Winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize (blog #6)

Image result for flint water crisis leeanne walters

            The Goldman Environmental Prize is a prize that recognizes people around the globe who have been advocates for the environment. The prize goes towards grassroots leaders who have caused positive changes in their communities and ecosystem. The recipients of the prize are people who have focused on protecting or improving the quality of the environment, promoting sustainability, affecting policy, and/or fighting for justice.

The prize that the winner receives is “International recognition that enhances their credibility, Worldwide visibility for the issues they champion, [and] Financial support to pursue their vision of a renewed and protected environment” (Goldman Prize). The winner also receives a bronze sculpture of an ouroboros, because it is a symbol of nature’s renewal. The Ouroboros is a snake biting its own tail.

One of the winners of the prize this year was LeeAnne Walters, an activist who shed a lot of light on the Flint, Michigan water crisis. She led a citizen’s movement that exposed the danger of the drinking water, teaming up with environmental professionals to test the water. LeeAnne Walters conducted a study of the water n Flint by sampling from many homes across the city, going to multiple zip codes. LeeAnne Walters worked tirelessly to discover the level of threat that was in her city. She worked for over 100 hours per week to get the water samples and test them. Her study showed levels of lead in the water that far exceed the EPA’s acceptable levels. LeeAnne Walters’s study found lead samples as high as 13,200 parts per billion, which is twice the amount classified as hazardous.

LeeAnne Walters is the North American recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, and she deserves the prize. She has done a lot to affect change for the people of Michigan, who were dealt an unfair hand. The water crisis should have been averted the minute there was data presenting harmful chemical levels in the water, but it took 4 years for that to happen.

The Flint water crisis is a big issue in the US that is not being acknowledged or solved. The water in Flint has been of terrible quality for about 4 years, which is completely unacceptable. The city had rerouted its piping to save money, going from Lake Huron to Flint River. The problem with the switchover was that the state was not adding an anti-corrosive to the water. The iron pipes that delivered water to the people of Flint were being corroded and leaching lead into the water. Half of the homes in Flint had lead pipes, and because there was no anti-corrosive in the water, the lead pipes were eroding and causing the water to become so dangerous. On April 6th, the Governor ended the free water program, claiming that the crisis had been stopped, but only time will tell. It took 4 years for the state of Michigan to help the people of Flint, and because of this crisis, many families have been severely affected, and children have been harmed.



Works Cited

Electric vehicle to reduce ecological/ carbon footprint ( blog #7)

From the I= PAT equation, we have learned the technology advancements are necessary to leave our impact positively on earth. Technology can be a powerful tool to reduce ecological footprint. It can also increase the earth’s carrying capacity as many expert believe. I am not a technology person but recently I have been looking into technology to reduce my carbon as well as ecological footprint.  This course has changed my way of thinking. I now think about the sustainability.

Lately I have been thinking to buy a electric car.  These electric vehicles are quick and eco friendly and powered by batteries and it doesn’t emit carbon  into the atmosphere. Electric cars are making a big comeback into the car industry since the electric vehicle disaster when GM made a car called the EV 1 and  General Motor (GM)  eventually had the them back to be crushed and left dead. It is still controversial why the GM took that steps. But then an entrepreneur named Elon musk made a car called the Tesla Roadster and the electric car industry was back many other companies such as BMW, Mercedes joined and electric cars were again in the market. Good and long range electric cars are very expensive but by 2040 they are going to be as expensive as their counterpart internal combustion engine (IC).Now all types of electric vehicles are available in market, like sedan, SUV, and 18-wheeler. Almost all series of Tesla cars have auto-pilot options, which can run at road with minimal supervision. Those cars have very good safety features, because of cameras are installed for different views, based on surround object control unit can make a smart decision and drive the care safely. Electric cars are way different what the IC counterparts. All electric cars use almost the same technology, it has induction motor(s), control unit, cameras, charge port, and battery with different types and power holding capabilities. Every car company place those main components in different ways with different configurations.  The electric car will most likely succeed because of the positive impact and efficiency of an electric vehicle. But electric vehicles will not get away without some downsides for example, the making of the car and disposal of the vehicle will most likely cause at least some pollution and to add on where the electricity is coming from could be from a power plant that emits carbon emissions. With everything there is a field of improvement like safer batteries and the energy production. I have a strong feeling that electric car companies will very soon fix it’s problems and everyone could have one.


The former president Barack Obama has declared that by 2025 the cars will go 55 miles per gallon, which will make America to be self-dependent reducing the use of foreign oil. I think it will also boost our economy too. To know more Obama administration’s fuel efficiency standard, visit

Ecosia- The Next Search Engine. (extra credit)

Ecosia is a nonprofit conservationist search engine powered by Bing that turns 80% of its income into planting trees. It is a “Social Business” which measures its success it has on people and the environment. This means the well-being of people is put before maximizing profits. Ecosia believes in the core values of diversity, justice and equal opportunity to solving the most complex systems issues. When I first heard of this search engine I couldn’t begin to understand how this could even be possible. But it is. Through advertisements! Every time someone clicks on an advertisement that is sponsored this generates revenue. Certain search words come with higher price tags depending on the ads they can generate that they relate to. It functions very similarly to Google and populates the same top links. They also collect money through another extension called “Ecolinks” which allows users to donate with their online purchases. It frequently publishes reports so users can stay updated on how their searches are contributing. In the right hand corner it counts your personal searches and clicks and equates how many trees have been planted because of your actions. It is exciting to watch your number grow (I’ve been a user for two years).The search engine actually launched in 2009 to coincide with the UN Climate talks in Copenhagen. Ecosia’s donations went to a program in Germany the WWF that protected the Juruena National Park in the Amazon Basin. In order to make sure the protection was kept up, the program also drew up and financed plans with timber companies and the local communities. They’ve continued to partner with several conservation efforts such as The Nature Conservancy and The Great Green Wall Project. Its current projects are mostly concentrated south of the equator in: Nicaragua, Peru, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Indonesia, Morocco, and Spain. Each country has a unique approach to helping restore forests. The reason Ecosia chose deforestation as a issue to tackle was all the benefits they recognized in trees. Trees provide a cooler climate, promote biodiversity, protect soil, create clean air, provide lots of useful resources for humans, and their regulation of water cycles and flood prevention. Ecosia to date has planted over 26 million trees with a goal of one billion trees by 2020.


“The Tragic Lives of India’s Mistreated Elephants” (Extra Credit)

An article was recently published by BBC news about the mistreatment of elephants in India. A 42 year old elephant named “Rajeshwari” laid in a patch of sand for over a month due to sores all over her body and her forelimb and femur being broken. The elephant broke its leg while being transported in an open truck and it fell off. When authorities flipped her by using an earthmover, in order to treat her, they broke her femur. She spent a good amount of her life in pain. A local animal advocate petitioned the court to humanely euthanize the elephant, however, the elephant died before any decision was made. Unfortunately, this elephant just wasted to death.

Elephants in India are used in many different circumstances; religious festivals, weddings, parades and processions, shop/hotel openings, and entertaining tourists with rides. According to this article more than 70 captive elephants have died under “unnatural conditions and at a young age” in just three states in 2 years. The President of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre stated that “Most of these deaths are due to torture, abuse, overwork, or faulty management practices”. India’s supreme court has taken action to combat the use of elephants in animal fairs and religious functions, however, not enough is being done. Even though there are powerful animal protection laws and guidelines to protect captive elephants,  there are more than 350 captive elephants in just two states (Kerala and Rajasthan) that are “illegal”.

I think this article is extremely important and should be publicized in many different places as to spread the word. I know personally, I have friends that have studied abroad or traveled to India and have posted the pictures riding the elephants. They are completely unaware of the mistreatment these animals endure. Tourism is a huge contributor to issues like this. It’s unfortunate that this has gone on for so long. I think one of the biggest contributors to potentially ending this fad would be education. Educating not only the people who take care of these elephants but also those that come to see them.



Palm Oil– Nutella (extra credit)

A debate I was recently introduced to while living in the United Kingdom was the backlash against Nutella, specifically the Palm Oil ingredient. One item constantly discussed in sustainable development studies and environmental studies is palm oil production. Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms are originally from Western Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, palm oil is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America, and South America, with 85% of all palm oil globally produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia; but most of the time not using sustainable measures. (saynotopalmoil). “Palm oil production is said to have been responsible for about 8% of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008” (BBC). The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations. These themes we can directly tie to our class studies. It is found in about 40-50% of household products such as baked goods, confectionery, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste (saynotopalmoil). It’s impacts on the environment are severe. Deforestation to produce this product causes biodiversity loss which has led to almost a third of Indonesia animals to become critically endangered because of the practices involved in Nutella production. Animals are clearly impacted through habitat loss as well as increases accessibility of animals to poachers sell wildlife as pets, use them for medicinal purposes or kill them for their body parts. In the last two decades’ data has shown over 50,000 orangutans have died directly from palm oil production. (saynotopalmoil). Environmental justice issues also crop up. The government’s main interest in the country’s economy leads them to allow corporations to take the land owned by indigenous peoples for their own financial benefit. The palm oil industry has been linked to major human rights violations, including child labor in remote areas of Indonesia and Malaysia. Look for the RSPO label to ensure you purchase products made with certified sustainable palm oil. This label gives you the confidence that the palm oil was produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

I can’t help but think is a spoonful of Nutella worth it every time I reach for the jar, will you?




Earth Day Advertisements (Extra Credit)


These two posters were made by Earth Day Network and were available to purchase in honor of Earth Day. All the proceeds from these posters go directly to Earth Day Network making their goals a reality. I found these posters particularly eye catching because I am a huge animal lover. It’s devastating to see those videos of that starving polar bear and know that we have contributed to that problem. These posters both display climate change issues. The goal of these posters is not only to inspire people to invoke change but it also contributes to changes being made since the proceeds are going towards this cause. I find the poster on the right particularly interesting because it not only displays the ice melting as a result of climate change, but it displays a sustainable solution to some of the environmental issues we experience. A windmill is a structure used to harness the power of the wind for many purposes such as grinding grain, pumping water, and generating electricity. It does not produce toxic emissions to generate electricity, unlike fossil fuels. These posters are so simple in design but bring up a much needed conversation on what is to be done to help.