Biodiversity – Robert Hudert

  1. Using outside sources, research and find studies of biodiversity in or near your hometown. Briefly describe the study, its purpose and problems that are being found in relation to H.I.P.P.O.

Scientists examine biodiversity of Passaic River Parkway in Union County’s annual Bio-Blitsz (Link:

Union County, New Jersey is home to many concerned citizens as well as a county owned stretch of  the Passaic River. Over the course of 24 hours in 2011, scientists and biologists were to experiment with the river. The experiment’s main goal was to release the true facts about what lives in the river. The plan is that over the course of these 24 hours, the scientists will shock the water with electricity in order to temporarily stun the fish and let them float to the top of the water. By doing this the scientists and community citizens will get to truly see what has moved into their area which will give them a better idea of how to maintain the waterways. The concern is that various foreign species have made their way into the area by local ports accepting imports and unknowingly bringing their own species into the area. Scientists claim it is truly sad the unknowing impact that these importers have and that it truly effects their ecosystem.

Pinelands Biodiversity Study (Link:

The Pinelands in New Jersey is home to the Northeast’s largest pinelands with almost 1500 square miles. The plan of this study was to analyze the impacts of the forest management services. The would be one area that was strictly designated as a control zone that has never had any forest management as well as a test zone with history of forest management that would serve to prove whether or not the forest management did or did not impact the overall biodiversity of the area. The study areas were vegetation surveys and avian surveys, or also referred to as bird and plant studies, respectively. The overall findings of these studies were that the forest management and human interaction in these areas did, indeed have an impact. The forest management zone had impacts of life lengths of plants as well as the increased number of non-native species due to the interaction of the humans in a place they simply do not belong.

2. Using the Pinelands study, create a diagram that shows the threats to biodiversity in the New Jersey Pinelands.

Untitled document (4)

Climate Change

I designed my diagram to show what causes climate change and how the WikiLeaks cables come into play. I began with showing what is said to cause climate change: greenhouse gas emissions by companies and countries in excess amounts. This excess amount is what leads to climate change. Today, the idea of climate change is widely accepted and it has caused countries to evaluate options to attempt to control and prevent climate change from happening. With the creation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which meets yearly, countries from around the world have the opportunity to work together, share thoughts and ideas, and try to come up with viable solutions to climate change. At the 15th UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the United States seemed to have led negotiation efforts and with other countries came up with the Copenhagen Accord, which states that countries in support will pledge to take actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Because the original UN process did not target U.S. issues with their own emissions, the accord worked to align with U.S. interests and problems. Therefore, to the U.S. it was important that it was adopted. Currently there are 116 countries in support (with another 23 stating they will support). I show in my diagram a line from the U.S. to those countries because the U.S. used many questionable actions to get these countries to support them and the accord. This including bribing poorer countries with financial aid, making promises to countries regarding aid that are not guaranteed, hacking their infrastructure.

There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is real and that there must be something done about it. I also think that as americans living under the United States constitution we have the right to be able to know what is going on, and therefore I think it is perfectly acceptable for the state department cables to be made public. However, I’m not sure that in doing so it really means much and or matters in this case for the American people to know. I think that if the UN process which was originally put in place does not do enough to target U.S. issues (which by the way is one of the biggest contributors to global climate change), then I think the U.S. has to do what it needs to do. The U.S. likes to go around and tell people that they are the worlds police that act as if they do everything right, and therefore it it shocking to see them being on the corrupt end of things. At the end of the day it is for a good cause, and to be honest when is there not corruption in politics?. I’m not sure if I believe in what the Copenhagen accords stand for. It only outlines that countries will take steps, which leaves no guarantees that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced. I think that if the U.S. felt so strong and did all that they did to get countries to support it, they should have put strict guidelines that showed change will occur.


Untitled document (3)

Vulnerability Reduction Rob Hudert

I am from and live in Wayne, New Jersey just outside of New York City. In my opinion the world map is way too large of a scale to accurately determine exactly what natural disasters occurs and the magnitude of them. From what I could interpret, my town experiences the following: low risk of earthquakes (zone 0), high risk for effects of tropical cyclones (zone 4 and 5), relatively low frequency of hailstorms (zone 3), winter storms (zone 1), low frequency of tornados (zone 2), and a low risk of wildfires (zone 0/1). During El Nino, my city is located in an area that tends to be warmer, and during El Nina it experiences more storms.

The natural disaster I chose is a volcanic eruption of Popocatepeti Volcano in States of Puebla Mexico. It is not possible for my hometown to experience this type of disaster because there are no volcanos in New Jersey or any of the surrounding states. Authorities have placed a 7 mile exclusion zone surrounding the volcano. My town is 50 square miles, and there are around 50,000 residents. There is not much data relating to the severity of the current eruption, but a 2014 eruption caused the cities 40,000 residents to evacuate. A similar population would have to evacuate if this were to happen near my town. The difference is my town is near the coast and we are not anywhere near a large mountain rage. Therefore, from a vulnerability perspective, I would think that everyone is at a low risk. The only human factor that may effect this (in theory if we were located near a mountain range), is that there are both poor and rich sections of my town, and I would fear that if evacuation were needed the rich would have a much easier time doing so. I do mostly come from a white collar town so I do not think gender would play much of a role, as families would work together to prepare and work to safely guide them through a disaster.

Using the following resource:

My assessment of Wayne NJ is that it is very vulnerable to storms, tropical storms and flooding. According to the February 2015 Mitigation plan update, Wayne has suffered from 7 severe storms/tropical storms/hurricanes in the last 3 years. From those 7 natural hazards, there have been 278 assisted and non assisted evacuations of homes and residents. Because much of Wayne lies near the Passaic river and other bodies of water. Much of it lies in a flood zone so it makes sense that during these large storms, there would need to be evacuations. In three of the 7 events, roads were closed and damaged, houses were damaged, and residents were forced to move their cars to higher ground. Aside from this, the document states that we are also a high risk for winter storms.

There are many actions that can be done to try and reduce the vulnerability of our residents to these natural hazards. The first thing that can be done is an emergency response plan, which according to the same document, Wayne township has in place and works towards reviewing every year. Also, the installation of dams and floodgates can be built in surrounding towns and bodies of water that will aid in reducing the flooding. The municipalities and township would be the best people to put these objectives into place. Residents should also be prepared to evacuation with “survival kits” and other safety resources in case of a disaster. I can personally stay alert and be aware of all possible public access exits out of my town in case of an emergency evacuation. Being a Boy Scout, I already have a basic emergency kit prepared.



Urban Planning-Robert Hudert

I am from Wayne, New Jersey which is located in Passaic County. It is located in Northern New Jersey less than 20 miles from Midtown Manhattan. It is primarily an automobile subarb but with that said there are many NJ bus transit stops that people rely on for commuting to and from work in New York City. There are roughly 55,000 residents currently. Within Wayne there are many unincorporated communities and neighborhoods that are located around lakes. Primarily a residential community, Wayne is location of both Toys R Us and Valley National Bank headquarters. I have lived in Wayne all my life, and much of my extended family is from the New York City area. I like that my town is near New York City, as the lifestyle and development from the city has slowly shifted towards my area over the last 20 years. When my parents first moved here, many of the residential houses were farms or farmland. The one thing I don’t like is that th roads have become very crowded over the last few years.

My first choice on a city would be Jamaican Plan Boston. Though it differs from Wayne in regards that it is a street car suburb it shares the common practice with Wayne in the respect that it is a commuter town. It is a neighborhood called a streetcar suburb becuase it was designed for residents to take the streetcar into center city Boston. Relatively speaking, a lot of the transportation development in Wayne is designed to bring people to and from center New York City (Manhattan). When I was younger, there were about half the amount of NJ Transit bus stops as there are now, each designed first and foremost to aid in transporting people to and from New York City.As I have grown over the years, the town has added many additional stations including both bus and train to aid in this. Additionally, like Jamaican Plan, there are sidewalks everywhere for community members to walk.

My second choice is on a city is New York City. New York City is a the largest city in the United States and the primary transportation is in fact vehicles, though many people walk, ride bikes, and take public transportation. Though different in many ways than Wayne. Wayne has quietly developed into a small city, and has the largest population of all 11 surrounding municipalities. As stated above, many in Wayne rely on public transportation to get to and from work, very similar to New York City. Both have large bus systems, and though Wayne is a town, it is not uncommon for people to be seem taking cabs and taxis to and from places such as the Willowbrook Mall. What is somewhat similar is the fact that both places support small businesses. In NYC, it is not uncommon to see many small supermarkets and businesses among well known companies. The same can be seen in many of the neighborhoods in Wayne. Known as a shopping hub for people in surrounding countries, Wayne is the home to many local farms and stores.


Module 6 – Food Choices and Social Norms

The first morning waking up in Barcelona, during my time studying abroad in Europe I went to a restaurant under my apartment complex to get breakfast. Being from America, I have always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and did not think any differently in Europe. Therefore I expected to eat a lot. Arriving at the restaurant, I was forced to choice between a half baguette with some “jamon” or a croissant and nothing else. I opted to eat a croissant with a coffee. The social norm is that Europeans eat a light breakfast as opposed to Americans who usually eat a large “hot breakfast. In Spain this is more apparent because the Spanish generally have snacks (for example a second breakfast) throughout the day, and a big fiesta during lunch time where they stuff their faces and then rest before getting on with the day.

This connects to both malnutrition and obesity. There is a lot of scientific evidence behind skipping breakfast and missing out on important nutrients that lead to malnourishment. Skipping breakfast or eating a light breakfast that is comprised of high sugar, and or fatty foods such as a pastry or a croissant disrupts blood sugar balance and insulin output. This further promotes cravings throughout the day which leads to snacking, overeating, and obesity. Ideally, people should eat a healthy but calorically dense breakfast. Regarding obesity, though eating or skipping a light breakfast promote obesity, I noticed in Europe that there are no where near as many obese people as there are in America. I think this is because of the eating habits Europeans are taught. First off, serving sizes are much smaller, and fast food such as McDonalds is not looked at as a cheap alternative, being priced the same as a meal at a sit-in restaurant.


Module 6

Module 5 -Sustainable development

The first case study I chose to focus on is Bicycles as a Transportation Policy in Japan. The link for the case study is here: . The case study talks about how Japan has adopted the use of bikes as a primary way of transportation due to lack of petroleum and its high density, geographic location. The use of bikes started after World War 2 when their infrastructure was destroyed. As this infrastructure was fixed, the Japanese neglected the use of bikes and instead used rail and bus systems before growing tired and annoyed of how slow and expensive they were. The goal of this is to make living at such a high population sustainable and to save money. Automobile related pollutants are cut by 16%, traffic death rates have been reduced by 58%. Where you can fit one of two cars at a traffic light you can fit 20 bikes. This form of transportation helps slow down the use of fossil fuels and reduces carbon dioxide contribution dramatically.

The second case study I chose to look at is sustainable investment in the financial sector within the United Nations. The link can be found here: . It talks about putting in place principles for banks and large financial institutions to make financial investments that are in line with sustainable development. This means products and investments that safeguard the environment and rather than just avoid doing harm, use financial purposes to do good. They should service the communities in which they are located and should be able to function in the event of an external force.

Both of these case studies identify issues that are similar to issues identified where I live. In New York City, my former employer BNY Mellon practices social responsibility. They are actively involved in New York City, having employees volunteer for community philanthropies, and offer their clients products that are environmentally safe. All of their investments are screened before hand. In NYC, Citi bank, another financial institution has a bike sharing program for pedestrians. This saves people money as it is much cheaper for a membership than a cab, and it also takes more cars off the road which helps make it safer to people to get around the city.

Module 4: Water Usage And It’s Journey Through My Town


I am from a fairly large township about 15 miles outside of Manhattan: Wayne, New Jersey. After contacting the Division of Water and Sewer I was able to learn the following: the township operates approximately 260 miles of water mains, 6 water pumping stations, 5 large water storage tank, and the average daily use is 6.5 million gallons per day. After researching the latest residential population of the town, this equates to roughly 118 gallons per day per resident. All of the water supply comes from the Wanaque South Water Supply Project. Water first travels from the North Jersey Commision’s Wanaque Reservoir through the Oradell Aqueduct to the Oradell Reservoir. Water is then pumped from the reservoirs to Wayne. The water can also be pumped from the Passaic and Pompton Rivers through the Wanaque South Pump Station. The water, upon being used by residents and entering drains, travels through 240 miles of sanitary sewer mains being sent to the Mountain View Wastewater Treatment Facility on Dey Road where it is then treated to prevent water solution.


1 Shower                                   50 Gallons of Water                                                          5 Toilet Flushes                           8 Gallons of Water                                                            2 Teeth Brushes                      <1 Gallon of Water                                                      Drinking                                    .5 Gallons of Water                                                 Washing Dishes                         6 Gallons of Water                                                  Shaving                                     1 Gallon of Water                                                              2 Hand Washings                      2 Gallons of Water

Total Water Usage = 68 Gallons of Water

With two gallons, I would use water for the following: 1/2 gallon for bathing, giving myself a sponge bath to use as little as possible. 1/2 gallon for drinking because my health is my priority. 1/2 gallon for washing dishes, using a sponge to dip into the water to not overuse. The remaining half gallon would be spent for anything else I may need water for such as brushing teeth or hands. To save water, I could use Purell to clean my hands instead of washing them. I could also brush my teeth without wetting my toothbrush first. I would also use the outdoors as a bathroom so I did not have to flush any toilets. I would also forgo shaving because it is not of much importance. This would succeed, though you would be living in a primitive state and would be looking to substitute or sacrifice certain hygienic actions (though many before me have done the same and survived). The difference between this and my normal water usage is the fact I am using the bare minimum to accomplish the goal versus what provides me with a comfortable means of accomplishing the goal (ex. sponge bath vs. showering). Geography certainly matters to water use. Some are limited strictly because there is no access or supply of water, such as streams, rivers, water reserves etc. as may be the case in deserts. Some areas may also have salt water, but not fresh water which may limit its use.


Rob Hudert-Ethical Views

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

It is more important to be a good person. I hold this view because in my eyes being a good person requires in many circumstances and situations one doing good things. However, just because you may do something good for someone or some reason does not necessarily make you a good person. Nor does doing something that is viewed as bad make you a bad person. One example that comes to mind is a CEO of a company. In tough economic times, a CEO may be faced with the tough decision of laying off some employees. This decision to lay off employees may be seen to some as doing something bad, but in many cases it should be seen as doing the right thing. By laying off some employees, a CEO may be saving thousands of other jobs for individuals who provide for their family. I think this exemplifies that we as humans are sometimes put in situations where maybe the good action is not the right action. Another way to look at this is doing things that are seen as good in the eyes of others but in reality they are only acted out because that person has some underlying hidden agenda. This is why I think being a good person, with good moral character trumps doing good things. Your character is a pattern of behavior, thoughts and feelings based on universal principles, moral strength and integrity. It is something everyone has and which everyone can be judged off of.

2. Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?

I think this question is very subjective and depends. First this question depends on what the ends or goals are and what means are being used to achieve them. If the end is something good, and the means used to achieve the end are good, then most would probably agree that the ends do justify the means. But I think when this question is asked it is really referring to using any means necessary to achieve a goal, and therefore I think the answer sits different with every individual. What may be justifiable to someone may not be to someone else. That is because everyone is raised differently, on different values and different moral/ethical standards. If you are a results driven individual, then maybe the ends do justify the means as long as the end goal is achieved. I think three things must go into evaluating this question: the morality of the person, the morality of the question, and the morality of the outcome. This will vary from individual and situation. Looking at murder, society sometimes says that it is justifiable such as the case in wars or self-defense. Sometimes society says it is not justifiable as is the case of cold blooded murders.

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

The pleasure and pain of non-human animals do not matter as much as the pleasure and pain of adults. This is because if the pleasure and pain of non-human animals did matter as much, we would be living in a very different world. Think of something as simple as walking on grass, or as complex as developing a community. With each step a human takes, they are most likely harming and or killing some other life form (ants, microorganisms, etc.). When a tree is cut down or roads are paved, we are harming animals by destroying their environment and their resources. Yet we still do these things, often with no punishment given to the individuals taking part. We must think how animals care about our pleasure and pain. If we were to run into a forest and confront a bear, it would merely look at us as a food source (as with many animals we think the same). Whether or not I think this is right or wrong, society as a general body has clearly determined to a certain extent that their pleasure and pain do not matter and I think this has to somewhat deal with the ideology of “survival of the fittest”. Playing devils advocate here, we as a society have also deemed when an individual oversteps their grounds and you see this in way in which we harm animals, such as the killing process for meat slaughter facilities. It is a very anthropocentric view where we are willing to do what is necessary in the benefit of us, while still making sure it is done in a humane and moral way that is not excessive.


Rob Hudert – Biogas System Diagram

Untitled document (2)

The main focus of my diagram was to show the interconnections and relationships that are formed from human and environment interaction (the relationship between the human social system and the ecosystem). The addition of a biogas generator in an Indian town subsequently changes the entire landscape. The systems diagram created shows how humans and the environment are a coupled system in which the biogas generator provides positive and negative feedbacks. The generator creates methane which leaves a positive impact on both the social and ecosystem. First, it allows for a cleaner and safer cooking environment free off smoke which aids better health and decreases the amount of air pollution. Second, it reduces the need for firewood, which preserves the land and frees up time for children and women that is normally spent collecting the wood. This free time allows children to attend school, eat breakfast, and women to work on other chores which all increases societies well-being. The system also creates slurry that can be used as fertilizer. Women, now with free time are able to compile the slurry and sell it to farmers, benefiting the women through earning money and farmer who uses it on their crops (leading to increased crop production). With more money being earned, an increased crop production and more natural resources preserved, the population carrying capacity can be increased and a higher quality of life can potentially be sustained for a longer period of time.

My diagram is similar to Figure 1.5 in that they both show the chain of effects that result from introducing biogas generators (technology) to an Indian Village. They both illustrate many of the same points: Methane gas leads to less deforestation, increased health an slurry leads to increased crop production, wealth, and environmental resources, etc.  Both also separate the impact on the social system and ecosystem. Where my diagram differs from Figure 1.5 is that Figure 1.5 is portrayed in a way where you can visibly see the feedback loops that are caused by the biogas generator. For example, the human population demanding fuel–>which causes them to look for new technology–> which introduces the biogas generator to villiages–> which positive impacts the human population. Figure 1.5 is portrayed in a “big-picture” type of way, showing the feedbacks and the direction of the flow of impacts, while forcing you to think deeper into exactly why the flow and connection between two things occur. My diagram on the other hand more strongly walks the viewer through the cause and the various effects that follow in a systematic (easy to follow, one effect is the result of another effect outcome occurring). I think this is all due to slight differences in perspective taken by both I and the creator of Figure 1.5. I am also new to systemic diagrams while the other creator may have more experience. Non the less it shows how landscapes are mentally constructed based on our individual preferences (ex. where we think the impact lies).

Getting to Know You: Robert Hudert

Hello everyone my name is Robert Hudert and I am a senior economics major at Penn State University Park. Currently while at school I live in State College, PA but I grew up in Wayne, NJ, about 15 miles outside Manhattan. I am very interesting in financial markets and real estate and hope to obtain an entry-level job in either real estate consulting or acquisitions/investing. My initial interest in this course was after noticing that it discussed global warming. But I am an eagle scout and as such am very interested in the outdoors and therefore want to learn about the world we live in and our impact on it. Some fun facts about me include that I love to snowboard and surf, and one day I hope to climb Mount Everest.

Human-Environment Interactions and the differing perspectives it can be learned through is not only something I find interesting but something that is very important for future generations. Looking into the first question on how does the natural environment shape, control and constrain human systems, it is important to think about the possible revolving cycle that human interaction is causing. For example look at the draught in California. It is having an effect on many things: crop production, green grass, water reserve supply, restrictions on individual water usage, etc. When we think of a draught, we think because of a lack of rain. But looking deeper, we can ask various questions regarding our human impact on our ecosystem, and the effects we have had on weather patterns over the years. Is the lack of rain due to global warming, which in part is caused by human carbon emissions? These questions spur further questions regarding how companies need to put forward policies that will promote environmental sustainability into the future. With improved governance, controls, and oversight, we can look begin to try and solve some issues in the geographic space.