All posts by mughkaylah

Pipeline Protests Proposes Prison

Protestors spent most of the summer 35 feet in the air in sky pods tied to cypress trees. The goal was to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline from running through Louisiana. Energy Transfer Partners was building the pipeline to move oil between Texas and St. James Parish in Louisiana. Even though the protestors were on private land with the landowner’s permission, some were eventually arrested. The pipeline was still completed.


Louisiana’s Governor, John Bel Edwards, signed HB 727 into law making trespassing on “critical infrastructure” a felony—something that was once a misdemeanor. The protestors who were arrested were jailed with bonds as high as $20,000. Four other states including Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, have enacted similar laws after the national attention of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The 2017 protest at Standing Rock included months of clashing with law enforcement. In Texas, a bill was passed that makes interfering with some oil and gas operations a third-degree felony—the same amount one would get with indecent exposure to a child. Lawmakers in seven other states, including Minnesota, are considering similar legislation. Some of the punishments could be up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

The Bermuda Triangle

Also known as the Devil’s Triangle, the Bermuda Triangle is a body of water—you guessed it—in the shape of a triangle that stretches between Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. It’s a 700,000 square kilometer stretch that’s been a region in which several planes and ships have mysteriously disappeared.

Finally an answer

For the longest time, no one could ever provide an answer—until now. Researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom put the blame on rogue waves. These wave surges can rise to heights of 30m and last for only a few minutes. The triangle is the perfect meeting point for three different storm systems creating the rogue waves. Researchers recreated a model indoors with the USS Cyclops included—a ship that went missing in 1918 with 300 people on board. The recreation showed how quickly the ship could be overcome and the ability to snap in half by the force of the waves.

A 2-minute long YouTube video published by Discovery


Other theories included the idea that methane gas was trapped under the ocean floor that lowered the water density causing ships to suddenly sink to the appearance of hexagonal clouds capable of blowing high-speed winds which then create enormous waves.

Trash on trash on trash

The Issue

The world is turning into a giant garbage can, no doubt, and it’s getting worse. Scientists surveyed the islands of Cocos (in the Australian territory) and estimated there’s about 414 million pieces of plastic which could weigh up to 262 tons. Among the garbage was almost one million shoes and hundreds of thousands of toothbrushes. Straws and plastic bags made up a quarter of the total. Another study noted that there were more pieces of plastic in the ocean than stars in the Milky Way.

The scale of the problem is getting so bad that it seems almost impossible to clean up the beaches. It’s time consuming, costly, and thousands of new pieces of plastic wash up even after you’ve just cleaned it. The solution now is to reduce the distribution and consumption of plastic so that it doesn’t enter our oceans in the first place. I applaud the cities in Minnesota that are banning Styrofoam containers and eliminating plastic straws. We need people to be aware that we can’t stop pollution from happening, but we can certainly slow it down.

In the lower left quadrant of the photo, you can see a piece of trash on the edge of the water
Just like you wouldn’t litter in a place like Rocky Mountain National Park, let’s have that same mentality closer to home

Effects on animals

Another issue in itself is how all this garbage affects wildlife. A pregnant sperm whale washed up, dead, on an Italian beach. When scientists and veterinarians cut her open, they found a dead baby whale along with 50 pounds of plastic in her stomach. The plastic filled up more than two thirds of her stomach and potentially died because the nutrients from the food never made it past the blocked intestines.

Deepest point of the ocean

If for some reason that information didn’t spark something inside you, take this in. Victor Vescovo set a record on becoming the first American to descend deeper into the ocean than any person before him. He and his dive team were more than 35,850 feet below the surface of the Mariana Trench—the deepest point in the Earth’s oceans. That’s nearly 7 miles! That’s a similar distance between Metro State and Hidden Falls Regional Park “as the crow flies” (straight shot, not based on driving directions). Vescovo spent four hours at the bottom mapping new routes for future researchers and among the bottom? Trash. While a single piece of plastic isn’t going to single-handedly kill the ocean species, it’s a reminder on the impact human’s have and how far it reaches.

Legalizing Cannabis

In recent years, the idea of legalizing marijuana has motivated the senate to vote on bills. Everyone has an opinion on it—you’re either for legalization or you’re against it. John T. Broderick Jr. wrote an article on why he thinks it is not a time to legalize marijuana. I respectfully disagree.

Opposite sides

Broderick Jr. states that he helps lead a statewide conversation about adolescent mental health and he’s concerned with the idea of teaching people that mental health is common yet treatable, but then there’s the commercializing of marijuana in the background.  Something he says is known to increase the likelihood of psychotic incidents and it has detrimental effects on the developing brain. I don’t think for a second that the use of marijuana alone would cause someone to have a psychotic episode. If they were to, there’s obviously something else that contributes to the underlying issue. As for “detrimental” effects on the developing brain, there’s been no definitive research that says “yes, marijuana affects adolescents developing brain”—there’s only been ideas linked. Even then, the effects of marijuana including memory problems, slow coordination and reaction time and possible hallucinations are only short term. I feel as if “long-term” effects are issues in a person’s environment—not from the drug itself.

For legalization

I’ve traveled to Colorado the last two years for a road trip, and many people there admitted that they were taught about the effects of drugs on the body, like marijuana for example, and still chose to smoke. It’s not as if the conversations about marijuana to the youth are going unnoticed. Broderick Jr. said himself he thinks that “decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana so that young people won’t have a criminal record and legalizing marijuana for medical use to relieve suffering make sense.” Many people use marijuana for its medicinal properties. If we put that into context, there should be no reason why recreational marijuana can’t be legalized. Marijuana has known medical uses—cigarettes, for example, have no positive qualities and yet the youth are still peer pressured into smoking.

2: The effects El Nino has on coral bleaching

Coral reefs are dying. In the last four decades the amount of bleaching rose from 8% in the 1980s to 31% in 2016.

El Nino

Since 1980, 58% of bleaching were recorded during strong periods of El Nino.  It was noted that in February of 2019, El Nino is officially back. El Nino is a natural phenomenon that typically peaks between October and March and happens every two to seven years. They have the ability to cause rising sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. As the climate warms (from El Nino), so does the risk of coral bleaching. There’s evidence that proves El Ninos are becoming more frequent and more intense. This is already the sixth El Nino we’ve had in the 21st century.


Even though coral reefs only cover 0.1% of the ocean floor, they support roughly 25% of the biodiversity of fish. However, coral reefs are very vulnerable to climate change. High sea temperatures is the biggest cause so far. Bleaching happens when stressed corals remove the tiny living algae in their tissues called zooxanthellae which leaves behind a white skeleton. That algae is important though—it’s how corals eat and without it they starve. It is possible for corals to recover from bleaching, but persistent bleaching can ultimately kill the entire reef.

Bleaching events have become such a modern phenomenon that it’s being reported that such events are happening every six or so years, which if you’re wondering, is not enough time for corals to recover.

The most recent bleaching event was from 2015 to 2016 and was the worst on record affecting 75% of the reefs that were examined during a study. Research suggests that Australia and the Middle East have seen the biggest increase in coral bleaching, but the reason for this still isn’t clear.


Even trying to limit temperatures to stay below 1.5C would be essential to give coral reefs a fighting chance. On the contrary, an increase of 2C would be disastrous for the world’s coral. The biggest consequence of El Nino is the effect it has on global temperatures. Most notably carbon dioxide which accelerates global warming.

Final Thoughts

If events like El Nino existed less and the effects weren’t so disastrous, coral reefs would have no issue thriving. Rising sea temperatures and the increase in carbon dioxide is killing coral reefs. These events happen so often they can’t regenerate in time.

1: The link between music and health

It’s no surprise that music has the ability to fight depression—but did you also know it has the ability to improve blood flow and lower your levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone)? Even listening to music before surgery can improve post-surgical results.

All the technical language summed up is that is activates chemicals in the brain that make you feel good and helps regulate emotion and memory. The benefits of music can be compared to meditation. Both had outstanding improvements involving mood and quality of sleep. Let’s be honest, more people would much rather listen to music than partake in meditation.

BUT, music also has the ability to make us incredibly nervous. (Cue the Halloween theme song). In that case, silence would be better than listening to something random. Some music can also encourage negative emotions in us such as anger and aggression. The rhythm and other musical elements have the ability to change our brain’s activity just like it can do the opposite and make us feel good. So confusing, I know.

Just like you would expect, slow tempo music with gradual chord progressions make us feel calm whereas chaotic, up-tempo music can do the opposite. To make matters a little more complicating, not everyone is the same. While some people may think AC/DC is too hectic, some people claim for that to be their relaxation music.