Monday, November 28, 2011

Final Thoughts

For one of my last blogs, I wanted to just really sum up what I have been trying to convey in my blogs. The main point of these blogs were to show people just what great things could be lost to global warming/climate change. From recreational and outdoor activities, to food, to animals, and to much more, a lot of people don’t really understand that devastation that greenhouse gases can create. I think that it is important for people to understand that the earth is warming up and that we are partially responsible, but that doesn’t necessarily give people a big enough motive to change their ways. By pointing out some of the beautiful things that we cherish on earth may be lost by at our own hand, people may then find motivation to decrease the amount of fossil fuels emitted to the atmosphere. I wanted to put out just what we may be losing in treating our world the way we currently are.  

To find more about what I have been blogging and what we may be losing by continuing to put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Chipotle Makes Effort Towards Sustainability

Last month, I went to Chipotle Mexican Grill with my Sustainability in a Changing World class. Coming from Northern Virginia, Chipotle is nothing new to me, as I live near many Chipotle restaurants and love it. Even before learning about the uniqueness of the restaurant in class, I had heard of Chipotle’s efforts to serve “food with integrity.” While Chipotle serves food fast, it is not a fast-food restaurant, but rather a restaurant that serves high-quality ingredients and sustainable food. Founder Steve Ells got acquainted with local food when working in San Francisco. From the start of Chipotle, his goal has been to serve sustainable and fresh food. Instead of buying pork from some industrialized meat production operation, Ells buys pork from independent ranchers who are committed to humanely raising animals outdoors and without the use of antibiotics. Like with pork, Chipotle is trying to move towards have most of their ingredients being sustainable. Ells wants all meat from animals raided without the use of antibiotics or added hormones. Food that is naturally raised without chemicals and hormones not only means better quality food, but also better for the environment and for local farmers. In Chipotle’s attempt to go local with much of its ingredients, they are supporting local farmers rather than the centralized and industrialized food system. With going locally, Chipotle gets organic food, which Ells believes is not only better for the environment, but is also better food. Like the meat, Chipotle is still working towards obtaining more local food, as right now 40% of Chipotle’s beans are organically grown. Just as important as serving healthy, fresh, and chemical rid food, Chipotle is helping the environment. After all, food with integrity is a movement towards sustainability. “On the surface, sustainable food appears to cost more. But, if you look at the cost of industrialized/ processed food and then add in the cost of environmental degradation, displaced family farms, the exploitation of animals, the ramifications of the overuse of antibiotics, etc., you come to understand that there’s no real value in the industrialized system,” says Ells in an interview. By going local, the distance food is traveling is less. Chipotle is moving away from the centralized food industry that consists of factory farms and industrial ranching, all of which produce lots of waste and contributes to the greenhouse gases that are going into the atmosphere.

Polar Bears Have Nowhere to Go

Climate change may not seem to be affecting humans that much right now, but it is already taking a heavy toll on many animals. Like certain species of frogs, fish, koala bears, and penguins, the polar bear is in great danger. The possibility of polar bears going extinct is probably one of the most publicly known possible consequences of global warming. Scientists believe that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could disappear by 2050, as global warming continues to melt the Arctic’s sea ice. The polar bear is rare to most people other than seeing one or two in the zoo, but it is an iconic animal that most people would miss if it became extinct. "Our results have demonstrated that as the sea ice goes, so goes the polar bear," said Steven Amstrup, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wildlife research biologist in Anchorage, Alaska, and leader of the polar bear studies. Drowned polar bears are being found, and while they are able to swim long distances, it is clear that they are suffering from over exhaustion because there is a loss of ice. Not only does the melting of ice decrease the habitat of the polar bear, but also they are not adapted to hunting land animals. Their main source of food is seals, but with no ice, they won’t be able to reach or hunt seals. "If we don't change the path that we're on now, then it will be too late," said, climate change activist Kassie Siegel who is with the Center for Biological Diversity in Joshua Tree, California. "Polar bears will become extinct." Scientists predict a mostly ice-free Arctic summer by 2040 if present trends continue. Warming temperatures are melting the ice quicker than most climate models have projected. Polar bear survival is really now at the hands of humans. "Emissions reductions now could assure polar bears will still be around to repopulate sea ice when it returns to other areas," said Amstrup. This is just another animal on the list that is being affected by global warming. With continued carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere the Artic will continue to grow warmer as a result of human activity. With the Artic getting warmer and the ice melting the polar bear will be gone very soon.

Koala Bears are in Danger

Everyone knows and loves the koala bear, but how many people have actually seen them in their natural habitat. Other than seeing them in the zoo, they are hard to spot in the wild of Australia. These cute Australian bears are in danger of becoming endangered species. The number of koala bears are decreasing and it seems to be because of global warming. Scientists estimate Australia’s koala population at somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000. "We cannot be totally sure because we don't receive enough public subsidies to thoroughly study the subject. But it is clear that the number is dropping," says Alistair Melzer, a senior researcher at Queensland University. The tree-dwelling animals suffer from heat waves and drought, which are most likely becoming more frequent because of climate change. The bears can’t cope with even higher temperatures, nor can they survive without the eucalyptus leaves. The higher temperatures are killing off eucalyptus trees and taking any moisture out of the eucalyptus leaves. Higher levels of C02 in the atmosphere are decreasing the nutritional value of the eucalyptus leaves as well. "If climate-change predictions play out, koala bears won't migrate to the south, where temperatures are lower. As a result, they will just die," says Melzer. It is time the koala bear is listed as endangered specie because scientists believe that this bear could become extent in the next few decades. The warming climate is killing off the koala’s main source of food. It seems that like the penguin, the koala bear is heavily affected by the current climate change and may not be around much longer.,8599,2077431,00.html