Module 10: Dylan Hellings

  1. Using the information from Module 10, create a diagram that details human impact on biodiversity


2. In 100-150 words explain why biodiversity is important

The reason biodiversity is so important is that it encompasses everything around us. When one part of an ecosystem is changed it sets off a chain reaction and branches out to almost every other part link of the chain even slightly related. If there is an overpopulation of a certain carnivore it reduces the population of their prey. If their prey becomes underpopulated, there could be surplus of their food in the area. This is a small example of the many ways change in one place can affect change in many others. More influential species such as humans can massively affect biodiversity, as outlined in my diagram above.

3. In 100-150 words describe how climate change affects biodiversity
With rapid climate change there are several elements of ecosystems that are affected. A recurring trend in biodiversity is one element affecting the next and the next and the next. When temperatures rise it melts the polar ice caps which affects sea levels which affects land animals on coastal areas. Humans would be greatly affected by the rise in sea levels because many of the world’s largest cities are located on coasts and would be impacted very strongly. This would also result in migration to safer areas which would cause habitats to be unstable. Global warming increases ocean stratification and acidification which affects underwater life and coral reefs.


Module 9: Dylan Hellings

  1. Geog030Dylan
  2. I decided to make it clear in my diagram some of the major contributing factors to climate change. It is clear that climate change affects everyone on a global scale. This being said, it all starts from the three main points, fossil fuels, methane emissions, and vehicle emissions being some of the primary causes. From here the diagram continues to explain the more corrupt results more than just environmental damage. While trying to achieve a ‘good’ goal the US participates in shady practices such as spying, threats, and bribery. This information was then leaked to the public along with plenty of other ‘incriminating’ information via WikiLeaks. The Copenhagen Accord was doing a good thing to get countries together to fight back against climate change to reduce emissions and greenhouse gasses. The United States, while clearly being a world superpower, still needs other countries on board to make global policy decisions. They took to these shady actions in order to gather these 140 countries to make a positive effect on the Earth, and to try to fight back against this horrible damage being done which affects all 7 billion+ people on the Earth. It’s a fact that the 140 countries involved in the Copenhagen Accord are the cause of more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is difficult to make any decision when you have over 100 countries involved, all being impacted and affected by the causes and results in different ways. This is arguably the reason that the United States needed to almost ‘strong-arm’ people into making a decision.
  3. I think it’s interesting to look at this aspect of climate change. Regardless of the (pretty much one sided) debate, it is interesting to learn about the corruption and actions taken to make regulations. I think transparency is extremely important in any sort of system especially governments around the world. That being said, my opinion of what was done does not lean to either side as I am split. I believe it is a debate of whether or not the end justifies the means. The United States did shady things in order to get other countries on board for what they believed would be extremely beneficial. I believe that had the actions been taken more “in the light” than behind closed doors I would have been more ‘approving’, to so speak, of their actions. A lot of what goes into deciding an opinion of what is right or wrong in this case goes back to Module 3: Ethics. To reference a quote from Module 3, “Sustainable utilization is a simple idea: we should utilize species and ecosystems at levels and in ways that allow them to go on renewing themselves for all practical purposes indefinitely.” I believe that in this case the end does justify the means because of the importance of sustainability. Climate change is a major problem we face not only as a nation but as a collective world, and as a country that is a major contributor to damaging the ozone layer it can be explained that we need to do whatever we can to lessen the impact we make.

Dylan Hellings – Module 8

  1. My hometown is Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania located on the east coast of the United States about 30 minutes from Philadelphia and 20 minutes from King of Prussia. I am in zone 0 for earthquakes, no threat of volcanoes, zone 1 or 2 for hailstorms, zone 1 for wildfires, and zone 1 for winter storms. The only significant threat that Plymouth Meeting faces would be close to the coast which is zone 4 tropical cyclones. It is hard to tell on the map to pinpoint my exact location, but it seems I could be in zone 2 for tornadoes. This being said, I have never heard of that necessarily being an issue in my area.
  2. After just watching a video earlier today of a massive volcano eruption I was interested in finding a volcano on the RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service. Earth this morning, March 31st 2016 at 6:37am Popocatépetl Volcano erupted in Puebla, Mexico. After doing a little bit of research I learned that Popocatépetl is 43 miiles southest of Mexico City and had two volcanic tectonic activity events on Wednesday, along with four low-intensity eruptions, 30 minutes of tremors, and 179 volcanic plumes. The tallest plume was incredibly two miles high (Some information can be found here). My hometown is not at risk of this disaster because the east coast is free of volcanoes. So far there has been no damage done in Puebla. I would assume they have taken precaution to keep people safe in the event of eruption. Ash tends to be the bigger issue than the actual magma in many situations. While this event would cause panic, it seems like it is not causing harm, I don’t believe my town would be affected differently.
  3. While not a traditional natural hazard, I would argue that potholes created by erosion from weather and wear and tear result in many dangerous situations resulting in damage to vehicles causing injuries and even death in some cases. Pennsylvania is very well known for having roads in horrible condition due to these potholes. In certain parts near my area there are roads that are practically not accessible because of the horrible condition of the roads. Flooding and heavy snow can often cause a lot of damage. Often the damages of heavy snow are more the effect is has on businesses. When towns experience excessive amounts of snow it slows everything down as most people can’t make it to work and have to stay in their homes for possibly multiple days.
  4. While there will always be natural disasters around the world, there are things that can be done to help protect against them. That being said, they will never be completely preventable. Often the salt on the roads to prevent snow buildup is what causes the pothole issue so fixing one issue may often cause another so that’s when you need to decide as a community which is the more important issue. I think State or Local government action is the only way to prevent these issues as a privatized prevention agency would likely not gain the funding needed. Other than these steps, the best thing you can do is to be aware of any upcoming events and be prepared for anything. I myself can inform friends, family, and others in my community when there is a reason to be concerned and take action.

Dylan Hellings – Module 7

  1. My hometown is Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Plymouth Meeting is an automobile suburb in Montgomery County, about 25 minutes from Center City Philadelphia. Plymouth Meeting has a population of 6,177 as of the 2010 census. Plymouth Meeting is a part of Plymouth and Whitemarsh Townships and closely borders Conshohocken, Blue Bell, and East Norriton. Plymouth Meeting is a middle to upper middle class area and has multiple parks in the area. I was born in Plymouth Meeting and at age 7 moved from one part of Plymouth Meeting to an area closer to the main line. Plymouth Meeting is a popular location because of it’s close proximity to the King of Prussia Mall and Philadelphia. My home is located 3 minutes away from the Plymouth Meeting Mall, a mall that seems to be getting less and less popular – possibly decreasing housing value.
  2. My first city is Boston, Massachusetts. My reason for picking this city is that one of my close friends lives there and I appreciated it’s pedestrian oriented style. Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts which is discussed in the article reminds me very much of some of the surrounding towns like Ambler, PA. I appreciate the pedestrian oriented towns, as I think it brings the community together more than other towns where everyone is in their own car separate from their neighbors and friends. This style of transportation affects more than just community, it is better for health in terms of exercise and car emissions which affect the environment. A closer knit community can also result in decrease in crime rate.
  3. The second city I want to take a look at is Detroit, Michigan. Detroit is VERY different from my home town of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Detroit median home sale price in 2015 was ~$40,000 per home compared to Plymouth Meeting’s $350,000 per home. The towns are very economically, culturally, and geographically different. One thing I found surprising was that Detroit actually has a large urban farming community. One would never assume there was any form of prospering crop or livestock production within a dilapidated urban city, but the urban farming has brought in life to the community with it’s urban agricultural growth. My town has areas that are more rural with farms that sustain our town and stimulate the economy.

Module 6: Food Choice & Social Norms – Dylan Hellings

A social norm that I have experienced regarding food – or in my case more specifically drink – is the typical beverages offered at kid’s parties. As a young child growing up I participated in a plethora of kids’ parties – from birthday parties to sports team celebrations – and one thing that I consistently had a problem with was beverage choices. Nobody ever had anything except Sprite and Coca-Cola, the issue being that I didn’t drink soda. Early on in my life it was connected to health reasons, as my parents of course wanted me to eat and drink healthy. Soda was something that was forbidden in my house until my sister and I had grown up a little bit and had more freedom to make our own choices about such a basic practice. After I had that decision I discovered that I never enjoyed the taste of soda and it was something I never drank. I began to bring my own Hawaiian Punch drink to kids parties so I would have something to drink and not be thought of as the weird kid that went against the social norm.

The societal issue this connects to is the relationship between food choice and nutrition. While I’m glad my parents helped keep me on the right track to stay healthy, it is clear that the social norm for children’s parties were pizza, soda, and cake. This social norm is detrimental to our youth and contributes to childhood obesity. I believe that this social norm has allowed the nations youth to believe that it is okay to indulge in unhealthy eating practices. It causes children to develop a positive association between having fun (at a party) and eating unhealthy foods. Taking a look at the healthy eating pyramid, you do not see Coca-Cola, pizza, cake, or any well known “party foods.” It is disturbing to not only have a large amount of obese children and adults, but the disproportionate amount of obese to famished – or borderline emaciated – people in the world.


Module 5: Case Studies – Development

My first case study was found on IRIN News – Environment and is linked here: The article is about Native Americans being exposed to low-level doses of radiation. The exposure is not limited to just one source; Uranium mining, milling, conversion, and enrichment are all frequented as the United States is rich with uranium deposits. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) was passed in 1978 which was intended to safely dispose of nuclear waste. One of the locations allotted was Yucca Mountain, where tribes are concerned of the health effects of the waste. The National Environmental Coalition of Native Americans, formed in 1993, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are two major actors at play. There is a lack of sustainable development when the health of the community is threatened.

My second case study is linked here: The topic is interesting to me as I have a friend that studies various environmental activities and is highly interested in this vanishing honey bee ‘phenomenon’ of sorts. The article highlights the massive hit the honey bee population has taken suddenly. Many colonies lost 30% and some lost as much as 80%, as extreme as these statistics sound, they are claimed to be underestimations of the current problem bee colonies are facing. This is an issue that is massively underreported and should be a concern to everyone on Earth. Bees are extremely useful in cultivating crops due to their pollination. The decrease in bees can effect crops which can effect humans due to our reliance on crops for food and production.

In my hometown of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania I may not be directly affected by the first case study, Native American radiation exposure in Yucca Mountain, but I am strongly affected by the results of the second case study, a huge drop off in honey bee population. This result affects the development where I live as the bee’s pollination affects crops and the crops affect food consumption and production. These all contribute themselves to life expectancy, nourishment, and production of materials. The threat to honey bees strongly affects agricultural development negatively.

Module 4 – Dylan Hellings

There are several different ways water can reach towns in different locations and there can be many challenges and reasons behind choosing a certain method in a town’s water supply chain. There are two water companies in my town – being Aqua PA and PA American Water. In my town, the initial source is the Susquehanna River. It is run through water treatment plants before reaching the tab. In the water treatment plant it goes through five treatment steps. These steps being coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection, and storage. Coagulation removes dirt particles from the water, sedimentation allows the dirt to settle to the bottom so the water becomes cleaner, filtration is where water passes through filters to purify it further, disinfection kills the germs. The water is then sent to reserve for storage. Pipes underground connect the reserve to homes around the town so water can be pumped to the taps. The waste is then expelled to the Joint Sewer Authority that branches between my town and the handful of towns surrounding me.

Shower – 30 minutes – 60 gallons
Brushing Teeth – 2 times – 1.5 gallons
Toilet – 3 times – 4.8 gallons
Washing Hands – 5 times – 4 gallons
Drinking – 10 glasses – 0.625 gallons
Total – 73.925 gallons of water

Using 2 gallons of water a day was not easy, I will admit that I did go slightly over 2 gallons (assuming my math at that point was still correct) at around 11pm when I got really thirsty and had to have some water. I was trying to think of another drink I could have that didn’t have water in it but practically every consumable liquid accessible to me had some amount of water in it – lemonade, iced tea, etc. As someone that takes long showers, approximately 30 minutes on average, my shower covered over 80% of my daily water use. That being said I did not do laundry or dishes the day of my initial “study”. In order to reduce this amount of water use greatly, I did not shower the day of my experiment. Gladly I was sick in bed that day and didn’t do anything but sleep, watch Netflix, and do homework, so I didn’t sweat or smell. The second highest use of water in my day is flushing the toilet. I wasn’t going to not go to the bathroom or make someone else flush for me so I assumed that if I was in Haiti I wouldn’t have a problem going in a hole in the ground without water… Next in order of water use, I washed my hands twice and very quickly not using very much water. As far as drinking water, I limited to only 2 glasses of water until the aforementioned 11pm ‘cheat.’  Lastly, while brushing my teeth I only used water to briefly wet the toothbrush then later wash out the sink. It was tough living on 2 gallons of water and that is with a few ‘cheats’ I’ve mentioned. I would be stretching the truth to say that it was a complete success but I would not consider it an utter failure. While geography has historically been hugely important for a civilization to thrive, modernization and globalization have allowed for infrastructure and technologies to more efficiently store and transfer water from place to place. It is much cheaper for a town laying next to a river to have access to water than a town in the mid-west without a body of water for miles and miles. This difficulty is exaggerated greatly in locations like Haiti that do not have the technology, infrastructure, and funds that we in the United States have access to.


Dylan Hellings – Module 3: Ethics

1. Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts

I stand split on this issue. I find it is more of a test of rhetoric and can be argued both ways. It depends on what you define a “good person” as. If the “good person” you are thinking of is only good based on their actions, then the more important focus would be to perform good acts. Doing something for the benefit of another shows empirical positivity, so scientifically speaking, I am a better person for doing good than “being good”. However, performing good acts doesn’t always make you a good person – in the example of wealthy people giving to charity for a tax break and to call themselves a philanthropist. Some people perform good deeds for their own benefit, and not for the selfless act they are considered to be. The most generous person in the world might be a criminal. What if a drug lord makes millions upon millions of dollars at the top of a cartel that murders, rapes, and tortures people – but he puts millions of dollars into charity and building the community? Some could argue that these good acts are cancelled out by the bad acts, forming a sort of equilibrium.

2. Does the process by which decisions are made matter more than the outcomes of these decisions

Most, if not all, of these questions heavily focus on context. While in a very serious situation where the question is a matter of morality, there could be a very different answer than something more simple and straight forward. If a decision is a bad one, the process by which is was made could help explain one’s intentions. If a decision is a good one, the process might matter, but those on the receiving end of the positive outcome rarely would care about the process, possibly a more “don’t ask don’t tell” style situation. At the same time, if your decision is developed from poor judgement then the outcome does matter, whether it be good or bad. A decision should always be based off of an analysis of the various parts of a situation, not a judgement. If you go about making a choice only looking at it at face value, and not analyzing the reality of it, then odds are it’s not a good choice.

3. Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less

Inherently, our own life always matters more except in situations with very close friends or family – the “would you take a bullet for them” scenario. This being said, my life is worth as much as any life, and that is because consciousness and existence is absolute. My experiences are no more or less important than the experiences of some rice farmer in Laos, we both breathe, think, and feel like any other human, and there is no way to quantify or value consciousness beyond that it is. Although, as a species, I think some of us are a little more important in move us forward than others. But in the grand scheme of things, who even knows how long humans will be around. We are all bound the eternal void, one way or another.


Module 2: Biogas Diagram – Dylan Hellings

The 5 minute video about biogas in India focused a lot on how their society has been negatively impacted before biogas. My diagram focuses primarily on how biogas has benefited their society and their surrounding environment, as they form a symbiotic relationship – one affecting the other. Before biogas, collecting wood can lead to deforestation in the ecosystem, this is a big disturbance of the system which affects the stability of both systems. All of the causes and effects act on each other, both from the different systems, ecosystem and social system, and within their systems themselves. The primary points being benefits to health, productivity, nature and social growth. With the development of biogas, the society is able to grow, with society growing they can treat the environment better which results in better health and resources for the society. It is very relevant that “A impacts B.”

Marten’s diagram similarly shows the benefits to the social system and ecosystem, although displayed in a different way. In my diagram I focused more on the specific outcomes of using biogas while Marten is taking a look at the bigger picture. My diagram implies a lot of what it is in Marten’s diagram. My diagram shows specifically how there is an interconnectedness between the social system and the ecosystem while Marten takes a more broad approach in saying “Ecosystem Services: Energy, Material, Information”. I don’t know if I would agree that either diagram teaches more, but that they take a different approach – a more specific sense versus a broad overlooking approach.


Getting To Know You – Dylan Hellings

Hi, my name is Dylan Hellings and I am a sophomore at University Park on track to graduate in Fall of 2017. I am majoring in Security & Risk Analysis (Information & Cyber Security Option) and minoring in Information Sciences & Technology and Political Government. While in State College I live in West Halls and while I am not at school I live in Plymouth Meeting, PA where I grew up. Like many people at State College, I live in a town that is “right outside of Philly.” I am pursuing a career as a Cyber Security Analyst or a Cyber Threat Analyst. In my free time I like to play video games, my favorites being Rocket League and World of Warcraft. GEOG 030 interests me because I believe it is an important subject that is often looked over as many people do not recognize how geography has historically influenced governments, globalization, and several other aspects of the world we know today.

There is much more to geography than your elementary school quiz where you had to memorize the location of all 50 states. Geography spans from several facets of our experiences and influences including cultural, political, economic, etc. Due to globalization and the swift growth of technology, elements of geography that may have limited or confined humans have been put aside. Although there may no longer be constraints on communication due to an ocean or a mountain blocking your path to reach another person, there are still several components of human-environment interactions that affect modern day people. There are ecosystems that exist that can be harnessed and appreciated in different ways. Humans and the environment co-evolve  and co-adapt together.