Thursday, June 23, 2016

Alice Li June 21, 2016 Blog

Alice Li
Environmental Leaders Internship
June 21, 2016

The element Mercury is discussed in depth today. Mercury is an element with an atomic number of 80 and atomic weight of 200.592. It is also known as "Quicksilver" due to its silver, white color and liquid form at room temperature. Little is known about mercury in the past which resulted in the wide use of them in everyday lives. For example, during the Felt Industry in America, America's top hat making company in Danbury, CT believed that Mercury helped speed up the process of making hats. The people who were exposed to Mercury became "crazy" and "full of madness." In 1941, the American Health Association finally realized the potential health hazards of mercury and decided to take action. Mercury was also well-known to the ancient Chinese and Hindus and has been found in 3500- year-old Egyptian tombs. It was used in potteries and gold extractions as well. Mercury is popular today too. It can be used to make thermometers, barometers, and other scientific instruments. Mercury conducts electricity and is used to make silent, position dependent switches. Mercury vapor is used in streetlights, fluorescent lamps, and advertising signs. Mercury is widely used but it poses serious harm to not only the environment but animal and human lives. Mercury is poisonous and can enter the body through the respiratory tract, the digestive tract or directly through the skin. It accumulates in the body, through bioaccumulation, eventually causing severe illness or death.

On a positive note, researchers are conducting more experiments on mercury and their potential hazards. For example, there was a recent research on mercury contamination in the New Haven Harbor. Scientists were curious to see whether there was a trend in Mercury contamination and elevation of metals. They also wanted to identify the nature of the contamination and compare historic and current conditions of mercury accumulation. They found that overall, there was a subsurface peak, which means that there was a decrease of input in recent years. However, they collected some data with surface peaks which means that there was an increase of input in recent years. Scientists concluded that reducing the amount of point source, including factories, waste facilities, and industries, definitely helps reduce the amount of mercury in water sources. However, nonpoint riverine sources may also be a reason for the accumulation of mercury and metal over time. Therefore, the reduction of point sources is not the only solution.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

6/21/16 Blog

In today's meeting we solely discussed the element Mercury - the properties of it, the effects it has on humans, its uses in society, and important experiments that his has been researched in. We began today with a discussion of the paper we had to read for the week. This was a scientific article based out of Yale University, and the research was done close by in the New Haven Harbor. In this experiment, the goal was to determine how the concentration of Mercury has changed over time in the harbor. In order to effectively do this, the group took sediment core samples from outlined locations in the harbor, brought them to a lab and used a mass spectrometer to determine the concentration of various metals in the core. What they determined was that the concentration of Mercury has decreased in recent years, with a correlation between Mercury changes and other metals.  Additionally, they realized that there was a huge variance of Hg concentrations throughout the harbor, so many samples are needed to accurately show the variance.

Dante- Mercury

Dante Frazer           

1. The history of mercury is interesting to me because so many people used the element for various different purposes like art,paintings and pottery but they had no idea it was dangerous and toxic.Mercury could also be found in cosmetics,dental fillings,thermometers and at one time in hats.

2. Mercury can affect humans in many different ways; it can cause Minamata's disease,CNS,neurological programs and other non-antidol diseases by Biomagnification and Bioaccumulation.Biomagnification is mercury through the food chain, bioaccumulation is when mercury builds up in your system.


Ashley Ceravone
Environmental Leaders

Dating back to the ancient Mayan civilizations, mercury was used for various reasons.
But in todays society, we often use it for industrial purposes.   The catch: mercury poses serious health risks to not only the environment, but all life on Earth, from the fish in the sea- to your own family.
There was an incident in 1956 in Minamata, Japan which took the insect lives of civilians in the area. The factories in the local area were improperly disposing of mercury into the bay surrounding them, causing a chain reaction in the food chain.  The contaminated water infected the fish, and therefore infected the citizens with the deadly toxin.
The worst part about this mass contamination is that factories all over the world still continue to improperly dispose of mercury, even though they know just how hazardous this element is.
We cannot let history repeat itself; we need to be the generation that creates a change.  Ultimately, illuminating the use of mercury emissions and disposals is the goal, but in order to think big, we must start by acting small.  That is our mission, our goal.

Aisha- Mercury

Some thing that i find interesting about Mercury is the fact on how much it was being used just to find out how dangerous it is to people and creatures. Like how it was used in dental amalgams/ fillings, thermometers, cosmetics, and pesticides. Also how there are three different forms of Mercury like elemental, inorganic, and organic. I also found interesting how its a liquid at room tempter and it's never a solid.
Mercury affects humans in many ways one being that it is really dangerous and poisonous to the and to other animals. It affects our nervous system, liver, brain , etc. Like how they used mercury in felt and the people who were wearing these hats were getting the "mad hatter " affect.
Its found in cinnabar, corderoite, and livingstone. " discovered in 1500 BC"
Ancient societies: chinese, Mesoamerica, romans , greeks
Mercury was used for painting, art and medical reasons before not knowing the harm it causes humans and the affect it has.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


David Landolfi Blog

In today's meeting, the majority of our time was spent with Erin Saupe, a post-doc at Yale focused on Paleontology. She described the important work she has done, that she is doing, and the important concepts connected to them.  Erin focuses on determining migration models for various species, and she does this by determining an animal's tolerance to certain changes. The work that she conducts is becoming increasingly important in the society that we live in today, with the imminent threat of global warming and all actions connected to it. With the information that Erin collects, she will discover the exact effects a change in climate will have on animals. For example, there is one spider in the midwest that she researched, and it is projected to move north to states like Minnesota, due to the rising temperatures - this migration may occur as soon as 20 years from now. Although this may seem benign now, when species are forced to change their environments it may have adverse effects on other animals. Currently, Erin is doing research with shelled animals, such as mollusks. What happens to these animals in the future has a particular relevance to humans, because we rely very heavily on some of them. For example, we consume millions of oysters and clams annually, and with a shift in where they live or their abundance, it may critically affect the state of our economy. To predict how a species is going to react to future climate change, Erin uses a variety of techniques. From fossil records to geographic dispersion, Erin creates important models for these species, that help determine the state of our future ecosystems - as a result, we will be able to create the most effective solutions.

Aisha-Erin Saupe

Aisha Sharhan
Today we got to meet Erin Saupe, who i had the opportunity to interview one time during EVO. As our guest speaker she introduced her self , she is interested in elucidating the controls on species' responses to environmental change. During her slide show she mentioned a spider that is known in the south east and she explained how it would soon be heading towards places like Minnesota in 20 years. I enjoyed hearing about her research on spiders or fossils in amber and how she once went in the field to Spain to collect amber and continue with her research. As a child she would marvel the fennec fox ,as said in her biography handout, i admire them also i think they are amazing animals. Erin Saupe talked about coyotes and how they are all over the place that it would be hard for this species to go extent.
 we also learned about the tully monster and the hugfish.

Today's Guest: Erin Suape

Ashley Ceravone
Environmental Leaders

Erin Saupe walked into our classroom with a smile on her face, ready to introduce and personally educate us on what she loves most: spiders and macroevolutionary change.  Some of my fellow peers knew some general information on such topics, but I, on the other hand, had no previous knowledge of them.  
She introduced her passions with a brief powerpoint briefly discussing her personal life, and also her work studies.  She is currently in the process of studying Amber, and how well it preserves other organism.  Saupe even traveled to Spain to further her studies and work in an out of lab enviornment  to experience the act of digging for Amber.  Her other recent projects include the use of mollusks for the research of macroevolution, or the major evolutionary change in whole taxonomic group.
We ended our discussion touching on the topic of biodiversity and its vital importance to evolution and the world as a whole.
Saupe created a friendly enviornment full of knowledge and passion to open the eyes of my peers and myself on her biospheric studies.  She was open for discussion, and even through in some interesting fun facts on the historical inaccuracies of Jurassic Park and the strange, yet fascinating, organism called the Tully Monster.

06/14/16 Blog

Today's guest speaker is Erin E. Saupe. Her research started from her fascination by Earth's biodiversity, both in the past and the present. She is specifically interested in how species respond to environmental changes with her studies on mollusks like oysters and clams. These mollusks were from three million years ago, where the temperature was really hot. According to the speaker, the temperature from three million years ago can be used to predict the result of the climate change in the future. According to her research of ninety-three different species of mollusks, half of the species are extinct while half of them are still present today. From this information, she went on to research the reason behind this. Her research is based off of three questions:
1. What will happen to the species in the future?
2. What is the frequency of a niche shift?
3. What makes species more likely to extinct?
She found that these species will not progress in the future and that species niche do not really change over time. This means that if environment change happens too fast, then the species will not be able to change in response to the environment. She also found that geographic range is a huge factor in the extinction of species. If the geographic range of species is low, then they will extinct faster compared to species with a high geographic range, like the coyote, who will not be likely to extinct. From these findings, she can come up with ecological models that is best suited for each species. Environmental agencies can use her findings to come up with better plans to preserve biodiversity.

She is also extremely interested in spiders, specifically a brown spider with a venomous bite. These spiders are located in southeastern America. Erin E. Saupe is extremely interested in researching their specific habitat and niche and what makes them stay in that specific area. She is further interested in investigating how climate change would have an effect on the spider's life. She is spending her final months at Yale and eventually starting her career as a professor at University of Oxford, teaching evolutionary biology.

Dante Frazer [Erin Saupe]

Dante Frazer 

Today's guest speaker was Erin E. Saupe, that was my first time meeting here and it was an honour. As our guest speaker for the day she taught us the controls on species to environmental change which she does by researching data and obtaining fossils. One of the examples she used was how coyotes were dispersed all over North and South America therefore it would be much harder for the species to go instinct as a result of climate/environmental change. One thing Erin and I have in common is our curiosity and love for biodiversity because its vital and essential to our economy. I'm very grateful that Erin took the time to explain such a complex topic. 


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 7, 2016 Blog

Environmental Justice is a topic discussed in the meeting today. The definition of environmental justice is broad with many different aspects but it all reduces down to one word: fairness. In the past, I only had a broad sense of what environmental justice was. In my mind, environmental justice is treating people equally and providing people with equal benefits and opportunity. Today, we analyzed environmental justice and its deeper contents. Environmental justice is a fair distribution of environmental benefits and burden for all group. However, it is clearly not the case in today's society. As discussed in today's video, areas inhabited by the poor and the minorities usually receive little environmental benefits which includes parks, green spaces, bike spaces, and many more. The wealthy area of the city will receive all the benefits. Aside from the lack of benefits, the poor area receives
·      more environmental burdens which includes waste facilities, transportation facilities, and energy production. These burden are life-threatening and can cause health problems such as asthma and obesity. An article we read today stated that minorities are also more severely affected by environmental hazards than whites. Therefore, being exposed to a hazardous environment will only make them more vulnerable diseases caused by the emergence of 5,000 new chemicals each year. One reasonable reason why environmental burdens are more concentrated in poor areas is due to the fact that the wealthy part of the city are politically and economically powerful and therefore, they have sufficient amount of voice to control laws that will benefit them. The poor areas do not have the same power. 
      There are many different aspects of environmental justice. In discussing environmental justice, we have to consider fairness, awareness, regulation, compromises, cultural sensitivity, sustainability, and equity. Race should not be a factor in deciding who gets what benefits. Right now, all the burden are concentrated in poor and minority areas including African Americans, Latinos, etc. This should not be the case. The distribution of benefits and burden should be distributed fairly. Every culture should be respected equally. Those in need should be provided for more. This is the definition of equity. In order to make a change, we should spread awareness. Right now, environmental justice is the least of everyone's concern. By spreading awareness, we can make sure people know how big of a role these injustices are playing in our daily lives. Spreading awareness will also bring people together. The bigger the group, the bigger it will have on the legislation process. 

     In the summer, I hope to research the topic even more deeply. Mercury poisoning can lead to many dangerous health hazards. By researching how mercury accumulates near waste facilities and factories in New Haven, we can spread awareness on how poor and minority groups are most affected by it. This is the case because the factories and facilities are all located near the poor area. In order to spread awareness, I think one way is through school education. Like stated in the article, the way you are raised will most likely contribute to how you grow up to be. Therefore, by spreading out information at a young age, these youths will grow up to be well-informed of environmental injustice. Currently, environmental justice or even environmental studies is not part of the curriculum in the school system. By gathering data on environmental justice, these information can become a part of the curriculum. 

6/7/16 ideas

After reading an article titled, "The impact of Race on Environmental Quality" by Raquel Pinderhughes,  the idea that people in poverty receive a greater economic burden than people of higher socioeconomic status was reinforced. This was not a surprise to me, but I was interested in the fact that there are professional studies addressing the subject. I am aware of the project involving mercury samples that the this program has done in the past and is repeating, and realize it is a reinforcement of knowledge that is already agreed on.

Today, the greatest benefit I received today was a clarification of what environmental justice truly is. After watching a khan academy video on the subject, a benefit vs. burden analysis is necessary before fully resolving the issues in a community. In general, there is a trend showing greater environmental benefits (parks, less air pollution, etc.), increases with the socioeconomic status of a community. Likewise, the burdens (greater air pollution, dirty water, greater number of brownfield sites, etc.) that arise from the environment are often skewed in favor of harming those in poverty. Based on the videos we watched and activities we did, I realized how large of an issue environmental justice is, and how it can affect several parts of a person's life. While these environmental issues are usually one of the last problems concerning a person in poverty, it is important to understand how much of an affect it can truly have, and what we can do to resolve something so complex.

After our discussion and activities today, I am interested in learning more about specific people/programs whom are currently doing work involving environmental justice. Although this is not an issue that necessarily that affects me directly, it is something that I am strongly interested in, and want to discover community activities that I can become involved in. This summer, my current internship is projected to be in a lab, working on some critical environmental research. While this is obviously not going to be community-involved, I hope to learn some valuable information that I can bring back to the Environmental Leadership Program - in turn becoming a informed citizen of the environment and an effective community leader.

Dante Frazer

Dante Frazer
Environmental Justice

Environmental justice as a whole is very fascinating to me because the same people who are facing injustice in regards of there environment is also facing injustice in the world. Majority of people who experience environmental injustice are lower income,Hispanic or African American people. These American citizens who for whatever reason don't have a lot of money and because of that they have to live in a unsanitary environment. When American people are poisoned, neglected, and feel as if they are experiencing injustice then the only person it hurts is the government because its hard for people to wake up and go to work every morning if they are sick and if they cant work and sick then they wont be able to pay their medical bills or monthly expenses which leaves the people who are fit to work and pay bills left to pay the other peoples expenses. Environmental Science provides an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems. I’d like to get the opportunity to be able to achieve or learn these qualities this summer. Diversity is a crucial component of the public leadership. Environmental leaders must themselves reflect the diversity of the country and have skills to work across difference. I hope to learn more about how the diversity in environmental science, and how it affects more than just the minority living there. Diversity isn't the only thing about environmental science because it brings everything together like the science and the political aspects. Environmental science focuses on a lot but one of may is the interaction the environment has between organisms. Another thing i’d like to learn this summer revolving this subject is the understanding of their earth processes, evaluating alternative energy systems, and pollution control. There's a lot I cant take from this fellowship and I know I'd learn a lot perhaps more than i just mentioned and that's all i want is to be able to expand my knowledge and educate myself.

Aisha Sharhan

June 7, 2016

Environmental justice based off of a video shared by Cindy and an article "environmental Interns:article discussion"

  • knowledge - awareness
  • education
  • collectivize
  • government: local state federal
  • regulation 
  • trade off 
  • sustainability 
  • cultural sensitivity 
  • fairness 
  • multi-step 
  • compromise 
  • cost/social analysis
  • equity not equality
I want to learn more especially after watching the video Cindy shared about environmental justice

  • rich - poor
  • white - minority
  • benefits - burdens
  • parks - factories
  • green space - transportation
I want to make sure I make a difference to some one throughout this summer.  to make it aware to other people that are being affected that don't know the harm the environment is causing them. Something new I learned was how badly China's rives were i never knew how bad they become but after watching another video it dawned on me how critically their situation was and how it was the cause of the government. In the video a guy discussed about how people well have to worry about 3 types of cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, and stomach cancer. I would also like to learn more about diveristy and how the politial aspects of the wolrd affect the environment or the enivornment to the people. I'm interested in seeing how this internship will interacts with every other topic in the world and how everything is a cause and effect. like  a domino affect and that by changing one thing could stop the movement/ problem from expanding and making problems worse.