Author Archives: Victoria Grant

Big Bad Wolf

Final Project Abstract

Top chain predators received a bad rap throughout history. People think of some predators as demons while others view them as unnecessary pests. Misconceptions on predators contributed to the downfall of many species. Because of past ideologies, many top predators face extinction today and environmental programs face opposition to helping bring back the old populations. I understand how people created the misconceptions of the past. Human and animal interactions were fairly new and people did not understand, or think to try and understand, how they impact the species around them and how those species contribute to the world around them. The problem of today is people still do not understand or refuse to understand the importance of many species. Despite the knowledge available in modern day society, people still hold incorrect ideologies on different species; creating setbacks in attempts to help populations. I want to conduct a study to learn about the misconceptions people have against different animals and attempt to create an educational tool to teach them the truth.

Make Change Happen

Human activity changes the environment and now we are changing the world at unprecedented rates.  Climate change is a huge problem that seems too daunting to tackle at times. With politicians being too busy arguing whether it exists and scientists attempting to create extravagant solutions, it seems impossible to fix. Big corporation pump pollutants into waterways and the atmosphere daily and turning on the car to drive to work creates a carbon footprint crisis for the individual. There does not appear to be any solution but, permaculture shows there is another alternative to living an environmental friendly life.

Permaculture changes the culture’s mindset of reducing waste to not producing waste. The ideas involved with permaculture emphasize using the environment to do the work and let nature work for you without altering it. When properly being practiced, individuals could grow their own food (and food for others), reduce their waste, and purify the air without drastically changing the environment. The gardens shown in the documentary, Inhabit, clearly were more productive and sustainable but, involved less work. They were proof that sustainable farming can exist it just involves a change in mindset. As a culture, we want what we want: corn, beef, or pecans. We grow things not native to the area and damage the environment to keep up with the demand. If we were to change our ideology, we could support a lifestyle that does not just lower our footprint but, creates a green one.

The solutions for climate change are here. Yes, some large-scale actions will have to be taken but, little things like a permaculture garden help. Using bikes to collect garbage or installing beehives make a difference. We need to stop sitting around thinking there is nothing we can do as an individual. Demand change through our actions: great movements always started with one.

A Visual Lesson on Feminism

How to Care?

Pope Francis’s encyclical created a moving call for action. He beautifully described the human role of climate change. The encyclical was not a complicated science publication and did not contain much scientific evidence which added to his argument rather than weakened it. His defense came from texts and people in a language which could be easily comprehended by the common man. His words were moving and surely impacted the many people who heard or read the encyclical yet, there still has not been much change seen in the world. The Pope has often been in the top spots for the most powerful leader in the world in Forbes magazine. He reaches millions of people with his words and influences a major religion but, even when he speaks on climate change and the moral responsibility people have, there are no major changes seen. How do you make someone care?

One of the most powerful leaders in the world called you out and said change your ways but, you agree with what he said and move on without taking real action. The encyclical should be a motivator for change but, people still do not care. Climate change is not affecting them now so it is not a problem. The problems others are experiencing are not yours so ignore them. We talked about factories in class and a point was made about factory managers not thinking about factory conditions because, they may have their own families and are concerned with their own well being. While that is somewhat reasonable (I still think it’s a problem when you are okay with poisoning people so your family can eat.), what is the moral debate with the CEO’s of huge corporations? The people of Nike who make millions annually and live lavishly know the conditions of their factories but, they can’t take a slight pay cut so people can have enough to eat. They can’t pay less for or not have a celebrity endorsement so dyes are properly disposed of and not going into people’s water. That’s nonsense!

There’s no reason to justify the wrongs you are committing. If you are in the wrong and have to try and justify what you are doing, you are wrong despite your reasoning. People see the damage being done to the world; they see what their actions are doing and still don’t care. I see what is wrong and want to fix it. I want to do my part to make a difference but, there are not enough people doing little things to fix the problem and too many people denying that there is a problem. Showing pictures of what will be lost does not influence these people and scientific evidence does not prove anything to them. The Pope could not change their minds. How do you make people understand when they refuse to listen?

 How can people be okay with living in a world without sights like this?



Let’s go somewhere!

Hey y’all,

I don’t know if anyone will see this in time but, we have the media challenge and have the opportunity to explore off campus. Would anyone want to get together and go explore the unknown? I don’t have a car but, we could share an Uber. Let me know if you are interested by commenting to this post or emailing me at my duke email: I think getting together would be really cool and a great way to go out farther in Durham. Hopefully, I’ll hear from y’all if not, enjoy the challenge!

Saving Pilot Whales: Climate Change and Potential Solutions

Victoria Grant and Mary Osborn

Saving Pilot Whales: Climate Change and Potential Solutions

Ocean ecosystem stability depends on all creatures involved to maintain the natural balance of the ecological pyramid. The food chain relies on predators and prey to keep each from overpopulating or going extinct. One species in particular, the pilot whale, is a type of predator that prey on squid and other fish in order to survive. Due to anthropogenic forcings, the prey populations have decreased which results in a food chain alteration affecting all the species within the marine ecosystem. The strain on prey populations pressures pilot whales, who feed on these species, into having to search for prey in other areas of the ocean increasing the instances of beaching. In addition, climate change is altering the marine ecosystems and the species which rely on them. This increases both temperatures and acidification of the water that these species rely on. Natural balances in place have been affected by the way humans are treating the planet. Organizations and conservationists are doing their best to try and save these whales and study the forces and reasons for the beaching and the reduction in their population.

Beaching of pilot whales is something that naturally happens as a result of time of year and geography of a landscape. Areas which have shallow waters and curved beaches are more likely to result in beaching of whales than a normal beaching areas which creates areas of “hotspots” where this is seen more often. Yet when pilot whales feel the need to move from one location to another due to lack of food, this can result in more beaching in areas these whales are not used to hunting in. Since these pilot whales rely on echo-location they cannot identify that they are swimming into shallow waters because when the sand is soft the echo does not send back in the same way (BBC News, What makes this New Zealand beach a whale graveyard?). Scientists have found that due to humans overfishing the prey of the pilot whale, many species of pilot whale have been forced to leave the area in which they normally hunt to find more food, resulting in increased instances of beaching. Not only have humans affected the prey species but also affect the natural cycles of the ocean.

Climate change has been found to contribute to stranding events in current years and the progression of increasing temperatures and changes in weather patterns will continue to worsen the severity of whale stranding. Climate change impacts the activity of marine life by raising the temperature of the water and increasing acidification. Oceans naturally absorb the carbon dioxide emitted but, with the excessive emission output by humans, oceans are absorbing higher carbon dioxide levels which increase acidification. Increased acidification negatively impacts marine ecosystems through the destruction of habitats, like coral reefs, and causing physiological stress. Organisms experience reduced growth and reproduction impacting the species in relation to them. Since climate change has accelerated in recent decades, scientists have detected significant genetic evidence of bottlenecks (Miralles et al 2016). Bottlenecks in particular lead towards extinction due to the loss of biodiversity within the populations of pilot whales. Therefore, climate change is indirectly affecting pilot whales and other ocean species.

Change in weather patterns and acidification have impacted pilot whales prey animal. Pilot whales’ main source of food relocating due to the changing ocean environment and coming further north towards countries like Tasmania. Their prey move into bay areas where the pilot whales get trapped when the tides change. Prey species are continuing to relocate and come into areas which provide higher beaching risks for pilot whales. The stranding events with pilot whales tend to be more severe than most cetacean species due to their strong social bonds. Pilot whales move in large pods and the members of the pod have strong social bonds to each other (Nolan 2003). Although one whale may be stranded, the rest of the pod will join the lone whale which could be several hundred whales. Predictions of more whale beachings have been made and show the events will get worse if no action is taken to correct the problem.

Climate change worsens with no immediate action and further impacts the pilot whale’s prey. More beachings will result in more deaths of the species which could change their endangered status. Whale deaths negatively impact tourism on the beaches they become stranded on. Whales have the tendency to explode after they die because their bodies are pent up with gases. People would have to cut open the whales after they die in each stranding event; taking away the beauty and appeal of a beach. The bodies of the dead whales have no place to go after death because, if returned to the ocean, they may end up on the private property of the beach residents. If the problem causing whale stranding is not corrected, whales will continue to get stranded and beach deaths will increase. Pilot whales are currently not in endangered species status but, scientists worry if the pattern continues, they may join the ranks of many other species toward extinction (Nolan 2003). With a declining food supply and population deaths increasing with each year, scientists’ worries are proving to be valid.

Solutions in which will help not only the pilot whale species but other marine species includes projects such as the Blue Carbon Initiative which mitigates climate change through the restoration and protection of the marine ecosystems that support the pilot whale and its prey species. This is supported by a majority of international organizations such as IUCN and IOC-UNESCO. Another project in effect is the Ocean Acidification international Reference User Group (OA-iRUG) which uses scientific information and conveys it to audiences of the general public. This focuses also on policy and decision makers which end up having the most power in regard to conserving marine ecosystems (IUCN, The Ocean and Climate Change). These projects which take into account the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems focuses on overall ecosystem stability which protects and supports marine organisms such as the pilot whale.

Climate change must be addressed to fully correct the problem. Pilot whales are going to continue to follow their prey if their prey relocates to areas with high stranding risks, the whales will continue to put them at risk. It was found that “the population of short-finned pilot whales that inhabited the coastal waters of California also abandoned the sector in search of its prey” which are squid (Go to Whales Online, Climate Change). Only one whale has to become stranded to cause a huge event to occur. Actions to combat large greenhouse gas emissions must be taken by federal governments but, ordinary people have the power to reduce their carbon footprint. By reducing fossil fuel use by driving less and lower the thermostat at home, one can begin lowering their carbon output and reduce their contribution to the problem. Voters can look for laws and voice their opinions on legislation pertaining to greenhouse emissions or government role in climate change programs. Becoming active in larger organizations is another way to contribute to the fight against climate change.

Works Cited:

“Climate Change.” Go to Whales Online. Whales Online, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. <>.

“THE OCEAN AND CLIMATE CHANGE.” (n.d.): n. pag. IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Web. <>.

Miralles, Laura, Marc Oremus, Mónica A. Silva, Serge Planes, and Eva Garcia-Vazquez. “Interspecific Hybridization in Pilot Whales and Asymmetric Genetic Introgression in Northern Globicephala Melas under the Scenario of Global Warming.” Plos One 11.8 (2016): n. pag. Web.

Nettleford, Jocelyn. “Whale Strandings No Surprise to Climatologists.” Australian Broadcasting Corporations. (2004). Web. <>.

Nolan, Tanya. “Mass Whale Beaching Mystery Solved.” ABC Local Radio. (2003). Web.<>.

“What Makes This New Zealand Beach a Whale Graveyard?” BBC News. BBC, 13 Feb. 2017. Web. 03 Mar. 2017. <>.

Make the Right Choice America!

In Margret Atwood’s It’s Not Climate Change, It’s Everything Change, Atwood reminds us of the choice we have for our future with the environment. Three options: humans have locked themselves away in an energy-efficient paradise, we destroyed the planet and are living in Dante’s inferno, or we do what is necessary now to preserve life as we know it. Atwood’s choices are not unique or different from what society has been shown time and time again. Mankind is constantly reminded of the destruction we cause to the environment yet, many of us still refuse to change. People deny the facts and ignore the current situation. When will change come? Who will lead change?

Collaborative change must be made now to correct the issues at hand but, current administration is among the non-believers. The United States is one of the largest producers of pollution and the only major country that argues the legitimacy of climate change. Every country beside the U.S. agrees measures must be made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama’s stance on climate change brought promise to other countries of the United States possible collaboration on the correcting the situation. When China and the U.S. met and discussed climate change, the world thought change may come and the major contributors would help make a difference.

The Paris Agreement designed by the UN Framework of Convention of Climate Change. When designed, the hope was countries would take their own measures to help stop a two degree rise in temperature. By giving countries freedom to choose their reduction measures, the UN hoped countries would then aggressively work further to reduce pollution and not just work towards the two-degree goal. America and 131 countries ratified the Paris Agreement which is enough to cause a significant impact in climate change. The Paris Agreement is predicted to have worked with its goal but, needed more aggressive reduction to significantly help with global warming. By getting countries to start working on reduction efforts, there was hope countries would begin to transition into other environmental issues and work on other pollution factors. The problem with the agreement is in the name. The document is an agreement because, it does not have a way to enforce countries to comply with reduction measures. Current administration is clear they do not set to follow the agreement and congress is ok to follow the lead. The time has come for the people to speak up and make their voice hold.

Surveys show 7 out of 10 voters believe actions should be made to correct climate change. People have made the decision and now must act upon their choice. Being passive in agreement is not going to bring about the change needed. Now, is the time to take action and start acting in a manner to correct the problem.

Sutter, John. The Paris Agreement is Bigger than Trump… Isn’t it?. CNN. 2017.

Cloud in the Anthropocene

In the beginning, there is nothing; nothing until a mighty roar begins. I feel myself separate piece by piece while I rise. I walk through the multiple hallways of my steel home and go out of my grated front door. Now, there is light and I can see the world below me. I cruise slowly along the glass ceiling: attempting to preserve the moment but, the end always comes too soon. A person on the ground admires my design from below and I try to wave before I am gone. The track ends and I go back into nothingness. I combine as one and sleep until I can go out to play again.

Blog Post 4

The readings and short film showed the exploitative nature of mankind. In some shape or form, the reader was struck by greed and the consequences of the emotion: destruction, pain, and limiting-reign.  All the works looked at the exploitation of natural resources which are limited and being used unsustainably by powerful nations.

Oil on Water revolved around the use of oil in Africa, specifically Nigeria, and the war on the environment. The story followed a journalist, Rufus, and his mentor/friend, Zaq, as they attempted to find a kidnapped woman. While looking for the woman, Rufus and Zaq became witnesses to a system of abuse and exploitation of resources and people. Big oil companies take from the land at the expense of the people. While the company made money, water was being poisoned: killing the plants, animals, and people in the area. Militants attempted to fight off the oil companies to help the environment but, while they fought big companies, innocent people were caught in the crossfire and some used the mission of others to make money.

The short story, The Petrol Pump, and the film, Pumzi, were works showing the exploitation of people in a first person point of view. In the short story, the reader sees a character who is living in a world facing a oil crisis. Desperation to find oil is felt and the protagonist leads the reader to wonder about a world without this resource they rely heavily upon. In the film, the audience sees the effect of losing a resource. The protagonist shows a world were there is no water and the desperate measures that must be taken to keep a civilization alive.

The exploitation observed in the works bring into question the system society has created. We have decided to take all we can without reserve or concern for others. Now the works ask, what is the consequence for our actions and when will we be punished?

Image result for exploitation of natural resources in africa

Works Cited

Calvino, Italo, and Tim Parks. “The Petrol Pump.” Numbers in the Dark: And Other Stories. New York: Pantheon, 1995. 170-75. Print.

Habila, Helon. Oil on Water: A Novel. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Print.

Dodocutepoison. “Pumzi”. Youtube. Youtube, LLC. 2013.

Blog Post 3

Prompt: How do environmental issues register differently in different cultures? (Or do they?)

Image result for native people and environment

The world is changing and the changes observed are noticed by everyone: maybe at different rates but, noticed. Peoples perspective and action toward the changes are unique and correspond with their cultural background. Cultures clash because of opposing opinions and closed mind-sets yet, there seems to be a common consensus on one thing: environmental issues are real. The world is noticing the problems and cultures have their own way of solving problems.

There is no common solution for the environmental change. Different areas are impacted in different ways with unique contributing factors. The culture of that area impacts the way people address their issues however. I am not an expert on cultures but, when I was younger, I talked to a man who lived on the native reservation of Cherokee Georgia. He told me how his people love in care for the world all the time: not when it becomes an issue. From observations of our current world, I do know some cultures seem more active in environmental activism while others are critical.

Developing countries have a stronger connection to nature. They are the first areas affected by environmental issues and sometimes the most strongly impacted. People have a stronger dependence on their resources and treat nature more precious. Countries like America attack environmental issues when they finally reach their borders instead of solving the problem when it arises.

Image result for dakota access pipeline