In this module you will complete the following:
- Look at the Amazon case study and describe its biodiversity, using factors from module 10 describe how the Amazon is biologically diverse in two ways, and not biologically diverse in one way. (150-250 Words)
The Amazon is a perfect example of a biologically diverse ecosystem. One way that the Amazon is biologically diverse is its latitude. Because the Amazon is closer to the equator and so for a number of reasons means the Amazon is very diverse. The Amazon is a great example of biodiversity but, it does have it’s flaws. One way that the Amazon is not that biologically diverse is it’s smaller area. Another factor that makes the Amazon biologically diverse is its physically diverse habitats. Just within jungles there is high diversity even in a single tree. ecosystem’s vary from the top of a tree to its base. Each layer of the rainforest receiving different amounts of light, and rain, while other organisms learn to survive without sun and rain. One factor of biodiversity is having a larger area. Because the Amazon is not all that big altogether accounting for only 6% of the Earth’s land surface but making up over 50% of the Earth’s biodiversity.
- Look at your hometown and describe its biodiversity or lack of biodiversity, using factors from module 10 describe how your hometown is biologically diverse in two ways. (150-250 words)
The Amazon case study starts off by explaining how my home state of Pennsylvania may only have 30-40 species of trees when describing our lack of biodiversity. So obviously Pennsylvania is not the most biodiverse ecosystem. One way my hometown of Lansdale, Pennsylvania is not biodiverse is a lack of a physically diverse habitat. My hometown is very much either residential or farm land. We have a very flat terrain and our weather is pretty uniform. Another way my hometown is not biologically diverse is a lack of longevity in the ecosystem. Solely because of human development, the ecosystem in Lansdale has not experienced a time of peace without human disturbance for as long as I have lived in Lansdale. There is always construction going on with new development’s being built in areas that used to be fields. The constant development of my area could be considered moderate development that really prevents the ecosystem from every building up its diversity.
My system diagram focuses around the US involvement with the Copenhagen Accord. However, my diagram starts very wide, talking about all fossil fuels and their emissions. Then we look at how the UN and really the world to a look at the climate change problem in a formal setting at a designated event specific to climate change. The Copenhagen Accord was created at the UN Conference but it needed the backing of a lot more countries and so the US went into secret negotiations in order to convince other countries to support the accord. The first important part to remember about the accord and climate change. The world leaders of every country new at least one thing, the accord would have an effect costing billions of dollars to change hands and a lot of money was at stake with these negotiations. These secret negotiations revolved around the CIA sending out spies to find human intelligence on UN diplomats responsible for climate change. Another thing the US did to try and manipulate support was to send a secret cable to different diplomats. And in China for example a cable was sent from the US in order to look like it came from the National Journal but instead attached a file that contained a “malicious code that would give complete control of the recipient’s computer to a hacker”. This only continued, the Copenhagen accord was really good for the USA and so they were trying to do everything in their power to get it passed through the UN. However, other countries (realizing they could gain money from the US) began negotiating, many of these countries have not had weight behind their negotiations in a long time. Eventually after the US threatened, bribed and hacked it’s way to the finish line, the US paid various countries compensation for support for the Accord.
This was a very different learning activity than any we have done before up to this point. No other learning activity has gotten me to think as much as this one solely on a moral standard. On the one hand I understand the US adamant push and support for the Copenhagen Accord. It would help restrict the global communities total CO2 emissions especially in some of the developing countries where manufacturing and factories produce large amounts of pollutants while at the same time those factories are countries largest sources of income. The moral standard I have a problem with is that the US felt it was necessary to commit espionage and cyber warfare in order to guarantee that the Copenhagen Accord went through the UN. Now I understand if we are at war and commit these acts without telling the American people. That’s fine. That’s military exploits and the American people don’t need to know that. However, if and when the American people found out the State Department was trying to manipulate the vote of less developed countries that’s absurd. No country should be able to bully other countries into doing whatever they say. However, playing devils advocate, many of these countries were being greedy in my opinion trying to get as much money as possible from the American Government just because they were in a position of power. So on this issue no countries were in the right but they all meant well. And ultimately the results were good for everyone for the most part.
Today I was walking back home and I became hungry. I was walking downtown and didn’t know what I wanted to eat. I had some very healthy spinach, cucumbers, hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken and just all around pretty healthy food. However, I then passed a McDonald’s. Thinking of how long my food was going to take to cook at home and the fact that McDonald’s is so cheap made my decision for me. The social norm here is about fast, food. Nobody has any time. Everyone is in a rush and that is becoming evident in many aspects of a person’s life, but none more so than with food. Getting a Whopper from McDonald’s is easier than having to grill a chicken breast. Also, McDonald’s did not break the bank for me so the idea of fast food restaurants providing the quickness and cheapness than many people want is the social norm I experienced.
Basic nutrition is an important issue and it connects to my food choice because I chose poorly. I could have eaten a salad with spinach, cucumbers, egg and some chicken. Instead I got a Big Mac. Now a Big Mac is made up of a burger, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and a roll, but Big Mac’s are not good for you. Decisions to eat the cheeseburger instead of a salad leads to obesity. I need to better understand not just what I eat, but the quality of what I eat. Another issue is food waste. When people make the decision to eat fast food instead of healthy food at home, that is how food goes bad. My spinach actually went bed when I could have just eaten it instead of McDonald’s so I wasted money on spinach and ate poorly too.
The location for the first case study is Halifax County, North Carolina, USA. The case study was done by the Michigan- Environmental Justice and undergraduate students at the University of Michigan. Here is the link to my case study page: http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/statter.html. Essentially Halifax County in the 90’s had to decide if the development of hog farms would be good for the community. The goals of this development were to establish hog farms throughout North Carolina, making money for the state while also protecting the environment and the right of individuals. This case study relates to a number of topics from the module. Sustainable development relates to this case study. The many new hogs in North Carolina produce a lot of waste that in turn can harm local water sources. And so to keep the state’s water clean they use “Hog Lagoons” to keep waste away from water. Hog Lagoons are supposed to act as natural trash bags with heavier sludge sinking to the bottom and forming a seal that prevents waste from going in the ground.
The location for the first case study is Maine, United States. The case study was done by the Colby- Sustainable Development and undergraduate students at the Colby College in Maine. Here is the link to my case study page: http://personal.colby.edu/personal/t/thtieten/Informal.htm. This case study’s goals were to see if establishing informal property rights to fisherman would help to preserve the ocean ecosystem that plays such an intracle role in Maine’s economy. The idea was that other than discounts providing fishers with exclusive access will create a more sustainable style of commercial fishing in Maine. Overfishing wouldn’t be as big of a problem and fisher’s would have a specific place to fish and it would help boost the overall GDP, another form of development. At the same time again a focal point of this case study too is sustainable development. The case study proposes to protect the ecosystem and future generations of fish, but at the same time takes care of the needs of the people now.
The location being compared to the two previous studies is Lansdale, Pennsylvania. For my first case study there is one similarity. In Lansdale, there is a good amount of farms with livestock around. In particular Hatfield Meats Packaging plant is very close to where I live. I can smell whenever the factory is working. However, the farms are not that plentiful and my town was actually a farming town first so locals don’t care about the smell as much. Lansdale is also different from the second case study because Lansdale is landlocked so fishing is not a source of GDP. Lansdale has a very different economy than a fishing town in Maine might. However, I think observing these case studies can be important to help Lansdale even though the location is very different. These case studies taught me that it’s never too late to think about sustainable development. Lansdale is home to Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. I wonder what Merck is doing to provide now but protect the future.
85% of the water source in my hometown all starts from the North Branch Neshaminy Creek (NBNC) just downstream of Lake Galena located in Bucks County. The water from Neshaminy Creek is then run through the Forest Park Water Treatment Plant. The Forest Park Water Treatment Plant is responsible for providing water to the North Wales Water Authority and the North Penn Water Authority. My family uses the North Penn Water Authority’s services to provide our home with water. We have one large kitchen sink with two sinks within the one sink, three bathrooms, three toilets, two showers and five bathroom sinks. The other 15% comes from 17 groundwater wells located throughout Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Then, the water is used in my home however. I was unable to find out what happens to the wastewater. My home is lined with pipes from the North Penn Water Authority so I assume that they are responsible for our wastewater.
In my home the water I clean, cook, bathe, brush my teeth and use the restroom. My priorities lie in my personal needs. I have to drink water to survive but I could definitely cut down. I could brush my teeth with my sink off. I would run my hair under the shower quickly once. Then, turn off the water and then scrub my hair with shampoo and body wash. Lastly, I’d rinse as quickly as possible. With my bodily waste, I would have to not flush the toilet for the entire day. I actually failed at doing this. The bathing and drinking were easy to do but the waste was tough. My mom got upset once she found out that I was not flushing the toilet and she flushed it anyway. Toilets just need to be flushed if you live with other people. I am very grateful that I live in an area where there is a large water source nearby. Knowing where my water comes from makes me think of all the other people using the same source. And despite the environmental collective action problem I will keep trudging along and try to use less and less water.
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 for a person to perform good acts. I think people who do good things make things better. Now I didn’t say people who do good things ARE good people. That is because you don’t have to be a good person to do good things. Personally, I’d rather be a friend with a crook that does charity work and other good deeds than a person with good virtues but stays inside their home and never does anything in the world. So for example just because a person goes to church every single Sunday doesn’t guarantee that they are a good person. My answer might change if we were to look at for example in a monastery. There are monks and nuns, some of the most religious and good people in the world and because of their faith all monks and nuns are good people. They do all sorts of charity work and good deeds.
2. Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?
I do not think the ends justify the means. When I think of means ethics, I think of the process, and included in this is intention. One good example is a lumber company cutting down trees. Now obviously lumber companies all want to make money from trees chopped down, but they could take additional steps to help the environment. If a lumber company’s intention is just to make money, when chopping down trees they may destroy a forest. Whereas if a company does care about the ecosystem in a forest they may plant more trees than they chop down, making sure not destroy the ecosystem. A circumstance where ends might justify the means is in war/battle. To stay alive and to win a fight some nasty and dark things may need to be done. However, your survival is all you care about not so much as to how you stay alive.
4. 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 think that ecosystems only matter to the extent that they impact humans. Whenever I hear people talk about the ecosystem there tends to be some correlation with global warming. Global warming is a problem for the world, but people only care about global warming because they’re scared about what’s going to happen to them rather than what’s going to happen to certain plants and animals. I am not filled with cynicism rather I just think it’s the truth and people are too scared to admit it. Ecosystem’s are only seen as tools, good and valuable natural resources. On the contrary, ecosystems may matter for their own sake if scientists discover how to live perfectly symbiotically with the ecosystem and earth. People would have to start looking at the ecosystem almost as like another limb. The ecosystem will be a part of everyone and everything and so the ecosystem may matter for their own sake and humans. Not just humans.
As we learned in the module a large population will have a large effect on the environment. This is evident in India, where the country has such a large population so not everyone can fit inside the modern, technology centered cities. So they have to cook with fire and wood. Because of this children would have to collect firewood before school so their mothers could cook. This caused many kids in rural areas to be late or even entirely miss school and miss out on their studies. On the other hand in the ecosystemthe kids and mothers chopping down trees and hurting the ecosystem. Then with the wood fires children and mothers would negatively affect health. So Dr. Vidya Sagar realized he could take the excess cow manure to create a biogas plant. Another benefit is that the remaining product acts as a very good compost and so women who use gas stoves and biogas plants can also make money selling the remains for compost. So like in “What Are You Optimistic About? Why?” by Ray Kurzwell, technology could evolve to help reduce impact. My diagram is similar to Marten’s diagram through the content. Everything he’s talking about I talk about as well just more specifically in each square. I, however, do not have as many connections between social and ecosystems. It could be learned that their are a lot more connections between a social system and an ecosystem than we may initially think.
Hello. My name is Jonah Kim. I currently reside in Lansdale, PA, but I usually tell people I was raised in Naperville, Ill. Currently I do not know for sure what career I want to pursue. Being a Political Science major, some careers that interest me are lobbying or working on a campaign. My interest in this course comes from geography sounding like a life course that should be required in order to be an inhabitant of earth. Other than that abstract reasoning, geography just generally sounds interesting I am not really too knowledgeable in the field which is why I am taking it now!
One issue that I think is important is the whole of idea of sustainability and how we as inhabitants of earth can better live in harmony with the earth. It’s especially important now with the earth reaching a threshold in regards to global warming, that many scientists have never seen before. And the whole idea of cooperatively coming together to help make our interaction with nature more sustainable is important.