Module 10

In 125-175 words, describe threats to biodiversity in your own area and actions you can take to reduce this.

My city, South Bend, Indiana, is located on Lake Michigan. For years, we have had an issue with Asian carp in the Great lakes that is affecting the biodiversity within the lakes. The Asian carp are filter feedings and can consume 20% of their bodyweight per day in plankton and also grow to 100 pounds. This creates a competition with the other water life in Lake Michigan for food and creates threat to its competitors since it has no natural predators within North America. To combat this will take a lot of collective action. To reduce this, I can encourage my city to contact our officials to implement electric fences to keep out the Asian carp from entering into the Great Lakes. As for individual action, when fishing, it is important to be able to recognize Asian carp, and since it is legal, be able to trap them, shoot them, and even poison them.

In 125-175, pick a protected area and do research on how this protected area is working towards conserving biodiversity.

The protected area I am choosing is a national park, specifically Yellowstone National Park. As stated in the module, national parks serve to balance ecosystem protection via human recreation. Yellowstone works to conserve biodiversity by reintroducing wolves into their environment, which increases biological diversity at the park, specifically, the forests, since wolves are predators to elks who have been depleting the supply of trees within the park. After reintroducing wolves, elks were no longer heavily eating aspen trees, and their sprouts have had a greater survival rate. Along with this, cottonwood and willow populations have also recovered. Yellowstone is known for having many types of ecosystems, ranging from alpine tundra, mountain meadows, and grasslands. The regulations that Yellowstone have works to protect the flora and fauna there and preserve the biodiversity present.

Climate Change Module

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In my systems diagram, I focused on the core cause of climate change and examined part of the environmental and political effects of it. Primarily, I focused on the Copenhagen Accord, which works to have countries pledge to undertake specific actions that will help mitigate the core cause of climate change – emission of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2. As a primary polluter, the United States sought out support for the Copenhagen Accord since their pledge was the lowest by any other leading nation. This would benefit the United States due to being a collective action effort to reduce emissions causing climate change. To gain support, the United States used techniques, including secret cables, use of CIA to discover secret information from other countries, and manipulation. Through this, they were able to gain support of 140 countries for the Copenhagen Accord. The poorer countries did not support the Accord due to being a small contribution in climate change. Pollution is a big factor that comes from emission of greenhouse gases, and as recalled in the IPAT equation, poorer countries cannot contribute as strongly to pollution due to not having enough funds for technology and having low affluence, thus having no need for the Copenhagen Accord since countries who barely contribute to global warming do not have the funds for programs that mitigate pollution. The small focus on climate change shows how a rise in temperature can cause an unsustainable environment. Climate change affects the earth due to temperature shifts, water level shifts, and cause extreme weather events, all that require adaptation for humans and the environment to adjust to, thus causing harm in the end to both parties.

The State Department cables should not have been made public because it showed the United States in a negative light. I believe that there are some policies that can be implemented without response from the media and by publicizing the cables, the United States is seen to other parties as untrustworthy and could affect the way people support future policies that the United States tries to implement. With that being said, the United States should have conducted climate change diplomacy in a different manner that had been done. Obviously, nothing can be reversed and the United States cannot change the way they gained support for the Copenhagen Accord, but in future times, the United States should negotiate in a way that is fair to all participating countries. The use of spying and manipulation makes the United States more of an enemy than an ally to many countries, and I think the United States should establish credibility and respect through showing other countries what can be offered through actions. This is an issue of ethics, especially distributive justice, where the United States should take responsibility for what the United States has done in regards to climate change and act in a way that aids poorer countries, rather than forcing them into something. Because the United States is such a great participant in the burning of fossil fuels, it should be their responsibility to reduce their fair share of what they are producing. The burning of fossil fuels is very important to our industry and lives, but the United States can take action to reduce their own emissions through implementing a carbon offset policy for huge factories.

Module 8

  • Being from South Bend, I have only experienced thunderstorms and winter storms. I have never experienced an earthquake but according to the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards my city (South Bend, IN) has an earthquake zone of 0. It has a hailstorm intensity at zone 4, winter storms at zone 1, and a tornado frequency at zone 2, and a hazard of wildfires of zone 1. Thankfully, my city is not affected by El Nino or La Nina. I think that the Nathan World Map is fairly effective for the task of looking at hazards my city faces, except it was difficult to pinpoint exactly where my city was using the map. I think this map accurately shows the types of weather experienced in my area, especially when it comes to hailstorms and winter storms because my city is located on Lake Michigan, thus giving us lake effect snow/weather.
  • Currently, April 1st, in Jurm, Afghanistan there is an earthquake of 4.3 magnitude on the Richter scale and a 3 in the Mercalli scale. My hometown is not located on a fault line and has an earthquake zone of 0 so we do not experience earthquakes at all. A magnitude of 4.3 earthquakes are not very severe. It is felt but causes minor damage. However, if something like this happened in my area, I’m sure it would be very unexpected and cause a lot of talk. However, an earthquake of this magnitude is not very dangerous and would not affect people in my area since it would only slightly shake the ground. My town would be prepared for an earthquake of this size because it does not cause any terrible impact. If it were an earthquake of any other higher magnitude, my city’s structure would not be able to withstand the effects because we do not steel reinforce our buildings.
  • Living in South Bend my entire life, the biggest threat of natural disasters faced are blizzards. Due to the lake effect weather we receive, blizzards are often brutal in my area where we have to close off streets and close businesses early in order to prevent people from driving outside. These blizzards can be considered very harmful due to the risks it causes while driving. There have been instances of injury from car accidents and even death due to poor weather. This has affected many people in the area since it causes businesses to profit less and people to miss work due to the inability to get there.
  • To reduce natural hazards in my city, especially when it comes to winter storms causing blizzards, I believe that we could look forward to newer technology. Recently, I have learned about solar roadways, which melt snow as it falls, decreasing the need for plowing and road salt. The best people to create this would be engineers who could work on this technology so it could be implemented sooner. Though this is in the future, what I can do is spread awareness and have people support this technology, which in the long run saves costs and prevents disaster. Realistically, I could be a more careful driver during dangerous situations to prevent hurting others.

Dorish Nguyen – Urban Planning

  1. My hometown is South Bend, Indiana. It is located in Saint Joseph County on the Saint Joseph River nearest the southernmost bend (hence where the name South Bend is derived from.) South Bend has a total of about 100,000 residents and has a neighborhood I would consider as an automobile suburb. Though not a huge city, South Bend requires for a car to be able to go from place to place. My neighborhood itself does not have sidewalks and everybody has cars in order to get to work, school, or around the city. Though South Bend is most known for being home to the University of Notre Dame, I love this city for so much more. Our current mayor, Pete Buttigieg, has made so many economic development projects within the city that work towards rebuilding the community. South Bend also recently saved $100 million by tracking its sewers and installing a new water system. I grew up in South Bend my entire life and cannot imagine anywhere else I could call home.
  2. The first city from the module I am discussing is Chicago, Illinois. My hometown is just an hour and a half drive to Chicago, but they are two very different areas. The largest difference is that Chicago is pedestrian based whereas you need a car in South Bend to get around. Many places in Chicago are just within walking distance of each other and many people live within the city whereas many people in South Bend live in neighborhoods. However, South Bend and Chicago both share the same transportation system for trains. The South Shore is the interurban line between South Bend, Indiana, and Chicago. Trains are a much more effective and sustainable transportation system when there are more people to go from South Bend to Chicago. However, Chicago’s cities provide better urban agriculture that South Bend could take after. In South Bend, there are not community gardens present, however, in Chicago, they have turned community gardens into artwork and created parks to increase plant coverage and improve the air quality there.
  3. The second city I am discussing is Curitiba, Brazil. It is not even remotely close to where I live. Curitiba has the best bus system in the world. Their bus system is efficient and very easy for people to get around quickly without having to wait a long time for a bus since the uses run a minute apart during peak hours. South Bend, on the other hand, has a terrible bus system. I could not even tell you how to use the bus system or where to find a bus stop. South Bend has become so dependent on cars to get around that the city neglects those who do not own a car or are able to drive to help get around. During peak hours, South Bend streets also get very crowded. South Bend could take from Curitiba’s bus system by implementing a better bus system than the one currently. This way, pollution would be reduced since fewer cars results in less carbon emissions.

Factory Farming

Chipotle serves, “food with integrity.” This means that Chipotle uses only meat where the animals were raised humanely without any antibiotics or added hormones, serves non GMO organisms (flora and fauna), and without artificial preservatives. When Chipotle became popular in my hometown (they built one right near my high school), it became the place where everybody would go together after high school, on dates, or for a casual weekend meal. People began to consume food choices that were healthier and organic rather than inhumanely raised or GMO. Eating from places like Chipotle where meat was humanely raised became a social norm. Chipotle’s advertisement of healthier meat changed how people from my high school began to view food and the choices they made in eating their food, especially when it came to foods coming from factory farms. The awareness that Chipotle spread about livestock influenced the way people at my school ate, and Chipotle became a place where people could trust their food and know exactly what they were putting into their bodies.

A societal issue that connects to this social norm is how livestock is raised. There is a documentary I have watched called Food Inc. that exposes how animals are raised in factory farms. This is why I think it is so important to eat at restaurants such as Chipotle where the animals are not abused and inhumanely slaughtered. The animals are often raised in tightly crowded cages, given feed that makes them sick, and given antibiotics and without enrichments. The meat that comes from factory farms are often contaminated due to mass and careless production, thus affecting our health when we consume these meat. Therefore, the social norm should be to purchase and consume only organic and humanely raised meat. If people were to make themselves aware of which companies use factory farms, such as Tyson, or become aware of how a company raises food before financially supporting them by purchasing from that company, factory farms might cease to exist. This social norm would create a positive health movement and promote environmental friendly farms.

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Module 5 Case Studies

  1. Extreme Hunger in South Sudan

This case study is on the famine situation in South Sudan. This article states that, “South Sudan is in total free-fall and the world doesn’t care because South Sudanese refugees are not washing up on the shores of Europe.” According to the map of countries color-coded there is data for GDP and life expectancy but none for whether South Sudan is under-nourished or not. This is what the article is talking about – no one knows there is extreme hunger in South Sudan because it does not affect them. The goals of the development is to spread awareness of this hunger so there can be something done about it. There are studies showing the 40,000 people in a catastrophic state as well as an additional 2.79 million people in a crisis or emergency state. Through my learning during this module, I suggest this may be because South Sudan is currently in civil war, causing negative health effects to its people since they are living in a state where their natural resources are being depleted for the war rather than used resourcefully for living.

  1. Reducing Child Mortality Through Vitamin A in Nepal

This case study looks at the child mortality rate in Nepal. Vitamin A deficiency affects 21% of developing world’s preschool-aged children and also leads to the death of over 800,000 women and children every year. It is responsible for measles, diarrhea, and malaria for ¼ of child mortality. In order to combat this, Nepal initiated the National Vitamin A Program, which allowed for children to receive yearly supplements of vitamin A capsules. The goal was to combat child mortality caused by vitamin A deficiency. This relates to the development area of life expectancy. Other developing countries can take into account the actions of Nepal and look towards raising their life expectancy by providing vitamin A capsules. Rosling shows that countries like Turkey, Poland, Russia, and Pakistan have higher child mortality rates than countries expected to have a high mortality rate. Perhaps these countries could take example of Nepal in order to combat part of their child mortality rate, which is likely to be caused by Vitamin A deficiency.

  1. Vietnam vs Case Studies

When looking at both studies, relationships that can be made to a place I used to temporarily live in the summer, Vietnam. Like Nepal, Vietnam is also located in Asia and can have a climate relatable to South Sudan. In Vietnam, vitamin deficiencies are high and are the reasons 1/3 of young children are stunted. Vietnam has a food safety crisis, but would not be considered a hungry country like Sudan. However, during my time in Vietnam, it was very different from America because in the capital, there were literally homeless people grabbing at your legs begging for food or money. They were starved to the bone and visibly malnourished. From the case studies, Vietnam could also implement a program to provide vitamins to their children so there is a healthier lifestyle and growth for them. Though Vietnam has had great economic development recently, many do not consider it a developing country due to this, but from my own experience, there is a lot can be done to fix the homeless and hungry situation there, such as spreading awareness that this is something happening nearly everywhere in Vietnam.

Water Trackage and Usage

1a.) South Bend, Indiana Water Supply

My hometown is South Bend, Indiana, which ironically, is in Northern Indiana, about an hour and a half east of Chicago and home of the University of Notre Dame. South Bend gets its water from the South Bend Water Works, which maintains 32 deep wells and uses over 545 miles of water main (water pipe lines) in order to deliver water to businesses and households. These wells are the source of water and is the network of water main used to distribute water in a distribution system. Every street has a water main in the street that serves water through all the neighborhoods, and each building has smaller pipes connected to the water main, called a service line, that supplies water to individual households/companies. In 2008, South Bend installed an array of intelligent sensors in an effort to increase efficiency of the sewer system. This allows for South Bend to migrate its sewer system to the cloud, thus preventing polluted water from going into the river and thus saving hundreds of millions in new pipes. Fun fact is that South Bend was the first city in the world to do this. After water is used within a household, South Bend has a combined sewer overflow (CSO) system which captures waste from homes, businesses, and storm water thats streamed from street sewers, including gutter downspouts. Then, once theres a large amount of rainfall, the CSO system becomes overwhelmed and overflows and sends raw sewage into the St. Joseph River.


1b.) Monday!

Flushing the toilet                             3 gallons

Washing my hands                           1 gallon

Brushing my teeth                            2 gallons

Taking a shower (20 mins)             100 gallons

Shaving my legs                                1 gallon

Filling up my water bottle                24 oz = 0.1875 gallons

Flushing the toilet 2                          3 gallons

Washing my hands 2                                    1 gallon

Filling up my water bottle 2                        0.1875 gallons

Flushing the toilet 3                          3 gallons

Washing my hands 3                                    1 gallon

Brushing my teeth                            2 gallons

Washing my face                               1 gallon

Total water used –                             118.375 gallons


1c.) Tuesday!

Today, I tried to live on only two gallons of water for the day. Seeing that a huge majority of my water usage went to showering, I did not take a shower today. This cut me down to only 18.375 gallons to cut down. I also did not shave my legs again, so that cut me down to 17.375. I realized I could reduce my water use if I mainly, did not flush the toilet, and basically just watched my water usage while doing daily hygienic tasks, such as washing my hands, brushing my teeth, and washing my face. To cut down on flushing, I actually did not flush for the day (so sorry to the girls I share the communal bathroom with in my dorm). This reduced my usage to 8.375. To was able to cut 3 gallons from this by not washing my hands after bathroom usage but instead using hand sanitizer and then another gallon by not washing my face at the end of the night by using a wipe. At this point, I was at 4.375 for my usage. I only filled up water once that day and then just brushed my teeth in the morning and did not at night before going to bed. My total use was 2.1875 gallons of water a day. I consider this success, however, realize is very unhygienic and now understand how difficult it truly is to live off so little when the day before I had used so much. Geography matters in water usage because of the tragedy of the commons. Water usage is the same concept where individuals, especially the United States, seen within the water usage chart, acts selfishly in order to maximize our own personal gains – we overuse water while other countries are restricted on their use. Thus, we can undertake individual action in order to decrease our water usage. Like my hometown, we can also take collective action to install sensors that reduce pollution, which helps the environment and allows for government tax money to be saved by the millions in order to work on other important initiatives.



Ethic Views

  1. Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?
  • I think it is more important to be a good person than to perform good acts. I think if somebody is truly a good person, their natural intuition would be to do good acts. Somebody who does good acts might not have the right intentions behind that act. They might only be doing it for attention, or for some anthropocentric reason. Virtue is greater than action because virtue ethics determine what we should be and it is better if a person is doing an action genuinely because they are a good person, not just because they feel like they should or have to – it is more important to be a good person than to simply do good things. To be a good person means that someone is performing things due to his or her moral values. Like the module states however, actions and virtues can go hand in hand, and in order to be a good person, you have to perform good actions and vice versa. Like Aristotle once said, the origin of action is choice and that of choice is desire. Good actions begin with who we are, which is why I feel it is more important to be a good person.
  1. Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?
  • I do not believe that the ends justify the means, because no matter how good of an intention a person has, this intention cannot justify actions that are immoral and unethical. Though there can be a right way of doing things that has a positive payoff in the end without committing evil acts, this is only one instance of when the ends could possibly justify the means, but there are too many evil actions that could be taken with good intentions that hinders this claim. The more important thing is the action itself, not the consequences, because even if the consequences yield something good, if the actions were bad, the entirety of the situation is a bad situation. This reminds me of something Hitler would have said to justify his actions – murdering millions of Jewish people to achieve the end goal of “unifying” Germany. These morally wrong actions were not necessary in order to achieve what Hitler believed to be a morally right outcome. By saying that the ends justify the mean, Hitler could say his actions were morally right because of the virtue of the morality of his outcome – which was a unified Germany. This is why I do not believe that the ends justify the means.
  1. Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?
  • I believe that my own life is worth the same as others. This belief stems from attendance at a Catholic school for my entire life outside of college. Here, I was taught to believe that everybody is made is the same image and likeness. Though this is not the common belief of everybody, I see that we are all made of the same DNA and there is nothing that sets anybody apart than physical appearance, because inside we are all the same, which is why all lives matters. However, if it came down to it, I would sacrifice my lives for somebody else because I believe in altruism and putting others before yourself. However, the life I would have sacrificed would have had the same value and worth as the one I saved. I also believe it is responsible to take care of my own life, but also to take care of others in the same way – following the belief to treat others as the way I would like to be treated. When looking at equality, I find it important for everybody to see that they are important individuals with the same dignity and right as others.

Dorish Nguyen Systems Diagram

Save Bengaluru

My dad used to be a landscaper. He was paid to plant, lay stone, and add fountains wherever his customer wanted in order to make his or her yard pretty. But that isn’t all that landscaping encompassed, landscaping is the coexistence of the environment and humans. As a landscaper, my dad knew what kind of plants went with what kind of soil or was fit to certain seasons and temperatures. Though this is only one example of a landscape, it is an example of how landscape’s can be understood based on systems within them. A system diagram allows for the coexistence of the environment and humans and their impact and relationship to be visually seen. My systems diagram shows the negative effect of the use of firewood for cooking and how it called for a biogas generator, which impacts the ecosystem and social system positively. The biogas generator eliminates the negative effects of firewood, and turns them into a better ecosystem and social system, which both also impact each other. When the ecosystem is improved, so is society, seen through how each positive aspect of the ecosystem corresponding to a positive aspect in society. The core idea of my system diagram is to show the system within Bengaluru, India and the landscape of how humans and the environment can coexist, such as cow manure, a natural process, being recycled into compost, which aids humans and the environment through yielding produce and creating jobs. Since biogas generators created methane to be used as fuel, there is no need for firewood, which is shown to cause negative effects to the people of Bengaluru. Therefore, by using biogas instead of firewood, children no longer need to search for wood instead of attending school, there is less deforestation due to the decreased demand for wood, and the compost made from cow dung increases produce yield and thus improves the economy of Bengaluru. My diagram relates to the “What is Human Ecology?” because it also connects the social system and the ecosystem and talks about how human activities can influence both the ecosystem and social system. In the same way human activities influence, my diagram shows how use of firewood by humans has influenced the use of biogas, which impacts the ecosystem and social system. However, in Marten’s diagram, there is a clear cycle occurring, which nearly everything connects to everything, whereas my diagram shows a connection between aspects rather than a full reoccurring cycle. Marten’s diagram connects each subcategory within the ecosystem or social system to all other subcategories while mine only connects a subcategory of the ecosystem with another from the social system. This cycle versus direct connection causes these differences, but the importance of how the ecosystem and social system create similarities within our diagrams due to their relationship within every human action. If this similarity within the two diagrams were not present, it might not be prominent that the correlation between the ecosystem and society is crucial within systems.

Getting to Know Dorish Nguyen

Hello! My name is Dorish and I am currently a freshman at Penn State University Park with an intended major of aerospace engineering. I was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, where the University of Notre Dame is located. I have lived here my entire life until recently when I decided to make the trek to State College, Pennsylvania in order to be here at Penn State. Currently, I am a part of Phi Sigma Rho sorority and currently serve as fundraising chair. I chose to study aerospace engineering because I truly feel like I can make a difference in the world. I joined this course due to its description for being a “geographic perspective on sustainability and human environment systems,” which I believe fits the interest of what I want to do in aerospace engineering. I am very interested in air and space craft and believe that as an engineer, I can hopefully eventually work for Boeing and develop better aircrafts and combat climate change. Airplanes burn a lot of fossil fuels, thus releasing a lot pollutants into the atmosphere. Therefore, by taking this course I hope to understand the earth better in order to create efficient and less wasteful airplanes one day.

Recently on the news, I have been seeing a lot of articles on Flint, Michigan’s tap water and how it has become toxic to the point of crisis. What happened was that there was a financial emergency in Flint, so the state decided to switch Flint’s water supply line from Lake Huron to the Flint River as a “cost-saving” measure, which turned out to be very corrosive. Geography fits this situation well, because geography does not just entail maps but as I learned, also includes human-environment interactions and politics. The Flint River would not have been so polluted had humans taken care of it, and the government should have implemented environmental policy in order to control the human impact on the Flint River. The topic of human environment interactions poses the question of “how does the natural environment shape, control, and constrain human systems?” The instance of the Flint water crisis sheds light on this question where the health of the Flint River has caused many citizens of Flint to suffer due to the inaccessibility to clean tap water. This situation is an eye-opener to how humans need to become more sustainable in order to have clean water systems so when times come when they need to access a certain water source, that water source is not deemed toxic like in the case of Flint, Michigan.