What Donald Trump’s 100 Day Plan Means for Environmental Issues in America.

Coming from the man who tweeted that ‘the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive, the president elect’s one hundred day plan comes as no surprise. Soon after the announcement of his win, Donald Trump released an itinerary of things he would accomplish withing his first one hundred days in office. While it remains to be seen whether he actually will accomplish these things, it is positively frightening to see his policies on the environment and all of the progress he could potentially undo.

Global Warming Denialism has plagued the Republican party long enough that it’s not a secret. It’s unfortunate that many who have recently just won positions in office share this view, and therefore will not be able to speak for the many people in this country who do believe in it and care about it. There are three major things in the Plan that are worrisome for the environmentally conscious.

First, Trump wishes to ‘lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.’ Second he wishes to ‘lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.’ Third he wishes to  ‘cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.’

It’s not hard to guess why these three things are terrible for the environment. Burning fossil fuels has never been a good idea, and the ‘roadblocks’ Trump claims are there because President Obama wouldn’t approve the Pipeline unless he had enough data on the environmental impact of it. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  encouraged President Obama not to approve the pipeline. There is evidence that the Pipeline could escalate carbon emissions. Once in place, the pipeline could lead to a heavy dependence on fossil fuels in the states surrounding it. Looking for cleaner energy alternatives will not feel as necessary. The tar sands also projected to exist in this project also can lead to higher carbon emissions.

Probably the most unfortunate part of Trump’s plan is to cancel the U.N Climate change program payments. While fixing Americas water and infrastructure is good, by ceasing to contribute to a unified interest in protecting the Earth, we lose the gumption to keep trying. We have lead the fight in combating climate change, and under this new administration we face the strong possibility that other countries will be doing what we can while we ignore the problem. This news is deeply disturbing, and  it is unclear whether these things will actually happen, or if it is just talk. As an American citizen however, it is important to make your voice heard so our leaders know  where we stand.

Justin Trudeau’s New Ocean Protection Plan

While the United States may face some serious setbacks under the new presidency in the realm of environmental issues, there is one national leader who’s doing something good. Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has made it a point to spend 1.5 billion dollars on an ocean protection plan. This plan will include the development of  a marine safety system, the restoration of ecosystems that are damaged, and will focus on cleaning oil pollution and conducting research on how oil can have less of a negative impact in the ocean.

This decision came after a tanker sank off the east coast of Vancouver. Trudeau said that the plan will make it a point to install stricter rules for business that have polluted in the past and continue to do so. The plan also highlights an increase in coast guards, rescue stations, and more inclusive dialogue with indigenous communities on the coast.

While many are thrilled that Trudeau has taken a huge step forward in protecting the ocean, citizens feel that their tax dollars are going to a lost cause. The Liberal Party of Canada  has made a commitment toward saving marine life and protecting the oceans, stating “

“By 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.” [Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, Target 11] 

The Party under Trudeau’s administration aims to follow through with their commitment through encouraging community involvement, strengthening laws, and protecting the ocean from oil spills by monitoring crude oil. This is a step in the right direction for Canada, who can hopefully do some good and compensate for the retrogression The United States may face within the next four years on this issue.

Photo Taken from the Toronto Star.

 

 

How to Organize Your Own Beach Sweep

Beach sweeps are a great way to make a difference and get your community involved in protecting the environment. It is the perfect way to initiate change and take a hands on approach at getting involved. Organizing your own beach sweep isn’t as difficult as you may think, an we at the Wishing Whale have made things even easier by giving you a step by step guide.

The Clean Ocean Action Organization has been a leader in organizing beach sweeps in the New Jersey and New York Area. They have been greatly successful and have also encouraged how rewarding it is to organize your own beach sweep and what it takes to do it.

1.Location, Location, Location.

Observe a waterway that is in need of some TLC. Search for the perfect place where people can gather and get the most trash off of the most land. If you want to do this on a smaller scale, pick a specific location and map out the parameters and scale of what you’re cleaning up.

2. When?!

Choose when this event will happen. Pick a time when the weather will be nice but there won’t be a lot of people around that might be bothered by the sweep. Choosing a rain date is also wise!

3. Figure Out What You Will Need

According to Clean Ocean Action, some supplies you’ll need includes:

“trash bags, gloves, pencils and data cards for data collection. (The organization has a sample data card on their website) Feel free to create your own data card, but be sure to use it. Anyone can pick up trash, but collecting data about what kind of debris you find is the only way to identify the possible sources of debris, understand the magnitude of the problem, and educate others about it.
You will also need materials to create your advertisements such as paper, a computer and printer or markers.”

4. Where is the Trash Going?
It’s important to make sure that the trash being removed goes to a good place. collecting a large amount of garbage may require a garbage pickup service or possibly the rental of a dumpster. This all depends on the scale of the beach sweep of course! It is also important to note how trash is sorted and picked up in that specific area. There’s no harm in researching or calling the public works department so they can help you. Encountering hazardous materials is possible during the sweep so it is also important to research how to properly dispose of items like that.

5. Who Is YOUR Audience

Find a group  of people who would be interested in participating in this event. People in the community should definitely be invited to become involved. Figure out who these people are and make sure you’re getting the word out to all of them.

6. Permission

It is important to make sure you have clearance from the authorities and/or town or city officials, before proceeding. Sending them a letter containing all of the information about the event is a good idea.Getting a clear response back and proof that you were given permission is  also imperative.

7. Advertise

Once you’ve gotten permission, it is important to let your audience know about the event. Spread the word though flyers, advertise online, send emails, make phone calls, and make sure people are telling others about the event. Invite local businesses to attend, or even to just post your flyer in their window. Email press, and invite elected officials to attend.Making sure people know about the event and know the details is crucial in having a successful beach sweep!

8. Donors and Sponsors

Reach out to businesses who may be interested in an event like this and ask them to make small donations of supplies or even just to attend. This is mutually beneficial because you get help, and the businesses get possible new business and a good reputation for helping out. Be sure to thank these people for their help.

9. Cleanup Time

Make sure that you are early on the day of the event. An hour earlier than the time should be fine to make sure everything is organized and that you have the necessary supplies. Make sure you have people working with you to distribute these items to the people who are beginning to arrive. Explain the importance of the data card.

10. Post Event

Collect all of the data cards and submit the total data to The Ocean Conservancy. Make sure you have thanked everyone who attended and helped withe the event. Send thank-you letters to all sponsors/donors.

These 10 steps give you an idea of how to organize a beach sweep. This proves that even on the local level, it isn’t that difficult to make a difference and help your community. So get out there! Make some waves in your community and have a beach sweep!

 

What You’re Wearing May be Poisoning Marine Life

For those of you that have read the microbeads article we’ve posted, it’s time to talk about another danger that is harming marine life. This time, the material in question is something we all probably own. It’s no secret that clothing contains plastic fibers, polyester and nylon are staples in the textile industry, but what most people seem to not know about the clothing they wear is that those fibers don’t decompose, and they’ve got to go somewhere.

While the discovery of the harmful effects of microbeads has furthered action within government an communities by slowly phasing out products which contain the microbeads, people have missed a much greater issue while focusing on just a fraction of the total microplastic materials that sneak through water treatment systems. Both of these materials  end up in  oceans and rivers, and both of these bioaccumulate and hurt marine life. These fibers also absorb chemicals more easily than other materials.

Why does this happen? While some clothing brands are durable and can withstand a wash, not everything is made well and the clothing that is isn’t impervious to shedding after aa few too many washes. These articles of clothing shed large amounts of microfibers through the course of its ownership and the amount of washes. The fibers slip though water treatment and end up being consumed by marine life and make it into the food chain.

While it is almost impossible to not let these fibers get through, it is possible to help lessen it. Buying strong, durable clothing products, clothing that doesn’t contain these plastics, and minimizing the amount of washes can help prevent an excess of microfibers. Air drying clothing may also aid in reducing the negative impact of these fibers. Choice of washing machine may also lessen the negative impact.

It is saddening that while one issue is being resolved, other issues still remain. Hopefully with this in mind people become more conscious of what they wear, and the impact their choices make on the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Need to Know Right Now About the Great Barrier Reef

 

Within the last week there has been much hysteria on social media regarding a recent news update that the Great Barrier Reef is ‘dead’. This news has launched many memes and jokes over the internet, but unfortunately this is no laughing matter.reef8.png

First off, the Great Barrier Reef is not dead…at least not yet.While the news was believed to be published for shock value and awareness rather than actual journalistic merit, it did it’s job of getting people to talk about the real issue. The Great Barrier Reef is not dead, but it is unfortunately dying.The Great Barrier Reef is known to be the largest coral reef ecosystem. Located in Australia, the reef has been dazzling tourists, divers, and photographers for years.The beauty of the reef has captured the attention of really anyone who has ever seen it, and it is like nothing else in the world.

It is important to understand why people are saying that the Reef is ‘dead’, and that is because an estimated 93% of it according to the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, have been affected by coral bleaching. Bleaching is a process where coral turns white because it secretes symbiotic algae tissues that are crucial in its survival. This happens when there is a significant change or shift in temperature and lighting.This can also occur when there is an absence of proper nutrients. With that being said, 93 percent is a lot, but it it not 100 percent.

By passing along the information that the reef is dead, while people may listen more, it is definitely possible that this message perpetuates the idea that the Great Barrier Reef cannot be repaired and that there is little to no hope for recovery at any time. Scientists are struggling with this because this statement could do more harm than good.

But what seems to be an issue that scientists have failed to address is that there is hope for the reef, but what seems to be most likely causing the bleaching is climate change. Global warming has to be the main factor changing the reef’s environment enough to affect it so drastically.  How can we fix the reef if we can’t even improve our individual lifestyles to fix an even greater issue?

The ocean is the warmest it has ever been in in 200 million years, when the corals’ existence most likely originated.The issue that needs to be addressed is how to is bring down that temperature so that the coral can have better quality water and doesn’t have to depend so heavily on symbiosis with algae.

So no, the Great Barrier Reef is not dead, but it will be soon unless measures are taken to improve quality and temperature of the water it lives in. Rather than sharing memes and photos about its death, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be able to see the real thing and know that I helped in saving it.

reef11

Meet this Sustainable Lady: Why the Environment Matters in your Twenties

Being in your twenties is exhausting. Juggling school, work, relationships, responsibilities, and everything else life brings can be pretty tough. It can get pretty difficult these days to care about much of anything when you’re doing your best to get through the day, but somehow Jessica Maliszewski finds the time.

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-24-03-am
Jessica is the average every day college student. She’s a 21 year old  Sustainability major at Stockton University, and if you ask her about what she does she’ll tell you she just does what everyone else should.

Sustainability isn’t just a major to Jess however, it has become a part of her lifestyle.

“Sustainability is the happy medium that a person can meet without destroying the environment.”, she says.

Jessica has been in the sustainability game for a while, being a senior and all, and as an average college student with some pretty above-average goals, we thought she would be the perfect person to sit down with, ask about sustainability, and how to incorporate it in the ‘complex life’ of a millennial.

Why did you choose sustainability as a major?   

Originally I wanted to choose environmental science, but sustainability had more opportunities for me to apply my knowledge to real-life situations.With sustainability I can focus on the political aspects of it.

Why is it important to care about politics in sustainability?

People need a voice and someone has to go out there and speak about the real problems our planet is facing and be able to make laws. It is important to know the facts, but if you don’t have the influence to apply that knowledge and enact change then it becomes useless. Where we fail in making change is when our government isn’t on board.

What are three things that you do personally to become more sustainable?

Well I think it is really important to buy from small businesses and buy locally grown food. It helps the local economies and is a super easy way to be both helpful and mindful without being too extreme. I also don’t use disposable plastic bottles and use a reusable one instead, and I recycle properly.

What is your issue with plastic water bottles?

People need to realize that plastic water bottles are probably the dumbest invention ever. You are literally paying for water when it comes out of your faucet! What is next really, bottled air? The FDA regulates bottled water. The EPA regulates tap water, and they have higher standards. If you look at any plastic water bottle closely you will probably see bottled tap water as an ingredient.

When you say you ‘recycle properly’, what does that mean?

The important thing about recycling that a lot of people don’t realize is that each township or town or company used to recycle has different guidelines and and standards that they follow. In the town that I live in we follow the ACUA, or the Aqua Atlantic County Utilities Authority, which recycles plastics numbered 1 through 7. Not all towns do that. Most people don’t even know what each plastic is or that they are numbered. 1 through 7. They don’t know how its made, what it does to the environment, and how it is properly recycled. Its important to know what can and cant be recycled. Most websites like ACUA have a recycle item guidelines that clearly list what can and cannot be recycled.

Do you think it is important for people our age to be involved and care about the environment?

It is so important for people to get involved. Right now we are getting educated and eventually we will be the ones in charge. I like to think that if I’m making a small difference now, then in the future I will be able to have more influence and will have a strong background and knowledge of the issues i want to fix.

I think its important for people to stay educated on environmental issues, even if it’s not necessarily a passion for them. If you live in a town, you want to know if something good or bad is happening in that town. So it only makes sense that your home, your world is just as important and when something good or bad is happening to it you should want to know about it.Whether you want to believe in climate change or not, or if you care or not, it affects each and every one of us, and the things that affect climate change affect us as well.

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-04-19-am

Anticipation for Before the Flood

There are two topics in this world that people do (and if not) should love. Those topics are Leonardo DiCaprio, and the Earth. Luckily the recent Oscar winner decided to give us both. In his new documentary, Before the Flood, DiCaprio calls for an end to climate change, and just happens to look lovely doing it.

The documentary, produced by DiCaprio himself, and directed by Fisher Stevens, known for his film, The Cove, focuses on the current state of the planet by taking a closer look at the climatic changes seen all over the world. While the film won’t be released in the United States until October 21st, there is much anticipation for the film, generated from its trailers.

The film trailers feature DiCaprio traveling the globe searching for answers, and conversing with world leaders. In the trailer he says, “This is the most important issue of our time.” The film depicts DiCaprio with many leaders, including Pope Francis, United States President Barack Obama, John Kerry,  and politician and statesman Ban Ki-Moon. The documentary also features prominent environmentalists and promoters of sustainable business such as Elon Musk, Enric Sala, and Sunita Narain. These people all have an opinion on the state of the environment and if we have gone too far to fix it.

According to Toronto International Film Festival documentary programmer Thomas Powers’ recent review of the film, DiCaprio makes a point to travel  to Alberta, Canada to see its toxic tar sands, observe the abnormal flooding in Miami beach, Florida, and uncover the reason behind the thick smog in Beijing, China. He also delves into the Palm oil industry and the rapidly occurring forest fires in Indonesia.

What seems to be the most obvious issue within the trailers and the film itself, is the escalated rate at which the ice is melting in the Arctic. DiCaprio can be seen visibly surprised at the sheer violence of the melting ice and the lack of an environment for Arctic marine life, and the threat it poses to the already endangered Narwhal population. In another short promo for the film DiCaprio stands next to Enric Sala, and looks out in wonder at the Narwhals and their beautiful purr-like calls. Enric says softly, “I don’t want to be on a planet without these animals.”

For just a second, in the  deafening quiet of not hearing those animals, and not seeing them, it makes that environment an incredibly lonely existence for the two man standing on a glacier in the middle of nowhere. Thinking of a world without these creatures seems like something that could never happen. However, it happens every day. Every day species are lost, and every day people refuse to believe in the existence of climate change and choose to live their lives for today, rather than plan for a tomorrow.

This film isn’t even about Leonardo DiCaprio. It isn’t about the environment.This documentary is about people. it is about what we have done to get to this point, and it is about if we can undo it, and make things better. It is not about living for today, or even a tomorrow. it is about making sure that years from now people will have the opportunity to stand on a glacier and hear Narwhals, or breathe clearly in China, or not have to worry their homes are going to flood. This film is a rally for change, and perhaps maybe through the words of an incredibly handsome and environmentally aware Academy Award winner – people will listen

Before the Flood.PNG