Endangered species: tigers

By: McKenna Nutter

The tiger is a very popular and well known animal. The large cat is known for its unique pattern. Despite having grown up knowing a bit about these animals, I was surprised to find out that these animals are endangered. Since learning of the tigers endangerment, it has crossed my mind that there are many species that are facing the brink of extinction while many people are unaware. The overall tiger population of approximately 3,900 has earned tigers a place on the ‘Red List of Threatened Species’. 

3 out of the general 8 species of tigers have now gone entirely extinct. About a century ago, there were estimated to be about 50,000 to 80,000 tigers inhabiting the wild. Female tigers will only give birth to two to four tigers every two years.

The growing human population has caused growing communities. Because of this, tigers have lost so much of their habitat to society.

Tigers are a natural predator, but they also fall prey to hunters. Tigers, for a very long time, were large targets for trophy hunting because they were big, dangerous and beautiful. Tigers were also largely hunted because in some cultures, they believed that tiger bones had healing properties, and could cure disease. Some tiger bones were even used in traditional medicines.

Livestock farmers also have a very big place in their endangerment. As we pushed back on their habitats they have lost a lot of their natural prey. We have built farms, and on those farms are animals such as sheep, cows, chickens, etc. Many farmers have shot tigers in order to protect their livestock, and while this is required to take care of their business, it has had a major impact on the species.

While we may never get the tiger population back to what it was before, there are still ways we can help them hold on. WCS, or the World Conservation Society, is an organization that conducts research on tigers, then uses that research to inform and teach communities local to tiger habitats about tigers. They also reach out to wildlife rangers and wildlife conservations to teach them about tigers as well. Donations to any non harmful research societies and wildlife conservation organizations can do wonders for not only tigers, but other endangered species. 

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How “green” are electric vehicles really?

By: Alexandra Rimbu

Around the world, governments and automakers have pushed electric vehicles as a key solution to curbing oil use and fighting climate change, but are these vehicles really as “green” as advertised?

The answer is yes, but also no. While electric vehicles are, in fact, very “green”, they do still have environmental effects.

An argument that is often put forward when discussing how environmentally-friendly electric vehicles are is how polluting and damaging the process behind the manufacturing of their batteries can be to the Earth. The batteries behind electric vehicles are actually composed of a range of rare-earth metals, and the extraction of these metals contributes significantly to carbon emissions. In this sense, electric vehicles are not exactly “green”.

Additionally, the production of electric vehicles consumes a lot of energy. In fact, the emissions from the production of an electric vehicle is higher than those during the production of a conventional vehicle. This is due to the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries needed for electric vehicles. More than a third of the lifetime CO2 emissions from an electric vehicle come from the energy used to make the car itself. This is not very “green” either.

However, electric vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions, producing no carbon dioxide emissions when driving. When evaluated on that factor alone, electric vehicles are a lot more eco-friendly than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles on the market today. Over a year,  an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2 can be saved just by one electric vehicle on the roads.

Electric vehicles are also much more energy-efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Approximately 17 to 21 percent of the energy is converted into power for the car when the gasoline in conventional vehicles combusts. 59 to 62 percent of the energy is converted into electric energy to power electric vehicles. 

So, the answer to our question is quite ambiguous, but perhaps, as technology advances and electric vehicles become even more environmentally friendly, we will have a definitive answer.

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Agriculture and the ocean

By: Grace Helmke

The ocean does not take credit where credit is due. It sustains all life on earth. Without it, humanity would cease to exist. Oxygen would slowly dissipate, temperatures would drop to astronomically low levels, jobs would be lost, and coastal economies would be suffering.

Even so, there is complete disregard for the ocean and its inhabitants. Agriculture, amongst many other things, is one of the greatest plagues our oceans have ever seen; contributing to the complete eradication of life in many areas of our ocean. 

What are dead zones? 

Human activity has created areas in the ocean known as “dead zones,” which are regions where less oxygen is dissolved due to lack of marine habitation. Dead zones occur in areas that are unusually high in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. This dramatic increase causes large scale red tides, which are harmful algal blooms that are toxic to all forms of life. It can become deadly to fish and birds, and can cause severe illness in humans. The red tides will die off after using up all the oxygen in the area, sinking to the bottom to decompose, leaving a barren environment in its wake. 

Causes of dead zones 

While dead zones can be created naturally, man has significantly impacted their frequency and extremity. Overfishing, global warming, and urbanization can all cause dead zones, but one of the most significant causes of dead zones is the industry of agriculture.

Animal manure and commercial fertilizer runoff makes its way into waterways, and empties out into the ocean. Both manure and fertilizer contain phosphorus and nitrogen, the two chemical nutrients which, when built up, can cause algal blooms. The environmental protection agency suggests that around 335 million tons of animal waste is produced by livestock every year.

If a farm doesnt have the correct system to deal with waste, it ends up in the waterways. In 2011, The Economic Research Service, of the USDA, stated that 22 million tons of fertilizers were used in crops in the United States. According to Edf.org, about 50 percent of fertilizer is actually taken up by the crops themselves. The rest ends up in waterways. 

Dead zones around the world 

The biggest dead zone in the world is in the Arabian Sea, right between the nations of Oman and Iran. It covers almost 63,7000 square miles of the Gulf of Oman (equivalent to the size of Florida). The cause is a combination of overfishing and a buildup of phosphorus and nitrogen from the agricultural industry. 

The famed waterway, the Mississippi, is a significant carrier of nitrogen and phosphorus. Midwest farming operations have produced so much chemical population that they have created the second largest dead zone in the world. The Mississippi carries the chemicals through the nation, and empties them out into the Gulf of Mexico. Its area varies in size, but can cover up to 7,000 square miles. 

Effects 

The effects of dead zones can be incredibly detrimental to a region’s economy. Many coastal cities rely on their seafood industry, and biodiversity, to bring in tourists. In addition, many locals work in commercial fishing. If the fish disappear from the ocean, they have no job. 

What can be done to prevent dead zones? 

  1. Buying organic: Organic farms are prohibited from using fertilizer or pesticides on crops. Supporting organic methods of farming is a great way of contributing to a cleaner ocean. 
  2. Buffers: Planting trees, shrubs, and grasses would help reduce the amount of nutrients making their way into the ocean. The plants absorb nutrients, keeping it away from bodies of water.
  3. Animal waste systems: Implementing animal waste systems in farms would help to reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen being released into oceans. 

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The viral Tiktok trend “Reality Shifting”- Fact or fiction?

By Caroline Crosby

If you’ve been anywhere near TikTok, or other similar social media platforms, you may have been exposed to the strange concept of “reality shifting”. It was first popularized by avid fans of the Harry Potter franchize in early fall of this year, and spread like wildfire across the internet in the months following. 

Essentially, reality shifting (or just “shifting”) is loosely described as a shift in consciousness from one reality to the next. Now, this may sound like an improbable conspiracy theory promoted by a mob of fictional wizard obsessed teenagers, but there’s more to this trend than meets the eye. 

As a disclaimer, the science behind shifting is mostly theoretical and difficult to grasp; to attempt to understand the complex quantum mechanics of human consciousness is a daunting task indeed. 

First, we address the multiverse theory. 

For those who aren’t in the know, this theory proposes that the realm of space and time that we exist in right now, or our universe, isn’t a singular body of matter. It states that there simply isn’t one universe, but rather an infinite number of dimensions of existence.

Infinite realities means infinite possibilities – and this is where the process of shifting comes into play. The idea is that through a plethora of different mediums, that allows the user to manipulate their state of mind, you can transfer your consciousness from this reality to the next. 

In truth, the concept of reality shifting existed long before Harry Potter fans discovered it. A document from the CIA – “Analysis and Assessment of the Gateway Process” was written in 1983, but only recently approved for release in the summer of 2003. The report explains the science behind “Gateway training”, a process employed by the U.S. military that was used to improve the cognitive function and other aspects of it’s subjects. It’s author, Wayne M. McDonnell, explains that “Fundamentally, the Gateway Experience is a training system designed to bring enhanced strength, focus and coherence to the amplitude and frequency of brainwave output between the left and right hemispheres so as to alter consciousness, moving it outside the physical sphere so as to ultimately escape even the restrictions of time and space”.

This is a difficult concept to understand without appropriate background knowledge, and before we delve further, it’s important to establish that everything is made of energy and energy fields.

In the report, McDonnell states that “Science now knows that both the electrons which spin in the energy field located around the nucleus of the atom and the nucleus itself are made up of nothing more than oscillating energy grids. Solid matter, in the strict construction of the term, simply does not exist. Rather, atomic structure is composed of oscillating energy grids surrounded by other oscillating energy grids which orbit at extraordinarily high speeds… …The point to be made is that the entire human being, brain, consciousness and all is, like the universe which surrounds [it], nothing more or less than an extraordinarily complex system of energy fields.”

After acknowledging the complex concepts behind human consciousness, and it’s physics, reality shifting may seem like less (even if only slightly) of an enigmatic experience. 

The aforementioned Harry Potter fans, as well as other members of the “shifting community”,  have taken these conceptual ideas and turned them into structured processes, including “the Alice in Wonderland method”, “the Raven method”, the “I Am method”, and many more. 

The I Am method, like most others, has a very specific procedure. An anonymous acquaintance of mine, with adverse shifting experience, describes the step by step process of this method:

“Close your eyes and breathe in and out continuously until your mind is clear and there are no longer distractions. If you prefer, meditate before starting this method. Repeat the phrase ‘I am pure conscious not attached to any reality.’ After a while you might feel your body vibrate and get tingly, (if not that’s totally okay!). You might feel like your brain zoomed off, like it turned off or like it’s expanding. You might feel like you’re floating, like you’re in a void. When that happens repeat affirmations over and over until you feel lighter and lighter. Repeat the affirmations ‘I am in my ideal reality permanently’ over and over until you feel lighter and lighter. You could possibly see images from your desired reality, and when you hear, smell, or feel like you’re there just open your eyes!”

This method relies heavily on the use of affirmations and biofeedback. McDonnell explains this occurrence:

“Biofeedback teaches the left hemisphere first to visualize the desired result and then to recognize the feelings associated with the experience of successful right hemisphere access to the specific lower cerebral, cortex, pain or pleasure or other areas in the manner needed to produce the desired result.” 

This can be heavily utilized for other consciousness altering techniques as well, such as manifestation. It promotes the self-cognitive powers of the left hemisphere in gaining access to areas of the “right brain”, such as the lower cerebral, motor and sensory cortices and assorted pain or pleasure centers. Basically, by convincing their brain that it’s somewhere else, shifters can transfer their consciousness to an altered state or plane of existence. It’s a liminal experience that depends on the will of the individual, and according to “ShiftTok”, you’re in full control. 

It’s all highly relative, and when addressing the conceptuality of the universe itself, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong answers. Scientifically, we may eventually find a concrete answer to what theorists now deem hypothetical, but what better way to find out than experiencing it yourself?

For more information, I recommend reading Wayne M. McDonnell’s analysis mentioned above: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00788R001700210016-5.pdf 

Traveling at the speed of light 

By: Grace Helmke

It’s something out of a sci-fi novel. The thought of being able to travel at 670,616,629 miles per hour seems impossible. But is it really? Traversing the cosmos at the speed of light may not be as fictional as we once thought. 

Understanding Einstein’s general theory of relativity

Einstein’s theory of general relativity is essential to this idea of traveling at the speed of light. He stated that gravity was a geometric distortion of spacetime which could not be predicted by Newton’s laws. Einstein defined spacetime as the dimension which time and space shared. It was the formation of a four dimensional continuum which was made up of space and time. It would look something like a piece of fabric. Each planet, star, or mass would make dips in it. Or, they would bend spacetime. 

Relativity in space travel

Scientists have since been looking into light speed travel using various methods. In several projects, spanning all the way from 1950-1980, researchers discussed using nuclear fusion to propel a spacecraft, however they decided it might be best not to launch a nuclear warhead into space. 

However, researchers have begun to follow in the footsteps of science fiction in an attempt to achieve light speed travel. Warp drive was a concept introduced on Star Trek, a television show from the 1960s about a space crew completing missions in the 23rd century. Warp drive essentially distorted the fabric of spacetime, allowing the crew to travel superluminally, or faster than the speed of light.

Einstein’s theories suggest that this is not a totally unheard of thought. In fact, it’s entirely possible. In 1994, a scientist named Miguel Alcubierre discovered what today is known as the Alcubierre Drive. Essentially, his theory was that it’s possible to bend space time in a way that contracts in front of you, and expands behind you, moving you in a forward motion. 

This field of study is still largely unexplored. However, there have been some discoveries in recent years that have significantly contributed to its advancement. Scientists working at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) discovered naturally occurring gravitational waves. It confirmed Einstein’s predictions of relativity and proved that the basis for the warp drive exists in nature. 

There are some problems that come along with this form of travel. It requires negative energy. This is an issue because we have no physical evidence that negative energy is real. At this point in time, it only exists in the laws of physics, and in quantum theory, which states that it’s possible to borrow energy from a vacuum at another location. It’s like borrowing money from a bank.

Another issue is the sheer amount of energy needed. Scientists believe that the total energy required to travel via warp drive would be equivalent to the mass of Jupiter. That is simply not in our capacity at this point in time. The production of that amount of energy will only come from the furthering of science and technology; well into the future. It’s not impossible, it’s just not in line with our current abilities. 

Conclusion 

So, is it possible that humanity may one day travel at the speed of light? Most likely, yes. It is probable that we may one day travel at astonishing speeds. Although we do not currently have the capacity to create the amount of energy needed, scientists are working to change that. We will one day achieve a seemingly fictional feat. One that may change our society forever. 

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The future of commercial space travel 

By: Grace Helmke

In May of 2020, SpaceX launched two Americans aboard Falcon 9, the first manned rocket to journey to the International Space Station (ISS) in over nine years. The flight took place aboard a commercial vehicle, representing the beginning of a movement towards accessible space travel. 

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), is working with several private companies to expand their production and create space crafts capable of carrying the average human into orbit.

SpaceX was the first to produce reusable rockets. They did this by establishing a model, which has now been running regular missions to the ISS since 2012.

The several companies manufacturing these shuttles maintain ownership of the vehicles they produce. NASA then provides their launch facilities, and sends the astronauts into space. By creating business with these companies and starting their Commercial Crew Program, NASA predicts that the economics of spaceflight will change, increasing competition between nations and driving down the cost of intergalactic travel. 

Other nations around the world are also becoming increasingly invested in the idea of a commercialized space flight future. Russia currently has in orbit a reusable vessel which has made several trips from earth to space on resupply missions to the ISS. China is in the earlier stages of the production of a space station capable of housing multitudes of astronauts for an extended period of time. Several test vehicles have been launched, but all have incinerated after multiple years in space. 

The fact that private companies in the United States, and around the world, are beginning their work in becoming commercial space companies means that spaceflight is no longer exclusive to government-funded projects. It is now becoming increasingly accessible. 

It is also foreseeable that as a result of these reduced prices and increased accessibility, that a hospitality industry might emerge in space and on other planets. Meaning, hotels and inflatable habitats will likely be created.

Bigelow Aerospace, a company in Nevada that specializes in space technology, has actually begun to produce these alternative housing solutions. The idea of this module, named B330, is that it is completely collapsible. It will arrive at the destination shriveled and compacked, and will inflate to accommodate visitors upon arrival. This balloon like home, surprisingly enough, would last a person’s lifetime.

With the continued advancement in technology, and newfound partnership between the government and private companies, a society where space travel is routine may not be so far away. 

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The effects of marijuana on teens

By Nora Doyle

Image taken from: ‘Scientific American’

Consuming marijuana has become more and more normalized in the teenager age group. It’s become more and more common in college, high school, and even middle school students.

Teens use it for multiple different reasons. It can be used in a party situation, or for fun, as a coping mechanism for different mental illnesses, or even just when they’re bored. These are all reasons that teens smoke weed according to Mentalhelp.net. Another major reason is peer pressure, and wanting to be accepted by other kids.

Teens tend to believe that smoking weed isn’t bad for you or has any negative effects on their bodies or brains. But in reality, according to the CDC, marijuana can have permanent effects on the developing brain.

The CDC says that frequent, or long-term, use of marijuana is often linked to students dropping out of school due to how it negatively affects learning abilities and paying attention. It causes difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and also affects the memory.

As for the effects on mental health, the CDC says that it increases the risk of mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Although marijuana is sometimes known for helping these issues, it makes it harder for the body to produce the chemicals and hormones that make you happy naturally. This is why teens become reliant on weed for their mental health, but it also has the opposite effect.

When it comes to long term physical effects, according to Teendrugabuseuse.gov, it truly affects the lungs and breathing ability. Smoke from marijuana can irritate the lungs and cause a chronic cough. Although, the possible worst symptom is that it can affect women’s ability to have a healthy baby. Excessive smoking of weed can decrease the male’s sperm found and delay ovulation in women so it makes it harder to get pregnant.

Despite what you may hear about marijuana, it is not good for a teen’s developing brain and body. Stay away from weed as much as possible and learn ways to avoid peer pressure.

You don’t need to smoke weed to fit in.

Villains of the sea

By: Grace Helmke

Killers of the deep.

The sinister shadow that lurks beneath, ready to attack.

The shark has been plunged into the public eye inspiring widespread fear amongst individuals all over the world. Their razor sharp teeth, ready to rip practically anything to shreds, and their silent, menacing movements make for the perfect Hollywood villain. Are these sea-dwelling creatures the fearsome menace that the media portrays? 

Hollywood has made a significant impact on the general public view of sharks, depicting them as beings of malicious intent. The 1975 film ‘Jaws’ is most likely the source of the widespread fear, and Hollywood’s overuse of the demonized shark character.

Because of its incredible successes all over the nation, creating multiple millions at the box office, and bursting its way into pop culture as a well known classic film series, copycat movies were bound to emerge. It created an endless cycle of Hollywood movies based on the perpetuating stereotype of the vengeful killer shark, leaving America in a fascinated fear. 

This was an incredible shift of thought from what the notion was before the movie was released. It was once believed that sharks were harmless creatures. They stayed out of the way of humans, and humans did the same.

When swimming became a regular recreational activity, sharks were acknowledged very little. Even in the scientific world, they were seen as simply another oceanic inhabitant instead of a test subject with interesting, unusual or even dangerous enough behavior to study. They were simply just there.  But ‘Jaws’ flipped the nation overnight. It created a fearsome character that the public latched onto, and never let go of. 

Today, because they have captured public attention, sharks are studied extensively. Their behavioral patterns are documented and analyzed religiously by scientists all over the world.

What has come from this research is an enormous amount of myth debunking. The most impactful myth created in Hollywood was that sharks are man eaters. Of course, because that meant that sharks threatened human lives, they became the villain.

But the reality is that sharks do NOT like the taste of human flesh, nor do they actively hunt humans for prey.

In the extremely rare occurrence of a shark attack, it is just a case of mistaken identity in an area of low visibility. They would likely just be giving a bite out of curiosity more than have the desire to make a meal out of a human. That is why there are more documented shark bittings than shark fatalities.

There just isn’t enough blood-vessel-containing-fat on humans for us to be a hearty snack. Even an individual with a high concentration of fat on their body does not have enough fat, that contains blood vessels, for sharks to want them. Our blood and fat isn’t something they enjoy. 

That leads into the next completely false myth that sharks are just mindless killers. While sharks are predatory creatures, they don’t kill anything they see, nor do they constantly think about food. They are incredibly intelligent and evolved creatures, who can navigate themselves across the ocean using only their sense of smell.

Much like humans, sharks are curious and sociable creatures. An experiment was implemented in which two objects were placed in the water: one resembling the shape of a seal, the other a square. The great whites approached the square out of curiosity over the seal shaped object. Instead of biting and attacking the object, they would bump into it, attempting to “feel” what it was. This inquisitive characteristic was exhibited in several experiments, the sharks in question having no intent to harm the object, only discovering what it could be. 

The news has also impacted our perception of sharks. It seems that anytime there’s a shark attack or shark encounter, it’s plastered all over the news. It makes it seems as though shark attacks are common events happening all the time.

But the truth is, that there is an incredibly low chance of an individual even seeing a shark in the wild, much less attacked.

Let’s put this into perspective. You have about a 1 in 3,784,067 chance of being attacked by a shark. And that counts non-malicious shark encounters as well. When you think about the millions of people that enter the water a day, that number is extremely low. You have a greater chance of being struck by lightning, or winning an Olympic gold medal. 

That being said, do sharks deserve to be so villainized?

The answer is no. They have been wrongfully dubbed a malicious creature due to aggressive news coverage, and Hollywood’s fabrication of the shark villain. Not only do they have an aversion to the taste of humans, they are incredibly intelligent beings capable of high functioning brain activity. They have simply fallen victim to a Hollywood charade. 

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Tiger endangerment

By: Jalalaisa Geleto

The Tiger is a troubled species of cat. They have been pushed to the brink of extinction many times, and some tiger subspecies are no longer with us.

Their territories were once all of east China, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Eastern Siberia, Central Asia, and the Malaysian Islands. Now, they are restricted to small pockets in each of those lands. They don’t even exist in most of China, Korea, and Central Asia anymore. To see a tiger that doesn’t live in India, or a Southeastern Asian country, is a miracle.

The reason tigers populations aren’t increasing much, even though organizations are actively trying to save them, is because each tiger needs a lot of land for themselves. They are not pack animals. There isn’t a place that’s “densely” populated with tigers, because they live on their own and far from each other.

The average tiger male requires 23 to 39 square miles to himself. The average female only needs 7. The amount of space tigers are allowed to live in has only decreased, leading to more tigers dying.

Since 1900, 93% of tiger lands have been taken from them, severely lowering their population. Since the 1990s, their population has decreased another 43%.

Tigers are a doomed species, and there is nothing you can do about it without giving them more land to live on. Which is not going to happen.

The Indians are mostly poor and are looking for land to make farms and build infrastructure. Many of them don’t care about the cultural aspects of tigers and focus on material things. At the rate India is modernizing and growing, the tigers might not have much space left.

In China, the tigers are doomed and are on their last legs. There are barely any tiger sightings in the country anymore. In Siberia, Russia, they find the Siberian tiger once or twice every year.

The only way to save tigers is to open more lands for wildlife. Until then, they will stay rare or even become extinct (especially in China).

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Important resources that are depleting

By Olivia Kendle

Some of our most vital, natural resources are starting to run low due to human capacity and destruction in the environment; destruction such as deforestation, pollution, etc. Here are some of those resources, and why they are so important to us and the creatures and environment around us.

One very big one is water. Only 2.7% of all water is freshwater, meaning that there won’t be enough water in the coming years. It is estimated that in 2025, some countries will go into severe dehydration with barely any supply of fresh and clean water.

Not only is drinking water being affected by water in oceans and lakes, where other animals and creatures live are slowly depleting and poisoned too; the Mediterranean Sea being one of the most polluted oceans in the world. According to ‘A Dive Into Junk’ blogs; “​The United Nations Environment Programme has estimated that 650,000,000 tons of sewage, 129,000 tons of mineral oil, 60,000 tons of mercury, 3,800 tons of lead and 36,000 tons of phosphates are dumped into the Mediterranean each year.”

The next important resource is oil. In 2010, the S​tatistical Review of World Energy, in June​, concluded that there was 171.3 tons of oil worldwide, and that if industries and the economy kept using oil at the current rate it is now, there would be little to no oil on Earth in about 47 years from 2010. Oil is very important to the production and natural gas industry and has helped put around 10 million people in jobs. Oil has also been used to power transportation vehicles.

There are many other very important resources, but those are just a couple of the main ones.