“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.


Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43862182

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.

Link: https://www.earthday.org/2017/02/15/special-posters-purchase-honor-earth-day-2017/

Blackfish (Extra Credit)

I decided to write my review over a documentary that has caused a lot of financial instability for this specific theme park, and tugged at a lot of heart strings; Blackfish. First off, if you haven’t seen Blackfish, I highly recommend you do. It’s an amazing film. As a huge animal rights advocate, this a film that I hold dear to my heart. I make all of my friends and family watch it and I’ve probably watched it myself about 20 times, as each time you learn something that you might’ve missed before.

For those who do not know, Blackfish is about Seaworld, more specifically,  the Orca whales or “killer whales” that they have there. The whole documentary is narrated by previous Seaworld Orca trainers. They all have a different story as to how they ended up as a trainer. However, after staying in the business for a few years, they started figuring out for themselves that Seaworld was not an animal friendly place. I think that if this film had any potential bias it would be from outside influencers such as PETA. But it’s important to keep in mind that these people telling their stories at one point, loved what they did. So I don’t think that there is any bias from them as they have been on the supporting side of the business and now on the opposing side.


Some of these whales were bred in captivity, but some of them were illegally captured and that is the case for Tilikum. Tilikum was the largest male whale Seaworld had. They captured him from Canada when he was just a baby and he was then put into the facility “Sealand of the Pacific.” He was the whale that all of the trainers looked forward to working with, they trusted him the most. But Tilikum was trained in a method that was highly unethical. They paired him with two trained whales and would send all three off to do the same behavior and if one of them (aka Tilikum) got it wrong, then all of them would be deprived of food. At night, these three whales were stored in a steel box on the water that wasn’t large enough for all of them. There was so much hostility between the whales that every morning, Tilikum would have new scratches on his body where the females would rake him with their teeth. The scientists believe that this 24/7 bullying eventually led him to a mental psychosis. In the wild it’s a matriarchal society. Male whales are kept at a perimeter. However in captivity, there is no escape. Tilikum took his first life at Sealand of the Pacific and was then purchased by Seaward with the promise that he would not be used in shows and would not be used for breeding purposes. Long story short, he was used for both and now a good amount of Seaworld’s whales have his aggressive tendencies. In this documentary it is noted that Orcas have a part of their brain that humans do not have. This part of their brain extends out to the right adjacent to their limbic system, the system that processes emotions. It processes emotion on a much deeper level. They have a sense of self and of social bonding that is at a much deeper level than humans. It’s unfortunate that these animals live the lives that they do.

We took these animals out of their natural environment where they swim hundreds of miles everyday, stay with their mother their entire lives, and communicate with one another and stuck them in a pool. Each group or family of whales has their own set of behaviors and communication. Seaworld has composed a random group of whales for each attraction they have, often causing a lot of aggression and ultimately leading to many whales dying in captivity. In the wild, there is no documentation of any killer whale doing harm to a human. Whales are a part of our environment and we are, unfortunately, using them to our advantage. This is just another example of human’s negative impact on our environment and the wildlife.


Can find Blackfish on Netflix. (I really really recommend watching it.)


Marlboro Advertisement

This is an advertisement for Marlboro cigarettes made by the company. It’s target audience is most likely older men who work outdoors regularly as it is labeled “Marlboro Country” and has two cowboys on it. Personally, my Grandpa watches old western movies 24/7, and this ad would definitely appeal to him. This ad appeals to people who live a country lifestyle; working outside doing hard manual labor, working on farms, etc. I think it is extremely ironic that they are displaying a cigarette ad in the countryside as if it’s natural. It gives you the indication that people who consider themselves “country” smoke marlboro cigarettes, which isn’t always the case. It is extremely common for people who smoke cigarettes to discard their buds anywhere, as there is not always a designated spot for them to leave the buds. More than likely, if those men were smoking, they would end up polluting that land by tossing their cigarette buds out. So it’s interesting that they would use land that typically is untouched by mankind as an advertisement for cigarettes. Many people looking at this advertisement could have different opinions on it. They could think it’s cool because it’s got an old-time feel to it, or they could think it’s ironic like I have. The goal of this advertisement is for people to have more positive associations with cigarettes. The placement of the ad in the countryside could give a person the perception that they aren’t super harmful to your health (even though there is a small disclaimer in the left hand corner).

Water Missions Tour

For my global health class this semester, we had the opportunity to tour the Water Missions facility here in Charleston. Water Missions is based on Christian Values and they provide water treatment systems to developing countries that don’t have access to clean water. It was founded in 1998 right after Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras. Upon receiving requests for multiple water treatment systems for Honduras, two environmental engineers, Molly & George Green, took action to build a water treatment system. Upon arrival to Honduras, they were shocked by what they saw. The river that went through the village was contaminated with feces and harmful bacteria. The people had come to call it “The River of Death” due to the fact that everybody who drank from it, died. After the Greene’s had installed the new water system, people were still hesitant to try it which caused Molly to drink from the hose herself to prove to the people that it was safe.

Going to this place was inspiring. My Professor had actually worked for this company by conducting research for many years on the effects of their systems on different developing countries. When you go into the facility where they build these systems, the room is covered in flags of all the countries that Water Missions has helped. To date, they have helped 3,000 communities internationally.

Following every natural disaster, Water Missions partners up with FedEx to ship their water treatment systems to the countries in need. Many people don’t realize how extreme the global water crisis is. Billions of people are forced to drink dirty water everyday. This foundation is working to provide as many people as possible, clean water sources.


Rising Temperatures in Australia

BBC recently posted an article about the rising temperatures in Australia. Their intended audience being the general public, in order to raise awareness and seek a solution. I don’t think there is any bias in this article as it is solely factual and posted by a credited news source. In the last five years, Australia has broken the record for its incredibly high temperatures. Temperatures have been in the high 30’s and 40’s, which is equivalent to upper 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. In outer suburban Sydney, the heat hits 43.3C (117F) before a cool change knocked it down to 43.6C.

More than 40% of the most populous state, New South Wales, recorded at least 50 days hotter than 35 degrees Celsius. It is causing many changes in the environment, effecting people of Australia, wildlife, agriculture, etc. Bushfires, destroying peoples homes and land, have started earlier than usual due to this heat. A section of a highway connecting Sydney and Melbourne started to melt last week. Bats are falling dead from trees struck down by the heat. The coral Reefs are being bleached as well, and they may not be able to recover if things don’t change. Some potential causes of these high temperatures are global warming, overpopulation, and lack of policies. Over-population is a condition in which population of organisms exceed the carrying capacity of its environment. So maybe there is a connection in regards of the most populated city having the highest temperatures. Everything that we experience today is happening in a world that is about one degree warmer than the long term mean. While it is normally what is record-breaking that makes the news, it is the chain of hot days that cause the major problems for not only humans but wildlife as well. A lack of policy may also contribute to the rising temperatures. The government recently repealed carbon pricing laws which required big businesses to pay for its pollution. Since this repeal, Australia’s industrial emissions have been on an upward curve. This environmental issue correlates with our class by bringing up issues of our carbon footprint, the carrying capacity debate, and environmental sustainability. One potential solution is to reinstate the Carbon Pricing Laws.

Nature Inspiration

I am originally from Georgetown, Kentucky. My home town is quite small, and there isn’t much to do there except eat and shop. The restaurants are mostly fast food or extremely unhealthy chain restaurants. Unfortunately, this doesn’t produce a very environmental sustainable habit, however, that is not what I will be focusing on in this blog post. In this blog post, I will be focusing on my relationship with nature and how it has recently, within the last few years, progressed. While living in Kentucky, there really weren’t any natural parks or areas that weren’t over 3 hours away for me to go to and enjoy. Summers there are extremely hot with no wind whatsoever, spring is full of rain, winter is misty and 20 degrees, and fall, the best season in my opinion, is 50 degrees and blue skies. So as you can see, I was also not a fan of the weather there either, unless it was Fall. This prevented me from doing a lot of stuff outside. My relationship with nature was almost nonexistent as the only time I wanted to go outside to do anything was during the fall, and even then, it wasn’t completely away from technology.

My attitude and relationship with nature has changed drastically since moving to Charleston, South Carolina, for college. There are constantly events going on here, festivals, farmers markets, concerts, etc. Constantly having something to do, somewhere to go, was what immediately made me fall in love with Charleston. Unlike my home town, most of these events that I go to, are actually outside. I’m not really sure if it’s the weather here that has brought this change, but I am constantly wanting to do some physical activity outside like jogging, biking, or walking my dog to the battery. My connection with nature has seriously improved/gotten stronger. I spend as much time as possible outside.

While I do spend more time in nature now, I usually am still connected to my phone because I like to listen to music while doing these activities. So I decided to go to the beach, and leave my phone in the car the whole time. I had no access to any technology. It was honestly one of the most peaceful moments I have had in a while. I walked down the beach with my dog and then eventually laid out a towel and sat.  I listened to the waves and just relaxed. It was soothing. I felt refreshed when I left. I now am going to leave my phone in the car every time I go to the beach because I felt more in touch with my surroundings. Having this kind of encounter with nature should be a more regular thing for everybody. It is extremely important for each person to have a strong connection with nature. Not only will it cause a person to develop healthier habits by easing stress due to lack of access to technology, but it also has some effects people don’t necessarily think of immediately. It will cause one to care more about our environment, to take care of it, and to encourage others to do so. This relationship improves all aspects of you life, mental health, physical health (getting more Vitamin D from sun, being more active), etc. It also impoves