Ben Ceci – Biodiversity

In 150 – 200 words explain the most biodiverse place you have been to and why it is so biodiverse.

The most biodiverse place that I have ever been to was Puerto Rico. There were so many different species of trees and vegetation growing everywhere. We took a tour through a rainforest there and it was an experience that I will never forget. I think that the reason it was so biodiverse is because of the climate there. We walked up and down big hills to get to a big waterfall. There were areas where it was completely shaded and mainly dry and then there were open spaces where sunlight was able to come through and there were puddles. There were animals that we saw running through the forest, creating a moderate disturbance on the site and creating habitats of their own. There are no people living in the area, meaning that there is no development or compaction of the soils. This keeps the soils fertile and undisturbed and also doesn’t scare away the animals. All of these factors create a very biodiverse area over in Puerto Rico.

In another 150 – 200 words explain the least biodiverse place you have been to and why the biodiversity if lacking.

The least biodiverse place that I have ever been to is Arizona. While visiting family that lives in Arizona, we did some outdoor activities and it was nothing like the outdoors that most of us are used to. Landscaping was very limited which made it look even worse. I think that the reason for the low amount of biodiversity in this site is mainly because of the climate. It is so hot there that it is almost unenjoyable and I think that the plants and animals feel the same way. The most common type of plant that we saw was the cactus which requires very little water for survival. There is a limited amount of water here which is a serious problem because life of all forms needs water. We went the year after there were a ton of wildfires in this area. The wildfires add more stress onto the landscape and make it even harder to grow more species than it already is with the high temperatures and low amounts of water.

Ben Ceci – Module 9 – Climate Change / Copenhagen Accord

030 Climate Change

In my diagram, I illustrated the idea behind the Copenhagen Accord and ways in which the U.S. tried to gain the support of countries who did not want to cooperate. Climate change is a major issue and I wanted to make this clear by making it the head of all of the other points. Due to the climate change, the Copenhagen Accord was proposed by the U.S. This meant that the U.S. needed a supporting cast of allies to have their back. Getting allies wasn’t easy however and the U.S. had to bribe countries so that they would join them in their plan. The U.S. targeted countries which were significantly affected by the climate change and offered them large sums of money. If they did not accept the offer, then the U.S. threatened to discontinue communication between the countries. Countries like Ethiopia were put in tough situations because they did not want to form the alliance and join the Copenhagen Accord but because of the U.S.’s threat to stop all further communication, they had no choice but to join. This was almost always a lose situation for countries like Ethiopia because they rely on the U.S. and even if they didn’t the U.S. used confidentiality cables to spy on countries that did not cooperate. Eventually 140 countries pledged to support the Copenhagen Accord. This was what the U.S. aimed for and it accounts for about 80 % of the greenhouse emissions. When it was brought to the U.S.’s attention that WikiLeaks leaked information about the U.S. using these cables to spy on opposing countries they lost all trust for the opposing countries. This destroyed relationships with the U.S. and several other countries that are still not 100 % fixed yet.

The United States did not handle this situation very professionally at all. This was a very shady and unethical approach which should have been handled with more care. As an American, I was not happy to learn about this and it was sickening to hear that they went through with the idea and embarrassing to know that they actually got caught. However, I think that it serves them justice and that the information being leaked was right. Nations with less money are less fortunate and have fewer resources to deal with climate change alone. They need the help of a bigger and stronger country like the U.S. but the U.S. acted like bullies and these countries were not given many choices. The U.S. should have found a way to be more open and sympathetic towards these countries. The Copenhagen does not seem to be too successful either so at the end of the day, the U.S. ruined some important relationships for nothing. I believe that the U.S. tries to do too much sometimes. While it is hard to always do the right thing as such a major player in the world and with the spotlight always on you, this is one failure that is just unacceptable. The U.S. does a lot of good for the world and often times does protect smaller countries, especially with our large and powerful military. However, it is the failures that people remember and this was a big mistake. I hope that the U.S. learns from the mistakes that it made in this situation and does not repeat these mistakes ever again.

Natural Disasters in Greenwich, CT – Ben Ceci

Greenwich, CT is a town that is very safe in terms of crime and normally natural disasters as well.The Nathan map confirms that natural disasters are not very common here. One category that the Nathan map did minorly include this area however was in the tropical rainstorms and tornadoes category. While this is true, these natural disasters are not very frequent in my hometown and I am very grateful for that. The Nathan map was very broad, showing information that does not specifically show certain towns and cities, but rather large worldwide maps. While this information is helpful, it would be even more beneficial if it were focused in on smaller cities or even just limiting it to only one country per map.

One disaster that interests me is the Flash Flood on Canal Street in Louisiana. The water was said to be swallowing cars and the roadways became waterways with water up to knee deep or tire high for some vehicles. The risk of such a disaster in Greenwich is very high as we already deal with flooding issues. The scale of this disaster is much higher because Louisiana has a much higher population (About 378,000) than Greenwich (About 62,000). More people could have been affected in Louisiana.There would be less of an impact in Greenwich because the streets are not as populated as Canal Street is. Different people in my town would be more vulnerable because there are houses on the bottom of hills and those on the top of hills. Those on the bottom would have a much bigger problem because the water would flow that way.

Based on my personal experience of living in Greenwich for 23 years and seeing numerous storms come through the area, the one natural disaster that we deal with the most is flooding. My family has a landscaping business and we also maintain people’s houses. Whenever we get a little bit more rain than normal, we always get calls from customers asking us to come and help them get water out of their basement. This is also an issue on the streets because they often flood. This causes problems for people trying to get from place to place and with the largest high school in CT in town, there are often a lot of new drivers trying to get around in these conditions which makes it unsafe for everybody.

Actions that can be done to reduce the vulnerability to natural hazards in Greenwich would be to add more drains. Flooding is one of the main natural disasters that occurs here and adding more drains along the roads would be very beneficial. In regards to the houses getting flooded, that is because the land is sloped towards the house. The land should always be sloped away from the house, which would reduce these problems dramatically. The best people to perform these actions are the town of Greenwich, builders in the area when they build houses, and landscaping or site development companies. I can help with this because of my background in landscape architecture and also because my family has a landscaping / site development company that deals with these types of situations. The issue is that people do not want to spend the money to change the grade of the land.



Greenwich, CT – Urban Planning

My hometown is Greenwich, CT. It borders different parts of NY, and many people commute daily to New York City for work. The population in Greenwich is about 65,000 people and it is located in southern CT. There are many different parts of Greenwich. The downtown area is more of a streetcar suburb, while central Greenwich is a pedestrian oriented part of town, with famous shopping locations such as Greenwich Avenue. Where I live however, is very much an automobile suburb type area. It is known as backcountry Greenwich and is about a 10 – 15 minute drive from the downtown area. Growing up in downtown Greenwich, I love being able to walk to parks and other friends’ houses. However, the seclusion of being in the backcountry area where I am now is so beautiful and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. One reason why I love Greenwich is because it is such a big town with many diverse areas. I think that it makes its residents very well rounded. My whole family lives within 15 minutes of each other in town and I hope to live in Greenwich forever.

The town that compared most to Greenwich was Rochester, NY. The houses there seemed to be very similar to the layout of those in Greenwich. Each house had its own green space with their own driveways. It was also an automobile suburb, like Greenwich is. In backcountry Greenwich, there are no sidewalks. The town’s layout in this area is not meant to be pedestrian friendly, and that is very similar to how it is in Rochester. In Greenwich, it is not feasible to get from backcountry to downtown, as it is a 10 – 15 minute drive in the car. I do not think that adding sidewalks would help. However, because each house has its own backyard, it does encourage people to go outdoors and allows for children to have playdates in the comfort of their own homes. As far as downtown Greenwich goes, adding more green spaces for people to gather could be something that engages the community and encourages people to get outdoors and exercise.

Another town that is relevant to Greenwich is Beacon Hill, Massachusetts. It is relevant because in central Greenwich, there are many places to shop, eat, work, etc. There are so many shops that you can go to and they are all within walking distance. The street layouts out and the proximity of all of these stores to each other makes this a very pedestrian friendly area. Beacon Hill, being developed in the 1800s, when walking was the main method of transportation, is very pedestrian oriented as well. Beacon Hill is a very wealthy area, and Greenwich is one of the wealthiest towns in the country, even with central Greenwich having many low income housing apartments. What I love about Beacon Hill is that people can afford cars but would rather walk. I think that central Greenwich could work on making those housing projects look a little bit more attractive and then people would be more inclined to walk through the area, if the roads and sidewalks looked as beautiful as those in Beacon Hill.

Ben Ceci – Social Norms

  1. Growing up in an Italian family, food is something that we bond over and take very seriously. For generations, my family has owned a chain of butchers markets and meat has always been on the menu for basically every meal. However, after being influenced by a vegan activist on Instagram named Dom Thompson I decided to give the no animal products thing a try. His account showed how badly some of the animals were treated and was about how animal products are linked to negative effects on the human body. He called his followers crazies and weirdos, explaining how that is how society sees vegans. When my grandparents found out, they were not happy about it because they didn’t want me straying from my roots. While I did enjoy the time period that was a vegan and did feel healthier, this was only a phase and didn’t last long. This is mainly because of the influence that my family has had on me growing up and because avoiding animal products made everyday life more difficult.


2. During this time period, I had a serious impact on societal issues. I have a big appetite and am constantly hungry. When people would offer me food and I declined, they would often ask why. When I told them that I was a vegan, they again asked why, and I was bringing up awareness about societal issues involved with consuming animal products. I would pull up Dom’s Instagram account and show them videos of the animals being tortured and read to them all of the negative effects meats and dairy have on your body, and I even got a few people on board with me who are still vegans today. What I did not know however was how the production of animal products places a heavy burden on the environment. The grain feed required for meat production contributes to deforestation. Feeding these animals uses a lot of water. Methane gas is used to produce meats. It is also just easier and healthier to obtain nutrients from a plant based diet.

3. Diagram

Ben Ceci – Module 5 Case Studies And Comparison

  1. The Price Of Salmon

The first case study that I read about was done in Oregon and was about aquaculture, salmon farms, and how prices of fish are affected by the process. Farmers and ranchers are major players in this process and they are both tied to the market demand. Economic return is based on the physical return of the salmon. Most of the salmon’s life is spent out of control of the rancher so the ranchers’ most important consideration is the long term regulation of his stock with the short – term price conditions. Then the fish are released until they return to spawn, creating growth in the population of the salmon. This is one way to regulate salmon population in an environment.


2. Acid Rain In Asia

The second case study that I read about was done in Japan. The topic was about air pollution and acid rain in Japan. Acid rain has threatened the world’s environment for years, especially in industrialized countries. It kills trees, corrodes buildings, and kills lake ecosystems. Regulations and laws have been enforced to take on this problem. Asian countries have been most at fault, with China being worse than Japan. They emit toxic gases into the atmosphere, threatening forests, air, and water in the Asian continent. Motor vehicles and coal burning power stations are the two major sources of the formation of acid rain. Although there are laws that are enforced, there is still little effort being made to act upon these rules and it is affecting the global atmosphere.


3. Comparison In Greenwich, CT

When looking at both case studies, I find that they remind me of a fish hatchery where I live, in Greenwich, CT. In our marine biology class in high school, we took a field trip there and the employee told us about how the populations of fish were decreasing due to overfishing in the area because we are near the water. The man explained how this is a problem that has arisen recently but not much is being done about it because the market is so high for the fish. He said that without the hatcheries, certain fish populations would be depleted from the area. This reminded me of the first case study because it talks about the price conditions of fish and the growth in the population of the salmon through the aquaculture process. It also reminded me of the second article because little is being done to solve the problem in Asian countries, which affects the rest of the world, and that is similar to this problem here.


Ben Ceci – Module 4 – Ways We Use Water

1 – A

The water supply chain in my hometown of Greenwich, CT is different for different people. Some use a well while others use water from the town. At my house, we have a well on site. When we bought the house, we did a lot of renovations and additions and at that time, in 2000, we drilled a private ground water well. This type of well absorbs groundwater after rainfall. Then a submersible pump with a motor pulls the water out through a plastic tube / pipe and into a blue pressure tank and then finally into the plumbing system in the house. Once the water goes down the drain, the wastes go through a main sewer line which comes out of one of the sides of the house and goes into a septic tank in the ground. Then most of the solids settle until the liquid goes into a drain field where pipes buried in the ground that have holes in the bottom. The water then comes out of the holes and goes into the ground. Every 2 – 4 years, a septic tank should be pumped to avoid clogging.


1 – B
Activity           Time / Repetitions      Water Per Use        Water Usage Per Activity
Shower                     1 x 7 mins           2 gallons / minute            14 gallons
Brushing Teeth         2 x 2 mins           1 gallon / minute              4 gallons
Drinking                    1 gallon jug          1 gallon                           1 gallon
Flushing                    5 flushes              3 gallons / flush               15 gallons
Washing Hands         6 washes             1 gallon / wash                6 gallons
Washing Dishes       1 x 10 mins       2 gallons / minute        20 gallons
Laundry                    1 Load               5 gallons / load                 5 gallons
Total Water Use:                                                                         65 gallons


1 – C

Living on 2 gallons of water a day in the summertime, or in a geographic location that is very hot, such as Mozambique or Haiti, would be very difficult. The high temperatures cause you to sweat more, which then calls for more showers and also for more drinking water so that you do not get dehydrated. If I had to do this, I would focus on hygiene and drinking water the most. I try to drink about a gallon of water a day but I think that I could do with half of a gallon if trying to cut back. I would then try to use .75 gallons for showering and use just enough water to wash my hair and body 3 times per week. I would use paper and plastic utensils or possibly no utensils at all to cut down on the washing time. I would also try to use the bathroom outdoors and not flush the toilet because at 3 gallons per flush, it all adds up. That leaves me with about .75 gallons to brush my teeth, and wash my hands, dishes, and clothes with. If I shut the water off when I brush my teeth and in between washing my hands and the dishes, I think that I could manage that. I would definitely be looked at as the smelly, dirty kid in the class and it would require a huge lifestyle change. I don’t know how long I would last in those conditions and this activity and part b combined really made me open my eyes and see how fortunate we are. When you count how much water you use per day and then see how much you can cut back on, it really is eye opening and we should all make a conscious effort to use less water. God bless those people in Mozambique and Haiti. That is unacceptable and something should be done to help them.

Ben Ceci – Ethics – Module 3

  1. Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?

I think that it is more important to be a good person because most people typically think before they act. Good people usually have positive thoughts and are often genuine and kind and therefore, they perform good acts because it is a part of who they are. The way that I look at it is that the main difference between a good person and a person who performs good acts is that a good person has a foundation. Being a good person is all that they know. If you simply perform good acts but are not a good person, you might get upset if those same kind acts are not reciprocated. I also think that people can tell whether your heart is into it or not when you perform acts of kindness. If you are a bad person doing good things, I don’t think that your good actions are as effective. A good person does the little things that make a difference more than any one action can and for that reason, I think that being a good person and having that foundation is more important than simply performing good acts.

  1. Does the process by which decisions are made matter more than the outcomes of these decisions (procedural justice vs. distributive justice)?

As a person who is very close with my family and close friends, this question is one of the tougher questions that I have ever had to answer. Being raised and taught to be a loyal person, I think that the process by which decisions are made matter more than the outcomes of the decisions. I believe that the most important things in life are not things, but rather people and the relationships that you have with them. There will almost always be another opportunity that comes your way, but if you try to screw somebody over or put yourself and your wants before the needs of somebody else, that can sever relationships forever. I believe that you have to see things in the big picture and examine the outcomes of the result of the decision and go from there. I am also a big believer in karma and that if you act as a good person and try to do something good for somebody else, people will remember that and in the future, they will return the favor, whether the desired outcome is reached or not. I believe that people knowing what you did for them can go a long way and that as a good person, you should try to do the right thing and make the best decision that you can.

  1. Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans (speciesism)?

As a landscape architecture student, I have studied ecology and the effects that humans have on animals. The professors put a lot of emphasis on designing in sustainable ways that can both accommodate humans and animals. Before I studied landscape architecture, my point of view was that animals take resources from us as well, and it is just a dog eat dog world, with an everyman for themselves kind of mentality, as far as animals go. However, learning how much we have evolved as a species and how humans are tool makers really changed my perspective on that. The idea of sustainable development has taught me a lot about being less selfish in the design process. Being that we are tool makers, we have destroyed many animals’ habitats, separating families, and leaving some animals without a home / more susceptible to predators. I think that because we have the power to do these things, we have to be responsible and realize that we share the earth with these animals and treat them no differently than humans. We take care of our pets like they are members of our own family, and we must treat these animals the same way. This includes slaughtering animals and using them for food. Humans do not need animal products to survive and we should really think twice before consuming them.

Ben Ceci – Biogas Concept Map



My diagram illustrates the factors involved in the social system and the ecosystem. After watching that video, I was intrigued on the process of creating the biogas and thought that it was very interesting. On the social end of it, I feel as though the main focus should be on health issues and that income should be the least important because if the process is not safe, it does not make sense to continue this process. As far as the ecosystem goes, the smoke was my biggest concern because it can directly affect the health of those involved, especially the women and children. What I found least important was that they were using up the firewood and natural resources.

When comparing my diagram to Marten’s diagram in “What is Human Ecology?”, one thing that immediately stands out is that we both use the same social system and ecosystem categories. While our categories are the same, our subcategories are not. Marten’s diagram focuses on broader ranges of categories while mine are more specific to the biogas process. One thing that I learned from comparing the two diagrams is that even though Marten’s diagram is focusing in on a broader topic, and mine is more specific to the biogas process, they follow the same format. This shows that when dealing with the same categories, you can expect to have similar results, no matter how specific you get.

Module 1: Getting To Know You – Ben Ceci

Hi everybody! My name is Ben Ceci and I am a 3rd year Landscape Architecture student, minoring in horticulture, at University Park. I was born and raised in Greenwich, CT and hope to use my education to add an architectural branch to my dad’s landscaping / site development business. As a designer of the outdoors, I think that it’s very important to learn about the land, how it functions, and how I can design in the best possible way to preserve the land. With the landscape architecture department focusing on sustainability, it would also be beneficial to learn about how humans are directly affecting the environment and how I can design in a more sustainable way. Although I’m from CT, my whole family consists of die hard Steelers fans and whenever the Steelers have a home game in the playoffs, we rent a bus and 30 – 40 of us buckle up and spend the weekend in Pittsburgh. I love to travel as well so learning about the geography in different areas interests me as well.

A big issue in the world today is the increase in population and how to deal with it. Everyday more and more people are born and more and more farmland is being developed. This is a recipe for failure because eventually there will not be enough resources to feed all of these people. Once the agricultural soils are developed, they are basically destroyed and no longer ideal for farming. This has a lot to do with scale because the population is increasing both locally and worldwide while the farmland is decreasing locally and worldwide as well. It is our generation’s responsibility to plan out development and design sustainably in order to allow the future generations to live in the same way that we do now, if not better.