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How to Recover From a Natural Disaster

By Guest Contributor: Jean Linder

Natural disasters are among the most traumatic and frightening events human beings face: unpredictable, often inscrutable, and bearing down upon their victims the full brunt of the planet’s awe-inspiring power. From the violent precision of a sinuous tornado to the vast demolishment of a hurricane, from an unchained river spilling its banks to a volcanic eruption—and acknowledging, too, the less dramatic but equally devastating droughts, cold snaps, and heat waves—these experiences are as nightmarish for those affected as they are deeply impressive.

The actual force of a storm or flood gets the most attention, but it’s the aftermath of a natural disaster that encompasses the essential work of picking up the pieces, caring for the afflicted, and repairing the damage—physical and psychological, both—that’s been incurred.

Immediate Aftermath

Following a disaster, whether you’re at home or on the streets, it’s most imperative to stay aware and cognizant of danger. Particularly in built-up areas, a natural disaster creates a slew of new hazards in its wake: powerful and debris-choked rivers (or broken-pipe torrents), downed power lines, dangerously teetering detritus, fires, glass shards, stressed and volatile wild animals encountered outside their normal haunts. Your familiar neighborhood may be transformed into a bewildering, threatening no-man’s-land. Proceed cautiously and try to foresee dangerous circumstances on your journey.

Meanwhile, take care of yourself. If you’re injured, seek medical assistance immediately. If you see others who are hurt, assess their condition and contact authorities if possible. Unless it’s absolutely necessary—as when immediate danger presents itself—don’t move a badly injured person.

Stay hydrated and protect yourself from sun exposure. Pace yourself so you don’t become over-exhausted.

Coming Home

If you’re caught in a disaster away from home and make your way back, don’t blindly rush in: Just as the neighborhood streets may have become newly threatening following the catastrophe, your home may not be the welcoming refuge you’re accustomed to. Before entering, assess the exterior for physical damage, paying special attention to any hazardous situations—dangling debris, for example. Check for a gas leak by sniffing the air and listening for hissing; if you do smell or hear leaking gas, don’t go inside. If you’re able to, shut off the gas line and contact the utility company at once.

Check also for damaged electrical systems, wet appliances, and standing water in the house, and avoid entry if there’s any danger of electrocution or fire. (You may be able to learn more tips for dealing with gas and electrical issues after a disaster by asking your utility provider, or consulting online third-party resources like newyorkenergyrates.com.)

If you’re able to be at home safely, attend to any spills and pump out flooded water; contact your insurance company to report any damage. All the while keep an eye out for animals—raccoons, dogs, snakes, etc.—that may have taken refuge in your abode.

Dealing With Stress

You may have been lucky enough to escape significant injury during a natural disaster; perhaps your property hasn’t even been affected to a serious extent. Remember, though, that the experience of the event itself can wreak major psychological and emotional damage. Seek counseling if you’re feeling stressed, panicky, or sleepless. Emotional resilience comes into major play here.

There’s no question a natural disaster can be life-changing. With a little preparation—including, ideally, some disaster-response “dry runs”—and firm presence of mind, you can—you will—recover.

Jean Linder is an emergency preparation expert. She frequently writes about her passion on home and family blogs.

Reference: Recovering from Disaster

Natural disaster destruction image via Shutterstock.

by Editor

Art with Purpose: Toxic Sludge Edition

The ENN blog has highlighted many artists who use a range of mediums to address environmental issues.  Some make sculptures that help reefs grow at the bottom of the sea, some build architectural structures that purify the air, while others use graffiti to express their political and environmental opinions. John Sabraw, a professor at Ohio University, is a green art innovator whose focus on sustainable practices has led him to using some unique materials.

John Sabraw practices sustainability in his art in multiple ways. Instead of painting on canvas he uses aluminum with plastic core in organically grown bamboo frames. Sabraw also leans towards water based paints and formaldehyde free top coats. His paintings are also lighter in weight then typical paintings of similar size, which makes them easier to ship, as well as reducing the carbon footprint required to ship them. On top of all these measures, Sabraw likes to estimate the C02 emissions required to create his paintings and then buy carbon offsets to neutralize them (Sabraw has also bought offsets for DaVinci’s Mona Lisa).

Sabraw has created a website called Green World Art to help other artists who are interested in thinking sustainably while creating their artwork.

Lately he has been working with environmental engineer Guy Riefler to make paints from toxic sludge. The sludge comes from old coal mines that had released metallic runoff into the Ohio River prior to 1977. By separating the sludge from the water, then oxidizing it, Riefler and Sabraw are able to create a range of pigments including red, orange, yellow, brown, and black. The iron oxide is then mixed with acrylic polymers and resins to create the paint.

Sabraw has used the paints in his series “Chroma” and “Luminoius”. I especially like the “Chroma” paintings because of the complex painting techniques that make the paintings look like gaseous planets slowly swirling their atmospheric gases.

By turning the sludge into paints, not only is John Sabraw using a sustainable process to create paint and making a political statement, but he is also removing the toxic sludge from the natural environment. Sabraw’s artwork demonstrates that art can be beautiful while still being sustainable. Hopefully he will continue to be innovative and will influence other artists to experiment with sustainable practices.

Artist’s Brush via Shutterstock

Runoff via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Fracking’s Newest Hazard: Earthquakes

By Guest Author: Paul Batistelli

For more than a decade Americans have been taking advantage of the vast natural gas resources found trapped beneath the earth’s surface in shale rock formations. The process to harness these resources, called fracking, is a controversial issue, with economists and environmentalists constantly butting heads. But the latest reports of earthquakes near shale formations in Texas and Arkansas might make everyone pause with concern.

Between 2010 and 2011 the town of Greenbrier, Arkansas, experienced more than 1,000 earthquakes—an unusual occurrence for the small town. Most of the quakes were small, the largest having a moderate magnitude of 4.7 on the Richter scale. The worst earthquakes are considered an 8 or above and can destroy communities. Though Greenbrier was free from severely damaging earthquakes, the sheer volume of them is alarming.

Seismologists at the U.S. Geological Survey investigated the issue, siting fracking wastewater disposal as the cause that triggered the quakes. As a result, the Arkansas Oil and

Gas Commission ordered several fracking wells to shut down. In addition, the findings prompted several residents of the city to file lawsuits against the area’s oil companies: Chesapeake Operating Inc., BHP Billiton and Clarita Operating LLC.
On August 28, five of these Arkansas homeowners settled their lawsuits for an undisclosed amount with Chesapeake Operating and BHP Billiton. Clarita Operating LLC was dropped from all lawsuits in 2011 after it filed for bankruptcy.

Despite these settlements, there are still several lawsuits that remain active in federal court. If any of the lawsuits make it to trial and the plaintiff wins, it could open up further litigation in other forms of drilling. Like fracking, geothermal energy production, oil and gas drilling all inject wastewater into wells.

Earthquakes in Texas

 

Fracking is also shaking things up in Texas. Between 2009 and 2011 the state had 62 earthquakes near the Eagle Ford Shale formation, according to a study by the journal of Earth and Planetary Science. The study looked at all the earthquakes in the two-year period and determined that in most cases the quakes were caused by fluid extraction instead of wastewater injection, contrary to the findings in Arkansas. In fact, the study shows the area’s biggest quake, with a 4.8 magnitude, was actually caused by pulling oil out of the ground.

New wells in the Eagle Ford Shale allow for the extraction of 600,000 barrels of oil each day. Though the true reason for extraction earthquakes isn’t known, it’s possible that the high amount of oil removal could be disturbing rocks that have settled along fault lines, causing minor earthquakes.

The results of the survey were not what scientists expected. In fact, an earlier study from the journal of Earth and Planetary Science drew a different conclusion in Texas’ Barnett Shale formation.  Here, the study found that earthquakes could be attributed to wastewater injection at fracking sites.  The authors believe the extent of drilling may be the root cause of the different findings. Eagle Ford has been subject to drilling since the 1970s whereas Barnett has experienced fracking since only 2004.

Paul Batistelli freelances in the energy field for the promotion of a greener society and energy means. He works to raise awareness on ecological issues, energy dependency, and reducing carbon footprints. He currently resides in Dallas, TX with his lab, Copeland.

Earthquake icon image via Shutterstock.

by Editor

What Can Your Kids Do To Help The Environment?

By Guest Author: Marcela De Vivo

For some parents, making kids think about the environment is somewhere next to telling them the Easter bunny isn’t real:  it’s an implicit way of saying that the world is not perfect and that sometimes we have to take responsibility for things we’d rather not think about.  While such a philosophy is understandable, children should learn about the realities behind recycling and other green practices.  Here are a few ways of looking at taking care of the earth that will change kids’ thoughts and actions in a positive way.

Establish an alternative transportation paradigm.

In a classic scene from the Steve Martin movie L.A. Story, there’s a great gag in which we see a stereotypical Angeleno hop in the car to pick up mail…at the end of the driveway.  Sadly, this gag isn’t too far from how we now view transportation.  Indeed, many Americans can’t imagine getting from place to place without their cars, but that mindset is not sustainable.

Instead of viewing solo driving as a necessity and an only option, kids should see driving as one item on a bigger menu that includes public transportation, carpooling, and biking.  Not only will this cut down on gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, such an attitude leads to a more physically active lifestyle.  Set an example for children and embrace these alternative modes of mobility yourself.

Teach kids that utilities are not infinite.

Even adults, who should know better, needlessly use household utilities, but younger children may not yet have learned that freshwater does not just magically come from the faucet, or that electricity pours into our houses by itself.  By simply telling kids the truth as we see it—“the world might run out of that stuff someday!”—rather than scolding, we can instill in young people a sense of responsible conservation.

Turning off lights and appliances when we leave the house, taking shorter showers, and so on are all habits that are easy to put across to even young children.  For older children who can grasp a more complicated picture, explain the contribution of low-wattage light bulbs.

Show kids the ropes of recycling and conscious consumption.

Just as children should know that our resources may not last forever, they also need to be informed of the realities of waste disposal.  Make kids see the logic behind recycling, and then show them that it’s not that hard to do, even if your city doesn’t offer a pickup program.  Additionally, you should discourage them from using toxic, non-biodegradable materials such as styrofoam and excessive packaging.  Furthermore, appeal to children’s playful creativity and help them envision second lives in non-recyclable goods.

Even for meat-eating families, steering kids away from factory-farmed meats (and even many vegetable products) is another eco-forward goal. Without using scare tactics, you can use kids’ affection for animals to make them see the ethical problems of high-yield livestock practices, and older children can be easily made to grasp the ecological perils of overproduction.

Again, it’s good to put things in terms they can understand in order to make them want to do what’s best for the earth.  Keeping our planet healthy for subsequent generations and even our own futures should be something that seems logical, not just another thing to avoid getting punished for.  For this reason, if you live in a city, take them on nature outings to see the fragile wonders that need protecting.  The more nature and its complexity actually mean something real to kids, the more they will see themselves as its protectors.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer and mother of three in Southern California. She enjoys teaching her children about how to keep the environment healthy, and works with Northwest to keep her family healthy, as well. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook to find out more!

Kids exploring and recycling images via Shutterstock.

by Editor

2,117,931 Cigarettes

It’s strange to think I went an entire summer without writing a single blog relating to the beach, or as we say in New Jersey, the shore.  For many people visiting the ocean is a quintessential summer activity, lying (with sunscreen) in the sun and attempting to ride waves, what’s not to love? Unfortunately, as beautiful and refreshing as a trip to the ocean might be, there is also a disgusting side to it, the trash that floats ashore (think Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”) I can’t think of a time when I went to the beach and didn’t come across a cigarette butt or an empty soda can.

While going through Pinterest the other day, I came across the following share-worthy graphic of the 10 most common finds during International Coastal Cleanup 2012 from OceanConservancy.org.

Top 10 Trash Items Graphic from OceanConservancy.org

Not so surprisingly the most common find was cigarette butts, followed by food wrappers, and plastic bottles.

Ocean Conservancy and it’s volunteers have been collecting trash, and data since 1986. Ocean Conservancy has used this data to put together an Ocean Trash Index, which keeps track of volunteer participation and trash collection statistics by state and by country. To view Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Beaches and Clean Water Report for 2013 Click Here.

In response to Ocean Conservancy’s trash list I have put together a short list of tips (*some are from Ocean Conservancy) on how to keep your local beaches clean. Just because the summer is almost over doesn’t mean one should stop caring about the ocean.

  1. Use trash cans with lids to prevent trash from “escaping” and finding its way into our rivers and oceans.*
  2. Reduce the amount of trash you throw out by using reusable water bottles and tap water. *
  3. Get political when it comes to legislation dealing with ocean trash. *
  4. Use ashtrays instead of putting out your cigarette butts on the sidewalk. *
  5. Recycle *
  6. When you go to the beach make sure to leave with everything your brought.
  7. Do not release hydrogen balloons into the air.
  8. Don’t be afraid to say something if you see someone polluting.
  9. Sign up for a local clean up. Some options include volunteering through Ocean Conservancy or Clean Ocean Action.*

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Transform Your Junk into Amazing Masterpieces

By Guest Contributor: Anne Staley

Artists are a strange breed. I say that not because they have a stereotypical image of being mavericks, but because of their ability to see art in the most common and mundane of things.  For me, their power to transform almost anything into an artistic masterpiece is both magical and baffling.

The purpose of the post is not to discuss the idiosyncrasies or the brilliance of artists, but to appeal to the artist (dormant or active) in you to recognize the endless possibilities that lie as waste in your trash can. Yes you heard it right, your trash can!

Carhenge – View of the inner circle

If you find it hard to believe, let me take you on a trip. First stop, city of Alliance, Nebraska, US. The city is home to one of the most creative artistic sites you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Called Carhenge, it draws inspiration from England’s Stonehenge and is exclusively formed from 38 vintage American automobiles arranged in a circle and covered with grey spray paint.

Carhenge

Conceptualized by Jim Reinders in 1987 as a memorial for his father, Carhenge also houses several other sculptures made from automobiles in addition to the replica of England’s Stonehenge.

Cadillac Ranch – Brightly printed Cadillac automobiles

Next stop Amarillo, Texas, US, which is the site for Cadillac Ranch. Created in 1974 by the trio of Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation representing the evolution of the Cadillac automobile through the years 1949 to 1963 and consists of junk or used Cadillac cars.

Cadillac Ranch – Distant view

From here, we move on to the city of Chandigarh in India, which is home to a sculpture garden made exclusively from industrial and home wastes. Christened “Rock Garden”, it was built by government official Nek Chand who used scrap and other types of waste items like bottles, glasses, tiles, electrical trash, etc. to create different types of sculptures.

Rock Garden – Sculptures made from recycled ceramics

The garden is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city today – a fetching tribute to the brilliance of a common man who had an artist hidden somewhere inside him!

Rock Garden – Dancing girls

These are some world renowned artworks created from wastes that were definitely headed for the trash bin. There are many such extraordinary works of art across the world. Now you see why I think artists are a strange, but brilliant breed?

From junk to art!

My intention, through this article, is not to urge you to create another Carhenge or Cadillac Ranch. It is to encourage you to think creatively about what you can do to transform the junk around your home into artwork that you can proudly display or even sell for money.

But that’s not all. Creative satisfaction and monetary gains aside, there’s a bigger reason for using junk for making art. The more junk you recycle or “upcycle” in this case, the less there will be left for landfills and incinerators. You’ll be saving the environment and reducing your carbon footprint and have a beautiful piece of art to show for it at the same time.

How to Make Your Own Masterpiece from Trash!

  • To start with, you can draw inspiration from some famous artists who are known for using trash to create art. Some names that come to mind include Tim Nobel & Sue Webster, HA Schult, Derek Gores, and Andrew Chase.

The type of work they’re associated with range from animal sculptures made with metal scrap to shadow art created from trash. You’ll find many more such artists and their work on the Internet.

  • You can also use resources like Pinterest and YouTube for some wonderful ideas on artwork made from recycled material and trash. Or you can let your imagination run wild and create 100 percent original works of art from garbage.
  • Almost anything that you consider waste can be used to create art if you’re up for the challenge. For example, can you imagine turning an old record into a stylish wall clock or using glass bottles to make fancy chandelier lights and pretty vases? If you’ve an eye for color and can paint reasonably well, empty egg cartons make for interesting canvases.

You can use artwork made from junk to decorate your home, garden, patio or deck. You can also sell them on websites like eBay or put them up in your next garage sale for some cash.

But if art is not your cup of tea, don’t throw your junk into the trash can. Take it to a local scrap dealer or a scrap recycling facility in your area. For example, scrap recycling centers like SIMS Metal Management, American Scrap Metal, Biloxi Auto Recycling operates their facility for scrap recycling in Biloxi, where I spent my childhood. I am pretty sure many such facilities exist in other parts of the country.  Believe me your scrap is going to find much better use in these facilities than the trash bin!

Anne Staley is an environmentalist who likes to express her thoughts and beliefs through the written word. Her motto in life is to better the lives of others through the knowledge she shares. She loves nature and urges her readers to go green. She shares her thoughts through creative writing and blogs.

by Editor

Green Versus Sustainable

People hear a lot of talk about “green energy” and “sustainable energy”, and many times the populace assumes these are the same things. However, while the methods might sometimes be the same, the goals are often different. However, as a rule, things which are sustainable tend to be green, though not everything that’s green is sustainable.

What “Green” Means
The term “green” generally refers to practices that are environmentally friendly. To use less pop culture terms, when something is green it has a very small negative impact, or no negative impact, on the environment. For instance hybrid cars are green when compared to regular cars. Just because they are friendlier to the environment though, doesn’t mean they’re sustainable as a solution. The reason for that is, of course, because hybrid cars still use gasoline, which makes them a less-than-sustainable solution for transportation needs. Horses by comparison are more sustainable because while they’re slower, they don’t require a finite resource to keep running.

What “Sustainable” Means
Sustainable, as the name suggests, describes solutions that can keep going indefinitely without causing damage. For instance, a bicycle or horses are sustainable methods of transportation. No they aren’t as fast as automobiles, trains or planes, but they cause very little damage to the environment by comparison and they can be used over and over again without expenditure of limited resources. However, the failings of these solutions when compared to the less-sustainable ones often make them look laughable.

Where The Two Shall Meet
The goal, of course, is to bring any green technology as close to being sustainable as possible. For instance, when it comes to energy, solar panels are one instance of a sustainable and green harvester. As long as the materials to make said solar panels can be recycled and re-used, and they don’t run out, then they become a sustainable solution because they can continue to be made and replaced until energy needs are met. They’re also green because they absorb energy from sunlight, and in such a way that the environment is not negatively impacted. Certainly not in the way it would be from burning coal, strip mining and other, similar activities currently used to produce power needed by humanity.

No Silver Bullet
Part of the issue when it comes to sustainability is that there really is no silver bullet to move from current solutions for humanity’s needs to greener, more sustainable ones. For instance, despite all the research into biofuels, electric cars and other solutions to try and replace the internal combustion engine, the general consensus is that people won’t be able to just switch over to one kind of new vehicle and suddenly everything is going to be all right. In order for sustainability to really take effect, people are going to have to use a wide variety of solutions in order to do away with older, dirtier solutions.

Humanity’s needs are often so big that the demand needs to be spread out over a wider field to satisfy everyone. Whether it is power, transportation, manufacturing or any other field, the more solutions that can be engineered and put into effect, the more likely total sustainability is to take hold.

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.

Go Green sign and Sustainability sign via Shutterstock.

by Editor

Smart Ideas for Back-To-School

Within the next few weeks millions of children (and adults) will be forced to say goodbye to summer and head back to school. As much of challenge it is transition from summer mode to school mode, I find back to school preparations and shopping particularly tasking. Even when sticking to the list of absolute necessities considerately provided by my teachers, I always wonder if I am making the right decisions, ecologically and financially. Below I have compiled a list of tips for students and parents who want to make  eco-friendly decisions when heading back to school.

Shopping for Supplies

-Before going shopping check to see if you already have supplies around the house of left over from last year. There is no need to buy things you already own.

-Buy canvas and cardboard binders and folders instead of plastic.

-Refillable pens are a great way to reduce plastic waste.

-Instead of buying mechanical pencils made from plastic, opt for mechanical pencils made from recyclable materials like newsprint and canvas.

-Buy pencils made from re-used material

-Consider the quality of the notebook and binder paper you buy. Instead of opting for the cheapest quality instead consider options that are recycled or chlorine free.

-Instead of buying backpacks and lunch bags made from nylon and plastics try organic options made from recycled rubber or hemp. You can also find lightly used backpacks at yard sales or flea markets.

-Get organized and plan to take only one shopping trip to save on gas.

While in School

-Remember to recycle paper instead of throwing it in the trash.

- If you don’t need it, don’t print it.

-When packing lunch use reusable packaging and utensils. Use a lunch box instead of new paper bags every day.

- When covering school books opt for recyclable and reusable options.

- Use reusable water bottles and tap water instead of plastic.

-Ride your bike or walk to school.

-Turn off your computer/unplug electronics when not in use.

Kid with Idea via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

The Controversy Surrounding Fracking Part II

Last week, guest author Paul Batistelli contributed an article about the controversy surrounding fracking in ENN’s Spotlight section. This week, Paul argues the case for and against fracking…

 

The case for fracking

 

  • Economic growth

In the United States, companies have struck natural gas gold in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania, the Bakken in North Dakota and the Barnett Shale, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin in Texas. The number of drillers that have flocked to these areas have added significant economic value. According to the Dallas Morning News fracking has added about 1.6 million jobs in the United States, with the average worker earning $107,000 per year. In addition to job growth, it estimates that drilling could contribute $197 billion to the GDP by 2015 and double the amount by 2035.

  • Lower natural gas rates

The boom in natural gas has caused the prices of the commodity to drop, decreasing energy bills for millions of Americans. Aside from heating and cooking with natural gas, homes across the nation can use electricity generated by the fossil fuel. Because of the low price of natural gas, many power plants have turned to the commodity instead of coal to generate electricity. In deregulated markets like Texas, energy rates charged by companies that purchase power from natural gas distributors may be lower than those who rely on coal-generated electricity.

  • Cleaner electricity

Cost savings aren’t the only reason to use natural gas to generate electricity. Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel, meaning it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its coal or oil counterparts. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions released a report in June stating carbon emissions are at their lowest levels since 1994, partially because of the substitution of natural gas for other fossil fuels.

The case against fracking

 

  • Harmful chemicals

The water pushed into shale rock formations is swimming with chemicals that help kill bacteria and dissolve minerals. Though the exact chemical cocktail used can vary by driller, 65 of the known chemicals used in fracking are considered hazardous. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that some of the chemicals can cause adverse health effects with prolonged exposure, including damage to the kidneys, liver, brain, heart and blood stream. And because the fracking industry in exempt from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, the hazardous waste created in the process is unregulated.

  • High water use

It’s not just a drop of water being used to frack natural gas, it’s millions of gallons. That much water use is an environmental concern for any state, but in drought-stricken areas like Texas, it’s an even bigger issue. Barnett Shale fracking in North Texas used more than a billion gallons of groundwater in 2009 alone, according to the Austin-American Statesman.  And because of the chemicals in the water, it can’t be treated and reused for alternative purposes. Worse yet, it’s possible the fluids pumped in the ground are contaminating drinking water, which the EPA is currently investigating.

  • Methane gas

Though natural gas is thought to burn cleaner than coal, fracking is not without a carbon footprint. When a well is fracked for natural gas, methane escapes as well. Many believe the extra release of methane gas cancels out any climate advantage of fewer carbon dioxide emissions.  Furthermore, it’s thought the added methane gas puts people’s lives in danger, from both water contamination and the risk of explosions at fracking sites.

Paul Batistelli freelances in the energy field for the promotion of a greener society and energy means. He works to raise awareness on ecological issues, energy dependency, and reducing carbon footprints. He currently resides in Dallas, TX with his lab, Copeland.

Drilling image and anti-drilling image via Shutterstock.

by Editor

We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Blog (Shark Week Edition)

I can’t remember a time in my life when I did not watch Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. Shark Week is my favorite week of the year. I’m not sure exactly what it is that draws me to Shark Week but I always make sure to watch every show at least once. I especially like shows that focus on some of the more unique species like the Saw Shark and the Greenland Sleeper Shark.

Unfortunately, over the past few years I have found the Shark Week programming more and more disappointing. Instead of shows highlighting new research or rarely seen behaviors, lately, Shark Week has been focusing on specials relating to popular culture and sensationalism. This year’s opening show, ‘Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives’ was especially disappointing.

‘Megalodon’ is a faux-documentary, similar to Animal Planet’s ‘Mermaids’, investigating the possibility that the “dinosaur” shark Megalodon still exists. Watching ‘Megal0don’ left me thinking “Seriously?”.

I love monster movies more than most. If there’s a movie with a giant mutant creature terrorizing a city, I have most likely already seen it. But there is already a channel that specializes in that kind of fantasy, and it’s called the Sci Fi Channel. Pieces like ‘Megalodon’ have little education value and unfortunately ‘Megalodon’ also had limited entertainment value. I think I learned more about global warming and the perils facing modern sharks from the ridiculous Sci-Fi film “Sharknado” then from “Megalodon”.

I also am annoyed by Shark Week’s fascination with Great White Sharks and other “man-eaters”. There are so many species of sharks, why not show diversity to match that. I understand Great White Sharks and Tiger Sharks are the creatures of nightmares with their “soul-less eyes” and their undiscerning appetite, respectively, but am I the only person who gets sick of the repetitiveness and fascination with confrontation? Even in the shows that are supposed to focus on unique behaviors of the Great White Shark like ‘Return of Jaws’ and ‘Spawn of Jaws’, the focus of the show is more on the process of tagging the sharks then analyzing the data collected.

As of today there are three nights left of shark week. Though I will watch then all, the only show I am really looking forward to is “Alien Sharks of the Deep” which is set to show on Thursday August 8th at 10 PM Eastern Time.

Hopefully the negative reaction to this years Shark Week as a result of “Megalodon” will inspire Discovery Channel to improve the Shark Week Line Up for 2014.

Below you will find some of my favorite shark videos from the Discovery and National Geographic Channels :

How Mako Sharks Speed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcO1UHVNkEI

Alaskan Salmon Shark Breaching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOyPr28TLmg

Bull Sharks in Indian Rivers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiXcAL3otQ4

Octupus Kills Small Shark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeV7yvNIScY

Tiger Shark Learns to Hunt Albatross: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd0E1h5Yr-4&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLivjPDlt6ApQ8vBgHkeEjeRJjzqUGv9dV

Nurse Sharks Mating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uYhW-g5E4

Great Whites Feeding on Whale Carcass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T20vkGZxULo

Shark Tooth via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

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