Thursday, May 31, 2012

Environmental Issues Today: Pollution

                  I believe that pollution is one of the most important environmental issues we face today. Pollution from industrial, municipal, and hazardous wastes are contributing to the detriment of our environment. One of the main causes of this pollution is the way in which we choose to live, by over-consuming and over using our earth's resources faster than it can replenish itself. Some of these resources, like fossil fuels needed for coal, oil, and gasoline create pollution and are non-renewable and yet, we depend of fossil fuels as a main source of energy to power our cars and production of materials. One of these materials produced by the using oil is plastics. I did not know how much plastics caused damage to the environment and the species that live in it. Since they are not bio-degradable, these forms of plastics stay in our environment forever. Either on landfills or floating in the oceans where tiny pieces are just circulating and zoo-plankton,  fish, and other marine life consume these plastics. Our pollution is caused by waste is either dumped into the ocean, burned releasing harmful chemicals in the ozone, and dumped onto landfills releasing harmful chemicals into our soils and water supplies.
                 What we can do as a society to conserve our natural resources, by living by the "4 R's", Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We need to only buy things that we really need to reduce over-consumption, so we can manage not having the "lasted and greatest" material things.  We can reduce our wastes by not falling into the packaging craze, by refusing to use plastic bags and bring your own reusable one.
                  With the knowledge and information I have gained in my environmental science class is to live by the "4 R's". Even the small changes I make can impact those around me to do the same. A few changes I can make is to drive my car only when needed, and carpool if possible. I can also refuse to fall into over-consuming things I don't need. When we watched the Story of Stuff in class, it explained how acquiring all this extra stuff isn't going to make us any happier, so not buying things I don't need here and there will add up. I can reuse materials like re-usable water bottles, and avoid extra packing on groceries.

Interesting Things I Learned This Semester:

                 Some interesting things I learned this semester came from several documentaries we got ot watch in class, in fact I even re-watched them at home on Netflix. The documentary, Dive, shows how even though we live in a country that can produce enough food to feed everyone, 40% of it gets thrown way and ends up on landfills.
                 Last week in class we watched a expose on "E-waste" which was a real eye opener. I did not know that the U.S. ship this electron wastes which is hazardous to China where the poorest towns live in a cesspool of "E-waste". For a few cents they sauter hard-drives and other electrons to get materials like mercury.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


For my next blog assignment I had to distinguish the pros and cons of tap water vs. bottle water. First, I had to find out the source of my home's tap water. I live in Mira Loma and the source of water comes from the Santa Ana River Water Company which is also part of the Western Municipal Water District. Drinking water in Western’s service area comes from Northern California from the State Water Project, the Colorado River and local groundwater from the Bunker Hill Basin. The Western Municipal Water District's website provides the annual Water Quality Report. In their annual report, they state "Western’s water is safe and healthy to drink and meets all quality standards". This year, Western was given $528,000 in federal funding from the EPA for new biodenitrification system design for the Arlington Desalter. The Arlington Desalter extracts and treats groundwater heavy in salts from the Arlington Basin. Biodenitrification reduces harmful chemicals from groundwater, which including nitrate and perchlorate. Nitrate is the most common groundwater contaminant in the nation. Perchlorate impacts the drinking water supplies of 41 million consumers in 22 states.

The EPA also has a PDF on their site, "Water on the Tap, What You Need to Know" which gives through information regarding tap water. It answers more general questions regarding our nation's tap water.  The U.S. EPA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) require that all water agencies produce an annual water quality report for customers about their drinking water.

In bottled water's case, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water. Their standards and regulations for testing are lower compared to the EPA. They also do no require annual water quality reports.

In conclusion drinking water, both bottled water and tap, may contain at least small amounts of some contaminants.  The difference between bottled water and tap is that bottled water is regulated by the EPA and bottled water is regulated by the FDA. The EPA requires water companies to do annual drinking water reports. The EPA and the CDPH also do an extensive amount of testing.

In the US we have been told to believe that bottled water is safer, tastier and more convenient compared to the tap. But really how much safer is it if the FDA is not setting the same testing standards as the EPA. In taste, people favor tap water compared to bottled water and according to the "Story of Bottled Water" Pepsi's Aquafina and Coke's Desani are really just filtered tap water. Convenience in this case are not economically or environmentally sound. The cost of production of plastic water and the waste produced by this product are causing more harm to the environment than good. Recently, people are also realizing that the chemicals released from the plastic, Bisphenol A (BPA),  is also harmful to one's health.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The BEST Tasting Protien Bar

For my next blog assignment I had to pick a food that I enjoy. I choose a PROMAX®protein bar, they are my favorite protein bars, and my favorite flavor are the cookies 'n cream. I do not consume these are on a regular basis, but maybe once a week on occasion between classes and work I enjoy these protein bars. They are a multi-ingredient product that are sold at your local grocery or health food store. Here are the ingredients I have found on their website:


Although this protein bar contains soy products and good source of protein (20g/bar) the site claims to have no artificial sweeteners, preservatives or flavors. I think that corn syrup, fructose, nonfat milk and yogurt cultures, and "natural flavor" are still considered sources of sweeteners, preservatives and flavors, but the majority of the ingredients are recognizable such as the flour, salt, sugar, unsweetened chocolate, etc. I am not sure exactly where the manufacturers received their sources from, but this product was produced by a major corporation, which is located in Newport but I cannot find the specific where they are manufactured. The cost of production, marketing, and manufacturing this product has negative effects on the environment. It costs energy to make this product, as well as its packaging. This product is somewhat healthy as a meal replacement or supplement if used sporadically. I would not recommend eating this everyday as a substitute for a meal on a regular basis because it would not meet all nutritional needs. As far a taste go I think these are the best protein bars.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How sustainable is our campus?

My next blog assignment for my environmental science class, I had to access some factors that would determine how "green" our Riverside City College campus is. I will also be disclosing some research information on other campus's sustainability programs. Lastly, I will give a detailed assessment plans for one of the factors I described. The first factor I noticed was the amount of waste produced by the campus. Whether it's from the cafeteria, the bookstore, restrooms or classrooms, they all produce waste, especially from packaging. The cafeteria uses large amounts of styrofoam, paper, and plastics for serving their meals to students. There is also the amount of paper that gets thrown away in the trash. Restrooms can be assessed by the amount of harmful chemicals used for cleaning. Another factor to access is the amount of energy used to run classrooms, whether in use or not and determine if there is alternatives such as solar panels.

In the Summer of 2009, RCC's Chancellor Gregory Gray launched its "Green Initiatives" and their committee's mission is:
  • To ensure that RCCD’s curriculum sensitizes and prepares students to live as environmentally responsible citizens
  • To develop courses and programs that enable students to participate directly in the green economy
  • To enhance RCCD’s organizational capacity and practices as a socially responsible institution of higher learning.

One of the campus sustainability programs that stood out during my research was UC Santa Barbara's Green Campus Program. Some of their projects in progress include conducting energy audits for buildings, and actively involving students to reduce their energy uses through education. Another is the IPAN power strips which have been installed that have a sensor that shuts down when it isn't being in use. Another program in progress is teaching the UCSB community about the importance of water conservation.

An assessment plan for one of the factors at RCC would be to encourage students to REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. Most people in general typically do not recycle because they feel they to not have the time to go to recycling centers. If RCC had it's very own recycling drop off center, students and the RCC community would have assess to recycling all their old papers, notes, and other things that could be recycled. Working with the Chancellor Gregory Gray and its Green Committee members, through education, we can implement a "greener" campus.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting In Touch With Nature

Side of my yard.

                My next blog assignment for my Bio-36 Environmental Science class had me to get in touch with nature.  I had to go "outside" somewhere quiet whether its was going on a hiking trail, a park, or my very own yard for at least 20 minutes. I decided to choose my own yard because I do not usually get to spend much time outside and I know there is a lot to observe because my yard is almost an acre. Not to mention my parents love planting all kinds of of trees, especially fruit trees.
               I decided to sit in an area between my front and my back yard. It was a Wednesday morning almost noon at 11:30am when I started my observation. It was a colder day than usual in Southern California at about 60°F. It was sunny but when the few clouds in the sky would cover the sun you could feel it the temperature drop. The air was cool and crisp and the soil where I sat was still a little soft and muddy because it was rained the night before. My observation lasted about 30 minutes and here is what I observed.
Red Geraniums
              In the picture to the right, the closest tree is a Jacaranda mimosifolia tree, this one blooms blue flowers in the spring, sometime in May. The first bush you can in the top picture is called a red Geranium. I also took a close up of this plant and its flowers on the picture to the left. The picture below the red Geraniums is a Common Rue or Ruta graveolens, also known as "Herb-of-Graced". This common rue was located right
 next to the left of the geraniums. I wasn't able to find the name of this plant until my mother told me in Spanish that is was called    "ruda". I was not able to identify the bush behind the common rue, with the waxy thick leaves and tiny pink flowers even though most looked brownish from being exposed to cold, harsh temperatures.  Behind this plants and shrubs, there is a row of 8 cypress pines that are approximately each 9 feet tall. To the left of that row of pines there is a walnut tree that is about 12 years old. I know these because my brother and I planted that tree when we first moved here in the summer of 2000. 
Naval orange tree in my front yard.
                 During my observation I could hear various sounds of birds. One that I was able to recognize was a mockingbird's songs. I also heard other birds, and the occasional crow, and the neighbor's rooster's cries. I also heard the leaves brushing and whipping against each other every time there was a breeze. I was not able to notice any insects during the time I spent outside, I think it was because it had rained and it was cold out.
                The tree to the right is a picture of one of my favorite fruit trees from my yard. It is a naval orange tree and if you look closely there are about three oranges left. So that ended my observation and I had a lot of fun spending some time in my yard, I found it very relaxing. I think I'm going to start doing it more often because after all we do live in California, where the weather is always nice.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Jessica Barragan
        Hello everyone, let me start off my introducing myself, my name is Jessica Barragan and I am a student at Riverside City College. The main purpose behind my blog is for my Biology-36 Environmental Science class, but first here is a brief biography about myself.
          I was born in Monterey Park, California and I lived the first 10 years of my life in Pomona, California. Then I moved to Riverside, which is also where I currently reside. I started as a Biochemistry major, but I changed it to Food and Nutrition Sciences and I plan to attend Cal Poly Pomona (fingers crossed I'm still waiting to hear from them) next fall. I plan to work in the health care field as a Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian . 
          Aside from being a full time student, I work for an after-school program called THINK Together and I have a combo class of 24 first and second graders. They are a handful but I love working with kids. When I am not in class or working, I like to spend my free time at the gym but my new current interest is CrossFit. CrossFit training is a combination of weightlifting, sprints, gymnastics, power-lifting and rowing and it sounds intense but the workouts are designed to adjust to your current level of fitness and the objective is to get people working out together, while supporting one another, and making progress one day at a time.
         What drew me to take this Environmental Science class is that I am interested in understanding and knowing more, on what goes on around me. Everything has a cause and an effect, so if one was able to better understand how their actions or the actions of others affect the world and the environment, one would think twice before committing such actions. A topic I would like to explore this semester is on food production,  and its effects on the environment and humans, whether its organically or genetically modified, I am very interested in this topic.

 My Biological Footprint:

               According to my Ecological Footprint it would take 3.4 Planet Earths to provide enough resources if everyone lived like me. The largest aspect of my ecological footprint is the "Services" which accounts for 58% of my pie chart compared to the percentages of food, shelter, mobility, and goods. Some scenarios explored that I could implement can reduced my ecological footprint. One pledge would be to reduce the amount of animal products consumed by half which would reduce my ecological footprint to 3.3. If I also pledged to used products with less packing material and material made from 100% recycled products that would reduced my footprint to 3.1 planet earths. If I also added solar panels to my house, my ecological footprint would be reduced to 2.9 planet earths. By making sure all my home appliances are energy efficient my biological footprint would be 2.9 as well. If I also pledged to use the public transportation once a week instead of driving my car, my final ecological footprint would be 2.9 planet earths. From a 3.4 to a 2.9 I can reduced my ecological footprint by pledging to make some simple changes that I can implement in my everyday life.