Perennial: The Undergraduate Environmental Journal of Berkeley - Issue 4

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Fall 2021 | Issue No. 4

PERENNIAL

THE UNDERGRADUATE ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNAL OF BERKELEY


Dear Reader, We are pleased to present Perennial’s fourth issue. Our writers spent Fall semester researching, interviewing, writing, and editing to share compelling environmental journalism with our readers. From neglected tropical diseases to eco-friendly wine, the fourteen articles in the Editorial section exemplify the versatility of environmental journalism. Have you ever wondered about the environmental footprint of your Monstera or why food sovereignty is needed in our food systems? Flip to our Op-Ed section to have your curiosity on both topics satisfied. To read our featured undergraduate research papers, turn to our Research 1 Fall 2020 / Perennial


section. We recommend that you pause to reflect on the visuals on each page—this issue contains a number of unique designs and collage artwork inspired by the themes in the articles and Op-Eds. Our design team worked diligently to bring the writing to life through the visuals. We hope that you will learn something new and feel inspired to want to learn more.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Chang and Grace Sandel EDITORS-IN-CHIEF

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1 Letter From The Editor 2 Table of Contents

Op-Eds

table of cont

Houseplants: Sustainable or Not? by Elena Hsieh......................................................................................................49 Food Sovereignty: A Holistic Approach to Modern Food Systems by Ria Nakahara ..................................................................................................52

55 Research Papers

Distribution of Birds in a Heterogeneous Tropical Pacific Island Forest by Isaac Natanael Aguilar..................................................................................56 Life Cycle Assessment of Concrete in the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project by Audrey Booher..............................................................................................65 The Linkage Between Continuous Exposure to Dioxin, Food Contamination in Eggs, and a High Prevalence in Cancers from Tofu-Making Practices in Tropodo, Java (Indonesia) by Carissa (Riss) Myung.......................................................................................................72 3 Fall 2020 / Perennial


3 Editorials

The Hidden Past of Natural History Museums 5..................................................................................................by Khaled Alqahtani Sonoma County: The Future of Eco-Friendly Wine? 8............................................................................................................by Mina Burns Neglected Tropical Diseases: The Environmental and Cultural Determinants of Disease Transmission 11......................................................................................................by Natalie Walzer The Map is Now the Territory: Augmented Reality Meets the Environment 15...................................................................................................by Ben Burmeister The Green Coastline, Blue Animals, and a Greener Solution 18.........................................................................................................by Dennis Song Germany’s Environmentally-Friendly Culture 21.........................................................................................................by Erika Riedel At the Edge of a Vanished Planet: The Sixth Mass Extinction 24.......................................................................................................by Elaine Zhang The Intersection of Environmental Injustice and Genetically Modified Trees 28...............................................................................................by Nishita Dashpute The Amazon Rainforest: Losing the World’s Carbon Sink 30 ....................................................................................................by Sharan Kalkat How We Can Restore an Ecosystem Engineer That Fights Climate Change 33.............................................by Thuy-Tien Bui Greening the Spice Trade 35.........................................by Trisha Venkatesh Environmentalism and the American Aquaculture Industry 37................................................by Colin Mequet Biden’s Plan for Climate Action: A Success or Broken Promise? 41.......................................by Christina Pelliccio Sudden Oak Death and the Coast Live Oaks of Garber Park 44...............................................by Ava Haddock

ents

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The Hidden Past of Natural History Museums

1873 view of West Berkeley (California State Library)

How have Indigenous communities been barred from gaining recognition for their contributions to museum collections, and how has UC Berkeley taken part in this? by KHALED ALQAHTANI Natural history museum collections are time capsules. Whether it’s a dinosaur bone, a plant specimen, or a pottery vessel, each item tells a story about the past. These stories illustrate the evolution of species, measure changing biodiversity, and revive ancient civilizations. UC Berkeley is home to six natural history museums, with over 12 million specimens in anthropology, botany, paleontology, and more. Regardless of the insight these collections provide, many museum workers are starting to interrogate the violent history of these collections at UC Berkeley and 7 Fall 2020 / Perennial

around the world. Revelation: The Past of Natural History Museums “The tradition of museums, especially European-based museums, has been basically seeing the world as resources for your taking,” said Michelle S. Koo, the biodiversity informatics & GIS staff curator at UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ). “[These museums] wanted to have an inventory of as much diversity around the world as possible.” Koo describes this attitude early collectors had as a “dark chapter,” one of violence that museum curators she worked

with earlier in her career have denied or refused to address. UC Berkeley’s natural history museums are no exception. “The founding collection of our museum [in 1901] was established by the private collection Phoebe A. Hearst that she had created during her travels,” said Katie Fleming, the gallery manager and education coordinator of UC Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. “She’s not an anthropologist or researcher by training.” According to Fleming, one of the issues with natural history museum collections generally


is the lack of permission from Indigenous populations to start excavation processes and mass collecting. “In an anthropology museum, the relationship between the viewer and the item is complicated by the fact that these belongings didn’t always end up in collections with the intention of the creator,” said Fleming. Sometimes,. “It was either impossible due to distance in time or space, or sometimes it was explicitly against the wishes of the person being disenfranchised.”

bia. The MVZ’s snake collection allows her to conduct experiments that otherwise would be hindered due to the difficulty of hunting these snakes. Despite this opportunity for research, Castañeda still ques-

Castañeda. “We are not recognizing the local and indigenous communities who know more about the background of the places we search and collect from.” Part of Koo’s work at the MVZ is digitizing the collection and creating digital labels that are easily accessible to individuals from the regions affected by the collection process, stakeholders, and the general public. One shortcoming of this digital database, however, is the lack of credit to local guides or anyone who contributed to those collections beyond the main collectors. This is also an issue at the Hearst Museum, according to Fleming.

“We are not recognizing the local and indigenous communities who know more about the background of the places we search and collect from.”

This “disenfranchisement” is clear in the Hearst Museum’s collection, which included the remains of over 12,000 Native Americans, alongside 400,000 Native American artifacts. This makes this collection one of the largest ones containing human remains outside a cemetery in the US.

tions how natural history museum collections are labeled and recorded. As a field biologist, she specifically questions the portrayal of the collector as the sole contributor to the collection, which she believes discredits the labor of the local communities whose exper-

Reconciliation: Navigating the Past and Present of Natural History Museums Questions of the genocide and lack of consent in natu-ral history museum collec-tions always troubled Va-leria Ramírez Castañeda, a PhD student at the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. Castañeda studies how snakes as predators evolved to tolerate feeding on poison frogs in Colom-

tise and knowledge led to such findings. “When I do field work, or when I look at natural museum records that came from Colombia, only people who are considered ‘scientists’ and ‘biologists’ are mentioned and credited,” said

Reimagination: the Future of Natural History Museums Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many museums closed temporarily and limited their services, including UC Berkeley museums. This period inspired June Ahn, a botanical collections assistant at the Field Museum in Chicago, to start wondering what the future of museums might look like. So she founded the Death to Museums initiative as a result. “As I started working in natural history museums, I was deeply unsettled by the fact that there’s no reckoning with the past or acknowledgement that this institution hurt so many Fall 2021 / Perennial 8


people and has such a painful legacy,” said Ahn. “Death to Museums is all about thinking of alternative ways museums can function, and how to bring the educational work and social good that museums can do, while also grappling with the history behind these institutions.” Death to Museums’ methodology can mean anything from a more inclusive approach to hiring directors and curators at museums to explicit acknowledgement of the legacy of museums. And some of these approaches are currently being implemented at UC Berkeley natural history museums. “The Hearst Museum has been closed for this entire year, and that was partially due to COVID-19. But it is also because our co-directors made the deci-sion to focus on a complete prioritization of repatriation this year,” said Fleming. Fleming continues to explain how repatri-

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ation works at the Hearst Museum, “We’re pulling back from things like exhibitions and field trips to focus on making sure that we’re in cooperation and in communication with tribal representatives, so that they are aware of and able to request legal repatriation.” This comes alongside collaborating with Indigenous faculty at different UC Berkeley depart-ments and re-opening Ohlone Cafe, a space and restaurant dedicated to “strengthening Ohlone food sovereignty in the East Bay.” Koo and other colleagues at the MVZ and Hearst Museum are also working on including acknowledgements and references to the history of each item in their upcoming projects and databases. Castañeda is optimistic about t h i s m o m e n t u m and current changes taking

place. She also hopes this change extends to the training of collectors and field biologists in general. Training to collect specimens range from learning how to obtain legal permits to begin fieldwork to preserving and storing specimens. However, according to Castañeda, her training did not include the ethics of working with and crediting local communities. It also did not include the association of colonial legacy with biological fieldwork. These kinds of efforts ensure this violent past is fully accessible to the public who often believe that museums are the innocent beacons of science, not institutions that were established to sustain colonial and violent legacies. Whether it is returning artifacts to their deserved owners or curating public programs addressing such issues, these museum workers and researchers have different ways of imagining the future of natural history museums. Theythey all believe, however, that the first step moving forward is not hiding or denying the past of these collections.


Sonoma County: The Future of Eco-Friendly Wine? Implementing Sustainability in Wine-Making by MINA BURNS In Sonoma County, wine growers and makers alike are turning over a new leaf: sustainability in winemaking. The county’s vineyards have a 99% sustainability certification— making it the most sustainable winegrowing region in the world. Sonoma County, in Northern California’s “wine country,” is a premier wine-growing re-

gion which contains 425 wineries. Spanning from the Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains in the east, this area is one of the largest wine producers in the state, with over 63,000 acres of vineyards. In 2014, Sonoma County Winegrowers—made up of over 1,800 winegrape growers—set a goal to become the nation’s first 100% certified sustainable

wine region. Since then, Sonoma wineries passed various sustainability checks and are maintaining winegrape growing and winemaking processes that follow these principles: sensitivity to the environment, continuation of economic feasibility, and production of high-quality wines. Sonoma County Winegrowers are piloting the Climate AdapFall 2021 / Perennial 10


tation Certification (CAC) program, which is a customized farm plan to monitor the impact of climate friendly agricultural practices. In this plan, each vineyard creates its own land management program involving the absorption of nitrous oxide and carbon emissions from the atmosphere into the soil. Farmers can employ

sphere,” said UC Davis Professor of Viticulture and Enology, Andrew Waterhouse, weighing in on carbon sequestration in vineyards. Since the CAC program’s implementation in January 2020, twenty winegrowers have participated, with results showing that up to 2,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide can be removed annually from the atmosphere for the 1,900 vineyard acres that were involved. To the Sonoma County Winegrowers, the program is a promising step forward in vineyard sustainability.

plained “you have to bring the carbon content in the soil up.” Beyond carbon emissions, another significant source of vineyard greenhouse gas emissions is the use of nitrogen fertilizers. When soil is exposed to nitrogen in its active form, as in fertilizer, soil bacteria releases nitrogen back into the atmosphere. Timing nitrogen applications to ensure maximum uptake by roots is one way to decrease N2O emissions.

If you find a good cover crop, Other ways that the winegrowers are minimizing their envithen you can acronmental impact include using sheep and birds to control tually build up weeds and pests instead of usGrowers note that these organic content ing pesticides, composting excarbon sequestration cess vegetation, and preserving have other in the soil. You’re methods local ecosystems and wildlife agricultural benefits habitats when possible. well. Darek Trowessentially creating asbridge, the owner of In California, water use is anWorld Winery in topsoil, you’re cap- Old other important consideration. Fulton, California, is turing carbon out of the atmosphere and The climate challenge incorporating it into . . . creates a level the soil. of uncertainty that is unsettling, and methods like mulching, compiloting a new sysposting, rotating livestock, and tem of carbon reit creates a level using cover crops to carry out moval by using wood the sequestration of greenchip mulch as a farmof challenge that house gases. ing input. hits the farmer in “If you find a good cover crop, “I’ve built up the carthe pocketbook then you can actually build bon in my soils with up organic content in the soil. composted mulch and . . and can collapse You’re essentially creating top. that brings microbiolosoil; you’re capturing carbon gy back to the soil, heals whole crops. It’s out of the atmosphere and inthe soil, allows us to hold corporating it into the soil. If water and for water to permy number one everybody did that on all farms, colate through that soil.” In on a major scale, we could take order to increase productiviissue.

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a lot of CO2 out of the atmo11 Fall 2020 / Perennial

ty of the land, Trowbridge ex-


A “Sonoma County Sustainable” sign hangs on the side of a vineyard. (George Rose/Getty Images)

Wineries typically use between 2.5 and 6 gallons of water to create 1 gallon of wine, and this is without accounting for irrigation water and other uses. Many wineries are beginning to utilize the practice of dry farming, in which winegrapes are not irrigated at all, but instead rely on the natural rainfall of the region. Vines that are subjected to this method typically develop deeper root systems than irrigated vineyards and can continue to draw upon deeper sources of water even during times of drought. As a result, they can often live

much longer than their human-irrigated counterparts. “Irrigated, fertilized vineyards have a life of 25 years. And [with dry farming], I’m farming 80- and 120-year-old vines. Dry farming increases the quality, but it decreases the tonnage. My belief is that dry farming is more sustainable, but it’s a system. It doesn’t mean just turning off the water,” Trowbridge said, describing his practice in dry farming. While dry farming requires less water, it can lead to lower crop yields. If growers are un-

able to convert to this method, they can still address water usage with less irrigation. A recent UC Davis study found that grape growers in the region can use 50% of the irrigation water normally used without significantly affecting crop yield or quality. As climate change continues to disrupt regular rainfall patterns, these findings are promising for the future of wine. “Water deficit irrigation is practiced pretty widely. . . grapes are pretty well adapted to the dry conditions,” Professor Waterhouse said. Fall 2021 / Perennial 12


ers who are impacted. Wine is a crucial contributor to the vitality of Northern California’s economy; the annual retail value of wines produced in Sonoma County is over $8 billion. Additionally, wine production brings other business to the region. “There’s a lot of hospitality in the wine growing regions. It’s very important to their local economies,” said Professor Waterhouse. “I would say it’s a major part of the hospitality business in the US.” Sonoma County continues to serve as a role model to other wine-making areas of the world, as its sustainability model shows that economic productivity does not have to be sacrificed to carry out environmentally-friendly practices. As winegrowers feel the effects of climate disruption firsthand, the necessity of action to address our changing climate becomes increasingly clear.

These sustainability efforts come out of necessity. As winemakers continue to see the effects of climate change firsthand, they may find their crops and livelihood in danger of disruption. Due to the sensitive nature of grapes, they are dependent on specific growing conditions such as temperature and precipitation which can be impacted by variations in climate. “We’re being challenged right now with frost and drought and flooding. A good example is that we went from about 13 Fall 2020 / Perennial

eight months of no rain to eight inches of rainfall [in one day],” says Trowbridge, opening up about the struggles with climate change that his winery, Old World Winery, has been experiencing. For winegrape farmers like Trowbridge, “The climate challenge . . . creates a level of uncertainty that is unsettling, and it creates a level of challenge that hits the farmer in the pocketbook and can collapse whole crops. It’s my number one issue.” It is not only wine grape farm-

Sources 1. https://sonomawinegrape. org/scw/sustainability/ 2. h t t p s : / / s o n o m a w i n e grape.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2020-SCWSCV-Joint-Annual-Report-1. pdf 3. https://wineinstitute.org/ our-work/responsibility/sustainability/ 4. https://www.oldworldwinery. com/ 5. https://sonomawinegrape. org/scw_news_events/agricultures-first-climate-adaptation-pilot-program-completed-by-sonoma-county-winegrowers-with-impressive-results/


Neglected Tropical Diseases The Environmental and Cultural Determinants of Disease Transmission by NATALIE WALZER Liver fluke parasites infect approximately 35 million people throughout the world and can settle in the bile ducts for over 20-30 years. They infect the liver, gallbladder, and bile duct in humans, causing symptoms ranging from nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain to stone formation and cancer of the liver and bile ducts. Regional flooding patterns have increased transmission of liver flukes, but cultural factors also impact disease transmission.

In Southeast Asia, Opisthorchis is the dominant genus of liver fluke. Its eggs are ingested by snails, and the eggs hatch to release microscopic larvae into freshwater. People are infected when they eat freshwater fish containing the larvae. “Eating raw fish is your risk factor,” said infectious disease modeler and disease ecologist Tomás León. “But this kind of culinary tradition is deeply embedded. It’s a very strong cultural and community connec-

tion.” Made with raw freshwater fish, lime, chiles, and spices and renowned for its cheapness and tastiness, Koi Pla has been a popular dish for generations in Isan, the largest and poorest region in Thailand. Approximately 80% of the communities in this region have been infected with liver flukes, and, as a result, Isan has the highest rate of bile duct cancer in the world. Despite increased food literacy regarding the carcinogenic naFall 2021 / Perennial 14


Neglected Tropical Diseases . . . cause morbidity, mortality, and everything in between, trapping entire communities in poverty via disability, deformity and sickness

ture of this dish, consumption continues as a cultural tradition. So the disease persists, with flukes slowly metamorphosing the tissue of liver ducts decades before the infected can even detect symptoms, thus earning liver fluke its title as a “silent killer.” Liver fluke disease is pervasively mediated both environmentally, ecologically and socially, killing over 14,000 people in Thailand each year. The disease may seem facile in diagnosis, but its life cycle is infinitely more convoluted and devastatingly understudied. Climate change and anthropogenic activities like water management impact dynamics between the parasites, fish, snails, and humans, increasing the unpredictability of outcomes. 15 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Compounding these evolving intricacies, each of the three variants of Opisthorchiasis in different geographic locations are impacted by different biotic and abiotic factors. But there is another genus of the liver fluke parasite that has an even greater impact than Opisthorchis: Fasciola, also called the common liver fluke. Liver fluke disease is just one of seventeen diseases classified by the World Health Organization as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). NTDs’ impacts are unparalleled: they infect over one billion people each year (onesixth of the world’s population) and kill over 500,000 annually. They attack the world’s poor, who live primarily in rural, tropical areas. NTDs cause morbidity, mortality, and everything in between,

trapping entire communities in poverty via disability, deformity, and sickness, impairing them cognitively and preventing them from earning a livelihood. But despite the ongoing devastation of billions, these diseases remain critically understudied. Why? The answer is unsurprising: they afflict impoverished populations, thus withdrawing a Western economic incentive to be concerned with them. The resources of the various countries that these diseases afflict come into play in everything from vector control and diagnosis access to distribution of medications. For example, while some poorer Latin American countries lack the reagents for diagnostic tests for Chagas disease, a disease caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite,


A woman gets an eye examine for trachoma, a type of neglected tropical disease. (Nabin Baral)

wealthier countries like Brazil more efficiently diagnose the disease. “There’s a reason why they are diseases of poverty,” said Dr. Caryn Bern, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at University of California, San Francisco. But even as an expert on Chagas disease, Bern says “you could argue that diabetes and obesity are bigger problems because they affect more people, and we have to recognize that as a priority.” Other diseases have a higher disease burden than NTDs, like HIV, AIDs, and Tuberculosis. “A lot of what has captured peoples’ attention, in terms of climate and health, have been

big studies that focus on the future burden of disease under different climate change scenarios,” said Dr. Alexandra Heaney, postdoctoral researcher in the Remais lab at UC Berkeley. But, this kind of abstract focus on the magnitude of inherently uncertain scenarios of disease burden may come at the expense of recognizing these diseases’ impacts on communities and solving problems on the ground. “We need to focus on thinking more about communities themselves and elevating community voices in the conversation of how climate is impacting health and will impact health in the future… to help real people on the ground and

inform policy in a context specific way,” elaborated Heaney. But regardless of who and where they afflict, NTDs undeniably wreak havoc on billions of people and nations each year. And unravelling this devastating destruction dragging down the world’s poor requires cutting through complex systems of climate, ecology, society, and culture. Constantly changing relationships between pathogens, hosts, and vector species in these environmentally-mediated diseases make predicting transmission based on patterns and models challenging and sometimes impossible. For example, climate change will undoubtedly impact disease transmission but may have Fall 2021 / Perennial 16


differential effects across diseases. Humans directly affect NTD transmission through exploitative land use. Dams connect previously unconnected environments to potentially increase disease transmission liver fluke and pathogens, while irrigation and agrochemicals can also increase the transmission of aquatically transmitted pathogens. And while humans have profoundly modified their environments, pathogens and vectors living in close proximity to humans have adapted to the human-built environment. For example, the palm roofs and cracked adobe walls present in many dwellings in rural Latin America provide an ideal habitat for the triatomine bugs that cause Chagas disease. The bugs hide in the crevices between the walls and roof during the day and emerge at night to bite humans mainly on their faces, earning them the name “kissing bugs.” “We live in a world of disease,” details Dr. León. “Parasites and pathogens have co-evolved with us, and they’re not best suited by killing their host.” Improving infrastructure can drastically change the transmission of NTDs, especially in the case of Chagas disease where infection is directly correlated to housing conditions. But this is much easier said than done, as the statement “if we could just improve the 17 Fall 2020 / Perennial

houses’’ soon turns into the daunting task of changing nationwide infrastructure in areas that may not have the resources to do so. Influencing culture to modify disease transmission has been used as a strategy in public health, but these campaigns have boasted varying effectiveness. Public health campaigns addressing raw fish consumption have boasted

vector control as important resolutions. In the absence of quality infrastructure and housing in many Latin American countries, integrated vector control is a critical strategy in mitigating disease transmission. “I like the idea of approaching it from all sides,” added Dr. Heaney. “Some people are really arguing for addressing issues of environmental justice and disparities and health disparities generally. And that if we can address those, then the sort of disparities in the impacts of climate change will also be lessened.” One such disparity is drugs—many diseases have insufficient treatment, vaccines, or diagnostics—and richer countries could potentially incentivize that kind of research, commercialization, or development.

substantial success, but Koi Plai remains traditional in Isan, especially among older generations. Even in America, normalizing mask wearing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic has been met with opposition despite its effectiveness in reducing disease transmission. Poorer, more disadvantaged populations with an already high burden of infectious diseases and existing healthcare disparities will disproportionately experience the effects of climate change, calling for improving healthcare yields and

If the COVID-19 has taught the post-pandemic world anything, it is the devastating impact of infectious diseases. Many infectious diseases still plague less fortunate regions while the Western world continuously neglects them, in more ways than one. Like every public health imperilment, there is no one simple panacea but a network of interdisciplinary solutions requisite for holistic problem-solving. With increased awareness among the Western world of NTDs, coupled with interdisciplinary solutions integrating public health and climate change, there is inspiration for action.


by BEN BURMEISTER “We saved a forest. We saved an entire forest.”

fers to things you can see and hear.

Michael Hoppe, creative director of Berkeley-based Geopogo AR, is describing the time he used his company’s augmented reality (AR) software to preserve a protected wetland from destruction. The local government had rescinded the area’s “provincially significant wetland” designation, which confers environmental protections, to make way for a proposed development in Hoppe’s hometown of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

“We used (AR) to…propose a future, because that’s what AR does: it digitally projects overlays of intent on top of the world,” Hoppe said. He used Geopogo AR’s software to render a 3D visualization of the proposal’s blueprints before overlaying the 3D model directly atop the protected forest. He shared these visuals with local media and members of the surrounding community.

AR is a term describing various techniques used to layer information onto the real world. Distinct from fully immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR), AR describes real and potential sensory applications for computer-mediated displays such as your smartphone. In practice, it often re-

“The public outcry was so severe that the mayor had no choice but to retract and leave the wetlands alone,” Hoppe said. “Effectively, in design and construction… you’re saying, ‘this is what’s going to happen, or what could happen.’ We used it as an opportunity to say, ‘this is what we Fall 2021 / Perennial 18


don’t want to happen. If we build this, this is what you’re going to get.’” Full industrial adoption of AR practices could transform the sustainability outlook of the design and construction industry. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates that one quarter of U.S. domestic waste is from construction and demolition, amounting to double that of municipal waste from households and businesses. This includes an annual financial toll of billions of dollars in aggregate spent by firms on refits and project delays, costs that Geopogo AR seeks to avoid through effective communication of design intent before construction. “We can digitally project the future of the entire design right on site, at scale, and we can see and tour everything before it’s going to be built,” Hoppe explained. This may mean more efficient outcomes and less wasted resources, but Hoppe also has a larger, civically minded vision for the future of AR.

tended designs. “It’s already here…it’s been something that’s been ‘the future’ for so long that…you can be forgiven for not realizing that (AR) has come a long way since you last heard about it,” said Mac Dean, the technical co-founder of Geopogo AR. Dean came to AR from a background in video game design, an industry which has had more influence over user-experience (UX) decisions in AR applications than any other. Advances in AR and VR game design have led directly to more intuitive, useful controls for AR in business, creating an ever-proliferating suite of use cases for these emerging technologies. The highest profile example of modern AR-based gaming is Pokémon Go, a mobile application launched by Niantic Labs in 2016. The game was a runaway success due to the winning combination of Pokémon’s beloved, collectible animal avatars with Niantic’s robust AR and mapping infrastructure.

“ Geopogo AR and Seek represent divergent, complementary visions for how environmentally conscious citizens will utilize AR ”

“We want to give the common population the ability to participate in the future design of their cities,” Hoppe said. “So much, through bureaucracy, is left to chance… this is an opportunity to see rendered outcomes before they happen, so that we can look at the options on the table and… pick the best outcome for the future that has the least impact on the environment…and the greatest social impact.” Corporations and consumers are already extensively using AR in enterprise applications and social settings. Widely adopted mobile apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok utilize AR in real-time facial recognition to apply dynamic “face filters” to users for their shared cosmetic enhancement and amusement on social media platforms. Manufacturers and engineers use AR glasses to project schematics onto their workspaces, largely to make sure that their resulting products align with industry standards and in19 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Though Pokémon Go generated mixed responses from environmental advocates at large, its popularity has led environmental organizations to reckon with the potential of AR-based games to support pro-conservation behaviors. Many protected areas and community parks embraced Pokémon Go by advertising the presence of “Pokémon digitalis,” their improvised, taxonomic genus-species name for organisms in the Pokémon universe, as a gateway to exploring local green spaces. Researchers in the United Kingdom have evaluated the game as a “large-scale citizen science project” to effectively learn from its successes and failures. A 2002 University of Cambridge study found that children aged four to eleven were more likely to accurately identify Pokémon than their local wildlife.


The game inspired Abhas Misraraj, a product designer at iNaturalist, an online forum and social platform constructed for citizen scientists and natural historians to locate and distribute observations of biodiversity around the world. Misraraj created Seek, a mobile app that uses AR to make a game out of the identification of flora and fauna while engaging the global iNaturalist community in the process. “I wanted it to be like Pokémon Go, but for real plants and animals,” Misraraj said. “Maybe it’s a little harder to find them because they’re not going to pop up on your map when you’re walking around, but it’s way more gratifying because they’re their own sentient, wild animals.” Misraraj described how Seek’s design facilitates pro-conservation behaviors through education. “There’s this phenomenon called ‘plant blindness,’” Misraraj explained. “You walk around, and you don’t really notice that you’re surrounded by plants at all times, whether that’s trees, shrubs, or weeds growing out of the sidewalk. But if you know the name of (the plant)… you’re no longer blind to it. You may even become curious about where (it) comes from and its relationship to the other things around it.” Misraraj had used iNaturalist during his previous occupation as a wildlife biologist. He conducted surveys mandated by California environmental law to appraise potential threats posed by new developments to local biota, including those to native and protected species. Seek, like Geopogo AR, cultivates an inclusive, participatory ethic that democratizes the scientific enterprise. Anyone can contribute natural history observations through smartphone-quality field photos of local species, and some partic-

ipants have made genuine discoveries that ended up in scientific journals. This also serves a larger iNaturalist mission: to help individuals form a personal connection with nature in the hopes that knowing the name and look of local life forms could lead to more pro-conservation behavior. Misraraj’s grandfather, a naturalist with interests in botany and ornithology, facilitated his grandson’s interest in biology at an early age. Misraraj understands that not everyone gets to have that experience, which is a consideration that found its way into the design of Seek. “If there’s an app like Seek that can help lower the barrier and give you access to learn about something,” Misraraj said, “you’re going to be able to form that connection yourself.” Geopogo AR and Seek represent divergent, complementary visions for how environmentally conscious citizens could utilize AR. Geopogo aims to use AR to design the world that could be; Seek uses it to connect with what is. Whichever way humanity chooses to go with respect to AR, its arrival has come and gone. It is no longer a matter of if or when, but “to w h a t extent?” Dean, for his part, is concerned that the public will see what AR can do and retreat from the more positive potential futures for the technology. “There’s still a big public fear… when you talk about AR, there’s this perception that thinks ‘I’m going to see ads everywhere’… or some horrifying Black Mirror future,” said Dean. “It doesn’t have to be like that. We can do good things with this.”

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The Green Coastline, Blue Animals, and a Greener Solution

Effects of Eutrophication on Marine Health and Biodiversity by DENNIS SONG The waters of California, from its tranquil pearly lakes to the tempestuous salty coasts, are turning dollar green. Researchers have recently hypothesized that the transformation is induced by agricultural run-offs and unprocessed human feces. And unsurprisingly, civilians’ aquatic amusements and bodily health have become the unwilling victims of the water pollution. Recognized by the United Nations to be the most prevalent 21 Fall 2020 / Perennial

water quality problem, eutrophication is an ecologically disruptive accumulation of organic matter from algae overgrowth that colors the waters green. While eutrophication has always been embedded in California’s urban history, researchers have observed intensified pollution in recent years. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the 426-mile-long coastline, Southern California Bight, is experiencing enhanced eu-

trophication from “the localized discharge of anthropogenically enhanced nutrients from [...] 23 million people.” The surplus of aquatic organic content leads to increased photosynthetic algal blooms––ultimately toxifying the water. “At a glance, the sparkling waters of the Southern California coast appear healthy,” wrote UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. However, deeper into the ocean, the waters’ cyanobacte-


ria blooms are harming California’s critical aquatic and coastal ecosystems. The algal blooms result in a decrease of dissolved oxygen content which directly kills fish by producing unsuitable living conditions. Furthermore, eutrophication converts the native biomass composition to excessive phytoplankton that are not part of the native food chain. As a result, biodiversity rapidly declines in eutrophicated lakes. Eutrophication cultivates economic loss and undesirable, chemically toxic local living conditions.

effective in protecting seafood consumer’s health, periodic closures are financially difficult for fisheries. Between 2015-16 alone, the direct economic impact from closures was $29.7 million for the Dungeness and rock crab fisheries. Furthermore, unlike citizens protected by state health regu-

phication, fatally poisoned a dog after the pet drank the green water in 2021. Moreover, according to a local resident, the lake “smell[s] rotten in the warm months” and “[f]ishing tournaments were cancelled due to the noxious scum.” As the oldest lake in North America, the once clean Clear Lake, a lake north of Napa and the San Francisco Bay, was an essential food source and sacred cultural land for thousands of years. Now it is rapidly losing its ecological, economic, and recreational health to the hands of urbanizing anthropogenic pollution.

“ The surplus of aquatic organic content leads to increased photosynthetic algal blooms ultimately toxifying the water. ”

Martha Sutula from the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) warned the public that eutrophication can endanger health. Primarily, sea creatures, especially crabs, uptake green algae and accumulate domoic acid, a toxin, in their flesh. If ingested by humans, the toxin causes problems ranging from vomiting, loss of shortterm memory, coma, to potential death.

To protect public health, multiple crab fisheries’ have experienced emergent closures under state order due to increased algae blooms. Although the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are certain that strict testing measures are

lations, other mammals are not so lucky. Annually, hundreds of sea lions along the California coast experience brain damage caused by domoic acid. Their nervous systems are destroyed, causing disorientation and seizures. House pets are also victims of algae poisoning. California’s Clear Lake, a lake with a record of seven years of eutro-

Clear Lake is only one of the more than forty eutrophicated lakes in California.

Agricultural run-offs and sewage wastes are prime causes of eutrophication. Half of the amount of phytoplankton can be attributed to human pollution, wrote UCLA. Similarly, the Chinese Government reported that one severely eutrophicated lake’s phosphorus content dropped by 43% after improving the local sewage system. However, for the Southern California Bight coastline’s sheer 426-mile length, improving the failed Southern Californian sewage processing system is not a prioritized solution. This is because the treatment would be a highly costly, multi-step Fall 2021 / Perennial 22


An example of eutrophication due to algal blooms. (Alen Thien)

process, said Researcher Daniele Bianchi from the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP). Instead, environmental scientists state-wide are conducting research to find alternative, innovative solutions to eutrophication that may improve the health of coastal Southern Californians. For example, the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team Working Group (OPC SAT) is currently investigating the use of bull kelp agriculture to remedy marine eutrophication. When grown in large quantities, seaweeds can remedy eutrophication by limiting algae from up-taking organic compounds. They “steal” organic contents from algae blooms for 23 Fall 2020 / Perennial

themselves to grow. In optimal conditions, bulk seaweeds can grow six inches daily. Then, farmers can harvest the aquaculture products and remove nutrient contents from water bodies directly. “Seaweed is a perfect solution to marine eutrophication,” indicated OPC SAT. But scientists expressed demand for caution when approaching bulk seaweed aquaculture as a means to reduce eutrophication. Researcher Daniele Bianchi envisioned that large scale aquaculture may cause unintended disturbances to the coastal ecosystem for its sheer wide sea floor coverage. In contrast, UC Santa Barbara researchers believe that Cal-

ifornia is ready for seaweed aquaculture. In fact, politicians are pushing for bills and a “signed executive order that could catalyze the expansion of the U.S. aquaculture industry,” explained UCSB in a recent news-release. Moreover, researchers are investigating seaweed cultivation’s impacts — not only ecologically in capturing nutrients, but also economic benefits to food and industry sectors. Bulk seaweeds are processed into “fuels, fertilizers, and food,” notes UCSB. That said, unlike other remedy methods, exemplified by improving the sewage system, seaweed aquaculture can make a fortune and even possibly boost local economies.


Germany’s EnvironmentallyFriendly Culture

by ERIKA RIEDEL From Sauerkraut to Oktoberfest in the U.S. and McDonalds to Hollywood films in Germany, there are countless examples of American and German society influencing one another. Despite their intertwined cultures, Germany outperforms the U.S. in environmental sustainability as #10 on the Environmental Performance Index while the U.S. is at #24. This discrepancy begs the question: what aspects of U.S. culture and policy regarding the environment are lackluster in comparison to its European counterpart? Chloe Gober is a first-year student at UC Berkeley from Orange County who is a double major in Environmental Design and Conservation and Resource Studies. Although aware

of the strides made by the Biden administration thus far, Gober believes that U.S. environmental policy is “all talk but not a lot of action.” “It’d be good if we say we’re [the U.S.] going to do something and actually stick to it instead of just doing it from a more performative standpoint or because it’s politically correct,” added Gober. A potential culprit to this underwhelming environmental agenda is the inactivity of the Green Party in the U.S., which is a driving force for environmentalism in Germany. According to Deutsche Welle, the primary goal of GermaFall 2021 / Perennial 24


According to Gober, ‘Americans, in general, see clothing as something that’s disposable ...’

ny’s Green Party party is to cut greenhouse gases by 80% in 2030, far more ambitious than the government’s plan of reducing emissions by 55%. This progressive agenda is popular amongst Germans, as the Green Party is the 2nd largest party in Germany, having received 20.5% of the votes cast in 2019 according to CNBC.

In contrast, the American Green Party is severely underdeveloped, garnering only 0.2% of the nationwide votes for the 2020 presidential election according to the Associated Press. Gober, however, foresees the Green Party becoming “more popular as environmentalism becomes more popular and more urgent.” “But for right now,” continued Gober, “it just seems like they have a minimal impact on a grand scale.” Another key distinction between Germany and the U.S. is Germany’s membership in the European Union (EU). As part of the EU, Germany must abide by EU laws, including the Green New Deal which strives to transform the EU into a climate-neutral area by 2050. But as one of the most powerful countries in the EU, Germany exercises great influence over EU legislation and policy. In addition to environmental regulation, a culture of sustainability contributes to the eco-friendliness of a country. According to Linda Bischof, a 17 year-old high school student living in Munich, Germany, “sustainability is an important topic in Germany” as exhibited by its efficient recycling system and attempts to extract electricity from renewable sources such as wind power. Bischof accredits much of Germany’s environmentally-conscious attitude to the younger generations who attend student climate strikes called “Fridays for the Future”. In America, this fervor for environmental advocacy is less widespread and depends on the region, according to Gober. “I think if you grow up in urban settings you’re not gonna get that same exposure to it and it’s not gonna sink in as deep,” said Gober. 25 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Gober, herself, became interested in environmentalism because of the trips she took with her family to National Parks. “Just growing up in areas and being exposed to areas where I could see wildlife and natural ecosystems reinforced to me that it’s important and that I need to make sure that I’m not harming these parts of the country and these parts of the world,” said Gober.

From a German perspective, Americans “like and want to preserve their great nature because there are many national parks,” but their “waste disposal in nature is a problem sometimes,” according to Bischof. This sense of appreciation for nature in both countries is reinforced by the eco-friendly habits of its population. For Gober, her eco-conscious lifestyle consists of using a reusable water bottle, buying sustainable clothing, using reusable cutlery, minimizing her water usage, and taking public transportation. Bischof similarly tries to ride her bike or take public transportation. However, she thinks German “public transport should be cheaper and better so that more people use it instead of their own car.” According to Gober, public transportation in the U.S. is “stigmatized”, and isn’t something she frequently used until coming to Berkeley. “Before I was using public transportation, I didn’t realize how much of a privilege it is to have my own car to use and I saw public transportation as something I would only use as a last resort. But now I kind of see how useful of a tool it is,” said Gober. “If I could make a small choice on a daily basis that will make a difference in the long run, even if it’s a little more inconvenient at the time, I think everyone should make that choice,” added Gober. Gober predicts that Americans will be more willing to take public transit once “we design and configure our streets to not favor cars as much.”


According to Bischof, Germany’s public transportation is similarly not used to its fullest extent as “Germans do not want to do without their car.” Shopping sustainably is also crucial for environmental protection, with the fashion industry being the second-biggest consumer of water and contributing to 8-10% of global carbon emissions, according to the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion. Both Gober and Bischof try to be aware of the environmental impact that comes with clothing they buy. “I ask myself before I buy something if I really need it and when it comes to clothes I purchase most of them from second hand shops,” said Bischof. Gober hopes to see people in the U.S. “make more of an effort to buy something they know is going to last them a really long time.” According to Gober, “Americans, in general, see clothing as something that’s disposable and don’t recognize where their clothing comes from,” as they “have the luxury and privilege to order something and throw it away when they don’t need it anymore.” One of Germany’s most prominent eco-friendly cultural practices is their Mülltrennung, or waste separation system. This process involves sorting waste into 4 bins: yellow (plastic packaging and non-paper packaging materials), green/blue (paper products and cardboard), black/gray (household waste and all other types of waste that cannot be recycled), and brown (food and garden waste). German citizens are also expected to return their empty bottles and are, in turn, given 25 cents for their disposable bottles and 15 cents for returnable bottles. According to Bischof, this waste separation is a nationwide system across Germany. In the U.S, however, state

governments make their own recycling regulations. The lack of federal mandate for recycling has had grave environmental consequences as the U.S. produces 12% of global municipal solid waste while only accounting for 4% of the world’s population, according to the Grist. Gober is particularly dissatisfied with UC Berkeley’s recycling program as she believes that industrial compost and food waste should be separated. She also thinks that it would “be better to not have compostable plates and just ceramic plates that we can just wash here.” In terms of strategies for Americans to reduce their food waste, Gober is aware of how food deserts, places where nutritional food is inaccessible, can affect Americans’ ability to be environmentally-conscious when buying meals. “Depending on the area, in some parts of America like I know for low income communities, it’s a lot cheaper to buy from fast food places and that’s more of a necessity for them,” said Gober. But for Americans who have the privilege to choose, Gober believes they “should definitely try to buy food that’s organic, locally sourced, and only eat what we can consume.” Affording everything from organic food to sustainable clothing is a privilege only accessible to those of higher socioeconomic backgrounds, making environmental consciousness “an equity issue as well,” according to Gober.

‘ ... as they have the luxury and privilege to order something and throw it away... ’

All in all, it is apparent that the U.S.’s legislature and infrastructure lags behind that of Germany’s in terms of environmental sustainability. But with shared eco-friendly attitudes and habits, Americans and Germans could have more in common than what meets the eye.

Sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eir/ index_en.htm https://iclg.com/practice-areas/environment-and-climate-change-laws-and-regulations/ germany https://www.econstor.eu/obitstream/10419/48980/1/189347120.pdf https://www.dw.com/en/love-for-the-forests-deeply-rooted-in-german-psyche/a-3970648 https://www.youthreporter.eu/de/beitrag/waste-separation-in-germany.14686/#.YXXPENbMLDI https://epi.yale.edu/epi-results/2020/component/epi https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/11/germanys-greens-were-riding-high-in-the-polls-but-fell-from-grace.html https://grist.org/article/the-u-s-is-way-worse-at-recycling-than-other-developed-countries/ Fall 2021 / Perennial 26


At the Edge of

a Vanished Planet: The Sixth Mass Extinction by ELAINE ZHANG From the beloved giant panda and magnificent rhinoceros, the charismatic mascots of conservation, to popularly consumed fish like orange roughy and Patagonian toothfish, species around the world are under threat. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) estimates that wildlife populations have plummeted by over 60% since 1970. Over 38,500 species are classified as at risk for extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Such drastic declines in local populations and global populations are concerning. Continuous losses in local and global wildlife populations result in decreasing biodiversity, or the amount of variation of genes, species, and ecosystems. Many scientists consider the current situation to 27 Fall 2020 / Perennial

be that of an ongoing mass extinction: the Sixth Mass Extinction. According to Erica Bree Rosenblum, an associate professor at the University of California studying speciation and extinction, there is scientific consensus on the origins. “We have gone through periods of mass extinction before, but what’s different about this one is that it is caused by us,” she explained. Human activities have driven extensive global environmental change in a short period of time. Global species declines can be attributed to habitat fragmentation and loss, overexploitation, the spread of invasive species, and climate change. And this decline will only accelerate as human impacts continue to increase.


Graph depicts percentage of observed extinctions among IUCN-evaluated vertebrates against expected background rate. (Mongabay)

Extinction occurs naturally within the process of evolutionary adaptation, but chances of extinction under normal circumstances, also known as the background rate of extinction, is one per million species per year. The seminal paper “Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction” used the fossil record to assess the current extinction rate. Even using the most conservative estimates and a higher assumed background rate of extinction showed that extinction rates are currently “unusually high.” Furthermore, while the Earth has recovered from past mass extinction events, ecosystem recovery for the ongoing extinction crisis will not occur on a timescale meaningful to society, taking place over millions of years. Shaye Wolf, Climate Change Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit organization focused on endangered species, explained the link between climate change and heightening extinction risk. Wolf said, “You see species shifting their ranges up in slope or up in latitude to try to keep up with suitable climate conditions. Species are changing their timing of breeding, or their essential life activities.” According to Wolf, sometimes moving to higher elevations is not possible. Ecosystems are being damaged by biodiversity declines, and this will only be accelerated by the effects of climate change. The loss of keystone

species drastically reduces ecosystem functioning, and biodiversity loss as a whole reduces ecosystem resilience, or the ability of ecosystems to adapt to changing environmental conditions, such as the effects of climate change. The ongoing mass extinction and subsequent rapid loss in diversity will have vast ecological and societal consequences if not promptly addressed. Biodiversity loss will be disastrous not only for ecosystems but for us. Wolf explained, “Other species are vital to our very survival and to our health and wellbeing. They provide for basic human needs: food, clean water, materials, medicines, and essential services. There’s also a lot of research showing that living near green space really improves our health and wellbeing, providing a lot of physical and mental health benefits.” Ecosystems form the foundation of ecosystem services, defined as any benefits that ecosystems provide to humanity. This includes the sequestration of excess carbon by productive forests, or the role of plants in regulating water cycles. Species loss compromises these services by disrupting ecosystem functioning and will result in increasingly scarce resources. Current trajectories indicate that ecosystems will be delivering fewer benefits in the face of increasing resource needs from a growing population. Tiffany Yap, a wildlife scientist working at the Fall 2021 / Perennial 28


Center for Biological Diversity, commented, “A lot of the time, people try to separate what is nature and where people and human communities are, but once more people start to understand that it’s really more integrated and interconnected than that, that’s when we can get much better coexistence and benefits for people and the wildlife and habitats around us.”

question that in the U.S., far more species would have gone extinct than have gone extinct,” Glitzenstein said.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been one of the cornerstones of U.S. conservation regulation. Listed species receive a wide net of protections under its statutes. Among its success stories is the bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States, which received protection after scienThere have been multiple policy attempts made to mitigate the increase in tists discovered that its biodiversity loss. had signifi“ A lot of the time, people try to sep- population cantly dwindled because Eric Glitzenstein, the arate what is nature and where peo- of hunting and the use Director of Litigation at ple and human communities are, but of the popular pesticide the Center for Biological once more people start to understand DDT, which eroded eagle Diversity, and a lawyer that it’s really more integrated and shells. heavily involved in the wildlife policy field, ex- interconnected than that, that’s when Glitzenstein explained, we can get much better coexistence “The glass half-empty plained that the United States has a large and and benefits for people and the wild- perspective is that law extensive body of legishas been woefully underlife and habitats around us. ” lation dealing with the funded over the course conservation of endanof time. It has been subgered species. Such laws include the Migratory ject to extreme political pressure under all adminBird Act, Marine Mammals Act, as well as the Enistrations. Even though scientists are supposed dangered Species Act. While these policies for proto dictate the outcome of many decisions made tecting biodiversity have been successful in some under the Endangered Species Act, it is invariregards, their overall effectiveness is controverably true that political pressure is brought to bear sial. when species interests come into conflict with major economic interests.” “One can take a glass half-full, and one can take a glass half-empty type of perspective on this. The Currently, there is a backlog of hundreds of speglass half-full perspective is that we would be in cies that are widely considered endangered but far worse straits if we didn’t have these laws. Take have yet to be listed as such by the Act and receive its protections. For many species with dangerousthe Endangered Species Act for example, if we had ly few individuals left, there is only a short winnot had the Endangered Species Act, there is no

(American Bird Conservancy)

29 Fall 2020 / Perennial


dow of opportunity for species recovery. Another issue is how climate change is dealt with in the statutes of the ESA. One statute states that any agency whose actions may threaten a listed species is obligated to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to prevent it. According to Glitzenstein, when it comes to climate change, under the guise of “uncertainty” for which sectors contribute most to climate change, it is not within the jurisdiction of USFWS to deal with the root problem. There are many activists working to change this, as models have significantly improved, and it is possible to identify which sectors have been major drivers of climate change. On the international scale, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets made during the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity served as benchmarks for a global environmental agreement to protect species in the past two decades. Ultimately, none of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets were fully met. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) 2019 Global Assessment Report indicated that current trajectories will not be enough to meet conservation and sustainability goals. “The bottom line is that we would be in far worse shape without the domestic and international legal infrastructure which has been established. But we’re not nearly where we need to be to prevent the ongoing extinction of species.” said Glitzenstein.

working on creating wildlife crossings for mountain lions in California, where local populations are vulnerable due to habitat fragmentation. She expressed hope that there will be positive results from focusing on protecting keystone species, “One of the challenges is that not all species are loved equally and don’t receive the same amount of public support. We’re hoping to get protections for mountain lions, which are widely loved, and that will bring positive biodiversity benefits to the many other species in the ecosystem.” Wolf said that while it is important to be conserving species, it is also necessary to address the root problem of fossil fuels, the primary drivers of climate change. “We need a just transition to clean and renewable energy, an energy democracy, that doesn’t harm our lungs; our communities, especially indigenous communities; and our wildlife.” She emphasized the links between environmental injustice and biodiversity loss. “The crisis period has to do with us not having respected life enough. To really be here on this planet as participants,” said Rosenblum, “We need to see ourselves where we’ve always been—which is part of an incredibly complex and dynamic ecosystem.”

According to Glitzenstein, the main obstacle against conservation efforts is lack of funding. “The governmental agencies charged with implementing laws like the Endangered Species Act have been given a monumental task: forestalling the extinction of species whose very existence is incredibly tenuous.” said Glitzenstein, “But they have been given a paltry amount of money to implement that remarkably broad and comprehensive mandate.” “We need to have our decision makers and people in power take action by actually implementing a system in which funding can actually go towards biodiversity conservation,” said Yap.

Looking Forward

As a conservation scientist, Yap is currently Fall 2021 / Perennial 30


by NISHITA DASHPUTE

Genetically engineered (GE) trees provide an innovative solution for combating contributions to the greenhouse gas effect, however, their development is likely to exacerbate environmental injustices, particularly in Indigenous communities. The genetic modification of plants began several thousand years ago with the selective breeding of teosinte by the Mesoamericans to develop corn. Advances such as the discovery of DNA and experimentation with recombinant DNA over the years has led to innovations in modification techniques like CRISPR-Cas9, allowing for genetic modification to become a viable solution to diverse modern issues. One of these issues was the American chestnut blight, in which C. parasitica wreaked havoc on American chestnut forests, them near extinction. Fall 2021 / Perennial 31

In response, researchers at SUNY developed Darling 58, a blight resistant tree using wheat genes, which could allow for the repopulation of American chestnut forests. However, the success of the GE American Chestnut is contrasted with the failure of the one and only GE plantation in the world, located in China. Black poplar trees were engineered for Bt insect resistance and released into the wild, where they intermingled with native populars, giving these trees increased Bt concentrations as well. Health of the plantation quickly went awry. One of the targeted species of caterpillars was a major source of food for certain songbirds, and general increase in Bt toxin induced the mass death of these insects, resulting in severe ecological damage.


Even with this ecological flop, many corporation remain proponents of the advancement of GE trees due to their infinite commercial possibilities. In an interview with the Campaign to Stop GE Trees, Anne Petermann, the Executive Director of the Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), an organization that promotes environmental justice in Indigenous groups, explicitly highlighted Monsanto, Duke Energy, and ArborGen to be groups that directly assist in the proliferation of GE trees through technological and monetary aid. In addition, Petermann is skeptical of the benefits of the GE American Chestnut, believing that it is “being sold as a tool for conversation” and if corporations can sell it as “tool for green purposes such as natural climate solutions [ . . . ], then they [corporations] can open the door to huge markets for GE trees that is specifically designed to enable the unsustainable lifestyles of the world’s one percent.” Aside from causing ecological catastrophes, GE trees also pose a threat to Indigenous communities, in particular the Mapuche people of Chile. The Mapuche tribe is the largest Indigenous group in Chile, encompassing 12% of the country’s population, however their existence has been jeopardized by an extreme loss of land under Auguste Pinochet’s dictatorship. In a later interview with Perennial, Petermann discussed how the Pinochet regime seized Mapuche land and gave it to large industrial timber companies, who then grew tree plantations of pine and eucalyptus. There are still laws today that encourage the conversion of agricultural land to industrial plantations. Aside from the failed GE forest in China, there are no GE forests in the world, causing groups like the GJEP to speculate the societal and ecological

American Chesnut Blight, C parasitica.

Though GE trees are full of promise as they can sequester increasing amounts of carbon and grow faster, they pose great humanitarian risk.

effects of GE plantations based on industrial forests. The expansion of industrial plantations has resulted in “abrasive poverty of 33% [in Mapuche communities] and a number of communities, because they are surrounded by these tree plantations, which are very water intensive, have lost their access to water,” said Petermann. Furthermore, the little remaining water is contaminated by the myriad of pesticides and herbicides sprayed on the plantations. Seeing as these are the impacts with existing plantations, Petermann strongly believes that the harmful effects of tree plantations will be exacerbated by GE trees as they will grow faster, requiring more water to be drawn out of the ground. In addition to the displacement of people and water inequity, these plantations also increase the chance of wildfire as Chile had the worst wildfire season in the country’s history in 2016-2017, in which most of the fuel was dead plantation trees. This encouraged the fire to spread to local communities and infiltrate wild forests. Though GE trees are full of promise as they can sequester increasing amounts of carbon and grow faster, they pose great humanitarian risks. The displacement and water injustice of the Mapuche people is not an isolated or rare occurrence. With these considerations, can GE trees still be the solution to the climate crisis? Fall 2021 / Perennial 32


Sebastiao Salgado

The Amazon Rainforest: Losing the World’s Carbon Sink by SHARAN KALKAT Under a thick canopy of trees, shrubbery, and wild plants hides a floor of the world’s most diverse assortment of organisms on our planet. The Amazon rainforest is known for its ecological and cultural significance which, in its beauty and service to all living things, covers over 40% of the South American continent. The Amazon is the richest ecosystem on the planet. Referred to as the lungs of the planet, the Amazon rainforest sequesters a critical amount of carbon necessary for sustaining life on earth. The recorded two billion tons of carbon per year that the Amazon rainforest sequesters has remained critical to all life on this planet. Sadly, as a result of the current humaninduced climate crisis, the forest can no longer Fall 2021 / Perennial 33

sustain its carbon intake. As fossil fuel combustion, industrial agriculture operations, and the pervasive exploitation of natural resources have exponentially increased over the past century, there is a tremendous ever-growing need for maintaining the Earth’s forests as carbon reservoirs. However, changes in the global landscape have led to severe alterations in the atmosphere. Logging and deforestation cause reductions in temperature which lead to less precipitation and hydrological changes between climate and the land. Now, the Amazon rainforest suffers less rainfall, less humidity, and more fires. This is catastrophic for humanity as it contributes to the largest environmental and societal crisis of


the coming decades—climate change. The rainforest provides an incredibly biodiverse body of forestry that is essential for carbon sequestration, or carbon emitted by human beings that is replaced with oxygen in the atmosphere. In the past decade, catastrophic forest fires have emitted 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, with 0.5 tons being absorbed by the forest––netting 1.0 billion tons of unsequestered carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. With the climate crisis in full force, we may be losing a vital chance at survival. Vulnerable communities who are native to the South American rainforest have already started to bear the brunt of the deforestation. While talking about his native Amazonian home, Jarol Fernando, director of the Shiripuno Lodge and Research Station out in the Ecuadorian Amazon, explained how “the changes are quite visible now and they are measurable and now anybody who has been before during the nineties and then comes back to the rainforest, those people will see and feel the difference.” Indigenous farmers and communities have inhabited the rainforest and its lush areas for hundreds of years,

“The more we destroy the planet’s carbon sinks in a non-regenerative manner, the more potential that is being created for climate refugees and displacement of certain vulnerable populations.”

preserving and caring for the tens of thousands of plant and animal species that thrive in the forest. These voices are suppressed and national policy leadership has failed both the underrepresented communities and the natural ecosystems. And those who have attempted to speak out or protest against the South American government’s mishandlings have also bore the brunt. In the past decade alone, hundreds of rainforest activists have been murdered for their activism in remote areas of the Amazon while Brazilian leaders refuse to divest from polluting industries. Corporate lobbying and transnational business greed have allowed meat, oil, apparel, and more industries to continue deforestation. The logging and deforestation have also destroyed much of the natural habitats that were once beaming with life. Important species such as insects carry out a pivotal job in the ecosystem. Fernando spoke on the impacts of the decreased productivity on the local communities, explaining how the declining insect populations “play a huge role in the productivity of the forest in making sure many flowers are pollinated and produce fruit for the indigenous people.” His passion for rainforest conservation is not isolated, as there are thousands of activists and Indigenous leaders organizing community projects. Ecuador’s political and social conditions make most conservation efforts unsuccessful, but Ecuadorians remain persistent. Through sustainable projects such as compost programs, forest gardens, community-owned productions, and polyculture farms, small local farmers have designed a formidable impact. Aside from the massive impact the forest has in reversing the effects of climate change, there are copious additional environmental, medicinal, and humanitarian benefits to preserving the Amazon. The leading culprit causing the deforestation is the meat industry––cattle farms and animal feed farms contribute to catastrophic clearing of primary forest. In fact, according to a Mighty Earth article published in August 2019, soy farms––curated for animal consumption––located in the Amazon have a direct correlation to the concentration of fires in the forest. In the Bolivian Amazon, the agricultural industry burned 2.5 million acres in the span of a Fall 2021 / Perennial 34


few weeks to clear land for new cattle and soy animal feed plantations. Since the inception of this article, the cycle of destruction has persisted and several thousand more acres have burned. The Amazon is home to over half of the world's species. As we lose more of the Amazon and its countless ecosystem services, more species will eventually die out. Restoration efforts have largely been led by local communities and environmental activists who are fighting on the frontlines to help preserve the Amazon. Alexis Gropper, a biologist at Yakum Ecuador––a reforestation program that works with culturally and geographically important species (species that are sources for food, medicine, wood, fibers, artisanal crafts, and oils)––champions that her work focuses on “reforesting in a way that can also have value added so the families will take care of the trees to maturation because they are going to have benefits from the trees. Instead of just reforesting, we are reforesting with benefits for the families: they are trees that can give food for generations or that give economic income for the oils they produce or different opportunities.” By destroying the planet’s carbon sinks, we continue to drive climate change, diplace vulnera-

ble populations, and create climate refugees. This past October, the Amazon rainforest was pronounced by the United Nations as an overburdened carbon sink, and what will be next? The same operations that are destroying this rainforest are still ongoing and jeopardizing the rest of our planet. Gropper further expressed her concern and stated that “there is such an urgent need for direct action and taking action can be so diverse, I am here with the communities following my passion as far as learning about ecosystem regeneration, permaculture, food processing, sustainable incomes.” She highlighted the idea that every person––in one way or another––is responsible. Once all of the Earth’s carbon sinks are exhausted and are no longer able to sequester carbon, there will be a catastrophic oxygen crisis endangering our lives as well as all life on earth. This has progressed past a scientific and ecological disaster; it is now a question of preserving humanity. Sources: 1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/07/theamazon-rain-forest-is-losing-200000-acres-a-day-soon-it-will-betoo-late 2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03629-6#citeas 3. https://stories.mightyearth.org/amazonfires/index.html 4. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/14/amazonrainforest-now-emitting-more-co2-than-it-absorbs

Sebastiao Salgado 35 Fall 2020 / Perennial


HOW WE CAN RESTORE AN ECOSYSTEM ENGINEER THAT FIGHTS CLIMATE CHANGE by THUY-TIEN BUI Served on platters around the world is a food that may be an effective defense against climate change. Although often overlooked, this modest yet remarkable rock of an animal plays a vital role in marine ecosystems. It filters our waters, agglomerates into reef habitat for hundreds of species, facilitates carbon sequestration, and provides a natural defense against the rising sea. These ecosystem services are all credited to one humble and seemingly simple bivalve: the oyster. In large part due to overharvesting, habitat loss, and disease, an estimated 85% of wild oyster reefs have disappeared since the late 19th century, placing them among the most threatened marine habitats on Earth. With climate change expected to increase sea level rise and coastal erosion, communities are trying to restore oyster reefs to build coastal resilience in the face of global change. Oysters survive by sticking together — literally. During reproduction, oysters spawn tiny larvae that float along the water column before permanently attaching to older and even dead oysters. At this stage, the larvae are known as “spat” and they continue to grow in the same spot for the rest of their lives. Generation after generation, spat will grow on top of other oysters, eventually building up three-dimensional reef habitats. “These habitats can provide a lot of benefit with reducing wave energy and preventing flooding,” explained Marilyn Latta, a project manager at the State Coastal Conservancy. Oyster reefs capture the impact of the wave’s force, pushing part of the wave back to the ocean and allowing the rest to approach the shore more gently. Although oyster reefs won’t stop a storm surge, they help limit the damage and slow down erosion in the long run. This is especially important in areas like San Diego and San Francisco, where rising ocean levels erode the shoreline and push the entire coast back. The current short-term solution to this long-term problem is concrete seawalls that are built to shield the coast from forceful waves. However, man-made seawalls need to be periodically repaired and rebuilt to keep up with rising sea levels. Growing oysters on top of man-made structures or even mounds of recycled Fall 2021 / Perennial 36


oyster shells makes breakwaters more adaptable to sea level rise. “We call this green infrastructure,” said Latta. “Oysters have a lot of biological glue just by forming habitat over that concrete structure and there is a good chance that you’re going to strengthen it and maybe result in less maintenance over time because it’s more self-sustaining.”

goal of this restoration plan is to map undesignated natural beds and understand their status to help rehabilitate them. “We want to develop management practices for them going into the future — so deciding what sort of substrate and quantities of substrate to add, and numbers of broodstock that we would plant in those areas,” said Getchis.

In addition to engineering ecosystems, oysters also facilitate carbon sequestration. While oysters release carbon dioxide when they respire, they also store carbon in their shells as they form. A more indirect way oysters help remove carbon absorbed by the ocean is by filter feeding. An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, dumping out organic matter such as algae and nitrogen to the ocean floor and expelling clean water. This improves water clarity, which allows sunlight to penetrate and sea grasses to grow. Sea grasses, like eel grass, remove carbon dioxide from the water through photosynthesis and store it in its roots even after it dies.

On the west coast, the San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines Project has been piloting oyster restoration efforts in the Bay Area for over a decade. “So living shorelines, that’s a restoration design approach that strategically cites habitat treatments in order to achieve both physical and biological benefits,” explained project manager Marilyn Latta. The project constructed oyster and eelgrass reefs at two sites in 2012 to reinforce the shoreline, minimize coastal erosion, and increase biodiversity and habitat for aquatic plants and wildlife. “Having oysters and eelgrass in the same project area is really helpful because it increases the biodiversity of the site,” said Latta. “But it’s better to have a good space between them because oyster reefs actually limit where eelgrass can grow and spread.”

Oyster reefs were hugely abundant along the east and west coast of the US from the 1600s through the 1800s. Wild oyster beds dominated New York Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay, with reefs so large that ships had to navigate around them. Needless to say, this isn’t the case today. Oysters were nearly harvested to extinction and their habitat was scraped away and destroyed from dredging, pollution, and urbanization. Further declines initiated in the 1900s when diseases were introduced by non-native oysters and parasites in the water column, causing extensive mortalities along the east coast and later along the west. However, global causes of oyster decline do not necessarily translate to local scales. Tessa Getchis, an aquaculture extension specialist with the Connecticut Sea Grant and University of Connecticut Extension Program, explained, “Historically, we’ve seen changes to oyster habitat from overfishing and pollutants, but that is sort of a 200 year history. Those aren’t the recent impacts we’ve seen to these beds.” Getchis described extreme rainfall events and storms as the looming natural threats to oysters in Connecticut. Sedimentation from strong river flows and runoff covers or sometimes buries shellfish in sediment, preventing oyster larvae from attaching to other shells. “Because most of our natural beds have been harvested to some degree, the [growth] rate of the bed is not is not able to outpace the rate of sedimentation,” said Getchis. “And that’s really the challenge.” The good news is, in places like Connecticut, oyster populations have remained stable and efforts are underway to rehabilitate shellfish beds for harvest and recreation. Connecticut Sea Grant and their partners are working on a project to help inform restoration decision-making in Long Island Sound. By analyzing environmental conditions and human use patterns through Geographic Information System maps, the project seeks to identify suitable areas for shellfish restoration. “We have two types of what we call ‘natural beds’,” Tessa Getchis explained. “Undesignated natural beds are beds that are not used for the purpose of aquaculture. They’re left untouched, but we haven’t mapped them. Designated natural beds are large and very important natural beds that serve the purpose of providing seed for oyster aquaculture.” One 37 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Within five years of the San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines Project, over 4 million native oysters have settled at the project’s sites. “We had an increase of more than 10 taxa using the site,” said Latta. So it was roughly a hundred species when you consider all of the invertebrates, seaweeds, fish, birds, and mammals that were using the site.” The results of the project also showed significant physical benefits. “We saw a 30% reduction in wave energy at the site during certain times,” explained Latta. “Our hope is that [oyster reefs] continue to provide healthy, sustainable habitat over the long term.” Although we may never be able to restore oyster reefs to their original state, ongoing restoration efforts give us hope for a sustainable future. As the climate crisis continues, communities are looking for innovative ways to build resilience. In coastal areas, including many bays in California, the answer lies in an unassuming creature with a powerful function. While oyster restoration is not a simple task, the benefits they provide — whether it is reducing wave impacts, offsetting nutrient inputs, or increasing the health and biodiversity of bays — make the challenge worthwhile. Sources: 1. https://www.bbc.com/future/bespoke/follow-thefood/the-simple-shellfish-that-fights-climate-change. html 2. https://www.conservationgateway.org/ConservationPractices/Marine/Documents/Shellfish%20Reefs%20 at%20Risk-06.18.09-Pages.pdf 3. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/spat.html 4. https://sealevelrise.org/states/california/ 5. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/ rspb.2017.0891 6. https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/habitat-conservation/oyster-reef-habitat#:~:text=Besides%20providing%20seafood%2C%20oysters%20make,gallons%20 of%20water%20per%20day. 7. https://grist.org/science/how-oysters-and-seagrasscould-help-the-california-coast-adapt-to-rising-seas/ 8. https://www.chesapeakebay.net/issues/oysters 9. https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2018/11/01/restorationplan-for-sounds-shellfish-beds-is-goal-of-new-project


Greening the Spice Trade: Investing in Biodiversity and Preservation Through the Support of Single Origin Spices

Artistic map of global spices; Feed Magazine

How can the spice industry be decolonized and restructured to be more sustainable and ethical? by TRISHA VENKATESH Spices, be it in a turmeric latte or black pepper flakes, are vibrant assets to our culinary lives, elevating flavours and economies across the world. Yet the current spice trade, though overlooked, is a product of exploitation of marginalized communities and colonialism. A new generation of ambitious entrepreneurs in the Bay Area is seeking to change this by creating a radically transparent new supply chain that prioritizes single origin supply and the productivity of

natural agriculture.

natural disasters, and more.

Farmers across South Asia, despite being the backbone of the global agricultural sector, have often been victims of violence and exploitation. The National Crime Records Bureau of India found in their 2012 annual report that farmer suicides made up 11.2% of India’s suicide cases. These deaths can be attributed to decreasing yields and increasing costs of agriculture associated with genetically-modified crops, corruption of government funds, droughts,

Farmers are often pressured into a vicious cycle of cultivating monoculture, often using seeds rationed by the government that require use of excess pesticides and are not endemic in nature. This in turn damages the natural land and native species, accelerates rates of soil erosion, and puts farmers in a dire financial state. Countering this phenomenon requires a shift in focus from industrial farming to regenerative agriculture. Fall 2021 / Perennial 38


Regenerative agriculture describes farming practices that restore organic matter in the soil and promote native soil biodiversity, contributing to the reversal of climate change’s effects on soil. “Over time, I’ve seen that if you use regenerative methods, for example, cover crops, you end up, at the base of it, investing in your soil. And over time, you invest in your soil, you’re gonna get more of an output later on. says Antonio Ferrer, volunteer at the Berkeley Student Farms, affiliated to the University of California, Berkeley. Diaspora Co. is a queer, BIPOC owned business based in Oakland, founded by Sana Javeri Kadri to decolonize the spice trade and put the power directly in the hands of farmers. Instead of working backwards by demand, the company’s ethos is more about finding mindful Indian farmers with sustainable practices who specialize in certain spices native to their region, and supporting them. “Our farm partner Abraham [based in Udumbanchola, Kerala] was able to find a wild variety [of Baraka cardamom] on his farm, and it happened to just be the most delicious cardamom we’ve ever had and that he’s ever tasted. With our investment in his Baraka cardamom, he was able to extend that plant and grow it to his whole farm, and we are able to just support him and his family” explains Diaspora Co’s marketing manager Virali Dave. By working with these smallscale farmers, they are able to invest in the preservation and cultivation of native plants, 39 Fall 2020 / Perennial

“The National Crime Records Bureau of India found in their 2012 annual report that farmer suicides made up 11.2% of India’s suicide cases.”

spices, and species — working with the land instead of against it. Companies like Diaspora Co. are practicing sustainability in a radically different way from the norm. Apart from being sourced from Indian farmers and BIPOC employees, their spices are also almost always same-year harvest, and under a year old by the time they reach the consumer. According to Virali, investing in Diaspora Co.’s products also means supporting a larger effort to decolonize our education and mindset around spices. “​​A lot of the work we’re doing is just reframing the narrative around what a spice is, what a spice is worth, what it should look like and taste like and smell like, and what it should cost and why?” Buying locally and sustainably can be a hassle at times, often being more expensive and labour and time intensive. But according to Berkeley Student Farms’ Antonio, “It also provides a livelihood which is culturally relevant. I think if you support eating local and support farmers who are using traditional crops from the region they grew up in, you’re supporting a larger community as well I believe. And people are able to practice their culture, and continue and create a more circular economy.” Considering that many wealthy Californians pride themselves on being ultra-progressive and sustainable, single origin spices are worth looking into as a way to give back to communities that need it most, invest in native biodiversity, and get more bang for the buck.


by COLIN MEQUET Overfishing poses one of the biggest threats to the ecological health of the oceans. It is estimated that the average fish population size was cut in half from 1970 to 2012, and the number of fish continues to tumble as more fisheries fall into “over-exploited” and “depleted” categories. As the economic and human costs of this crisis begin to materialize, policymakers are scrambling to find answers. One solution has come to the forefront: marine aquacul-

ture. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), marine aquaculture “refers to farming species that live in the ocean and estuaries.” Considered to be a sustainable alternative to commercial fishing, aquaculture has been widely adopted by much of the world. The United Nations reports that global aquaculture production rose by 527% between 1990 and 2018, which allowed the world’s commercial fishing production to almost

plateau even during a period of ballooning global demand for seafood. Today, farmed fish comprises roughly half of the world’s seafood market. However, due to fragmentation within the American environmental and ocean conservation communities, the United States has not taken part in the world’s aquaculture boom––NOAA describes the U.S. as a “minor aquaculture producer,” ranking 17th in global fish-farming production despite supporting the world’s 4th largest capture Fall 2021 / Perennial 40


fishing industry. This is because, in their existing forms, U.S. regulatory pathways are not conducive to the expansion of American aquaculture. While many other countries in the developed world have nurtured a state-sponsored aquaculture industry, American marine aquaculture permitting processes have remained in relative infancy. “We don’t have a system right now for leasing the actual water column,” said Kat Montgomery, a former Knauss Marine Policy Fellow who worked on the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, aimed at developing marine aquaculture by giving the greenlight to companies to begin offshore operations. “Oil, gas, and offshore wind [industries] lease the ocean floor through the Department of Interior, but we don’t have a system for that for offshore federal waters. The permits don’t even exist yet that someone might need.” Furthermore, clarifying and developing these permitting processes has proven to be an almost insurmountable task. Ocean conservationists in favor of aquaculture, like Montgomery, are finding themselves the victims of past successes. “It really comes down to the fact that we in the United States have some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world. And that’s not a bad thing,” said Montgomery. “It’s important, and it’s how we can maintain the 41 Fall 2020 / Perennial

long term health of some of our fisheries.” And so the environmental community is at a crossroads: while marine aquaculture expansion would curtail unsustainable commercial fishing, interest groups and fish-farming proponents must advocate for environmental deregulation to develop necessary permitting processes. However, these regulations are the fruit of decades’ worth of hard work from ocean conservationists, and their obstruction to aquaculture expansion is indicative of legitimate sustainability concerns that are now the subject of debates pitting environmental advocacy groups against each other. “[Aquaculture] is associated with many serious environmental and health concerns, including the escape of farmed fish into the wild, the spread of diseases and parasites from farmed fish to wild fish and other marine life, and pollution from excess feed, wastes, and any antibiotics flowing through the open pens into natural waters,” said Niaz Dorry, coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. “This all could hurt commercial and other fishing interests and our access to real food.” Consequently, aquaculture proponents, like Montgomery, have found fragmentation in areas where they need their most resounding support. Prominent environmental organizations like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and The Center for Biological Diversity


Offshore Aquaculture - Lead Image Source : Sodel Vladyslav/Shutterstock

have voiced to Congress their outspoken opposition to offshore fish-farming. Moreover, many coastal communities–– some wary of potential pollution in their waters and others financially dependent on the local fishing industry––resist the industry’s expansion. But Montgomery still believes that offshore aquaculture can be used to make the American fishing industry more sustainable. “Americans are not going to stop eating fish grown through marine aquaculture––we’re going to import it from another country that decided that they would take the chance,” said Montgomery “So it’s a false

choice, because we have the opportunity to do it here and really make sure that we do it well. If we don’t, then we’re just going to buy it from somewhere where they’re not doing it as well. Or maybe they are, but then all the economic benefits and jobs go to a different country.” While the environmental community continues its debate, the aquaculture industry is still trying to forge ahead and push legislation through Congress to open offshore waters to fish farming. The AQUAA Act was introduced to Congress for the third time on October 28, 2021. Montgom-

ery worked on the 2020 version of the bill, which died in Senate committee discussions, but she believes that the aquaculture industry’s pitch is now falling on more sympathetic ears. “There is definitely willingness from the environmental community to talk about it. And sometimes things can happen really fast, so there’s a lot of good progress,” Montgomery said. “Smart people are in the room and willing to engage with each other, even if they don’t agree on details, so I’m feeling optimistic about the progress that has been made and the path forward.” This progress, however, is not Fall 2021 / Perennial 42


reflected by legislators on Capitol Hill, as political artificial intelligence institute Skopos Labs estimates that the bill has just a 3% chance of being enacted. If the bill dies for a third time, as it likely will, the aquaculture industry will be further entrenched in purgatory, lacking the requisite permits to expand at a large-scale into offshore federal waters. Ultimately, disharmony within the environmental community is proving to render tangible change to current law extremely difficult. Nonetheless, while the U.S. stalls, the world is not waiting: global aquaculture production is rapidly accelerating with offshore aqua43 Fall 2020 / Perennial

culture projected to represent the fastest-growing segment of the industry over the coming decade. With capture fishing having effectively reached its upper limit, Americans will increasingly find that the seafood on their plates is cultivated, not caught.

Sources: 1.

https://livingplanetindex.org/projects?main_page_project=BluePlanetReport&home_flag=1 2. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/ facts/aquaculture.html 3. https://www.fao.org/state-of-fisheries-aquaculture 4. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/ bills/117/s3100 5. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/ sites/4dd9b3d0-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/4dd9b3d0-en 6. https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/aquaculture/us-aquaculture 7. https://foe.org/news/broad-coalition-100-organizations-oppose-industrial-ocean-fish-farming/ 8. https://1bps6437gg8c169i0y1drtgz-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/ wp-content/uploads/2018/06/20185-29-OOA-Hill-Letter-1-1.pdf 9. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/ bills/117/s3100 10. https://www.marketsandmarkets. com/Market-Reports/aquacul-


Biden’s Plan for Climate Action: A Success or Broken Promise? by Christina Pelliccio Joe Biden’s first day at the White House included several progressive actions on climate change such as rejoining the Paris Agreement, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, and kicking off the development of a new emissions reduction target. These goals were met with praise from supporters and environmentalists across the country. However, nearly a year later,

his commitment to the climate is being put to the test, having already been met with disappointing outcomes.

While climate change mitigation and environmental action played a substantial role in Biden’s 2020 campaign, many activists have begun to second guess his agenda given the limited progress that has been made in his first year in office. During Biden’s campaign for office, he promised a rigorous climate plan which entailed a transition to clean energy, infrastructure investments, biodiversity conservation, and a focus on environmental justice. According to the President’s Build Back Better Plan, Biden pledged to make a $2 trillion accelerated investment to meet his ambitious climate goals. This plan would include investments in infrastructure, the auto industry, transit, the power sector, buildings, innovation, agriculture,conservation, and environmental justice. Fall 2021 / Perennial 44


Biden ensured that achieving a 100% clean energy economy and reaching net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050 would be possible with his Build Back Better plan to cut the carbon footprint of our national building stock in half by 2035, decarbonize the food and agriculture sector, use renewables to produce carbon-free hydrogen, and capture carbon dioxide through direct air capture systems. While Biden’s climate plan seemed promising to many, the outcome has been less than ideal. Congressional bargaining over the bill has hit a wall with Republicans, and the Biden administration is now considering a version which includes significant compromises. Instead of the original $2 trillion infrastructure plan, 11 Republicans have backed a $1 trillion bipartisan deal. The program to replace America’s coal and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar, and nuclear energy will also likely be dropped from the bill because of opposition from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

bill. So in other words, the entire party is against everything in that bill that would deal with climate change.” In addition to the slimmed down infrastructure bill, Biden has also been involved in numerous oil and gas projects which have made supporters question his agenda. Last month, the White House approved a lease for offshore drilling in 78 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico, which has been classified as the largest oil and gas auction in the history of the US. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, these fossil fuels are the cause of irreversible damages to the planet. However, when the Biden administration backed their Gulf of Mexico plan, they argued that the IPCC report “does not present sufficient cause” to stop the drilling.

“The problem is that there’s been a big gap between the administration’s climate aspirations and their actual actions.”

As a chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin has promised to protect jobs in his coal and gas-producing home state, saying the budget for the bill is too high. Drew Caputo, EarthJustice Vice President of Litigation for Lands, Wildlife, and Oceans reflects on the challenges to progress climate action given such opposition. “In such a politically fractured country, when the President and his party have such narrow political control, it can be really hard to do something in the face of unbroken and ferocious opposition from the other side,” he said. “From all of the reporting, there is not a single Republican vote in the Senate for anything in the Build Back Better 45 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Earlier this year, the administration also allowed leases in Alaska known as the Willow Project, which will produce up to 100,000 barrels of oil daily for the next 30 years. Line 3, the oil sands pipeline project which would transport Canadian oil across Minnesota and Wisconsin, has also been backed by the administration. This project is estimated to have a social cost of carbon of $287 billion. “The problem is that there’s been a big gap between the administration’s climate aspirations and their actual actions,” said Caputo. “The scientists are clear that we’re out of time, and that the transition from dirty to clean energy needs to happen right now. But big investments in additional fossil fuel development are sort of catastrophic steps in the wrong direction.” Although these outcomes have been disappointing to many, environmental actions taken by the administration have not all been negative. In addi-


tion to recommitting the United States to the Paris agreement and revoking permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, the Biden administration also suspended oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic national wildlife refuge—a huge win for the region. Federal agencies under the administration have also been making some positive progress in regards to climate and the environment. In recent months, agencies have restored clean water protections that were removed by the Trump administration, repealed a decision allowing the construction of roads through Alaska’s Tongass national forest, reviewed soot pollution rules, and held the country’s first offshore wind lease sale. Whether environmental wins like these will outweigh the failures during Biden’s term is unclear. Many think that with enough pressure from the public, the status of Biden’s climate plan could turn around for the better. Organizations like EarthJustice are putting pressure on the administration, blocking many of the lease sales they are attempting to move forward with. “For the willow oil and gas development, the Trump administration made that decision and we sued. The Biden administration decided to defend the Trump administration’s decision, and we beat them in court and got a court order blocking the project until they do a full environmental analysis,” said Caputo. “The point is that we believe you can really use the law and courts to make America and the world cleaner and greener and fair.” In addition to litigation work, advocates are em-

phasizing the influence individuals can have on the actions of the administration as well. In relation to the Build Back Better plan, policy experts expect that transparent public support from all over the country, not just in the DC beltway, is critical to move the bill forward. In the words of Jamie Demarco, the Policy Director for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, “It doesn’t matter how good of a plan we have, if we can’t get it passed in Congress. All politics is local, and the only way it is going to move through Congress is if it is being pushed by every corner of the country.” In relation to the administration’s oil and gas lease sales, Caputo stated that individuals also have the power to create change. “At the end of the day, they’re doing [lease sales] because they feel political pressure from the pro-fossil fuel folks. If they feel big political pressure from people who are passionate about climate change, they’re either going to change their mind on this decision, or they’re going to do the right thing in some future decision.” So, while the physical reality of climate change may be difficult to completely mend,

experts argue that this political reality is one that we can change,

and it is up to both the Biden administration and the American people to make that change. Fall 2021 / Perennial 46


Coast Live Oaks in Garber Park

The Impact of Sudden Oak Death on Coast Live Oaks

by AVA HADDOCK Garber Park is a terrible place to watch the sunset. It’s dark, damp, and steep enough that before there were steps, visitors held onto tree trunks and scrabbled up the vertical face. But nobody there minds any of that. Entering Garber Park, light disappears as it passes through the overstory. Submerged in green and filtered shade, young ferns unfurl to peek at the buckeyes’ white flowers and the salamanders crawling through the wet leaves. 47 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Above, there are giants, creaking and stretching in every direction. They’re gnarled and twisted and grand, immense in a way that only old, old things can be. Covered in a beard of greenish blue lichen, they’re cracked with deep furrows and mountainous ridges. Look closely and see stories of dry years and good years, of generations of animals that grew up in their bark. These are the California Coast Live Oaks, the trees that gave

Oakland its name. Fire resistant, drought resistant, sometimes up to 250 years old– Quercus agrifolia is one of the iconic trees that have defined the local ecosystem, food systems, and culture for hundreds of years. Garber Park is in the Oakland Hills, next to the Berkeley city border and right behind the towering Claremont Country Club. This land is a leftover scrap, previously privately owned by a renowned Bay Area judge. In 1920, the heirs


of Judge John Garber granted Garber Park and its oaks permanent protection from development. As the land around became houses, cow pastures, and busy streets, Garber Park was left to its own devices. But to be undeveloped doesn’t mean to be ignored.

whatever they didn’t want over the bordering fence. At the entrance to Garber Park sits an old car. Invasive English vines, Cape Ivy, and French Broom threaten to overtake the entire cliffside. An exotic water mold, Phytophthora ramorum, ravages through the oaks.

Garber Park has a long history with the community around it. In 1931, Boy Scouts built a community fireplace in the heart of Garber Park. In 2009, a group of neighbors and volunteers began dedicating their Saturdays to installing trails and restoring native vegetation in Garber Park. Since 2020, their work has been appreciated by unprecedented numbers of people due to an uptick in neighbors and community members spending time in the park during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This pathogen is commonly known as Sudden Oak Death, and since the early nineties, it has quietly killed millions of oaks. Some of these were in Garber Park. In some parts of Garber Park, the sky peeks through unnatural gaps in the branches. At the right times of day, the sun spotlights the skeletons of dead and diseased trees.

“I think the pandemic provided a pause for a lot of people, ” said Ruby Soto, a long-time volunteer with Garber Park who has seen the new visitors in the past year. “ I’ve talked to people that said, ‘Yeah, I used to spend two hours commuting every day. And now I use that to go outside and get out’... Their whole world has expanded.” In an urban environment, spaces like Garber Park—unruly, overflowing green spaces—feel natural and wild to the untrained eye. But Garber Park is inextricably connected to the human world. With people comes laughter and wonder and volunteers, but also erosion and trash and invasive species. In its canyons are the last pieces of plywood from when people would throw

Dr. Matteo Garbelotto is an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley and a researcher of exotic forest pathogens. He co-discovered the agent responsible for Sudden Oak Death and has spent much of the past twenty years educating the public, doing research on its transmission, and building a network of resources and tools to help fight the Sudden Oak Death pandemic. Garbelotto described Garber Park as “a good example of how we have created an environment that was susceptible to the Sudden Oak Death.” Sudden Oak Death is a disease with unknown origins. There are theories trying to nail down its arrival in Santa Cruz nurseries in 1995 or large plant shipments in Big Sur. Really, though, people began moving further than before and brought along with them goods, languages, plants, and diseases.

In California, the environmental horticulture industry is worth over ten billion dollars annually. The industry ships and sells nonnative plants— from the gingkos on the side of the road by the park to the roses in the park—all over the state. With nonnative plants come nonnative diseases. When it rains, the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum spreads through the dirt and drips off of leaves, until it reaches a bay laurel. From a bay laurel, the pathogen finally arrives in its terminal hosts, red oaks. Sudden Oak Death festers in red oaks such as the California Black Oak and the Coast Live Oaks. It can linger for five or six years before the tree abruptly loses its leaves in the course of a few weeks. Then a canker erupts, black and red and orange and violent, and then giants die. In Garber Park, every sample they’ve ever sent in to be tested for Sudden Oak Death has come back positive. “It is one thing to look at photographs of the pathogen and its effects on living forests, but it is quite another to recognize the characteristic bleed of an infected tree right in front of you,” a Garber Park Stewards blog post states in 2012, only a few years after the Stewards began revitalizing the park. “Perhaps counterintuitively, the pathogen slowly and methodically kills an oak tree by girdling the main stem…even [Matteo Garbelotto’s research lab] does not suggest a strategy for “saving” a forest under attack.” There aren’t any cures for Sudden Oak Death. When a tree is Fall 2021 / Perennial 48


A tree with sudden oak death. (Joseph O’Brien)

infected, there’s nothing to do but wait. For Coast Live Oaks, about 50% of infected trees die. Before they recognized Sudden Oak Death, Garber Park had other problems. As open land, left to its own devices in the middle of the city, Garber Park back then was described as “just this overgrown thing, …completely full of ivy.” It had been “neglected and fallen into disrepair.” Fire suppression also contributed to the unchecked growth of the brush and the invasive species. In late 2008, a group of deter49 Fall 2020 / Perennial

mined community members attended a city councilmember’s meeting to talk to whoever was in charge of the forgotten scrap of land near their homes. The councilmember “didn’t even know about Garber,” but agreed that someone needed to take responsibility. At that meeting, Shelagh Brodersen, an Oakland resident, became the volunteer coordinator for Garber Park Stewards and signed up the group to take responsibility for the park. The group began work in early 2009 on their first project: pulling ivy in one section of

the park. Pulling ivy is tough; it knots and slips and swallows sneakers trying not to slide down cliff faces. But, Brodersen grins. “Three of us showed up, and we just got this small patch cleared. We were so proud of ourselves and that’s how it started,” Brodersen recalls. Every other Saturday morning since then, they’ve pulled patch after patch, raised money to cut down eucalyptus trees, held community workshops, started compost piles, maintained a blog, and just kept showing up. The Garber Park work day ar-


chives recount dozens of weekly triumphs. “Almost everything that we planted over the past year and a half is thriving and reproducing,” the blog author writes on Earth Day in 2013. For Creek to Bay Day 2015, the archive simply begins, “A beautiful day. A great turn-out of volunteers. And a flawless execution.” More than a decade later, people are still as enthusiastic. On community volunteer days, there are undergrads, some neighbors, some newbies and some people that have been coming for years — all fighting the good fight against invasive ivies or toxic eucalyptus leaves. Hikers stop to ask about the nests in the trees or just

to say thank you to the volunteers. The volunteers tell each other the story of how they’d gotten involved — via this person, or that job — and why they stayed. The dedication of the volunteers is impossible not to unsee once the stories are told—there’s the part of the main trail that was built by a man whose mother loved the park but couldn’t get down its steep face. There’s Bob’s Canyon, named for Brodersen’s husband, the man who led the fearless charge against the thickets of invasive blackberries. Under the eye of the Garber Park Stewards, the oaks of Garber Park have gotten a second chance. The question that re-

mains is whether they’ll make it through Sudden Oak Death. Garbelotto described the transmission of Sudden Oak Death to every coast live oak in East Bay as “inevitable” without proper management. Proper management is possible, but it requires an engaged community. The first step in protecting a Coast Live Oak is assessing the transmission levels nearby. Matteo Garbelotto and his research lab have created an app, SOD Map Mobile, that uses a tree’s location to assess the community transmission, and the risk that the tree has of catching the disease. The second step is searching the land for signs of trouble. To do this, you look first not at the oaks, but at the bay lau-

Coast live oak photographed in Garber Park (Lech Naumovich)

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rels. Bay laurels are one successful vector of Sudden Oak Death in California. Oaks don’t pass the disease to one another, but bay laurels give oaks the disease. Bay laurels can infect the oak trunk via droplets splashed from infected leaves or water that runs off the foliage and drips onto the trunk of the oaks. The wind can also blow droplets from the bay laurels onto the oaks. “Ninety percent of oaks that are infected have a bay laurel within 30 feet,” summarized Garbelotto. Normally, bay laurels are “very easily killed by fire,” as observed by a 1969 UC Berkeley study on plant succession. But, as Garbelotto put it, “because of fire exclusion, there’s way too many of them.” In the past, California bay laurels were riparian trees, usually found in low, wet land. But now they’re three to four times more prevalent in the East Bay than they would be naturally. So one oak-centric solution to protect the oaks from Sudden Oak Death is clearing out all the bay laurels within 10-30 ft of an oak tree. This is simpler than spraying fungicides, but bay laurels grow quickly. To remove them requires long term and engaged maintenance. Garbelotto designed a community oriented solution to Sudden Oak Death. On the Sudden Oak Death website, there is a map of infected trees in the area, and a link to an app that can be used to assess an areas’ risk. Every year, there is an SODBlitz event, where local groups utilize the free Sudden 51 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Oak Death testing service offered by UC Berkeley to test many areas at the same time. “Twenty-four local SOD blitzes, in 16 Counties, were held from Del Norte south to San Luis Obispo County. Nearly 500 volunteers participated, with 15,000 leaves from 2,067 trees analyzed by the University of California Berkeley, Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory,” recounted the December 2021 California Oak Mortality Task Report. “It’s not an issue of manpower here. It’s an issue of becoming a little cavalier, or it’s normal,” concluded Garbelotto. This is part of the reason that the Garber Park Stewards are so unusual. “I was really impressed by the fact that there’s an organization that takes care of it, and they’ve been extremely, extremely active. Which is not the same for every other green space that we have,” Garbelotto explained. In the Bay Area, there are many communities of people that are trying to do similar work—whether that be other volunteer-run stewardships or the Golden State Land Conservancy. There are even oak-focused movements, such as Re-Oak Silicon Valley, Tim Vendalinksis’ one-man crusade to plant more oaks in Oakland, or the oak planting program run through UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. Sudden Oak Death is already in Garber Park, but with enough commitment, it is possible to prevent it from traveling to more parks, more counties, or more states. Many acorn gathering tribes—

the Hoopa, the Pomo, the Miwok, the Yurak—have raised the alarm and been very proactive in the fight against Sudden Oak Death because the disease also infects tanoaks, a genus of oak that produces the acorns that many Indigenous tribes rely on for food and materials. They’ve worked extensively with the UC Berkeley and UC Davis forest pathology labs, prayed, and educated themselves and other tribes about how to recognize and stop the spread of SOD during traditions such as acorn gathering. As one Kashia Pomo elder said at the beginning of the epidemic, “We take care of our orchards…This is the teaching we grew up with.” The estimates for how many tanoaks have died from Sudden Oak Death are in the tens of millions. Walking through the parts of Garber Park where Sudden Oak Death has caused mortalities, the Stewards go a bit silent. When asked about their plan for the disease, Brodersen explained, “Well, you can’t really do anything in Garber. We got the permission to try to take down any of the bay trees that were small enough around an oak. But we don’t have enough people to do that.” When possible, it’s recommended to leave the dead trunks in the ground. Even post mortem, the Coast Live Oaks can support more species than we can fathom. In Garber Park, even the skeletons of the Coast Live Oaks have a role in the ecosystem. So the Garber Park Stewards keep doing the same—pulling weeds, clearing pathways. They keep going, and keep doing what they can.


by ELENA HSIEH

I

n a society growing with virtual communication and sprouting with new technology models every year, the desire for more natural beauty indoors has spiked, especially over quarantine. Whether it be aspirations for a Zoom background teeming with green foliage or the need for increased social interaction with other life (human or not), small botanical shops and big box stores have recently had plant sales escalate. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, average sales in the second half of 2020 soared up 60% from the previous year. Most hobbyists identify as Millennials and Gen-Z, with about four in five 16 to 24-year-olds owning at least one houseplant in 2020. However, does this seemingly harmless hobby actually have a greater carbon footprint than what appears at face value? I stumbled upon the world of horticulture at the beginning of my junior year of high school, transfixed by the wealth of botanical knowledge shared by plant YouTubers and collections of greenery cultivated by small gardening enthusiasts. Throughout high school, I gradually grew my plant collection, eventually tending to forty-seven plants and seedlings at one time. Knowing how addicting the hobby of gardening can be, I was not surprised to learn that houseplant sales had skyrocketed since

Houseplants: Sustainable or Not? the b e ginn i n g of the pandemic. However, looking past the magnificent Monsteras laced with fenestrations and towering fiddle-leaf figs set before a south-facing window, I realized that consumption of anything, even green friends, often incurs a detriment to the environment. The carbon footprint of shipping plants, plastic pots, and peat extraction are all instances that spark irony in a hobby that requires a green thumb. Despite these inadequacies, it can be argued that the health benefits and aesthetic appeal of indoor houseplants outweigh the sustainability drawbacks that they may produce. While the ownership of indoor plants sends a message of being an earth lover, acquiring and maintaining houseplants may not be as environmentally friendly as it seems. Behind every store brimming with greenery in its outdoor aisle or on its online webpage, the availability of botanical inventory can be attributed to its extraction from its native land or deforested lands designated to mass grow species high in demand. The journey of propagating plants from exotic countries or plant farms also adds to its carbon footprint, often racking up plant miles from overseas. For Fall 2021 / Perennial 52


instance, orchids, which are a common perennial found in many American households, often come from Holland or Indonesia, and other “light-loving” plants travel from Kenya and Zimbabwe. Thus, these transactions do not uphold principles of environmentalism since most inventory is not grown locally, adding carbon emissions from transportation. Houseplants, whether indoor or outdoor, are often sold in standard plastic pots that are meant to be disposable, urging consumers to repot their newly acquired plant into unique ceramic planters or terracotta pots for longevity. However, only about 10% of local recycling facilities accept plastic plant pots, according to analysts at the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Sometimes they are not collected because they are considered contaminated. Not to mention, many are also made from black plastic, which often cannot be detected by sorting machines at recycling centers, and thus end up in landfills or incinerated. The generation of flimsy plant carriers propagates the notion of the disposability of single use plastics which ultimately fuels consumerism. Along with plant containers comes another integral gardening supply: soil. Specifically, an earthy-brown fibrous material called peat moss. In the horticultural world, peat is an inexpensive soil amendment known for its ability to retain moisture for humidity-loving species. It is harvested from peat bogs found in wetlands, and is easily extracted due to its lightweight nature. However, although highly appraised for its useful properties, the harvesting of peat to meet its demands is a highly unsustainable practice. Peatlands are carbon sinks that foster biodiversity and store one-third of earth’s soil carbon. It takes close to five hundred years for decomposed plant matter to form into peat, and harvesting peat releases millions of tons of CO2 every year that is extremely flammable. Fortunately, a movement against peat has recently gained momentum, noted by the #Peatfree hashtag across social media. Demand for peat-free compost has been 200% higher in the beginning of 2021 than all of 2020, allowing gardening hobbyists to move in a greener direction. While there may be many concerns surrounding the plant hobby, it nonetheless has grown in prominence in recent years for good reason. 53 Fall 2020 / Perennial

One of the main reasons that indoor gardening has gained traction recently is its stress-relieving properties, allowing people trapped in their stuffy houses with only virtual communication to stay in touch with the natural world. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that plants in homes or offices exude a relaxing ambience. In the study, participants were given two different tasks: repotting a houseplant or completing a short computer-based task. After each task, researchers measured the heart rate and blood pressure of participants, and found that the indoor gardening task significantly lowered stress levels in participants compared to the computer task. Thus, researchers concluded that it was statistically significant that houseplants improve concentration and productivity by 15%, reduce physiological and psychological stress levels, and boost one’s mood. Especially over the coronavirus pandemic, gardening has become a self-care outlet by displacing people’s stress from the sudden lack of socialization with other human beings. Stemming from its relaxing nature, the sheer presence of houseplants have been determined to help with sleep, even alleviating sleep apnea. Furthermore, plants also help those struggling with heart diseases as they reduce the prevalence of breathlessness. The plant obsession can also be attributed to its homeopathic benefits in purifying the air. Unhealthy chemicals can be found everywhere, albeit in varying amounts. For example, higher concentrations of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found indoors, amounting to approximately two to five times more than outdoor levels. Most people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which inevitably leads to more exposure to air pollution. In some cases, poor ventilation and constant circulation of VOCs in the air can lead to “sick building syndrome”: characterized by headaches, fatigue, and nausea. In response to these concerns, in his NASA study, Dr. Wolverton discovered that plant roots were shown to convert VOCs in the atmosphere into food. Dr. Wolverton explains how the more energy-efficient buildings become, the more VOCs become trapped. However, buildings that contain houseplants have been observed to contain greater amounts of oxygen and a reduction in harmful substances, like benzene, a prominent VOC, and formaldehyde, in the air. As a result, these natu-


ral air purifiers have grown in popularity in an increasingly urbanized and technologically-driven world in the midst of global quarantining. While the benefits of houseplants may seem largely practical given the aforementioned reasons, such a discussion would be incomplete to gloss over the aesthetic atmosphere of plants altogether. In her article “Getting to the Root of the Millennial Plant Obsession”, Lilian Min asserts that while millennials seek houseplants for their utilitarian purpose and adult-like sentiment, it is ultimately the social media factor that ignites the obsession for indoor greens. Videos of “aesthetic plant rooms” have been plastered all over social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube, igniting a passion for the visual of nature indoors. In essence, the picture-perfect likeness of plant celebrities on social media is what people strive to emulate. Interviewed in her book How to Grow Stuff, Alice Vincent explains “We grew up with screens and the internet. We’ve basically not spent that much time engaging with nature during our youth and so we’re finding it for the first time now as adults. It’s the notion of having another living thing around, and also there is a unique, unabashed positivity to seeing something grow.” Even just seeing plants can increase levels of productivity and creativity. One frequently cited study from 1996 found that students in a campus computer lab worked twelve percent faster and were less stressed when plants were placed nearby. In a 2004 study where people were asked to make creative word associations, performance was better when a plant was within eye’s distance away. To drive this point home, a 2007 study reported that people with more plants in their workspace took fewer sick days and were more productive on the job. Brain scans of the participants showed that those who studied or worked with real, live plants were more attentive and better able to concentrate than participants in the other groups. Thus, by adding greenery to workspaces, plants have proven to be able to help with concentration and maintaining serenity in the atmosphere which have contributed to its boom in popularity.

It is undeniable that plants have integrated themselves into a culture and era lacking in natural elements. Indoor plants are known for their air-purifying ability; and paired with millennials’ constraints in apartment living, peaceful greenery has become a widely popular alternative to the bustling nature of everyday society. Since technology has enveloped our world in stuffy environments of constant screens and wires, the presence of nature brings us a breath of fresh air. People seek plants as a refuge away from this robotic atmosphere. I believe that plants bring sheer happiness to people, and with their health benefits as a bonus, their breath of life alone is enough to spike a rapid interest among the plant community. While there may be many unsustainable practices within this hobby, it is important to be educated and attempt to be as mindful about consumption as possible. For instance, a plant lover should propagate cuttings from friends or exchange unwanted plants, cuttings, and seedlings at plant swaps before heading to the big box store. Plant enthusiasts should also avoid buying houseplants that are “designed to die” like poinsettias and sprayed cacti. Another sustainable gardening habit is to avoid purchasing plants grown in peat moss; instead, choose coco coir as an alternative to peat in soilless potting mixes as it is a renewable by-product of coconut fiber. All in all, if plant consumers are able to be more conscientious about where plants are sourced from and practice sustainable gardening habits, then the community can collectively advance in a greener direction. The presence of some unsustainable parts of owning indoor greenery should not inhibit the ownership of houseplants, even among the most sustainable advocates. The passion shared among all plant lovers is rooted in something much more worthwhile: happiness. Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-50382388 https://twitter.com/hashtag/peatfree https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/indoor-plants-can-instantly-boost-your-health-happiness-ncna781806 https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19930072988 https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/42/3/ article-p581.xml

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Food Sovereignty: A Holistic Approach to Modern Food Systems Sustainable Food Systems that Involve the Individuals Behind Food Production. by RIA NAKAHARA Sustainable food systems are typically associated with veganism or vegetarianism – lifestyles that exclude animal-based products in favor of more energy dense protein and nutrient alternatives lower in the food chain. While motivations for adopting plant-based 55 Fall 2020 / Perennial

diets vary individually, their environmental benefits are undisputed. A 2020 University of Michigan and Tulane University study estimated that replacing half of all animal-based foods with plant-based foods can decrease

diet-related emissions in the US by 35% and reduce water use by as much as 50%. With the number of self-identifying vegans in the US increasing from 290,000 to 9.7 million over the last 15 years,the future of food security and sustainability is positively green.


That being said, while veganism is often heralded as the ultimate panacea to our agro-ecological crisis, we tend to see an emphasis on the type, not source, of ingredients that are incorporated into our meals. It is in the source, not the type, where many of the potential problems associated with veganism lie. The application of synthetic fertilizers and exploitation of biodiverse ecosystems in our agro-industrial complex has been viciously scrutinized as global climate change continues to threaten crop yields. However, environmental activists tend to overlook the human rights violations that transnational corporations hide behind their gaudy logos and staged images. In order to holistically address the shortcomings of our global food system, we must be committed to protecting the rights of farmers and Indigenous communities, not just enhancing the quality of our food.

timize ecosystem health and bolster climate resilience by avoiding toxic inputs. On the other, it strives to ensure farmers, laborers, and Indigenous communities — the groups most vulnerable to poverty and hunger — have access to healthy food and sufficient income while demanding autonomy over resource management.

to reproduce naturally. The reintroduction of fire into the landscape can improve the integrity of local ecosystems and reconnect indigenous people to their ancestral territories. Currently, we see Big Food profiting off of the displacement of farmers and the confinement of indigenous communities to areas with insufficient ecological resources. Acknowledging food sovereignty involves identifying and deconstructing the human rights violations that laborers are subjugated to. The synergistic effects of poverty, limited access to healthcare, hazardous working conditions, and lack of regulation exposes migrant farmworkers to disproportionately higher mortality and morbidity rates. Compared to an overall industry fatality rate of 3.4/100,000 workers, agriculture remains one of the most hazardous occupations at 22.8/100,000. The H-2A visa program allows agricultural employers to bring non-immigrant laborers for temporary or seasonal work if they anticipate a shortage in the local workforce.

“Sustainability is predicated on the idea of intergenerational equity – the principle that future generations have a right to have access to the ecosystems and ecosystem services that benefitted past and current generations. Within it, we must include the very people that drive the food production industry.”

Food sovereignty is a “bottom-up” community-centric movement advocating for the localization of food systems. On the one hand, it emphasizes harvesting methods that op-

For generations of Native Americans whose traditional ecological knowledge eroded under colonial policy, food sovereignty means restoring the eco-cultural resources vital to sustaining tribal practices. For instance, cultural burns — controlled, self-ignited fires — were employed by tribes to control pest populations and enable edible/medicinal crops

Instead, foreign workers, particularly from Mexico, are manipulated to work on farms indefinitely. Employers often Fall 2021 / Perennial 56


People from the International Peasant Movement protest for food sovereignty. (Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/48221470@N00/303512457)

assert control by managing their housing, transportation, food, and immigration visas. A study conducted by Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, a low-wage worker’s justice organization, found that 34% of surveyed workers were banned from leaving their worksite or employer-provided housing while 32% did not feel free to quit their jobs. Socioeconomically marginalized groups are more vulnerable to exploitation, yet they lack the political capital to voice their grievances. By remaining complacent about these hidden minorities, we are reinforcing this self-perpetuating cycle. These injustices must stimulate rhetoric on food sovereignty to holistically address the issues with our food systems today. While veganism and food sovereignty may seem incongruous, both movements strive towards the same objectives. The localization of food sys57 Fall 2020 / Perennial

tems and reconnection between consumers, producers, and distributors can shift the priorities of production from profit to human welfare. As traditional farming practices (crop rotation, intercropping, etc) become commonplace once more, we must stop commodifying workers and natural resources. The restoration of community spirit will foster environmentally sustainable and cruelty-free food systems, which advocates of both veganism and food sovereignty stand for. The growing championship of veganism must include a critical analysis on the sustainability of our agroecological systems and the ethics of production. The principles of food sovereignty are embedded in the concept of intersectional environmentalism – the marriage between social inequality and environmental degradation. There is more to the food

industry than meets the eye (or the stomach). It is time that we begin illuminating the voices and rights of the unheard, restoring the inherent rights of indigenous peoples to their land, and bridging our relationship with the natural world. Sources: 1. https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/definition-veganism 2. https://harvardpolitics. com/more-than-veganism/ 3. https://veganoutreach. org/environment/#fn1 4. https://foodispower.org/ human-labor-slavery/slavery-in-the-us/ 5. h t t p s : / / w w w . d o l . g o v / agencies/eta/foreign-labor/programs/h-2a 6. h t t p s : / / t h e s u s t a i n ableawakening.com/ why-we-should-betalking-about-food-sovereignty-not-veganism/ 7. https://www.migrantclinician.org/issues/occupa-



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DISTRIBUTION OF BIRDS IN A HETEROGENEOUS TROPICAL PACIFIC ISLAND FOREST AUTHOR: Isaac Natanael Aguilar ABSTRACT: Invasive species are one of the largest threats to global biodiversity and islands are particularly susceptible. Birds are a model biological indicator of forest ecosystem function because they respond rapidly to environmental change. The forests on Moorea, French Polynesia have been changing rapidly since human arrival and European colonization. I conducted point-count surveys throughout the Opunohu Valley to provide insight on the distribution of endemic and introduced birds. Avifauna abundance and composition differed significantly between native, Polynesian-introduced, and European-introduced canopy sites, revealing differences in habitat suitability. Vegetation cover, elevation, and avifaunal distribution were used to inform a habitat suitability model for endemic avifauna. Together, the results indicate that both native and Polynesian-introduced trees provide important habitat for endemic avifauna compared to recent European-introduced trees in the heterogeneous Opunohu Valley forest. The forest includes populations of two threatened endemic birds, the Moorea kingfisher (T. youngi) and grey-green fruit dove (P. purpuratus), and this study suggests that invasive species control, endemic habitat protection, and sustainable natural resource management strategies will be important to protect the endemic avifauna on South Pacific Islands like Moorea. Key words: Aves; invasive species; Moorea, French Polynesia; forest habitat; Todiramphus youngi; Ptilinopus purpuratus; natural resource management; conservation INTRODUCTION Invasive species are the greatest threat to endemic island species and second most significant threat to global biodiversity (Bellard et al. 2016b, 2017). The most recent estimates are that 86% of island endemic extinctions were caused by invasive species (Bellard et al. 2016a). Endemic island species are particularly vulnerable to invasive species because they tend to have relatively small population sizes, low reproductive rates, reduced defensive traits, and restricted distributions (Soares et al. 2021). The arrival of invasive alien species reduces the availability of resources for the native island population. Invasions therefore threaten island ecosystems because resource availability is responsible for the structure and dynamics of ecological systems (Nowlin et al. 2008). Extensive research on systems perturbed by invasive species is necessary for the conservation of native and endemic island species. The ecological impact of invasive species is complex and can be difficult to quantify. Native indicator species can provide insight on the impact of invasive species on the landscape and ecological community. Birds are a model biological indicator of ecosystem function because they respond rapidly to environmental change (Briggs et al. 2013). The island landscape is reciprocally shaped by symbiotic relationships between bird communities (avifauna) and island vegetation that support ecosystem function and productivity (Rodríguez-Rodríguez et al. 2017). Avian pollination is especially important for ecosystem function on islands where pollination limitations 61 Fall 2020 / Perennial

can impact rare plants and forest structure (Sekercioglu 2006, Carlo and Morales 2016). Avian pollination provides insight on the complex coevolutionary history between avifauna and vegetation (Jordano 1987, Guimarães Jr et al. 2011). Endemic bird species share a deep evolutionary relationship with island vegetation and changes to the landscape are likely to impact their population. Anthropogenic land use and change threatens endemic island avifauna and forests have been suggested as potential refuge (ZoBell and Furnas 2017). However, present-day island forests have a heterogeneous community structure with trees of varying origin, including both native and non-native species. A better understanding of how endemic birds navigate modern heterogeneous forests is essential for their conservation and maintaining overall ecosystem function. Historical environmental processes and anthropogenic activity develop a forest’s community structure – here defined as the abundance and distribution of canopy-forming tree species in a forest. The native forests of islands throughout the South Pacific have been rapidly changing since human arrival and European colonization. The main cause of this change is the facilitation of alien species naturalization by anthropogenic natural resource management. The Polynesians were the first inhabitants of the South Pacific and introduced culturally significant species between islands for resource production such as food and raw materials. Polynesian-introduced tree species include the “Mape” or Tahitian chestnut (Inocarpus fagifer), Malay apple (Syszygium malaccense), and candlenut (Aleurites moluccana). Since European arrival, the abundance and diversity of alien species throughout


the South Pacific has increased considerably. Trees introduced by European colonizers have been naturalized and managed for lumber, agriculture, and ornamental purposes. Some of these trees include the Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea), Moluccan albizia (Falcataria moluccana), and the African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata). The introduced trees have altered the native forests historically dominated by the native hibiscus trees (Hibiscus tiliaceus). The sea-drifting hibiscus seeds are responsible for its high dispersal potential and establishment on islands throughout the tropical South Pacific (Takayama et al. 2006). There is a lack of research on the effects of a heterogeneous forest community structure on avifauna, especially on South Pacific Islands. A combination of avifauna field surveys and geospatial tools can provide insight into the distribution of birds in heterogeneous forests. The rapid development of remote sensing technologies for ecological research is an opportunity for science-based conservation and management. Remote sensing techniques contribute to conservation efforts through species distribution and abundance models, identifying areas for protection, revealing expansion of anthropogenic influence, and other applications (Rose et al. 2015). A combination of expensive technologies and time-intensive methods are required to produce remotely sensed data. The availability of open-source data, software, and analysis methods are necessary for applying remote sensing techniques to conservation and landscape ecology (Crowley and Cardille 2020). The classification of individual tree species in a forest from satellite imagery can be used to identify and evaluate forest habitat for avifauna, especially relevant in a heterogenous forest shaped by anthropogenic activity (Singh et al. 2017). Remote sensing of forest community structure can also be used to identify potentially suitable avifauna habitat in inaccessible locations where field surveys are difficult to accomplish (Shealer and Alexander 2013). High islands in the South Pacific are characteristic for their steep terrain and densely forested landscape, therefore comprehensive field surveys are very difficult and geospatial tools can be used to identify otherwise unknown suitable habitat for endemic avifauna. Identifying suitable habitat for endemic avifauna is particularly important for mitigating the impacts of competition with introduced bird species. The first objective of this study was to evaluate the relative differences in the distribution of endemic and introduced avifauna between different canopy-forming tree species in a heterogeneous tropical Pacific Island forest using field surveys and habitat characteristics. Endemic birds were expected to be more abundant in native and Polynesian-introduced canopy sites due to their ecological, evolutionary, and historical association. Introduced birds were 61 Fall 2021 / Perennial

expected to be more abundant in recent European-introduced canopy sites due to perturbation from native forest and facilitation of biological invasions. The second objective of this study was to provide insight on the forest community dynamics by evaluating the difference in avifauna community structure between different canopy sites in the forest using non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis (NMDS). Lastly, the third objective of this study was to infer habitat suitability from the revealed canopy site preferences and avifauna community dynamics to produce a site suitability model for endemic avifauna on the island of Moorea. METHODS Study site Moorea is a high island in the Society Islands archipelago of French Polynesia located in the South Pacific. This study took place in the island’s interior forest of the Opunohu Valley with a history of anthropogenic modification (Fig. 1). The protected forest of the upper valley is surrounded by steep cliffs and a mixed-use landscape including residences, agriculture, and recreation on the historic floodplain of the lower valley. The Opunohu Valley forest has a heterogeneous forest community structure includes trees from native, Polynesian-introduced, and European-introduced origins. This study focused on the distribution of birds between the canopy of three dominant trees including the native hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus), Polynesian-introduced Mape (Inocarpus fagifer), and the European-introduced Moluccan albizia (Falcataria moluccana). While there are other tree species on the island, these three species were chosen because they are the most abundant tree on Moorea for their respective origin category. The native hibiscus tree is found throughout the South Pacific islands and arrived by sea-drifting seeds with a high dispersal potential (Takayama et al. 2006). Mape was introduced by Polynesians for arboriculture, food resources, and raw materials (Lepofsky and Kahn 2011). Moluccan albizia is considered a highly invasive plant that alters forest structure, soil biogeochemistry, and community ecology (Allison et al. 2006) introduced by the Agriculture Service in 1966 to reforest eroded and burned land (Bonnetaud 2003). These three large tree species provide most of the canopy habitat and a variety of resources for avifauna in the Opunohu Valley. Avifauna The two extant endemic birds (Appendix A) in the island’s forest are the Moorea kingfisher (Todiramphus youngi) and grey-green fruit dove (Ptilinopus purpuratus). The Moorea kingfisher is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN; BirdLife International 2016a) due to habitat loss and degradation, impact of invasive species, and lack of knowledge on population size and dynamics (BirdLife International 2017). The grey-green


FIG. 1. Satellite imagery (Esri et al. 2018) and map of study area displaying the trail route in white and survey site points in colors representing dominant canopy site in the Opunohu Valley.

fruit dove is classified by the IUCN as a species of “Least Concern” (BirdLife International 2016b) but is considered as vulnerable or threatened as a “Category A” protected species by the Polynesian Environmental Code which prohibits the disturbance of individuals or habitat (Seguin 2015). These endemic birds rely on trees in the Opunohu Valley forest for habitat and resources. The eight introduced bird species observed throughout the study period by order of observed abundance include the silvereye (Zosterops lateralis), red-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer), red-browed finch (Neochmia temporalis), red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), common waxbill (Estrilda astrild), common myna (Acridotheres tristis), zebra dove (Geopelia striata), chestnut-breasted mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax), and swamp harrier (Circus approximans). Three introduced bird species were excluded from my study due to few observations (<5) including the swamp harrier (C. approximans), zebra dove (G. striata), and chestnut-breasted mannikin (L. castaneothorax). The red jungle fowl (G. gallus) were also excluded due to limited use of forest canopy and the common myna (A. tristis) was excluded due to its limited distribution in the upper valley. 63 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Point-count surveys I used a stratified sampling method to select 28 survey sites at least 150 meters apart along established trails in the Opunohu Valley. All survey sites were visited in the morning between 7am and 12pm throughout the months of October and November. The coordinates and elevation at each survey site (Appendix B) were recorded with a Garmin eTrex 20 handheld global positioning systems unit. Survey sites were characterized based on the tallest tree species – hibiscus, Mape, or Moluccan albizia – forming the dominant canopy within 100 meters. Other shorter trees and understory vegetation were present at survey sites but excluded due to relatively limited influence on avifaunal distribution. Following habitat characterization, I conducted 10-minute-long point-count surveys to record observations of every bird seen or heard within 100 meters onto a weather-proof field notebook, with effort to minimize double counting. Binoculars were used during surveys to aid in visual detection and ambient audio was recorded as needed to confirm species identity. The low diversity of avifauna calls limits the probability of missing or misidentified observations.


Data analysis Point-count survey data was transferred from a weather-proof field notebook onto a virtual spreadsheet then analyzed in RStudio (RStudio Team 2021) and ArcGIS Pro (Esri Inc. 2021). Avifauna observations were classified as either endemic or introduced and tested for a difference in abundance between the three canopy sites with a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests. Then, a Tukey Honest Significant Differences test (Tukey HSD) evaluated the three pairwise-comparison differences in both endemic and introduced avifauna abundance. Avifauna species observation data was transformed into a dissimilarity matrix and visualized onto an ordination plot to show community dynamics between the different species. An analysis of similarities test (ANOSIM) was performed to evaluate the differences in avifauna community composition between the three canopy sites. I used dominant vegetation cover on Moorea provided by Dr. Benoit Stoll, University of French Polynesia (Pouteau et al. 2012), and publicly available elevation data (USGS 2014) to inform a site suitability model in ArcGIS Pro. Endemic avifauna prefer low- to mid-elevations on the island ranging from 0 to 700 meters (BirdLife International 2017). The avifaunal distribution results were used to

FIG. 2. Number of endemic birds observed during point-count surveys at each canopy site.

63 Fall 2021 / Perennial

inform a site suitability model for endemic avifauna throughout the island. The elevation and dominant vegetation cover raster layers were reclassified with a value of 0 for low suitable and 1 for suitable habitat. The raster calculator tool combined the reclassified layers to produce the final suitability model. RESULTS Avifaunal distribution A total of 28 sites were surveyed for both forest habitat characteristics and avifauna abundance. There were 9 native hibiscus, 9 Polynesian-introduced Mape, and 10 European-introduced Moluccan albizia canopy sites. A MANOVA test (Table 1) revealed that the number of endemic and introduced bird observations were significantly different between canopy sites (p<0.001). The difference was further analyzed with two separate – one for endemic and one for introduced avifauna – ANOVA tests (Table 1) to evaluate the difference in bird observations between canopy sites. The ANOVA revealed a significant difference for both endemic (p<0.05) and introduced (p<0.01) bird species between the three canopy sites. The Tukey HSD tests (Table 2) revealed no significant difference in abundance between Polynesian-introduced Mape and native hibiscus canopy sites for both

FIG. 3. Number of introduced birds observed during pointcount surveys at each canopy site.


endemic (Fig. 2) and introduced (Fig. 3) bird species. The number of introduced birds was significantly greater (p>0.01) in European-introduced Moluccan albizia compared to both native hibiscus and Polynesian-introduced Mape canopy sites. The number of endemic birds was significantly greater (p<0.05) in both native hibiscus and Polynesian-introduced Mape compared to European-introduced Moluccan albizia. Community dynamics The avifauna community in each canopy site were analyzed for dissimilarity and visualized in an ordination plot using NMDS to provide insight on the forest community dynamics. The ordination plot displays survey site numbers in black and bird species in red. Three convex hulls for each canopy site connect their respective survey site numbers. Greater distances between features on the ordination plot represent greater dissimilarity (Fig. 3). An ANOSIM test revealed that the avifauna communities of each of the three canopy sites were significantly different (Table 3).

FIG. 4. Ordination plot displaying avifauna in each canopy site. Numbers displayed on the plot represent survey sites, bird species are displayed in red text, and the convex hulls connect surveys in the same canopy site.

Site suitability model The site suitability model revealed 46 square kilometers of potentially suitable habitat for endemic avifauna on Moorea (Fig. 5). The map displays sites with high suitability in green covering about 35% of the island. The Opunohu valley in central Moorea displays a large area of potentially suitable habitat with 65 Fall 2020 / Perennial

poor connectivity. There is a buffer of unsuitable habitat along the entire length of the coast, becoming thinner along the southern tip of the island. There is poor connectivity of predicted suitable habitat throughout the entire island. DISCUSSION Distribution and canopy preferences This study surveyed the distribution of birds in the heterogeneous Opunohu Valley forest on the island of Moorea, French Polynesia. Biological invasions pose a risk to the forest ecosystem and endemic avifauna community on islands like Moorea. Only 10% of the 623 observed birds throughout the study period were endemic birds. The few observations of endemic birds in the Opunohu Valley forest indicates the vulnerability of the community to biological invasions. The extremely low number of endemic birds observed at European-introduced Moluccan albizia sites suggests its canopy does not provide suitable habitat. Alternatively, the number of endemic bird observations was significantly greater in native hibiscus and Polynesian-introduced Mape sites indicating their suitability for endemic avifauna habitat (Fig. 2). Protection and reforestation of native and Polynesian-introduced trees may benefit endemic avifauna and the forest ecosystem. Introduced birds dominate the avifauna community in the Opunohu Valley forest and present a significant threat to endemic birds. There were more introduced birds observed at every survey site compared to endemic birds. Introduced avifauna dominance was especially clear in European-introduced Moluccan albizia sites (Fig. 3), revealing evidence of the synergistic invasive effects between non-native tree and bird species. Interactions between biological invasions, habitat fragmentation, and livestock grazing can exhibit synergistic effects that can degrade ecosystem function and threaten native wildlife (Hobbs 2001). The forest ecosystem on Moorea experiences these threats and future initiatives should consider these synergistic effects as a potential reason for environmental degradation and threat to the native ecosystem. Protection and reforestation of native and Polynesian-introduced trees may mitigate the threats of invasive birds while simultaneously providing refugia for endemic birds, since the number of introduced birds observed at these sites was significantly smaller compared to European-introduced Moluccan albizia. Community dynamics The observed differences in avifaunal distribution between native, Polynesian-introduced, and European-introduced canopy sites were further investigated to determine their community differences. The ANOSIM test (Table 3) on the ordination plot (Fig. 4) revealed evidence that the avifauna in native, Polynesian-introduced, and European-introduced canopy sites are significantly different. Previous research has


FIG. 5. Map of Moorea, French Polynesia displaying suitable habitat for endemic avifauna.

revealed significant differences in avifauna between different land use sites, such as agriculture or forest, (Wray 2013, ZoBell and Furnas 2017) but this research extends the community differences to specific trees based on their origin. The heterogeneity of the Opunohu Valley forest suggests that the community differences are not completely exclusive of specific bird species due to the lack of large, homogenous forest patches. Instead, this result indicates that endemic avifauna disproportionately depend on native and Polynesian-introduced trees over European-introduced trees. Increased cover and homogeneity of native hibiscus and Polynesian-introduced Mape trees on Moorea is likely to support the endemic bird population and reduce the impact of introduced birds. Conversely, an increase in the cover and homogeneity of European-introduced trees like Moluccan albizia will likely increase the impact of biological invasions by increasing the abundance of introduced birds, particularly E. astrild and N. tristis. The endemic kingfisher (T. youngi) shows evidence of a strong association with Polynesian-introduced Mape tree, possibly due to their characteristic nesting in tree trunks and large branches (Fry and Fry 1999). The Mape tree has a thick, buttressed trunk that could be compared with other trees to reveal nesting preferences of the en65 Fall 2021 / Perennial

demic kingfisher. The endemic fruit dove (P. purpuratus) does not display a strong association with any trees, possibly due to being the least observed species in this study, and only showing a close association with the native hibiscus tree. The silvereye (Z. lateralis) and red-vented bulbul (P. cafer) were the only introduced species that did not show a strong association with the European-introduced Moluccan albizia tree. This may be explained by the fact that these two species were the most abundant birds throughout the study period and act as the primary seed dispersers of an extremely invasive plant Miconia calvescens which is abundant in the forest understory (Meyer 1997). Introduced avifauna on Moorea show little evidence of native seed dispersal and have the potential to alter the forest community composition and understory (Spotswood et al. 2012). Endemic avifauna conservation The endemic avifauna distribution and community differences between native, Polynesian-introduced, and European-introduced canopy sites were used to inform a site suitability model for endemic avifauna habitat throughout the entire island (Fig. 5). There is a relatively large amount of identified suitable habitat, but there is poor habitat connectivity due to forest het-


erogeneity. Conservation initiatives that increase the area and homogeneity of native and Polynesian-introduced forest patches may contribute to the recovery of endemic avifauna. Proposed habitat sites are surrounded by a mixed-use landscape that can threaten endemic avifauna if forest conversion and degradation increase. These identified habitat sites are likely providing important resources for the endemic avifauna community and can be prioritized for conservation initiatives including population monitoring, invasive species control, or designation as a protected refuge. Protected refuge for the endemic Moorea kingfisher and grey-green fruit dove may restore the population to an optimal size and benefit the native forest ecosystem. In particular, the grey-green fruit dove is a generalist frugivore that is the sole seed disperser of at least 7 native plant species (Spotswood et al. 2012) and a decrease in the population may alter the forest community structure as native seed dispersal would be reduced. Despite its IUCN status as a species of “Least Concern”, the fruit dove was the rarest endemic species observed throughout the study period with only 12 observations. The fruit dove population may also face threats including predation by the introduced Swamp harrier (Circus approximans) and feral cats, competition with introduced avifauna, and egg predation by rats. Recent research has indicated that Ptilinopus purpuratus is more abundant on Moorea compared to Tahiti and emphasizes the importance of the Opunohu Valley forest as habitat for this endemic species (Spotswood et al. 2012). The species should be re-assessed due to few observations in a significant habitat, threats from habitat degradation, and synergistic impacts of biological invasions. The government of French Polynesia already recognizes the grey-green fruit dove as a vulnerable or threatened species and has protections established (Seguin 2015). The endemic Moorea kingfisher and grey-green fruit dove populations are threatened by biological invasions, but a combination of field surveys, habitat protection, and biological control is expected to benefit the endemic birds and forest ecosystem. The results of this study are intended to reveal the relative distribution of endemic and introduced birds observed in the Opunohu Valley throughout the study period. Inferences of avifauna habitat occupancy before and after the study period are limited, however the results provide insight on the underlying processes that determine avifauna species assemblages in a heterogeneous tropical island forest. In forest ecosystems, the dominant tree species and intra- and interspecific competition are recognized as the main factors that determine species assemblages (Basile et al. 2021). On Moorea, satellite imagery analysis revealed hibiscus (H. tiliaceus) as the dominant tree of the island’s forests (Pouteau et al. 2012). There are three varieties of the hibiscus tree on the island observed 67 Fall 2020 / Perennial

to grow up to 15 meters tall with the largest leaves in coastal and mid-mountain varieties (Bell 2006). The large canopy provided by H. tiliaceus provides suitable habitat for avifauna, especially for endemic species. The endemic species are not observed to rely on H. tiliaceus or I. fagifer for specific food or material resources and their increased relative abundance in these sites suggests the need for further research on avifauna-tree relationships. The time since a tree species is naturalized may be an alternative explanation for the endemic avifauna canopy preference. European-introduced Moluccan albizia is the most recent introduction of the three tree species and endemic avifauna may not be adapted to its microhabitat. The dominance of introduced over endemic avifauna in European-introduced trees like F. moluccana suggests the role of intra- and interspecific competition in determining avifauna canopy distribution. Competition for resources such as tree habitat and fruits within avian communities results in resource partitioning that can reflect geographic distribution (Grinde and Niemi 2016). Fine-scale species occurrence in a heterogenous, patchy forest like that in Moorea reveals evidence of canopy resource partitioning based on tree origin. An increase in the introduced avifauna population is likely to impact the endemic avifauna as competition increases and resources are depleted. While H. tiliaceus and I. fagifer are important habitat for the endemic avifauna, their population is small and likely to be outcompeted by the dominant introduced avifauna species. Further research on intra-specific avifauna competition is necessary to understand the impact of introduced avifauna on the persistence of threatened endemic avifauna and inform conservation strategies. The results of this study are not intended to classify patches of European-introduced trees as unsuitable habitat for endemic avifauna, rather to elucidate the synergistic effects of introduced tree and avifauna species on endemic avifauna distribution. The introduction of non-native tree species on Moorea and other tropical Pacific islands is intertwined with their cultural anthropology and ecosystem management. Forest conservation on islands The impacts of anthropogenic activities are evident in forest ecosystems on Pacific islands like Moorea. The island ecology is influenced by a significant history of natural resource management by human civilizations. While little is known about the forest community structure on Moorea and other Pacific islands before human arrival, the influence of traditional Polynesian natural resource management on the ecosystem is a growing area of research. Anthropological research and wood charcoal analysis on historical Polynesian sites have revealed further evidence of H. tiliaceus as an abundant resource in the island forest due to its dominant representation in horticultural sites (Lepofsky 1994). Additional research on the nearby island


of Maupiti supports evidence of rapid forest change with the arrival of Polynesian settlers for natural resource management, with I. fagifer being a relatively recent introduction (Dotte-Sarout and Kahn 2017). These Polynesian-introduced trees have become naturalized in the ecosystem over time through cultural management and now provide important resources for endemic avifauna. While the Polynesian-introduced Mape provides suitable habitat for endemic avifauna, recent European-introduced trees are facilitating and intensifying the impact of introduced avifauna, threatening endemic birds and the forest ecosystem. Local traditional ecological knowledge provides insight on historical ecosystem baselines and, in the case of the Mape tree, inform natural resource management strategies that benefit the ecosystem rather than increasing the threat of biological invasions. The implementation of similar studies on birds in heterogeneous forests on other tropical Pacific Island forests may reveal specific refugia for endemic avifauna and inform management strategies for conservation. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank the course professors, graduate student instructors, and peers for their support throughout the project development, implementation, and completion. I thank Benoit Stoll for granting access to the dominant vegetation cover map and data used in the site suitability model. I thank Abe Borker for his guidance through developing a research project on avifauna. Special thanks to the Dineen Daniel Scholarship Fund and Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management at U.C. Berkeley for financial support. Special thanks to my family for their continual support and always motivating me to accomplish my goals. WORKS CITED 1. 2. 3.

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Life Cycle Assessment of Concrete in the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project AUTHOR: Audrey Booher ABSTRACT: This project aims to identify how the University of California at Berkeley uses concrete in Giannini Hall. More specifically, it will address where this concrete is sourced, the potential environmental impacts of this concrete use, and whether the University collects sufficient data about this concrete. I will determine the sources of the concrete used in this building, as well as the fate of this concrete at Giannini Hall’s end-of-life. INTRODUCTION: GOAL AND SCOPE INTRODUCTION TO LCA A life cycle assessment (LCA) is an analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the production of a product or service, calculated over the course of its entire life cycle (“What Is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?”). In this research, I will specifically attempt to create an LCA on the use of concrete in Giannini Hall, an academic building on the University of California at Berkeley campus. SIGNIFICANCE OF RESEARCH This Life Cycle Assessment research is important because concrete may be sourced from mined gravel and sand from river beds. Its production and use poses a number of environmental issues, such as habitat destruction in quarries or rivers that supply sand and gravel, erosion, pollution from mining chemicals, and carbon emissions. These issues must be factored into account for an accurate LCA. This research paper aims to understand where Gianni Hall’s retrofit concrete is sourced and how the University is incorporating sustainable policies into their construction. The assessment indicates whether the University utilizes sustainable building practices, or whether there is a need for improved sustainable building practices moving forward.

waste disposal. My research was limited to six documents by Forell/Elsesser Engineers Inc. and Cemex, as well as conversations with Russell Berkowitz, the engineer of record from Forell/Elsesser Engineers for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project. Thus, more information about the concrete used in the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project would be beneficial to a LCA. In future research, I may wish to identify areas for sustainable improvement, areas where more data would be beneficial, Giannini Hall’s compliance with legal codes, and the overall impact of the concrete. LIFE CYCLE INVENTORY MATERIALS The Giannini Seismic Corrections Project used unique concrete mix designs for their various usages: Rat Slab, Spread Footings and Grade Beams, Slab on Grade, Mild Steel Decks and Beams, Shear Walls, Curbs and Walls, and CLSM (Controlled Low Strength Material). In this section, I will include tables referenced from Cemex’s Submittal # 033000-08 R0 that describe the amounts of different components in the various mix types/usages. Listed below are the different mixes for each of the particular usages listed in Table 1. They are represented as

LIMITATIONS OF RESEARCH AND FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS Limitations to this research include limited documentation on the environmental sources of the concrete used in the Giannini Hall Seismic Corrections Project, documentation on manufacturing and processing of the concrete, as well as detailed plans for 69 Fall 2020 / Perennial

Table 1. Submittal # 033000-08 R0 - Concrete - Mix Designs - Without Fly Ash (pg. 2) shows the different concrete mix descriptions for the various usages within the seismic update of Giannini Hall.­

1 It is unclear what the abbreviations “WR,” “BL,” and “MR” mean. “WR” may stand for water reducer, but there is no solid explanation on Cemex’s website or general information on the web about the abbreviations.

1


Table 2. through Table 8. Tables 2-8 describe the concrete class, material quantities per cubic yard, coarse and fine aggregate types, sizes, and gradation , admixture product data and dosage, design compressive strength, age (in days) required to reach design compressive strength, and compressive strength historic data, maximum water to cementitious materials ratio, and unit weight of freshly mixed and oven-dry concrete. Each table only gives the lbs (GIANNINI HALL- SEISMIC SAFETY CORRECTIONS PROJECT #12051D, CAST-IN-PLACE CONCRETE, Section 03 30 00 - 11.) 2

Table 3. provides the concrete mix components and volumes used in the Spread Footings and Grade Beams for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project. 4 Grade beams are longitudinal reinforcements that brace the foundation while spread footings are latitudinal. (Spread Footing vs. Grade Beam) (Refer to Table 2 notes for a description of Slag and Admixture, and refer to Footnote 3 for description and distinguishing features between coarse and fine aggregate)

Table 2. provides the concrete mix components and volumes used in the Rat Slab for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project. Rat Slab is a thin slab of non-structural concrete poured over the dirt floor of a crawl space. It is called rat slab because it prevents rats from digging into the crawl space (Rat Slab Crawl Space Installation in Seattle | Eastside). 3 Slag cement is finely ground hydraulic cement. Admixtures are added chemicals that enhance qualities in concrete such as workability, durability and strength (Concrete Admixtures).

Each concrete mix used a combination of cement, slag, aggregate (coarse and/or fine), admixture (not all concrete mixtures include admixture), and water. These broader type categories can then be broken down into finer descriptions of the material input. For example, all mixtures represented in the tables include fine aggregate, however, the specific description of fine aggregate varies between mixture. Table 5’s mix uses Hansen concrete sand and Orca sand, while Table 7’s mix uses Con sand. These differing inputs vary in their use’s environmental impact. There are many considerations to take into account when designing a concrete mix. The main is its psi. The concrete used in Giannini Hall should be durable enough to withstand earthquakes. Thus, strength performance reports take precedence over sustainability assessments, according to Russell Berkawitz. Contractors prefer aggregate that suffers less from shrinkage. Shrinkage in concrete poses the risk of cracking and being less seismically sound. Cemex chose to use aggregate from the Clayton and Orca Quarries because it is less prone to shrinkage and has a preferred size and limestone consistency. Fly ash is also preferred because it requires less water, so it also suffers less from shrinkage. Additionally, fly ash is a by-product of coal power plants, so its use in construction is a sustainable 69 Fall 2021 / Perennial

option. According to Russell Berkawitz, fly ash can replace about 15% of cement in construction, and when it is combined with other bonding and cementing agents, can replace up to 50% of cement. Fly ash is a good option for ground cement because it is affected less by water, suffers less shrinkage, and therefore is less likely to crack than other aggregates. Finally, contractors may choose to use a variety of chemical additives as water-reducers. The locations that Cemex derived its materials for the Giannini Hall Seismic Project from include the Clayton Quarry in Clayton, CA (washed concrete aggregate, primarily composed of the mineral diabase), the Orca Quarry in Port Neil, B.C (Orca washed concrete sand), Cemex Construction Materials Pacific LLC in Victorville, CA (Portland cement Type II and Type V), Permanente Plant in Cupertino, CA (Permanente cement Type II/V), Port A Harbor Road Cement Plant in the Port of Stockton, CA (Lehigh slag cement), Vulcan

Table 4. provides the concrete mix components and volumes used in the Slab On Grade for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project. Slab on Grade “is a shallow foundation in which a concrete slab rests directly on the ground below it. It is thin and generally covers the entire area of the foundation (What To Know About Slab-On-Foundations). 5

2 In Tables 2-8, it is unclear whether the size of aggregate, material of aggregates, etc,... can be considered “better” or more sustainable. Each mix is designed solely for the purpose of structural soundness. However, you may read more about Orca and Clayton Sand at “Orca Quarry” and “About Clayton Quarry.” 3 There does not seem to be a readily available description of Con Sand, however, I speculate that it is a brand of fine aggregate similar to Orca or Clayton aggregates.


TRANSPORTATION According to “External Costs of Truck and Rail Freight Transportation,” by David Forkenbrock, in Table 3-12, the rate of carbon dioxide emission per ton-mile on an Intermodal rail, similar to CalTrans, is about 17.0 grams per ton-mile. And so while we do not know the exact type of rail used to transport each cement component, we can make a rough estimate based on the average

Table 5. provides the concrete mix components and volumes used in the Mild Steel Decks and Beams for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project. A steel deck is a corrugated steel sheet that supports concrete or insulates the membrane of a roof. Beams are used to support the steel deck (Steel deck is a cold formed corrugated steel sheet).

Materials Company is Pleasanton, CA (top sand), and Hanson Aggregate’s Plant in Oakland, CA (concrete sand). According to Russell Berkowitz, aside from the Clayton and Orca Quarries, the Giannini Hall Seismic Project does not record the direct location of where Cemex’s manufacturing plants harvest their rocks. These locations were chosen by Cemex because they offered the materials that components of the cement mixes designed for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project. All other reasons for these locations’ significance is not clearly reported by Cemex. MANUFACTURING & PROCESSING The cement manufacturing process includes transportation of raw materials to the manufacturing site, placing and compacting the concrete in order to remove any air bubbles within it by using tools such as pokers and vibrations, and finally, curing, which ensures the concrete’s strength and allows time to account for shrinkage (“Concrete”).

Table 6. provides the concrete mix components and volumes used in the Walls, Beams, Column, and Elevated Slabs for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project. All these uses are structural, and elevated slabs can be compared to an intermediary between raised foundation and slab on grade foundation. 4 5

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Table 7. provides the concrete mix components and volumes used in the Curbs and Walls for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project.

miles traveled from each location and the weight of the cement components. I refer to Tables 2 through Table 8, and Table 10 through Table 11 make rough calculations of the CO2 production associated with the transportation of cement from Cemex’s various manufacturing plants. For these estimates we will assume the emission rate per ton-mile for heavy trucks in our calculations because the transportation data (including vehicle type, exact mileage, and emissions) were not recorded. WASTE DISPOSAL Concrete waste can be reused in newer construction after it is crushed into finer granules and mixed with other materials to create fine or coarse aggregate. According to “Concrete Recycling: Reuse of Returned Plastic Concrete and Crushed Concrete as Aggregate,”

Table 8. provides the concrete mix components and volumes used in the CLSM (Controlled Low Strength Material) for the Giannini Seismic Corrections Project. Controlled Low Strength Material is flowable fill concrete, used for non-structural purposes such as backfill (Definition of controlled low-strength material (CLSM)).

“Fine Aggregates: Types, Properties & Uses in construction” describes the differences between types of coarse and fine concrete aggregates. Mix designs vary in their admixtures and aggregates in order to accommodate a set of structural requirements and ensure that the concrete can withstand a sufficient psi for its structural use.


the California Environmental Protection Agency Climate Action Team (CAT) identified that about 2-8% of concrete produced in California is returned. This means that about 2-8% of California’s concrete will be crushed into fine aggregate and reused in new construction projects. The implementation of the Assembly Bill 32 in 2007 and the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, together have saved an estimated 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide excess each year. The end-of-life plans for Giannini Hall are unclear; reuse of concrete at end-of-life is not specified. Broader waste management specifications are defined in GIANNINI HALL- SEISMIC SAFETY CORRECTIONS PROJECT #12051D, SECTION 03 30 00, 3.11 Waste Management: “3.11 WASTE MANAGEMENT A. General: Comply with the requirements of Division 01 for removal and disposal of construction debris and waste. B. Separate and recycle waste materials to the maximum extent possible.” IMPACT ASSESSMENT CO2 GENERATION According to “Carbon Footprint” “...manufacturing a cubic yard of concrete (about 3900 lbs) is responsible for emitting about 400 lbs of CO2.” So, using the calculations for total yield of each concrete usage, I was able to derive the approximate CO2 production using:

This estimation is only based off of the approximate CO2 generation from 1 cubic yard of concrete, and does not include CO2 that is produced through the harvesting, transportation, manufacturing/processing, additional components of the construction process, demolition, etc.

Table 9. Makes a rough CO2 emission estimate based on the total yield of concrete (in pounds) of the sample mixtures associated with each concrete use. This table only generates the CO2 emissions created in the sample mixes, not the entire construction project.

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Table 9. Makes a rough CO2 emission estimate based on the total yield of concrete (in pounds) of the sample mixtures associated with each concrete use. This table only generates the CO2 emissions created in the sample mixes, not the entire construction project.

According to “BAHA :: UC Berkeley Buildings and Landmarks,” the original construction of Giannini Hall is constructed with approximately 81,300 sq. feet of concrete (outside concrete gross materials in sq. ft). According to Tables 2-8, each specified concrete structure generated approximately 27 cubic ft (3 cubic yds) of concrete per sample mixture, with varying yield in pounds. The CO2 calculations in Table 9 are based off of these sample mixtures. Considering that the entire Giannini Structure is approximately 81,300 sq. ft and about 42 ft tall (because it is similar in height to Wellman Hall, which is the Environmental Science, Policy and Management building located perpendicular to Giannini Hall). (Evaluator: EGM/BL Date: 06/17/2019 Page 1 ASCE 41-17 Tier 1 Seismic Evaluation Building Name: Wellman Hall CAAN I)). So, using 81,300 sq. ft x 42 ft. we can calculate that the initial construction of Giannini Hall used approximately 3,414,600 cubic ft (126,467 cubic yards) of concrete. So, using the same formula as above, we can approximate that the entire Giannini Hall building generated approximately 50,586,800 lbs of CO2. From this information, we can conclude that the Giannini Seismic Corrections Projects generated CO2 emission levels between 2,894 and 50,586,800 lbs, because the seismic renovations required more concrete than solely the sample mixes but less concrete than what would be required to replace the entire building. Unfortunately, the Giannini Hall Seismic Project Documents do not disclose the amount of concrete used in the retrofit, and this presents a significant source of error in our CO2 emission calculations. For the sake of simplicity, we could take the average of these two CO2 estimates, which would give us a single number with which to compare environmental impact (25,294,847 lbs). However, we must note that this number is not an accurate estimate and does not account for the additional CO2 emissions generated during manufacture and machinery use, etc. HABITAT DESTRUCTION


Because we do not have information on the sites where the concrete was directly sourced and removed from the ground aside from the Orca Quarry, we cannot make a proper sustainability assessment of this concrete.The environmental damages or habitat destruction that the harvesting of the rock used in Cemex’s concrete mixes poses cannot be calculated.

efforts with different sectors to develop technologies to capture, utilize and/or store carbon, as well as other carbon reduction technologies. Some of these projects include: •

WASTE GENERATION Waste generation assessments are an integral part of an LCA because the life cycle encompasses the beginning through the ‘end of life’ of all materials and wastes. Where waste ends up can create environmental impacts for many years even after all construction has ceased. In this assessment of the Giannini Hall Seismic Project, however, there is insufficient data reported on waste generation. Forms of waste that reasonably may have been generated throughout the life-cycle of Giannini Hall include construction material that has been removed during retrofition, waste water used in the concrete making process or used during construction, CEMEX COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY According to Cemex’s, “Sustainability: A Lifetime Commitment”, Cemex is committed to sustainable practices. Below are descriptions of their Disclosure and Performance Reports, Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Reports, Environmental Policy, and Green Building Management and Certification Policy. ESG Disclosure and Performance List of Recognizers who acknowledge Cemex’s sustainable practices and commitment to carbon emission reductions: CDP, TPI, SASB, Dow Jone Sustainability Mila Pacific Alliance Index, TCFD, FTSE4GOOD INDEX SERIES, MSCI ESG Leaders Index, Mexican Stock Exchange Sustainability Index, Vigeo Eiris Best Emerging Markets Performers Ranking. Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Taken directly from CEMEX’s Climate Action, Carbon Capture, Use and Storage statement, “CEMEX actively participates in various R&D collaborative

LEILAC targets carbon capture as its main outcome by developing an indi­rect calciner that enables pure CO2 capture as it is released from limestone. Eco CO2 aims to set up a CO2 cap­ture and conversion process using renewable electricity and water steam to directly produce fuels, tar­geting a CO2 per-pass conversion of greater than 85%, energy efficiency of more than 85%, and net specific demand of less than 6 MWh/t CO2. The demonstration phase intends to produce over 250 g of fuel per day. OXYFUEL seeks to integrate and adapt technology for capturing pure CO2 for use according to the current cement production process and equipment.”

Cemex Environmental Policy Taken directly from Cemex’s Environmental Policy, Cemex commits to using BAT techniques, complying with all environmental regulations, communicating with customers and the community about their practices, reviewing environmental practices and adjusting policies in order to improve them, etc. Below these policies are defined. •

• • • • • •

Actively pursue a policy of pollution prevention, applying best available techniques (BAT) to minimize the impact of our operations. Comply with company policies and procedures and all applicable local laws and regulations. Make strategic efforts to maximize our energy and resource efficiency, lower our carbon intensity and reduce emissions by managing our usage of energy, water consumption and waste generation. Responsibly manage the land within our operations to protect ecosystems and biodiversity and to maximize our contribution to nature conservation. Maintain open and effective communication channels with our employees, contractors, Fall 2021 / Perennial 72


• • • • • • • •

customers, the community and all those who work with us. Provide the necessary resources for instruction, training and supervision to appropriately manage the environmental aspects of our operations. Plan, review and assess our environmental performance against measurable targets and industry best practices to drive continuous improvement. Investigate, monitor and openly report our environmental performance. Define a product development agenda that prioritizes environmentally responsible products and services. Set corporate requirements to assess the sustainability attributes of our suppliers and subcontractors.

ress of the project it turns very difficult to obtain either of LEED and BREEAM certifications, CEMEX Ecoperating Seal must be achieved. 3. Procedures 3.1 Existing Buildings In each country, the Country Director or whom he designates should: 1. Assess existing conditions and operational procedures of the buildings and major building systems. 2. Identify areas for improvement. 3. Implement upgrades for increasing sustainability.” CONCLUSION

All new company-owned buildings, new company-rented space, and major renovations of existing buildings must incorporate sustainability features and have to comply with the criteria that follow, which is listed according to the decision and order of priority:

The Giannini Seismic Corrections Project has an approximate CO2 emissions contribution of 25,294,847 lbs from the production of concrete6 and 5432 lbs from transportation7, totaling a contribution of 25,300,279 lbs of CO2. This calculation does not include CO2 generated through the harvesting of raw material, transportation from harvest site to manufacturing plants, energy associated with the manufacturing and processing of concrete and other materials, additional energy and resources used in the construction process, demolition process, and so on. Additionally, for a complete LCA of the Giannini Hall Seismic Project, factors outside of concrete should also be calculated. However this analysis only includes data on the concrete used in the Seismic Project because this was the only data available in the project documents provided by Russel Berkowitz. Therefore, a full and complete LCA of the Giannini Hall Seismic Project cannot be calculated.

1. Be LEED Certified to at least the basic level. On each case it should be assess the possibility to obtain a higher certification level according to the characteristics of each project and the available resources. 2. Be BREEAM Certified. In countries where LEED is not the most appropriate certification to the local market, the equivalent European certification BREEAM may be used. 3. Be certified by CEMEX Ecoperating Seal. When due to the characteristics and prog-

According to the EPA’s “Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator”, 25,300,279 lbs of CO2 is equal to roughly 28,841,493 miles driven by a standard passenger vehicle, 1,291,326 gallons of gasoline consumed, 12,684,248 lbs of coal burned, or 469,136 propane tanks used. These comparisons show that the CO2 emission contribution of the Giannini Hall Seismic Project is significant. Considering that the average lifespan of a passenger car is about 150,000 miles, Giannini Hall emits the CO2 equivalence of about 168 passenger cars. However, my CO2 cal-

Green Building Management and Certification Policy Cemex also commits to managing carbon emissions and sustainable practices in both pre-existing and new buildings. Taken directly from Cemex’s Building Management and Certification Policy: 2.2 New Buildings and Major Renovations of Existing Buildings

6 7

Refer to Section III. Impact Assessment, CO2 Generation Refer to Section II. Life Cycle Inventory, Transportation


culations are an underestimate of the actual impact of the project. It is reasonable to expect that, moving forward, Cemex and other concrete manufacturers will take concerted efforts to reduce their environmental impact and CO2 production through methods such as sourcing their materials more locally, replacing certain aggregate materials with fly ash, as well as incorporating technology that more accurately measures CO2 contributions and offers solutions for excess production. Finally, this research has clearly demonstrated that there is an issue with limited knowledge of the environmental impacts of a project like the Giannini Hall Seismic Project. For example, when inquiring about the direct locations of sourced raw material, Russell Berkowitz did not have an answer beyond the locations of the manufacturing plants. This means that the impact of digging for materials and habitat destruction are not known or considered in the assessment of the construction project. Manufacturers such as Cemex and Architectural Engineers such as Forell/ Elsesser Engineers Inc. should be required to make their own environmental assessments and take accountability for all potentially environmentally impactful aspects of their projects.

6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

11. 12.

13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

20.

1. Can the University of California at Berkeley, reasonably account for the environmental impacts of their construction projects? Who is and should be held accountable? 2. What factors are considered in life-cycle assessments of both pre-existing and new buildings on the Berkeley campus, and should more factors be taken into consideration? 3. Should life-cycle assessments be proposed and approved prior to the initiation of a new construction project?

21.

Works Cited 1.

2. 3. 4. 5.

Architecture Interiors Planning Urban Design, and Forell/Elsesser Engineers Inc. “Giannini Hall Seismic Safety Corrections, U.C Berkeley Capital Projects, Conformed Set Site Map, Project #12051D.” Giannini Hall. ASTM Compass, compass.astm.org/EDIT/html_annot.cgi?C94%2B20. Berkowitz, Russell. “Project: 10878.7 Giannini Hall, Submittal #03 30 00 - 05 R3 - Concrete - Foundation - Increased Slump - Mix Design.” Giannini Hall, 23 Aug. 2019. Berkowitz, Russell. “Project: 10878.7 Giannini Hall, Submittal # 03 37 13 - 01 R2 - Shotcrete - Cemex Alternate - Mix Design.” Giannini Hall, 18 July 2019. Berkowitz, Russell. “Project: UC Berkeley Giannini Hall F/E Job No.: 17-078 Submittal: 033000-07 R0 Concrete Mix Design.” Giannini Hall, 24 June 2019.

22.

23. 24. 25. 26. 27.

28. 29. 30.

Berkowitz, Russell. “Project: 10878.7 Giannini Hall, Submittal # 033000-08 R0 - Concrete - Mix Designs - Without Fly Ash.” Giannini Hall, 13 June 2019 “Carbon Footprint.” Think Harder Concrete, Portland Cement Association, www.cement.org/docs/default-source/th-paving-pdfs/sustainability/carbon-foot-print.pdf?sfvrsn=2&sfvrsn=2. “Concrete.” How Products Are Made, Advameg, Inc., 2021, www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Concrete.html. “Concrete Admixtures.” Sika Group, Sika Worldwide, www.sika.com/ en/construction/concrete-admixtures.html. CTC & Associates LLC. “Concrete Recycling: Reuse of Returned Plastic Concrete and Crushed Concrete as Aggregate.” Caltrans Division of Research and Innovation, 7 Sept. 2012, dot.ca.gov/-/media/dot-media/programs/research-innovation-system-information/documents/ preliminary-investigations/concrete-recycling-pi-2012-09-07-a11y. pdf. “Concrete Sustainability Hub.” Buildings Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) | Concrete Sustainability Hub, 11 May 2021, cshub.mit.edu/buildings/ lca. EGM/BL. “Evaluator: XXX Evaluator: EGM/BL Date: 06/17/2019 Page 1 ASCE 41-17 Tier 1 Seismic Evaluation Building Name: Wellman Hall CAAN I.” Capital Strategies, Rutherford + Chekene, 17 June 2019, capitalstrategies.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/berkeley_1202_wellman_hall_tier_1.pdf. “Fine Aggregates: Types, Properties & Uses in Construction.” Constructionor.Com, 9 May 2021, constructionor.com/fine-aggregates/. Forkenbrock, David J. vol. 1-1-1998, 1998, External Costs of Truck and Rail Freight Transportation. “GIANNINI HALL- SEISMIC SAFETY CORRECTIONS PROJECT #12051D, CAST-IN-PLACE CONCRETE, Section 03 30 00 - 11.” Giannini Hall, 1 Mar. 2019. “Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 15 Oct. 2018, www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator. Liebsch, Toby. “Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) - Complete Beginner’s Guide.” Ecochain, 23 Apr. 2021, ecochain.com/knowledge/life-cycleassessment-lca-guide/. “MIT Research.” :: Green Concrete :: Environmental Impact and Benefits of Green Concrete Construction and Sustainable Development :: 2011, www.greenconcrete.info/mit/lca.html. “Polaris Materials - Orca.” Polaris Materials Corp., 2007, www.polarismaterials.com/projects/quarry-operations/orca/. “Rat Slab Installation.” Eastside Exterminators, Coalmarch, 23 Oct. 2020, www.eastsideexterminators.com/services/rodent-control/ rat-slab-installation. “Ready Mixed Concrete Industry.” Edited by Lionel Lemay, LEED Reference Guide, 2005, www.greenconcrete.info/downloads/LEEDreferenceguide2009_3edition.pdf. Siegel and Strain Architects. “University of California Berkeley, Historic Structure Report, Giannini Hall.” Capital Strategies, 20 Dec. 2002, capitalstrategies.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/giannini_hsr_finalreport_dec202002.pdf. Spector, Jason. “Spread Footing vs. Grade Beam.” Align Foundation Repair, 18 Sept. 2020, alignfoundationrepair.com/pier-and-beam-repair/spread-footing-vs-grade-beam/. “Steel Deck Is a Cold Formed Corrugated Steel Sheet - Canam Buildings.” Canam, 10 May 2021, www.canam-construction.com/en/construction-products/steel-deck/. “Sustainability: A Lifetime Commitment.” Go to CEMEX, www.cemex. com/sustainability/overview. “Technical Questions.” American Concrete Institute, ACI Foundation, www.concrete.org/tools/frequentlyaskedquestions.aspx?faqid=745. Watts, Jonathan. “Concrete: the Most Destructive Material on Earth.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 25 Feb. 2019, www. theguardian.com/cities/2019/feb/25/concrete-the-most-destructive-material-on-earth. “What Is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?” Sphera, 8 Mar. 2021, sphera. com/glossary/what-is-a-life-cycle-assessment-lca/. “What To Know About Slab-On-Foundations.” Steinberg Law Firm, 19 Dec. 2018, www.steinberglawfirm.com/blog/what-to-know-aboutslab-on-foundations/. Verne A. Stadtman and the Centennial Publications Staff. BAHA :: U.C. Berkeley Buildings and Landmarks, berkeleyheritage.com/1967_UC_ Berkeley_Buildings.html.


The linkage between continuous exposure to dioxin, food contamination in eggs, and a high prevalence in cancers from tofu-making practices in Tropodo, Java (Indonesia) AUTHOR: Carissa (Riss) Myung *† ABSTRACT: To reduce the volume of waste clogging streets and piling around houses, tofu-makers in Tropodo, a rural village in East Java, Indonesia burn the plastic waste to fuel their incinerators. Burning plastic and waste from landfills releases dioxin, a hazardous chemical and carcinogen. Such practices not only contribute to the rise in greenhouse gases and thus climate change but also food contamination in eggs eaten by inhabitants. Consequently, Indonesians suffer higher rates of health effects due to the exposure from cancer-causing pollutants. This paper provides an overview of dioxin contamination and health impacts through analyzing exposure, toxicology, epidemiology, and risk. 1 Introduction The toxic accumulation of vast wastelands transported from Europe and the US to countries in Southeast Asia highlights their exploitative relationship. One Malaysian government investigation identified the UK, Australia, United States, and Germany as the main waste exporters (Paddock). Even as Southeast Asian governments from Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines tackle this issue, the waste continues to amass: Indonesia’s plastic waste imports doubled to 320,000 tons in 2018 from 2017 (Petrlík). To reduce the volume of waste clogging streets and around houses, tofu-makers burn the plastic waste as fuel for their incinerators. This process releases dioxin, an endocrine disruptor and xenobiotic known to cause liver damage, cardiovascular damage, chloracne, and cancer (Shree, Mohi, Singh, Singh). These health effects manifest in Tropodo, a rural village with about 5,000 residents in Eastern Java, Indonesia for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to: Tropodo is seen as the final destination for least wanted trash such that 50 metric tons of low grade plastic arrive per day; only 16-20% of waste is collected and 68% of all mismanaged plastic waste in Indonesia comes from rural and remote areas (Paddock; Johannes, Kojima, Iwasaki, F. & Edita). Cooperation among all stakeholders is required to create sustainable solutions, implement effective policies, and prevent continuous exposure to dioxin. It has been historically proven that those in office do not enforce and implement regulations. For example, while the former mayor of Tropodo, a tofu producer, banned the use of plastic as fuel in 2014, the government does not enforce this law (Paddock). Other key stakeholders within government that continue this environmental legacy through lack of action include Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo, who has the power to set the agenda in addressing * Corresponding author. † E-mail: rissmyung@berkeley.edu School of Public Health Undergraduate Program, University of California, Berkeley, 2121 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720

toxic contamination, and the Environmental Ministry’s Director General for Waste Management Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, who has the authority to halt plastic burning (Paddock). Environmental activists have urged both figures to no longer neglect health concerns in pursuit of economic development and address toxic contamination (Paddock). Failure of top-down remedies have shown the need for community engagement and local solutions including tofu makers, truck drivers who transport waste, and residents in Tropodo. 2 Exposure Assessment Dioxin enters into the body via dermal routes, inhalation, and ingestion (Shree, Mohi, Singh, Singh). In Indonesia, 89% of synthetic dioxins–specifically Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs)derive from uncontrolled combustion processes (Zain). 55% of rural people in the country practice open burning processes for treatment of waste (Zain). While studies emphasize that the non-cancer risk from PCDD/PCDF exposure through inhalation is insignificant and that direct inhalation exposure accounts for a small proportion (<10%) of the overall human exposure (Zain et al., 2021), contemporary research should address the rising concern that dioxin bioaccumulates in the atmosphere. The emphasis on contemporary research should also acknowledge that more factories, which contribute to direct exposure through inhalation, have been built to increase Indonesia’s GDP (Zain). An abundance of risk assessments are based upon inhalation exposure. However, the main route of exposure and main cancer-risk from dioxin is through animal food consumption, such as eggs (Zain). Eggs represent an important exposure pathway between the soil, the food chain, and humans (Petrlík). As a food source, eggs can be governed by regulations that specify a maximum threshold, which can be compared to Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) levels to protect human health (Petrlík). The TDI can vary between young children and adults or even pregnant women, as some groups of humans are more sensitive to the impacts of dioxins than others (Petrlík). Other vul-


nerable subgroups include pregnant women and the elderly working at the tofu factories. Such an exposure pathway must be stressed since egg production in Indonesia has increased by nearly 26% (Rossi). 3 Toxicology Researchers use eggs to test for contamination since chickens are ‘active samplers’: they effectively sample the soil and dust in their local area and have toxins accumulate in their eggs, which are ingested by the local population (Petrlík). Eggs also have significant lipid content that accumulates toxins from the hens that lay them (Petrlík). A Tropodo tofu factory burning plastic wastes for fuel had the second highest level of dioxin in their eggs from Asia (Johannes, Kojima, Iwasaki, F. & Edita). The dioxin level in Tropodo eggs (200 pg TEQ g-1 fat) were not far off from the highest recorded level of dioxins in eggs from Asia (248 pg TEQ g-1 fat)—which were found at the Bien Hoa site in Vietnam, a former US Army air base whose soil remains contaminated by Agent Orange (Petrlík) (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences). An adult eating merely one egg from a free-range chicken foraging in the vicinity of the Tropodo factory would exceed the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) tolerable daily intake (TDI) for chlorinated dioxins by 70-fold (Petrlík) (Javan, Yangin-Gomec, C. & Finley). A report demonstrated that these eggs contained significant levels of hazardous chemicals, including dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, PBDEs, short-chain chlorinated paraffin, and perfluorooctane sulfonate (Johannes, Kojima, Iwasaki, F. & Edita). As an endocrine disruptor, dioxin interferes with the synthesis, secretion, or action of the body’s natural hormones (which are responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis, reproduction, development, and behavior) (Cancer as an Environmental Disease). A ligand for aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AhRs) (an intracellular protein response for altering the expression or function of certain genes), dioxin triggers several xenobiotic phase I and phase II metabolizing enzymes, primarily cytochrome P450A1 (Javan, Finley, Malhotra, A. & Soni). The bondage of dioxin to AhR results in cellular imbalance, or abnormal cell function (Javan, Finley, Malhotra, A. & Soni). Adverse health effects include defects in the reproductive and developmental systems, immunotoxicity, modulation of growth factors and their receptors, and the disruption of normal hormone signaling pathways, developmental abnormalities (Shree, Mohi, Singh, Singh). The broad spectrum of these biological responses are also initiated by induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1A2, genes located in tandem on chromosome 15 (Cancer as an Environmental Disease). While some studies investigating the link between breast cancer risk and genetic polymorphisms in CYP1A1 find inconsistent results,

other studies find an association with increased risk of lung cancer (Cancer as an Environmental Disease). Overall, studies explore and link to dioxin exposure to lung, breast, multiple myeloma, and hepato-pancreatic cancers (Javan, Finley, Malhotra, A. & Soni). While research detailing these associations range from tissue culture, human studies, and animal bioassays, there has not been conclusive evidence regarding carcinogenicity of dioxin studies in human studies with specific attention to Southeast Asian countries (Cancer as an Environmental Disease). Results may not be generalizable since there studies are missing values of dioxins in the body before and after measurement (Cancer as an Environmental Disease). Additionally, the plethora of animal studies are not necessarily extrapolable to human populations (Cancer as an Environmental Disease) (Javan, Finley, Malhotra, A. & Soni). 4 Epidemiology The main types of study design within human populations are case control studies (the Belgian PCB/Dioxin incident in 1999) and retrospective cohort studies (Cancer as an Environmental Disease). These epidemiological studies have raised several problems. First, researchers have expressed complications in finding the same individuals who participated in these studies to analyze the long term effects, especially since acute and chronic exposure might result in different effects (Cancer as an Environmental Disease). Problems arise in ascertaining how much exposure to other compounds containing traces of dioxin, such as smoking, affect health outcomes. Additionally, other limitations of epidemiological studies on human populations do not necessarily examine the synergistic effects of dioxin with other chemicals heavily produced in Tropodo. On the contrary, there is an abundance of in vitro and in vivo animal studies (Cancer as an Environmental Disease) (Javan, Finley, Malhotra, A. & Soni). The former types of studies demonstrate dioxin’s carcinogenicity by detailing changes in expression of AhR-regulated genes. The latter not only illustrates how exposure to dioxin causes health effects in mice and zebrafish, but also highlights dioxin’s relationship between the environment, animals, and humans: this chemical is stored in animal fat tissue and thus accumulated throughout the food chain (Javan, Finley, Malhotra, A. & Soni) (Rudyak). Since children consume more food than adults in relation to their body weight, they ingest higher doses of dioxin-like compounds than adults (Petrlík). Previous studies reported that developmental delays were observed in children and the mean daily intake could be three times higher than in young adults in the groups of one- to ten-year-old children ((Javan, Yangin-Gomec, C. & Finley). 5 Risk Assessment/Management Dioxins derived from anthropogenic sources bioaccumulate in both the environment, more specifically


in the soil, and body with a half life up to ~100 years and ~14 years, respectively (Javan, Yangin-Gomec, C. & Finley). Treatment for dioxin contamination in soil is expensive and arduous (Javan, Yangin-Gomec, C. & Finley). Currently, no technology can completely eliminate dioxin from soil and some remediation technologies pose health threats, making the general public skeptical of such proposed solutions (Javan, Yangin-Gomec, C. & Finley). In addition, incidents of dioxin in humans are numerous, from dermatological to cancerous (Shree, Mohi, Singh, Singh). A report showed 50% increased rates of cancer among workers exposed to dioxin—indicating the urgency in communicating these risks and for Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in establishing workplace occupational safety standards (Shree, Mohi, Singh, Singh). Although Indonesia accounted for having the highest anthropogenic dioxin emissions (72.81%) to the region’s atmosphere of Southeast Asia, Indonesia has not developed any emission control standards—due partly in fact that this country has no national laboratory to monitor emissions; previous measurements and monitoring has used overseas laboratory services (Zain). In regards to ingestion, while the EU and Indonesian limit are the same, the Indonesian regulatory definition includes both dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs too (Petrlík). Data shows that dioxin-like PCBs already exceed the Indonesian and EU limits for eggs as food, implying that the Indonesian limit should be adjusted for its geopolitical context. Lastly, to address the global waste flows to Southeast Asian countries, the Fourteenth Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention (COP14) agreed by consensus to bring most plastic wastes under the control regime of the Basel Convention, effective January 1st, 2021 (Petrlík). 6 Conclusion Additional research is needed to understand cancerous effects of dioxin through ingestion and potentially inhalation in Tropodo, Indonesia and other rural areas. Investment should be made to establish laboratory facilities in analysis of dioxin to complement the PCDD/PCDF tests carried out every five years and conduct more risk assessments via ingestion. Moreover, recommendations should acknowledge Tropodo tofu maker’s economic incentives in using plastic for fuel: by switching their source from wood (which cost IDR 1.5 million (~$107) per truck of firewood) to unwanted low-grade plastic scrap for fuel (which costs IDR 250,000 to 350,000 (~$18-20)) transported by nearby paper companies, Tropodo tofu makers cut their production costs by up to 15-20% (Petrlík). The trade off between profit and environmental and health implications should be communicated with culturally competent, geographically specific alternatives identified. Since dioxin persistently remains in the body and environment, both top-down solutions (such as those in office pledging and committing to ban plastic waste

combustion, address environmental contamination, control imports, and regulate cleanup and proper disposal) and community-based solutions (based on economically and socially empower residents in the rural village of Tropodo, Java) must work in tandem. WORKS CITED 1. 2.

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afterword We would like to thank the members of Perennial for their hard work and dedication. Our members wrote compelling articles and created beautiful designs for Perennial’s fourth issue amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and our first semester back in-person. We also want to recognize the authors of the research papers featured in this issue for their diligence during Perennial’s review and editing process. Finally, we thank The Green Initiative Fund for their support in funding Perennial. If you are interested in contributing to future issues, please check out our website perennial.berkeley.edu for information on joining our team and how to submit research papers to Perennial.


fall 2021 staff EDITORIAL

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