simple. More people on our planet will require more energy.

As resources dwindle in areas most affected by climate change, large populations will have to move to survive. This is already happening in places like the Marshal Islands and Syria. The modern refugee crisis is only going to grow in the years ahead, as climate issues become more prevalent around the globe. And exacerbating the issue is the chaotic growth of the world’s population. The “refresh rate” of our planet’s resources is not fast enough to support our growing population and the demands of modern civilization.

This has been a hard week. Swallowing this information is very difficult. The mind begins to spiral out of control when trying to absorb the hard statistics. I’ve been depressed thinking about this grave dystopian future that the evidence suggests. Will  my children see the beauty I have seen in the world? Will I be able to SHARE the wonderment in nature I have found, or will it become a history lesson? Could our species’ future lay beyond the stars?

“they’ll be moving us to mars”

 

 

 

This is A Growing Problem

What can we live without? We can live without television, or the internet (both relatively new inventions). We can live without organic foods, our daily cup of coffee, we can even live without a permanent home. So, what do we need for survival? Food, clean water, and some form of shelter from the elements. Overpopulation complicates the distribution of these human necessities. Although the effects of overpopulation aren’t as apparent in North America, the lack of clean drinking water and food effects millions of people globally.

This National Geographic video concisely explains the exponential human population growth and the problems we may face because of it. Before watching this video, I imagined that overpopulation would mean there would be no more land to occupy. It may be because I’m from New York, but I already feel claustrophobic amongst the present population of 7.4 billion people. I learned in the video that every human on Earth could stand shoulder-to-shoulder within the confines of Los Angeles. Living space isn’t as much of a global issue as energy, food, and water are. The National Geographic video (released in 2010) said that 5% of humans consume 23% of the world’s energy. It’s actually not so hard to believe; I’m sitting in an air conditioned, well-lit room, charging my phone and laptop. It gets worse; the amount of energy consumed by the average American is going up. The US uses 100 quadrillion BTUs (105 exajoules) per year, 3x its consumption in 1950. If we are using more energy to light our buildings, cool and heat our air and water, and power our electronics, where is this energy coming from? 7.30% of the energy Americans use is renewable (solar/wind/geothermal). The other 92.7% of energy is nuclear, petroleum, coal, and gas. These energy sources are not renewable, so they will eventually run out. With a growing birth rate and a slower mortality rate, our population will continue to grow, as will the dependence on energy. What could happen when we have no more coal or gas energy? Will we depend solely on the more sustainable energy sources, like wind and solar?

the choice between non-renewable and renewable energy sources
The choice between non-renewable and renewable energy sources

Energy is a hard subject for me to think about. I’m privileged in the sense that I’ve never been without power for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, the total number of individuals without electric power is put at about 1.5 billion, or a quarter of the world’s population, concentrated mostly in Africa and southern Asia. This statistic creates a problem for me. I can’t figure out if supplying energy to every human being is even a good thing, because much of our energy is non-renewable and incredibly harmful to the Earth.  The best solution may be for most developed countries to transition to 75%-100% renewable energy, while supplying underdeveloped parts of  Africa and Southern Asia with solar panels, which costs less and could work well in these hot and sunny climates. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but we can learn to share it better and increase the quality of life for our growing population.

 

Let’s shut down Indian Point Energy Center

For my final project, Georgia Krause and I will be creating a short documentary on the Indian Point Energy Center located north of New York City on the Hudson River.  In December 2015 there was a massive leak of tritium from this site.  As Georgia mentioned in her post about our project, we intend to talk about the site’s history, the leak, the dangers the site poses, and ultimately why this facility needs to be shut down.

Screengrab from GoogleEarth of proximity of Indian Point to NYC
Screengrab from GoogleEarth of proximity of Indian Point to NYC

This project is of great importance to me because I feel that not enough people understand the risks that nuclear energy poses to wildlife and human health today, and for the indefinite future.   As a New Yorker beginning to become more educated on the topic, I feel it is my duty to inform other New Yorkers about this facility and the danger it poses; as well as educate the public on the dangers of nuclear energy in general.  I have spoken to far too many so-called “environmentalist” friends who believe that nuclear is the future of energy.  Until there is an alternative way to dispose of the bi-products of these facilities, I have to disagree.

16 Apr 2002, Yucca Mountain, Nevada, United States --- The view from inside a subsided crater left by a long ago underground nuclear bomb test at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, near Yucca Mountain. --- Image by © Dan Lamont/Corbis
16 Apr 2002, Yucca Mountain, Nevada, United States — The view from inside a subsided crater left by a long ago underground nuclear bomb test at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, near Yucca Mountain. — Image by © Dan Lamont/Corbis

My hope for this short documentary is that it will be shared with a mass audience through social media.  I think that the proximity of such a potentially dangerous site, to one of the largest cities in the world, makes this film have urgency and importance.  We will be judging the success of this project based on the number of views received / people educated.

New York’s Governor Cuomo warns of hazardous Indian Point a year prior to the tritium leak. 

There is a lot of media out there on the topic, and Georgia and I plan to shoot our own footage and interviews in addition to this for the project.  I look forward to the process and the outcome of the piece.

 

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

-HENRY DAVID THOREAU, WALDEN

World Not too Unfamiliar

Fallout 4

Fallout 4 Concept Art
Fallout 4 Concept Art

The game Fallout 4 has earned considerable fame in the last few months. The game earned around 100million in the first 3 days, and shipped 12million copies on launch day. Obviously the game is an enormous franchise, and many have experienced the world inside Fallout 4.

Interestingly, the world of Fallout 4, is what it sounds like: a post-apocalyptic world caused by nuclear products. The character must survive through the dangerous of radiation, and have to go through the wasteland to accomplish missions. The wasteland is full of dangerous things, such as animals affected by radiation, and crude humans who try to take resources from you. Here is a link to the gameplay trailer.

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A Screenshot of The Wanderer Trailer

What is so amusing about this game, is that this post-apocalyptic world is a believable world, or could be even a portrayal of our future. In the game, natural resources, such as water, are very rare. Finding healthy food is expensive, and difficult. Also, when you eat radiated food, you get damaged from radiation, and your health bar becomes limited. If you swim in a radiated water, the same effect occurs. You basically go through the game as if you were going through the real “earth” after a nuclear war.

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The game had gained some harsh reviews, mainly because of graphic issues. However, the main important part here, is that it makes us aware of where we, as human beings, are headed. Look at this stock check graph found from BBC:

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We are going to run out of very important resources, such as Coal around 2042. We are using resources for short term gain, and we are not thinking in long terms.

I want to make an artwork similar to Fallout 4, where people can experience the gruesome future beforehand. The world of Fallout 4 becoming a reality is inevitable if we continue to use nuclear energy and neglect natural resources. If you play the game, you realize how easy it is for the player to die, and how excruciatingly hard it is to find pure water.

 

Midterm Project

For the mid-term project, again I am trying to portray a world that could possibly happen if no one decides to change the current world. I want to alarm everyone of how lack of resources the earth have, and that a wasteland like that of Fallout 4, could potentially be waiting for us.

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Fallout 4 Concept Art

Although I haven’t done a lot of realistic drawings of an environment, I would love to create a world similar to Fallout 4. If environment illustration does not work, I will make a story book, about what world we may have to live in the future.

I would do sketches, then color, then to final shading.

Here is the trailer for the game if you are interested:

Maybe Milk Isn’t So Healthy

I began thinking about all the waste we produce and where it all ends up. You can imagine that the answer is really obvious– landfills, sewer systems, the ocean, etc. Then I started questioning which kinds of waste aren’t necessarily visible to the average consumer. One of these less tangible pollutants to affect our land is the nuclear bomb test. That’s right! According to nuclearweaponarchive.org, “between 16 July 1945 and 23 September 1992 the United States of America conducted (by official count) 1054 nuclear tests, and two nuclear attacks. The number of actual nuclear devices (aka “bombs”) tested, and nuclear explosions is larger than this, but harder to establish precisely.”

Bikini Atoll, July 25, 1946
Nuclear Bomb Test

So, we know from the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end WWII with the Pacific, that nuclear weapon radiation exposure is extremely lethal and still affects the land and people living off of it for generations. But can underground bomb tests affect our soil, and eventually us? Of course it can, and it has. The National Cancer Institute website posted a study showing the effect nuclear bomb tests have on us. I highly suggest reading the full report for a deeper understanding, but here is an excerpt to sum it up:

 

Fizeau Test, Nevada Test Site, July 1957

“Scientists estimate that the larger amounts of I-131 (radioactive form of iodine–called iodine-131) from the Nevada test site fell over some parts of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Montana. But I-131 traveled to all states, particularly those in the Midwestern, Eastern, and Northeastern United States. Some of the I-131 collected on pastures and on grasses. Depending on the location, grazing cows and goats sometimes consumed contaminated grasses resulting in I-131 collecting in the animals’ milk. Much of the health risk associated with I-131 occurred among milk-drinkers–usually children. From what is known about thyroid cancer and radiation, scientists think that people who were children during the period of atomic bomb testing (1940s-1960s) are at higher risk for developing thyroid cancer.”                            –National Cancer Institute

Is having the most deadly nuclear weapon in the world worth a spike in childhood cancer? Are these tests absolutely necessary? And will these highly lethal radioactive substances ever decompose in a safe way? I live in a post WWII country, where the U.S. isn’t necessarily trying to grow our nuclear weapon arsenal. It’s been said we’ve actively tried over the last decade or so to decrease our nuclear warfare arsenal. Have we learned that the damage cannot be undone? Generations to come will suffer the consequences of actions taken by scientists in the 40s, 50s, and 60s who poisoned the Earth and all its inhabitants.

School kids drinking milk
School kids drinking milk