Module 10: Steven Feng

  1. Explain how the increase of human population over the last 200 years have effected biodiversity in the world.
    1. The increase in the human population has changed biodiversity in many regions all across the world.  As our numbers grow, so does the need for space.  This increase in the space that we require to live has caused many forests to be cut down, as well as causing a chain reaction which caused pollution.  Deforestation is a big threat to biodiversity.  We have caused the extinction of species and we have caused many other organisms and animals to lose their homes.  Our “concrete jungles” caused biodiversity to dwindle in many areas, as well as causing many more issues such as pollution.  Pollution was caused by our construction of cities.  Since we are a very industrialized country, all of the factories, cars, waste, and other factors are causing pollutants to travel both in our air and in the ground.  This causes the many organisms to become “poisoned” and that will continue to travel through the food change.  Even though human society is great and we are still expanding, we are still the ones that are killing/destroying biodiversity in many areas.
  2. Compare your hometown to another location that you have either visited or lived in.  Which one was had more biodiversity?  Why do you think that?
    1. My hometown of Scranton, Pa does not have a lot of biodiversity.  Compared to my grandfathers hometown in Taiwan.  My grandfather lived in the country side of Taiwan, near Hualien County.  It was a small little town but they different animals and plants you could see around it were many.  For instance, there would be anything from bugs, to lizards, to wild snakes, as well as some wild animals around the woods.  Not only were there a lot of land animals but the town was also close to the sea.  I was able to see many different species of fish when ever we went fishing.  I think that the reason these two places differ in biodiversity so much is because of the location, as well as civilization growth.  Scranton is practically just one big concrete jungle where we don’t see as much greenery as we would in a place like Hualien.  Also PA is an enclosed state, so the difference of species of fish here is lacking compared to the sea.

Module 9 – Steven Feng


2. My core focus was on how greenhouse gases, from our use of fossil fuels, led to climate change; which, ultimately formed the Copenhagen accord.  This was the United State’s idea of forming a plan to counter climate change.  The Copenhagen accord was formed at a convention in Copenhagen where countries got together trying to come up with ways to reduce counteract the impact that greenhouse gases had on the environment.  Although the initially reaction to the accord was both for and against the accord, the U.S. used techniques of espionage and bribery to get the approvals of other countries.  In terms of espionage, the U.S. sent secret cables to the African Union’s Meles Zenawi stating that “sign the accord or all discussion end now.”  In terms of bribery, the U.S. was promising aid and financial relief to poorer countries.  Even though this was done the views on the accord were still split between being for and against it.  Although as a result the U.S. received backing of most of the United Nations, it wasn’t purely voluntary.

3.  I think that the cables should have been made public.  This is because climate change is world wide problem and the way the U.S. got the other countries to sign the Copenhagen accord was just underhanded.  To me, the idea of obtaining support through the use of such underhanded methods could result in a lot of backlash form both the countries that were the targets of these methods as well as the citizens.  Such backlash could include: information not being released as it should be, countries planning against the U.S., having even less team work on solving the current problem on hand, and ultimately trust in the U.S. being lost.  This is the best example of what we learned in the ethics module, where the ends justifies the means.  However, in this case I do not believe we will ever meet the end since our means to go about this problem just causes more animosity.

Module 8: Steven Feng

  1.  The location I am most familiar with is Scranton, Pennsylvania.  According to the Nathan World map of Natural Hazards, Scranton is supposedly susceptible to tornadoes (Zone 3) and hailstorms (Zone 2) as our highest natural hazards.  We are also classified to be in Zone 1 for both extra-tropical storms and wildfires.  The only part that I would disagree with is the Zone 2 and 3 classifications for hailstorms and tornadoes.  I disagree with the classification for hailstorms because it is really a rare occurrence that we have hailstorms.  Although, we do get the occasionally it is at most maybe once or twice a year.  I disagree with the tornado classification because of of the area around Scranton, or NEPA in general is “protected” by mountain ranges.  These mountain ranges dissipates winds that would be strong enough to form tornadoes (from what I remember being taught).
  2. The current disaster I’ve chosen was the earthquake that happened around Singu, Wakayama in Japan.  I chose this because of how I already mentioned about earthquakes are an (almost) nonexistent possibility in Scranton, PA.  I also chose this because of my familiarity with countries in Asia.  Being present for an earthquake that happened in Taiwan before, I can say they are truly terrifying.  Although it wasn’t a huge one, it still caused damage to both my grandfathers home and the neighborhoods.  However, this fearful disaster happening in Scranton is close to 0%.  According to studies and recordings of where earthquakes have happened in PA, almost none have hit Scranton.

    According to the web side the earthquake is rated as a magnitude of 6.2.  This could strong affect Scranton if it was to occur hear.  Mostly because of how we are located above a mine.  Major damage would be caused to Scranton as a lot of our buildings and structures are pretty old.  Although renovations and reconstruction has helped a lot of locations, most of the structures are still pretty old. The earthquake that happened in Japan was also located at sea.  Damage to the mainland was minor and mostly shaking was felt.  However if we placed the epicenter in the middle of Scranton, we would not get away with just shaking and furniture breaking.

    The severity of the disaster on the human population of Scranton is varied.  This is because of all the different people from different locations that have gathered here.  To elaborate, I have many friends who have experienced earthquakes and are always prepared and know what to do if the situation arise.  However, I also have friends who would probable panic if an earthquake would happen in Scranton, as well as most of the population.  The biggest factor that would affect the population would be knowledge, in my opinion.  Knowing what to do and what not to do would be the biggest factor in deciding one’s safety.  Another factor would most likely be experience.  However, this factor is hard to obtain since we rarely get earthquakes, if any at all.

  3. From my experience, the biggest disaster that could happen would be flooding.  I say this because flooding is mostly the biggest problems I have heard about in my life in Scranton.  This is mostly because of how much rain we get in NEPA.  Like the sayin, “when it rains, it pours” I believe that really is the case here.  When I was in High School I’ve seen many house have floods, sewer drains were over flowing, and water damage happening all of the neighborhoods.  Many of my friends were victims to floods due to where they lived and a couple local businesses also suffered from this.
  4. I think the best action to take for the flooding problem in Scranton has already mostly been solved.  For instance, when I was in High School the city began installing the flood canals around the city.  These channels were extremely helpful since flooding of homes and businesses weren’t happening as much anymore.  This project was put into place by Scranton officials.  The most the people of Scranton can do is to report damages to these tunnels or if they notice anything abnormal.

Scranton, PA – Module 7

The city I grew up in is Scranton, PA.  Scranton is medium-sized city, located in the north eastern part of PA, that has a variety of neighborhoods.  From automobile suburbs to an urban downtown, we even have some pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods.  Scranton has a population of 76,000+ (from the census poll of 2013).  Scranton is a pretty comfortable city and it offers a variety of activities and places to eat.  Of course since I’ve been here most of my life, I do find it boring sometimes.  Scranton’s practically like my back yard.  I was always roaming the streets after school and just hanging around with friends.  Even if you don’t find something interesting to do in one part of Scranton, I’m sure you could find something in another part.  Also the local places to eat is a must try if you haven’t already.

The first city I will be discussing is Copenhagen, Denmark.  I chose this city because of their approach on “traffic calming.”  I think the idea behind traffic calming is a great concept.  For the most part the idea of traffic calming was to find other ways to travel instead of using cars or other motor vehicles.  The pedestrians are able to walk without worrying about traffic and they can move as freely as they want.  This allows more communications among the people.  People actually find it unusual to drive places in Copenhagen now.  This is a great approach if we would like to become more sustainable.  By using cars less, people would burn less fossil fuels and also there would be less air pollution.  Although this is a great idea it would be hard since we would need to cognitively recognize this change and put it into motion.

The second place I will be discussing is Rochester, NY.  I chose this city because of how it is very similar to how Scranton is.  Our place of residence has a very strong impact on our choice of transportation.  This affects the air quality in our city.  By having to drive around everywhere and every time we would like to go somewhere; we are throwing pollutants into the air.  This once again ties to what I mentioned above in my Copenhagen discussion.  The trend to become more sustainable is by making a more pedestrian-oriented city where we could be in walking or cycling distance of everything.  Of course this would take a lot of work and planning.  Another problem we’d run into would be the physical infrastructure of Scranton.

Module 6: Social Norms

I’m honestly not sure if this would be considered a social norm for food choices, but most of my life I grew up sharing the dishes I’ve ordered.  To be more specific, growing up in an Asian family, if we went out to eat we would order a bit of everything and everyone just shares.  Most of my friends have also started doing this.  It allows everyone to try every dish without having to order it themselves and it is a great way to save a bit of money since the bill is just split between everyone.  My food choices in this scenario is really broad.  It all depends on what everyone orders and I’m not really a picky eater either.  Although this type of social norm isn’t seen around the U.S. a lot, in Asia (or any Asian place) this can be seen as quiet the norm.

Honestly speaking, the norm I mentioned above can go a long way to settling some of the societal issues we face with food.  For instance, hunger can be “filled” easier this way.  By sharing the food and ordering multiple different dishes, there won’t be the feeling of eating too little or eating too much.  Another example would be going to a restaurant and being afraid that you wouldn’t be able to finish the dish you ordered.  This is also solved by the norm I mentioned.  With the help of friends or family, you wouldn’t have to finish the dish yourself and on the plus side you can try other dishes as well.  Although this norm is great in a number of ways, I can see how it can turn some people off.  For instance, hygiene would probably be a big issue with some people.


Module 5: Case Studies

  1. My first post is from the WBCSD – business solutions for a sustainable world (  The study I chose is about solutions landscape for Kobe, Japan.  Kobe is the fifth-largest city in Japan and it faces economic, environmental and social challenges.  However, it is trying to achieve a sustainable community development and to preserve their natural environment.  This case ties in with this module with the idea of sustainable development.  From my understanding, Kobe is trying to become more eco-friendly by reducing emissions, promoting improvements in energy efficiency, expanding the use of renewable energy, and local energy management systems.  This ties into the fact that sustainable development is defined that is is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Kobe’s objective is to help the currently aging population, and hopefully a better place for future generations.
  2. My second post is from SATREPS – for the earth, for the next generation (  The study I chose is about developing scenarios for low-carbon societies.  This study is using Malaysia as a model.  Malaysia is currently undergoing rapid economic development.  They are trying to come up with a plan to help achieve both a low-carbon society and economic development country, while managing the rising climate change issues.  I believe this also ties into the concept of sustainable development because this study is trying to make a better place for future generations.  Trying to create a low-carbon society would mean that they are likely to attempt reduce emissions.  This then in turn leads to more use for renewable energy.
  3. The two cases above is similar to what the US is trying to accomplish now.  We are trying to find ways to make renewable energy better or more useful.  They are also similar because we are all trying to manage the effects of climate change.  By trying to find ways to reduce emissions the two cases and the US are trying to develop plans to help better the lives of future generations.  Some differences is that even though we are targeting the same issue, we are also at the same time not.  For instance, in Kobe, their focus is also at the current generation and in Malaysia they want to help reduce the greenhouse gas emission and avoid the risk of various natural disasters.  I believe it is important to examine place and time because by studying how the effects are affecting us now and in the past we can start predicting how elements will effect the future and we can think of ways to mediate it.

Water Usage

Part 1-a

My hometown’s main surface water source is Lake Scranton.  Lake Scranton is maintained by Pennsylvania American Water (PAW) and the treatment facility can process up to a max of 33 million gallons of water per day.  The disposed water is then collected and brought to one of the three sewage treatment centers.  Some more water sources that we draw from in this aria is the Griffin Reservoir  and Summit Lake Reservoir.  These sources supplements the Lake Scranton system through PAW’s alternate water purification facilities.  The water supply is then distributed for residential, commercial, and industrial uses after it goes through the purification facilities.  I guess the closest facility to where I live (that I managed to find information on anyways) is the Throop Treatment plant.  At this plant they have grit removal channels, mechanical bar screens, sequencing batch reactors, belt filter press, UV disinfection channels, sludge thickener, aerobic digesters, primary setting tanks, aeration tanks, clarifiers, chlorine tanks, automated sodium hypo-chlorite feed system,de-chlorination feed system, automated alkalinity/pH feed system, and raw sewage pumps.  The permitted treatment capacity of the Throop treatment plant is 7.0 MGD.

Part 1-b

Water Usage for a day:

1x Shower 15mins = 57g

2x Brushing teeth = 2g

1x Hand washed dishes 10mins = 30g

4x Toilet uses = 20g

4x Faucets (washing hands) = 6g

2x Drinking water = 16oz

1x Shave = 1g

I use about 109.12 gallons per day.

Part 1-c

Trying to live off of 2 gallons of water for a day was a pretty tough challenge.  I understand water is a pretty valuable resource in some countries and having been able to live in Taiwan with my grandfather for a few months I was able to learn that pretty early (though I’ve been spoiled by everyday life).  To be able to do this, I did what we did oversees.  In the morning I’d take one shower/bath. I’d draw about .75 gallons of water to use to wipe myself down and then wash the soap/shampoo off.  I would then use .125 gallons (or 2 cups) of water to prepare rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Then next .125 gallons of water is used as my drinking water through out the day.  At the end of the day I started to use .5 gallons of water for cleaning the plates, rice cooker, and the glass I used.  The last .5 gallons was used for brushing my teeth in the morning and at night.  This was definitely a challenging experiment to accomplish, but due to my nature and personality (if I get absorbed into something) I tend to forget about everything around me (ex. hunger).  Geography is definitely an important factor for water use.  Some places around the world just don’t have the water supplies or even the technology to keep their water “usable.”  The location of an area will have dramatic effects on water usage, by either being just a drought/desert or even just cut off from a clean water supply.

Module 3 – Ethics

  1. Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?
    1. It is, in my opinion, almost always better to perform good acts.  The reason I believe this is because no matter how good of a person someone is, that is almost all they are if they do not act.  I’m sure everyone, or almost everyone, has heard that actions speak louder than words.  To me, this quote is actually right on point and is by far the truest word to describe us beings known as humans.  Our actions all have a benefit, as well as a consequence.  Even in the best situations, something is sacrificed when we have to perform.  For instance, lets say that you are on your way to school, work, or an important meeting.  When you run into some trouble (ex. mugging, someone getting bullied, or any situation you believe you, yourself, would take action) and you are caught in a decision.  As long as you act, I believe you are indeed a good person.  The situation can end up from anywhere between good or bad, but to me the person who acts and does something about the situations will indeed be a great person.  Honestly, this questions compares two really similar aspects, which I believe should go hand in hand.  For instance, if you perform good acts you are a good person.  Of course, I also believe that depends on the situation as well.  Another scenario is the act of self-defense or even defending someone else.  Even though you had to retaliate with force, if it is to save either yourself or whoever is with you at that time you are still on the “good” side.  Remember actions speak louder than words.
  2. Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?
    1. This is one of the question that I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  Due to the nature of this question I thought about the extremes of each side.  For instance, I first thought about the ends.  Picture yourself on uncharted island with a couple of classmates.  Now you all must do anything, and I mean anything to survive.  Lets say you found a shack, it contained a bit of food, fresh water, and of course it was a shelter.  The ends I mentioned earlier, is the extreme of extremes.  The shelter has food that will last you for a little while, but only one person.  Of course this is your survival and say you kept everything a secret and hid everything from the others.  This by no means agreeable to me.  Two scenarios can play out: 1. They find the shack and trust turns to turmoil.  2. It turns dangerous and everyone is fighting for the food but eventually no one gets it because the whole shack is ransacked.  Now everything is gone and all are back to square one, but this time everyone has no trust in one another.  Moral of this scenario, in my opinion, is that one should not sacrifice the bonds they have built to meet the means, or goals, that you want to accomplish.  I believe that it is important to consider all possible outcomes of a situation, assignment, whatever it is and find a suitable way to get to the end.  No matter how extreme of one end of the spectrum you reach, it will probably never satisfy you.  Come to the middle ground and then decide the best “route” to take.  That is my opinion of this question.
  3. Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?
    1. My honest opinion of the question, is that no life worth more than another.  So I believe that I fall under the category of thinking my life is worth the same as the lives of others.  Life is an important aspect that makes us who we are.  When that life comes to an end then that is it.  No future, no present, and no past.  Of course we have famous people in the world that are still remembered today even after thousands of years, but what of it?  Their legend ended and all that is left is their foot print in the vast amount of history of this world.  One can neither take a step forward, nor can the dead come back and give you push when you need one.  The life a person has is finite and can end at any moment.  But that does not mean that the older one lives, that their life is more valuable or even that if you had all the riches in the world, it would still end in a flash if it so chooses.  Humans, no life is very fragile existence that one should treasure.  Spend it pursuing what you want and struggle to achieve those dreams.  Never belittle yourself nor belittle the lives of other, life is indeed precious and everyone should treasure it.  We all live on this planet and we will all be buried (unless we colonize space) on this plant.  No one’s value is worth more than yours and no one’s value is worth less.  Of course I believe every human has at least a bit of selfishness in their hearts, but that is natural and still perfectly fine.  Just do not ever think one person is higher than another, nor think they are lower than another.  That is my opinion.

Biogas in India

The main purpose for my figure was my attempt visually represent the positive effects that the biogas generator has had on the Indian population as well as its environment and ecosystem.  Prior to the installation of a Biogas system the people and environment were wasting a lot of time trying collect materials such as fire wood.  This was also affecting the environment, as well as the education for the children.  Another effect that happened was that the Biogas system helped reduce the pollution to the air.  This directly improves the health of everyone in India.  Another improvement in this system was that the children no longer have to go “scavenge” for fire wood, thus allowing them to finally attend school on time.  This system also produces both methane gas, as well as compost.  This opens a door for India to start selling “fertilizers” and fuel.

I believe that my diagram is a little bit similar to figure 1.5 in the Gerry Marten reading.  The diagrams were both broken up into two systems, social and eco.  However the major difference is the level of detail between the two.  My diagram contains the bare minimal information that is pointing to the positive effects.  Gerry’s diagram delves into how each and every effect is connected.  There are similarities because both of us looked at the positive effect of the biogas generators.  There are differences because I did not look into the “fine” details of every effect.  What can be learned is that there is farm more details that are missed if the effects aren’t thoroughly thought about.


Module 1: Getting to know you

Hello everyone, my name is Steven Feng and I am a senior at Penn State Worthington Scranton.  I am majoring in the IST program, going down the design and development route, and will be graduating after this semester.  I grew up in Scranton, and am currently residing in Dickson City.  The career I am planning on pursuing is one that deals with developing technology.  Currently, I work with databases a lot and is, in my opinion, a pretty good choice.  I am taking this class because of one of the requirements for me to graduate, as well as the effect humans have on the geography of Earth.

One of the issues that interest me is climate change and how it’s really impacting the Earth.  Module 1 covered things such as human’s impact at towards climate change.  It also covers how the scale of climate change is both on a global and local scale.  This sparked my interest because, if we recall, Christmas this year was obnoxiously warm.  In my opinion, this issue should be more widely known and it is really affecting the world.