May 31, 2014

The adverse effect of environmental changes on biodiversity

While pollution and global warming have obvious effects on human health, ecologists also define environmental health according to biodiversity. Biodiversity measures the variety of living things and their interactions on three levels: genetics, species, and ecosystem diversity. The number of known species - characterized by scientific analysis and description - is more than 1.7 million, including nearly 1 million species of insects, about 14,000 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 5,400 mammalian species. However, there are many other species living on Earth, including trillions of microscopic organisms like bacteria. These species interact to form sustainable check-and balance networks like the food chain.

Human population growth, deforestation, pollution, and global warming have caused a rapid loss of biodiversity. Today's extinction rate is estimated to be 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural rate, and some scientists believe we are in the midst of a mass extinction. For example, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported in 2008 that 30 percent of amphibian species are critically endangered or vulnerable. This number increased 2,588 percent between 1996 (18 species) and 2010 (484 species). (Adapted from ‘The New York Times ‘Smarter by Sunday – 52 Weekends of Essential Knowledge for the Curious Mind’)

May 24, 2014

The world's first designated wilderness

In 1924, due to Aldo Leopold's (an American environmentalist) efforts as a Forest Service employee, the Gila National Forest in New Mexico became the world's first designated wilderness. This designation allows travel only by foot or horseback and bans any commercial activity except grazing in order to protect the usefulness of the wilderness for cleaning air and reducing climate change, as well as providing clean water, wildlife habitat, and natural recreational experiences. (Adapted from ‘The New York Times ‘Smarter by Sunday – 52 Weekends of Essential Knowledge for the Curious Mind’)

May 17, 2014

Number of known species

The number of known species - characterized by scientific analysis and description - is more than 1.7 million, including nearly 1 million species of insects, about 14,000 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 5,400 mammalian species. It is estimated that there are also trillions of microscopic organisms like bacteria. (Adapted from 'The New York Times ‘Smarter by Sunday – 52 Weekends of Essential Knowledge for the Curious Mind’) 

May 10, 2014

Air & Liquid Air

Air is the mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth. Air contains mainly the gases nitrogen and oxygen, with small amounts of argon and other noble gases and carbon dioxide. The proportions of these gases in air are the same anywhere around the world. Air also contains water vapor, dust, and polluting gases, which vary in amount from place to place. When air is cooled to -328°F (-200°C), most of the gases condense, forming a blue liquid called liquid air. (Dictionary of Science, by Neil Ardley)

May 3, 2014

America’s Independence Day

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (now officially known as the United Kingdom). Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Leeof Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.