Describe the importance of biodiversity and it’s affect an individual to population level. (150-250)

Biodiversity is extremely important at all levels of society. At a lower level whether that be individual or community, having biodiversity can bring a lot to an area. Multiple types of animals, bugs and plants bring balance to an area and it can be obvious when one of those levels is out of check. At more of a population or larger level, you really start to get into the topic of debate: Anthropocentric vs. Ecocentric. There is no doubt that there is a lot of untapped potential in plants and animals that we just not have come in to contact or tested with yet, but as I said earlier an ecocentric mindset brings balance to an area. At the level of a country or continent, decisions made to the environment (such as deforestation) can knock things out of balance at a scale that cannot be recovered. As the world starts moving to greener practices (such as what we covered in Module 9 with the Copenhagen Accord), we have started to bring things back to a more sustainable future, but there is a lot that still needs to change.

How does biodiversity affect you as an individual? (150-250)

Biodiversity affects me everyday! My hometown in Pennsylvania always had practices to have more of a respect for the environment. Something that I think is unique to talk about is a time when it was obvious that things were not in “balance” in regards to biodiversity. Across PA in general that last few years that has been an explosion of Stink Bugs especially when it gets warmer out. The bug is native to Eastern parts of the world and has no natural predator here in the states. These bugs get everywhere, both inside and outside; I really do not like them! An example like this really highlights how easy it is to upset the balance of things and why decisions that we make as individuals and as a population should be with respect to both Anthropocentric and Ecocentric mindsets. Another time that biodiversity has affected me is a spot that my family vacations at every year. The Outer Banks in North Carolina have seen huge changes in boating over the past ~10 years and boating is something we did a lot. We still are able to, but there have recently been a lot more restrictions placed down on where you can boat, when you can boat, and what scale. There has been a huge push to see the damage that has happened to the fisheries down there and I respect the effort they have put in the last few years to help those populations recover.

9 – Climate Diplomacy


My diagram starts with Fossil Fuel Burning; this leads to two outcomes. The obvious gain here is Cheap Power/Energy. It is methods that we have used for a very long time. The industry is well backed and lots of research has gone into these methods. However, burning Fossil Fuels also produces Greenhouse Gases which is not good. It traps heat within the atmosphere which leads to Climate Change. Climate Change is an extreme issue that the world is dealing with right now and there are obvious signs that it is not slowing down. If we wish to live a sustainable life then all countries must begin changing their practices and moving towards more sustainable means of energy production. Climate Change ultimately lead to the Copenhagen Accord which was a proposal to move towards “cleaner” means of energy production. It heavily favored Developed Countries but is extremely expensive for Developing Countries. Change the infrastructure of a developing country can be extremely country, and these countries were showing lots of hesitation as there were very few gains for them in this. This is when the U.S. started bribing and even threatening these countries into backing the Copenhagen Accord. Countries that did not respond well to bribes were threatened and eventually accepted for what the U.S. was asking. These cables however were leaked and released through WikiLeaks. There was lots of backlash after realizing how many countries the U.S. influenced through bribes and threats leading to 140 countries backing the Copenhagen Accord. Ultimately it was an opportunity for the world to start moving towards more sustainable energy production methods but it was not done so in an honest way.

The State Department cables really brought to light how many countries the U.S. had influenced in backing the Copenhagen Accord. There is no doubt that Climate Change is a serious issue and the Copenhagen Accord was an opportunity to really start moving away from Fossil Fuel Burning and towards cleaner alternatives that exist today. As a Developing Country, to have laws laid down that force you to completely change your energy production model when you are trying to focus on growth in other areas can be a gigantic setback and you may not even have the money to do so. The U.S. recognized this and tried to gain support for the Copenhagen Accord by bribing and eventually threatening these select countries. This definitely was not an honest way to go about it but it is difficult to argue that it was not for a good cause. The other side of this conflict is whether the cables should have been released to the public. I do agree though that they should have. It’s important to highlight when things like this happen to prevent it in the future and maybe make negotiations more neutral to both developed and developing countries. When it comes down to it, Climate Change is a collective action issue and we need all countries to be moving towards cleaner methods of energy production.

8 – Vulnerability Reduction

My hometown that I analyzed in Module 7 is Wayne, PA. Being in North Eastern United States, the area itself is not susceptible to many natural disasters. There are no volcanoes, low probability of earthquakes and protection from high winds due to the Appalachian Mountain Range that goes up Eastern United States. Some disasters that are possibly are hail, heavier rain and tornadoes. That being said, after living there all my life before college the rains are very seasonal and I have never felt in “danger” from the amount of rain we would receive during storms. There have been tornado warnings but I’ve never actually heard of one forming. In general I think the Nathan map is well documented and probably backed up by a lot of research, but a smaller scale would be nice. Being able to even just look specifically at North America would allow me to see greater detail about the dangers in PA.

From RSOE EDIS: On April 04 2016 at 02:13 AM (UTC) there was a Biological Hazard in York, PA United States (EDIS Number: BH-20160404-52779-USA). There was a raccoon bite confirmed for Rabies. I realize on the scale of natural disasters this is an extremely small case, but it is extremely relevant to my hometown location and why I chose to cover this. Before moving out for college there were a few times I remember public posts going out to our area about when this would happen. Usually it wasn’t bites, but an update that a raccoon with Rabies was found and to remain alert incase others were infected. There was also a time when one was found acting strange during the day at my neighbors and they called the police because of it. Scale for this is the same in York, PA as in Wayne, PA. Raccoons are extremely common in PA and Rabies is nothing to play around with. It requires painful treatment and that may not even be enough sometimes. As mentioned above, when this happens in my area there is a public release that is generally made and the proper procedure for reporting it. I would say everyone is equally vulnerable to this. It generally happens during the day and if you’re outside theres no reason it couldn’t happen. That being said, I have never left my house in fear of a raccoon attack. If they were more common maybe, but like I said I remember only about 4 or 5 reports when living at home.

Going back to more grand-scale natural disasters that are possibly in my area, rain and flooding would be up there as the most possible. Wayne, PA is a few miles from the Schuylkill River and there are times where flooding is a threat. Wayne is far enough away from the river itself that direct flooding wouldn’t be an issue, but if the river overflows it serves as a catalyst for other possible threats at a smaller scale that affect the surrounding suburbs. I couldn’t find any direct research into flooding at such a small level of Wayne, PA, but from the Nathan map and personal experience this would definitely be the most “possible” natural disaster at a larger scale. There was also a time where our area felt the aftershock of an earthquake in Virginia, but thats the only time there has been a noticeable affect from an earthquake.

I think the best way for Wayne, PA to better its pre-event preparedness would focus on its Urban Planning to allow for better drainage during heavy rain seasons. Urban Planning could include adding more drains to the roads, focusing on the affects of runoff caused by high asphalt coverage, placing buildings strategically in regards to hills and general water travel and how to quickly drain areas that are especially prone to floods. The people responsible for these changes would be at a city level since its mostly urban planning and pre-event preparedness. Also faster ways to alert the general public could be introduced. I think introducing a texting service similar to AMBER alerts could be helpful during times of high rain and possible flooding.

Urban Planning – K. Leimkuhler

The closest town that I live near that I can relate most to with this assignment is Wayne, PA. Wayne is located about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia and about a 5 minute drive from my house. Wayne is a small town; it is located on the Main Line and encompasses areas both within Radnor Township as well as Tredyffrin Township (which is me!). The last census done in Wayne was 2000 and there were 30,892 people residing within 12,662 households. The town itself is about 10 blocks in length and goes generally about 4 blocks in depth. The town is extremely friendly to both cars and pedestrians making it a combination of pedestrian-oriented and automobile neighborhood/suburb. It has lots of foot traffic especially on the weekends when people go in to the restaurants and shops, but one of Main Line’s largest roads cuts right through so it has very obvious traffic in it during peak hours.

I liked the video about Copenhagen’s efforts to make the city more bicycle/pedestrian friendly. One of the unique things about Wayne is that it is located on the Main Line, a train path through several large towns spanning to about an 80 minute ride outside of Philadelphia. Currently, this path is extremely unsafe to bike because the main ways of traversing through the towns is by the Main Line or a single road (Lancaster Road). I think something that Wayne could really prosper from is if they started making the town more biker friendly. It would be awesome to be able to go from town to town along the Main Line by bicycle and only one town needs to start that trend. I think once this happens there would be a lot more traffic into particular towns such as Wayne, promoting more customers to both restaurants as well as shops.

Another city that I learned to appreciate from this lesson was Curitiba, Brazil. I really admired the efforts that they put in to making sure the city is bus friendly and I think its something that Wayne, PA could prosper from. During peak hours, Lancaster Road (the main one that cuts through town) gets extremely backed up as most people commute into the city for work. I think if buses were more prevalent and easier to use, Wayne could really cut down on the traffic that it experiences, making a casual commute through much easier as well as appeasing to what I just talked about above in making it more bicycle/pedestrian friendly. I think one of the ways to do this would be introducing more buses that go into the city. The few times I’ve had to take a bus (or train) downtown the wait can be up to 60 minutes. If they began introducing train and bus schedules that overlapped with each other I think commuting would be a lot more efficient.

Food Choice & Social Norms – K. Leimkuhler

Food Choice Influenced by Social Norms

I grew up in a household where my dad always cooked our meals for the family. I began the day with making eggs/cereal, packed my own lunch and ended the day with a homemade meal. I never got into fast food and the few times that I ate out at restaurants, we had healthy options. I think that the hardest part about coming to college was the social norm of “convenience eating” whether that be from the dining commons or smaller food stores that sold mostly packaged foods. I struggled to continue eating as healthy as I was used to in my first year at college but quickly learned the helpfulness of making sure I always had healthy snacks in my dorm. I was able to get back to eating fresh (but not necessarily local) food while still being able to eat at the dining commons whenever I needed.

Food Choice Connected to Social Norms

My example above shows a lot about the challenges of “convenience food” that I faced when I first came to college. When people come to school getting used to a schedule can be very difficult and suddenly it’s so much easier to just go to the dining commons or order food from downtown. Generally food choices like this are the not the healthiest and you see things like the “Freshman 15” happen. Even if a student is able to go out and shop for themselves, finding the time for local markets can be tough. Instead, you end up in major supermarkets like Walmart supporting extremely large commercial farms and the farms that are local to the area begin to suffer. The social norms of eating at school can definitely be difficult and a lot of the time it’s due to students beginning to adjust with their new schedules and the lack of time that they have for always cooking (if they are even able to in a dorm) their own food. I think just being introduced to easier ways to buy local/supermarket food and the time to cook and eat it would help things out a lot.

System Diagram


Solar Energy Case Studies

Are solar cookers a viable, cost-effective alternative to traditional methods of cooking in Kenya? (Link)

This case study is located in Kenya and focused on the topic of Energy. Residents of refugee camps were given instructions on how to create solar cookers from already present material. The materials are cheap and plentiful. The solar cooker was introduced to this region because it serves as an alternate to the other cooking methods that they have which is mainly burning kindling from forests nearby (studied earlier in this course!). The con to the solar cooker is the time that it takes to heat up as well as its dependence on light of course. Cooking must take place during the day and it has to be sunny out. With those restrictions, the outcome of the case study was extremely positive. Many women in these refugee camps sought to create their own solar cooker and learn from the instructional lessons that were offered.

ToughStuff International (Link)

Founders at ToughStuff realized that a one-watt solar PV module could provide sufficient electricity for off grid basic services such as light, mobile phones, and radio. They have began selling their product in Kenya and have distributed to over 740,000 people. The product generates electricity from sunlight. It can be fixed on a roof or moved around. The objective of ToughStuff’s case study is to determine how effective their product is to the individual in Kenya. It is a cheap product to make and extremely mobile and accessible. Over the past five years they have reached a high usage population their distribution helps enable rural entrepreneurs in more remote areas sell products. I think this case study is an interesting one because similar to the solar cooker in the first article, it is a product focused on the individual. It allows single homes or people power a light during the night and things like that. The price also shows how far we’ve come with attaining more affordable solar energy.


Currently, I am not aware of any systems that I use on a daily basis that are powered by solar energy but it is an extremely possible thing in the near future. I think something to note about these articles is that they are both located in vastly different areas that me (I currently live in Pennsylvania). The areas that the case studies took place in in both of these articles have much warmer and more arid climates than PA. I think the results that they see there may vary a little had they been in a state like PA that probably gets a little less sun in general throughout its seasonal year. Overall though I think the results from these case studies are pretty remarkable and its definitely helping solar energy’s movement into more mainstream culture.

Daily Water Usage – K. Leimkuhler

a). I live in Chester County, Pennsylvania. More specifically, I am from Paoli, a smaller town within Chester County. This area is approximately twenty miles west of Philadelphia. Using I was able to get a wealth of knowledge about the source of water for not only my county, but my town specifically. I also gained an understanding about the treatments that it goes through to get from the source to my faucet! Chester Country has approximately 2,438 miles of streams, creeks, and tributaries, and 780 square miles of underlying watersheds. These aquifers and streams exist as 21 watersheds. Paoli resides within the Valley Creek watershed. A water shed is bordered by natural boundaries (mountains, hills, etc.) that keep precipitation and runoff within that area. It is from this watershed that Paoli sources its water supply. After the water collection process, it goes through the the seven main steps of the water purification process: Coagulation, Flocculation, Sedimentation, Disinfection, pH Adjustment, Fluoridation, and Filtration. These steps are pretty integral to all water purification processes and after seeing these steps outlined on CCWRA I was able to look online for a more in-depth explanation about what each step was responsible for.

b). Below is my water usage chart for a single day. Obviously this can change with the day if I happen not to run the dishwasher, need to do laundry, or anything else. I think this demonstrates a fairly accurate day.

Water Use Occurences Total # Gallons
Teeth Brushings 2 2
Hand Washings 4 4
Face Shavings 1 1
Showers (10 mins.) 2 100
Toilet Flushes 4 12
Water I Drank (8 oz.) 8 0.5
Dishwasher Loads 1 10

c). Living on two gallons would be quite the drastic change to my daily habits! I always take take a shower in the morning, and I always take a shower when I get home from practice. Eliminating these showers would take me down to 29.5 daily gallons. I would continue to eliminate all forms of hygiene (teeth brushing, hand washing, and face shaving) so that my daily gallons would decrease down to 22.5. If I was in a location like Mozambique or Haiti, I would imagine I wouldn’t have access to toilet flushing as easily or dishwasher loads. After that I’m pretty much at my .5 gallons of drinking water and any additional water for washing my clothes/dishes. I think this example is extremely dependent on your location; 2 gallons with normal human interaction (not smelling bad) in a place like Pennsylvania would be very disruptive.

From my daily water usage today my main water usage came from showering, dishwasher loads, and toilet flushes. I think priority wise, this is a fairly decent water usage table. Its under the average water usage for someone in the United States, and even though two showers represent 83% of my water usage, two showers is perfectly normal especially after exercising. I think if I were to look at cutting down my water usage, I would eliminate my shower in the meaning (thus cutting my water usage by 60%. To reference the paragraph above, I think two gallons a day in the location I am would fail. Not using water on any hygiene would be extremely noticeable to my peers and would simply be disruptive to my daily life. I think this really highlights how geography accounts for water usage. The area that I live in (both geographically and economically) allow me to use the water that I do. I were in a different location such as Mozambique or Haiti, this would be a totally different situation.

Your Ethics Views – K. Leimkuhler

  1. It is more important to perform good acts than being a good person. Deep down most people know what is right and what is wrong; showing that they know the difference is what counts. Take someone who never takes action in doing the right thing. They constantly talk about what the best thing to do is and demonstrate that they have good thoughts, but how much of a difference is that person going to make in a situation where action is needed. In some situations, someone who talks about doing good is important; if they inspire others to do good then that is very powerful. I think actions heavily outweigh words though so when it comes down to it, the person that takes action in doing something to benefit others is going to be seen as the “good” person. This doesn’t necessarily say that the person who doesn’t take action is seen as a bad person, but it takes a certain kind of person to stand out from a crowd.
  2. Deciding if the ends justify the means is extremely situational. The only person that can answer this kind of question is someone who is extremely versed on both sides of the situation. I think if someone knows a lot about a certain side, it can be extremely easy to defend the ends, but it wouldn’t be much of a conflict if there weren’t valid points on both sides. This kind of situation comes up a lot these days in terms of how we treat our ecosystem (ecosystem being anything from local to global). Deciding whether to install wind turbines, dams, nuclear power plants all have their obvious end goals, but it takes a lot of engineers, scientists, architects, and politics to come to a decision. There are a lot of people that strongly oppose the means and there are a lot of people that think they are justified. This conflict is something that must weigh the ecosystem and see if it can handle the means to arrive to the end goal.
  3. I think that the process by which decision are made matter more than the outcomes of the decisions themselves. This question I definitely had to think about, and I could swing to either side in certain situations, but I think its more important to find the the right process than it is to reach a decision. I stand behind this because I think of the situation in which a decision is reached through a corrupt process. Yes, a decision was reached and that could be important, but at what cost? Were innocent people affected by this? Was the betterment of a population or ecosystem sacrificed for the profit of a small group? I think there have definitely been times in history were the “right” decision is reached through a broken process, but I would rather know that the decisions that impact me and my environment are reached through a proper process even if I do not tend to agree with the outcome.

Module 2 – Biogas System Diagram


My diagram is split up into two main systems, the Social System and the Ecosystem. The Social System is composed of Growing Population, Fecal Waste, Health, Child Labor, Education, and Jobs. The Ecosystem is composed of Wood Collection, Deforestation, Biogas Generator, Compost, and Crop Yield. While each of these components falls under the Social System or Ecosystem, they are all interconnected by the effects of having a Biogas Generator in the Ecosystem. The main flow of my graph is that with a greater population comes greater wood collection and deforestation. Children are the primary collectors of this fuel source so child labor increases and and education falls. With a Biogas Generator, there is less wood collection and therefore an increase in education. It always creates more compost and therefore better crop yields. In the end, it leads to a positive feedback system by producing greater but healthier population and starts to go back into the same cycle.

Compared to Figure 1.5 in What is Human Ecology, my diagram has some similarities as well as some differences. The most obvious difference that one would notice right away is that Figure 1.5 much more of a cycle between Social System and Ecosystem while mine bounces back and forth between the two a lot. I think this could be the cause of more of a design choice on my end and I could probably focus a little more on making it cyclistic, but I thought the way I designed it was good as well. The similarities is that the differences between my systems are well defined. There is no component that could go in either one system or the other, just like Figure 1.5. These similarities and differences exist because of what I chose to focus on as my components. A system can be as small or as big as the designer wants and that will greatly affect how cyclistic the figure is, as well as how interconnected all the components are. The way that I chose to design mine could have focused on different components to make it more similar to Figure 1.5. I think what you can really take away from this is that there are a lot of different components to focus on when making a figure like this. It can really change the look and the impact it has on a reader; it is definitely something that the designer should be aware of when creating one.