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.

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.

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:

Rockstrom_2009_Nature_planetary_boundaries_human_activity (1)

Running_2012_Science_10th_planetary_boundary_for_biosphere (1)


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