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The Campus at Florida's Agricultural and Mechanical University represents the "mechanical" part of it's name but is lacking on the agricultural side. FAMU student, Aaron V. Johnson, laments the lack of vegetation and its benefits. He also shows that there are groups who would are willing to help bring back the trees.

Aaron V. Johnson:

As I walk my way to class, I can’t help but feel the agony of the harsh sun and smothering temperatures that the weather brings. Yes, I know it’s another typical summer day in Florida but what gives? If only there was more trees for shade.

On a very hot and humid September afternoon, a friend and I took our normal stroll towards our 3:30p.m. Physics class, we were both worn out for the day. The temperature was a steamy 95 degrees, and with a 105 degrees temperature once you include the sticky humidity.

As we climb up a couple set of stairs, I noticed that there were not many trees in the area. I looked around for the nearest one and found it to be several hundred feet away. The path coming from Palmettos Apartments through B.L. Perry and towards the Dyson Pharmacy Building is a long shade less walk with the sun stabbing you in the back every step of the way.

This problem confuses me, because though there is a lack of trees on FAMU’s campus there is plenty of vegetation in Florida State University and the rest of the city of Tallahassee. The landscapes between these places are visibly different. FSU is very environmentally developed with beautiful landscapes, with trimmings, and hedges to boost its appearance. The same can be said for many other areas around town.

It is now time for Florida A & M to receive that same treatment. The landscape really needs more trees. They will make a big difference between having a barren patch of desert to a more developed ecosystem bursting with wildlife helping to create the aurora of a natural and healthy environment.

The presence of more trees on campus will certainly help with many health and other issues for people. Trees provide all sorts of benefits for a college environment. They can cut a person’s air conditioning bill in half by saving energy and money. The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), who promotes the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida, can help fund projects for any residence, business, or schools that are willing to adopt native vegetation in all landscaped areas. There purpose is to promote native Florida vegetation.

Did you know that planting 30 Global ReLeaf trees can absorb the amount of carbon dioxide that is generated in the production of energy for the average American lifestyle each year? This eliminates thousands of toxic air pollutants so that people like Victoria can breathe better and enjoy the outdoors.

American Forrest Agencies say that trees can slow storm water runoff and reduce the need for storm sewers. The shade also helps cool buildings lowering electricity bills especially in urban environments.

As Tallahassee grows it’s becoming more industrialized, building facilities and other infrastructures in place of existing forests and wildlife. Please warn those in massive tree cutting developments of the risks that would be devastating to our natural environment. It is unfair to humans, wildlife, and our environment to make unnecessary changes to our natural land. We can make a difference by planting trees and vegetation of all sorts on our college campuses, homes, and work space.

AARON TREES.mp3 1.7 MB

Environmental groups and the Tallahassee utility are bumping heads over the safety of the water. Florida A&M's, Esi Yamoah, tells how local residents can respond to the reports: You may have heard the term "chromium 6" from the movie, Erin Brockovich; Hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium 6, has again risen as an issue after a national watchdog study has show high levels of the substance in drinking water across the country.

According to the National Toxicology Program (NTP), chromium 6 is a naturally occurring element found basically everywhere – From rocks to volcanic dust. Chromium 6 can seep into underground steel pipes.

But what happens when chromium 6 is in your tap water? High levels of chromium 6, could cause intestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the maximum standard for chromium as well as chromium 6 is 100 parts per billion.

The Environmental Working Group a non- profit organization informs about the environment and public health. They have detected a high level of chromium 6 in over half of the United States. According to the tests Tallahassee ranks 6th.

Water Quality manager, Jamie Shakar, located in Tallahassee disputes about EWG’s studies. Shakar says that Tallahassee’s water is safe. According to Shakar, Tallahassee’s water averages to 1 parts per billion. Which are lower than the EPA’s requirements.

Being from Tallahassee what do you do? Well the first thing you can do is become more educated about your environment in your community. Second, if you want to go and buy a water filter or boil your water. It is important to always know what us in your drinking water.

ESI CHROMIUM 6.mp3 1.2 MB

Earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency released their final clean-up plans for the Cabbot-Koppers Superfund site. The 700 pages of recommendations took nearly 30 years to produce. Dominique Shaw, a masters candidate at Florida A&M's journalism program, has been researching the disproportionate toxic burden placed on poor people and people of color.  She tells us that Gainesville is a classic example of "environmental racism." (Photo from the Fine Print)

Dominique Shaw reports:

Many people are not informed about ER. No not the medical drama, but the ER known as "environmental racism," even though it’s in many of our backyards.

Environmental racism is when big industries place hazardous waste or toxic facilities in low income communities, often neighborhoods of color. These facilities pollute the community through the water, air, and soil. Often, these industrial projects get green lit before the community knows what it means to have them move in.

Gainesville, Florida has a neighborhood that exemplifies ER. Twelve schools sit within a two mile radius from a 140 acre hazardous waste site. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated it the Cabot-Koppers Superfund site in 1983.

Superfund is the federal government's program to clean up the nation's uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. They seek to find the people responsible and make the polluters pay otherwise the government funds the clean-up.

In this case, Beazer East, Inc, is being held responsible. The site is made up of the Koppers' 90 acre wood-treatment operation, and Cabot Carbon- a former charcoal operation that has been redeveloped into a commercial space.

The land is choked with 32 different toxins such as dioxin, arsenic, and chromium that came from Cabot-Koppers. Recently, Dr. Steve Roberts from University of Florida's Center for Environmental & Human Toxicology, showed the severe cancer risks residents face because of the dioxin contamination from Cabot-Koppers. The data revealed that people are 3,610 times more vulnerable to cancer in the northern area of the Superfund site than what is allowed by the state.

The sad truth is that this neighborhood is not unique. Environmental Racism has been discussed for over a generation by researchers all over this country. Awareness about poverty, race and low property values can arm communities to fight back against environmental racism.

For more on this issue of environmental racism, check out our story on the first American case of ER to be heard by an international human rights commission, "The Battle for Human Rights in Cancer Alley

Dominique Shaw ER.mp3 1.5 MB