My diagram starts with the root cause of this entire issue: carbon emissions causing climate change. This is an unsustainable behavior which requires some form of global action to solve. That is where the Copenhagen accord comes in. The main issue is how the United States is using political and financial pressure to get nations on board to sign the accord. The United States is the worst offender of the polluters according to the article, and many nations are not on board with the accord as it favors the United States over less developed nations who have felt the negative effects of global warming but have not actually caused it. They feel that money should be given to them by nations in order to make up for the fact that these other nations have harmed them. They view the money as a right not a privilege. These nations are not complying the the United States wishes, so the United States is using the information contained in the secret cables as ways to convince or blackmail these other nations. The United States is using political and financial pressure on other nations in order to get the Copenhagen accord passed in a way that makes it seem well supported. By doing this in secret, they are concealing the truth from the world and obscuring the real reason for the accord. Other nations are being subject to these pressures to in order to get them on board to the accord. The Secret Cables connect to the small nations and others which is why they are coming from the U.S. in support of the Copenhagen accord.
I believe that the cables probably should not have been made public in the way they were but now that they have been it is best to acknowledge the problems and move forward. There is a reason government secrecy exists in most cases. The people making these decisions have more training, experience, and information than we will ever have so we can criticize as much as we want but they probably know what they are doing to a large extent. As for the diplomacy being used, I believe there probably is not much alternative. Other nations are getting money for a reason: it is the only way to solve the problems they have with the accord. The United States is not looking to give away with money. The idea behind diplomacy is to give something you have to get something that you want. The United States exerting political and financial pressure is pretty much exactly what they should be doing diplomatically. As long as you agree that the accord is a good thing, getting nations to support it using these tactics probably is good not bad. However, plenty of people inherently distrust the government and also a lot of the world does not like the United States political power. Overall, the diplomacy is a bit shady and backwards but probably is the best thing for the United States in reference to the Copenhagen accord.
- In your hometown, how would you characterize levels of biodiversity? What are the main sources of the biodiversity and how do you imagine this has changed over time?
My hometown is Swarthmore PA. My hometown has a fair amount of biodiversity. There are many species of birds, plants, trees, and other forest based life due to the large park/protected area in my town. There is also a large water shed in the area, meaning there is marine biodiversity was well. A major river along with things like lakes and streams are everywhere so there is bound to be plenty of biodiversity in relation to places without such an intense system of forests and water ways. I am sure that back in the day hundreds of years ago, there were many more species of trees, plants, and insects. The virgin forest map in the module shows that my area was a victim, along with the rest of the eastern US, of total loss of virgin forest. While there has clearly been replanting and forests that exist now, the biodiversity has shrunk because of the loss of all the original forest back in the day.
- Is the biodiversity increasing or decreasing? Why do you think this?
My assumption would be that biodiversity is decreasing. The main issue why is definitely invasive species that are ruining the natural, and fragile, bio-system in place. These invasive species can be fish that take over the lakes and rivers, plants/weeds to overtake natural species, or insects that take the spot in the ecosystem of others. This is because of the increasing globalization that everywhere experiences. Plants and animals that were given access to my town in the past 50 years from all over the world have drastically changed the biodiversity of Swarthmore. These plants and animals were introduced and before anyone realized it, they upset the balance that was naturally there. There are now laws and such in place to ensure that these invasive species are not newly introduced, but some damage has definitely been done.
- What could be done to further protect biodiversity? Would it be possible to increase the biodiversity of your town?
My town could do several things to protect biodiversity: increase the pollution standards is one. Some species are very delicate and sensitive and any pollution in the river for example could wipe out a species of fish or insect. The rain falling from the clouds must be as clean as possible so as to not upset the ecosystem. Also, there could be stricter laws on cutting down any tree, this would preserve the species that are present now. As for increasing biodiversity, I believe that is something that is relatively impossible. Biodiversity should be protected not forced. By introducing new species or old ones that are now gone, there is a large risk of further upsetting the balance and in fact hurting biodiversity more than helping.
My town is Swarthmore Pennsylvania. It is outside of Philly and is a mix of suburban automobile for people who live in the area and commute to Philly and pedestrian-oriented due to the clustered main area which contains an old college. The college part has narrow walkways similar to Beacon Hill but other parts are automobile oriented like Rochester NY. It is part of a much larger general metro area outside Philly but the smaller town area itself has roughly 15,000 people. The place is nice, definitely a good mixture of a town and suburb style. However, the people there are very old fashioned and this ends up messing with the surrounding areas who do not have the same old design. I like the town and the area but sometimes the people cause massive problems.
The first city I will focus on from the module is Rochester NY. I am choosing this because it is how a lot of the surrounding neighborhoods and towns are aside from Swarthmore. In Rochester, things are more focused on automobiles and getting into the city. My area needs to take this into consideration. My area has a road, the Blue Route, which connects two major areas of transportation and many many people rely on it for work each day. It was designed as a shortcut back when the suburban neighborhoods in the area were booming. However, my town blocked the highway from being 3 lanes in their part, meaning there is a several mile stretch where the road is only 2 lanes. While not a huge deal back in the day, this causes massive traffic jams not only on the Blue Route itself but also on the major highway it connects to. Because my area was determined to remain a mix of pedestrian and automobile focused, it really screwed the whole region. This is a problem that should have been addressed back in the day and is now causing major issues for commuters in the area. My town would be more sustainable if it allowed the highway to expand: less traffic, pollution, and overall higher quality of life for the entire region.
The next city I will focus on is Detroit. I really believe that there is a major opportunity for urban farming in my town. Swarthmore is a place that enjoys organic food but there is a real lack of it, meaning prices are extremely high. This could be solved by putting the developed area to use as urban farms. Small scale urban farms could produce local goods and have a major opportunity to sell them right in the town. Swarthmore is obviously not as developed as Detroit however, and it must be noted that our version of urban farming would be a more open and “rural” one in comparison to theirs. Both achieve the same goal however: reduce the footprint of shipping food and also satisfy a demand for local, fresh, organic produce that cannot be easily accessed.
One time my food choice was influenced by a societal norm was in the weekly lunches I would have with my firm partners during my summer internship. I was involved in a very heavy workout routine over the summer and was hungry pretty much all the time. This would lead me to desire to order very large and filling meals to fuel myself.
The societal norm is that it is impolite to order more expensive food/more food in general than those that are buying for you and those around you in general. Therefore I was worried about people looking down on me for ordering very expensive (larger) meals than usual or ordering an extra side dish. This affected how I ordered due to societal norms, and can be applied to those who would feel inclined to order differently than their preference in any number of ways.
2. This norm connects to the societal issue of nutrition and waste. While I was experiencing the opposite problem, I feel there are many times people are looked down upon for ordering an overly healthy even though that is what they want. These people do not have to be co-workers but basically any friend or on a date. We all judge others and people definitely can feel pressure if they are ordering a small salad when everyone else orders full meals. Although I was not worried about people judging me for being obese because I was legitimately using the food as muscle fuel, I could very much understand how someone in my position would be inclined to not order as much as they wanted or not order an overly healthy option for fear of those around them judging. This not only connections to nutrition as someone may be pressured to order a less nutritious meal, it also connects to the issue of waste. Many times people will order something they don’t want in these social situations and end up not saving most of their meal. Throwing out good food because you don’t want it and were pressured to order it is clearly wasteful. Overall, the societal issues of nutrition and waste are affected by the choices we make when pressured by societal norms in situations of ordering in a social setting. The societal norm should be to order whatever you want (within certain reason of course) because no one but yourself is capable of making the best decision. Even if you order unhealthy food that is your decision and something that up to you to correct, not social shaming.
3. Diagram is below
My first case study was the Union Carbide Gas Release in Bhopal, India. This is from the environmental justice case study: http://www.umich.edu/%7Esnre492/lopatin.html
India is considered a country that has a high GDP because it is a good place to outsource business to. However it has a lower quality of life compared to the U.S. It has a much lower GDP per capita than we do. India now is a pretty developed country but back in 1969 it was not. In 1969 a company called Union Carbide opened a plant in India to produce pesticides.There was a strong market for pesticides in the country and it helped increase agricultural output and also created more industry in the country.The case study focuses on the massive disaster that occurred in 1984. A chemical called MIC leaked from the plant and became soaked in the surrounding land. Casualties went as high as 2500 people and there were hundreds of thousands of casualties. This created a massive problem because the country of India settled out of court for a mere 470 million dollars, not even enough to cover the medical costs of the victims. A development that came out of this was increased community organizer action and a push for more stringent regulation and punishment of businesses. There have also been developments to create jobs for those affected by the disaster.
My second case study involves the microloans in Africa described here http://www.thp.org/knowledge-center/poverty/microfinance/
This study involves the idea that sending small credit loans to disenfranchised African women would help ease the burden of hunger there are overall help the people. Obviously Africa is under-developed and a poor area so sending more there is key. In order to make most efficient use of the money, the idea is to send small loans to women who would begin to produce food and other goods. Not only does this improve the economy, it helps solves the hunger problem as well. The idea behind this is that by giving money to those who need on a small personal scale instead of a large government controlled infusion of cash, people will be able to create a stronger economy at the local level. This is important because of the key problems about Africa is the weak financial markets that are unable to get money to those who really need it. Microloans help solve that problem. This connects to the course discussions on GDP and per capita GDP. Developments in this area will not only increase GDP but instead of clustering it in large companies, it will distribute the money to those who are poor and in need of work.
These two case studies connect to my hometown, which is just outside of Philadelphia. They show the disconnect between large business that inflate GDP and provide jobs but often are less than perfect for the environment. Pollution levels and other problems have occurred from large companies and shipyards polluting the rivers in Philadelphia. It connects on another level because oftentimes small businesses are not able to get as much credit as they may need. Our system of financing is very strong however and in this day and age, competent owners will be able to take out loans and improve the economy. Because we are relatively much more developed than Africa and India, the problems of corporations polluting and financing are much better regulated and handled. Being from a place with these strong developments in place really increases the quality of life and opens up many opportunities.
‘m from Swarthmore PA, which is about 15 minutes north of Philadelphia. Because I love so close to the city, this is where my house gets its water supply. The Philly area has two water processing plants, the Queen Lane/Belmont plant and the Baxter plant. Water from the Schuylkill river is treated for bacteria and other harmful pollution at Queen Lane and then is sent into the city. At the Samuel S. Baxter plant water is taken from the Delaware, cleaned, and sent to the city. Some of this water is sent to the Delaware County Water Authority, where it is tested and dispersed into the county. There are hundreds of thousands of residents in the county served by this water authority. The water goes to my house and other residences in the area, then sewage is sent back to the DelCo Water Authority for treatment.
February 6, 2016
10 Minute Shower = 60 Gallons
Bathroom/Brush Teeth = 8 Gallons
Washing Face/Hands (throughout day)= 3 Gallons
Drinking Water = 1.25 Gallons
Making Coffee= .25 Gallons
Total = 72.5 Gallons of Water
Despite my best attempts, I came nowhere close to using just 2 Gallons of water a day. I ended up using roughly 10 gallons which actually isn’t that bad when compared to the 72.5 used earlier in the week. Priority was given to drinking water first but I drink a ton of water so already half my allowance was gone. After coffee and making pasta, I was above the limit. Unfortunately I needed to visit my girlfriend (aka I had to shower), which drove my water up at least 5 more gallons despite trying to keep it very short. Adding in brushing my teeth and washing hands, I was around 10. What I realized is that I’m basically unwilling to sacrifice any of these activities in my daily life although shortening my shower wasn’t too bad. Shaving in the shower instead of as a separate activity also saved a few gallons. It’s amazing to me that people live on 2 gallons a day in some places. Geography has amazing impacts on peoples lives, if those people had access to more water locally their lives would be greatly improved and they could spend less time surviving and more time doing great things. Overall I’d say it’s impossible to maintain the quality of life in our location without at least 500 gallons a week. While I only used 72.5 in my experiment that did not include things like laundry, filling a mop bucket, and other daily activities that happened to not occur that day. This was very eye opening, experiencing the severe shortage of water in certain parts of the world must be awful.
Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?
My life is worth at least as much as the lives of others, especially those who are total strangers and have not been affected by my actions. I lean toward the selfishness side of this argument because our lives are looked out for by ourselves, not others. In order to give ones self a best chance, it is best to put us before others. Not everyone does this but it is important to recognize that each person is, basically, the master of their own fate and is capable of making choices for themselves. Therefore having the power of controlling my actions gives me precedent over someone else because I cannot control their actions. However, obviously this is true for everyone and it is expected that to another person, their life is worth at least as much as mine. This has exceptions in things like friends and family, as there is a relationship there which allows for some degree of action in their lives and them in yours. Saying ones life is less worthy than another persons is against human nature and simply impossible to quantify unless some relationship exists with that other person.
Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?
Yes, the ends do justify the means. Progress involves sacrifice, pain, and often unfortunate effects along the way. Halting the road to success because there is a pothole is a great way to get nowhere. Obviously this is limited to those with sound judgement, good ethical principals, and who are only seeking the end goal and not any unfortunate thing along the way. It is impossible to say exactly where this line is drawn between acceptable and unacceptable means to an end but that is where the debate comes in. Saying that the ends never justify the means in ridiculous. A homeless man should be able to steal a loaf a bread in order to survive. A homeless man obviously should not be able to beat someone to survive however. Laws exist to prevent people from going overboard in their pursuit of a goal, breaking even a slight law and getting caught results in punishment. However, many times it is okay to break that law. Overall, the ends can and often do justify the means, but there are definitely things to limit this. Someones life cannot be taken to save 2 but probably can be taken to save 20,000. Unfortunately this brings things like racism and speciesm into the question. There are some things that are justified for progress but there is a very big limit to what is justifiable.
Do ecosystems matter for their own sake, or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans (ecocentric ethics vs. anthropocentric ethics)?
Ecosystems matter for their own sake, not just for their impact on humans. While humans are the “most important” species in the fact that it is wrong to put a human life behind an animals, destroyed an ecosystem which affects a large variety of living creatures is wrong and dangerous. Humans are a part of the ecosystem and the center of it but certainly not the only important part of it. Should humans suddenly die off the ecosystem would change but still exist meaning it already has some inherent value apart from our lives. Taking the view that only things that impact humans are important is wrong, much in the same way saying only things that impact me are important and nothing else matters for its own sake. That is a bad road to go down and while an ecosystems impact on humans is extremely important, there is certainly inherent value outside of that.
The core ideas behind my diagram of the biogas generators in India are chain reactions and connectivity, along with technologic jobs and wealth. First the diagram illustrates feedback mechanisms, how society and ecosystem are interrelated. When the population stops burning wood not only is the air cleaner but the farms have better irrigation which in turn improves the soil. Improved soil leads to more food and more for the population. The two are totally interconnected. The second core idea, that technology and wealth influence the environment are clear. New technology not only generates more wealth through better jobs and more production, it also will clean the air. However, in time the positive effect of decreasing deforestation may be offset by the greenhouse gasses produced by the generators and their power. It is notoriously hard to predict technology, as shown in this relationship.
My diagram is similar to the Marten reading because population is clearly tied with everything from tech to education. It is different in that specific effects on society clearly impact the environment directly, instead of generally traveling from human to environment and back. They are similar because there are many universal truths in the interconnectedness of societal effects, environmental effects, and the two. The differences arise from looking at a specific case of biogas in which clear outcomes are more evident. Comparisons between the two show a more complex model, not just two sides interacting directly OR two sides interacting within themselves then directly but rather a combination of both models.
Hello, my name is Jim Shaud. I’m a Senior here at University Park, State College. I am originally from the area of Swarthmore in Delaware County, about fifteen minutes out from Philadelphia. I am an undergraduate in the Smeal College of Business working towards a bachelors of science in Accounting. I start working as a tax accountant in Washington D.C. this summer. I love watching football and basically all sports. I passionately support the Eagles. I also enjoy playing video games like Fallout 4, lounging around with my friends, and listening to new music. This is my final semester at Penn State so I am definitely going to make the most of the time, being with my friends and having fun as much as possible. I hope to gain a better understanding of how people can affect and utilize geography around both in practical work and culture. Also the impact geography has on local environmental policies and other laws is something I look forward to getting a better grasp on.
In the social science perspective, it is very interesting to read about the human interactions with geography. It reminds me of a presentation that my group did in Intermediate Financial Accounting on the triple bottom line approach of accounting. This basically amounts to an environmental policy in which all impacts on society are taken into a profit margin. Financially measuring a company’s geological and overall environmental impact is a very tough thing to quantify but a very interesting and useful concept, one that I find very important. Overall, the mutual relationship between humans and the environment is key. Understand the world and our place in it is a fascinating and very important objective.