Ocean Pollution from Plastic

Plastic is a polymer which is a chemical compound that can be molded into simple forms and used for many purposes: bags, containers, clothes, electronics devices. It is one of the most used material in the world and a breakthrough in Materials Science which makes food and drink products more available and cheaper. However, this material is causing a lot of problems to the environment and human health because we have not managed it properly. According to Charles Moore in her article about plastic pollution published on Britannica Academic, 4 to 12 million tons of plastic debris end up in the ocean each year, thus polluting and disrupting the wildlife.


(Photo taken from : https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottsnowden/2019/05/30/300-mile-swim-through-the-great-pacific-garbage-patch-will-collect-data-on-plastic-pollution/?sh=8caed5f489fe)

Ocean pollution from plastic detrimentally impacts marine animals and human health. Pollution is the process whereby a chemical substance, due to its presence in the nature, causes harmful effects on the surrounding area. Plastic materials are hardly biodegradable which means it lasts long before disappearing, thus contaminating the environment. While land pollution from plastic is well-known, ocean plastic pollution is overlooked; however, it is as dangerous as land pollution. One of the biggest ocean pollution cases is known as “The Pacific Garbage Patch” which is a huge amount of plastic as large as Texas State accumulated in the Pacific Ocean. It was discovered in the 1980s, and 80% of the materials composing it are plastics (bags, bottles, nets…). Those debris become more dangerous because the sun and the harsh environment of the sea tend to disintegrate them, thus breaking them down into smaller pieces. According to Harse Grant A. in his article about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch published on UCLA journal, states that over 250 species such as fish, sea birds and turtles are known to ingest plastic debris, mistaking them as their prey, thus killing them painfully. Once a specie consumes plastic, it enters in the food chain, and humans will eventually consume it because we are at the top of the chain. Based on the article about plastic published on Lexis Nexis Academic, Michelle Lalonde mentioned that plastics consumption can affect hormone secretion in the human body, which proves that this material has an inherent health detriment.

To prevent from these harmful consequences of plastic on human health and the wildlife, preventive and curative solutions should be adopted. Because of the huge amount of plastics already discarded in the ocean, a curative solution which consists of removing those debris becomes more urgent. This solution consists of creating technological devices to detect area in the ocean where plastic is abundant and then to clean it efficiently. Fort this reason, universities should encourage students to enroll in environmental science with a focus on oceans clean-up. By doing that, efficient devices and methods will be developed and the cleaning process will become less expensive and less effortful. As mentioned above, preventive solutions are also very important. They consist mostly on plastic recycling and reusing which can prevent this material from ending in the ocean.

These solutions are not easily achievable because the ocean is vast and the amount of plastic debris already discarded in it is substantial. In addition, private companies don’t have a direct benefit in removing trashes from the ocean which in turn leads to a lack of interest from universities in conducting research in this area. That’s why it should be a government preoccupation. Rewards and funding should be provided to encourage companies willing to do a such effortful task. By doing that, the amount of plastic waste in the ocean will be more likely reduced. However, it may take a very long time to have a clean ocean like we had before plastic was invented; nonetheless, this should be our goal if we want to prevent plastic from entering the food chain which can have severe consequences on marine animals and on us.

Happy birthday to my other half

Now it is time to speak out about you my soulmate. I have been with you for some years and you have always treated me with love, kindness, loyalty and respect. Today is your birthday, but there is nothing I can do to equate what you have done for me. Even if I give you the entire world, that will not be enough. Like Makaveli said in his song Dear Mama, “there’s no way I can pay you back, but the plan is to show you that I understand”.


I understand that your fundamental principles in life have enabled our bond to be deeper. I understand during my time with you, you have helped me to grow a lot and to learn the importance of being real. “Being real is the first step for experiencing deep love” as you used to tell me. I am thankful for those valuable lessons you have taught me, I will never lie to you again. I  understand that our love will never stop growing as long as I am following your rules full of wisdom.

By your side, my life is enlightened; you have made me the happiest man in the world. Whenever I am depressed you always say the right words to boost my mood up. Whatever the difficulty I faced, you have always given me good advice without judging me. I am thus delighted and grateful to be with an empathetic woman like you. I would never be the man that I am without you in my life.

With that said, I wish you happy birthday, success with your career and success in your life with me. I love you.

Il ne faut pas avoir peur du béton

Que pensez-vous du béton armé?
Le béton est le matériau de construction le plus utilisé au monde. Cependant, depuis le 12 janvier 2010, les haitiens ont une peur bleue de ce matériau. Il est vrai que les douleurs du 12 janvier étaient atroces, mais le pauvre matériau béton ne doit pas en être le bouc émissaire. Nous devons de préference apprendre à l’utiliser correctement. Ce texte, je l’ai donc écrit pour clarifier à tout le monde que le béton n’est pas un materiaux dangereux ni à proscrire. D’ailleurs on l’utilise partout (Etats-Unis, France, Canada, Chili…); le plus haut bâtiment du monde, la Burj Khalifa à Dubai (829 m), est en béton armé (béton et acier). Il suffit de bien utiliser le béton pour enfin comprendre qu’il s’agit d’un matériau miracle.


Comment doit-on l’utiliser ingénieur?
Je me permets de ne pas répondre à cette question. Un calcul de béton ne peut pas se faire dans un blog. Je vous réfère donc au livre Reinforced Concrete Design of Bill Mosley, John Bungey and Ray Hulse. C’est un livre de plus de 400 pages. Vous devez donc comprendre qu’il s’agit d’un travail fastidieux.  Je ne vais donc pas aborder les exigences des codes ici par peur d’endormir mes lecteurs. Je vais de préference dénoncer trois mauvaises pratiques que j’ai vues en Haïti avec mes propres yeux. 

  1. Il ne faut pas mettre trop d’eau dans le mélange du béton. Ça facilite la mise en œuvre mais diminue la résistance en compression du béton. Un béton qui n’a pas une bonne résistance en compression est à proscrire. Le 19 septembre 1985, un tremblement a causé beacoup de dégats dans la ville de Mexico. L’analyse des décombres a montré que le béton utilisé était médiocre. Il faut donc un béton de bonne qualité, qui dépend partiellement de la quantité d’eau de gâchage.

  2. Les gens ont tendances à mettre une quantité exagérée d’acier pour que le bâtiment soit plus résistant. Ça c’est une technique apparemment correcte mais elle est incorrecte. Trop d’aciers peut rendre le bâtiment fragile. En language technique une structure fragile est une structure qui se brise facilement en cas de déformation relativement petite. La fragilité est une caractéristique indésirable dans le domaine du génie parasismique.

  3. Plus haut ne veut pas dire plus risqué face aux séismes.
    Les gens pensent souvent que la vulnerabilité simisque augmente lorsque le batiment est d’autant plus haut. Cette assomption est apparemment logique, mais elle est fausse. En fait, l’accéraltion sismique est fonction du type sol. Pour certains sols, un batiment plus haut est moins vulnerable sismiquement.

Quels messages voulez vous lancer donc?
Concevoir un bâtiment parasismique ne se fait pas en suivant son intuition. Personne ne pourrait imaginer que des fois, on affaiblit les structures pour qu’elles soient sismiquement plus résistantes. Je dis donc qu’il faut avoir l’avis d’un ingénieur en structure avant de construire.

Seismic Risk in Haiti

A geological fault is a discontinuity in the earth’s outer layer, called crust. Every time a breakage occurs along a fault, energy is released and brings about an earthquake on the earth’s surface. For this reason, every area close to a fault has a seismic hazard to some extent. One area in the world which has a high seismic hazard is Haiti. In fact, Haiti is located in the Caribbean geological plate and it is crossed by two very active faults: the northern fault and the Enriquillo fault (or southern fault). The northern fault triggered an earthquake that killed about 5000 people in 1842 in the city of Cap-Haitien, whereas the Enriquillo fault generated three major earthquakes in 1751, in 1770 and more recently in 2010. The latter destroyed the capital Port-au-Prince, causing more than 200,000 casualties. The loss was not only in human life but also in the economy. Thousands of buildings were severely damaged, including the national palace. According to “Ministry of Transportation and Public Work” in Haiti this seism in 2010 was of magnitude 7 and had its epicenter (the vertical projection on surface where the fracture in the fault occurred) in a city close to Port-au-Prince and its hypocenter (the area underground where the fracture occurred) at about 30 km. This depth is considered as a shallow one by seismologists which makes the seism even more violent.


So many buildings collapsed in Haiti in 2010 because they were not adequately designed to withstand earthquakes. Haitians did not take into consideration earthquake loads while designing structures partly because they were not fully aware of the seismic hazard. Only vertical loads were used in the designs, which led to a lack horizontal stability and bracings in the structures. When a structure is horizontally not stiff enough, it becomes very vulnerable to earthquakes because the seismic loads are merely horizontal. Moreover, the material used in the construction was not of good quality. Rubber collected from collapsed structures showed poor-quality concrete and insufficiency of steel reinforcement. In fact, this seism was not among the most violent one that ever happened, but due to Haiti’s vulnerability, it was among the deadliest one.

A seism can also have some induced effects, such as tsunami which is a huge water wave resulted from a fault fracture under sea. This can happen when a fault line is located in the ocean. Indeed, the northern fault in Haiti partly lines in the Caribbean Sea. As a result, this constitutes a massive earthquake and tsunami risk for the city of Cap-Haitien, the second most populated in the country. Specialists in seismology and earthquake engineering have warned the population that another seism is imminent along this fault since the last major fracture along it was registered in 1842. It was more than 150 years ago. During those years, stresses have accumulated along the fault and can likely release at any time. The more time it takes to release the stress, the more violent the earthquake or resulting tsunami will likely be. What is even worse, the magnitude of the seism expected in this fault is 8.0, which is 30 times stronger than a seism of magnitude 7; and very disconcerting to the people in the north department due to the vulnerability of their cities.


My Words on Globalization

If you turn on a TV in Haiti, you may have the impression that you are in the United States. American music, movies and styles are the fashion in my country. Many young people don’t even listen to Haitian music nor watch Haitian movies anymore. However, they know a lot about Jay-Z and Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Will Smith, Brad Pitt and a lot of American artists. From these examples, it is clear that Haitian culture is threatened to be replaced by American culture. This problem is getting worse and worse as time goes on. This is not only a problem in Haiti; many other countries are dealing with the “Americanization” of their culture too. If nothing is done to stop this worldwide trend, we will have American music and movies everywhere and we will find American food everywhere.


American music and movies are becoming more popular around the world and are influencing other countries’ cultures because of globalization. In fact, many countries show less and less interest in their own music and movies to embrace American ones. For example, in Haiti, in the 1980s, Haitian movies and music were the fashion in this island nation. But now, with a very cheap Internet connection, Haitians have access to American music, movies and TV series. Consequently, they show less interest in their own music styles, such as “Konpa” and “Racine” and their movies. What is more worrying, they have developed such a passion for this foreign style that they tend to reject their own style and lose their identity. This is very disconcerting, because it is jeopardizing Haitian theater and art which was previously very valuable. Another example can be also seen in France. According to the text “Globalization and Culture” by Nancy E. Dollahite and Julie Haun (2012), the French Government conservatively is putting some restrictions on the number of foreign movies in their media and theater. We can infer that those foreign movies are mostly American movies because they are the fashion in the world. Without this restriction, the attractive American media will dump their products in the entertainment market of many other countries and will put those nations’ industries success in jeopardy. That’s why adequate measures should be taken to stop this American “flood” and to conserve the rich diversity of music and movies in the world.

American culture is also affecting other nations in their eating habits. In many countries, we can easily find American restaurant and food. Jessica Williams and Pamela Vittorio in the text “The Language of Twenty-First Century Business” (2016) reported that McDonalds have more than 31,000 restaurants worldwide. This new way of eating as American is not quite healthy and beneficial for the rest of the world. Hasting M., Thiel S. and Thomas D in the text “The Deadly Noodle” (2003) accused American food as “junk food” that are making the world fat. They also denounced them to dump in Europe, Asia and some developing countries market and consequently increase the rate of obesity. In fact, these imported from the US are full of calories and are not healthy. The health of a population cannot be compromised. That’s why, one needs to control what is entering through the shoreline of their country and not allow any low quality edible food to affect their people.

Some people might contend that “Americanization” is culturally beneficial for many countries and should be fostered. They base their thinking on the premise that “Americanization” is helping to improve communication between nations. In fact, English is a “Langua Franca”- it is the language that people from different country use to communicate to each other. Let’s not be too simplistic and shortsighted. Let’s take also into account the dangerous shortcoming inherent to it. Jessica Williams and Pamela Vittorio in the text “The Language of Twenty-First Century Business” (2016) wrote that there are nearly 1 billion non-native English speakers. This means a large percentage of people in the world speak English as a second language. Instead of focusing on their own language and share it with other nation, they fall in the trap of globalization and take English as the only worthy language to learn. For example, in Haiti, if a person speaks only Haitian creole, he won’t probably be fully respected and will feel very oppressed. Speaking only our maternal language is now a big shame. All of this is the result of globalization. For the sake of pleasing the rest of the world, we are snubbing, oppressing, despising or rejecting our own poor citizen that can’t afford an English class. A nation cannot be built like that. We should stop this external influence and do everything we can to use more and value more our first language and fight for the dignity of our nation.

American are detrimentally influencing other nations’ culture in this globalized world. First, their music and movies, as the fashion, are threatening and jeopardizing other nations’ entertainment industries. Second, some of their products such as processed and junk foods are dumping in other nations and affecting the health of their citizens. This needs to be stopped. New regulations should put restriction on American products on each nation’s market. Otherwise, their people will dangerously tend to live like Americans, lose their identity and put their success in jeopardy.