Ecosia: Simple Contributions

By Kate Jeong

If you walk around the streets of downtown Houston, you’ll see signs and posters screaming at you to “SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT!” It’s all meant to stir a sense of urgency inside us to do something. In most, it makes a feeble “Oh, yeah, right. We should.” kind of thought- but we don’t actually do anything about it. People still litter, don’t recycle, and still use more paper than necessary. In short, people- we- are still hurting the environment.

However, there is a simple solution that shows great potential. It is called Ecosia, a free search engine developed in Berlin, Germany, that plants a tree for every 45 searches you do. Our generation was born with the world’s information with a single search- now it’s time to search for a greater purpose. 

First and foremost, they are not scamming people. The company uploads a receipt and financial report of how they use their profits to pay for planting trees regularly. They also have a blog (blog.ecosia.org), where they update their tree projects. 

Ecosia, like everything, has some negative reviews. Some believe that they are hijackers, selling information to third party companies for profit; but you should also keep in mind those comments have also been directed towards other major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Critics also dislike the facts Ecosia places ads next to search results, but that is how they gain revenue to pay for the trees they plant. 

So, are they a legit company? In my personal view with knowledge based on thorough research, I believe that, yes, you can trust them.

Why should you participate? Our earth is your earth- it belongs to you, too. Global warming is real and is progressing fast. Experts have announced that about 1.5 trillion trees need to be planted to alter the tremendous amount of carbon in the atmosphere, and even then there’s limited time until it’s unchangeable. Ecosia, now ten years old, has planted over 67 million trees and counting. It’s quite shy from achieving a trillion, but anything helps. Besides, being online is something many of us do already on a regular basis.

Ecosia is also user-friendly, and are doing something to do something that matters. They have planted trees all over the world in fourteen countries, such as Brazil, Peru, Madagascar, and much more. They have a tracker below the search box where they keep a tally of how many trees they’ve planted so far with their eight million and counting users. I myself use the site, and I am proud to say I’ve planted 47 trees! Anyone can truly make a difference – and it’s this simple. If you have Chrome on your laptop or PC, then it’s a simple click to add the extension. On mobile, they have a free app that does the exact same thing. Additionally, if you find the right thing, clicking on the first website that shows up on your search also gives some revenue to the non-profit. 

It’s a small sacrifice you could make to make an impact on your world. While you’re searching up questions on math problems or looking up how to bake a chocolate chip cookie, you could be planting trees. There is no Plan(et) B- Earth is our only one, and you can help save it.

The Dangers of Vaping

By Brody Droste and Albert Ferrel, edited by Kate Jeong

On September 6, the state of California mourned its second death related to vaping e-cigarettes. This is the seventh death in a nationwide epidemic that has affected hundreds of people and killed twelve.

When using a vaping device, chemicals like nicotine and sweeteners are turned to vapor and inhaled by the user. These vapors include many other harmful substances as well. These include diacetyl, carcinogenic chemicals, and heavy metals such as tin, nickel, or lead. These are similar to actual cigarettes. It’s also much more dangerous to the passer-bys because of the secondhand smoke. Although these substances themselves don’t cause the lung damage associated with vaping, the oil used to vaporize the liquids are inhaled by the user. The oil becomes trapped in the lungs, causing lung damage. Victims of this illness first experienced coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain before their condition worsened and had to be taken to the hospital. Some victims ended up with a lung condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening disease in which fluids build up in the lungs and prevents oxygen from circulating in the bloodstream. 

Due to this mysterious illness, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued multiple statements encouraging people to stop vaping. Schools have been trying to stop vaping by installing special smoke detectors and even taking down bathroom stall doors. However, most are doubtful that this will have an effect. They believe teens will find other ways to hide their vaping habits.

The government has been cracking down on e-cigarette companies as well. The FDA recently sent a letter to JUUL Labs, saying they illegally marketed their vapes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Additionally, New York has passed an emergency ban immediately making the sale of flavored e-cigarettes illegal, and many other states are considering doing the same.  President Trump announced he plans on passing a law to prevent the sale of flavored cigarettes as well.

POMS has also taken measures to prevent students from vaping. Health classes educate students on the dangers of vaping, smoking, and other nicotine products.  If students are found in possession of any nicotine products, they are suspended if not expelled.

E-cigarettes are a very dangerous item, and should not be administered especially by any middle schoolers, as they can even lead to death like the epidemics taking place now.