BP Oil Spill Biodiversity

  1. In 200-250 words, explain what biodiversity is.

Biodiversity is the amount of variation of organisms on the earth.  I live in Bucks County, PA and the types of biodiversity in my area would include deer, birds, bats, and household and farm animals.  Our biodiversity lacks with seawater animals because we do not live near an ocean.  One reason biodiversity is important because anthropocentric reasons, which means us humans use the animals for our own personal needs, like food and medicine.  However, there is another reason called ecocentric, which is just the general happiness of humans to know that animals are safe and the biodiversity is thriving.  Since we live in a world that is more selfish, I feel that more people are worried about biodiversity because of anthropocentric reasons; I think ethically we should consider the ecocentric reasons too but a majority of people are more concerned with their needs.  This relates to the threats of biodiversity, which names the human population as one reason biodiversity is not safe.  There are a lot of other reasons as to why biodiversity is threatened.  The acronym H.I.P.P.O stands for Habitat Loss, Invasive Species, Pollution, Human Population, and Overharvesting, which are the five top threats.  It is important to keep these in mind when we leave trash on the street, or change around animal habitats because we do not want to be even more of a harm.

  1. Pick an event from somewhere around the world that affected biodiversity.  Explain it is 200-250 words.

The event I picked was the BP gas leak in the Gulf of Mexico that started on April 20, 2010.  Not only did this pollute the environment, we (the human population) damaged so many animals’ homes.  Almost six years ago, BP’s Deepwater Horizon station blew up which killed 11 people and released more than 200 million gallons of oil in the Gulf.  While workers tried to stop the leak for over three months, over 2 million gallons of toxic dispersants were sprayed in the water, which ended up causing more damage to the biodiversity in the Gulf.  Endangered whales and dolphins were affected by this drastically, and even destroyed the efforts of trying to recover the brown pelican, which are now extinct.  Sharks, fish, turtles, and other marine animals were seen migrating to shallow waters, which disrupted other species because they were considered invasive because they lost their normal habitat.   Even though BP did not purposely release all this oil into the ocean, it is similar to the effects the Amazon Rainforest is suffering because of the loss of space the animals have to roam.  Looking into the aftermath of the BP oil spill, it seems as if environmental companies sued BP so that devastations like this never happen again; legally, we can continue to drill for oil in the ocean.  Morally, we should have more laws in place so we do not destroy biodiversity again.

  1. Draw a systems diagram of the causes that lead up to this event

Moritz Jessica MO10



Climate Change – Jessica Moritz

Moritz Jessica MO 9 (2)

First, my diagram begins with the fact that we are overusing fossil fuel, which lead to a climate change that was not good for our environment.  Since the climate change affects the world as a whole, countries met at the Copenhagen climate change summit to try and solve this problem.  Throughout the meeting, the Copenhagen Accord was formed.  By this, it was stated that each country had to take responsibility for the overuse of fossil fuels and try implementing steps to help the environment and the climate change problem.  However, there was a split about who supported this and who did not.  In my diagram, I split the United States and United Nations into two separate boxes because the United States supported the Copenhagen Accord whereas the United Nations did not.  Since the United Nations did not support this, the United States tried to take matters into their own hands in an unethical way.  The sent treats, had secret cables between countries, and ended up financially bribing countries because they claimed they did not have the money for this type of project.  With all of these combined and a lot of push from the United States, 140 countries ended up signing on and supporting the Copenhagen Accord, which was the last part of my diagram.  The main idea behind my concept map was to keep the ideas simple but to show the reader the cause of the Copenhagen Accord and how the United States finally got a lot of countries to agree with it.


Honestly, I think what the State Department did was very unethical.  Just because certain countries do not want to sign on to an idea that one fully supports does not mean one should threaten and bribe them to get their way.  However, the climate change is a big problem for the world as a whole.  If we continue our detrimental ways, we are going to disrupt planetary boundaries and change out environment for the worst.  Since human life started when the Earth was stable, changing the stability is going to change the way people develop too.  Even though I think what the United State did was wrong, I think their overall goal of having a sustainable Earth is a goal that the whole world should have.  I believe that they could have done this in another way besides brides and threats, however, the outcome was good because now countries are being more Earth-friendly.  Instead of releasing the cables to the public, I feel that the United States should have come out and told us citizens their plans so that people do not feel betrayed by their government.  Since there is a positive outcome though, I do not think people should still be bitter about the whole thing.  Now, people all over the world are more educated on ways to help the environment, like taking public transportation, implementing carbon offsetting, and buying more organic plant-based foods.  Since the world agrees we need to change some of our habits to help save the environment, I think it is important that we all continue to be educated about fossil fuels and how to help with the climate change.

Module 8- Natural Hazards

1.       I have been living in Bucks County for over 15 years and have not seen too many natural hazards.  Since the map is over 5 years old, the environment has changed a lot so I do not think that is it very reliable since it isn’t up to date.  Also, it is really hard to pinpoint exactly the natural hazards in my county because it looks like it generalizes the area.  With this being said, it looks like the biggest threat for my area would be tropical cyclones since we are in zone 4.  Also, we are in zone 3 for hailstorms and zone 3 for tornados.  It surprised me that Bucks County is zone 0 for extratropical storms; I feel like I have seen these more than any of the higher treats!  Earthquakes, volcanos, and tsunamis are no threat in my area.

2.       In Chile on March 29, 2016 at 7:11 AM, the Copahue volcano erupted after weeks of slowly building up.  The ash poses no threat to the people living there, however, they did warn people ahead of time.  This type of natural disaster is not a threat in my hometown.  According to the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards, there are no volcanos near my area.  It reached an altitude of 3.6 km and an area of 35 km east of the volcano.  Compared to Bucks County, 35 km, or about 22 miles, it not very long because we are a big area.  Even though it is not a big threat to the population in Chile, I think it would be more of a threat in my area because even though we have a lot of land, there are a lot of houses, like an automobile suburb.  However, I feel that the wealth in my area could change the vulnerability.  We might be able to afford other safety measures that Chile could not.  Also, we live right next to Philadelphia, which has some poorer people who couldn’t afford certain technologies to help keep them safe from volcanos.  Also, our schools in Bucks County, specifically Council Rock, is rated very high on education.  I think this could help vulnerability too because our teachers could teach us the threats and safety measures to take when a volcano erupts.

3.       With personal experience, I can say that tropical storms are definitely the biggest problem in my hometown.  When a rain storm comes, there is so much rain one can barely see in front of them and there is a crazy amount of wind.  We have a lot of trees around our area so when a storm comes, usually the wind knocks over trees and we lose power.  One storm in particular actually knocked a tree down on our shed and playground in our backyard and crushed them!  We have had storms where our power is out for 5 days; because of this constant problem, we bought a generator since it is a common problem.

4.       I think one of the best things to do is to form an emergency response team.  In particular, these people would be there to help us pre-event prepare, or help us get ready for the natural disaster before it happens.  There have been times that people have died in their house because of a heat stroke or froze to death. This team could be on call at all times and when a storm is coming, they could send out e-mails, letters, and phone calls about how we can prepare and be safe during the storm.  I think that there could also be a free class taught by this team that citizens could take to ask questions and get information.   Education is already very important in our hometown so being educated about natural disasters will be a good thing for our area.

Urban Planning – Jessica Moritz

  1. My hometown is Southampton, Pennsylvania. It is about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia and is an automobile suburb. According to Southampton Demographics, there are about 40,000 residents in this city.  There are a lot of single-family homes spread out in a large area so we have a low urban density, and we are single-use.  This relates back to being an automobile suburb because there is more space between houses and there are no sidewalks to walk to businesses, like the grocery store.  We have less residential health because we are more likely to use cars, however, in my neighborhood there are a lot of gym options.  The catch is, you have to drive there!  Even though our transportation mode is car use, there are a lot of train stations to get into Philadelphia; a lot of adults work in Philadelphia so they use the train to avoid traffic.  It is also a collective action because people are using public transportation to at least get to work, which in return helps air pollution.
  1. The first city I picked is Chicago. From looking through the pictures, they seem to have high urban agriculture. My city does have some farming in large plots of land and the people sell the food at local farmer’s markets.  However, I think we can expand this like Chicago has.  There are multiple hospitals in my town and I like the idea of having plant life around them so patients can see it outside their windows.  By doing this, we could become more sustainable because we would be using unused land to help the local community get homegrown food.  We would be putting the unused land into good use and could even bring the community closer together because people could volunteer to help keep up with the plants.  It will also help the air pollution because it requires less transportation of food from other counties.
  1. Next, I picked New York City. This is completely opposite from my city because it is predominately a Pedestrian-Oriented Neighborhood. However, there are a lot of public transportation options, like subways, to get around the city.  I feel like my homework could learn from New York City that walking should be another option of getting around.  We could become more sustainable by adding sidewalks throughout neighbors and streets so that people could walk to another house or a business.  This could even help air pollution because people could walk instead of just driving everywhere.  Also it can help the health concern in my town because it will encourage more people to walk.  Even though most people drive to the gym, an easy and cheap way of getting exercise is just to walk!  People in New York City do this all the time so I feel like that is what we can learn from them.

Social Norms/Societal Issues – Jessica Moritz

  1. Food social norms are all over the world; however, one specific food norm that stands out for me is whether or not to eat gluten. I started to follow this norm of gluten-free because my family and friends told me how great it made them feel.  I continued to eliminate gluten from my diet after my trail-month because I saw the benefits of having more energy and a better digestive system.  Also, I feel as if I am able to manage my nutrition better because I am watching exactly what I eat and put into my body.  If I did not go gluten-free, I feel as if eating at my parent’s or aunt’s house would be near to impossible since that what they buy.  Since some of the stuff tastes different than gluten-made products, I got used to the taste and am eating gluten-free like the rest of my family.
  1. One societal issue would be whether or not to genetically modify organisms. As stated in module 6, GMOs are not labeled on products and cause a debate in the United States on whether or not they should be.  Since I made a food choice of eating gluten-free, I am more aware now of products and how companies can trick us by not labeling GMOs.  Personally, I think the social norm should be to stop eating foods that are genetically modified so that a law come into place that any genetically modified organism must be labeled in the grocery store.  It is important for people to know what they are putting in their bodies.  Since going gluten-free, I have done a lot of research on different foods and policies and I think it is important to label everything and not try and hide ingredients.  Also, obesity is a societal issue; by watching what I am eating, I am avoiding this issue.  The social norm should be to look at ingredients to try preventing obesity.
  2. Module 6 jmm6447

Jessica Moritz

  1. The case study I read was about Ivory trade and Elephant Preservation. Here is the link: http://personal.colby.edu/personal/t/thtieten/end-bots.html.  In 1979, the elephant population was about 1.2 million and dropped to 600,000 currently.  This is an example of development’s downsides because it impacted the elephant environment in a negative way.  Even though hunters could make a lot of money selling the ivory and skin, they were killing them off to the point of extinction.  Hunters are illegally poaching these animals because they can make $3,600 for on elephant because of the ivory and skin.  There was a ban on hunting in many African nations, like Zimbabwe and Botswana so they didn’t go extinct.  The amount of elephants killed per year dropped from 3,500 to 50 in just under 15 years!  This helped the development of these elephants because they are now able to reproduce and not decline as quickly.
  2. The second case study is about the lobster population decline in Maine. Here’s the link: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/6001/20140423/baby-lobster-population-declining-in-maine-at-alarming-rate-may-prompt-menu-price-hike.htm.  The population of lobsters has declined by 50% since 2007.  This can make the cost of lobsters extremely expensive because they are becoming rare, which goes back to developmental downsides.  This is an environmental injustice because the lobsters are being caught for food and the population is suffering because of us.  However, it does relate back to sustainable development because the lobsters are used for food.  As the article says, with warmer ocean temperatures and catching them for food, the decline is going to just increase more if we don’t do something.  Since 1980, the University of Maine has been tracking the lobster population and has made it public about the sharp decrease.
  3. These two cases connect to my hometown of Southampton, PA because we have made preservations for animal population. We have had a decline in the deer, fish, and duck population because so many people were hunting them.  This relates back to both the elephant and lobster case studies because they are all becoming extinct because humans are catching and killing them faster than they can reproduce.  In conclusion, I think we can learn from both articles that there needs to be more restrictions on animal hunting and catching because people are taking advantage and not thinking about the consequences.  Since the United States population is so high, we have such a problem not only in my hometown but all around of decreases in animal population.

Bucks County Water Supply – Jessica Moritz

1A – I am from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which happens to be right outside of Philadelphia.  Since I am so close to the city, I learned that our water supply is the same as Philadelphia’s.  Water is first collected from the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers.  From the Delaware River, the water goes to the Samuel S. Baxter Plant.  In this plant, debris is removed, sedimentation tanks get rid of scum and solids, and microbes are used to eliminate anything that is left over.  Chlorine is also used to disinfect treated water prior to being sent out.  The water from the Schuylkill River goes to a plant called the Belmont and Queen Lane Plant, however, none of this water is sent to Bucks County.  Combined, these two plants produce 546 million gallons of water per day!  However, only 35 million gallons of water from the Samuel S. Baxter Plant are sent to Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority.  From here, water is once again tested and then sent out to the community.  Once water leaves a residence or business, it is transferred via sewage pipes back to the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority.




ACTIVITY                                        GALLONS USED

Teeth Brushing (2 times)………………….2 (1 gallon/time)

Hand Washing (7 times)………………….7 (1 gallon/time)

Shower (10 mins)…………………………..50 (5 gallons/min)

Toilet Flushing (7 times)………………….21 (3 gallons/flush)

Drinking Water………………………………1/2 (64 ounces or about 10 glasses of water)

Dish Washing (by hand)………………….20 (2 gallons/min)

Food (pasta)………………………………….1

Total……………………………………………101.5 Gallons



1C – Considering I used over 100 gallons in one day, only using 2 gallons was completely different.  First off, I only drink water so I realized that needed to be a priority on my list.  Since I only had a certain about of water designated for drinking, I drank less, which in return made me flush the toilet less.  Since cleanliness was the next priority on my list, I took a quick shower instead of a 10 minute one. I also turned the water off while I was lathering on soap and shampoo; this way, the only time the water was on was to quickly get wet and to rinse off at the end.  I feel like this still probably took up most of my 2 gallon limit even though I was careful about not having the water on too long.  When I brushed my teeth, I turned off the water while brushing.  Next, I didn’t use the dishwasher or washer to save on water.  When I washed my breakfast and dinner dishes, I had the water very low and turned it off while I was scrubbing everything.  This experiment was a fail because I know I used more than 2 gallons of water, even though I really tried not to.  Water relates back to geography because as Figures 4.2 and 4.3 show, not all countries have equal access to water.  We are lucky to have an unlimited supply of water but other places, like Haiti, has a very limited amount.

Ethics – Jessica Moritz

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

Action ethics are defined better as the plan to actually go out and do something, whereas virtue ethics is just saying what one believes should be done.  I think action ethics is more important than virtue ethics.  Anyone could talk about the things they want to do as a good person but never actually perform these acts.  If someone truly believes in what he or she is stating, or their virtue ethics, then he or she will actually go out and do what they say, or action ethics.  The action itself is more important because if everyone just listed what they thought was good, then nothing would actually be accomplished.  However, when someone is trying to recruit people to help for a certain cause, I think virtue ethics is more important.  This is because a person needs to fully understand what he or she is going to start promoting before they join on the team.

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

I believe that ecosystems matter on their own and so do humans, however, they are both interact with each other every single second of the day.  Since the constant interactions are always there, ecocentric ethics and anthropocentric ethics are both important to live by.  I feel like I lean more towards the ecocentric ethics because the ecosystem was created before us and helps us survive.  If we continue cutting down trees at the rate we currently are at, there is going to be more carbon dioxide in the air than oxygen.  This would impact humans in a negative way but we keep doing it because trees give us positive things, like paper, houses, and fire.  Looking at the anthropocentric ethics side, I think our reading made a very valid point about when forest fires start people need to chop down trees to prevent more destruction.  Situations like this make anthropocentric ethics more important because not only would a forest fire kill humans, it would also destroy the whole ecosystem!

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

As stated in the reading, selfishness refers to a person who is less likely to help people and altruism describes someone who is more willing to help someone.  Personally, I believe my own life is equal to the lives of others.  Ever since I was a kid I possessed altruistic qualities because I would spend my weekends working at homeless shelters, making food for the needy, and volunteering at animal shelters.  I think that no one’s life is more important than another, including animals.  After working with multiple types of pets, one can tell that they have emotions just like humans do.  This being said, I can understand why some people are more selfish.  Sometimes people need to make decisions that put themselves before others; for example, some mothers need to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy if there are complications.  Is a mother dying and leaving her other children without a mother worth keeping the pregnancy and her and the baby dying?  I think there are some instances where people could be more altruistic but get put in such difficult situations that the selfishness comes through.

Biogas Diagram – Jessica Moritz

jmm6447 biogas

My systems diagram shows the interactions between social systems and ecosystems.  I started with women cooking and how this all lead to the creation of biogas.  The simple act of cooking was leading to environmental destruction, by collecting wood, limited kids’ education, since they spent a lot of time collecting sticks, and causing chest infections because of all the smoke.  This diagram shows all these interactions and then how the creation of biogas solved these problems.  The creation of biogas is an example of a positive feedback loop because an initial change lead to multiple outcomes.  For example, biogas lead to more production of compost which the sales of this increased income for the women of the society and this cycle would keep going as the use of biogas increases.  Similar to Marten’s Figure 1.5, I categorized social systems and ecosystems on separate sides of the diagram.  I think this way is to better organize what the diagram is trying to prove.  Ours is different because he also focused on how the compost can lead to food for the human population; I think he focused on more outcomes than I did.  I think by looking at both Marten’s and my diagram, a reader could see how society was before and after biogas.  I focused on problems not having biogas was causing and he focused on what happens after biogas is brought into the world.

Jessica Moritz Module 1

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Moritz and I am studying at Penn State’s Main Campus.  I grew up four hours away in Southampton, PA, which is about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia.  Currently, I am a senior studying Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies.  I plan on going to graduate school next year for Occupational Therapy; my passion is helping people who need the extra support so I cannot wait to start this soon.  My dad has always been a big traveler so I would tag along.  His favorite places to take me were National Parks, so we saw places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and so much more.  Since he was so interested in the earth and the surrounding environments, his knowledge and teachings sparked an interest in me.  I decided to take this course to learn more about geography and maybe I will be able to teach my dad something he hasn’t already taught me!

After reading module 1, my attention was drawn to the human-environment interactions.  Every action we take can either positively or negatively affect the world around us.  The concept of sustainability is important, especially in our current century, because we all need to know what actions we can perform that will not affect the environment for future generations.  We do not want the world to become in a drought crisis, like California, or pollute the air for the people who come after us.  It is ethically important for our current population to keep the world as natural as possible without purposefully damaging the land around us.  Geography can address sustainability, which will in return teach our people how to keep our world safe for years to come.