By Bre Jarvis (Editor-in-Chief) During the summer of 2018, red waters crept up the beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. As dead sea life washed ashore and a pungent smell ran through the sea breeze, it almost seemed as if the ocean were bleeding. Indeed, Heather Barron, head veterinarian at Florida’s Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, said of the frightening conditions last August: “Anything that can leave has, and anything that couldn’t leave has died” (National Geographic). But why was the ocean bleeding? Perhaps you’ve heard of the culprit: red tide. Red tide is a natural phenomenon that involves the growth of microbial algae in ocean environments. Its name comes from the rusty color that some of these algae produce. One such species, Karenia brevis, grows in large numbers off the coast of Florida. The powerful effects of K. brevis are by no means new (red tide has been recorded as early as the 1500s), but the intensity of Florida’s red tide last summer is unlike anything the state has ever seen. So, what’s the big deal? Besides discoloring Florida’s normally crystal blue waters, red tide can have a lethal impact on the environment—so much so that scientists have labelled K. brevis a harmful algal bloom (HAB). Red tide is responsible for the production of brevetoxin, a neurotoxin which can result in sickness and even paralysis when consumed by sea life. “Lots and lots of species—fish, mammals, reptiles—all get affected by [red tide] because those toxins end up going up the food chain,” explains Ms. Fagan, who teaches Marine Science at Nease. Due to bioaccumulation (the accumulation of harmful chemicals in an organism’s tissues as it consumes other organisms infected with chemicals), predators such as mammals, birds, and turtles often suffer the most severe effects of brevetoxin. In fact, a recent outbreak of red tide contributed to the death of 149 manatees in a single year (Smithsonian). Humans are also affected by brevetoxins and can suffer from serious illness (including respiratory, digestive, or heart issues) and even death after inhaling the toxin or consuming seafood infected with it. Red tide’s damaging effects extend to the economy as well: according to the Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, HABs cost the U.S. about $82 million each year due to their harmful impact on the fishing and tourism industries. But what exactly is responsible for the increasing growth of red tide in recent years? The answer may or may not surprise you: humans. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), red tide is a form of nutrient pollution. Nutrient pollution occurs when runoff from agriculture, storm water, wastewater, fossil fuels, and certain household products pollute water sources (like the ocean) with excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. Because nitrogen and phosphorus are essential to all forms of life, large amounts of these nutrients can lead to uncontrollable growth of microbial colonies. So, while HABs do occur naturally to some extent, human activities can dramatically augment the size and intensity of algal blooms such as red tide. What can students do to shift the tide? Ms. Fagan states that students can play a role in mitigating red tide on a personal level—for example by cleaning up pet waste and being mindful of the chemicals used in spraying their yard. “Other than that, it really just becomes political,” she says. Ms. Fagan suggests reaching out to your representatives in Congress “about making laws restricting what big companies can do.” Findings indicate that the 2018 bloom is finally declining, but that doesn’t mean Florida’s environment is safe from red tide. As long as runoff from human activities continues to pollute waterways, red tide will infect Florida’s oceans each year. And if our unhealthy habits worsen at their current rate, algal growth—and its harmful effects—will inevitably escalate. In short, if we don’t do something to mitigate red tide, the ocean will “bleed” more heavily each passing year. Cover Photo Credit: Surfline
Do you think the government should enact gun control laws? Tell us your opinion in the comments! You can find more info about gun control in Bella Ibrahim’s article from the March 2018 issue of The Vertical. Photo by Dean Hochman
Featured photo: Victims of the recent Stoneman Douglas High School shooting are advocating for legislation to increase safety in public schools. (Photo credit: ABC News) By Michael Savo-Matthews (Business Manager) With the recent school shooting in Southern Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school, many teens have been led to question the security of the schools they attend. Students come to school expecting a safe environment where they can come to solely to learn and gain knowledge, but this can be jeopardized when emergency situations occur. It is very important that all students are safe and can feel comfortable in their learning environments. As senior Allie Pearson stated, “I think it’s very important to remember that Nease has an open campus. While we do have a main entrance, there are chain-link fences around the school that can easily be climbed, and the back of the school has no fence at all. If someone wanted to get into our campus, it would be pretty easy, so I think it is important for students and teachers to report when they see someone out of place.” One of the most important security measures we can take is to be prepared. It is always crucial that if a catastrophic event were to occur, students are ready and prepared to take action to protect themselves. Many teachers have gone over hypothetical situations with their students and what solutions could be best to protect the students. Sophomore Anamika Goswami points out when discussing what she believes to be important for the security of our schools: “For one, I think it’s important that most teachers are on the same page … just about every teacher had [this talk] with their classes about the recent school shooting and what to do in case one were to occur at Nease … I also must say that precautions such as the ones that were taken this past week, after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, should occur on the regular. At least at the beginning of the year, each teacher should take time to give a detailed description of what to do in case a shooter came on campus.” As Anamika points out, consistency is crucial for these emergency situations. There are a few things that students can do to help prevent a situation like this from occurring at Nease. Students can speak up to the school board if they hear news of anything that could harm the student body to make sure that the situation does not escalate and become a real problem. In addition to this, students should make sure their opinions are heard when it comes to issues that can affect policy regarding an event like a school shooting. For example, if you have decisive opinions on gun control, and you want to see policy change in that area, speak up about those opinions. Attend a protest, email a local representative, or do whatever you think will make change happen. Recently at Nease there have been more security measures taken to protect students and lessen the likelihood of an event like the one previously mentioned from happening. We have had a new fence installed to make us a closed, more secure campus and to protect against intruders. Last year, with bomb threats that we had here at Nease around fourth quarter, there was a system in place that helped prevent students from writing bomb threats in the bathroom anonymously. There are many drills that we practice to prepare for an emergency situation, such as fire drills, tornado drills, and lock-down drills, which would be especially important in a situation like the one in Southern Florida.
By Bre Jarvis (Web Editor) If you’re like the average human being, you’ve probably found yourself at one time or another in the checkout aisle of a grocery store, flipping through an issue of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, or the like. And if you’re like 75% of teenage girls, you probably ended up feeling “depressed, guilty, and shameful” about your body after finishing. While we often hear that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s not hard to tell that magazines tends to portray women as scantily clad, free of blemish, and thin—very, very thin. What most don’t know, however, is that there’s a lot that goes on between the time a model is photographed and when their picture is plastered on the cover of a magazine. Utilizing modern technology such as Photoshop, professional photo editors transform real women into the idealized models that appear in the media through a process known as retouching. Virtually every photo that is published to a magazine or website undergoes retouching, and treatments vary from smoothing skin to slimming waists to changing body structure. While the fashion and beauty industries argue that some editing is necessary to improve the overall quality of photos, retouching is often taken too far. “Retouching is becoming more extreme,” says Henry Farid, a computer specialist from Hampshire. “They are no longer making perfect skin, they are making impossible human beings.” No real woman naturally looks like the women of the media—and yet, a recent survey revealed that 15% of 18- to 24-year-olds are convinced that the media’s portrayal of women is real. It comes as no surprise, then, that a consequence of retouching is decreased body image, particularly among young girls and women. Everyday women are bombarded by photos of celebrities that have been masterfully edited to possess ideal bodies. Even if they know that images displayed in the media have been altered, women are still affected by the standards of beauty they set. According to Jean Kilbourne, the edited photos displayed in the media “sell concepts of love, sexuality, of success, and perhaps most important, of normalcy. To a great extent, they tell us who we are and who we should be.” The fashion and beauty industries have ingrained into the minds of women everywhere that the type of body found on the covers of magazines—that is, a body with a thin waist, generous curves, and the notorious thigh gap—is the kind of body a woman needs to be accepted as beautiful and worthwhile. But since so few women actually possess a body shape that matches that of retouched models, many young girls are left disappointed with the way they look. In fact, at age thirteen, 53% of girls dislike their bodies, a percentage that increases to 78% by age seventeen. It’s no shock that as a consequence, women turn to unhealthy habits such as purging, starving, and excessive exercise in order to obtain the perfect bodies they see in the media. Perhaps the impossible standards set by retouched photos accounts for the striking number of women diagnosed with eating disorders—almost 10 million in the United States alone. More commonly, girls devote themselves to fad diets and exercise programs, obsessively monitoring their weight and calorie intake in the hopes of looking like their favorite celebrities. Retouching has contributed to a society that encourages girls to focus their lives on becoming the “perfect” woman—a woman that’s really no more than the end result of dodging and burning, cutting and pasting, airbrushing and toning. In real life, no woman fits the mold of perfectly thin or lusciously curvy. We have touching thighs, chubby cheeks, and belly pouches (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Those same “flaws” that society convinces women to get rid of aren’t flaws at all—just natural characteristics that make each of us unique. After all, wouldn’t the world be a boring place we all looked the same? Photoshopping women isn’t the only way or even the best way for advertisements to sell products. Many successful companies, including Aerie, Modcloth, and Teen Magazine, have recently ditched retouching in favor of advertising that celebrates natural beauty and diversity. Some countries have even passed legislation limiting the extent to which advertisers can digitally alter the appearance of models, while others have required labels for retouched photos. Let’s create a society that celebrates the thin and the chunky, the slender and the curvy, the delicate and the athletic. Let’s create a society that knows a woman’s worth extends beyond her appearance, a society that values character over calories, bravery over beauty, and wisdom over weight. Let’s create a society that doesn’t need to crop out half a woman’s body for her to be considered acceptable. Let’s create a society where retouching doesn’t exist.
By Bre Jarvis (Web Editor) “The Philippines’ slide towards illiberality is accelerating,” writes Washington Post writer Manuel Quezon III. The country has recently erupted in fear and confusion in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to denounce several news outlets. However, amid the protests and riots taking place in the Philippines, perhaps the United States can find itself in danger of the same fate. The freedom of the press, a right guaranteed by the First Amendment, has recently come under scrutiny by various American political figures, particularly President Trump. “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want,” he said last October. Since the beginning of his presidential term, Trump has criticized several reporters and news publications, even threatening to sue or terminate them. These threats, in addition to his mission to “take a strong look at our country’s libel laws”, have evoked anxiety in journalists who fear that the president may attempt to infringe upon their First Amendment rights. Other Americans have argued that alteration to laws concerning press freedom because is necessary because the freedom of the press is too flexible, allowing room for journalists to make false claims against important figures. Michael Savo-Matthews discusses in his article “Fake News” that political polarization has led many news corporations to bend the truth in order to favor one political side over another. In any case, Trump’s attitudes concerning the press freedom bring to light an important question: to what extent can—and should—the president alter legislation regarding the freedom of the press? According to the New York Times, President Trump does not possess the power to alter libel law, or law concerning defamatory statements. “Libel law is a state law tort, meaning that state courts and state legislatures have defined its contours … Changing New York Times v. Sullivan would require either the Supreme Court to overrule it or a constitutional amendment.” The First Amendment restricts Congress from passing any law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. Furthermore, the court case New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) established that all statements concerning public figures, even those that are false, are protected “unless the speaker lied with the intent to defame.” In other words, public figures like President Trump only hold the right to sue the publishers of defamatory statements if they can prove that 1) such a statement is false and 2) the said statement was either purposefully or negligibly published. However, this does not apply to opinions or valid statements. Still, the matter of “fake news” continues to divide Americans. Many Americans, demanding accurate news, hope for government intervention on the issue. On the other hand, many fear that such intervention is indicative of an oppressive government. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) writes, “The freedom of the press, protected by the First Amendment, is critical to a democracy in which the government is accountable to the people. A free media functions as a watchdog that can investigate and report on government wrongdoing.” Extensive restrictions on press freedom could potentially deprive the public of the knowledge they are entitled to. As currently seen in the Philippines, abridging the freedom of the press is a slippery slope; When leaders are given the power to censor what the press can tell the public, democracy is put in danger. Concerning the New York Times v. Sullivan case, Justice Brennan said: “… we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” Don’t gag the press, one Filipino protestor wrote on a piece of duct tape that covered his mouth. While Americans fear the impending totalitarianism of foreign countries, we often overlook the tightening grip our own government has on one of our most valuable freedoms: the freedom of the press. Some limitations to press freedom, such as our current libel laws, are beneficial in providing the public with accurate news. But it is not the president’s job to enact such limitations, nor is it wise to give Congress full power in limiting the press. Whatever path our lawmakers choose, may the citizens of our country pledge to defend the right of journalists to publish truth, even the offensive and controversial truth. May we never aid in gagging the press. Whether or not you agree that action should be taken to prevent fake news, it’s crucial to become an informed reader of the news so you can determine for yourself what’s the truth. You can find a few strategies for doing so in “Fake News” by Michael Savo-Matthews in the February 2018 issue of The Vertical.