Circle of Life: Can Biodiversity Loss be Stopped and Maintained?


According to Deep Adaptation by Professor Jem Bendell, climate change is already happening, causing major changes to biodiversity. Even though ongoing research and changes are being made to try to prevent this, it will eventually happen. (Jem Bendell, 2018) The question is, is it possible to stop biodiversity loss? This paper will provide information on what biodiversity is, why it is important and how to prevent further biodiversity loss. Humans are the biggest contributors to biodiversity loss. It should be our jobs to help balance it out again and continue to help maintain it.

Keywords: climate change, biodiversity, wildlife, mass production, agriculture, ecosystem, pollutants, humans, biodiversity loss


The Circle of Life: Can Biodiversity Loss be Stopped and Maintained?

The circle of life is the natural order of the world. Every living being and thing has a purpose and role. If we do not maintain this circle of life and try to take away the roles it will cause a negative impact on the world. What is given can be taken and what is taken can be given back. We call that karma. What goes around comes around. Take care of things and places that you want to last, and those things will do the same for you. The biodiversity and the daily lives of humans go hand in hand. If biodiversity loss continues and cannot be maintained the same thing will eventually happen for humans as well. Humans cannot exist without biodiversity. Therefore, changes have to be made in order to further prevent biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity loss is already happening and has been happening throughout the centuries. The major issue is that humans overpopulate the world. Ingram stated that “there are now 7.7 billion.” Compared to 2.6 billion in 1952. (Ingram, 2019, p. 16). Making humans the biggest contributors to biodiversity loss. One would think that with this many people on this planet, there would be a solution to co-existing with other living creatures instead of exploiting them and their habitats. There are solutions that will be beneficial for everyone. However, the world and its inhabitants will all need to learn how to work together through sacrifice and compromise. If they cannot do this then the world will not survive.

The Importance of Biodiversity

Animals, plants, habitats, and ecosystems depend on a steady climate to flourish and maintain balance. If that is taken away from them they will start to diminish and may even go extinct. These ecosystems and habitats derive from biodiversity. What exactly is biodiversity? Biodiversity is the variety of life and the ecosystems and habitats that they live in. Lauren Harper states in her article that, “Biodiversity affects our food, medicine, and environmental well-being”. (Harper, 2018) Humans depend on crops, plants, bodies of water, and wild animals to survive.

Biodiversity helps maintain a healthy ecosystem by having a wide variety of species that depend on one another to thrive. When an ecosystem is healthy and balanced it will, “clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food”. (Prof. E. O Wilson, Chivian E., Bernstein A., 2019) Having a healthy ecosystem means a healthier life for all living creatures.

Wild animals contribute to biodiversity by maintaining the circle of life. Animals such as carnivores help maintain biodiversity by eating herbivores, which stops overpopulation. Without insects to pollinate plants, plants won’t be able to grow. “Many modern medicines, like aspirin, caffeine and morphine, are modeled after chemical compositions found in plants”. (Harper, 2018) This effects medicine since they come from plants that are pollinated by insects. As humans continue to populate the world, more and more land and forests are being wiped out. This affects the environment causing biodiversity loss. In return affects human well-being. All wild animals and species belong to their ecosystems and play a role in sustaining biodiversity. (Lauren Harper, 2018)

Human Impact on Biodiversity

One of the biggest contributors to climate change and biodiversity loss are humans. Humans take away too much from habitats and ecosystems. “The rate of extinction is now about 1,000 times faster than before humans arrived.” (Ingram, 2019, p. 27) For example, they hunt and gather more than they may need and that will destroy ecosystems. As well as grow too much of a certain crop and mass livestock production. They also contribute CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere and oil, chemicals, etc. into the water which affects climate change and living species. In return what is put into the climate affects biodiversity. According to Ingram, “with overpopulation and pollution we lose habitats that sustain biodiversity and we have consequently lost 60% of the world’s wildlife since 1970.” (Ingram, 2019, p. 17) That is a huge percentage of wildlife loss that can never be given back.

Animals hunt just enough to fill their stomachs. The opposite could be said for humans. Humans often hunt as a sport instead of for food. Hunting wildlife can cause biodiversity loss by causing the extinction of certain animals. “Hunting and gathering is a threat to more than 1,600 species, including many large carnivores such as tigers and snow leopards.” (Maxwell, Watson, Fuller, 2019) Think about how the food chain works. If lions were killed off, who would be hunting and killing their prey? This would cause overpopulation of those animals and create an unsustainable food chain. All species co-exist and depend on one another. If the host species starts to die off it will affect the other species which causes what is called co-extinction. When a species starts dying off those that depend on them will start to die off soon causing a domino effect. Making it a negative impact on biodiversity. Hunting as a sport needs to stop to help prevent biodiversity loss.

Carbon dioxide is one of the leading causes of climate change. Ingram states that “CO2 levels are higher than they have been for the past three million years”. (Ingram, 2019, p. 2) Climate change has a major effect on biodiversity. Carbon dioxide is vital to plant growth but too much of it can reduce the number of nutrients a plant produces. This is because of the huge amounts of carbon dioxide cause plants to grow at a rapid rate. Carbon dioxide can also overheat the planet causing colder climates to melt creating biodiversity loss in those regions. For example, “Greenland shed approximately 280 gigatons of ice per year, and the island’s lower-elevation and coastal areas experienced up to 13.1 feet (4 meters) of ice mass loss (expressed in equivalent-waterheight) over a 14-year period (NASA, 2018).” (Bendell, 2018, p. 4) Overheating of the planet also leads to mass fires that destroy ecosystems. Take for example, Australia. The recent fire there destroyed most of the habitats in Australia. Leaving many animals without homes. In order to help protect biodiversity, climate change needs to be dealt with. Finding natural and more sustainable products to use will help reduce what is being put out into the climate.

Oil spills are one of the biggest contributors to biodiversity loss in the ocean. Oil spills into the ocean have “likely harmed or killed approximately 82,000 birds of 102 species, approximately 6,165 sea turtles, and up to 25,900 marine mammals…” (A Deadly Toll, 2011) To help clean the oil out of the ocean, toxic dispersants are sprayed into the ocean. Although, toxic dispersants only break up the oil instead of reducing it. Making the oil even more toxic to sea life and organisms living in the ocean.


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “The livestock sector is now the leading cause of reduction of biodiversity”. (Steinfeld, H., 2006) Humans are mass-producing certain types of animals for their meat and dairy. Such as cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens. This contributes to the clearance of forests to raise these animals. “Livestock production currently takes up about 30% of the planet’s ice-free land and 75% of agricultural land globally (80% of US ag land).” (Christopher Matthews, 2006) In addition to the clearance of forests, livestock contributes to greenhouses gases. Livestock produces about 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Those gases are methane and nitrous oxide. Methane and nitrous oxide are produced from enteric fermentation and manure storage. These two gases affect global warming more than carbon dioxide does. Methane is 28 times higher than carbon dioxide and “is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon, and much faster acting.” (Ingram, 2019, p. 2) Whereas nitrous oxide is 265 times higher than carbon dioxide. (Grossi, Giampiero, Goglio, Vitali, Andrea, G, A., & Williams, 2018)

One would think that farming and producing fruits, vegetables and plants would help biodiversity. However, that is not the case. Farming is another big contributor to biodiversity loss. This is because it changes natural habitats of plants and the growing population. “Land change for crop farming and timber plantations imperils more than 5,300 species, such as the far eastern curlew, while the northern hairy-nosed wombat is one of more than 2,400 species affected by livestock farming and aquaculture.” (Max, Watson, Fuller, 2009) Farmers also use pesticides and chemicals on their crops to help them grow. This is harmful to insects and can also reduce the natural resources around them. For example, farmers will use chemical fertilizers to add to the soil that does not have enough nutrients. Too much chemical fertilizers can be harmful to the ecosystem around it as well as pollute the water system. This, in turn, will affect the organisms that live in them and animals and humans who drink and use it. (Unit, 2008)

Steinfeld, 2006, p. 65

Farming and livestock production has become unsustainable. Producing more than what is being demanded and clearing of land that is home to many plants, organisms and animals makes it unsustainable. The overproduction of animal products and the growing of crops can be and should be cut down. There is no need to produce more than what is needed. By doing so will help create a sustainable food system. Creating a sustainable food system will be a big step in to protecting and preventing biodiversity loss.

(Steinfeld, 2006, p. 65)

Ways to Protect Biodiversity

            There are many ways to help protect and help biodiversity thrive. Habitat restoration is a good start. Restoring plants and animals to their original habitat will help return biodiversity to a region. This is why national parks are important. National parks help preserve the ecosystem that is already there. Protecting national parks will in return protect biodiversity. There is controversy over captive breeding and seed banks. However, this method helps save and increase extinct species and plants that will be placed back into their natural habitats. Promoting sustainable farming and raising of livestock will help with land clearing. By promoting sustainable farming there would be less land clearing. Less land clearing means that ecosystems will remain untouched and will be able to thrive. Reducing food waste, excessive energy use and water may not seem like much but will make a big impact if done consistently. It is also very important to research and help educate everyone on the importance of biodiversity. (Greentumble, 2019)


Humans are the biggest contributors to climate change and biodiversity loss. Biodiversity loss will be hard to reverse and prevent due to the damage that has already been made. However, humans can still fight against climate change and help keep biodiversity balanced. It is never too late to make a change for a better future. If humans do not make a change in the way they treat the world, they will soon become the next species to go extinct. After all, every living creature is a part of the circle of life. One cannot live without the other.


Wilson, E. O., Chivian, E., & Bernstein, A. (2019, July 8). Why do we need to protect biodiversity?.

Steinfeld, H. (2006). Livestock’s long shadow: environmental issues and options. Rome: FAO.

BA (Hons), J. B. (2018). Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy., 1–36. file:///C:/Users/Inspiron/Downloads/deepAdaptationBendell%20(5).pdf

Harper, L. (2018, January 12). What is Biodiversity and How Does Climate Change Affect It?.

Unit, B. (2008, April 10). Can farming affect biodiversity?.

Grossi, Giampiero, Goglio, Vitali, Andrea, G, A., & Williams. (2018, November 12). Livestock and climate change: impact of livestock on climate and mitigation strategies.

Maxwell, S., Watson, J., & Fuller, R. (2019, October 9). Hunting, fishing and farming remain the biggest threats to wildlife.

(n.d.). A Deadly Toll, 1–11. doi:

Greentumble. (2019, August 29). 10 Ways to Protect and Conserve Biodiversity.

Ingram, C. (2019). Facing Extinction.


Augmented Reality Poster Gallery

Technology and Nature Unite






Technology and Nature Unite: Embracing Natural Resources and Technology to Reduce the Carbon Footprint


Michelle L. Hanks

West Shore Community College

English 112-50

Prof. John Wolff

March 11, 2020











Many scientists and people feel we are out of time when it comes to being able to influence, slow or reverse the effects of climate change. Many improvements in technology have been made to reduce carbon output, but there are still opportunities to seize that will reduce carbon in the atmosphere and greatly slow climate change. Utilizing natural resources and technology will play a critical role of achieving success to offset the carbon footprint. One such way is through the mass planting of trees throughout the world. It seems simple enough, but it will require advanced technology to maximize the effectiveness of the effort. Along with technology, it will also require the support and resources of governments throughout the world and non-profits who strive to reduce climate change.

Keywords: carbon sequestering, climate change, global tree planting, tree mapping



Technology and Nature Unite: Embracing Natural Resources and Technology to Reduce the Carbon Footprint

In her essay “Facing Extinction,” Catherine Ingram states that the human race is out of time when it comes to turning the tides on climate change. There is nothing mankind is able to do to buy more time or mitigate the damage we have caused as a species. She explains that it is an impossible undertaking to quickly reduce the carbon to a level that we need to survive into the future. (Ingram 2019)

It’s hard to believe that our civilization in the last 100 years has built vehicles, roads, and major highways to every town in America for those vehicles to drive navigate. We have come up with cures and vaccines to multiple diseases that have plagued nations, such as polio and measles. Surgeons can now successfully operate on the delicate and intricate human brain.  Scientists have put humans on the moon and can operate a life sustaining space station miles above the earth. All of these are amazing technological feats of human ingenuity, but somehow, there’s not a way to come up with solutions for climate change that can make a difference?

It is true, humans face some major challenges when it comes to climate change, but it is hard to believe that there is nothing that can be done to impact climate change as it stands today. While technology has certainly played a part into getting society into the mess today’s world is in, if applied correctly, there is a strong possibility that a combination of science, technology and innovation can help to remedy the situation.

Understanding the Current Situation

According to the article Climate Change: Global Temperature, by Rebecca Lindsay and Luann Dahlman, “Given the size and tremendous heat capacity of the global oceans, it takes a massive amount of heat energy to raise Earth’s average yearly surface temperature even a small amount. The 2-degree increase in global average surface temperature that has occurred since the pre-industrial era (1880-1900) might seem small, but it means a significant increase in accumulated heat. That extra heat is driving regional and seasonal temperature extremes, reducing snow cover and sea ice, intensifying heavy rainfall, and changing habitat ranges for plants and animals—expanding some and shrinking others.” (Dahlman, 2020).  The mountain in front of mankind, is certainly full of obstacles and challenges to overcome when it comes to reversing the effects of climate change and time is of the essence.

Reducing our Dependence on Fossil Fuels is Part of The Solution

Carbon in the atmosphere is contributing to the higher temperatures. There are many ways carbon enters the atmosphere, but one of the main ones that humans can influence in their everyday lives, is when fossil fuels are burned and the carbon dioxide byproduct enters the atmosphere. Most people contribute to fossil fuels by driving a vehicle. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is of the utmost importance and is one of the single most important things society can do to lower carbon in the atmosphere. In combination of lowering our dependence on fossil fuels with other sustainable carbon reducing options, a substantial dent in our carbon footprint can be made toward improving the environment for future generations.

Along with many people taking the initiative to reduce their carbon footprint by driving less, carpooling and switching to smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles.  Car manufactures are also advancing the technology in vehicles that help their owners leave less carbon behind as they drive. Many vehicles are now designed to run on fewer cylinders when cruising at highway speeds. Another carbon reducing feature on newer vehicles is the start – stop technology. This technology works when the vehicle is stopped in traffic or at an idle and automatically turns off the engine and a “smart” pump keeps the engine primed. When the vehicle is put in gear or the brake is lifted, it automatically starts again. It’s a feature similar to pressing the accelerator on a golf cart. This is a great technology that will save tons of carbon from going into the atmosphere worldwide.

Trees are Sponges

While all this vehicle technology is valuable and impactful to the environment, is there something else that we can do to sequester the carbon that is already in the environment?

One potential solution to draw down carbon out of the atmosphere may be the mass planting of trees. “As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting program could remove two-thirds of all the emissions from human activities that remain in the atmosphere today, a figure scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.” (Carrington 2019)  Planting trees is a long term solution, which would obviously take years to maximize the benefits. It is a forward thinking approach. It may take a tree 30 to 50 years or more to reach full maturity. The tree would store more and more carbon as it grows throughout its lifetime.

According to Bill McGuire and the AFWA Forestry Working Group, Tim McCoy and the AFWA Biofuels Working Group, Jeanne Christie, and Jon Kusler (Association of State Wetland Managers), forests perform many important functions from which, both humans and animals benefit. They clean and improve the water quality by filtering and provide protection from flooding. Forests provide animals a home that they could not exist without.  They provide construction materials, and providing fuel for heat and may also contribute to bio fuels in the future. Trees play an important role by generating oxygen, regulating temperature. They are also able to sequester and store large amounts of carbon which can impact climate change. (Bill McGuire & the AFWA Forestry Working Group)

Technology Equals Effectiveness

Planting trees doesn’t seem like it would be technical in nature, but to make an impact on climate change, scientists will need to understand what land is most viable for mass plantings. A large grassland or open plain may seem like a great option, but the soil may not be conducive for planting and many species of trees have preferences of where they like to grow and flourish. For instance, an oak tree may prefer a sunny area with loamy, acidic soil, but a cedar tree is at home in swampy, muddy soil that is rich in nutrients. Planting either of these trees in less than favorable conditions and the tree could struggle or even die. Even if an area looks like a prime area for planning trees, we have to understand that there is typically an ecosystem existing in an area that will be replaced by a new ecosystem once a forest is planted.

Crowther Labs has been mapping tree density around the globe. How does one count every tree upon the earth?

Global Tree Density
Figure 1: Global Tree Density “Here, we use 429,775 ground-sourced measurements of tree density from every continent on Earth except Antarctica to generate a global map of forest trees.” (Crowther 2015)

All of this information, big data, is then placed into a Geographical Information System (GIS). This allows Crowther Labs to study the information and understand tree densities all over the globe. Crowther Labs estimate the world’s tree populations to be 3.04 trillion. They also take into account human activity, such as deforestation and land use reassignment. “By combining our tree density information with the most recent spatially explicit map of forest cover loss over the past 12 years, we estimate that deforestation, forest management, disturbances and land use change are currently responsible for a gross loss of approximately 15.3 billion trees on an annual basis.” (Crowther 2015)

The Crowther Lab study indicated the size of the trees and density of the forest or growth matter when it comes to carbon sequestering. The larger the trees and the denser the growth, the more potential that exists for drawing carbon from the atmosphere. “Baseline estimates of tree populations are also critical for projecting population-and community-level tree demographics under current and future climate change scenarios, and for guiding local, national, and international reforestation/afforestation efforts.” (Crowther 2015)

To make a difference in climate change, researchers at Crowther Labs estimate that there is enough land on earth, 4.4 billion hectares, approximately the size of the United States that could support tree growth at current climate temperatures. Once the various forests are established throughout the globe they could store 205 billion tons of carbon, which would account for two thirds of the carbon produced since the Industrial Revolution.  (Network 2019)

“The study also shows which parts of the world are most suited to forest restoration. The greatest potential can be found in just six countries: Russia (151 million hectares); the US (103 million hectares); Canada (78.4 million hectares); Australia (58 million hectares); Brazil (49.7 million hectares); and China (40.2 million hectares).” (Network 2019)

Government Funding and Initiatives

The planting of trees will take time, resources and money. It may be difficult to persuade government leaders to spend money and resources if they do not feel it is important. In today’s political climate, the planting of trees to reduce the effects of climate change has plenty of competition for attention. Governments will need to take action, which includes introducing policies and legislation that may result stricter controls on deforestation and promotes the replanting of forests.  The government may need to provide deeper funding for various grants at national and state levels and tax initiatives for businesses and individual land owners to come close to the amount of trees that would need to be planted to start to offset the carbon footprint.

Marketing campaigns may be a great way to get individuals and corporations bought into the change that needs to happen. People are ready to rally for the right reasons, sometimes they just need to understand why something is so important to get behind an initiative or cause. According to the Arbor Day Foundation website, they are ramping up their efforts to make a difference before it is too late. The “Time for Trees Initiative” is a new marketing campaign to celebrate the Arbor Day Foundations’ 150th anniversary and achieve a goal to plant 100 million trees by 2022. In an effort to get people to support what they create, they have a secondary goal to engage 5 million people to carry out this monumental undertaking of planting trees throughout the globe. (Time for, n.d.). The Abor Day Foundation also sells trees and shrubs at discounted rates to the public with even deeper discounts for Abor Day members.

Many states such as Michigan are producing their own initiatives. One such initiative is the Bob Ross – Run for the Trees, Happy Little 5K. Bob Ross was a painter that was known for his love of nature, which inspired his paintings of beautiful snowcapped mountain landscapes dappled with trees.  He believed that every happy little tree needed a friend and was quick to add one in with a couple strokes of his brush. So it just seems natural to merge Bob Ross and his love of nature and trees into a 5K that will benefit our state parks. The 5K race, is a virtual race that participants sign up for and pay a registration fee. Each participant gets a commemorative tee shirt, bib and race medal. A portion of the registration fee will be used to help reforest state parks throughout Michigan. The interest for this virtual race has exceeded the hopes of organizers. “Happy Little 5K originally had a cap of 1,000 registrants but that was bumped up to 25,000 after 20,000 people signed up for information back in October.” (Bob Ross-themed Michigan 5K registration closes Saturday –, 2020)

Planting trees is an investment in the health of our environment and for our future generations. To make an impact to draw down carbon, trillions of trees worldwide will need to be planted, everyone needs to make an effort.

Plant a Tree
Planting a tree reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The beauty of planting trees is that it is something that almost everyone can do to make a positive impact on climate change. Every human is a steward of the earth, a guardian and defender. The Earth needs our help more than ever, future generations, the species of this planet are depending on humans at the forefront of change, and time is of the essence to make a difference for future generations.




Bob Ross-themed Michigan 5K registration closes Saturday – (2020, 02 25). Retrieved from

Carrington, D. (2019, July 4). Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis. Retrieved from

Crowther, T. G. (2015). Mapping tree density at a global scale. Nature, 201-205.

Dahlman, R. L. (2020, January 16). NOAA Retrieved from

Ingram, C. (2019, February). Facing Extinction. Retrieved from

Network, G. N. (2019, 07 07). For First Time Ever, Scientists Identify How Many Trees to Plant and Where to Plant Them to Stop Climate Crisis. Retrieved from

Time for (n.d.). Retrieved from

Coastline Defense: Intuition Versus Reasoning, the Solution to Coastal Damage


A large portion of research has suggested that the current methods of coastal defense are not adequate at defending against the recent rise in sea levels and increased intensity of storms caused by global warming. This is compromising the coastal populations personal, work, and military-related activities. The current disconnects between best practices of coastal defense and what is implemented has had detrimental effects on coastal regions worldwide, particularly in regions of low wealth. This paper will respond to these disconnects and recommend the best practices moving forward to create sustainable coastal regions that will be able to absorb the impacts from global warming. The main solution to our coastal sustainability is to implement “soft” defenses which will allow for the seal level rise and storm surges that cause the most coastal damage, to be absorbed and mitigated.

Keywords: Bangladesh coast, coastal defense, sea-level rise, global warming

Soft Defenses Infographic

The world’s coasts are under attack. Not by a foreign army, an invasive species, or by vacationing tourists, but by the world’s rapid heating and the subsequent ocean level increase. While the cause of global warming is often debated, the impact it has had on the ocean levels recently has shown a staggering, detrimental increase. In a recent release by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (2008), it is estimated that 40 percent of the world’s population live in a coastal region impacted by the affects of increased sea levels. This figure is growing as the increased globalization is causing coastal cities to grow as exporting is most efficient when done by ocean freight. According to Sebesvari (2020), the ocean levels across the globe are expected to rise by 20-40 centimeters by 2050, a truly mind-boggling figure. In the past, coastal regions have used coastal defense techniques that revolve around trying to create structures that hold back and fight the bodies of water. These solutions, referred to as “hard defenses” often are not the sustainable solution to coastal defense. Instead, “soft defenses” are the better and more sustainable alternative to our coastal defense. Coastal regions should resort to using soft defenses for their coastlines because they are more effective at stopping the effects of sea level rise and are a more sustainable, long-term solution.

The coastal regions of countries around the world are under attack from the devastating effects of global warming and the subsequent sea level rise. Regions that are not developed or have little economic availability to combat the sea level rise are the most vulnerable. Areas like Bangladesh are facing the largest consequences from the rise and will continue to suffer. It is estimated by researchers that by 2050, 17 percent of Bangladesh’s land will be submerged which will displace roughly 20 million of the countries people (Szczepanski et al., 2019). Bangladesh also is faced with other challenges when it comes to combating global sea level rise. The infrastructure in place to reduce or prevent impact from regional flooding is aging and failing. Once failed, there are very few resources available to rebuild the structures or replace them with better solutions. An example of the aging infrastructure is the countries Polders around the coastal regions. Polders are embankments used to control waterflow that were originally installed in Bangladesh in the 1960’s (Ortega et al., 2018). These embankments allow for farming to take an area near the coast that would otherwise see the impacts of seasonal flooding during monsoon season. The Polders have been filling with silt and other debris, causing less water to be contained between them which in turn, can cause breaches or failures. These failures will cause flooding the farmland, often with salt water which will kill the crops.

For centuries, humans have been attempting to bend waters will. The Ancient Greeks were some of the first people to undergo large scale manipulation of the shorelines to create harbors for their ships. Over time, this desire to bend nature to humans will has resulted in using “hard” structures, such as Polders, to change the natural flow and direction water takes. Some of the other barriers used are levees, breakwaters, which are more commonly known as piers, seawalls, and riprap, which are the piles of man-placed rock near a coast line. The downfall of using structures to protect against the power of water is as more water comes, the easiest it is to make the structures fail. This has recently been seen in the Polder failures in Bangladesh, the levee failures in New Orleans, and the seawall failures in Florida and Michigan. According to Bennington-Castro (2017), the main flaw in using hard shoreline defenses is that the wave energy is not absorbed by the defense, rather it is deflected into adjacent areas which can overpower the defenses and cause failures. This deflection of energy can build up and cause the hard structures to actually degrade quicker, by either the base being damaged or a breakdown in the materials used within the defense. The last flaw of hardened defenses is the environmental toll. These hard defenses do not allow for appropriate coastal environments to develop. This harms the natural ecosystem and can further encourage erosion as natural plants and tress will not have their roots utilized in holding the coast together.

For centuries now, humans have not taken sustainable steps with coastline defense. The hard structures of the past are no longer a feasible solution due to our increased sea levels and more powerful storm surges that come with global warming. Since hard defenses are no longer effective, a new solution had to be created. Soft defenses became the new choice for coastline city planners. Since homes and businesses were being destroyed by the destructive waters, planners looked back to how coasts were held together prior to humans. There was a complex and wide ecosystem that laid between the rolling waves of the ocean and the inner areas of the coast. This ecosystem could absorb powerful storm surges, mitigate wave action, and keep the coastline from eroding. With the rising sea levels expected by the end of the century, soft defenses will be coastal cities only sustainable option. Hard defenses should only be used once a soft defense is placed in front of them.

Figure 1. Soft Defense example working with Hard Defenses. (NAP, 2014)
Figure 1. Soft Defense example working with Hard Defenses. (NAP, 2014)

Soft Defenses must be built around a coast in order to absorb the energy of waves and storm surges. This energy will be dissipated into the environment instead of redirected like with hard defenses. Figure 1 shows the perfect example of how soft defenses can be set up to succeed. The first part of the defense is the offshore shelf and the barrier island. These two areas will be the first line of defense. This area will absorb most of the day-to-day energy that the waves carry to the shore. When the waves get large enough to overcome the barrier island, such as during a high wind period or a mild thunderstorm, the waves will breach the barrier island and be absorbed in the third part of the defense, the sound. This is a brackish water area that acts as a buffer for large waves. The most effective part of the soft defense is the fourth part, the march land bridge. This land bridge contains larger vegetation that have thick root systems and are intertwined. Which a large storm surge or tide comes in, this area absorbs the energy of the surge with the vegetation. There is a secondary benefit as well, any debris and sediment that the surge carries will be stopped and dropped at the base of the vegetation. The native vegetation to these areas either have complex root systems or trunks that flare out at the base to encourage these sediments to deposit onto the base of the plants. This strengthens the defense further for future high-water periods.

The soft defenses will absorb most waves, storms, and even sea level rise. There will on occasion be very large storms that the soft defense will not be able to handle on their own. This is where the hard defenses will come into play. First would we a highway embankment, used to reach the homes that are built on stilts that still want an ocean view. Behind the embankments would be a flood gate, then inland dunes/forest, and then a final levee. These hard defenses will act as a final line of defense and redirect the energy from the surges back into the soft defenses.

If soft defenses can mitigate the effects of most storms, then why would they not be used across the globe? First, the soft defenses do require a buffer zone that can be a significant distance. With a single, hard defense, humans can build right next to the ocean to gain a great view for a home or office. This view has been sought after by all, driving up the prices and demand for ocean front property. Since there is a demand for this and high paying customers, the soft defenses get sacrificed. Another factor is the cost. Re-establishing the natural, soft defenses does take time and money. This cost though is offset greatly by the cost of damage that storms can cause. According to (2015) “For every $1 spent on pre-disaster mitigation, $6 is saved in disaster relief”. These soft defenses will pay for themselves after just one major disaster. Combine this benefit with the fact that they will adapt to a rising sea level, the “soft” defense route is the solution to a sustainable future coastline defense.

Planners of coastal regions need to rethink their coastline defense strategies with the rising sea levels and storm threats caused by climate change. A single, hard structure will no longer last through a significant rise in sea level or a battering storm. Flooding of these coastal regions will continue to destroy lives, both through financial costs and deaths. Families will continue to be torn apart if coastal regions continue to use outdated, inferior protection methods. The solution lies within the soft defenses of island barriers, buffer zones, brackish marshes, and vegetation mangroves. When these defenses are implemented, there is no longer a need to live in constant fear of when the next flood will occur or if the ocean is going to rise a couple of inches. The buffer zone created by these defenses will absorb most storms and will even mitigate the effects of sea level rise. As a global initiative, soft defenses need to be the first and foremost option in the armory of coastline defense.


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Climate Change and Public Health: Vector-Borne Diseases are a Real Threat


Climate change has brought about many changes to our world’s ecology, society, and public health. Warmer temperatures creeping towards the poles of the earth have had extensive effects. Such effects have increased the geographic range of mosquitoes and ticks. The mosquito and tick seasons have also lengthened in the United States. Consequently, the United States has seen an increase in vector-borne diseases. This paper first shares the magnitude to which vector-borne diseases have increased. It then progresses towards convincing the reader that it is a serious issue as a result of climate change and needs to be addressed. Research for this paper was carried out by using advanced Google searches and accessing databases, particularly PubMed of the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information. Resources from reputable agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were accessed. It was found that climate change indeed impacts the spread of vector-borne diseases through a complex interaction web, and that a multifaceted approach is required to prevent further increases in disease rates which affect the public health of the United States. Readers of this work should consider what preventative measures they can take to protect themselves. Further, they should take action by encouraging their representative policy and lawmakers to enact stricter policy to mitigate these effects.

Keywords: climate change, epidemiology, vector-borne disease, malaria, Dengue, West Nile virus, mosquito, policy, public health

Climate Change and Public Health: Vector-Borne Diseases are a Real Threat


Vector-borne and other infectious diseases have caused countless deaths and disruptions. Over the last few decades, the United States has seen an increase in vector-borne disease incidence rates, including, but not limited to, the West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Zika Virus, malaria, yellow fever, and Lyme disease. Even vector-borne diseases that were never before recorded in the United States are now present and becoming more prevalent. But what has caused this? The spread of vector-borne diseases is largely determined by the spread of the vectors which carry the disease itself. While many factors determine the geographical range of vectors, a notable factor has been climate change; as warm temperatures move toward the poles, so do the organisms which live and thrive in them.

Like many other impacts of climate change, vector-borne disease and its impact on public health have not gone unnoticed by governing agencies and policymakers. However, the phrase “not unnoticed” does not infer that it has been fully recognized as a very serious problem or that sufficient action against it has been taken. Vector-borne diseases are infections that cause human suffering and can either be acute or affect a person for the rest of their life. The alarming increase of vector-borne disease rates is largely the result of climate change and is substantial enough to warrant stronger recognition of and a stronger response to its effects.

Historical Evidence

Increasing Disease Incidences

            The Center for Disease Control (CDC) analyzed data from the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System for reported cases of 16 different vector-borne diseases between the years of 2004 and 2016. The CDC found 642,602 cases in total. However, the CDC also believes that overall cases were underreported (Rosenburg, et al., 2018). The CDC also reports that, during the same time period, a total of nine vector-borne diseases were reported within the continental United States and United States territories (Rosenburg, et al., 2018). According to the United States Global Change Research Program’s article Vector-Borne Diseases: Key Findings, the number of vector-borne disease cases reported in 2013 exceeds, or falls within, the high end of the median range for cases reported between 2004 and 2013 (n.d.). The increasing number of incidences is consistent across a handful of different vector-borne diseases, including both tick and mosquito-borne diseases.

An Increasing Vector Range

In order for vector-borne disease rates to increase, a few conditions must occur: an increase in the vector’s geographical range, an increase in the vector’s season length, or an increase in both to some extent. A Michigan Vector-Borne Disease Update, from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, shows that not only have vector-borne disease rates increased over the last two decades but also that there has been a northward expansion of areas with known Lyme disease risk, one of the more common vector-borne diseases (Sidge, n.d.). Author Nick Bradford writes a succinct article, published by the National Environmental Education Foundation, regarding increased distributions of mosquitoes and ticks.

Illustration of the spread of Lyme Disease
Figure 1: Illustration of Lyme Disease Spread

Figure 1 depicts the increase in Lyme disease, a vector-borne disease spread by ticks, from 2001 to 2014. Since 2001, Lyme disease cases have spread westward and northward across the United States (Bradford, n.d.). Bradford’s article also depicts the broadening of the range of the West Nile Virus (Figure 2) and

Incidences of the West Nile Virus in the United States increasing from 2011 to 2015
Figure 2: Incidences of the West Nile Virus in the United States

also the increase in disease density, which is spread by mosquitoes. Over a four-year period, the West Nile Virus expanded further into the northern and eastern regions of the United States. While Figures 1 and 2 are specific examples of vector-borne disease distribution increase, they are largely representative of vector-borne diseases as a whole (Bradford, n.d.).


An Increasing Vector Season

Another risk factor for vector-borne diseases is the length of the season of ideal conditions for mosquitoes and ticks to survive. Climate Central conducted a research project called States at Risk which examined how mosquito season lengths have changed throughout the continental United States (Climate Central, 2016). Climate Central displays a convincing case for increasing mosquito seasons in its article More Mosquito Days Increasing Zika Risk in U.S. According to Climate Central, there was a one month or greater increase in mosquito season length in many regions throughout the United States (2016). Additionally, since 1980, over 75% of major cities in the United States have seen an increase in days with conditions ideal for mosquitoes (More Mosquitoes, 2016).


Vector-Borne Diseases and Human Health

Similar to other diseases and illnesses, vector-borne diseases cause human suffering. Different vector-borne diseases vary in how they afflict the human body, causing a unique set of signs and symptoms in those who are infected. The general symptoms of vector-borne diseases are fever, chills, headache, rashes, stomach, and nausea, although more serious symptoms can include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, or chest pain (Insect Borne). If diagnosed and treated properly, a Malaria infection will only be acute and will resolve quickly. However, according to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 30% of patients with Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus will die and those who recover from it will have long-term neurological issues (Eastern). vector-borne diseases are important not only to human health because of the suffering that they cause, but also because vector-borne diseases are more prevalent in disadvantaged socioeconomic and minority communities who might have less access to clean water, sanitation, and quality healthcare.


A Convincing Correlation

The increase in vector-borne diseases is paralleled with an increase in overall global temperature. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there has been an average increase of 0.32ºF per decade which has persisted since 1981 (Lindsey & Dahlman, 2020). This temperature increase has caused more frequent extreme weather events, heavier rainfall, and shifting habitat ranges for both plants and animals [including mosquitoes] (Lindsey & Dahlman, 2020). Abundant research on the topic exists. In fact, several of the sources previously cited in this work prove that there is a correlation between rising temperatures and increasing vector-borne disease rates. Additionally, the effects of climate change (warming temperatures, expanding or shifting geographical ranges of organisms, increased precipitation and other extreme weather events, changes in migration patterns, etc.) indicate that there is a strong link between such effects and vector-borne disease rates, as they interact in both ecological and epidemiological ways.


Is it only Climate Change?

In short, no. Climate change may not be the only factor at play, but it seems to be the largest driving force in the increase of vector-borne diseases. One of the most basic ecological concepts is that organisms can only physiologically function and survive in particular environments. This is referred to as an organism’s tolerance range. An organism’s tolerance range largely determines its geographic range (“Tolerance Range,” 2019). For mosquito or ticks, their tolerance range will either remain relatively stagnant or will change as the species evolve. If a vector’s tolerance range does not change, its geographic range must do so in order for the species survival. This range is largely determined by temperature as well as other factors such as “humidity, soil chemistry, pH, salinity and oxygen levels” (“Tolerance range”, 2019).

It should be noted that temperatures can, in fact, become too warm for vectors to thrive. Climate Central reports that temperatures have started to become too warm in some southern cities since the 1980’s which has reduced the mosquito season length (“U.S. Faces,” 2018). However, hundreds of days with ideal conditions for mosquitoes still remain (“More Mosquitoes,” 2016). Theoretically speaking, the geographic ranges and season lengths of vectors may decline on a large scale, thus also causing a decrease in vector-borne disease incidence rates. However, this process would take time, potentially decades, and would only occur after vector-borne diseases have taken their toll.

Vectors have complex life cycles that are dependent on their hosts, predators, environmental conditions, available food, and other resources. In addition to increasing temperatures, “…the distribution of mosquitoes and cases of reported West Nile have also increased in the US, partly due to changes in bird migration patterns and increases in extreme weather events” (Bradford, NEEF). Birds are frequent hosts for vectors. Therefore, as bird migration patterns have evolved, so has the spread of vector-borne diseases. It is important to point out that while bird migration patterns and extreme weather events offer alternative explanations for the increase in vector-borne disease rates, such factors are not sufficient on their own and are partly due to climate change themselves. The true culprit is climate change.


Future Predictions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the global climate will increase by 2.5-10º Fahrenheit over the course of the next 100 years (NASA). According to Yale E360 journal published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, a team of researchers estimates that two species of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are known to carry vector-borne diseases will “significantly expand their range, posing a threat to 49 percent of the world’s population…” by the year 2050 (E360 Digest, 2019). This is to say that vector-borne diseases are expected to get worse on a local, national, and global-scale in the next few decades.


Action Required

Many organizations are primarily focused on the monitoring and surveillance of vector-borne diseases. Such organizations plan to diagnose, treat, and educate. This has been the stance taken by many, although funding for mosquito surveillance is lacking at the federal, county, and township/city levels. According to Jennifer Sidge of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there is only a small handful of Michigan lower peninsula counties that have funded and designated mosquito surveillance and control programs (n.d.). In 2015, the WHO created a “Workplan on Climate Change and Health.” The WHO’s second objective was to raise awareness about the relationship between health and climate and “the potential of enhancing health through mitigation of the extent of climate change” (World Health Organization, 2015). The WHO’s fourth and final objective is to “provide policy and technical support to the implementation of the public health response to climate change.”

Campbell-Lendrum et al summarizes that the vector-borne disease is “an important cause of death, disease burden and health inequity, a brake on socioeconomic development, and a strain on health services. Continued progress in controlling these diseases is therefore an important contribution to global health, development, and security.” (2015). It is apparent that vector-borne diseases are a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted response.



Some impacts of climate change are more prominent, regarded as severe and worthy of the public’s attention. Examples include rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and polar bears, and polar ice cap melting. However, the increase in vector-borne diseases as a result of climate change is of utmost importance and has the potential for devastating effects in the future. This is a matter of public health on local, national and global scales. It will require coordinated and comprehensive responses of local health departments and national agencies. It will require dedicated resources for research, monitoring, surveillance, prevention, and education. It will require empowered and educated individuals and efficacious policy. It will require a team effort to combat the serious issue of vector-borne diseases for the sake of public health.



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Paz-Bailey, G., Waterman, S.H., Drexler, N.A., Kersh, G.J., Hooks, H., Partridge, S.K., Visser, S.N., Beard, C.B., & Petersen, L.R. (2018, May 4). Vital Signs: Trends in Reported Vectorborne Disease Cases — United States and Territories. icon

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U.S. Faces a Rise on Mosquito ‘Disease Danger Days’ (2018, August 8). Climate


Two Hundred and Eighty Characters of Environmental Hypocrisy


Two Hundred and Eighty Characters of Environmental Hypocrisy

Cynthia E. Fout
West Shore Community College


The following essay explores the hypocrisy of the forty-fifth President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, specifically regarding climate change. Donald Trump has used this presidency to undermine efforts of the Obama Administration and the World to limit the impact of the effects of climate change by not acknowledging the severity of the issue and placing the value American economy over the life of all humanity. United States citizens must vote to take him out of office so that he can no longer use his position to sabotage the fight to slow the warming of the earth and the disasters it will bring to mankind.

Keywords: Donald Trump, Environment, Corporations, Big Business, Industry, Greed, President, Hypocrisy

Money Trumps Infographic
Infographic made by the author to summarize this essay.












Two Hundred and Eighty Characters of Environmental Hypocrisy

The forty-fifth president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, said to a crowd of young conservatives in December of 2019 that he “want[s] the cleanest water on the planet. [He wants] the cleanest air anywhere” (Trump, 2019). To the individuals within the audience, his words spoke volumes of how he cares for the wellbeing of America’s lakes, rivers, and atmosphere. However, this rally took place mere months after the President signed executive orders calling for the construction of a massive oil pipeline running from Canada to the southern coast. Regulations from the Obama administration which limited the amounts of carbon emissions from coal mining and the car industry had also been slashed in the months before his speech, all in the name of stimulating the economy. These words from President Trump (2019) do not nearly line up with the actions of his administration, yet he continues to proclaim that he is an “environmentalist.” American citizens must not allow themselves to be blatantly lied to when a simple check of facts can disprove their figureheads’ duplicity in less time than it takes to spell climate change. Before casting their ballots in the 2020 presidential election, Americans should vote Donald Trump out of the presidential office as he cares more about getting green than going green.

The highlights of President Trump’s thoughts can be found on his twitter at the handle @realDonaldTrump. Former Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters in the summer of 2017 that Trump’s tweets are considered official national statements representing the presidential agenda (Spicer, 2017 as cited in Landers, 2017). This statement categorizes all of the president’s tweets from his inauguration in January of 2016 until his last day in office as representative of the administration’s beliefs and values. While this timeline does not include Trump’s personal views of climate change during 2014 as

Donald Trump's tweet from 2014: "Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air - not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense."
Figure 1: Donald Trump’s Tweet from 2014 on Climate Change.

represented in Figure 1, his narrative has shifted during the years of his campaign and presidency. In a 2018 interview with Lesley Stahl for CBS 60 Minutes, the President shared that he believes some sort of change is going on with the planet, yet he is not convinced that climate change is caused or hastened due to human activity. He specifically asserts how there are scientists who claim that climate change occurs due to natural pattern shifts in the earth’s atmosphere (Stahl, 2018). Yet, Trump seems to be overlooking one of the world’s top centers for scientific research and exploration: NASA. A report shared by Jessica Merzdorf from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center highlighted that human interference has been affecting global warming via carbon emissions at least since the start of the 1900s (Merzdorf, 2019). Through the study of tree rings, researchers found that humans have been affecting the earth’s climate for hundreds of years. While this study, and many describing the same facts. came out after Trump made his statements, the President has made no retractions It is still uncertain as to what Trump’s full beliefs are about the gravity of climate change.

While @realDonaldTrump has been quiet about the issue since his presidential campaign gained momentum in 2015, he has retweeted the words of several other users misrepresenting advancements in the fight to limit the effects of climate change. For example, Donald Trump shared as recently as February

Tweet by Kayleigh McEnany in 2020: "Make no mistake: the #DemDebate plan for climate change is to eliminate more than 1 million jobs in America by eliminating the fossil fuel industry."
Tweet from Kayleigh McEnany in 2020

2020, a tweet from the user @kayleighmcenany describing how the Democratic Party wants to cut jobs through killing the fossil fuel industry (McEnany, 2020). Here Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s current Press Secretary, claims that there will be more harm done by reinstating emissions restrictions on fossil fuels than by working to keep carbon levels low within the Earth’s atmosphere. As a more mocking gesture, Trump also shared a news story from author @PrisonPlanet labeled “Ship Carrying ‘Climate Change Warriors’ Concerned About Melting Arctic Ice Gets Stuck in Ice” (Watson, 2019). The article discredits climate change by basing its opinion on how the polar ice which captured the ship should have been melted due to the Earth’s warming. The article mentioned that the ship was stuck “halfway between Norway and the North Pole” (Watson, 2019). However, an article from The Guardian, detailed that ice has been breaking off from the North’s arctic shelves since before the summer of 2019. (Watts, 2019). This ice had most likely broken off from the north, drifted south towards Scandinavia, and frozen during the winter months before the expedition. The aforementioned mock of climate activists completely ignored the current impacts of climate change. From these outputs, the Trump administration does not seem to be taking climate change very seriously. Although the president’s views have wandered from complete denial to agnosticism on the issue, his meander towards understanding the threat of climate change is worrisome, to say the least. Trump’s focus on economic prosperity may dig him and the rest of the world into a climate change coffin from which there is no escape and no sustainable economy to prosper.

Examination of the current United States’ executive policies on the environment showcases the disparity between President Trump’s words and the actions taken by his administration. An article from National Geographic News journalists Greshko et al. (2019) lists these major political policies in chronological order. The aforementioned pipeline orders and emissions rollbacks are key to understanding how Trump views the importance of environmental wellbeing in comparison to America’s economy. As the two values contrast, this report cites academics and professionals in climate science denoting these actions as the definition of climate change denial (Sterman, 2018 and Lockwood, 2018 as cited in Greshko et al., 2019). As this shows, Trump’s self-proclamation of environmentalism does not match up to the standards of those who would be his allies. His administration’s drive for American domination of the energy industry also highlights this disparity.
“Energy Dominance” was the name given to the Trump Administration’s plans to secure a better future for America’s energy economy. Listed on the administration’s “Fact Sheet” at (2019), President Trump has taken major steps to “tap into America’s incredible energy resources.” The site addresses major reforms taken by the administration, such as approving three– not just one –oil pipelines, greenlighting the exploration of wilderness refuges for energy use, and deregulating major mining industries to cut financial costs. Overall, the administration touts that these policies have led to major economic growth nationwide, but what about the environmental strain? Lisa Freidman (2018), a climate desk reporter for the New York Times, described that Trump’s current dominance plans will fail as climate change increases the hostility of storms, droughts, rising water levels, and heat surges. Meanwhile Trump’s administration, she continues, has placed energy dominance as the focal point of his presidency (Friedman, 2018). Texas House Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, expected chairwoman of the House Science Committee at the time of Friedman’s (2018) article, stated on the issue how the world’s “rapidly changing climate, and the Trump administration’s efforts to take us in the wrong direction, seriously jeopardize our future” (Johnson, 2018 as cited in Friedman, 2018). The Senator’s comment reinstates the magnitude of how climate change will impact the daily lives of people on every continent. Trump has seen the climate reports and warnings from scientists everywhere expressing the need for action now, yet chooses to follow the money. To all of the signs screaming neon danger!, he continues to say that he doesn’t believe any of it (Trump, 2018 as cited in Worland, 2018). Donald Trump has had his sights set on a booming American free market, even as the world shows symptoms of imploding.

On November 4th, 2019, Donald Trump formally addressed the United Nations that the United States would remove itself from the Paris Agreement. This agreement, as written by the United Nations, calls for every developed nation to take measures to limit the global temperature rise between 1.5℃-2℃ for the century and to better prepare for the impending effects of climate change (United Nations, 2016). The fight to lower the global temperature rise comes in an effort to slow the impact of damage already caused by human interference, but Trump has been calling for the United States’ removal long before the formality. In a statement from the President on June 1st, 2017, he spoke of why the U.S is to leave the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of
lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production. (Trump, 2017).

By all of this, the President describes the agreement as an overly-expensive, job-killing monster of an idea. But what are these costs that he’s talking about? As he continues his statement, Trump cites a study from the National

Donald Trump at a Press Conference about the Paris Agreement.
Donald Trump talks to the press about why he is choosing to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement.

Economic Research Associates (NERA) which “lays out” millions of the manufacturing job losses and trillions of dollars in lost GDP revenue due to the agreement. He said that the study depicts a heavy economic disadvantage for the U.S and points to the removal from the Paris Agreement. However, the NERA released a statement six days later clarifying that their study had no connection to the notion at all (NERA, 2017). As the fourth point in their six-point release, the NERA firmly stated that the use of their statistics by the President was a “mischaracterization” of the information and that their study pointed to no such decision (NERA, 2017). The publisher of the study wanted no attachments to the Trump Administration. Additionally, Adam Lusher, a researcher for The Independent, pointed out that the data Trump used expressly stated that it did not account for any benefits that would come from a cutback on carbon emissions (Lusher, 2017). The very numbers used to scare Trump’s followers into believing the Paris Agreement would bring more harm than good were entirely misused. The Trump Administration’s plan to set sights on economic gain over environmental prospects backfired almost instantly thanks to fact-checking; if only the President would follow suit.

Although the lies that Trump has spread cannot be taken back, his presidency can. The United States of America was founded on the belief that the People should be able to elect leaders who will make decisions that will benefit them both, and not only in the short term. Donald Trump has used his presidency to better the prosperity of the businesses he currently holds and the ease of acquiring new ones once he leaves office. He does not enact laws to benefit anyone but those who will line his pockets and protect his empire. America should be run by a president who cares enough about the people they govern to bring them true, checked evidence and doesn’t proclaim to possess all of the knowledge. America deserves better, and anyone who believes the same must vote to get him out of office on Tuesday November 3rd, 2020.

Vote Him Out
Vote Him Out Logo created by the author.








Friedman, L. (2018, November 29). Trump’s ‘Energy Dominance’ Doctrine Is Undermined by Climate Change. The New York Times.

Greshko, M., Parker, L., Howard, B., Stone, D., Borunda, A., & Gibbens, S. (2019, May 3). A running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy. National Geographic News.

Landers, E. (2017, June 6). White House: Trump’s tweets are “official statements.” CNN.

Lusher, A. (2017, June 2). Why Donald Trump got his economic facts wrong in trying to justify withdrawal from Paris climate deal. The Independent.

McEnany, M. [@kayleighmcenany]. (2020, February 7). Make no mistake: the #DemDebate plan for climate change is to eliminate more than 1 million jobs in America by [Tweet]. Twitter.

Merzdorf, J. (2019, May 3). NASA Study: Human Influence on Global Droughts Goes Back 100 Years. Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.

NERA Economic Consulting. (2017, June 7). NERA Economic Consulting’s Study of US Emissions Reduction Policies: Statement of facts.

Stahl, L. (2018, October 15). President Trump on Christine Blasey Ford, his relationships with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un and more [Interview].

The White House. (2019, May 14). President Donald J. Trump is unleashing American energy dominance.

Trump, D. J. [@realDonaldTrump]. (2014, January 29). Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air – not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of [Tweet]. Twitter.

Trump, D. J. (2017, June 01). Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord.

Trump, D. J. (2019, December 23). ‘I never understood wind’: Trump goes on bizarre tirade against windmills. [Video]. Youtube.

United Nations. (2016, November 4). The Paris Agreement | UNFCCC.

Watson, P. J. (2019, September 11). A ship carrying passengers who included a group of ‘Climate Change Warriors’ who are concerned about melting Arctic ice got [Tweet;]. Twitter.

Watts, J. (2019, June 7). The end of the Arctic as we know it. The Guardian.

Worland, J. (2018). Trump deaf to dire U.S. climate warning. Time International (Atlantic Edition), 192(24), 8–8.

Hidden Threats: Melting of the Iceland’s Could Release Deadly Microorganisms

Hidden Threats: Melting of Iceland’s Could Release Deadly Microorganisms
Trenten E. Ahlfeld
West Shore Community College
March 10, 2020


Progress in the field of microbiology to be able to combat these microscopic threats. Microorganisms are becoming adapted to current treatments for disease. Microbiologists can not come out with new vaccinations and antibiotics fast enough as the current microorganisms are becoming resistant. The threat is real. If something is not done to stop global As climate change and global warming continues to melt glacial ice around the world, there are hidden threats that are being released. Microorganisms are being released from their once eternal slumber. It is only a matter of time before these microorganisms cause disease in humans or other animals causing a global pandemic. A young boy already lost his life to an ancient form of Anthrax and there were nothing doctors could do to save him. Advances need to warming or advance the field of microbiology humans will surely face catastrophe.

Keywords: Climate Change, Microorganisms, Anthrax, virus, Russia, disease

As climate change continues to affect the world and heat the atmosphere, the colder regions on the earth are being affected drastically. As professor Jem Bendell (2018) writes in his essay Deep Adaptation, sea ice has been decreasing by approximately a tenth of its size every year (pg. 7). The permafrost and arctic ice are melting at a slower rate, but it could bring hidden calamities the sea ice does not have. Microorganisms are being unfrozen from the ice when they come back to life from the heat that is bringing them out of a thought to be eternal slumber. These microorganisms have been frozen for thousands of years and humans have not been exposed to them the entire time. Animals no longer have an immunity to them making infection inevitable. With the melting of glacial ice bringing the release of new microorganisms, infection is unpreventable and the growth in the field of microbiology will be needed to save the human race from catastrophe.

In their article, reporters for the Business Insider, Erin Brodwin and Lydia Ramsey (2016), write that new viruses were found in the arctic ice in 2015. These viruses are massive and twice the size of average viruses today (para. 2). In addition, the viruses have never been seen before, however, with tests and research, scientists concluded that they pose no serious threat to humans as they are amoeba specific viruses and are not capable of infecting humans in non-extreme cases. It seems as if the threat is not present with viruses that are not able to infect humans. Although new viruses are still being discovered within the ice, in 2020 scientists decided to drill ice cores for dating a glacier in Tibet. Laura Geggel (2020), a reporter for NBC News, writes about the serious threat that is posed by unknown microorganisms being released by the melting of glacial ice in her article Ancient Viruses Never Observed by Humans Discovered in Tibetan Glacier. They were alarmed to find that in the thirty-three samples of viruses, twenty-eight had never been seen before (para. 9). In the article, Geggel goes into detail on how it is difficult to prepare for unknown threats because it is difficult to isolate them from contamination, causing a possibility for the loss of many other viruses. Precautions must be taken in every step to isolate ancient samples from the outside air. With just a small sample that had been successfully isolated, they found twenty-eight new species of virus (Geggel, 2020, para 2). If humans are not able to prepare for a catastrophe they will not be able to stop one. These are the most recent viruses discovered and their danger to humans has not been discovered yet. New techniques need to be thought of as just finding ancient microorganisms is a challenge let alone isolating them long enough to create a treatment for one.

Even though the threat of the new viruses has not been discovered, there has been a case of an ancient microorganism infecting someone. A reporter for BBC, Tim Smedley (2019) reports in his article, The Poisons Released by Melting Arctic Ice, of a boy who was infected by an ancient species of anthrax. The disease had infected and killed over two thousand reindeer and the boy was the son of the reindeer farmer. The reindeer infected the boy and doctors were unable to treat him before he passed. This ancient bacteria is a killer just like the newer form of anthrax that is alive and well today. Generally, Anthrax can be found in the soil and only infects grazing animals. As Jeffery Pommerville, a microbiologist writes, “Animals ingest and inhale the spores from the soil grazing…” (pg. 429). Anthrax is picked up most of the time by grazing animals that stick their nose in the soil and potentially breathe in or eat a spore. Once the spore is inside the new host it can infect the host causing disease. Anthrax is a relatively hard bacteria to spread to humans but is fatal with a death rate of 80 percent. However, a reporter for Fox News Charlotte Edwards in her article, ‘Disaster: Worse than Chernobyl’ Looms as Ancient Anthrax Spores Could be Blasted Into the Sky by ‘Frozen Methane Bombs’, Scientists Warn, gives an alarming discovery. According to scientists, even though anthrax prefers to live in the ground with permafrost melting, methane is being released into the atmosphere in bursts from the ground. These bursts of methane could potentially send anthrax spores into the air which will send them miles in any direction. This creates an entirely new threat level of the ancient disease. The boy did not have a chance with such a deadly bacteria that had no cure and neither would anyone else infected. If a microorganism were to be released that could survive in the air, would people be so quick to ignore it?

With advances in technology becoming better, many people do not fear lost microorganisms. With transportation to different continents growing faster every year, it is impossible to stop the spread of a new disease. But with so many ways to treat people’s symptoms the survival rate for most diseases has increased exponentially. Vaccinations have gotten much more effective and safer over the years with the introduction of the CDC and FDA. People have lost the fear they once had for sickness wrongly. Microorganisms are the most adaptable creatures on the planet. They can live in the hot, cold, create resistance to treatments, and change their genes to avoid detection by the immune system. If a deadly ancient pathogen were to be released that is highly adaptable, humans would have a difficult time stopping it. Look at recent news with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Coronavirus has a lethality of approximately 2% according to Adam Felman, a writer for Medical News Today. Scientists have determined the coronavirus is similar to the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) (para. 17). It is an extremely contagious disease that has been spreading across the world. Even though scientists know what the Coronavirus is related to it is still hard for them to come up with a cure. If an ancient pathogen that was as contagious as the coronavirus and as deadly as the Anthrax were to be released, it would spell mass extinction for many humans. To help ease people on this topic reporters for the Business Insider Erin Brodwin and Lydia Ramsey (2016) about how even though the risk is present for ancient microorganisms to infect us, it is low (para. 4). This is because most viruses and bacteria are species-specific. This means that even though the virus may be deadly to birds, plants, other microorganisms, etc. it will not be able to infect humans. This is true for most diseases although there are exceptions. This helped to put people at ease although exceptions, like anthrax, still caused a boy to lose his life. The field of Microbiology is not nearly strong enough to face any truly dangerous foe.

Microbiologists are low in number as the field is still relatively new. Not to mention, the field of microbiology is still the newest of the biologies and has the least amount of research invested in it. It is also a difficult field to go into while also not catching the interest of most people. Without more people going into the field, the development of treatments may not be adequate for when an ancient disease strikes. Without better techniques in isolating old bacteria, scientists can not create treatments. Vaccinations take a while to make and must go through many steps and trials to make sure they are safe. New species of virus and bacteria are being found outside of the ice that is not old and still hard to stop like the coronavirus. With an increase in microbiologists humans would have a faster time creating antibiotics, vaccinations, and discovering diseases. The number of different species of microorganisms greatly exceeds that of the animal kingdom with their ability to adapt much higher as well. Antibiotics are becoming less effective the more that humans use them. In fact, as stated Fundamentals of Microbiology, “Another challenge concerns our increasing inability to fight infectious disease because so many pathogens are now resistant to one or more antibiotics, and such antibiotic resistance is developing faster than new antibiotics are being discovered.” (Pommerville, 2018, pg. 29). This can be seen most notably in Bordetella pertussis, or whooping cough. When the vaccine for whooping cough first came out the number of people infected with the disease went down drastically, however, during the last couple of years the bacteria have adapted and the disease has been increasing (pg. 770). This should not be taken lightly as it is already hard to create a vaccine, let another one when the bacteria has adapted. There should be a call from the government for more microbiologists. Whether they increase pay or make deals with people for free college, more people are needed in this field as microorganisms only get more deadly with time.

With the discovery of more and more viruses, humans can never truly be safe from the catastrophe of an ancient disease. Halting the melting ice would be the most ideal solution with the stop of global warming, however, without immediate action that will not be an option in the future. To create more scientists and to advance the field of Microbiology will be the best solution. Advances are happening treatment options, vaccinations being made, and discovery of new microorganisms, but they are at a much slower rate than the rest of science. Glacial ice is melting more and more each year and potentially new microorganisms being released along the way. It is only a matter of time until an extremely deadly virus or bacteria is released from its slumber and infects someone. If it takes humans this long to stop disease like the coronavirus that is not very deadly, then there will not be hope when an ancient pathogen hits. The problem is real and the solutions are not easy, the field of microbiology will have to grow faster than microorganisms can adapt.


Bendell, J. (2018 July 27). Deep adaptation [PDF file].

Brodwin & Ramsey, E. L. (2017, May 8). Ancient, giant viruses are being unearthed in Arctic ice that’s at risk of melting. Business Insider.

Doucleff, M. (2018, January 24). Are There Zombie Viruses In The Thawing Permafrost? NPR.Org.

Edwards, C. (2020, April 16). ‘Disaster worse than Chernobyl’ looms as ancient anthrax spores could be blasted into the sky by ‘frozen methane bombs’, scientists warn | Fox News.

Emspak, J. (2013, August 28). How Anthrax Kills: Toxins Damage Liver and Heart. Livescience.Com.

Felman, A. (2020, February 26). Coronaviruses: Symptoms, treatments, and variants.

Fox-Skelly, J. (2017, May 4). Our ancestors may have spread anthrax all around the world.

Geggel, L. (2020, January 22). Ancient viruses never observed by humans discovered in Tibetan glacier. NBC News.

Luhn, A. (2019, June 8). Thawing Siberian permafrost soil risks rise of anthrax and prehistoric diseases. The Telegraph.

McKenna, J. (n.d.). The deadly diseases being released by climate change. World Economic Forum. Retrieved February 12, 2020, from

Ortega, R. P., 2020, & Pm, 12:20. (2020, January 17). Ancient viruses found in Tibetan glacier. Science | AAAS.

Pommerville, J. (2018). Fundamentals of microbiology (11th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Smedley, T. (2019, June 17). The poisons released by melting Arctic ice.

Texas Department of State Health Services. (2020, March 9). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Wehner, M. (2020, January 23). Scientists found ancient never-before-seen viruses locked in a glacier. BGR.

Climate Change In Schools

Learning To Handle Climate Change

MacKenzie Kaminski

West Shore Community College



Climate is a continuously growing problem, which needs more people on top and aware of the situation. This paper talks about some of the main problems that are created from climate change and that people deal with ecological grief due to the losses of the environmental structures and species. Bringing climate change information to schools will help create a generational army ready to help reverse what was built up for so many years.


Learning To Handle Climate Change

Climate change is an interesting topic. Some people believe in it and think that there needs to be a change in how we do things on Earth, and actually put an effort in changing. Others believe that it is a problem, but think this is too big of a problem for one person to deal with, so they go about their business making no changes. Lastly, some people are in denial, or just don’t care about climate change, claiming that there is no problem and there needs to be no change. The last two reactions to climate change are a typical response to the issue on hand. Usually, those responses are a result of people going through ecological grief, or eco grief. We need to get people the help to overcome eco grief, as well as building their knowledge of climate change before we will ever start correcting climate change. If we start young and bring this knowledge to the children and teens we will be able to influence their reactions towards climate change. Implementing mandatory climate clinics in schools to teach children the importance of climate change would create a great starting point in limiting the amount of push back in reactions against climate change and its outcomes.

First, what is climate change? One of the main reasons people react negatively about climate change is they don’t have enough knowledge about it. All they hear is that the world is going to end as they know it. That is all they hear about the issue then sometimes it can come off as a “sky is falling” cry for help. Which with no information would be difficult to understand and believe. To sum up climate change, basically, global warming has been hitting the planet hard, especially in the last 30 years. With carbon-dioxide emissions from human activity, temperatures have been rising steadily. With so much Carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, the sun rays get trapped in the atmosphere. This causes Earth temperatures to rise significantly. One may say that we have always had fluctuated temperatures but scientists have shown that in the last 30 years we have had a steady increase which is shown in image one. Due to these rising temperatures, we are seeing complications of weather around the world. Ice caps melting causes sea levels to rise and stronger tropical storms and flooding. Hot locations, such as deserts that are already fairly dry are experiencing worsened droughts that create forest fires that spread for miles. These disasters are where we see the most grief, as the loss of homes and locations are hard to deal with. Figuring out why they should care about the situation can be a difficult argument, which BBC environmental correspondent, Matt McGrath put together a great video on why we should care. But to get someone comfortable and able to deal with the situation is the difficult part.

The term eco grief was created due to environmental struggles happening and people were unable to cope or deal with the problem. According to Ashley Cunsolo, a public health researcher and director of the Labrador Institute of Memorial University said during her interview with The World that eco grief is “grief, pain, sadness or suffering that people identify as experiencing when they lose a beloved ecosystem, species, or place”(2019). Eco grief can be brought out in times of natural disasters such as forest fires, or hurricanes that flood and wipe out homes. Feelings can also be brought out with realizations of plant species or animals that have been known are going extinct; or that someone’s future is going to be way different than they have always planned it would be. With people having these negative reactions to these problems it makes it difficult for anything to change. We are told that it is possible to change if we all start working on it, but the stress that builds up with the idea of not being able to protect themselves and their families takes over. Fear takes over them and it’s hard to get their mindset back, and before we can accomplish anything to better climate change, we need to help with the psychological side of things.

So, what can we do? Treating eco grief is just like many other mental illnesses. There are support groups, much like Alcoholics Anonymous, they get together and talk about things that have happened, that could happen, and how they feel about it. Some even created groups that are in living rooms to sit around and discuss the stress of the shifting climate. Dick Meyer who was quoted in Judy Fahys’ piece claimed that “he felt anxious and overwhelmed. This support group is helping people cope” (2017). Joining this meeting he was able to come to the conclusion that “it was the loss of the future” that tore him up and made him feel helpless about climate change. There is also counseling one on one to get help when people are getting stressed and anxious about what is happening in the environment. Sarah Jaquette Ray, head of the environmental studies program at Humboldt State University in California was also quoted in the same article saying “they need the emotional skills and emotional tools to actually address the climate problem”. So before anyone can address the problem and start making changes to better it, they need to learn these tools. Adults are able to learn if they go through the correct hoops and reach out for help, but what happens if the adult is already too far out. What happens if the adult is ready to toss in the towel because they already put in their lives work, what would happen for the next generation? That’s why we need to start implementing climate change clinics in schools to teach the new generation the emotional skills and tools they need to cope with the environmental destruction we are leaving them. Julie Huguet said in her article “Why Do Kids Learn Faster Than Adults” “Early stages of neuronal development, the brain exhibits more plasticity, and as a result children seem to absorb everything around them” (2015). If that is the case then it would make complete logical sense to start teaching them young how to emotionally deal and handle climate change.

Bringing climate change into schools and education would be the best option to start them ahead of climate change. Some schools have even created climate change curriculums starting in middle school and it goes through high school. This prepares students to have the proper knowledge during their adult lives. The curricula teach about global climate change and its effects on people and resources. They take a look at how today’s actions will affect the future of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Getting this basic knowledge about climate change will give a good base for what they will need to do to help fix climate change. Knowledge will aid in the stresses that come with climate change, and could even influence how they respond to it. I personally didn’t learn much about climate change and wasn’t encouraged to learn anything about it until it was forced into my life. At that point, after learning more about climate change and the steps I had to take to help the planet it didn’t seem as overwhelming. If I grew up learning about climate change and learning the importance of our actions it would have been second nature to take care of the planet and I would have been able to help the planet more in my life. Knowledge is the most powerful fight against anything, especially climate change. These curriculums are mostly in the U.K. but students and teachers in America are pushing for climate change to be brought into schools. Sydney Johnson in her article on EdSource stated: “students around the globe demand action by their government leaders” (2019). This is another reason why we need to get climate change in schools. The next generation is extremely interested in protecting the world that they are going to be growing up in. So we need to help them get a headstart by teaching them everything they need to know about climate change.

Something to also incorporate into the curriculum would be teaching the emotional tools and skills that were mentioned before. Eco grief is basically mourning the loss of nature through natural disasters, or species loss because of climate change. Which means we need to treat it like delicately like losing a loved one. Although I personally did not see it as overwhelming once I gained knowledge, I felt a lot of stress and hopelessness thinking of all the outcomes involving my son and myself. How would I protect my son from possible climate struggles while also doing what I needed to do to better the planet, it was an extremely difficult time mentally, which is a normal reaction to climate change. Again, if I had the time during school growing up to learn how to deal with this type of mental battle with climate change, I wouldn’t have been so resilient about the topic. Which is one of our goals, to keep people from shutting down and turning away from climate change due to the stresses that it puts on. One of the ways that we can help teach them about eco grief is by teaching them coping mechanisms, grief counseling. Dr. J William Warden, who is a psychologist from  Harvard University, wrote a book called Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook For Mental Health Practitioner. He stated that this is a difference between grief counseling and grief therapy. He states that grief counseling is “helping people facilitate uncomplicated, or normal grief towards a healthy adaptation to the tasks of mourning within a reasonable time frame” (2019). Since we know that climate change is a problem, and we have given them the information they need to do something about it, counseling would be the best source to teach them the skills and tools to help emotionally. Getting groups together for group counseling like what was talked about before will get them used to have a conversation about the feelings they have about climate change. Our goal is to help aid and teach how to deal with the stresses so they can overcome and help fix the climate change struggles.

So in conclusion, I think the best idea to help the chances of the planet getting better. Teaching the next generation everything we know about climate change and how to better the Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere, which would bring out the temperature problems that have been created. Also prepping them from the emotional struggles that could come from the stress of climate change will help overcome the negative reactions towards the struggles of climate change. So bringing climate change clinics into schools as apart of their curriculum will help create a new generation prepared to fight the climate that we have created for them.



Fahys, J. (2017, April 22). First Step To ‘Eco-Grieving’ Over Climate Change? Admit There’s A Problem. Retrieved February 16, 2020, from

Johnson, S. (2019, October 7). Teachers and students push for climate change education in California. Retrieved March 3, 2020, from

Tompson, A. (2009, May 18). Child Brains Organized Differently Than Adult Brains. Retrieved February 25, 2020, from

Warden, J. W. (2019). Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, Fifth Edition. Retrieved February 20, 2020, from 88&f=false

What is climate change? A really simple guide. (2020, January 16). Retrieved February 17, 2020, from

World, T. (2019, June 24). Is climate change causing us to experience ‘ecological grief’? Retrieved February 16, 2020, from






Leave the Cows Alone


This article covers aspects of greenhouse gasses the cattle industry produces and ways to reduce the cattle products consumed. Some aspects covered are how cattle produce methane, characteristics of methane, processes of farming that produce greenhouse gasses (GHG), ways to help reduce GHG emissions, and benefits of not eating meat. By reading this article, people will be more aware of the effect the cattle industry has on the environment and be encouraged to make a diet change.

Keywords​: cattle, agriculture, methane, vegetarian diet, greenhouse gasses, beef, environment

Leave the Cows Alone

It was only very recently I learned that cattle have a negative effect on climate change. I had never even thought about it until someone mentioned becoming a vegetarian to help the environment. How would not eating meat help the planet in any way? As it turns out, there are several ways the cattle industry contributes to the production of greenhouse gasses. ​Cattle in both the meat and dairy industry have an effect on the environment.​ ​Everything from clearing pasture for the cows to the way the cows themselves digest their food has an effect on the environment.

If people limited the amount of beef and dairy products they used, there would be a positive effect on climate change. Some argue that taking meat out of the diet would result in nutrition deficits, but that’s not often the case. Most people would do just fine with less or no meat in their diets. It’s very important for people to try and make any changes they can to reduce the cattle products they consume. ​By reducing the amount of beef and dairy products consumed, the amount of greenhouse gas produced (which helps to warm the planet) is decreased.​ Many people aren’t aware of this, and they need to be so they will be better able to make informed decisions about their lifestyle and diet. Once people are aware, they need to make an effort to limit the amount of cattle products they consume.

Cows are one of the species in the group of ruminant animals. Being a ruminant animal means they get their nutrients from the food they eat by fermenting it in one of their four stomachs. Rae (2015) explains that in ruminate animals, gut flora break cellulose down into glucose to make the food digestible and in the process produces methane (para.2). Without this process, cows and other ruminant animals wouldn’t get the nutrients necessary to keep them alive. There are millions of cows in the world, and all of them are contributing greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere every day when they digest food. If you’ve ever been around cows, you’ll notice that they are always eating, which means they are always producing more methane. There is a huge demand for beef, and it’s not likely to stop soon. Painter (2019) explains the rapidly growing interest for beef around the world. The global beef market is expected to increase by 20% in the next six years. This is believed to be due to the growing number of people in the middle-class because there’s a correlation between rising incomes and rising protein consumption (para.4). This means that as incomes rise, so will the demand for beef. Unless more economically friendly cattle-raising techniques are developed, the world will continue to see a rise in agriculture-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

The University of Adelaide (2019) explained that cattle provide 37 percent of methane production caused by human activity. Each cow produces between 70 and 120 kg of methane each year. There are about 1.5 billion cattle throughout the world (para. 3). Doing the math, if each cow produced 100 kg of methane yearly, that would be 150,000,000,000 kg of methane produced each year. While it’s still not the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, it is still much stronger than other gasses like carbon dioxide. As Rafferty and Petruzzello (n.d.) explain, methane is considered the second most significant greenhouse gas and although it has a lower concentration in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it is more potent. It stays in the atmosphere for about a decade and has natural as well as man-made sources. Some natural sources include wetlands, volcanos, and permafrost. While there are many natural causes, human sources still account for about 70 percent of the yearly emissions (para. 4). By adding more and more methane to the atmosphere, the concentration is steadily increasing. You can think of greenhouse gasses as a blanket around the earth; not enough and it’s too cold, but too much and it’s overheating. Things are really heating up under the blanket.

The good news is that scientists are looking for ways to reduce the methane that cows produce and it’s looking promising. One method they’re working on is breeding methane burps out of cows by altering their genetic makeup. By selective breeding, it’s hoped that the methane production will be reduced in cattle. Gibbens (2019) explains that some microbes inside cows produce more methane than others and that those microbes are inherited. It’s hoped that by breeding the cows without these traits, they can make cows that naturally produce less methane (para.4). Research is still being done to find how much methane emissions could be reduced. Another option is adding seaweed to cattle feed. Methane emissions can be reduced by over half just by adding a small amount of dried seaweed to the cattle’s diet. There are still problems with both these options that include managing the cost for farmers, giving people the incentive to want to make these changes, and perfecting these methods. There is a lot more research and work to be done in these studies, but it shows that there is hope for raising cattle that produce less methane.

The cows themselves are far from the only part of the cattle industry that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. There are four big contributors to GHG emissions, many of which are food-related. These include deforestation, agricultural production, packing and transport, and non-food related emissions. Cattle farming manages to do all four. Many of the processes done to feed and transport the livestock produce carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. All three of those gasses help to increase the greenhouse effect that warms the planet. Manure leftover from the cattle also contributes gas to the atmosphere. The equipment used for farming and clearing pasture for cattle farming contributes to gas emissions. Cattle raised to be slaughtered take a large deal of land, water, and feed supplements. Farmers often clear trees from land to make better pasture for their cows. Clearing the land allows grass to grow, which feeds the cattle, but kills trees that help store greenhouse gasses and filter the air. Trees can store hundreds of pounds of carbon, and when those trees are cut down, the carbon gets released back into the atmosphere. Grass stores carbon too, but it’s often plowed up to grow things like grain, corn, and barley to help supplement cattle feed. In order to grow these crops to feed the cattle, the land must be plowed. Dr. Tim McAllister (2019), a Principle Research Scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, explains how throughout the last century, the majority of native grasslands were plowed to grow crops. These grasslands are very important for storing carbon dioxide, and when plowed, these grasslands release the carbon they have been storing back into the atmosphere. If left alone, grasslands can continue to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it, which helps to balance carbon emissions (para.7). Additional greenhouse gasses are produced from manure and farm equipment. Gas and oil are used on almost every farm to power the equipment necessary to do everyday tasks. Fossil fuels are used by farmers to power the equipment that grows, harvests, and transports crops. This equipment is also used to transport cattle, grain, and hay. Agricultural products are shipped all over the country every day, more so with increased consumer demand.

There are ways to try and reduce the effect that agriculture has on the environment.​ ​A few options are rotating crops, maximizing natural resources, and not overproducing. If farmers were educated about more sustainable farming, there would be less of an effect on the climate.

If people reduced the amount of beef and dairy products they consumed, the climate would benefit. Cutting down on the amount of beef eaten every week has a positive impact on gas emissions. Some argue that meat from cattle makes up a large part of the diet and cannot be removed without health consequences. This, however, is wrong because removing some or all meat from the diet is shown to have positive effects on health. People who adopt a vegetarian diet tend to have a decreased risk of heart disease, consume a greater variety of nutrients, and have less risk of chronic disease. Adopting a vegetarian diet requires a bit of planning to make sure you are getting the necessary nutrients, but it is possible.

Although a vegetarian or vegan diet is best for the environment, it’s not the only diet change that can have a positive impact on the environment. Just decreasing the intake of beef and dairy products by a little bit every week has a positive effect on reducing gas emissions and increasing your health. Yvette Brazire (2020) explains in an article for Medical News Daily that a vegetarian diet can include a number of health benefits, including losing weight, lowered cholesterol levels, a decreased risk for cancer, lowered risk for cardiovascular disease, and less chance of developing type 2 diabetes. She also said that a meat-free diet is more sustainable and causes less harm to the environment than a diet with meat (para.8). Going meat-free can be beneficial to both personal health and the health of the environment. Using different proteins to replace meat, such as quinoa and beans, offer more health benefits and less bad cholesterol. Even if you don’t want to go fully vegetarian or vegan, just cutting back on meat a few times a week can help. You would be helping not only your own health but also the environment. However, if you do choose to change your diet, make sure you do it gradually and make sure you are getting the right nutrients.

If everyone who reads this paper adopted the idea of limiting beef and/or dairy consumption, the world would benefit greatly. The main idea of the paper is that people need to be aware of how the cattle industry negatively affects climate change, and adjust their lifestyles. Many people aren’t aware that cattle have an impact on global warming. Both the cow itself and everything involved from birth to death has an effect on the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. By reducing the amount of beef and dairy products consumed, the amount of gas produced that helps to warm the planet is lowered. If there is anything we can do to help slow global warming, it should be done, and this option is also good for your health. Not everyone has to become vegan, but cutting down on meat consumption a couple of times a week would help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Brazier, Y. (2020, January 20). ​What to know about the vegetarian diet​. Medical News Today.

Gibbens, S. (2019, July 3). ​Can methane burbs be bred out of cows? ​National Geographic. ut-of-cows/

McAllister, T. (2019, October 28). ​Environmental footprint of beef production. ​Beef Cattle Research Council. ​

Painter K.L. (2019, April 13). ​As alternatives to beef rise in the U.S., demand for beef is surging elsewhere. Star Tribune. ​ -u-s-demand-for-beef-is-surging-elsewhere/508542922/?refresh=true

Rae, I. F. (2015, October).​ The hot breath of a cow.​ Chemistry in Australia.
Rafferty J. P., & Petruzzello M. (n.d.).​ 5 Notorious greenhouse gasses.​ Encyclopedia Britannica.

University of Adelaide. (2019, July 5). ​Study shows potential for reduced methane from cows. Phys org. ​

A Trail of Suffering: How Therapists will enforce Therapies to Help With the Psychological Impacts of Climate Change

Rylee A Cregg

West Shore Community College

English 112

Professor John Wolff

April 9, 2020


Climate change will impact the way people around the world live. Mental health will deeply be affected. Therapists will have to come together and work hard to ensure that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Eco-anxiety will be treated properly. Some therapy techniques, such as self-reflection, acceptance, and club involvement will help relieve stress.

Keywords: eco-anxiety, mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder, therapy, climate change

A Trail of Suffering: How Therapists will enforce Therapies to Help With the Psychological Impacts of Climate Change

Climate change. These two words have channeled a wave of emotions all across the world. The controversy over the existence of climate change is still debated but the real urgency to focus on is the reality of climate change having significant consequences on the people of America. If this climate change crisis goes into full impact, the mental health impacts will be huge among everyone who will be affected. When climate change takes full effect with mental health plummeting, how will therapists work to fix the suffering among the people who are left? Through therapy techniques such as writing, planning, acceptance, and getting involved with organizations, mental health will improve with those who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and eco-anxiety.

In order to understand how PTSD and Eco-anxiety relate to climate change, take a closer look at the severity of climate change. By definition, climate change is “the burning of fossil fuels causes the release of carbon dioxide, which builds up in the atmosphere and causes Earth’s temperature to rise” (American Public Health). Carbon dioxide is the source of this drastic phenomenon. According to Fox’s 2017 video, the earth is guaranteed to warm a half degree from pipelines carrying carbon dioxide. Fox also suggests that the effects are already happening and faster than it has ever been. The poles are the warmest ever recorded in the past 10,000 years and the Arctic Ice Cap has shrunk significantly. Fox also claims that when two degrees is reached, the sea-level will rise between five and nine meters. This rise would happen all over the world endangering many well-populated cities. In other words, if the ice caps continue to melt, the water will continue to rise, leaving millions of

Figure 1: New York City at six meters of water. The blue coloring is potential danger zones where land reaches six meters or below (Climate Central, nd).

people with nowhere to go. Rising waters is only one problem. As temperatures keep climbing, crops will scorch in the heat, making it impossible to grow food, Fox explains. No food means no civilization. Refugees would have to flee their home countries and states just to escape the rising waters and temperatures. As the earth continues to warm, continents will continue to shrink along with dryer droughts, stronger floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes (Fox, 2017). What is to come will be devastating. A trail of suffering will be left behind. A future of hope will be left in the hands of therapists to fix the psychological damage. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Focusing on the potential after effects, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a great concern. According to Kazdin (2000), author of Encyclopedia of Psychology, PTSD “is an anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, accident[s] or natural disaster[s].” Some symptoms include intrusive thoughts/dreams about the event, inability to remember the event, excessive alertness, or avoidance of anything linked to the event. Since the APA recognizes that PTSD is directly related to natural disasters, this condition may become more relevant as climate change brings about a mass amount of flooding to many big cities throughout the world. PTSD and other related anxiety/mood disorders have been proven to relate to natural disasters. An example of a natural disaster that has had an impact on mental health was Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was a category five storm that greatly impacted the south coast of the US. “Forty-nine percent of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina developed an anxiety or mood disorder, and one in six developed PTSD. Suicide and suicidal ideation more than doubled” (American Public Health Association et al., nd). Natural disasters had a major impact on nearly half of Katrina survivors. If this is just part of the east coast, imagine what it would be like if this reality went for all of the coastlines of the world. This hurricane was merely a sample of what is to come. With climate change going into full effect, Hurricane Katrina will be nothing compared to climate change weather. PTSD will be a huge issue with climate change as seen with Hurricane Katrina. Therapy techniques that therapists provide will hopefully help reduce those struggling with PTSD.


While in therapy, a therapist will give clients tools on how to cope with their PTSD. Writing and planning are two techniques therapists will use to treat flashbacks and triggers. One writing exercise includes writing down triggers, or things/places that cause flashbacks (Copeland and Harris, 2000). Flashbacks are “Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories” (APA, 2020 January).  For example; Sudden memories of the disaster may follow if they enter an enclosed space or see the water. This will cause a lot of anxiety within the person experiencing the distressing memory. If the person is experiencing a disturbing memory, they are most likely to be triggered by something. A trigger is something or someone who reminds them of the traumatic memory inducing anxiety at a particular moment. Writing down triggers will help further understand where the issue is. Once knowing where the problem is, it will be easier to treat. In part B of this exercise, outlining a plan will help reduce flashbacks (Copeland and Harris, 2000). For example; A plan may include making a list of people to call, going out for a run, or enjoying an activity when feeling triggered or overwhelmed by the traumatic memory. Activities such as these will help redirect the brain to focus on something else. The anxiety produced by the flashback will be redirected into something positive. This two-part writing exercise will help alleviate flashbacks for people experiencing PTSD from climate change. According to Williams and Poijula (2002), Another exercise therapists will recommend is “getting outside your head.” This means focusing on the surroundings in order to distract from the flashback. Some examples include naming objects in the environment out loud, drawing/writing out the flashback, or concentrating on an object/sound while experiencing the flashback. Concentration on surroundings helps to push the intrusive flashback out of the mind creating less anxiety and into something less intrusive. These self-help techniques will further improve those experiencing PTSD, especially those affected by climate change.  


Worrying about climate change is so profound on mental health that the APA (n.d.) has a name for it: “Eco-anxiety; a chronic fear of environmental doom.” Nunget (2019) explains that eco-anxiety is a normal response to learning about the severity of climate change, but it is not a clinical disorder. Though not a disorder, it can worsen pre-existing mental health issues so eco-anxiety should not be treated lightly. Eco-anxiety can range from very low to very high. Some may need therapy and others may not. Examples of eco-anxiety can be found to have a large impact on mental health. High school student Sophie Kaplan asks, “I don’t understand why I should be in school if the world is burning. What’s the point of working on my education if we don’t deal with this first?” (Plautz, 2020). On the extreme end, patients describe their fantasies about killing their children in order to protect them from future climate change destruction (Ro, 2019). Both of these examples show how the fear of climate change can have so much control over how someone thinks and feels. Although some fear is normal to experience when facing these situations, extreme fear can be harmful to mental health. Learning how to fix this line of thinking will push therapists into coming up with new solutions on how to allow a better mentality to take over.


Acceptance of climate change and doing something about it will allow mental health to turn into positive thinking. Therapists dealing with eco-anxiety could benefit from Kathryn Kellogg (2019) and her helpful tips on how to manage anxiety caused by climate change. In her video, Kellogg quotes a prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold Niebuhr). This prayer is commonly prayed at the beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and could be beneficial when being applied to mental health. Breaking down this prayer will allow for better mental health and attitude towards climate change. The first part of the prayer is about acceptance. Accepting the fact that something might happen is the first step to realizing that people can only control their own actions. Looking at the big picture, fixing climate change is not a one-person job. Many people who have eco-anxiety feel pressured to take on the responsibility all by themselves. Fixing climate change takes a whole community of people striving towards major changes. Quoting from the second part of the prayer, changing the things you can is another way mental health can be impacted in a positive way. Joining an eco-friendly organization is one action that people with eco-anxiety can do to bring about change. Getting involved will help spread awareness to get even more people on your side. Another benefit of joining a club is to allow the responsibility to be on other people too to get something done. This will relieve the pressure off of the individual releasing stress. The mentality of the person experiencing eco-anxiety will improve by following these examples on how to manage the fear.

The earth is projected to head towards a phenomenon of stronger storms, dryer droughts, and a major sea-level rise due to the changing climate. Climate change will have a large influence on mental health which may result in anxiety disorders such as PTSD and eco-anxiety. Therapy techniques such as writing, planning, acceptance, and getting involved with organizations will be enforced by therapists in order to fix the trail of suffering left by climate change.


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Poster of the mental health impacts by climate change