First Save the Mangroves

What are mangroves you may ask? I first learned about mangroves at The Island School, in Cape Eleuthera Bahamas. I learned from hands on experience about red, black and white mangroves. Mangroves are a large tree like shrubs that grow in sediment habitats near the coast. They are typically located in tropical areas and are the main ecosystems for a diverse group of animals. Mangroves interlocking roots in the ocean and on land are crucial to preventing sediment from running into the ocean and protecting the last from tsunamis and hurricanes. They also have a unique system of excreting salt that allows them to thrive in the ocean.

http://www.mangrove.at/mangrove_forests.html

I came across an interesting article posted by National Geographic called “To Save Coral Reefs, First Save Mangroves”. The article discusses the hard truth that the coral reefs are not thriving in the waters that have increasing temperatures. Although, scientists have found that there are small coral reels surrounding the mangroves that have survived, showing that the mangroves could be a key factor to saving the coral reefs.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150210-mangrove-protect-coral-bleaching-science/

Team GR2OW

I came across this group on campus and thought it was amazing! Team GR2OW, made up of IDEAS students, is working to make Lehigh’s campus more sustainable by implementing composting on campus. Their initiative to decrease not only Lehigh’s carbon footprint but also the community around Lehigh, is one that should inspire others to make a change where they live. As Ali Lang on Team GR2OW worded it perfectly, “just because your an engineer doesn’t mean you have to work with math and science, engineering is so much more than just numbers and theories, engineering is failure and growth… engineering is problem solving.” This idea that engineering are more than numbers is what the IDEAS program is all about. Engineers are problem solvers and problem solvers need to know more than numbers, they need diverse knowledge to help them develop a product that benefits all parties.

Global Boundaries

Let the Environment Guide Our Development by Johan Rockstrom

This week in my Science of Environmental Issues class we focused on learning about the complexity in nature and the environment, specifically planetary boundaries. As discussed by Rockstrom, there are many planetary boundaries including climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification and more. These boundaries define the “safe operating state” for humanity to continue thriving on this planet. It is already estimated that two boundaries have been crossed which means humanity is at a turning point.

Humanity either needs to find more sustainable ways to live on this planet or face the consequences. Each planetary boundary has effects on each of the other boundaries. If one boundary is crossed others are in turn negatively affected. For example, the nitrogen cycle boundary has been crossed primarily because of the mass production of fertilizer for food production. This additional nitrogen produced by humanity makes our planets bodies of water more acidic, leading to loss of biodiversity in the marine ecosystems which causes strains on the already crossed biodiversity boundary. All o the boundaries are interconnected and it is not enough to just help prevent the crossing of one boundary. In class we discussed what the boundaries are, how they affect each other, and what are some ways to prevent crossing more.

Interesting articles on the topic:

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WHAT IS THE ANTHROPOCENE?

A New Semester

As a second semester freshman, I am already delving into my intended major. The biggest asset of IDEAS Program is that it concentrates on making you proficient in your area of learning. That does not just include what classes you have to take to get a degree but what classes will allow you to become a more well rounded, holistic engineer. This semester I chose to enroll in Beginner Spoken Mandarin II, Glaciers and Glaciation, The Science of Environmental Issues and Natural Hazards: Impacts and Consequences along with my prerequisites. It is a fantastic feeling going into a classroom and being passionate about what you are learning. IDEAS teaches you that any class you take will help your major. If your majoring in Environmental Engineering but take a psychology class, it will help you understand people which will help you to become a better engineer. IDEAS is a privilege to be part of and if you want to learn more go to

http://www.lehigh.edu/engineering/academics/undergraduate/majors/ideas.html

Turkey Day

The loving ambiance and the feeling of a full stomach are the aspects of Thanksgiving that I cherish the most. Like most students, I was fortunate enough to spend Thanksgiving off campus surrounded by loved ones. Whether your family celebrates with ham, turkey, lasagna or anything in between this holiday is a time for loved ones and good food.

Thanksgiving morning I woke to snowflakes drifting down from the sky and it was almost as if I were back home in Maine. Walking outside, I felt the chill of the fresh air and the snow crunching beneath my steps.

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With a stroke of inspiration I started rolling the perfectly wet snow, and with each roll the ball became larger and larger. Just like when I was young, my daddy came and helped me build a snowman. Thanksgiving is a time to relive old pastimes as well as make new memories with the ones you love.

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The Machine Stops

The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster was a thought provoking story. As an aspiring environmental engineer, my biggest concern was; how people let pollution spread for such a long time. I believe that if we continue on the path we are on, we will destroy this place we call home. One day we are going to open our eyes and see that we are too late to fix all the damage we caused.

The relationships throughout the story were unbelievable. I tried to imagine my life without the loving touch of another or the comforting presence of a friend. I realized that I would not be able to survive without them. There are many important aspects of life, and relationships are of the most important. Without my friends, family, and support I could not have come this far. I would not want to live secluded from others; with no aspirations or meaningful relationships because everything was at the tip of my fingers. The citizens were the definitions of machines. They were machines with monotonous lifestyles: no emotions, no goals and no unique aspects in their perfectly engineered lives. It was similar to what Hitler was trying to accomplish. Hitler wanted to create a race of ‘perfect’ people with blonde hair and blue eyes. The “machine” only wanted people who did not have “rebellious tendencies” to reproduce. The machine wanted citizens who were the same in nature.

For a society to succeed and grow, there needs to be people with unique aspirations, ideas, and personalities. People need to challenge themselves and others to find their true potential to come up with new ideas. The machine controlled each citizen’s every move. By doing that, each person lost their unique perspectives; personalities; and ideas, inhibiting the growth of the society as a whole. People need to experience different things and consistently learn to contribute to the growth of a society.

For the first semester I.D.E.A.S seminar the overall question is, What is technology? How does is affect our daily lives? I believe in this instance technology was defined as the machine itself. From the holograms to the temperature controls technology helped them with every aspect of their lives. Technology was the center of each person’s life in The Machine Stops. In society today we are slowly getting closer and closer to that reality. There are eight year olds getting tablets for Christmas; I didn’t get my first flip phone till I was fourteen. How long can a teenager go without his or her phone? From my experience, no more than a couple of minutes. Many members  of society are using technology as a medium through which they are living. So consumed in how many likes they receive on Instagram or how many retweets their tweets get, most of us? are guilty of not living in the present.

In the short story the author would mention “the committee”, I am curious as to what the committee is. How were the people elected for the committee, is it their form of government. The story covered many social and every-day aspects but it did not delve into politics.

The type of person that any society needs to grow is one who crosses the lines, explores new ideas, asks why and thinks outside the box. The young boy in The Machine Stops is one of those people, who if allowed could have changed their lives for the better. The first seminar was incredibly thought provoking. My classmates are immensely intelligent and help me see things I could have never picked out myself. I am eager to learn more from my classmates as the year progresses.

Why the I.D.E.A.S Program?

As a senior in high school, I did not know what I wanted to do regarding my education. I was passionate about conservation and the environment, and the majority of my family were engineers; I began to wonder about how I could put my two interests together. Beginning my junior year, like so many other college bound students, I visited a plethora of schools.

From the University of Maine to Duke University, I scoured the Northeast hunting for my “perfect school.” Lehigh was the end of my college search. Taking my first steps onto the Lehigh campus, I remember looking out to brightly colored flowers and trees. As I trekked up the unbearably steep hill, I let the beauty of the cobblestone and Hogwarts style buildings  on campus sink in.

Shortly after arriving, I learned about the I.D.E.A.S. Program. This program could give me the ability to get an integrated degree with the school of engineering and the school of arts and sciences. It was a dream come true. When I asked, “Could I double major in engineering arts and sciences” Lehigh was the first college that appreciated the nature of my interest and gave me an opportunity to embrace it. I was more excited than ever, so I decided to take initiative. I met with the creator and head of IDEAS, William Best, and after we talked, I was inspired and excited to start on my journey at Lehigh.

 

Technology, Trash, and Art

Tuesday’s seminar delved way too far into the Disney Pixar movie, Wall-E. For those who’ve seen it, you know that that movie brings up a bunch of good points about what we are doing with technology and how that is affecting the earth. Yet, rather than being about the environment, I found myself fixated on the art…

Wall-E, a happy little trash compactor, fashions himself into an artist. One of my first thoughts on this movie was how much beauty came from the trash that humans had generated. I was amazed at how Wall-E took something so dismal, something with so much potential to be incredibly depressing, and made it into something as powerful as it was. The city was destroyed, ground into itself, and yet Wall-E rebuilds it into a strange new likeness of itself: similar looking on the outside, and yet so completely different up close. I Loved It.

The thing that really got to me here was the parallels to a Manufactured Landscape, from last semester. For this, a photographer took some of the most dismal scenes from our world: horrid instances of pollution, run down cities, children rummaging through trash, and through photography, made it “art”. This. Drove. Me. Nuts.

I got to thinking as to why… what was so different? In the end, I realized that I was angry because in manufactured landscape, peoples’ suffering was being used as just something to create art. On the other end, Wall-E physically changed the destruction; he took what was run down and in many ways useless, and created beauty from it. In my mind, it was the concept of a phoenix, as opposed to taking a picture of the phoenix’s ashes.

The environmental stuff was cool too, but what can I say, I’m an artist at heart.

Shuffling Up the Deck

I’m at an interesting point in the semester. Final Paper deadlines are approaching, and the stress and excitement of registration is setting in. Surprisingly enough, these two things (while both stressful) are actually coming together rather nicely…

For my cognitive psychology class, I’m finding that the AWESOME paper I was going to write on how we perceive art, why we perceive it differently than real life, and what influences our judgement of beauty… is actually just supposed to be more of a summary of the articles I read, with a tiny little conclusion of awesomeness. So that’s upsetting. But in the meantime, my IDEAS paper, which was essentially supposed to be a 5-7 page rant, has slowly developed into an epically unorthodox combination of concrete & free verse poetry on what it is to be human.

How does that connect with registration? Well, I’m awkwardly ahead half a semester and strangely crossed in the mechanics and mechanical engineering field, as well as having a minor in spanish and a desire to take design courses, that leaves me with an absolutely horrifying set of conflicts. BUT. It seems that with one online course, I’ll be sitting on top of some 19 credits that could create a very defining semester. I’m still weighing the odds between a philosophy and poetry course (connection to final papers = made), but I am definitely getting the feeling that I’m going to be a lot more in balance next semester than I am now. (For example, I’ll have Dynamics, Finite Element Analysis, AutoCAD, 3D design, philosophy/poetry, and the ever present IDEAS Seminar).

Let’s see how this plays out.