Berea College People’s Climate Week

Last week was not only a big week for Berea, but a big week for the world!  On Sunday, September 21st, world leaders in climate crisis were in New York helping lead what turned out to be the largest climate march in history. Nearly 400,000 people from all over the world peacefully flooded the streets of New York City demanding a world filled with clean air and water, good jobs, and healthy communities.  There were also groups from all around the world organizing their own marches, days of solidarity, and other events to raise awareness and take action in their community.   Here in Berea, HEAL, People Who Care (both programs of the Center of Excellence in Learning Through Service at Berea College), and the SENS program (Sustainability and Environmental Studies) hosted a community march in Berea on Sunday, September 21st.  Students and community members marched through Berea to raise awareness and to make a statement.  After the march a festival was held in Baird Lounge.  At the festival we were graced with an informative speech about climate change and the different approaches we, the people, needed to take in order to make a difference.  This eye-opening speech was delivered from Nick Mullins.  Following our guest speaker we had live local music, dance, food, and informational tables for everyone to enjoy.

To set the mood for the march and get Berea College campus informed and excited, HEAL and People Who Care hosted an event related to climate change every day of the week.  On Sunday 14th at night, with the help of volunteers, many signs about climate change were placed in the quad for people to read as they walked by.  On Tuesday, we showed the movie A Day after Tomorrow.  On Wednesday, we had a table in food service talking with students about climate change and the importance of reducing our carbon footprint.  On Thursday, People Who Care hosted a talk about climate change.  On Friday, HEAL had an up-cycling workshop, making baskets out of newspaper.  All of these events were held to influence people to join the March, inform them why the March is important, and most importantly, inform people of the urgency to act against climate change now.

All About Bees!

We all hear about the disappearance of the honey bees. We know that the loss of bees is related to pesticides and loss of habitat, but how do these factors cause such a serious problem? What can we do to solve the issues that bees face? Why should we solve these problems?

There are many different kinds of bees, but they can mostly be grouped in these categories: Honeybees, Bumblebees, and Solitary Bees. These three types differ greatly in many regards, from colony structures to honey production. Here’s some basic information on the three types.

Honeybees: Honeybees live in large colonies with 50,000-60,000 workers and they produce a large amount of honey. The queens can live from 2-4 years and lay thousands of eggs throughout their life. Wild honeybees make their nests in cavities of buildings and trees, but easily adapt to hives in domestic cases.

honeybees-small

Bumblebees:Bumblebees line in smaller colonies with 40-400 workers and produce a small amount of honey that is eaten only by the bees themselves. They also do not store honey over the winter, as only the queen can survive over winter. The queens only live up to a year, generally. Naturally, Bumblebees will nest in tussocks of grass or in abandoned rodent holes, but with the increasing loss of habitat, they’ll now nest just about anywhere they can.

bumblebees

Solitary Bees: Solitary bees fly alone, and do no live in colonies. They do not construct honey combs and do not produce honey. There are no solitary bee queens, and adult females will lay about 4-10 eggs in their lifetimes. Solitary bees will construct nests in holes, cavities, and hollow stems. Some will also nest in man-made hollow canes.

solitarybee

Threats
The threats facing bees today are habitat loss, pesticides, and disease.

Habitat loss: With growing urbanization and the adoption of exotic plants into gardens and landscapes, our pollinator friends are facing an increased loss of habitat. There are many areas that either lack the sort of plants that provide food to these creatures, lack any suitable structures for nests, or both.

To help solve this problem, plant native plants that are good for pollinators. Also creating designated areas for nesting according to which type of bee you’re trying to attract can help them get established.

Pesticides: Neonicotinoid Pesticides have also contributed to the decline in bee populations. The pesticides act as neurotoxins on the bees and cause symptoms such as leg tremors, paralysis, disoriented movement, and death.

To help solve this issue, go organic. Don’t use pesticides that are harmful for insects. If you can’t go completely organic, be sure to keep non-organic crops far away from established colonies, whether wild or domestic.

Disease: The two biggest disease problems with bees are Varroa Mites and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Varroa Mites attach themselves to adult bees and suck out their heamolymph (more or less the bees’ equivalent to blood). This weakens the bee and can transmit a variety of diseases.

Colony Collapse Disorder is the term used to describe the sudden and complete collapse of a bee colony. There are many factors that are thought to contribute to CCD but the exact causes are unknown, as research on the issue is ongoing.

To treat Varroa Mites, there are a variety of chemical and natural methods you can use. Two natural methods include applying powdered sugar with a powder puffer to the hives, and applying lemon juice, as it is a natural source of acid that can deter the mites.

Since the exact causes of CCD are unknown at this time, there are many tips and suggestions for prevention. Usually the recommended course of action is to take a holistic approach to the health of the hive, encouraging hygienic behavior in the colony, not using pesticides, and creating good habitats for your neighborhood pollinators.

This has only been a brief overview of bees and the problems they face today. For more information on bees and what you can do to preserve their numbers, visit http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/.

Build houses with Habitat for Humanity

habitat-logo1

After a long day of work, you arrive home, where you can finally relax at your own expense. You put on some comfortable clothes, take out your shoes, get something to eat and sit down in your sofa to finally find some peace… We may not always think of ourselves as fortunate for having a place like this that we call home, a place that secures our basic and safety needs, and a place where we can rest. However, we are indeed fortunate!

If we start thinking of all the families that do not have a safe place to live and execute their daily activities, we may start thinking that something is working wrong in our society and that we must take action to make the change. Well, one of those great “angels” that provide houses for our local, national, and international communities is Habitat for Humanity. They- with the human power of volunteers- build affordable, simple, and decent houses for families in need. Habitat houses are constructed to cover the needs of the family, where costs are kept at a minimum, and where no-profit loans are available so that these families can afford to pay for the house.

Habitat houses in Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Habitat houses in Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Becoming part of this amazing group of volunteers is possible for you! If you are a Berea College student and are interested in this cause, we have great news for you:

Habitat and HEAL (both are groups within CELTS, The Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service at Berea College) are partnering up this semester (Fall 2014) to build a house in Berea city. Beginning October and following up November, every Saturday will be a volunteer day from 9am to 3pm, where we will be working together to make this house a reality for a family in the area.

Thursday, September 11th, at 6:30pm, we’ll be having the 1st official meeting to talk about this project.

Location: 2nd Floor, Stephenson Hall (Former Bruce Trades), Berea College.

Would you volunteer with us? You can make a difference.

Air Pollution Control

In 1955, the very first Air Pollution Control Act was enacted by Congress. This Act was meant to be a means of conducting research and better understanding how the United States could better technical assistance pertaining to air pollution control. The federal government left individual states in charge of preventing and controlling air pollution. Unfortunately, all the federal government did was provide minimal information about air pollution and its effects and there were no penalties to massive polluters.

Since the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, there have been many improved Acts passed through Congress. Although with each new Act there are stricter policies, loopholes and minimized punishment remain.

Since 1970, the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, has been extremely successful in protecting the health of the people by regulating and setting standards to protect the air that we breathe, but with the numerous loopholes and light punishment, there is still much more to be accomplished. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, nearly 37 million children live in areas of low air quality and there are many pollution-associated illnesses on the rise. With pressure from big businesses pushing the EPA to lay off, it is of utter importance that we the people speak up. If there is to be change made, we need to rise against the big corporations and fight for the passing of the newest national campaign, the “Clean Air Promise”. For more information, check out http://www.nrdc.org

Earth Day 2014

April 22 is the international Earth day

Let’s all celebrate together!

When did it started?: 1970, in the USA, after a gradual and slow awareness of the increasing environmental damages due to modernization.

Founder: Gaylord Nelson, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin at the time. The idea of having a day dedicated to increasing awareness to protecting the earth came to him after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.

Below you can watch a short clip describing the series of events that took place for this day to be official.

Brief History of Earth Day

Earth day became global in 1990 and currently is celebrated in more than 192 countries.

What is the purpose of this day? To increase awareness of the need to protect the environment and its resources, to be active advocators of the rights of our planet, to seek solutions to current environmental problems, and to advocate for the use of green energy.

Our constant pursuit for technological progress and economic improvement are creating a negative impact on the health of the environment. However, there are possible ways to help reduce our carbon footprint, and still improve a country’s economic situation. Watch the following TED Talk about Greentech, a project that seeks the inclusion of big corporations into the green industry.

Salvation (and profit) in Greentech

 

For more information about Earth Day, visit the website http://www.earthday.org/

 

Recyclemania Results!

Hey guys! On March 28th we finished up our Recyclemania competition and the winner was Neighborhood 1! Neighborhood 1, which is made up of Seabury, Kettering, James, and Deep Green, finished the competition with 5.46 lbs of recycling per person! So what’s the prize for winning this fantastic competition? The satisfaction of helping the planet! That’s really the best prize there is. There’s also a free ice cream bar and laser tag session for all of the residents of Neighborhood 1, but that’s less exciting. However, if that sounds like fun, the even is on Friday, April 11th from 8-11pm. The ice cream bar is from 8pm to 9:30pm and serving the ice cream will be some of our great HEAL team members. In case you were wondering, here are the complete results from the competition:

Neighborhood 1 (Seabury, Kettering, James, Deep Green): 5.46lbs/person
Neighborhood 2 (Fairchild, Home Management House, Elizabeth Rogers): 4.97lbs.person
Neighborhood 5 (Blueridge, Kentucky, Talcott, Edwards): 4.05lbs/person
Neighborhood 4 (Pearsons, Dana): 2.60lbs/person
Neighborhood 3 (Danforth, Bingham): 1.41lbs/person
Eco-Village (not ranked in competition): 24.13lbs/person

With these results, Berea finished the competition with a campus wide total of 7.10lbs or recycled material per person, which is above and beyond our goal of 4lbs per person! As a result, we’ll be having a carnival on campus this month to celebrate! The time and place of this event have yet to be determined, but there will be a campus-wide email sent out when the details are set. So to wrap up, congrats everyone on doing such a great job during this competition and make sure you keep up the recycling!

Water Conservation

Why is conserving water so important?
Many believe that water conservation is a silly idea considering that over 70% of our Earth is covered in water.  Although this is true, only 1% of Earth’s water is actually fit for human use.  While our population is growing exponentially, our amount of available water is not.  In America, because many of us have access to running water at almost all times, which makes it is easy to take for granted.  Unfortunately, this is not a shared condition around the globe; just as all other resources, water is not distributed evenly.
What effect can you make?
With usable water growing in demand, the cost of water is increased.  The cost of water is increased not only because the increase in demand but also due to the additional energy manufacturers use to gather and package the additional water.  Decreasing the amount of water you consume can cause a cascade of events.  Most directly, you will save money on your water bill and you will reduce your carbon footprint. Indirectly, you will contribute to the restoration of rivers, which contributes to the restoration of plants and animals making up that ecosystem.  By increasing the size of populations of plants and animals, humans have access to more food.  As many of our rivers, such as the Colorado River, are too depleted to connect to the ocean, the contribution of many people saving just a little bit of water could reconstruct those connections which would lead to more water for people in countries where access to clean water is very low.  These last few effects may seem extravagant, but the point is, a little bit done by a lot of people can go a very long way.
How can you cut your water consumption?
There are many simple ways to decrease your water consumption.  Here are a few.
-Turn water off when brushing teeth/washing face.
-Keep a jug of water in the refrigerator so you don’t have to wait for the water to get cold.
-Only start your dishwasher/clothes washer when you have a full load.
-By keeping your grass a bit taller, the roots will be better shaded which will cause them to hold water
longer.
-Collect rainwater for your garden and lawn.
-Plant native species in your yard, they are better conditioned for particular weather stressors.
-Reuse your towels rather than using a new one every time.
-Cut on your shower time.
-Soak your dishes rather than scraping them under running water. ​