Module 10 – Learning Activity

Question 1: In 150 – 200 words, describe the biodiversity in your hometown and describe how this attributes to ecosystem services.

I come from a small town with many rural surroundings. Being surrounded by many farms and forests, I believe that the biodiversity from my hometown is relatively high. There are a plethora of wild animals that include deer, rabbit, coyote, birds, etc. By having these animals, one of the services of these is a source of food for many of the locals during hunting season. With the predators such as coyotes, it provides population control during the offseason for many prey that would otherwise become overpopulated. In addition to these wild animals provided by the forests, there are plenty of rivers and cricks nearby that provide the same service with the fish. The farms in the area provide many crop and food services to the locals by providing beef, eggs, and vegetables. One farm that is nearby provides the potatoes that are used in Lay’s chips. The trees and other plants that are abundant in my provide cleaner air for the people to breath. These are some of the services that are provided by the large biodiversity in my hometown.

Question 2. In 150-250 Words, describe at least two threats to biodiversity in your hometown and how can they be prevented?

One of the biggest threats to biodiversity in my hometown would be the agricultural farming that I described in the above paragraph. Although I believe that it could help with diversity with feeding of animals and growing of other vegetables, the habitat loss caused from it can be devastating to the biodiversity in the ecosystem. One way that I believe that this can be stopped from harming the ecosystem is by limiting the number of farms that are being developed in the nearby surroundings. This will prevent the habitat loss to the ecosystem and allow the naturally occurring plants and animals thrive. Another threat in my nearby surroundings is pollution. There are many fracking wells all around western PA that have the potential to pollute the groundwater and thereby, leading to pollution in many regions. This can be extremely harmful to the biodiversity nearby my hometown. There are many ways that this can be stopped. One is to have regulations on the fracking to make sure there are no contaminants leaking into the environment. Another is to have the frac jobs being closely monitored by the EPA to make sure they are meeting standards as well. These are some ways that the threats to diversity in my hometown can be stalled and hopefully stopped one day.

Module 9 – Climate Change

Module 9

From the information that was gathered in the reading  assignment for this learning activity, I was able to create my systems diagram for the Copenhagen Accord. The main driving force in this diagram is the growing climate change stemming from increased greenhouse emissions and other pollutants. This led to the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in 2009. From here, the United States was in support of the Copenhagen Accord, which needed more support from other countries in order for it to pass. In order to pass this, the United States sent intelligence agent and other diplomats to bribe other countries to be their allies in support of the bill. This led to 116 countries signing the proposed document to decrease emissions, with the total in support coming to 140 countries. This led to standards set by the accord that will be carried out by policies in individual countries. This leads to benefits for rich countries such as the United States that are able to adapt to these changes, but leads to developing countries not being able to upkeep these standards. After these events have taken place, this bribery and other unethical practices have come to light from the convention. This highlights how the United States is able to blackmail and bribe its way into getting its way on the international scale whenever it comes to new standards and agreements where they can reap as much reward as possible. This leads to many countries and the general population having a hostile attitude toward the United States that can lead to hostile environments that can cause consequences down the road.

I, personally, do not believe that the State Department cables should not have been released. I believe that they should not have been released to the public for a number of reasons. The first reason was because that it creates an hostile environment between countries that could break down negotiations and other diplomatic advances in relationships with the United States. Another reason is that some of the developing countries that were being bribed may not have had the financial stability of the United States in order to relieve pressure from the oil industry to get their source of energy, even though many of these negotiations were  unethical. Through these negotiations, however, the United States was able to gain over one hundred countries in support of the Copenhagen Accord in order to bring the global greenhouse emissions down as well as providing financials to other countries that have a high dependence on fossil fuels. On the other hand, by having these cables released, it creates a collective action solution to the increasing problem of climate change. The more informed that the general population becomes on the ever increasing problem of climate change, then the more people will want to step up and do their duty to help mitigate this problem by seeing that countries all over the world are taking steps to put a stop to this problem. In addition to this, the United States could have used the data that has been gathered over the years to build a strong case in support of this collective action instead of using bribes where it could have publicly provided financial support to developing countries. This could have also set the stage for the global issue in that the U.S. would have been at the forefront of curbing this problem.


Module 8

My hometown is Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania. Being in the north eastern United States, my hometown is not susceptible to earthquakes, volcanoes, and cyclones that were described in page 3 of the world map of natural disasters. On page 4 of the map, the town is susceptible to different weather conditions in hailstorms, winter storms, and tornadoes. As recently as last summer, my hometown had a tornado warning where one touched down a few miles outside of the town. And finally on page 5, my hometown gets warmer during El Nino and cooler during La NIna.

On April 1st, 3:25 AM, a tornado occurred in the state of Alabama. My hometown has been lucky in that no tornadoes have touched down while I have been alive. However, as described above there have been multiple times where there have been tornado warnings and advisories that have occurred throughout the years. There have been times where tornadoes have touched down outside of my hometown in flatter regions higher on the mountain. The tornado that was described in the emergency and disaster website was medium with no incidents of injury or damages reported. It was described as medium severity. I believe that my hometown would experience light severities whenever confronted with a tornado. This is because I am located in the Appalachian mountain chain and a hilly region. Therefore I believe that if a tornado touched down, there would not be severe damages even though tornadoes can occur in my area. I also believe that everyone will be well educated on how to protect themselves in the case of a tornado as there are multiple instances throughout schooling where the students are taught how to protect themselves in these cases.

An assessment on my hometown shows that it is vulnerable to hailstorms and other winter weather conditions from the World Map of natural hazards that was used earlier. I personally know from experience that there have been many times when my hometown was subject to sub zero temperatures, ice storms, and snowstorms. My hometown, as discussed in the above paragraphs, is also subject to tornados that I have witnessed personally.

The best way to prevent disaster in the cases described in the above paragraph is education. As a child, I remember being taught by my teachers on how to protect myself during these events. The best way to be safe during ice and snowstorms would be for the parents to keep their children inside during severe cases. The local town authorities would also need to provide labor and resources to keep the roads clean and clear of snow and ice. Education through Driver’s ED would


Module 7 – Sustainable Cities

The town that I am from is called Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania. It can best be described as a suburb automobile mixed with a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. There town is fairly small with a population approximately three thousand people. Many of the inhabitants get transported via bikes and their own personal cars. I grew up in this town and I had spent the majority of my childhood seeing my friends by either walking or riding my bicycle. I believe that having this dynamic makes my town very versatile in energy saving ways being that parents do not have to haul their children around from place to place and the children are able to stay healthy as I see this still continuing today.

The first city I will discuss from this module is Detroit. From watching the video in this module, I was reminded of my hometown discussed in the above paragraph. A few minutes outside of my town is a very rural living space where plenty of farms can be found. I believe that the urban farming that is taking place in Detroit is similar to my town, except in the scale. I personally know family and friends who do not live on farms taking the initiative to farm their own potatoes, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables in their backyard. It is easy to overlook some of these contributions from other people living sustainable on their own land whenever I am surrounded by farmland and Detroit helped to remind me of that.

The next city I will be discussing is Rochester, NY. My town of Northern Cambria is similar in the automobile aspects that was shown very early on in this module. Even though my town could be considered a pedestrian neighborhood from having a sidewalk on almost every street, automobiles are still the main sources of transportation. There are many people including my family that have to commute to and from work everyday from nearby towns and cities. There are many ways that the residents of my town can make commuting to and from work more sustainable. One of the ways is to take advantage of the bus that runs into town and to nearby towns. This will decrease the amount of cars on the road. Another way is to begin carpooling. The final way is for the residents that work in the town or nearby by utilizing bikes where there would only be a few minutes extra time added to their commute as well as extra exercise.

Module 6 Justin Tenerowicz

There was one point in my life where my diet was influenced by a social norm. Many of my peers tend to eat a lot of fast food on campus and from I usually opted to not eat these type of meals because I was used to being in shape and healthy. I ended up hurting my back during the middle of junior year and that drastically changed my eating habits. I went from having a very healthy and active lifestyle to a sedentary one. From this, I grew lazy and began to eat less and less of homecooked meals that I would prep. I began to order a lot of food such as pizza and wings from different shops around State College since it was cheap and easy. This eventually led to me doing this more and more as I fell into a habit of constantly ordering food whenever I would get back from class or from being to lazy to make some of my own food. As can be foretold, I began to pack on the pounds and eventually put on 20 pounds over this time period. This is one instance in my life where I went from my own eating habits to a norm of eating fast food that was cheap and easy to acquire during my time as a Junior at Penn State.

My food choice in the above paragraph was decided from my obesity at the time. The root cause of this was my sedentary lifestyle at play. But in addition to this, I was eating a lot of wings, pizza, and other junk food that was contributing to my weight gain. The norm while at college is to eat almost anything that is placed before you. There are many times at meetings where free pizza is an incentive to go to these meetings. In addition to this, OrderUp plays a huge role in delivering food from pizza and wings shop all across campus. I began to order many meals from the website because it was quicker and easier than going to the store, buying healthier foods, and making it on my own. To combat this, I think that the new social norm that should be in place is advertising healthier alternatives to pizza and wings as well as going out and buying your own food. I believe that if healthier alternatives were to be obtained as easy and as cheap as pizza and wings, obesity could be curbed rather easily.


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Droughts Around the World – Justin Tenerowicz

My first case study is about the water stresses that are occuring in South Africa, and how they can be addressed. The article details how much like the rest of the world, South Africa is experiencing many issues to its ongoing water crisis and how the implications of this can affect its national security. Many of the problems are caused by climate change. By developing new strategies and technologies, these problems can be solved in the future. In a forecast, the water demand in South Africa will have significantly outpaced its demand by the year 2035. In order to combat this, new implementations are being put in place that include groundwater extraction, waste water treatment, and new water conservation methods so that there is not a future where water is an issue. A link to the article can be found here:

The second I have chosen comes from Australia, where the country is experiencing the worst drought that has occurred in over one thousand years. In order to help resolve this situation, the country has taken steps in its conservation method in order to preserve the water. These have put a restriction on the water being used and has raised the price to 70 cents per kiloliter of water. In addition to this, the government is putting into place new construction of dams and other irrigation systems in order to keep the supply of water up. The regulation, however, had little success in one of their areas in that all owners of water were able to use their own demand as well as sell their water to make a profit. It did have success in preventing large scale extractions that would have otherwise caused large environmental effects. A link to the article can be found here:

I picked these two articles because they relate to the area where I lived, Northern Cambria, PA last year when there was a drought in May of 2015. I come from a rural area and many farmers were concerned about the yield of their crops for that year due to this drought. One of the actions of this declaration called for a 5% decrease in water usage in order to preserve water. This connected to the Australian article in that they called for a restriction on their water usage whenever a drought has occurred. In addition to this, new methods were being used in order to conserve water for farming purposes that included reducing the evaporation from the soil where mulch would be left by plants as well as shading areas where soil is exposed. This also relates to the Australia article because new irrigation techniques were being adopted for water conservation. A difference between my hometown and the South African crisis is that they are looking for long term solutions to their problems, where my county and hometown only called for temporary solutions. There is a similar solution that South Africa is taking that would make it very similar to my hometown is that they are looking into adopting groundwater. My hometown sole water source is from groundwater.


Module 4

I live in a small town called Northern Cambria, PA. It was not until recently that my town had made the switch to become a public water system. Prior to this, most of the water supplied to houses were from different wells and springs from around the area. From the Northern Cambria Water Municipality Website, it is stated that there are multiple wells that are pumped into two different enclosed reservoirs. From these reservoirs, they are transported to a water treatment pump house. From here, it is pumped into the main lines of households and other community uses. After the water is drained from different households, it is sent to the sewage water treatment plant. Once the water is finished its treatment, it is funneled into the Susquehanna river watershed that flows through the town. This system, utilizing Greensand, is able to filter and treat up to 300,000 gallons per day.

Activity Gallons


Shower 25


Hand Washing 9
Teeth Brushing 1
Dish Washing 20
Laundry 25
Toilet Flush


Water Drinking 1
Total 105

After I tracked my water usage on Monday, I decided to significantly reduce my water usage to two gallons for the experiment on Tuesday. I allocated 0.25 gallons of water to drinking since being hydrated is necessary, and the other 0.75 for food. I wanted to use the last gallon for personal hygiene uses such as brushing my teeth, washing my hands, and using a wet rag with soap in order to cleanse my body. My experiment ultimately failed whenever I had to use the urinal on campus. Since they automatically flush after each use, I ended up over using my prescribed use of two gallons of water per day. I was able to reduce my use of water to approximately 20 gallons, since I am forced to flush the toilet at my apartment due to my roommates. Geography is extremely important to water use because it plays a pivotal role in where and how water is obtained. From my hometown, we are lucky enough to have ground water and multiple wells where water can be obtained. Other places like California do not have this luxury. This is why I believe that new processes and ideas need to be implemented such as desalination of seawater so that water shortages will not occur in the future.

Module 3

Question 1.

I believe that it is more important to do good acts rather than be a good person. Without good acts, then there is no progress being made in the world for the better. There are ‘good’ people out in the world, but would rather remain silent rather than acting. I think that we all like to consider ourselves a good person. But who has felt like a good person as many of us, myself included, have walked passed homeless on the street without donating any money? I know that I have never liked a good person after these encounters in life. But whenever I am able to take the time out of my day, or money from my pocket in this case, I always feel better about myself knowing that I was able to help make a difference in the world no matter how small. This is why action ethics is more important than virtue ethics. By being a good person does not always make a difference in the world, but doing good acts will always make a difference.

Question 4

I believe that ecosystems matter for their own sake and not that they only matter for the sake of humans. I believe that they matter for their own for the fact that they are complex systems that have hierarchies of life within themselves. They do not just support one species of animals, but millions upon millions of different species. Every life matters in an ecosystem. When a plant or animal dies, it is because it is serving a purpose for predators to eat, or for bacteria and other microorganisms. If it was not for these, human life would not be possible at all. I believe that humans always take the anthropocentric view when it comes to this matter. Most mainstream media do not concern themselves with the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, or overfishing only unless it affects the human race, whether it be global warming, food shortages, or droughts. This is why I believe that ecosystems matter for their own sake because they are able to support all types of life that do not include humans.

Question 5

Does the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain as humans? For me, the obvious answer is yes. As much as I would like this to be true across the globe for everyone, this certainly is not the case. There are cases each year where animals in organizations such as circuses and SeaWorld that violate the animal welfare act. The animals in these establishments are often beaten, starved, and confined in small cages so that they may perform their acts on a day to day basis. By seeing pictures of the environment these animals are in, you can not even imagine what kind of life that would be. However, a lot of these practices get swept under the rug across the world for the simple fact that they are “animals” and not humans. I have always been a firm believer in equal treatment of animals. Us humans, given our superior intellect, have a responsibility to help protect all living creatures, whether human or non-human.

Justin Tenerowicz – Biogas Diagram System


The purpose of this diagram was to demonstrate the coupled Human-Environment system in India that was discussed in the video using biogas for fuel. In order to understand this, a systems perspective is being utilized, having the ecosystem and the social system as two different entities that are able to interact with each other. In my diagram, I decided to started with Cow and animal wastes as this is where the biogas technology starts. From here I moved toward the social systems and how the biogas generators are able to snowball into almost every social aspect in the communities.The environment is allowed to thrive as less trees are used as well as cleaner air since methane burns more efficiently.

Comparing my diagram to Figure 1.5 in “What is Human Ecology?”, there are some similarities. One thing that was both included was that animal dung was the main source of fuel for the biogas generators, and that some of the byproducts could be used for farming as fertilizer. Some differences in my diagram is that I did not include trees and shrubs on hills, as well as cutting wood. I opted to focus on the biogas technology and its benefits rather than the fuel used from wood. There are similiarties and differences because both cover the new technology and its overall effect in different parts of the community. It can be learned that this new technology in India may not always be avialable adn that deforestation still occurs because of this.

Module 1 – Getting to Know You

Hello, my name is Justin Tenerowicz. I am senior studying chemical engineering at University Park. I grew up in a small town called Northern Cambria, PA which is about an hour and half west of State College. Throughout my undergraduate career, I have been introduced to many ideas and technologies that are making impacts on the Earth. In some of my classes, we discussed the future of renewable fuel sources as well as current CO2 emissions and the steps that are being taken now, and in the future, that will hopefully put a slow the process of climate change and eventually put a stop to it. I am interested in this course because I am hoping that after graduation I will be able to find a job focused on environmental engineering so that I can be a part of the process of finding more sustainable and environmental friendly solutions to some of the problems that being seen today.

The area of the class that I am most interested about is the Human – Environment Interactions. This interested me the most because I am currently taking an environmental engineering class, and one of the big topics that we are going over now is the fact that in the future, there will be a water crisis. There many reasons as to why this is happening, and the two main causes have been from pollutants entering surface and ground water as well as global warming causing droughts that have been seen before. I believe that many oil companies need to take a look at their ethics in how oil is extracted. There have been dozens of reports of gas making its way into groundwater systems leaving many residents unable to use any of their water.  I am looking forward to the future where new technologies will somehow be able to filter different sources of water that will be drinkable in sustainably ways so that we can provide water around the world without causing damage to local and global ecosystems.