Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shad Valley: Synthetic 2 Organic Campaign

This past July I participated in a student enrichment program called Shad Valley. It involved being with 45 other top high school students for one month, staying at a university campus (I spent my month at Memorial University of Newfoundland) We were split into six teams, and one of the main projects during the month was to design a product and company that followed under the provided theme of "Looking to Nature and Natural Fibres." At the end of the month each team competed and one winner was decided. That team, named Siseel Corporation created a product which is artificial eelgrass made of sisal, a natural fibre. They chose to create this product to address the issue of cod fish populations declining due to natural eelgrass being unrooted by strong ocean currents. Eelgrass is a very good habitat for cod fish to live and spawn in, and when it is non-existent the cod populations suffer. That is why the artificial eelgrass could be a viable alternative.

By the end of the month, after the competition between the six teams, all teams were disbanded except for the winning team, which moved on to compete against nine other winning teams from their respective nine Canadian university campuses (Shad Valley happens at ten separate campuses across Canada). Siseel Corporation has been given one month (this August) to further enhance and improve on the existing product and company and add features such as a company website. I was allowed to join the winning team.

I (and several other Shads) decided that we would begin an environmental campaign (named Synthetic 2 Organic) to try to curb and eventually ban the use of synthetic fertilizers. We chose to create a campaign focusing on this issue because synthetic fertilizers contaminate land, water, and when it runs off from land to water it causes uncontrollable growth of algae in water. This causes oxygen concentrations to be depleted, thus killing living organisms in the water that require specific O2 concentrations.

Our team has been working on this campaign for the past month of August. We sent a formal letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, explaining the nature and dangers of synthetic fertilizers. I also produced an awareness video about synthetic fertilizers and organic fertilizers. We also have a campaign website. Check it out at:
Our website introduces the reasons behind why we have started the campaign, and has background information to learn about fertilizers. So check it out! :)

This is the awareness video on synthetic fertilizers:

This is the letter we wrote to the Prime Minister: (its ideas can be used by you to send to your municipal government, members of parliament, or members of provincial parliament)
Campaign Letter

And this is an informational brochure educating the public about synthetic fertilizers:
Synthetic Fertilizer Informational Brochure

Please promote reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers and to use organic fertilizers and other organic products/foods. Switch from Synthetic 2 Organic!!

Andrew Wong
Shad Valley MUN 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Polluted World

A Polluted World
8.5'' x 11.0''
Acrylic Paint
August 19, 2009

I painted this last night (August 19th, 2009). It depicts a toxic, polluted world that I envision if the human race fails to act to successfully combat environmental issues such as climate change, water, air, and land pollution.

This painting really isn't supposed to be a painting that one enjoys when they look at it. It is supposed to look ugly and disgusting. This is the point of the painting, for the observer to feel displeased and angry by the sight of A Polluted World.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The End of Toronto's Garbage Strike

Several weeks ago, the Toronto garbage strike finally ended. After more than a month of garbage piling up outside, a deal was reached between City of Toronto and the union responsible for civic workers collecting waste. Prior to this, there were hundreds of stinky mountains of garbage sitting wherever there was public space available, such as basketball courts in public parks.

While the Garbage Strike of '09 created major havoc and inconvenience for the citizens of Toronto, any casual pedestrian walking down Yonge Street could and should have learned something from seeing the ugly heaps of garbage everywhere.

The lessons learned are:
1. Humans produce a huge amount of waste. Quickly.
2. If civic workers don't collect the garbage, it is clearly visible and accumulates quickly.
3. No one likes garbage. Who wants to eat, sleep, work, and play beside a garbage dump?
4. It is a health hazard. There's a reason why it smells bad.

5. When no one collects your garbage for a month, you learn to REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE!

I'll leave you with this question.

Imagine if landfills didn't exist. Where would all our garbage go?

(Photo Credit: Christian Lapid. Source: link)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Antarctic glacier melting at faster rate: scientists

Source: Link
Date of Article: August 14, 2009

Photo (Left) : In this Nov. 9, 2007 file photo, a scene of melting icebergs is shown in Antarctica. Satellite images of Antarctica have shown one of the continent's largest glaciers has been declining at a rapid rate. (Roberto Candia, file/Associated Press)

One of the largest glaciers in Antarctica is thinning at a rate four-times faster than just a decade ago, researchers said Friday.

Researchers at the University of Leeds, writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, said the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is thinning at a rate of up to 16 metres a year and has lowered as much as 90 metres in the last decade.

At its current rate of thinning, the glacier could disappear in a century. Previous predictions, based on the glacier's rate of decline a decade ago, said the glacier would likely disappear in 600 years.

The Pine Island Glacier is the largest glacier in West Antarctica, and at 175,000 square kilometres is roughly the size of the province of New Brunswick and the island of Newfoundland combined.

Located in one of the more inaccessible regions of Antarctica, it has only recently become the subject of observations from scientists. Prof. Andrew Shepherd, a co-author of the research at the University of Leeds, said the new estimates were based on continuous satellite measurements over the past 15 years.

Shepherd suggested warming waters around the continent are likely responsible for the thinning of the glacier. The resulting ice melt could have implications on estimates of sea level rise around the world, he said.

"Because the Pine Island Glacier contains enough ice to almost double the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] best estimate of 21st century sea level rise, the manner in which the glacier will respond to the accelerated thinning is a matter of great concern " he said in a statement.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lost Generation

I'd like to begin this blog by posting a video that I found on youtube. It is called "Lost Generation."