Category Archives: Uncategorized

Small Water Contaminants, Big Problem

Courtesy of misterhyun/EveryStockPhoto

Water Faucet. Courtesy of misterhyun/EveryStockPhoto

Due to a long history of pollution regulation and filtration, clean and drinkable water rushes out of the faucets in homes of most Americans every time the handle is turned. In fact, most people do not even think about where the water is coming from because of a long-established trust with local municipalities. But it turns out the water entering and leaving our sinks may not be as safe as previously assumed thanks to tiny micropollutants that are byproducts of materials like pharmaceuticals, cleaning supplies, and beauty products.

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Mesopotamia to Monsanto: An Introduction to Genetically Modified Organisms

Since their introduction into the market in the mid 1990s, Genetically Modified Organisms, crops or animals whose genetic makeup has been genetically engineered, have quickly become a hot-button issue—spurring widespread debate among the public, policymakers, and researchers about their safety and necessity.

Tomasz Darul/Shutterstock

 Seeing farmers struggling with low yields from pests, insects, and droughts, biotech industries used what they had learned during the advent of genetic engineering to mutate genes of crops and select the most agriculturally desirable traits.  Those desirable traits include increasing the crops shelf life, and warding off insects and other pests—all of which have the potential to increase famers’ yields. Despite being considered a huge innovation in the biotech industry, the manipulation of crop’s genes has caused a lot of controversy and public outcry from both supporters and opponents of Genetically Modified Organisms.    Continue reading

Can Our Natural Environments Explain Our Well-Being?

The deep green lines on her left wrist stand in contrast to her olive skin tone. They intersect to form an intricately patterned leaf, similar to those found on a birch tree. She carries this permanent souvenir of the natural environment with her everywhere.

Johnna Bratt’s tattoo photo courtesy of Elana Rofel

Johnna Bratt’s tattoo photo courtesy of Elana Rofel

The tattoo reminds Johnna Bratt, a student at Barnard College, to never forget where she comes from. Her father owns Bratt Tree Company; a small family owned and operated business in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Bratt Tree Company helps residents of the Twin Cities with their tree service needs by offering trimming and removal services. Her dad’s success has afforded her the opportunity to attend college in New York City, an environment much different then the one she experienced growing up on a tree-lined Minnesota street called Birch Avenue. To Bratt, home has never been quite the same since a tornado in 2011 swept through her town, destroying over two thirds of the trees that had been there. The natural environment is a definitive part of her identity. The tattoo provides her with a constant connection to nature when she lives in a city where trees and nature are hard to come by.  Why does nature hold such a sentimental value to individuals like Bratt?

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