1.In 250 words or less, decribe issues related to biodversity in your hometown.


I am from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are many issues in my town that affect biodiversity. Pittsburgh is a city that is growing fast in population. The increased population puts strain on much of the wildlife in the area. More housing complexing are bing built which is contributing to habitat loss for many creatures. The increased population also increases the amount of pollution created. Another issue related to biodiversity that affects my hometown is the large population of fishers and hunters. This leads to overharvesting of fish and disrupts the population of deer in the area.

2.Create a diagram that captures one of the H.I.P.P.O biodiversity threats

My diagram captures the process of overharvesting

In 250 words or less describe ways in which you can help preserve biodiversity.
Humans have very large impact on biodiversity. There are many things I could do in my everyday life to help preserve biodiversity. When gardening I could limit the use of pesticides and be careful of what types of fertilizers. This would prevent help to prevent habitat loss for many animals and other living creatures. I could also eat more organic food. This would decrease the amount of fertilizers farmers are using. I could also buy sustainably harvested seafood. This would help prevent overharvesting. Recycling and using more products made from sustainable materials would help decrease pollution.It would also be helpful by limiting the amount of energy i am using by taking shorter showers and only using lights when necessary.asnel biodiversity

Wikileaks climate change

graph asnell

In my diagram I attempted to give an overview of all the events that took place in the article “WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord”. The first core idea shown in my diagram is the over consumption of fossil fuels. The excess amount of fossil fuels causes emission of greenhouse gases. As discussed in the article, the US is one of the world’s largest polluters which makes their role in these events extremely significant.  The emission of the greenhouse gases leads to climate change. Climate change is such an important issue because it affects all living things. This is what led to the Copenhagen summit. The summit was intended to create a plan for countries to collectively deal with climate change. However, the plan that was developed mostly benefited the US. For this reason, many countries refused to sign the agreement. This led to the US using extremely unethical practices to gain the signatures if the opposing countries. In the end 116 countries have associated with the accord. Another 26 countries intend to associate with the copenhagen accord.This is good for climate change but created a hostile political environment.


I think that climate change is a huge issue that society needs to face. I do not think the issue is being taken as seriously as it should be. The creation of the Copenhagen accord is a big step in the right direction in regards the effects climate change has on the environment. However, I disagree with the events and actions taken that led up to the creation of the Copenhagen accord.  I think that the state department cable should have been public from the beginning. This would eliminate the drama that was caused when wikileaks leaked the article. Also, I feel that the accord was way too important for the public to be uninformed about. I think allowing the public to know what is going on could help to reach the goal of stopping climate change faster. I also think this could help to find more monetary support for countries, especially those that are considered to be developing

Vulnerability reduction

  1. I am from Pittsburgh, Pa. According to the NATHAN world map of natural hazard my hometown overall is a low risk area. The area appears to be in zone 3 for hailstorms. It is a zone 1 area for extratropical storms. It is a zone 2 area for tornadoes. Its is a zone 1 area fro wildfires. I do not think the NATHAN world map is best suited for this activity. The map breaks areas apart in a very large scale which is not helpful when analyzing a specific city. Also, the climate impacts labels are difficult to pinpoint.
  2. The current disaster that I chose is a biological hazard the is occurring in Michigan and Wisconsin. A rare blood disease caused by Elizabethkingia, a rare bacteria  that is normally harmless, is affecting many individuals with already weakened immune systems. I think this disaster could happen in my hometown. I think my hometown is at a medium risk because the bacteria is found in reservoirs, lakes and rivers and my hometown does have some of these risk factors. This disaster is taking place in two states which is a much larger scale than my hometown. If this incident were to occur at the scale of my hometown it could potentially kill many people. The most vulnerable people would have already existing health conditions. If the disease were to strike in an area with a lot of hospitals or nursing homes it could kill a lot of people. My tons vulnerability would decrease if it struck in an area with many healthy people, like a college campus.
  3. From my own experience , some of the biggest natural disasters faced in Pittsburgh,Pa are blizzards, flooding and hail storms. In the winter months Pittsburgh experiences very heavy snow which can cause many accidents and road delays. This also increases the amount of salt used on the roads. This is responsible for the erosion and potholes on the road.  Pittsburgh also experiences many floods. The area has a lot of hills which allows the water to drain and accumulate in certain areas
  4. To reduce vulnerability to natural hazards in my hometown there are a few things that could be done. Preventative measures could be taken. In the case of snowstorms, appropriate staffing for snow plows and salt trucks could be planned for. This would be best planned by public works.  Also, emergency response teams could be better prepared to deal with the increased amount of car accidents and falls that occur due to the snowstorm . In the case of a biological hazard like the one occurring in michigan and wisconsin plans could be made to better isolate the elderly and the ill from bacteria and viruses that may spread to them more easily. This would best be performed by health departments or doctors.

Sustainable Cities

  1. The first city I will introduce is the city of Pittsburgh,PA. Pittsburgh is located on the western end of Pennsylvania. There are approximately 305,850 people living in Pittsburgh. Though overall Pittsburgh is a pretty car friendly area,it  is composed of a combination of different types of neighborhoods. The urban downtown area is designed for individuals to commute via public transit. There are shops, restaurants and places of work. However, not many people live downtown. Areas located right outside of downtown such as the South Side area or Oakland would be considered pedestrian oriented neighborhoods. These areas have many shops and restaurants. In addition, it has a high urban density. Many people in this area live in apartments or row houses. Pittsburgh also has many automobile suburbs .This is where I live. A car is required to travel most places.I feel very connected to Pittsburgh. It has greatly influenced my preference to drive most places as opposed to taking public transportation.
  2. The second city I will introduce is New York city. I chose New york city because it is very different from Pittsburgh. The population of New York city is about 8 million people. New York’s large population creates many opportunities for sustainability that I believe Pittsburgh could emulate. The population in New York is very dense. Many people live in very tall apartment buildings or tightly packed row houses. This provides the opportunity to have a lower environmental impact. The large population also increases the use of public transportation or walking which has a great impact on the environment. New York has many public transportation options including buses and trains that operate frequently and conveniently . Pittsburgh has an alright bus system however, the train system could be greatly improved. The train only operates on one side of the city which is not helpful to many people. This forces people to drive cars.
  3. The next city I will introduce is Venice , Italy. Venice has a population of around 260,000 people. This population is small,unlike that of New York, and resembles the size of the population in Pittsburgh. Unlike Pittsburgh, Venice is considered to be a car free city. I would consider Pittsburgh to be very car friendly. Much of the transportation in Venice is done by boat because of the large amount of water in the area. Though not as much as Venice, Pittsburgh is a city surrounded by water which is not used for public transportation. I think Pittsburgh could emulate some of the boating practices used in Venice to become more sustainable. If boats became a popular mode of transportation Pittsburgh could greatly improve its environmental impact

Social norms food choice

  1. A few years ago my family took a two week trip to Italy. Most of the restaurants we visited offered various pasta options. The employees and people of the towns all recommended various pasta dishes which influenced my decision to choose pasta dishes. It seemed that everyone I met loved to talk about the various pastas available.All the pasta dishes I tried were delicious. As an american, I am used to incorporating pastas into my  diet a few times a week. However, I am also used to incorporation a variety of other foods into my diet as well. Pasta is considered a staple in Italian culture. Because of the social norm of eating pasta regularly , I felt somewhat pressured to eat more pasta than I normally would.I also found myself sampling different pasta dishes even when I was not hungry for the social benefits. Because I was on vacation, I felt that many people were encouraging me to eat more and try new things. It seemed acceptable to overeat in social situations.
  2. My food choice to overindulge in pasta relates to the societal issue of obesity.Obesity is an issue in many wealthy parts of the world.People with access to large amounts of food tend to overindulge. Many people,including myself, tend to eat even when they are not hungry for the social aspect involved with food or sometimes simply out of boredom. This continued behavior leads to obesity which explains why i gained a significant amount of weight over my vacation.It is socially acceptable to overeat when you are doing so in a social situation such as at a party or on vacation. I believe the social norm should be to only eat what is necessary for your body to be satisfied.ars5930 food diagram

Wind Power

  1. The case study I chose is from the Colby-Sustainable Development page. The case study focuses on alternative energy sources in Denmark. It specifically focuses on wind power. Here is a link to the case study The initial goal set by the Danish government the year 2000 was to maintain 10 percent wind generated electricity. This goal has continuously been achieved and a new goal of 20 percent been set. This topic relates to development in regards to the boost it provides to Denmark’s GDP. Denmark produces 60 percent of the world’s wind turbines. These wind turbines are exported which helps to raise the GDP.It also improves GDP by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are being used for energy.
  2. The second case study I chose is from the New Zealand wind energy association. Here is the link to the case study. This case study focuses on  wind power specifically in relation to farming. The goals of the development are to establish a reliable source of renewable and sustainable energy while also helping to improve farming operations. The wind farms help to improve farming operations by creating proper roads to travel around the farm on and also providing an additional source of income through  royalties and other payments.  This relates to sustainable development. Wind power decreases the amount of fossil fuels used to produce energy. The extra source of income the farmers receive could lead to more sustainable improvements in their farming methods.
  3. I am from Pittsburgh,PA. The two case studies I chose both focus on the benefits of implementing wind power as a source of energy. Pittsburgh is an area that is beginning to put a heavy focus on sustainability. However, Pittsburgh is a city unlike the areas described in the two case studies. Installing wind towers requires large open spaces of land which are difficult to find in cities. Much of Pittsburgh’s sustainability efforts have been focused on solar panels because they are easy to implement in a city. A take away from the two cases that would improve development in my area would be that wind power is a profitable and beneficial business. Though not very feasible in the city, wind towers could be installed in the suburbs or on farms like in the new zealand case study. This could in turn improve the quality of life for many.

Water Usage

Part 1a-I am from the suburbs right outside of Pittsburgh,Pa. The water in my area comes from a water company called the Oakmont Water Authority. The water is drawn from the Allegheny River. First,impurities in the water are removed. Minerals such as potassium and fluoride are then added to the water. The purified water is then stored in a elevated tank. Distribution mains the carry the water from the tanks to service lines. Service lines transport the water into homes.The water is pumped into the water heater where it is separated into hot and cold water taps. After the water, has been used it is drained into a sewer. This dirty water is pumped backed to the sewage plat where it undergoes multiple treatment process in order to re enter the water system. The processes include the removal of solid debris and the breakdown of the remaining sludge.

Part 1b- Water Usage 2/8/16

Shower- 120 gallons

Flushing Toilet-16 gallons

Drinking water- 1/2 gallon

Laundry- 6 gallons

Washing hands- 4 gallons

Brushing Teeth- 1 gallon

Cooking-1 gallon

Total=148.5 gallons

Part 1c-

Limiting myself to just two gallons of water was pretty much impossible for the lifestyle that I have grown comfortable with. I drink a lot of water daily and I use a lot of water to cook which made this limit very difficult for me. The priorities for my water usage for this experiment were my drinking water and the water I use to shower. To attempt to cut down on my water usage I took shorter showers and I brushed my teeth in the shower instead of in the sink. I also attempted to cut foods that took a lot of water to make such as pasta. This experiment was a fail for me. Because drinking enough water is a priority for me I used almost half of my water supply on that which left very little room to do anything else. Even though I failed, this experiment caused me to drastically change my water usage compared to part b. Water usage in relation to geography is very important. Areas with less water availability are forced to use less water in their daily lives or suffer the consequences and have no water to use similar to what was described in the tragedy of the commons.

Ethics Views

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

In my opinion, I believe it is more important to perform good acts than to be a good person. In order be considered a good person one must perform good acts to justify this. These acts provide some level of measurability to what is considered good,bad or just okay. It does not matter if you are a genuinely good person or a bad person. What matters is the impact you have made on society. For example, a celebrity decides to donate $1 billion dollars to the world hunger foundation solely for publicity purposes. Though the motive is selfish and narcissistic, the money donated will still be used to help thousands of people. In the end it does not matter that the celebrity is a bad person. That good act the celebrity performed is what is important and is what will be remembered. It is more important to focus on what a person should do as opposed to how a person should be.


.Do ecosystems matter for their own sake, or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans


Ecosystems matter mostly for the extent that they impact humans.I think this is unfair because humans are only able to thrive because of the ecosystem. However, this is true for most things.Our views are extremely anthropocentric . When considering just about anything, the focus is first on how on how humans will be affected then other things are considered. When we talk about environmental issues such as global warming we focus on how these issues affect humans. For example, global warming is decreasing the amount of cold water fish available. The climate change is completely changing the habitat which is killing a considerable amount of fish. Humans tend to focus on how this is affecting the restaurant industry and the availability of fish for their next meal. We have placed ourselves at the top of the ecosystem in regards to importance.

Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?

I think this question is difficult because the answer is circumstantial and varies by perspective. When first answering the question I felt that my life is worth the same as any other person’s life. I believe that all people should be treated  equally thus no life is more or less important than another. However, if I were asked this question in an extreme situation such as being held at gunpoint I would probably feel my life is worth more than others. In this situation,I would only be concerned with my own welfare.In a situation like this I think it is instinctive to be selfish.   I next thought of this question from the perspective of society as a whole. Society tends to favor wealthier people or people belonging to certain ethnicities. I think in some situations the life of a doctor could be considered more valuable than the life of a cashier.

Biogas Diagram

The core idea behind my diagram is to show the improvements on health and wellness brought about by the money generated from biogas. My diagram emphasizes the importance of the financial stability created by the biogas.As the biogas continue to be produced they will help to provide a more stable source of income. The video talks about the hardships faced by the children and women of India because of the lack of health and education. Women who sell the compost produced from the process were able to double their income. Farmers who used to compost on their crops were able to produce higher yields which results in a larger profit. My graph focuses on the how the money generated from the use of biogas improves the lives of many people. Focusing on the money generated is what makes my graph different from the graph presented in diagram 1.5. My diagram is similar to the diagram shown in figure 1.5 in that they both show how children are influenced by the biogas. I think there are similarities and differences in the two diagrams because there are many different perspectives to be taken with the presented situation.Comparing the two graphs provides the opportunity to see the benefits of biogas from different perspectivesbiogas_ars5930.jpg

Getting to Know Aaliyah Snell

Hello all! I am originally from Pittsburgh,PA. Currently, I am a junior majoring in Supply Chain and Information Systems with a minor in the Legal Environment of Business.  I attend Penn State University Park. However, this semester I am in Philadelphia participating in a co-op. I am on the path to pursuing a career in supply chain or procurement. However, I have begun to really enjoy my minor and some of the elective courses I have taken so a career in law could be in my future. I am interested in this course because I have always loved social science and natural science courses. I think this course will provide a hybrid of the two subjects. As an added bonus to studying a subject that I enjoy, this course satisfies my International Cultures requirement.


An important issue that came to mind when reading the lesson were changes to the natural environment that can affect entire industries. The example referenced in the lesson talks about the drought in California that has caused agriculture, tourism, and recreational industries to suffer. This made me think about the lack of snow we have received this winter (or at least in the area where I live). On a personal scale, the lack of snow and cold weather has been great. I don’t have to dig my car out of the snow or worry about slipping on ice. However, after reading the lesson I now see that this weather change could have a huge negative impact on businesses that require snow,such as ski lodges. This is an important issue because it will affect many people who have jobs that rely on cold weather. This will also affect people who enjoy participating in cold weather activities.