As we finish the semester I can say that I have been pleasantly surprised with the outcome of this course. When I initially signed up I thought it was a course all about personal health and diseases and how we communicate about them such as we did in the first chapter of the semester. I found that information to be extremely interesting and also very valuable for the future. As we approached the chapter about environmental health I was honestly dreading it. I thought it was just going to be the same stuff we constantly hear about global warming but with no actual facts presented and I can say I was happy to find out this was not the case. This chapter actually ended up being my favorite of the semester. There were so many things I learned about that I did not have any idea of before taking this course. It also has opened up my mind and made me more curious about what is going on in the world around us and how big of an impact we as humans have on this earth. It has made me more conscious of the decision I normally forget to think about and hopefully I continue to be more aware. I think it is very important that as citizens of the world we stay informed and work our best to take care of the world that we live in.
Initially I did not like the blogs, but after getting a hang of them I think they were a really good way to help us students understand and reflect on the topics we discussed in class. I also struggled with the quizzes, which just showed me that I needed to read more thoroughly and take more in depth notes. I really took away a lot from this course and would highly recommend it to my peers.
This past week we watched the documentary Before the Flood. I had already viewed this documentary, however, it was even better the second time. It is so interesting how many things in that video I had little to no knowledge about at all. One subject that hit me hard was when Obama spoke about his grandchildren won’t get the chance to see all the beautiful things our generation has been fortunate to be alive to see. For example, the glaciers; I was lucky enough to get to go on a cruise through Alaska a few summers ago where one stop was where a massive glacier was and it was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen. It is mind blowing that within years practically all that ice could potentially be gone and because of the huge impact we are having on climate change this not only is causing the earth to become warmer, it is also affecting out oceans and ruining the life that is there today. Along with the use of fossil fuels affecting the ocean the use and elimination of plastic in the ocean is contributing to the rising tide. Around eight million tons of plastic enter the marine environment each year, and the figure is set to rise. “The Ellen Macarthur Foundation estimates that 311 million tons of plastic were produced in 2014, which will double within 20 years, and projects that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050”(CNN). Plastic is pulled together in the powerful, circling currents of gyres, but it is also found in Arctic ice, washing up on remote islands, and infesting tourist destinations, which has never been an issue before. It is estimated that plastic kills over one million sea creatures a year.Not only is this killing our oceans it also has a negative impact on our health. In lower developed countries people will use plastic and burn it to get rid of the material. These people were then exposed to the gases that come out when you burn plastic, including two very scary ones that have been linked to cancer, dioxins and furans. It is our job to start the small steps to change the use of plastic and fossil fuels that are harming our world in so many ways. I hope to be able to give future generations the same opportunities to see and experience all of the beautiful places and animals that our planet has to offer.
In 2016 the use and purchase of “green” products is higher then ever before. Our generation has become obsessed with products that claim to be all natural or organic and it has become a huge marketing point for so many different products. One major industry that uses this to their benefit is all products that parents will buy their children. Parents fall into the green washing very easily because they believe it is what’s best for their babies. For example Huggies diapers. Landfills are stuffed with disposable diapers but companies are always out trying a new green wash. Huggies’ Pure and Natural line goes invites consumers to discover the “pure bliss of a diaper that includes gentle, natural materials.” However, how much research do these parents put into the actual product? It is easy to just believe everything you are told, however, these products might not be as “green” as they are said to be. Although organic cotton is “included” in the outer cover, the actual organic content remains a mystery. “Also, Kimberly Clark won’t reveal whether the cotton is certified organic. For inexplicable reasons, the diapers also don’t include organic cotton on the inside surface of the diaper, which actually touches the baby’s skin”(Businesspundit). Not to mention the packaging that these diapers are actually in is not environmentally friendly like true organic diapers are. While most eco-friendly companies use 100% unbleached cotton Huggies do not and they also do not offer any biodegradable type of diaper. If you are truly looking for what is best for the environment, yourself, or your children it is important to do actual research on the products you are purchasing.
After watching the video in class on Tuesday about the Union Carbide incident in Bhopal, India I was very surprised. The Bhopal disaster is also known as the Bhopal gas tragedy occurred during the night of December 2nd and 3rd of 1984. On 3 December 1984, the plant released 42 tonnes of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, exposing more than 500,000 people to toxic gases. During this event over 2,000 have died after the leak of the poisonous gas, methyl isocyanate, from the Union Carbide plant there. I found this video very informing but also very, very, very shocking. I had never even heard of this incident. I find it disturbing how little we are informed about environmental issues like this, especially because of the huge impact it has one the people living there and still impacts these people.
An example of a more present environmental issue is about the Pennsylvania pipeline incident. Remember the oil company that is being blocked by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe for trying to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline through their water supply? That same oil company just spilled over 55,000 gallons into America’s 3rd most endangered river, however, how many people do you think know about this? If it weren’t for a Facebook post one of my friends shared I would have no idea this happened. The Pennsylvania pipeline spilled over 55,000 gallons, which is the drinking water of 8 million people. The river it leaked into is one of the most endangered rivers in the world. Also, it became aware that there had been 203 leaks since 2010… I’m sure no one knew it was that many. This is because the media and other form of news sites don’t feel the need to tell us about critical things that happen in the environment. It is all put on the back burner but if we want our world to last as long as it should it is important we start to make these incidents more known to the public and to begin to find solutions.
I believe that everyone knows that environmental problems exist, however, majority of the people don’t realize what is actually going on and the effect that these problems are causing the world. The importance of climate change and global warming are increasing everyday and it is very important people become educated on this topic. The issue of climate change and global warming are pushed under the rug in the United States, when it should be one of our top priorities because without biodiversity in our planet we have nothing. So many species are becoming endangered and extinct, the ice caps are melting and the sea levels are rising, and so much more is happening due to global warming. Scientists have dedicated their entire lives to studying how we affect climate and it has been proven we play a role in earth’s rising temperatures. This topic is very important but we see little to no discuss about it during the presidential debates from either of the candidates. Leonardo DiCaprio just came out with a documentary called Before the Flood which explores the topic of climate change, and discovers what must be done today to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet. I highly recommend people watch this documentary and educate themselves on these important issues.
After discussing the science vs faith controversy in class and seeing many posts about science in Catholic schools and whether they teach actual science properly or if they teach it differently due to faith got me thinking: Is it true, then, as is often said, that Catholic schools neglect science? I attended both public and catholic schools in my life and while there were very many differences between both schools and the ways of teaching, when it came to science and the curriculum I did not see any differences in what I was being taught. It was taught the same way I was taught in my public school. However, it at times would get a bit confusing. My science classes would teach me one thing but my scripture and other religion classes could sometimes have opposing facts or teachings. Conversely, the Catholic Church accepts the teaching of evolution and the modern scientific body of thought. With this being said, I think that with time this has changed and will continue to change. For example, when speaking to my mom who attended both of the same schools I went to she said it was different when they were growing up. They did not speak of evolution and they were not allowed to do any time of dissections due to the Catholic belief that all life is sacred. I think that with time more of the faith and scientific beliefs will possibly start to merge in the way they are being taught. This does not mean the Catholic church will change their beliefs rather that science will be taught as science no matter the educational setting.
In class we discussed how in todays society most people gather their information from social media platforms for they are the most commonly used. This can be seen as both a good thing and a bad thing. Social media comes off as it is sparking the talk about many topics such as health, politics, and many other controversial topics. However, according to a recent study social media doesn’t always facilitate conversation around the important issues of the day. According to Pew Research Center they found that people were less willing to discuss their opinion on the Snowden-NSA story on social media than they were in person. And Facebook and Twitter users were less likely to want to share their opinions in many face-to-face settings, especially if they felt their social audience disagreed with them. The conversation seems to change depending on the environment that the conversation is taking place in.
As stated before, social media plays a major role in the healthcare field today. We are living in a generation that looks to social media and online websites to answer general healthcare question rather than a trained doctor. It was also discovered that many people who follow social media sites alone and don’t do actual research on the information they were receiving online and become very uniformed on the actual events and facts that are being presented in the news. One reason for this is the fact that it is very easy for any one to post information to specific sites; we see this as a rising problem especially for health issues. Pew Research states that “More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health”.(pew) The opinions of others on social media are often trusted but aren’t always accurate sources of insights, especially when it comes to a subject as sensitive as health. This cannot only not help treat specific health issues, but cause more health problems such as anxiety and depression. However, social media is not always a bad thing. Social media is slowly helping improve the way people feel about transparency and authenticity, which will hopefully lead to more productive discussions and innovations regarding an individual’s health. It is important that the focus remains on informing the population of the actual truth and facts rather than presenting distrusting information.