A Common Fence Point Homeowner

PORTSMOTH R.I.__ Kristina Thompson purchased her home in 2000 with her husband. When she did purchase her home, she did not consult the SLAMM maps because they were not developed yet, but maps like it were.

“That I don’t know its a possibility,” said Thompson about her neighbors consulting the SLAMM maps, “I don’t think anyone would leave their homes unless there was a title wave or something.”

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The last flood to happen at Common Fence Point Blvd was in 1954, according to Thompson. The water came three feet high on the homes. Since then there has been no flooding in the area.

“There was a storm surge during Sandy, but it was gone as soon as it came,” said Thompson.

Her family is very active and they own a boat. The house came with a mooring so they can keep their boat in the water just outside their home. They enjoy boating, fishing and sailing. They also recently got a puppy named Stanley.


Why Does it Matter?

In 2015 there is an expectation that a smartphone is just an extension of our hand. We are constantly connected, an our news consumption has turned into an addiction like a drug. The more news we get, the more we want, and the moment we are disconnected we have withdrawals, feeling a vibrating phone that isn’t there, or anxiety that we are missing out.

The world is addicted to media consumption.

Why does it matter that I can tell stories in a multimedia blog post? It matters because if I don’t feed the addiction, someone else will. If I don’t have the credible information, or the pure drug, than my readers will go elsewhere.

I can keep them hooked, I have the words, along with the pictures and videos. The multimedia fuels the curiosity, it makes a “reader” a “viewer” because they do so much more than just read.

I bring conversation into the experience. I have hyperlinks to other sources, my tweets line the sidebar for more interactivity, you can read the conversation as it is happening instead of the old way of reading the conclusion.

This matters because if journalists don’t continue with the trends, if we don’t go along with the cellphone as an extension of ourselves, then someone else will, a different dealer. The reader will be forced to go to a less credible source.

Earth Day in Rhode Island: Raimondo’s Plans

Earth Day was celebrated across the planet last Wednesday, popular social media had Instagram photos and tweets about why people love the earth. Even the popular application Snapchat had an Earth Day geotag.

Here in Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo announced 23 projects that can benefit the earth and especially the Ocean State. The goal is to prevent polluted storm runoff from flowing into Rhode Island’s bays, ponds and streams. The Providence Journal calls them “ingenious in their simplicity.”

Instead of building artificial infrastructure like in the past, there are plans to take a different approach by planting trees and using wetlands to filter storm water naturally.

“Many will incorporate the use of green infrastructure approaches that offer long-term advantages over the past ways that we’ve used to handle stormwater management,” Raimondo said to the Providence Journal.

“We’re dealing with stormwater by putting it in the ground,” said Betsy Dake, senior environmental planner with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to the Providence Journal. “We’re imitating nature.”

Pope Francis on Global Warming

The Catholic church is known from being conservative, but the most recent pope, Pope Francis, has commented on everything from same sex marriage to climate change.

On Tuesday April 28, 2015 there was a meeting at the Vatican including religious leaders, diplomats and scientists to discuss climate change.

“We are the first generation that can end poverty, and the last generation that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations said, according to the New York Times. “Climate change is approaching much faster than one may think,” he said.

The pope is scheduled to address the United States Congress in September, as well as a United Nations climate summit meeting in Paris in December. The Pope Francis is not the first pope to discuss the environment, he has said that it is due to human advancements.

Mr. Ban conceded Tuesday to the New work Times, that “faith leaders should not be scientists,” but what is important, he added, “is their moral commitment.”

SLAMM: Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model

photo by Amanda Keane

photo by Amanda Keane

Before purchasing property in Rhode Island, the Ocean State, it is best to check out where the ocean might be in the future. Flood insurance might be out of your budget if in five years your house will be under water.

The Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model can help with that. This model that was created in the 80s uses elevation to predict various outcomes of sea level rise along the atlantic coast. This model addresses various scenarios including erosion and oversaw.

This computes relative sea level change soaring five to 25 years. It also incorporates areas that are protected by structures like dikes and hard structures.

There is some scrutiny regarding the accuracy of the SLAMM model. In the journal Ecological Modeling, there is a section questioning weather or not the SLAMM model is accurate, the authors evaluated the model using neutral models including:

RCM- The Random Constraint Model, GrC- the growing cluster model.

These models consider the initial landscape conditions instead of starting with a blank or randomized initial map. This makes it possible for the SLAMM model to be more accurately assessed.

Planet Forward- Sustainable Farming

WASHINGTON__ Last week a group of Roger Williams University students traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Planet Forward summit that focused on sustainable farming in a time where the population is growing and the climate is changing.

In one of the panels the talk of a totally sustainable farm. This dairy farm is totally self sustaining in the way that there is no waste. This family uses everything again including the cow manure. They put the manure in a compressor that extracts the methane gas, they use that gas to fuel their tractors and more.

It is innovation like this that was the focus of the “Feeding the Planet” Summit hosted at The George Washington University.

Long Winter Freezes Maple Syrup Production in RI

ASHAWAY R.I.__ This past winter has been one of the snowiest winter’s to date. It was multiple blizzards that buried the northeast and the people of Rhode Island went into hibernation.

Uncle Buck’s Sugar House in Ashaway, R.I. felt the impact of such a cold and snowy winter.

“We had to use the tractor to shovel the snow so that we could get to some of the trees to tap them,” said Uncle Buck.

Uncle Buck’s maple trees had a tough winter. He usually taps his trees in late January or early February. This season he couldn’t tap a tree until March 6th. It was this late start that really changed how Buck does his business.

Normally bringing in well over 65 gallons of sap a year, this year he was only able to bring in just under 60 gallons. He had a loss of about 8% of his business because of this harsh winter.

Buck is optimistic about next winter though hoping to get some more equipment so that he can have 100 more taps next season.

“That first winter in 1997 was a cold one watching water boil on the back deck for only one gallon of sap, but my business has grown every year since then,” said Uncle Buck

Hydroponics- Sustainable Farming

BRISTOL R.I.__ Nestled by the Mt. Hope Bay lies the campus of Roger Williams University and is home to a state of the art science building where salt water tanks line the labs, except for one. The self-sustaining Hydroponics system that the club Engineers Without Borders created is home to both fish and a farm.

This system is built right in the greenhouse attached to the side of the Marine and Natural Sciences building on Roger Williams’ campus. This group of talented engineers have designed and built this system that will not only feed the fish, but use no additional water.

Its this method of growing food that will sustain the campus community. This ebb and flow system can flood the tray that contains the soil and plants to water them. The excess water drains back into the fish tank, where the freshwater fish will feed off of the nutrient runoff from the plants. That water then goes through a series of filters before flooding the tray, and starting all over again.

The group Engineers Without Borders hopes to travel to developing countries to teach them this way of farming. Weather conditions, soil conditions and droughts are no problem for this system. Nestled in a greenhouse for temperature control and protection, plants can grow and sustain themselves.

The club is working on getting a solar panel so that there is zero outside energy used to power the pumps circulating the water. They grow plants that are local to Rhode Island and they sell to local farmers markets and to the dining hall on the very campus they grow on.

With the world’s population taking over farming land, and having all those mouths to feed, hydroponics is the most efficient way to feed all those hungry people. This takes up virtually no floor space and there are companies that are now converting storage containers into full fledged farms.

This is an innovative way to continue to feed the world’s population now, and 50 years from now.

Climate Change and Ocean Life

BRISTOL R.I.__ Roger Williams University is home to a state of the art Marine and Natural Science building. Inside that building the labs are lined with salt water tanks of all shapes and sizes.

These tanks are home to all kinds of native ocean creatures. In one of the labs, clown fish are kept in temperature regulated tanks. If they have even a few degree difference in where they naturally feel comfortable, they can die.

It is very important for the clown fish’s reproductive system if they have their set specific temperature, any higher or lower, the fish have difficulty having there babies.

Molly Waters, a senior at Roger Williams University, says that most fish are impacted by warming waters.

“One of the reasons that the ocean is increasing in temperature is because of carbon emissions in the atmosphere that get sequestered into the ocean which changes the chemistry of the ocean and also changes the pH as well.”

Clown fish are not the only sea creatures that are impacted by this climate change. Lobsters are migrating north in search of colder temperatures. Lobsters, like clown fish, are more susceptible to disease when they are in an uncomfortable temperatures.

Professor Speaks Out Against Obama



President Obama’s Harvard Law professor, Lawrence H. Tribe, is a well respected liberal scholar of constitutional law. President Obama worked for him as a research assistant at Harvard Law where Tribe has been a professor for decades.

Mr. Tribe served on the Justice department during Obama’s first term and was in favor of the president’s stance on health care and immigration. This is why so many at Harvard are bewildered and angry that Tribe has become the leading legal opponent of President Obama’s ambitious efforts to fight global warming, even after Tribe argued on behalf of Al Gore in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case.

The nation’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy, has hired Tribe to represent them in the hope to block environmental regulation. The EPA is proposing legislation that could cut carbon dioxide emissions from all coal fire plants in the United States.

This is the center of the Obama Administration’s environmental agenda.