Vacation Biodiversity- Mod 10



1.Write 150-200 words. Pick your favorite vacation place or a place where you wish to go and tell me about the location and the environment. What do you do there? What is the type of landscape? What type of eco systems is in the area? What types of biodiversity are present and what are the effects that is has on the people of your area, as well as the animals of the area.


  1. Do the same as #1 but about your hometown.


  1. I chose Litchfield, South Carolina as my favorite vacation spot. This are is surrounded by water. There is a beach in front and brackish water behind. I am a big outdoorsman so I fish most of my time at Litchfield. We catch a variety of crabs including, blue crab, sand crabs, fiddler crabs, as well as a lot of fish. Some of these fish include, summer fluke, blue fish, Spanish mackerel, and redfish. I enjoy eating some of my catch, a small infraction on the ecosystem. Over fishing is a large problem in the area so I take precautions in order to be a part of the solution not the problem. After processing the catch I dispose of the remains into the water so that the effect is lessened. The ecosystem is essentially the predators of the sea eat smaller fish or organisms and so on and the bottom feeders including some fish and shellfish eat the leftovers or anything that falls to the bottom.


  1. My hometown of Vienna Virginia is very close to the Potomac River, that being said most of my childhood and when I go home revolves around the Potomac River.   The Potomac River is a hot spot for water sports including jet skiing and tubing. Fishing is also an attraction, with many companies running charter boats up and down the Potomac for large catfish. Cratfishing is not the fishing don on this stretch if river, Some very competitive bass fishing has gone on for years. The bass fish population has decreased due to the invasive Japanese snakehead fish; it has no natural predators and is eliminating the bass population. The Virginia department of Hunting and Fishing has outlawed the catch and release of these fish. They are by law now if caught are to be extinguished and a reward has been set for this.

Copenhagen Accord- Module 9

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My systems diagram explains the effect of the burning of fossil fuels and the response the world is taking due to the destruction of our earth. My diagram starts with the burning of fossil fuel these fossil fuels are burned when cars are used along with other modes of transportation. The burning causes emissions known as green house gasses. The greenhouse gas emissions cause the ozone layer of the atmosphere to deteriorate letting in more and more sunlight. This as a result increases the temperature of the earth, with this drastic increase in global climate, there has been a human response. The Copenhagen Accord is issued as an attempt to cut down on the catastrophic causes of the climate change. As most of the world would like to join in the efforts some did not comply. Due to the major investment and use of fossil fuels across the globe, it was only through manipulation and aid that the Copenhagen Accord could be established.


Personally I think that each country should have their own say in the environmental impact they have, this being to some extent. I obviously do not think it is ion anyway right for people to be able to harm the environment in any way, but some countries need to use fossil fuels to survive, I think we should take a more green approach by weaning these fossil fuel based economies into a less disparaging origin of capital. The green campaign is great for the development of a poorer and less technologically advanced. The use of solar panels and carbon offsets can slowly but surely regain the health of the earth if there is a full effort.

Natural Hazards Preparation and Information

According to the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards, My town of Vienna, Virginia, is prone to heavy rainfall, high wind speeds, mild hailstorms, and mild to moderately prone to tornadoes. The map also stated that the Cyclone El Nino and La Nina affected my hometown very differently from each other. El Nino causes fewer storms while La Nina caused more storms.   The Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards does an adequate job of showing the hazards of my area. The map seemed to be a little too general. This being said, I would recommend using another map or source for locating natural hazards in more confined areas such as towns or cities.


I chose to look into the Popocatepetl Volcano eruption that happened in Mexico. The eruption was harmless, the volcano spewed ashes and vapor into the air. My hometown would be very unlikely to experience a volcanic eruption because there are no volcanoes in my town. If the unlikely chance that it did happen in my hometown, I would think that the population of Vienna, Virginia would be very unprepared considering that we have never experienced a natural disaster like this. Most people would likely attempt to escape causing mass amounts of traffic. If the volcano were to be in D.C., which is close to my town, people of my town would remain fine because of the Potomac River. The river creates a barrier between Virginia and D.C., this would limit the spread of lava if it were to occur. The scale of the volcano wouldn’t really cause any harm to people of my town because it is not seeping lava.


Using other resources and my own knowledge of Vienna, I found that the vulnerability of flooding is very high according to, with a total of 742 floods form 1950-2010. My town is located near the Potomac River, this being said I have experienced the flooding of tributaries that run through my town. During a lot of storms, the storm drains will become clogged with debris. This causes flooding and as a result slowed traffic and roads to become closed. The creek behind my house has flooded enough to soak my back yard and cause water damage to the basement of my house. Also, according to, Vienna is prone to tornados, with an n index value greater than the whole state. Although none of the tornados are above a 3.5, there is still the potential risk of an intense tornado.


In order to reduce vulnerability to natural hazard prevalent in my area, some prior preparation and education can reduce the effects of a natural hazard. Some simple preparation for my area that can be done by anyone can include stocking up on canned food and water for emergency power outages. A good first aid kit is also a necessity; they can be bought or made. The kit should include some medical supplies as well as some versatile materials including rope and a flashlight with extra batteries. The last preparation I would assume to be beneficial to anyone facing a threat of a natural disaster would be to educate everyone on the safety and how to deal with situations that could potentially be life threatening. Teachers should teach this education to children. The lessons should also include an action by the children to report the learned material to their parents.





Module 7

  1. My hometown of Vienna, Virginia is just 15 minutes south of Washington D.C. For being this close to D.C., my town is very pedestrian-oriented and not overly crowded with a population of roughly 16,500 people. The neighborhoods are very family oriented with a mix of traditional colonial styled homes as well as new developments creating an environment for families young and old. Downtown Vienna provides multiple churches and strip malls. In my opinion it is a moderately sized town. It is more of a wealthier area, with the new arrival of a Metro train stop in the town that connects to D.C., and a developing mall brings more and more people every year. I have lived there since I was seven years old and grew up playing little league football. I made a lot of friends and had great childhood memories.


  1. In the reading, I came across Jamaica Plain located in in Boston, Massachusetts. This streetcar suburb’s transportation has always been a problem for gas cost efficiency. This is an area that uses a railcar system, similar to that of my town’s Metro train system. These train rail cars reduce the need for people to stand in traffic and waste fossil fuels, but are somewhat outdated and thus been replaced by new more gas efficient cars as well as public transit busses. Unlike the old rail car, the new Metro Train is a faster way to get from point A to Point B. The Metro in Vienna has increased the availability of people to travel to D.C. and areas around Washington for a lower price and with less stress. The more use of public transit, especially rail cars/ Metro trains will sustain the ozone layer from being breached due to green house gasses released form car emission.


  1. Another area, Beacon Hill located near downtown Boston, is alike my town of Vienna. Beacon Hill is a very a pedestrian-oriented making it easily accessible and of close convenience to shops and workplaces to that of the locals. Beacon Hill is a also alike Vienna in that it is a very wealthy neighborhood. These people live a lifestyle with the choice of transportation. The attractiveness of the neighborhood has people choose to walk rather than drive. Vienna could learn from Beacon Hill in regards to sustainability. Vienna has some sidewalks but people still are prone to driving more than walking, if the town were to add more sidewalks and or paths, the town might walk more and drive less. Driving less would help decrease the amount of green gasses produced.

Eat Local “Organic”

  1. Recently we have been seeing the social norm or movement to eat local “Organic” food. I am not an expert on what makes something technically organic, but considering that I am an avid Outdoorsman and locavore, my definition of organic is only food collected from the wild or locally grass fed. I ran into this social norm at the supermarket, where the price of a steak with a “Local Organic” sticker was more expensive than one down the isle labeled not organic. I ended up choosing the organic steak because the social norm suggested that it was the healthier option due to the lack of use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to feed the cattle resulting in a healthier animal and a healthier product. The animals were most likely free to roam grass fed animals. That treatment before slaughter is also more humane prior to processing.


2.My food choice of being a local organic consumer is not only for my health. The lack of buying locally organic food is beneficial to the reduction of two societal issues including water contamination as well as the increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The use of fertilizers in order to promote plant growth has caused the water to retain these chemicals and caused the levels of algae to skyrocket and the oxygen in the water to plummet to lifeless spots. The lack of oxygen has caused the life in these bodies of water to have detrimental effects on the living organisms living in such bodies of water. The use of gas and other natural resources used as resources in order to transport food results in the release of green house gasses from emissions of these ways of transportation. This is virtually eliminated when we consume local organic food.



Norway and The Chesapeake Bay

1.The first case study I picked was based out of Norway. This case comes from the Colby, College in 1996. The topic question of this case study is as follows, “How can a multispecies fishery begin to sustainably manage its fish populations?”   Norway is on of many countries where fisheries are a large part of the economy. Being that fish is a main source of income for the people of Norway, over fishing was in progress. The Country then developed an individual transferable quota system in order to have “fishers put their efforts toward the highest valued returns, thus creating efficiencies within the industry.” The higher valued fish would be caught rater than all fish worth any economic profit. The Sustainable development will let the fish begin to regain growth if the population of fish isn’t being as pressured.

2. The second case study I picked was based out of Maryland. This comes from the University of Maryland Center For Environmental Science in 2011. The topic of this case study is the population of oyster population is drastically declining. The Chesapeake Bay is home to many living organisms. Due to overfishing, disease, and habitat loss have affected the oyster population drastically to where it has declined to 25% since 1980. The state of Maryland has enacted areas that are off limits to fishing in order to regain aquaculture. “Additionally, the UMCES Oyster Culture Facility produces hundreds of millions of spat annually with the vast majority placed on sanctuary reefs that serve as nursery grounds for the entire population.” The sustainable development pursued by Maryland, the oyster population on the Maryland side of the Chesapeake Bay will help the withering population of the Chesapeake Bay oysters to regain health.

3.These two cases are alike where I live. Vienna, Virginia is very close to the Potomac River, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. The River is fairly contaminated due to the City runoff and fertilizer. This has caused the fish and other living organisms population to decease. Although this does not directly affect me, the quality of the water is a sign that we need to enact some type of sustainability law for wastewater management like the Chesapeake Bay’s and Norway’s laws put in place to sustain their own environments. These two cases are slightly different in that Maryland actually helped the oysters directly where as Norway just limited the number of fish taken out of the sea. We can learn from these case studies that we need the sea and the only way to keep it around is to take care of it.


Water Tracking and Usage

Part 1-a: The water in my hometown or Vienna, Virginia originates from the Potomac River as ground water or storm runoff.   The river water then branches off into smaller streams and is redirected to the James J. Corbalis Jr. treatment plant where it is then filtered basically through screening of large objects including fish and debris. The water settles in big pools in order to separate the water and sediment. Chlorine is added t to disinfect the water. Fluoride is also added to protect the users teeth. The water is then stored and distributed to standpipes and water towers near my town. When ready to be used, it is then gravity fed to the communities throughout my town. The water is then directed underground to my house up to my water tank, the water is then heated or cooled to be used for cooking, cleaning, drinking and whatever household uses for water.  The water when done being used is drained into the sewer and then re-filtered in a sewage plant and eventually put back into the Potomac River.


Part 1-b:


1-15 minute Shower- 75 gallons

2-Teeth Brushings- 2* 3 = 6 gallons

1-Shave- 1 Gallon

2-Toilet Flushes- 2*3 = 6 Gallons

4-Glasses of water- 1/2 Gallon

2-dishwasher loads- 2*10 = 20 gallons

1-Laundry Load-30 gallons


Total gallons- 138.5 Gallons



Part 1-c: If I were given only two gallons or (256oz) of water for a day I would use about 50oz for drinking. I would use about 16oz to shave my face, and another 30 to brush my teeth. I would use 1 gallon to hand wash my clothes. I wouldn’t shower and would use the restroom in the great outdoors. The last 32oz of water would be used for cooking food.   I set my priorities in this experiment based on necessity. I used majority of the water for drinking and cooking, secondly I used a large amount to wash my clothing.   I also resulted in using no water to cleanse myself or flush which saved around 80 gallons of water, essentially half of the water used on any normal day. To be honest I don’t think I could live on two gallons of water, although I had described so above, I did not include showering which is a crucial part of my daily routine. Considering that my geographical location is close to the Potomac River, I would have the option to bathe in the river, which would be a huge asset.


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


I believe that it is more important to perform good acts than to be a good person. There are a lot of good people that do bad things.   It’s great to say that we should change something or tell people to go make a difference. There is no real way to label someone as a good person without evidence, and the only way I see good people is people making a difference. If people do good things then they are usually good people. I think this just goes back to the saying actions speak louder than words. . If people are forced to do good things like for instance, required community service it might make them a better person and it as a result helps others. Saying you are going to do something may make people think that you are a good person but going out of your way to do good and actually doing an action that has an affect is more important.



Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans (speciesism)?


The wellbeing of all creatures on earth is important, but considering the intellectualness of humans and our impact on the environment I would assume that the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matters less than the pleasure and pain of humans. I feel as if some animals are on earth for humans to use, as food and it may be scpecieism to say that some animals are more important, but food is important for human survival. For instance I am involved in the sport of hunting, I enjoy seeing my food go from the field to the table. Yes the animals do feel pain and yes it is sad but, humans are on the top of the food chain and therefore we eat animals below and equal with us. I do feel sympathy for the animals that expire due to the improper disposal of waste.


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


I think that my own life as of now is worth more than others. I still do think that other human lives are still important. I think that if I had children then I would say that their lives are worth more to me than that of my own. I think also if I was married I would say that my life means less than that of my spouse. I think that my brothers and sisters lives are worth more than that of mine. I think what it boils down to is if you love someone then you would give up everything for him or her, this being said, I think that you should personally think about whom you would take a bullet for and that be the deciding factor of whose life is worth more. All frontline soldiers, firefighter, police officers would probably say differently than I.

Biogas Mod 2 Blog

In my diagram I constructed a model that represented the process behind the social and environmental systems in India. The human population in India is large and with this is demand for ways to cook food and with the new technology available of biogas, the villages can use renewable resources like cow dung to convert it into a fuel source for preparing food. Considering that India is a poorer country the availability of a free resource is a sustainable key resource to these individuals livelihood. With this technology it gives the mothers time to make money off the compost that farmers use.


My diagram differs from the figure in the reading because the Chinese seem to be burning anything available when the Indian’s seem to be burning only twigs and branches. But our diagrams are alike in that the population of China and India both demand biogas generators and compost. The reason for these similarities and differences are due to the environmental differences and poverty being the similarity between the two cultures. I learned that after looking at my diagram and the diagram displayed in figure 1.5 is that china doesn’t really care for the education of poorer students compared to India’s seemingly demanding importance in the education community.


Gavin Collins Module 1 Blog

Hello my name is Gavin Collins, I am from Woodbridge Virginia and live currently just below D.C. in Northern Virginia. I am a sophomore here at Penn State pursuing a degree in Economics. With this degree I eventually hope to run my own business. I am the oldest from a large family of seven. I am a member of America’s only outdoor interest fraternity, Tau Phi Delta. My Hobbies include hunting, fishing, and playing the guitar.   I am interested in this course because I took an Oceanology course in high school and was always interested in the ocean. I felt that the units covered on plate tectonics and geography of the ocean was very interesting.   I think that this class will help me gain knowledge on how I can help to sustain the earth.


Being that I live close to D.C., the Potomac River as you may know runs between Virginia and D.C. It is one of my favorite places to fish. Over the past couple years the water running in this river has been heavily polluted, not just with human trash but runoff from erosion of tributaries up stream. This movement of earth has caused the Chesapeake Bay to collect large amounts of sediment and dirt causing harm to fish and other species that live in the Bay. Geographic assessment of these dire conditions might be able to help to sustain the health of the bay with more water drainage technology. Looking at the Potomac is on the smaller spatial scale of it just being a river, but if the pollution of the river changed it would directly affect the Bay’s health.