1. Looking at figure 10.1 the map of Biodiversity hotspots, choose one of the hotspots and research it.  Describe the hotspot you would like to visit.  Name some of the plants and animals that interest you.  Some of the resources you may use from that region.  Talk about some of the greatest threats to your hotspots biodiversity.

For my hotspot I chose the Tropical Andes.  The Tropical Andes which is one of the most biologically diverse region in the entire world in large part to the vast amount of different micro habitats in the mountainous region.  Plant wise this region is home to about 10% of all the worlds species, and 50- 60% of the plants found here cannot be found anywhere else on earth.  It is also the center of origin for some of the worlds most important crops such as potatoes and tobacco.  This region is also home to almost 980 species of amphibians including one of my favorite the poison dart frogs whose venom has been used for a wide variety of medical uses by humans. some of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of this region are deforestation, mining, road building, and dams are all major contributors to loss of biodiversity in this region.  As said previously the fact that 50-60% of the plants in this region are not found anywhere else in the world really raises concern for their loss as there are no alternatives, especially if these plants provide uses for humans such as medicines or food. 

2. From this lesson Look at the Case Study: The Amazon Rainforest.  Try to connect one or more of the previous lessons to some of the issues described in this case study 150-250 words.

The first lesson I think is important to connect is climate change and it connection to the deforestation of our rainforest.  As described our rainforest are essentially the filters of CO2 in our atmosphere as they plants in these regions remove it and use it in photosynthesis.  As we destroy more and more of our rainforest we are losing our essential buffer systems that keep our CO2 levels in check.  With increasing industrialization these systems are more critical than ever.  Another lesson is urban planning.  As large cities continue to expand in this region we could see the impact of industrialization reduced with proper planning.  blending the expanding areas with the current forest instead of clear cutting can reduce impacts on the environment and loss of habitat.  Also making things such as walker or biker friendly neighborhoods could reduce street size and thus the needed are for development. Also these neighborhoods would reduce CO2 emissions.

3.  Finally throughout this class we have learned about the impacts humans have on our environment.  Briefly describe some of the most important lessons you have learned in this course and why they matter to you.

I think one of the most important lessons to me was the lesson on climate change.  Particularly in this lesson the amount of statistical data that disproved my previous stance that climate change isn’t caused by humans it is cause by the earths natural cycles.  While this may have some truth the evidence provided has shown that both CO2 levels, temperature shifts,  and destruction of climate sensitive habitats have all been shown to correlate with the industrialization of human populations.  Lastly i would have to say the Biodiversity lesson does a great job in ending and posing the question about us as humans.  We constantly ask ourselves what are we as humans affecting but rarely look at the effects our action have on ourselves.  We have been blessed to live in a period on earth in which has been very stable and allowed the human population to grow and thrive.  The fact is that stability cannot last forever and we really have to pose the question what will happen when it does.  I think this question really affects me because I see myself as a part of the whole process and I want it to remain stable for as long as possible.  I need to improve my individual actions that will go towards helping the planet not hurting it.  I also need to show support of collective actions that will go towards ensuring a better more sustainable earth tomorrow.


Climate Change


In my Diagram I wanted to start with climate change as this is the whole reason all these events came about.  From Climate Change we get world wide attention on this issue and so nations from all over the world come together at the Copenhagen summit.  i thought it was really important to point out why a country like the U.S. would be so for something like the Copenhagen accord and why a lot of countries were not.  The U.S. is already developed and therefore can look to do other things with its vast resources, such as becoming a greener more sustainable country.  As well the U.S. really gains nothing from countries growing more wealthy and powerful through industrialization.  Countries who oppose the bill simply realize that if stricter regulations come about the will struggle to grow at the same rate they have been and thus will take longer to become more industrialized and more wealthy.  Also investing in taking your country that is built to use fossil fuels and now switch it over to new renewable resources is quite expensive.  The U.S. therefore needed to persuade these opposing countries to agree to the accord.  The do this through spying, false emails meant to hack info, basically anything they could do to dig up dirt on foreign dignitaries so they will be forced to sign the bill.  The large switch to support of the accord drew the attention of the Guardian newspaper.  After some digging they uncovered the dirty political games the U.S. had been playing and exposed them.  This lead to the WikiLeaks articles we are reading now.

I personally think that what the U.S. is doing is okay.  We are facing a global crisis that has scientific backing and something needs to be done.  So I am fine with the U.S. using its power and resources to manipulate other nations into addressing and dealing with this issue.  This is a collective action problem and the whole world needs to get involved.  With that being said The U.S. is the largest polluter in the world co it cannot just simply bully countries into the accord. The U.S. needs to be the example for all countries on how to change from a fossil fuel dependent country to a clean, efficient, and climate friendly one.  The time for the U.S. to make its moves is now because as they said in the ted talk scientist believe we have already reach our threshold and something is bound to give.  As for making the tactics of the U.S. public, I think its great.  I like exposing the government and politics for what they are, its a cutthroat game.  We as citizens need to be exposed to this so we can see what’s going on, what’s at stake, and why decisions are being made.  I think the Guardian did a service to everyone as the bring so much attention to an issue that affects all of us.  Lastly I’ll just say that even though I believe strongly its gonna come down to governments making policies to help the climate.  We as individuals can all make a difference as well.


Vulnerability Reduction

My town of Grove City is a Zone 0 in Earthquakes. It is likely to increase in heavy rainfall with changes in the climate. It is a Zone 4 in hailstorms. Zone 1 in winter storms. Zone 2 in tornadoes.  Zone 1 for wildfires. Overall I think this map is pretty interesting but I also think it is kind of a common sense tool.  Where I live everything is pretty standard, now we will get the occasional hail storm but I don’t know if it deserves a zone 4 rating.  I do like how it mentions the heavy rainfall because I have noticed growing up it seems like definitely and increase in raining days especially heavy rain.  My father owns a landscape company so we watch the weather very closely and a rainy day is basically a lost day for most jobs we do.  Again I think this map is interesting but it only really looks at broad trends maybe not ones specific to your town. For instance search the Johnstown flood, the destruction of a town because a dam failed during a bad storm.

For my natural Disaster I selected a power outage in Leesburg Virgina.  Without a doubt my town can experience this as I have probably lived through about thirty of them in my life.  My town is susceptible to  power outages because we are a well developed town but we still have a majority of our power lines above ground. combined that my town is in a very wooded part of western PA and the high winds we face during summer storms, hail, and heavy snowfall in the winter it is easy for trees to fall and damage power lines.  My town is small so generally if my power goes out I can bet that a major of my friends are experiencing the same issue.  This current power outage is affecting essentially two towns in Virginia and about 23,000 people so it a much larger scale than my town of 8,500 people.  For us the power outages a generally not that big of a deal because my family is fairly well off so we always have plenty of food and drink in the house, but poorer people might not and if all the food they could afford that week were to spoil due to lack of power they could really be in trouble.  One way we are more vulnerable than the people in town is that we have an electric pump on our well so if the power goes out we have no water.  People in town would still have water because the water plant would run on backup generators until power was restored.  I think the greatest reduction to our vulnerability to such disasters would be too bury our power lines in our community.  This though expensive would eliminate the opportunity for trees to fall and damage power lines.

Another natural Disaster that my town cold possibly face is extreme snowfall that could make travel impossible.  Now I live about 40 miles south of Lake Erie so we generally don’t get the heavy heavy Lake effect snow that you see in places like Erie and Buffalo.  Every once in awhile though we do get an extremely strong blowing down from the north we generally refer to it as a nor’easter that can generate a ton of snow, sometimes as much as 24-36 inches or more! This can make travel almost impossible, shutting down schools, government offices, stores, and other businesses.  These shut downs can create tremendous economic losses through loss of Production. One of the greatest of these storms happened in march of 1993.  My parents like to joke that I wasn’t planned they were just really bored while being snowed in.  I ended up being born in December of 1993 so I think they are serious.

A Look Back At The Blizzard Of 1993

I think the main thing about my towns vulnerability is that we essentially have our guts of our town out in the open.  It would make much sense to have your veins on the outside of your body so I think our easiest solution is to bury them and make them less susceptible to the outside elements as they seem to be what fails most often.  I believe our burrough and surrounding townships should be the ones to foot the bill and perform this task.  That’s why I believe we pay tax dollars so they can build and protect our public utilities.  For my I think I just need to be more prepared. most of our natural disasters in my area involve losing power or being stuck inside.  Having extra food and bottled water goes a long way when you are stuck inside.  Also investing in a generator for my house so we could continue to use our well pump would help a lot too.  our town does a great job in getting streets cleared as fast as possible when we get heavy snow.  We have a huge fleet of plow trucks.  Power companies also do a good job of restoring power. I think in large part because it is such a small town they don’t have to search for the issue very long.

Sustainable Cities

So I come from Grove City Pennsylvania.  We have a small town of about 8,500 people.  We have one small one way street called broad street that is pretty pedestrian friendly so people can go to the small shops along it.  For the most part  we are an automobile suburb but getting towards the outer part of town we have no sidewalks even though we still have a lot of residential properties.  I would say that Grove City is intentionally a slowed down town.  for many of our neighborhoods especially the wealthier ones they are either dead end streets, circular designed area called the Boulevards, and side streets with a 15mph speed limit.  Grove City is slow and quiet and I believe intentionally so.  I personally really enjoy the slow pace.  As a kid I could ride my bike anywhere in town and being that it is such a slow pace you never feel in danger from traffic.

The first city I want to talk about is Copenhagen.  I think Copenhagen has a similar mission as Grove City to reduce it’s environmental footprint.  We just simply go about it based on our different issues. Copenhagen looked to reduce its energy use and pollution output the the reduction of car use by making it’s city extremely biker friendly.  Grove City isn’t quite as heavy traffic being such a small town.  So to reduce our environmental footprint Grove City funds a lot of reclamation projects.  Such as the Wolf Creek project which we removed a 150 year old mill dam to return Wolf Creek to its original state and make it a better stream for trout fishing.  Also the reclaiming of many areas damaged by the immense strip mining that took place in the early 1900’s.  So both my town and Copenhagen are doing their part to reduce their environmental footprint.

Finally the city I’d like to talk about is New York.  As mentioned in this unit, the reason New York became the largest city is because of its geographic location to ship materials both by sea and the Erie Canal to the central part of the US.  Grove City is located only an hour from both Erie and Pittsburgh.  Grove City thus thrived in the early 1900’s as a huge supplier of coal for energy consumption by major cities, as well as supplying food from its rural farms through the efficient use of the railroad system.  It is also why both Cooper Bessemer and GE had major factories in Grove City producing locomotive engines.  Grove City’s environmental advantage more specifically its geographic location is why it continues to survive economically much like New York City.

Food Choice and Social Norms

As an athlete and especially as a wrestler I am faced with many challenges with my eating habits. Especially since my sport requires extreme discipline in my diet it sometimes clashes harshly with societal norms.  I particularly see this when I attend late night festivities with friends especially in a college town like State College. Believe it or not their are not many bars that serve fresh salads at 1am. So the other week I chose to indulge in a few slices of canyon pizza on our way from one bar to the other as it did not seem quite socially acceptable to run back home to grab a fresh snack while bar hopping with my friends. This is just one of many instances where social norms have forced me into making a decision on my food consumption I was not particularly fond of. After cutting weight though that pizza did taste pretty good though.

So some of the societal issues I could derive from my first paragraph is first of all accessibility.  As I said the access we as citizens of this country have to fast/junk food is second to none, it’s everywhere and at all times. The second is price it is just so hard to eat healthy when you can for slices of pizza for the same price as a “cheap salad” a good salad would actually cost you much more. Both of these are huge issues we face as a society and they ultimately affect our health, our wallets, and how we manage our time. The thing is is that we have created this problem. We as consumers have made these cheap unhealthy choices our main choice and so that is what companies invest in. If we pushed for the healthy options they would have to develop ways to produce them cheaper or else their businesses would suffer as nobody feels good about buying 5$ worth of lettuce and some veggies.


Waste Management

In my one case study I learned of how Ireland is addressing its growing problem of waste management, particularly reducing its absurd usage of plastic bags by placing a 15 cent levy on each bag is hopes of reducing their use.  This levy was brought about because Irish officials recognized both its environmental effects as well as economic.  Their waste management problem was driving away tourism and affecting Ireland’s overall “green image”.  I think you can take away a lot from this study as Ireland is a developed country but it faces problems to continue developing such as more efficient waste management as well as educating its citizens about the affects of their waste consumption on their very own economy and well being.  Also as their population continues to grow they will have to continue to develop strategies to handle the increasing population of both citizens and tourist.

My second case study talks about how a Lebanon city renewed an are that was once a trash mountain and turned it into a beautiful park.  The recycled as much materials as they could, while also using old rubble dumped at the site to build up a sea wall and reclaim beach front property. Waste that couldn’t be removed was covered in a safe and modern landfill site that will be able to be used by the public in a few years after its materials have decomposed. This project has created a park that residents can use to improve both physical and emotional well being and quality of life in general. The Seawolves created from this project will open up development revenue, as well as more room for residents in this high value real estate.

Currently in my town of Grove City there has been a debate/ legal battle for the development of a trash mountain in our town. Currently we have a landfill that has been full for a number of years so tri-county industries uses it as sorting station as garbage from Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania are trucked in then sent to their other landfills.  They propose a huge mountain of trash that would apparently bring in huge sums of tax revenue as well as jobs which is important to our area if we want to continue to develop.  Our town folks though like our small quiet town and don’t want all the increased track traffic on our small roads as well as we are concerned about the small from the trash mountain as well as other potential environmental effects such as damages to fresh water supplies and toxic was should the protective lining of the dump become ruptured. So though my town recognizes the need to address our waste problem like the previous two articles. We our less concerned with the development of our area to sacrifice some of the current attributes that our town gives us because of being a little under developed, such as tons of space and some peace and quiet.
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My Water Consumption

So in Grove City Pennsylvania our towns water supply is supplied by large freshwater springs.  Throughout our town we have small buildings that that are pump stations that sit over the various springs and draw water and pressurize it to go into local residences and businesses.  The used water and sewage is then pumped to our local water treatment plant the recycled back into the water system.  At my house we have our own well which we use a closed electrical pump system that draws the water then pushes it through our water softener that uses salt and filters to remove minerals and metals from the water so it is safe to drink.  Our used water then enters our septic tank where the solid waste materials are collected and broken down.  The water from our septic tank then moves into our leech field where it is filtered through rocks, sand, and dirt before it settle back down into our well to be used again.

February 9th

Shower: 10 minutes 2X=80 Gallons

Toilet: 5X= 8 Gallons

Washing Dishes: 5 minutes 1X= 20 Gallons

Brushing teeth  2 minutes  2X= 8 Gallons

Cooking: Boiled water for Pasta= 1 Gallon

Drinking= 1Gallon

Laundry: 1 load= 27 Gallons

Total= 145 Gallons

So basically I had to just examine the essentials that I needed for the day.  As a wrestler I knew I was going to have to consume my usual gallon of water being that I normally loose about 8 pounds a practice, a vast majority of that was sweat. I also knew for the sake of my classmates I still needed to keep some daily personal hygiene rituals going so I did that.  So those were my basic areas I focused on that I needed water for. The drinking their was just no way around it I needed the same amount of water so I wasn’t able to cut down in that area.  The hygiene though I did well with as I only had the water on for about 5 seconds while brushing my teeth. The shower I reduced to only one shower that day and again used very little water.  I was able to succeed in my try to use only two gallons of water, but the fact is i could not sustain it.  Eventually i would need to do laundry or wash my dishes and there is just no way for me to do that with only two gallons.  I think it is evident in the map for our learning activity that their is a direct correlation between the availability of water and the water consumption of those countries.



  1.  Q:Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?
    1. As this chapter has stated I believe these two ethical ideas most of the time go together.  People who are good generally act good, and people who do good do so because they are good.  If I have to chose one though I believe you’d have to perform good acts for it to be of any benefit to others or the environment.  I do not mind someone who is faking being a good person by simply performing some random good acts, I’d rather that than have a good person who sits idle while good things need to be done.  The only time I really see my answer changing is if someone is a bad person but is intentionally doing good acts with the hidden agenda to do a greater evil with the favor that they earned from doing the acts of good.  In this case I would rather have a good person who neither does good nor bad.
  2.  Q:Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?
    1.  I believe in most cases you have to look at the end, or the goal you which to achieve.  I think this lessen simplifies it a bit by using trees as an example because it is a lot easier to say yes lets just chop down some trees to save the rest of the forest.  A much more difficult question might be, would you be willing murder a select few people just because you think that will save the majority?  I believe the ends are important but one who focuses solely on this and does not concern themselves with all the possible means of achieving this end will almost always regret their decision and in hindsight see that there were other means to achieve their  end.  That’s why I would put a lot more focus on the means so I could have a clear conscience when I reach the end.
  3. Q:Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?
    1.  I personally value my life as the same as all others.  I do not believe in necessarily going out of your way for others or accepting less from them.  I think you should look to make yourself comfortable, but you reach that level you should then look to boost others up to your level.  You do not look down upon someone or something as if they deserve to be below you, but you also don’t just accept a lower status.  I think this even view is sustainable for the environment as well, you simply don’t use resources because you can, you use them out of necessity and comfort but no more.  If we all looked at our life as equal to everything else it would promote a much more sustainable planet.

Bio-gas Diagram: Wesley Phipps


Biogas Diagram wwp5039The core ideas of my Bio-gas diagram are to show how the proper and efficient use of common animal and human waster through bio-gas  tanks can both help the environment and improve the overall quality of life for poverty stricken rural areas of India. Another important idea we discussed in this lessen are feedback systems.  The bio-gas diagram shows how we are directly influenced and affected by our environment as well as we directly affect it.  the bio-gas tanks in India do an excellent job of both having a positive affect on human quality of life as well as improving environmental conditions.  This is important because many times human comfort is held above environmental quality when we look for economical and technological progress.

Marten’s diagram is similar in that it focuses on both the environmental effects and human impacts the bio-gas technology has.  the key difference is that Marten’s diagram does not focus on the bio-gas technology as the key element in this diagram as I have, instead Marten recognizes that it is only a small piece of the puzzle and its creation was driven by social, economical, and environmental pressures that brought about the development of bio-gas technologies.  I believe that  is the key takeaway from comparing these two diagrams and if I were to redo mine I would centralize my diagram around those issues rather than the bio-gas tank.

Introduction: Wesley Phipps

Hey everyone, my name is Wesley Phipps and I live on West Foster Avenue, and I grew up in Grove City Pennsylvania a small town about 20 minutes from the Ohio border and right in the middle of Pittsburgh and Erie.  I am currently set to graduate this spring with a degree in criminology and a minor in Business.  I’m taking this class because one I just needed some credits to graduate, and two I took an EGEE class online a few semesters ago that dealt with humans consumption of energy and found it useful in my everyday life and so I thought I may like this class too.  I’m currently a member of the varsity wrestling team here at Penn State, and i will be attending grad school next year at Slippery Rock University and playing football.

The issue I am concerned with is the massive amount of deforestation in the world.  Just the other week I believe it was on twitter that I saw someone posting a time lapse photo of earth from the international space station and the amount of earth that turned from green to brown  was just staggering.  I think deforestation is a topic that sometimes gets overlooked by the general population because one we don’t travel to where this is happening so we don’t see the destruction first hand, and two tress are not a fossil fuel so we don’t place as much importance on conserving them as other resources.  So I think in general we as humans struggle to really grasp certain scales like really small scales or really big scales lie the global issue of deforestation.