Vulnerability Reduction: Alex Deebel

  1. According to the NATHAN world map of natural hazards, my hometown, Hershey Pa is at risk of increased rainfall, hailstorms, extratropical storms, and tornadoes. Hershey is also in one of zones that are affected by El Nino and La Nina. The affect is fewer storms and warmer climate (El Nino only), which could be a good or a bad thing. Pennsylvania appears to be in the zones that have experiences higher than average temperatures and rainfall in the period of 1987-2007.  The NATHAN world map of natural hazards seems to be well suited for this task, considering the extensive detail of the report and seemingly credible sources it uses.

2. Terror Attack (bombing) in Turkey Bus Terminal

As recent events have shown, no country, state, or city is safe from terror attacks. Located closely to Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, Hershey could be at risk of a similar terrorist attack. Personally, I don’t believe Hershey, PA would be a top target for terrorists, so I would say there is a low/ medium-low possibility that an event this tragic this would occur in Hershey.

The scale of this event was relatively small, as the attack took place in a bus terminal, killing 4 and injuring 14 others. The scale of the disaster is very small, since it was just one bus terminal, but if a bombing were to occur in an area of 14.4 miles, the size of Hershey, it would be a disaster, with thousands of deaths and injuries.

Since this disaster is directly related to human deaths, the impact on the population would be considerable large. I don’t think residents in Hershey would have different levels of vulnerability in a terrorist attack, other than unfortunately being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since Hershey is a tourist location, tourists could be more vulnerable if they are visiting Hershey Park. The human factor of age could lead to a disproportionate impact since many tourists are parents and children. The factor of wealth also comes into play for disproportionate effects since tickets for an amusement park like Hershey Park are expensive. Vulnerability to a terrorist attack could be reduced by increasing security technologies and physical presence throughout the park.

3. Other natural hazards that threaten Hershey are flooding, and tornadoes (  Tornadoes have become an increasing threat throughout central Pennsylvania over the past 10 years. Three tornadoes occurred in towns right around Hershey last summer that destroyed many homes and buildings (pennlive). Five years ago Hershey experienced an anomaly in post-hurricane storms. I remember water flooding the town in areas up to 8 feet high. We could not go into town, as it is the lowest level elevation in the area. As a result, we had to drive further distances to go to the store for over a week. The flooding destroyed many buildings and left the town a mess with mud, branches, and other litter that washed into the streets (personal experience). There is a risk that this could occur again if post-hurricane storms are severe enough.


personal experience, summer 2011


4. To reduce vulnerability to natural disasters in Hershey, there should be a group within the township administration responsible for monitoring and early detection of potential threats. I know we do not currently have a prevention team for natural disasters, so this would be a good first step. In addition, building resilience in non-disaster times would be helpful for town sustainability to disaster. This is something that I, and everyone in the community can help do. By preparing our homes, schools, and stores for floods and tornadoes, we can hope to remain safe from these known threats. In addition, when these disasters occur, we can help rebuild the town as a community, strengthening community bonds, and helping those affected.  A team led by the town administration for these emergency responses and clean-ups would keep the process well- organized.



Sustainable Cities: Alex Deebel

The town I grew up in for 14 years was Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. Hummelstown is a small town near the capital, Harrisburg, with a population of roughly 4,520 people. There are shops and restaurants along Main Street, and several developments of homes surrounding the High School and Middle School. The majority of people who live in Hummelstown live in other housing developments around fields and farms on the outskirts of town. These developments would be similar to the automobile suburbs we talked about in module 7, and have much less urban density than any larger town or city.  Resident health seems to be average or above average, and there is very little poverty and unemployment in Hummelstown. The main forms of employment for residents are in small businesses, and agricultural services.

As a small, old town, Hummelstown could implement a few changes to be more like Copenhagen, Denmark. Having the tight streets and allies of Hummelstown become “car-free” would be a great option for the local government. The area is becoming more and more populated around my town, so fixing the increase in traffic problems with a car-free town could be a viable option. Although a large amount of the population lives outside the downtown area, there could be parking lots on the town’s border once they arrive. Having an open area without cars speeding through the streets, where cycling could become a social norm would be a plausible, sustainable action. Since the town has all of the essential stores and public buildings very closely to one another, the normal flow of people should not change that much. Hummelstown has been trying to “go green” so this seems like a great example they could follow to become more sustainable like Copenhagen.

As I mentioned, the area around Hummelstown is becoming increasingly urbanized. While there are no food supply issues yet, the large farms are being purchased by developers, threatening our current supply chain.  Urban farming, like the examples in Haiti and Detroit, is becoming an attractive alternative for many crowded or resource limited towns and cities. Urban farming practices such as personal gardens for vegetable consumed regularly are already being put to use by at least one restaurant in Hummelstown. There is a restaurant that has a personal garden growing next to the seating on their outdoor deck. If the other restaurants in town used the same practices, they would be less dependent on the big grocery stores for their daily produce. Townspeople would then see that the restaurants are doing it, and would most likely be inclined to do the same. There is a lot we can learn from Haiti and even cities in the US that are more limited.


Social Norms: Alex Deebel

A growing social norm is buying organic fruits and vegetables, and eating a vegan diet.  My choices at the grocery store are influenced by my vegan roommate, who encourages my other roommates and I to do consider the lifestyle change. While I do still eat meat, I have been paying attention to buying organically raised fruits, vegetables, and even meats. I am glad it has become a norm in society to consider where our food is coming from, and to be mindful of the chemicals used in their life cycles. The general idea of environmental protection goes hand in hand with the trend of reducing hormones and chemicals in food production. It is in style to be healthy and “green”, and consumers want food options that they can feel good about eating.

A hot topic in food production is the use of growth hormones and chemicals in animals and produce. Therefore, the organic and vegan revolution has gained a lot of support from activists, in opposition to these processes. Another social issue that is highly debated is the creation and sale of GMO’s. As the model exemplifies, the genetic change in crops has made a variety of impacts on the environment including the inability to contain their spreading, and the legal ramifications of their patents. This is why the growing social norm of purchasing organic and vegan items has been so successful. I think this norm is for the good of society, and will hopefully have long term effects on the lifestyle and health of the population. It should be normal to want to eat chicken not pumped full of hormones, and eat grains natural to the Earth!

Aed5275_social norms

Case Studies- Alex Deebel

How does Mendoza’s water system fare with external market factors?

This case is from Colby, and takes place in Mendoza, Argentina. The goals for development are centered on resolving the poor irrigation system in Argentina and Latin America. During the Spanish colonization of Latin America in the 1500’s, they implemented their own water system, destroying the existing system of the indigenous people. The Spanish had systems that worked well for the terrain and climate, but not for Latin America. Rainfall in the area depends on the season, and poor irrigation systems are the reason for draught and inconsistent water flow. The poor economy of Argentina is another factor that makes finding a solution difficult. A factor of development in the module was the importance of agriculture in the development of a nation. Latin America was one of the civilizations where agriculture originated, and water is one of the most important elements there. If water cannot be properly dispersed to the country, there will be low harvests, famine, and death. This will ultimately hurt the country’s economic and social development, also discussed in the module.

Reducing Child Mortality Through Vitamin A in Nepal

This case is from the CGDEV (center for global development), and takes place in Nepal. The goals for development are reducing child mortality by administering doses of Vitamin A to improve their immune systems. Almost 21% of children in developing nations under the age of 5 suffer form Vitamin A deficiency, and in 1993 the government of Nepal initiated this program. Biannual doses were given to the study candidates, and it was found to decrease the risk of death by 50%. As discussed in Module 5, the development of nation is dependent of the health and development of it’s citizens. Improving mortality rates is the most important factor for a developing nation, as there is a need for a growing middle class and workforce. As mortality rate decrease and the middle class grows, the GPD, another factor of development will rise. This will help Nepal to grow and become an international trade partner, and global power.

My home- Hershey, PA

Water Management in Argentina: While there are not generally water management issues in my hometown, I can only imagine what it would be like if there were. Agriculture and farming are huge industries in Hershey, PA, and extremely water dependent. Inefficient water supply would cripple the local economy, and hurt our economic development. From this case, we can learn about the importance of efficient water management, and sustainable use of water in agriculture industries.

Child Mortality in Nepal: Child mortality is not an issue in Hershey, or anywhere in the United States. This is a common trait of developing nations, but the effects are often felt in neighboring countries where it is an issue. We are fortunate to have developed neighboring countries, although there have been issue with Mexico, and their labor force affecting the US labor market. The place- a developing nation, and the time- the early stages of social development are very important in this case to understand how nations develop, and what can be done to improve them.

Water Tracking and Usage: Alex Deebel

1a: The source of water in Harrisburg, Pa comes from Clarks Creek, which is a 31.4-mile tributary creek of the Susquehanna river. DeHart Dam and reservoir collect water from Clarks creek, and is pulled into the Capital Region Water Center for processing. After the water is cleaned, tested and fit for human use, it is distributed to homes and businesses in the area using a system of underground channels. Water is used in the home for a variety of daily activities, and is disposed of through a drainage system that connects back to the city grid. The wastewater is then collected and combined with storm water from the city, where it goes to the Capital Region wastewater treatment facility. At the water treatment facility, the water goes through many processes to make it safe for the environment again. After all chemicals are removed from the wastewater, and it is sufficiently cleaned, the water is deposited back into the Susquehanna river.


Showers 1 15 = 15 gallons
Teeth Brushings 3 0.1 = 0.3 gallons
Dish Washings 1 8 = 8 gallons
Toilet Flushes 5 3 = 15 gallons
Hand Washes 5 0.5 = 2.5 gallons
Glasses Drank 5 0.0625 = 0.3125 gallons
Total 41.1125 gallons

1c: Before I began this activity, I established priorities for the most important uses of water with only 2 gallons. The most important uses were drinking and similarly, cooking. Personal cleanliness and showering is not a possibility with 2 gallons, other than a quick hand wash as needed. Strategies I used were trying to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible. Water I used to wash my hands could also be used to clean dishes. Another strategy I used to save water was turning off the water while I was brushing my teeth. At the end of the day, I failed in only using 2 gallons of water. This is due to flushing the toilet, and taking a quick shower after the gym. However, I realize I can use less water than in exercise 1-b by being fast and efficient when I’m using water. Geography determines the available and quality of water for human use. Many developed countries use more water than they have access to, and this is hurting developing nations. Reductions in daily water use by those in developed nations could have a huge impact on water availability in areas with dry climates, or overpopulated cities.

My Ethics Views: Alex Deebel

  1. Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts?
  • I think it is more important for someone to perform good acts, than be a good person. If someone has the best morals but never shares them with others, they are not fully contributing to society. Being a good person is not enough, because sometimes good people do bad things. Someone who might not be the perfect person with the best morals is still very capable of performing good acts in their community. People’s actions are generally noticed more than their virtues in our society. Most people have higher expectations for the way people act in public, and do not care as much about what their beliefs are. While being virtuous may be more important in religion, physical acts are generally more important in the world we live in. It also maybe be more important to be virtuous instead of active if you are in a profession where you are giving advice to others. This question of virtue and action makes me think about being altruistic vs selfish. It seems selfish to no contribute to society with good acts. Performing good acts are inherently altruistic, and are much more important than just being a good person.

2. Do the ends justify the means?

  • What is often portrayed and encouraged in our society is the ideal that the ends always justify the means. While this may be true in some scenarios like life or death, and war, I do not think this this is the correct way to look at a scenario. I think “the ends justifying the means” is what people tell themselves when they do the unethical thing just because it makes their decision easier. Convincing yourself that what you did was necessary and justifiable is much easier than finding a solution that is ethical and actually justifiable. “Close enough” is what I think of when I hear someone talk about something bad they did, but it was “all okay because because it turned out good in the end.” It is not acceptable to be close enough when there are other, more ethical solutions. Sometime hard calls need to be made in the situation of war, or a threat to someone’s life. These are scenarios where it is understandable for more drastic measures to be taken, that might not always seem like the best option. Ultimately, a life- human or not, should be saved if it will not cost the life of someone or something else.

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

  • I think the pain and pleasure of human and non-human animals are of equal importance. Whether people know it or not, animals are such a big part of our lives and ecosystem, and treating them with the same respect as we treat other humans is very important. The number of species that have gone extinct in the last 1,000 years is astounding, and while some of them are due to natural causes, the majority of their extinctions can be blamed on humans. The extinction of animal species can alter an ecosystem quite significantly, ultimately affecting the way we live. In a situation of life or death, most people say that human lives are more important, and I would have to agree. That being said, it should not be a decision that is taken lightly. All options should be considered before valuing the life of one species over another. Valuing the pain and pleasure of non-human animals equally can also be beneficial to humans. This is particularly true when considering the welfare of animals used for food. There is a lot of evidence that suggests better treatment of livestock leads to higher quality meat, and ultimately human health.

Biogas Diagram: Alex Deebel

When considering the topics from module two, I think about the types of feedback loops and how they are incorporated in my diagram. Examples of positive feedback loops occur when more money leads to more education, which leads to more technology. These are both good things for any social system. Also, more cows produce to more dung, which can be combined with water to make more slurry. The slurry makes more methane gas for cooking, and compost, which can be sold for money. Examples of negative feedback loops occur when the methane gas is used for cooking, which reduces smoke and infection in humans and the environment.


Making methane gas and using it for fuel is much more sustainable than cutting down trees, and wasting time gathering wood. Dung from livestock will always be available, so there will always be a source of energy to cook with. This is very important, especially in developing nations and nations with large populations.


There are several similarities between my diagram and the Marten diagram from the reading. They include population, knowledge/education, and technology on the social systems side, and plants, animals, and water on the ecosystem side. Differences include more detailed breakdowns of what each of those similarities produce. These differences occur because my diagram is about a specific human invention, whereas Marten’s is about the basic interaction. We can learn that each of the interactions listed in Marten’s diagram have many additional parts that make the relationships much more complicated.


Getting to Know You: Alex Deebel

Hello, my name is Alex Deebel! I grew up in Hershey, PA, and have lived there since my family moved from Washington D.C. when I was 4 years old. I am a senior majoring in Finance with a minor in International Business. I will be moving to Philadelphia, PA after I graduate this spring to peruse a career in consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). My International Business minor focuses a lot on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, so I thought GEOG 030 would provide a more scientific perspective to the topics. Sustainability is something that every company should be concerned with, as consumers tend to demand better and have higher standards for the businesses in their community. I don’t consider myself to be a sustainability expert by any means, but I enjoy learning about all the innovative ways we can protect the environment while businesses are still able to make a profit.

A topic I think geography is well suited to explore is corporate sustainability. I consider this topic to be very important and time sensitive, and fits well into the category of human impact on the environment. Consumers demanding more responsible actions from corporations is a quickly growing trend around the world. Many people look immediately to major manufacturers with large power plants and harmful chemicals to change their processes and decrease their pollution. While this is a good start, we shouldn’t forget about the major businesses that are not necessarily manufacturing physical goods. The services sector makes up a larger percentage of the economy than goods, so we need to focus our attention on their processes and effects on the environment also. Globalization has caused the demand for US services to significantly increase around the world. Stricter standards of more ethical environmental protection need to be introduced quickly. Examples could include reducing the number of people and/or the amount they travel to clients, or keeping electronic copes of reports instead of printing multiple copies.