by Alyssa Leavy | Zoom Out Mycology
How glaciers serve as our main defense against one of the largest releases of greenhouse gases in history.
Glaciers are an essential part of our planet’s landscape and climate. Although they seem remote, their presence is felt in every corner of the globe. Ten percent of land is covered with glacial ice, adding up to over 5.8 million square miles (NSIDC)(2). Glaciers contain so much water that if they were all to melt the sea level would rise 230 feet (NSIDC)(2). To put this in perspective, sea levels are expected to rise about 3 feet by 2070. Taking into account that many delta cities are concurrently losing their foundation sediment and our planet’s growing population, that 3 foot rise in sea level will put about 150 million people at risk of flooding in coastal areas (The World in 2050)(3). Another consideration is that as glaciers melt, we will also lose our fresh water reserve, since glaciers store about 75 percent of the world's fresh water (NSIDC)(2).
Glaciers also influence climate patterns and reflect the sun's rays, protecting against intensifying natural disasters and rising global temperatures. That’s enough for me to change my habits, but if you’re not convinced that we need to conserve these icy habitats, then read on!
Glaciers are integral to human survival in many ways and scientists are discovering another critical protection that dates back millions of years. As the Earth has cycled through warm and cold periods, organic matter has flourished, died and been encased in ice, unable to decompose. This makes glaciers one of the largest carbon sinks on the planet. If global warming trends continue, all of that organic carbon could be released as glaciers melt, spewing carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. It’s a startling thought to say the least, but before we can understand the magnitude of this issue, we need a little history lesson on the holocene.
by Neil Stalter | Zoom Out Mycology
As of September 2015, 17% of Americans (and 18% of all children under the age of 5) live within three miles of a superfund site. 4% (or 12 million people) live within 1 mile of a superfund site. As of this writing, there are currently 1,341 superfund sites in the United States. For a long time, when I heard “superfund” I knew it was a place I didn’t want to spend my spring break, but I did not appreciate just how ubiquitous these places that risk “hazardous substance release” are. There is at least 1 such Superfund site in every state except for North Dakota. New Jersey is the state with the most, at 114 unique sites. But what are these places, how did they come to be, and how dangerous are they really? By giving a history of the Superfund program, examining its current state of affairs, and understanding the strategies the EPA uses to clean up these locations, we can begin to answer some of the questions you probably have about this program.
by Alyssa Leavy & Bashira Muhammad | Zoom Out Mycology
20. Kari Fulton, inspired by a trip to the Ninth Ward following Hurricane Katrina, brought that sense of service back to D.C. with a grant for community projects. Kari’s greatest strength is her commitment to meeting people halfway on environmental issues; whether your interest is fashion, journalism or music, she will look for a way to weave eco-friendly practices into your life. Fulton was recently appointed as the Interim Director of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change (EJCC) Initiative, a coalition of leading organizations and voices for climate justice.
Fun Fact: Kari follows the work of Robert Bullard, known as the father of environmental justice, and quotes his message that “if you breathe the air... you’re an environmentalist.”
Zoom Out Mycology’s Environmental Awareness blog strives to explain and expose environmental topics and concerns to a wide audience. Our team consists of a diverse group of scientists, policy experts, and engineers that help describe the science behind environmental issues that you see in the news and experience in your daily life. We hope that this knowledge will help all of our readers embrace a healthy and sustainable lifestyle! If you are interested in being a guest contributor, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org