Emerald Ash Borer Threatens Ash Trees


This ash tree is in danger from the emerald ash borer.


Continue reading “Emerald Ash Borer Threatens Ash Trees”

Documentary Shows the Effects of Coal

                  Air and water pollution.  Climate Change. Cancer.  These are all effects of the

coal industry.  From the Ashes is a documentary by Michael Bonfiglio about the effects

of the coal industry on human health and the environment.

Through interviews with residents of West Virginia, Texas, and Wyoming the film

shows how coal affects people in many parts of the country.  It states that coal mining is

the biggest souce of water pollution as well as the biggest contributor to climate change .

It cites examples of higher birth defects, higher, cancer rates, water pollution,

and air pollution in places where coal mining and coal fired power plants are common .

In addition, the film also stresses the danger which miners face every day.  It cites a 1907

blast which killed hundreds and the 2010  explosion in which 29 miners were killed.  In

Wyoming coal mines often disturb aquifers,  not leaving enough vegatation for cattle.

This has brought many ranchers to join forces with those who are opposed to the coal


The film is effective at documenting both the environmental and health hazards

of coal.  However, most of the interviews are with those who opposed to the industry

and the film is somewhat one-sided in this regard.  In spite of the multitude of dangers

there continue to be many people who rely on coal for their livelihoood and this is an

equally important side the issue.

“We’re Downstream.” Documenatary Investigates Water Contamination

       Sometimes we enjoy a sunset over a  lake. Other times, we might just want a drink of

water.  Regardless, water is an essential resource and yet it is one seriously under

threat.  What Lies Upstream is a documentary by Cullen Hoback about the contamination

of the nation’s water.  It opens with a chemical spill on the Elk River in West Virgina and

goes on to investigate the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan.  Through interviews

with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, health officials, and an

EPA  whistleblower, the film reveals how science is often covered up and existing

regulations frequently not enforced.

The film is critical of several agencies dealing with the environmental and human

health.  It shows them to be heavily politicized as well as strongly influenced by

lobbyists.  This is illustrated by a scene in which several lobbying groups are present

while  bill dealing with water quality is being written.  As a result, much of the public

trust has been compromised and Hoback refers to the bureaucracy as a “broken


Nevertheless, he also says it is one that can be “rebuilt.”  While the film focuses

on two major contaminations, a revelation towards the end shows that the spills which

garner national attention are far from the only concern.

The film is effective as an expose on the lack of accountability on the part  of both

private companies and government agencies.  It also shows the the exent to which one of

our most fundamental  resources is being threatened and states that we are all

“downstrem from something.”

Welcome to The Nature Journal

Do you want to know more abour renewable energy? Are there plants and animals

in danger because of invasive species? What about air and water quality?

Welcome to the first installment of The Nature Journal, which will look at these and

many other questions concerning the environment.

My name in Sara Graham.  I hold a degree in English with a Concentration in

Environmental Studies.  I have always had a great love of both writing and the

environment, thus leading me to start this blog.   In the beginning, I plan to make it a

biweekly  blog and eventually move to a weekly one. I will write about a number of

topics, including pollution, endangered species, and alternative energy.  These are

complex issues which affect everyone.  However, they often get limited press coverage

and are frequently simplified, without showing the full ranges of perspectives.  In my

blog, I hope to write articles  which look at all sides of an issue as well as create dialogue

as to how to meet the challenges our planet faces.  I hope you’ll join me every week for

inspiration and a greater understanding of the natural world.