Monday, June 22, 2009

Human Impact on the Environment

How much impact have humans brought upon our own planet? Animal species have once gone into a very slow extinction where balancing mechanisms can develop to compensate the loss. Animals have lived in a complicated weave of relationships, so complex and magnificent that we humans have only scraped the surface of understanding.

Yet, with our rise, animals have fallen. We’ve created huge agricultural problems with our own invention. With pesticides and insecticides we’ve tipped the balance of ecosystems and cause massive imbalances in our own world. Never have we faced such a crisis; in the last 65 million years we have never had such a rapid rate of extinction as we’ve had in the 20th century.

Who’s next, and what do we do to prevent it? Human beings are not excluded from the food chain. Honey bees, for example, pollinate hundreds of plant species and what are weeds to us may be food to someone else. We should not exterminate living things so rashly without understanding the consequences.

I believe that knowledge was the most simplest answer. We should educate, educate, educate. When I remember how I learned about extinction, I remember my grade school teacher simply saying, “Don’t do like the dodo.”

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Transportation

As the weather begins to heat up, so does the prices on gasoline and transportation. Families are going on road trips and everyone is booking a vacation of some kind. Teenagers are frequenting the malls at a much higher rate than while in school season. So what are some ideas on how to offset the high energy costs?

Simply put: use your feet. Remember those days in summer where you'd walk or bike to your neighbor's house? Or make it a day trip up to the park? As a kid growing up without an older brother or friend to drive me around, I was left with few options and biked everywhere. My grandmother, who came from a foreign country and was scared stiff at the idea of operating her own vehicle, had spent over 40 years in America without a car. As she was my caretaker most of my childhood, I realized the importance and thriftiness of using public transportation and walking.

I took that mentality through high school, through college, and so forth. I had a car for a brief time while 60 miles away from home, in college, but I soon stopped using it and took the bus. It was not only because my car was not in its best shape, but it was cheaper, too (especially in the summers, talk about a $2 ride versus the gas I burn). What's even better is that these alternative modes of transportation has always been tried and true. Walking and biking are forms of some exercise, so I am still as healthy as I was in my youth. I can still run up a flight of stairs like a 5 year-old without losing my breath, and happily stroll for hours on end.

It is true that where I live (southern California), public transportation isn't exactly the best thing around. Some people may moan and grope about walking on a hot summer's day but my grandma used to simply take out her black umbrella and shield me from the sweltering glare. I was really embarrassed about it at first but after seeing 5 sweaty, miserable kids walk past me I realized how dry, cool, and comfortable I was. Not to mention that my grandmother came from a hot country, so I should trust her practices.

I remember taking the train up to LA and passing by hundreds of cars from the 5, even if we were only going 50 miles per hour. Although taking the train or bus requires some planning, that's exactly the point of saving yourself a few bus and the headaches of traffic. Let's start walking!

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

College Summers

For one crazy reason or another, I decided to attend college in the Inland Empire, away from my home near the ocean. I was born and raised in Orange County, and each summer would be filled with prominent tan lines, s'more making bonfires, and car trunks full of sand. I took the cool sea breeze for granted, and once I moved only a few miles inland where the air stayed still, I finally realized what I had taken for granted.

Don't get me wrong, I loved my college days. Yet, compared to Orange County the summers in Riverside were hotter, drier, and much more miserable without proper cooling. I would remember, after a rainfall, how green and lush the wild plants would be in Box Springs reserve and then once the heat wave kicked in, the whole landscape dried to tan dust. The dust eventually got to me. My eczema broke in full force and I had to make it a religion to moisturize my skin.

I never stayed in one place for long. Every 9 months I would be moving; either back home to Orange County or to another apartment complex with different roommates. For the first three summers I dreaded moving back to my parents after my academic year was done. After I had my first stable job, I spent my sophomore-junior summer at home and it was ultimately the last I had there.

My first summer in Riverside was fantastic. I had the apartment virtually all to myself and an absent roommate. It was funny...even though I lived with her for a few nights she finally just disappeared and kept on paying rent up until the end of summer. I figured that her parents must be very rich. But in mid-June, the AC broke down. I wasn't a heavy AC there was a public pool right across the street with a diving board. But then, I began to feel the pain.

Imagine living in 100 degree weather with no AC. I found out cheaper alternatives to keep myself cool, but I ended up borrowing my mother's box fan to make myself comfortable. I loved that box fan. It had years of tear and abuse put onto it; from kicking it down and grimy knobs.

I realize now that college students can really benefit from portable AC units and fans. I know, firsthand, how college living was like...and it was impossible to stay in one place at any given time. I told myself if there was anyone I knew heading off to college, my first gift to them would be a fan.

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