The Winner of $500 University Scholarship 2019
List and discuss the various types of pollution in the world. Offer, describe, and define viable solutions to resolve these types of pollution.

Name of Winner: Melody Manwell

Winning Essay:

“With great power comes great responsibility” and I truly believe the remedy I have discovered is a superhero among solutions because it is extremely potent and has the ability to attack multiple types of pollution simultaneously. So let’s compare it to its fellows, introduce it and share what all it can do. Air pollution is one of the main sources of contamination in our toxic world filled with semi trucks, trains, and millions of cars...not to mention the factories pouring out truckloads of harmful gases. Food waste at the dump is also a major contributor to the production of harmful methane gas. Now, there are some easy band-aids for this, such as getting air filters for your home, but that doesn’t stop the problem. There are other helpful things anyone can do… such as compost your leftovers to reduce food waste. This attacks the problem at its source. Organic waste decomposes naturally. The responsibility lies not just with the individual though. Companies have been getting into the act as more young people advocate for change. I have seen how products now bear the “best by” or “freeze by” label instead of “use by” and this is great. “Use by” has contributed to edible food being thrown away needlessly and adds to those landfill piles. Sometimes the simplest changes are the best, and this one costs the company nothing. This solution addresses the problem before it even becomes one but is not foolproof. Eighty percent of the damage to the marine environment comes from the land as runoff. Food waste at landfills produce groundwater pollution through underground streams. Groundwater pollution also comes from pesticides, fertilizers, and motor oil. A good band-aid for the individual is the use of reverse osmosis water filters- but it doesn’t fix the problem at its source. Creating places where biomass found in streams and rivers can be converted into bioenergy helps too- the methane created is captured and burned, which produces carbon dioxide and water and then used to produce electricity or fuel for heating and cooking. Another new innovation being proposed in ferrate. Ferrate kills bacteria in water and breaks down carbon based pollutants into harmless chemicals, which makes filtering cheaper for small towns. Electricity may also help- electrically charged titanium oxide can change nitrates into harmless chemicals and carbon based compounds also became smaller and less harmful. But neither of these address the problem before it gets started and affect only businesses and towns. These are all great solutions which are easy to do and relatively affordable to implement. But the solution I’ve found goes well beyond all of this. It addresses air and water pollution in agriculture, at home and in industry simultaneously and at the source. The solution I propose is aquaponics. Few know about it but yet it’s been around for the entire age of the earth. Ever wondered why vegetation is so lush right near a pond, lake or stream? It’s because most plants flourish near water but not just near water- near the fish and aquatic life in the water. Aquaponics is a way of harnessing this powerful system of nature and bringing it to anyone, anywhere. Aquaponics can harness the chemicals needed by plants by hosting the fish that produce these chemicals in their waste and then giving their waste to the plants which then use it to produce abundant, tasty vegetables, fruit and herbs. This cycle can be repeated over and over again, in a closed, sustainable cycle. But how does it address air and water pollution? Aquaponics uses less than 10% of the water typically needed for traditional agriculture when growing a comparable amount of plant food. It also reduces the need for mined or man made chemicals including pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. These chemicals are simply not needed in indoor aquaponic farming because most bugs and pests are found in soil or outdoors and there is no soil in aquaponic farming. This superhero of solutions also produces zero waste- ZERO- any extra fish waste there might be can be used to fertilize trees or added to compost and there is no other waste produced. This type of farming has the potential to significantly reduce our food waste and agricultural production wastes, overall. Agriculture uses 70 % of the world’s freshwater supplies, and is a top producer of lake, stream and river contamination in the US. Aquaponics would help reduce that overuse of our resources significantly if implemented on a larger scale. It would also help reduce wastewater and sewage pollution when compared with traditional plant agriculture as less wastewater is produced and is less harmful when it is produced and there is no waste or sewage produced. This truly addresses pollution at its source by reducing or even eliminating the need for traditional agriculture practices. It also allows for food to be grown in nearly any place including the desert or rocky mountainous terrain- reducing oil, gas emissions, refrigeration needed and the amount of packaging due to length of travel/transportation that those plant foods would otherwise need to take. In a controlled study by Suez Canal University, aquaponic fish systems’ water quality were tested and produced significant beneficial increases in water pH value and significant decrease in harmful ammonia, nitrites and temperature. This would help combat rising groundwater and ocean temperatures as well as reducing harmful leached chemicals overall and increasing healthy water pH. So, hopefully, you can see now how exciting the future can be - a sustainable future filled with an abundant source of plant foods in every home, producing much less waste and taking much less water and resources from our land. Our waterways, oceans and atmospheres can be healed and renewed, inch by inch, naturally. Aquaponics systems can be very small and fit on your counter, or can be very large and fill buildings for business uses. The systems are affordable to make or buy, can even be homemade and are accessible to nearly everyone.