Caitlyn Ramirez Module 8

My hometown of King of Prussia, PA has few natural hazards that it faces. It has increases in heavy rain and when hurricanes occur is it definitely noticeable. Hailstorms also occur from time to time. Fortunately, not many others occur around my area. I don’t think the Nathan map document is well suited for this activity because it does not clearly show cities within a state. Therefore, because of that you cannot really tell the specifics of the natural hazards within a certain city. You also cannot really zoom in enough to be able to tell the certain colors when they are all so close together.


The disaster I found was extreme weather (particular wind and heavy snow) in Massachusetts. My hometown can experience the same type of disaster, and has so before. The risk of disasters like this are falling trees and power lines, power outages, and fires from the fire lines. I would not necessarily say that my hometown is really vulnerable because I live in a place where not many disasters occur. The scale of the event is relative to the size of my hometown. I don’t think much damage would be done because it has occurred before. As for Massachusetts, I feel as if this happens a lot there because they are further north so I don’t think scale really matters. I don’t think this is severe for the human population where I live because there are so many resources that could be used if necessary. I think that is an important factor for any town. Without the right resources or plans, then having this type of disaster, or any type of disaster would cause the human population to suffer more.


In my own assessment of natural hazards that King of Prussia faces, I’m going to use my personal experience because I’ve lived there my whole life. We don’t really face any except severe rain and sometimes snow. There have been random tornados that have only occurred twice since I have lived there, but they are very rare otherwise. Hurricanes have been occurring more recently, however King of Prussia has become well suited for taking on that kind of natural disaster. It isn’t really a vulnerable town.

Caitlyn Ramirez Module 7

I am from King of Prussia (KOP), PA, which is right outside of Philadelphia. It is both a streetcar suburb and an automobile suburb. King of Prussia has a population of around 20,000 people. I have a strong connection to King of Prussia because I have lived there my entire life. It recently has started to add on to the mall and build a lot of new stores, which has been causing a lot more traffic and it just all seems very hectic. It definitely does not look the same as it did ten years ago. Although it is pretty cool to have one of the largest malls in the United States, it kind of annoys me that the town is growing so much because every time I go home I come home to something different. Sometimes it is just too much to handle and is becoming less sustainable in my opinion despite the fact that is developing quickly.

The first city I chose was Beacon Hill because of how different it is from King of Prussia. While Beacon Hill is a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood, KOP is not. KOP is very much so a streetcar and automobile suburb, like I mentioned above. Although there are many shops, stores, jobs, and other things in both places, it is not as desirable to go to these places in KOP because it does not nearly look as beautiful as Beacon Hill. There is so much traffic in KOP that it is impossible to get anywhere without hitting it. If KOP was more like Beacon Hill, there would be a lot less traffic and a lot less emission from cars. This would make the air quality so much better.

The next city I want to discuss is Detroit, Michigan. Although Detroit is a big city, urban agriculture has been becoming more popular to keep the city healthier, reduce poverty, and even improve climate change. King of Prussia, although useful when you’re on the run, has a lot of fast food places. I admit that yes, I go there. But it would also be nice to have a farmer’s or local market where there is a healthier option that is affordable for everyone. There is in fact a small farmer’s market, but it is only once a week for a couple of hours. It would be nice if there was one that was open every day or even just a couple of days a week. It would not only improve the health of the people in King of Prussia, but also the environment.

Caitlyn Ramirez Module 6

In my personal life, I am very about cooking home cooked meals. I live in an apartment and constantly use my kitchen. I do admit that sometimes I eat unhealthy, or order food, however I would rather buy groceries than order food. I come from a Hispanic family so I cook a lot of what I grew up eating. I make a lot of chicken, rice, and pasta. One of my roommates has a big influence on what I eat because she is older than me and tries to keep me aware of what is good and bad for my body. I also have a poor heart and have had to start eating better and taking care of myself; so I have a lot of influence on what I eat and that has become my social norm. I think my food choice is also very selfish because I’ve started caring about my body so much recently and I find it very important to take care of myself.

Social issues that relate to my food choice deal a lot with the ideas of maintaining good health and also supporting local farmers. With having a heart issue, the food I put into my body has a very large effect on how my heart functions. Maintaining good health should not only be something I do, but something everyone does. It is very important to take care of your body for the sake of your health and to avoid future health issues. Secondly, supporting local farmers is something that my roommate that I talked about in the previous paragraph is very passionate about. She comes from a very small town where all her food was grown. That kind of food is so healthy and farmers work so hard and use a lot of money, but yet don’t make enough. This is why it is so important to support local farmers instead of bigger businesses.


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Caitlyn Ramirez Module 5

First case study:

Costa Rica has one of the highest deforestation rates in the Americas due to loss of cultural diversity, biodiversity, and carbon storage capacity. 89% of the country is not a National Park, so it is unprotected. Therefore, it was said that by 2010, all of the rainforests or at least 89% of them would be gone. Wood is definitely of high value and is used in so many different ways, so this natural resource would not be good and would cause so many other problems for the environment. It causes issues with animals and their habitats, the landscape, and the air quality. The quality of life basically goes down because of deforestation and it just happens to be happening quicker in Costa Rica.

Second case study:

Nangarhar, a province in Afghanistan, has lost 90% of its forests since 1989. Because of this deforestation, the ecosystem has been severely damaged because of it. In 2006, the president banned tree-felling, but yet, deforestation still occurs, illegally. Also due to deforestation, it has created landslides, flash floods, and even droughts. Afghanistan is one of the least developed countries in the world, and does not have the sufficient resources or institutional means to ensure that deforestation won’t occur or that forests will be better managed. This relates to the module, as well as the previous paragraph because it is an example of how development in different countries has negative impacts on the environment.

Where my hometown is, King of Prussia, there have been so many new stores built, and so many trees cut down. Through the development of all of these new stores, we have lost so much land. Just like in Costa Rica and Afghanistan, the chopping of trees happens for numerous reasons but effects the environment we live in. My hometown is super busy now, and there aren’t really a lot of parks, only Valley Forge National Park. That is protected unlike the ones that get cut down. It is so hard, especially in this time period where everyone wants new things and to be more advanced, but then it negatively effects the environment. Unfortunately, no one can really control it because there are no laws that state that people can’t cut down trees.

Water Usage Module 4: Caitlyn Ramirez


My hometown is Bridgeport, PA. It is right outside of Philadelphia and in Montgomery County. There isn’t one specific water system that all of Bridgeport uses. My family specifically uses the Norristown System, which is a part of Pennsylvania American Water. It obtains its water from the Schuylkill River and serves multiple boroughs and townships, which include Norristown, Bridgeport, and Upper Merion. Despite most of the water coming from the river, .03 percent is purchased from a different water system, Aqua-Pennsylvania, and about .50 is purchased from North Wales Water Authority. The average amount of water supplied to customers on a daily basis is about 11 million gallons of water. It travels from the river to the treatment plant, then to the pipes to our home. After water usage, the water heads down the drain in the house and makes its way directly into waterways that are a source for public water systems, such as the Norristown System.



Water Usage Type Number of Times Daily Gallons of Water Used
Teeth Brushing 2 4
Hand/Face Washing 2 2
Face/Leg Shaving 2 1
Showers (10 min) 1 50
Toilet Flushes 5 15
Water you Drank 2 16 oz.
Dishwasher Loads 1 16
Dishwashing by Hand 4 20


Total Number of Gallons Used:  108 gallons and 16 oz.



Two gallons of water for one day seems pretty difficult since I use a little over 100 gallons in one day. I’m sure though if people in other parts of the world can do it, then so can I.  I’m sure if I only take a shower once a day that uses an energy saving shower head, it won’t use as much water and I can probably do the face washing and brushing teeth while I am showering. As for dishwashing loads and dishwashing by hand, I could just buy paper plates and utensils to save water. I don’t drink much water normally, which isn’t exactly healthy, but since I only drink about 16 oz. a day, then it shouldn’t be a problem to use that much water. My priorities are definitely drinking water and maintaining my hygiene, but there are days when I could go without washing my hair and use something such as dry shampoo or baby powder, and just wash my body. I think this experiment would be very difficult and I’m sure I would fail on my first try, but if I continued to try it out, I’m sure I could get the hang of it and figure out better ways to conserve water by trial and error. As discussed in Module 4, the social norms around me are basically using water as we want because we have it. However, social norms in other places, such as Haiti or Mozambique, aren’t the same as they are here. Geography is a big influence on how much water people use, especially if there are no water systems around. Places without water systems are usually places in which people are poorer and use water straight from rivers or lakes. That water could be contaminated, but that is all they have. It definitely puts things in perspective and makes you realize how lucky we are and how we can make a difference and conserve water.

Ethics Views: Caitlyn Ramirez Module 3

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

I believe these answers are intertwined. There is no way that you could be a good person without performing good acts, because that is how you would want to be able to show people you are a good person. You also cannot perform good acts without having any kind of virtue. I think they are equally as important because you cannot seem to do one without the other. It also goes the other way around. You cannot be a good person if you don’t perform good acts because no one would actually know if you were a good person or not. Also you cannot do good acts, unless you are a good person unless you are just doing it for the heck of it. Then that would be a whole different discussion.

4.Do ecosystems matter for their own sake, or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans (ecocentric ethics vs. anthropocentric ethics)?

I think ecosystems should matter for both sakes. However, I don’t agree with humans cutting down trees just to build things that they could build with other materials. However, trees provide oxygen for humans, and in that case we should maintain the ecosystem so we still have enough forests. By maintaining those ecosystems that will benefit humans with oxygen, we are also benefitting the ecosystem itself and for all those who inhabit it. Humans are quite wasteful with natural resources so limiting them to only a little would work better. This would make it beneficial for both humans and the ecosystem.

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

I think my life is worth the same as others. I personally, am a very altruistic person. I enjoy putting people’s needs before my own, because that is what makes me happy. But I also feel that it is quite alright for me to take a step back and take some time for myself and realize that my life is worth something too. That is why I think we are all the same. My life is worth just as much as any other person like myself. There are so many people in this world who put others before themselves, and they need to know that is also understandable to be a little selfish sometimes. There are obviously those people who others despise or don’t feel as if they deserve as much as they do, so I think that additionally to this, it also depends on the type of person you are. If you are a horrible person and everyone knows it, then there would be a difference in worth.

Module 2: Biogas in India


Biogas in India is just a small step that was taken to help out the ecosystem. The social system and the ecosystem influence each other and as I read in the reading, the equation: I = P x A x T (ecosystem = population x affluence x technology). It relates to the system diagram we read and then created because it shows that everything impacts the ecosystem. From the population growth, so many things can happen throughout the environment (using firewood to cook) that cause a negative reaction, but can change to positive by changing what is happening in the environment, which then causes change in the social system.

Comparing my diagram to Gerry Marten’s 1.5 Diagram in “What is Human Ecology”, I notice a lot of similarities. We have the same ideas, however his seems to be more specific. Also, my diagram seems like more of a cause and effect mostly, but in his diagram, it seems that everything ties in with each other. I think what I’ve learned from these comparisons is that everyone has their own perception of how everything is connected and how the social system and ecosystem effect each other. I also think that everyone has an understanding that it is a cause and effect situation because something that happens in the social system will cause something to happen in the ecosystem and vice versa.

Module 1- Getting to know Caitlyn Ramirez

Hi everyone! My name is Caitlyn Ramirez and I’m a sophomore here at Penn State UP. I currently live off campus in State College, but am originally from King of Prussia, PA. I am studying education and plan to teach elementary school. My interest in this course comes from talks that I’ve had with my roommates about how our world is changing so fast. I think it will be very interesting to find out about the world and why those things happen. Something I usually tell people about myself is that I don’t like pizza, which I guess is abnormal. I also currently work at a daycare a couple of blocks away from my apartment and it is by far the best job I have ever had!

The issue that I am most excited to learn about and that I also have a big interest in is human-environment interaction. It is really important for people to understand that they have a very large impact on the environment. Our world is becoming very overpopulated and that causes the environment to change quickly. Ethics has a great deal to do with what is happening also, because people do not prioritize the environment over their own needs, which kills the environment.