Module #10 – Biodiversity – Skiba ljs5300

Lucas Skiba


Module #10

GEOG 030

Biodiversity: Learning Activity

  1. Talk about the biodiversity of your home town or where you currently live. Include examples of plants, animals, and other inhabitants and how they contribute to the ecosystem. Should be a paragraph from 150 to 200 words at least.
  1. In a second paragraph 150 to 200 words, explain some human impacts that are destroying biodiversity. Explain how it effects your hometown and how it effects the whole world.
  1. Create a system diagram of biodiversity and include the human impacts, and other environmental impacts that effect it.



I currently live in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is home to over 25,000 species of known organisms (I Conserve Pa 2012). There are 800 of these species that are rare or considered endangered which means there is a chance of extinction. I do not believe there is a particularly important species of plant, animal, or organism in Pennsylvania that would be more important than others. But I do believe that every species plays a significant rule in the ecosystems around them. Pennsylvania has a good amount of towns and cities but it also has its fair share of rural land as well. A perfect example of biodiversity loss is in the colony collapse disorder of honey bees. This is a huge impact on Pennsylvania’s biodiversity because honey bees help pollinate most of our crops for food. It is important that we keep our biodiversity very diverse because this can make our ecosystems more resilient and less susceptible to threats. The mountain lion is another animal that people do not know if they are extinct to the northeastern region yet. You may know it better as the “Nittany Lion.” The conclusion is that biodiversity is very important in sustaining our ecosystems that we live in, so it is up to us to protect biodiversity and strive for healthier sustainable environments.

There are many factors that lead to biodiversity loss, but the biggest threat is human impact. Some examples of human impacts would be over harvesting (including hunting, fishing, gathering, etc.), agriculture, over population, pollution, buildings/ industrial factories, etc. I would say the biggest biodiversity losses in Pennsylvania would be from over population, and deforestation for agriculture. Pennsylvania has been using deforestation for a while to produce lumber. Now the forests are cut down for agriculture to grow more crops, because an increase in population means and increase in food. Over population for biodiversity is not just effecting Pennsylvania, but the entire world. Pennsylvania has its fair share of state forests and parks but we need to make sure we are conserving and monitoring our biodiversity in other regions as well. We all need to cut down on population growth and cutting down our forests and focus on alternative and healthier ways to create food and wood to conserve our biodiversity. Our species of animals, vast valleys, and extravagant landscapes of Pennsylvania make it very beautiful place but to conserve this beauty and biodiversity the people are going to have to make changes to everyday life. Biodiversity is how the ecosystems and environments work together as one, so it is important that we keep all living things in a healthy state.


Bibliography/Citation List:

  1. I Conserve Pennsylvania (2011). Retrieved on April 12, 2016.
  1. PennState “Probing Question: What’s killing the honeybees?” (2007). Retrieved on April 12, 2016.
  1. GEOG 030 Module #10 (2015). Retrieved on April 12, 2016.


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Lesson #9 – Climate Diplomacy – Skiba ljs5300

Lucas Skiba


Lesson #9

GEOG 030


Climate Diplomacy

Lesson #9 - Climate Diplomacy - Skiba ljs5300

In this systems diagram it is explaining the process of which nations are coming together to solve the problem of climate change. As you can see the first box says industrial revolution and use of fossil fuels. This was the beginning era where we first started polluting our country. The second box contains greenhouse gas emissions and bigger population. This was after the industrial revolution and when the world’s population almost doubled in size and the climate of the earth began to change. This is what leads us to climate change. Now today climate change is not just a problem for one country but the whole world, so this leads us to United Nations Climate Control Conference. Nations coming together to to make a treaty on climate change. So in 2009 they held the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit (The Guardian 2010). During the summit the Copenhagen Accord was introduced. This was to get almost every nation to decrease greenhouse gases but it did not guarantee global greenhouse gas cuts to avoid dangerous climate changes. Some poor and vulnerable countries disagreed with the accord because they would need money to fund their emission cuts. The U.S. sending cables to other countries to get information from them and to see if they can be trusted was a result from the Accord as well. This is all just negotiations to figure out what countries need to cut back on, to decrease climate change, and to decrease global greenhouse gases. When there are a total of 140 countries trying to come to an agreement for one problem it is very difficult to agree especially when everyone wants to better their own country. But the result was 116 nations out of the 140 are for the accord.

To make a difference on climate change I believe that we all need to come to an agreement just like what the United Nations are doing. Certain countries and especially the U.S. need to make sacrifices if we want to stop global greenhouse gases from dangerously warming up our earth. Our roots as the United States are deep within the industrial industry and has made us a powerhouse over the years, but now we see that we have been slowly damaging our earth and it is time for us to make a change. I believe the State Department’s cables should be public, as a citizen we have the right to know what our country is negotiating, and who they are negotiating with. Even if the cables were the result of not all the countries joining the accord I am glad they did not agree because the accord doesn’t even guarantee that the global greenhouse gas cuts will stop climate change from reaching dangerous levels. I believe we as the United States need to sit down with other developed countries such as China, South Africa, Brazil, Europe, Japan etc. and see what are the biggest polluters in each country and decrease them in some way. We need to draw a line in the sand saying each country depending on it’s size can only pollute and create this many greenhouse gases. It is just so hard to get countries to change their industrial and transportative ways in a sense it is like changing a culture but the goal here is to live on earth sustainably for as long as possible. The ways and cultures of today are leading us down the wrong path to sustainability. We has nations need to make sacrifices in our industries and lives to cut back on causing so much greenhouse gas emission and start looking for a more sustainable future.


Bibliography/Citation List:

  1. GEOG 030 Climate Change (2015). Retrieved on April 6, 2016.

  1. The Guardian “WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord” (December 3, 2010). Retrieved on April 6, 2016.


Lesson #8 – Vulnerability Reduction – Skiba ljs5300

Lucas Skiba


GEOG 030

Lesson #8

Vulnerability Reduction

            I am from Boalsburg; Pennsylvania it is right outside State College. The town is pretty safe up here in the northeast according to the Nathan World Map of Natural Disasters. The only thing that can effect us majorly is increasing heavy rain or hail storms. I have lived here all my life and, from what I’ve experienced the natural disasters I’ve stated are probably the most damage causing environmental problems around here. We are not close enough to the shore/east coast to feel the effects of a hurricane or rising sea levels. If sea level rises or a major hurricane hits the east coast people/population will move inland. I think the Nathan World Map of Natural Disasters is accurate for countries and the big picture but it doesn’t seem to get the very fine details of each state and city.

A current disaster near Virginia caught my eye. Power Outages are probably the least death consuming natural disaster, but they still effect a large area of land. “Thousands of Dominion Power customers were without in Loudoun County overnight. Most of the affected customers were in the area between Purcellville and Leesburg. The outages were down to about 50 customers as of 5 a.m. Wednesday. More than 23,000 were originally without power around 10 p.m. Thursday. Dominion Power told WTOP they believed the problem was related to an “underground cable issue” (RSOE EDIS 2016). This small natural disaster could happen any where I believe and has actually happened in my home town. It usually is caused by storms, extreme winds, floods, heavy rain, etc. Depending on the grid of the power or the electricity plant this event could effect up to an entire city or town. The scale is important because it all depends on the size of the energy grid. I would say the elderly are the most vulnerable during power outages because they can’t move or see as well, and everyone needs light to see. I would say back up generators or excessive amounts of candles are a good way to reduce vulnerability and complete darkness.

I can say I have experienced flooding in State College and power outages as well and I think these are the most hazardous natural disasters that could happen to my home town. Here is a link to video that was taken from June 27, 2013 from downtown State College of an increase of heavy rain, ( Natural hazards such as heavy rain, flooding, and power outages are serious because it is much harder to obtain important substances such as food, water, shelter, light, dryness, etc. I believe such disaster is harder for elderly people because it is almost as if they are stuck in the location that they live in. This is why flooding and power outages are a natural disaster.

There are a few things that you can do to prepare for such natural disasters. One is build better drainage system for your town, second is to make sure you have back up power especially in places that have elderly, and to establish better facilities/homes that can withstand flooding. The best possible people to overcome these kinds of obstacles would be local authorities, community, FEMA, etc. Basically in any natural disaster all you can do is prepare for the worst. Be educated in any natural disasters that could happen near you and be ready for the worst outcome.

Bibliography/Citation List:

  1. GEOG 030 Lesson #8 (2015). Retrieved March 30, 2016.


  1. Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards (2011). Retrieved March 30, 2016.


  1. Emergency and Disaster Information Service, (RSOE EDIS), (2016). Retrieved March 31, 2016.


  1. Flash Flooding in State College, PA (YouTube), (6/27/13). Retrieved March 31, 2016.







Sustainable Cities – Module #7 – Skiba ljs5300

Lucas Skiba


Module #7

GEOG 030

Sustainable Cities

            I am from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. It is located in Centre County right next to State College. It is a small little town where I was born, raised, and also attended school. To me Boalsburg is definitely an automobile suburb. It is very middle class with lots of suburban neighborhoods. Boalsburg is very quiet and quaint and only has a population of almost 4,000 people (City Data, 2016). I will always return to Boalsburg, it is my home and where I feel the most comfortable and safe. Boalsburg isn’t just important because I was raised there it is also the home of Memorial Day and where I’ve spent most of my life making memories with my friends and family. I would say Boalsburg is an environmentally friendly town where people do a lot of gardening, hiking, snowboarding, skiing, golfing, walking, biking, etc. But I would love to see it evolve even more and become more sustainable and efficient.

For my first city I chose Charlottesville, Virginia. It decided to close eight blocks, in 1975, permanently and created a pedestrian mall (Pedestrian Perfection: The 11 Most Walk-Friendly U.S. Cities, May 2011). Some of the shops are also renovated old historic buildings as well. I chose this city because Boalsburg is very historic due to its creation of Memorial Day and it also has very beautiful scenery, shops, parks and restaurants. Downtown Boalsburg is probably only 6 to 7 blocks long, but it would be interesting to permanently block the few streets running through it. I feel the shops would blossom, and the gardens and flowers would fill the streets. Not only would it be more green, but more people and families would come to walk and enjoy the town. Also some of the buildings in downtown Boalsburg are also renovated historic buildings, especially the Boalsburg Mansion. But overall I feel like this would make the town more sustainable and environmentally friendly due to less automobiles and more gardening and pedestrian walking.

For my second city I chose Curitiba, Brazil. It has one of the best bus systems in the world. They designed their city around the bus over a subway system because they could get the same function as the subway with the bus (Street Films, Vimeo, 2011). I chose Curitiba because Boalsburg only has probably around 10 bus stops (CATA 2009) and that’s not that many for the size of Boalsburg. Also with a lot of people biking I also think we should have more bike lanes, or certain bike routes in Boalsburg. Curitiba has begun to design bike lanes on there streets to have a steady flow of pedestrian movement. I believe if we had more bike lanes, routes, and a better more consistent bus route as well we would have less people driving automobiles, and all around better urban panning. With less people driving and more car pooling, biking, and pedestrian transportation I think we can make Boalsburg a little greener.


Bibliography/Citation List:

  1. City Data (2016). Retrieved March 16, 2016 from

  1. Pedestrian Perfection: The 11 Most Walk-Friendly U.S. Cities (May 2011). Retrieved March 16, 2016 from
  1. Street Films, Vimeo (2011). Retrieved March 16, 2016 from
  1. CATA (2009). Retrieved March 16, 2016 from
  1. GEOG 030 Module #7 Urban Planning (2015). Retrieved March 15, 2016 from



Module #6 Food Choice and Social Norms – ljs5300 Lucas Skiba

Lucas Skiba


GEOG 030

Module #6


Breakfast Food Choices and Social Norms

I have to say it is a social norm for americans to eat bacon and eggs for breakfast. I probably eat bacon and eggs three times a week but most people, including my dad eat bacon almost every morning. This is a food choice because there are plenty of other healthier choices for breakfast other than bacon which is processed meat. Other good healthier food choices are fruit, toast, oatmeal, cereal, etc. During the weekdays when I’m on my way to work I usually eat a banana or an apple for breakfast it is quick and easy way to get energy. It’s a lot easier than cooking greasy bacon, and making a mess. It may taste good but for one, bacon is not as nutritional as fruit or toast. Secondly bacon and eggs have a bigger environmental impact than say a banana or an apple. This module really made me see social norms and the food choices I am making, and the consequences and reactions they have on the environment.

Choosing bacon as a food choice for breakfast and a social norm, I said that it was not nutritionally and environmentally safe as other food choices. Mainly because bacon is a red meat that comes from pigs. This meat is processed and not healthy. The kinds of protein you want to stick to is fish, poultry, beans and nuts. Which beef, pork, and chicken are the leading livestock in factory farms. By purchasing bacon you are supporting the factory farms that pollute the environment and spread animal diseases. These farms aren’t just polluting the air with feces and manure it is also polluting the water as well. These huge factory farms that are located in rural areas near neighborhoods and towns have high populations of animals that produce so much feces in them that it runs into our water supply. So I think our social norm and food choice for breakfast should be fruit. Keep it cost effective and nutritious without supporting major factory farms that produce process meat that ruin the environment.

Module #6 Food Choice and Social Norms - ljs5300-2

Development Case Studies Module #5 – ljs5300

Lucas Skiba


Geog 030

Module #5


Development Case Studies

            The first case study I researched was an article from IRIN called COP21: How Glacial Melt and Toxic Waste Could Spell Disaster in Kyrgyzstan. This development was about a gold mining pit partly owned by the Kyrgyzstan government through a company called Kyrgyzaltyn, and also Canada’s Centerra Gold. They own the largest gold mine in Central Asia. The mine’s tailings pond sits a little more than 3 miles below Petrov Lake. The issue is the glaciers have been melting from waste dumping and climate change, and the Petrov Lake is expanding. If this keeps happening there is risk of a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF). This happens when the lake fills up with water from glaciers melting and the water burst through the natural moraine dam made of soil, rock, and ice. If a GLOF happened in the lake it could wipe out part of the tailings pond running chemicals into the Kumtor River, which runs into a water system millions of people use everyday.

The second case study I researched was an article from E & E Publishing called Coal: As China’s Demand for Coal Soars, So Does its Water Scarcity. This development is about coal mines in Xilinhot, the coal mining city of inner Mongolia, China. Xilinhot is one of China’s driest cities and water is already scarce. According to E & E China’s coal mines have been dumping 80 million tons of wastewater into the Yellow River every year. The Yellow River is China’s second largest river, but due to over withdrawal of water its been on high alert. Chinese policymakers decided to create 16 large-scale coal industrial hubs. These coal mining hubs use lots of water for mining, preparation, power generation, coal-chemical factories, etc. E & E says, “those hubs are estimated to consume nearly 10 billion cubic meters of water annually, equivalent to more than one-quarter of the water the Yellow River supplies in a normal year.” With China’s water scarcity and water contamination it seems that coal mines are a threat to the environment.

I currently live in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania its not near any major cities but there is still affects from industrial development in Pennsylvania. Some of the affects happening in Pennsylvania are water contamination from fracking for oil and natural gas. Now this relates to both of these case studies because each of these developmental problems all are causing water contamination. Each case studies reason for water contamination are different like Kyrgyzaltyn’s gold mining company, China’s coal industry, and Pennsylvania’s fracking oil wells. They all are causing water contamination and they all are examples of development. Each of these areas are in different countries and all have different climates but you can still see the side affects of the industrial developments in each area. What we have to be able to take from these case studies and information on these developments is that being a developed or first world country is not always good, there can be its side affects to its environment. We need to be more aware of the damage we cause from these developments.



  1. IRIN News (December 2, 2015). Retrieved February 21, 2016 from


  1. GreenPeace (March 21, 2014). Retrieved February 21, 2016 from


  1. E & E Publishing and News (July 1, 2013). Retrieved February 22, 2016 from


  1. EcoWatch (June 5, 2015). Retrieved February 23, 2016 from


Module #4 Lucas Skiba ljs5300

1.A) How do we get our tap water today? Hello I’m Lucas Skiba. I’m from State College, Pennsylvania I was born and raised here and I’ve always wondered where our water comes from. Our tap water comes from the State College Borough Water Authority (SCBWA). They supply the water distribution and quality of our water for the State College borough residents. SCBWA has seven authority board members and thirty five members on staff dedicated to building one of the best water treatment facilities in Pennsylvania. The SCBWA consists of a water reservoir, twenty-three water wells, and water treatment facility. The SCBWA is also permitted to provide about 9 million gallons of water per day. It also supplies water to five different townships including ours which are Benner, College, Ferguson, Harris, and Patton townships. Around 1900’s the gallon per capita were at 5 gallons. Today it is 62 gallons per capita on average which is a drastic change in water usage over the years. It is important to know where your water comes from and to always be thinking about how much water you use on a daily basis.



1.B)                  Water Consumption For A Day Chart

   Activity Using Water      Amount of Water Used (Gallons)
        Brushing Teeth (2X)                          5 Gallons
           Shower (1X) 50 Gallons (5 gal. per minute. 10 min. Total)
   Washing Hands (8X) 10 Gallons(15 sec.per wash=120 sec=2min)
 Clothes Washer (2X)           20 Gallons (10 gallons per load)
 Bottles of Water (7-8X)            1 Gallon (500 mL per bottle)
      Flushing Toilet (5X)            5 Gallons (1 gallon per flush)
               Total=                   91 Gallons per day


1.C) To begin the 2 Gallon Challenge I knew right from the start I was going to have to give up some of life’s many luxuries. I first started at my water consumption chart I made for part b. I looked at everything i could cut back on. Such as shorter showers, not running water when brushing teeth, and cutting back on washing my clothes. So I begin in the morning brushing my teeth I tried to use less water by not running it in between rinses. I then proceeded to take a shower. I normally take a 10 min shower but I cut it down to 3 minutes by not washing my hair. Which cut it back to 15 gallons instead of 50 gallons which is a huge difference. I didn’t wash any clothes that day so that usually accounts for 20 gallons of water. I only flushed the toilet for number 2 so that accounted for 1 gallon instead of my average of 5 gallons per day. I still consumed the same amount of water for drinking, and still washed my hands normally. Hydration and sanitation I still think are things you cannot live without. So in all I used 40 gallons during the 2 Gallon Challenge. Which sounds bad but in reality I cut my average water consumption in half. In all I did not realize how much water I really was using and where the water I use comes from. It is good to be aware of these facts and makes me want to cut back on my water usage.

My Ethics Views – ljs5300

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 I believe only matter to the extent that they impact humans. I hold this view because everything that we use and make comes from this earth. Our government runs on consumerism. Everything we use today  from food, materials, and technology all of it comes eventually from natural resources. So if your asking if my ethics on this topic are more anthropocentric your exactly right. Our government I believe is more growth and profit than being sustainable and environmentally friendly. Now some ecosystems I feel we have more ecocentric ethics about are state forests and national parks. Maybe these places are protected because of the species and quality of the land. But maybe these places are protected because eventually one day we will use them for resources anyway if we run out. But maybe its up to us or the next generation to come to have more ecocentric views on the environment and our society. I think it will be up to us to change these views on the environments and ecosystems and teach and educate people that our “green” places or environmentally safe places of the world are more important and essential to our lives more than we even realize.

Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans (speciesism)?

The pleasure and pain of non-human animals does not matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans. I hold this view because we eat almost every kind of animal that lives on this planet. We breed animals to make pets and we breed animals to kill and make food. We pretty much do whatever we want with animals with really no consequences. Now think if non-human animals were treated or could be governed under the same set of rules as humans. What if you would get a murder charge for killing an animal? That would never happen because we see that the human life is more important than the non-human animals life. What if non-human animals were just as smart or intelligent as us. Would they breed us, use us as pets, kill us for sport, use us as food? Sounds kind of brutal when you look at it from the other point of view. So I believe that speciesism exist and we are just the animal at the top of the food chain. So we are just looking out for ourselves. But when we don’t need to be so environmentally destructive and we know some species could be extinct forever we need to take control and be more responsible for the species we have on this earth. Cause I believe that all species play their part in our environmental society.

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

I think its important to be both equally a good person and to perform good acts. I hold this view because to even begin to perform a good act I believe you already have to have some good in you. To perform a good act I feel your mentality is already in a good place, and maybe your thinking of the future outcome hoping it will end on a positive note. I think it’s a good thing to share and spread your virtues with others. For example if you let people know how much you care for the environment maybe there virtues will change to be the same and maybe even get them to take some action. Performing good acts or taking action can also hopefully get more people to make a physical difference but also get people to change theres virtues for the better. I think virtues and actions just work side by side together. If you are a bad person you will probably perform bad actions. So virtues and actions are leading to one another. It is important to have good virtues and actions so then you can see the end result or hypothesize on it to make sure its in the best interest for everyone. So to have a positive end result we need to start first with a good positive thought or virtue we have, share it, talk about it, however we can make it become a good idea or a topic for change for the better. Then once we have that we can take action and perform what our good thoughts and virtues are into a physical sense to show and spread the virtues we believe in. This is why i think we need virtue and action ethics equally.

Lesson #2 Coupled Human Environment Systems – Lucas Skiba

In my diagram I created for Biogas Generators I wanted to use it or portray it in a systems perspective. Meaning the social system and the ecosystem are two different systems but they are working together to hopefully get a positive result. The arrows pointing from one system to another are to show how they each effect each other while all being in the same system. For example on one the first arrows goes from soil to income. Now when biogas generators have created this methane gas for cooking there is an compost left over for the cow dung or plant residue use. This compost can be converted into soil. Woman sell this soil to farmers for money to create an income. Another example is the arrow from population to forests. Now families without biogas generators use wood or brush to fuel or cook there food. Usually its the children’s job to get this for the family. Families believe the more children the more fuel for cooking. But since the population has grew over time so much deforestation has occurred which becomes a huge problem. So hence the biogas generator. This means no more wood or brush to burn and less children which is less population. Which means the forests will grow back and not decrease. It is just important to realize that even the smallest part of a system can have a huge impact on anything else in the system.

To the diagram we read about in Gerry Martens reading “What Is Human Ecology?” i think our diagrams are very similar. You have two different important systems working together to create an over all function. Each system is showing positive feedback for each individual arrow thus bettering the environment. Our diagrams are a bit different because I was focusing more on how each system is helping one another with biogas generators. Marten’s diagram is showing how population and deforestation and more of the negative aspects are affecting each system. There are similarities and differences because we each view each system differently. Even know most of the information in the diagrams are the same they are slightly different because everyone portrays each system in there own mind. This is a good way to introduce ecology because you are seeing the relationship between people and the environment.

Biogas Diagram

Biogas Diagram

Module #1 : Getting To Know You

Hello class my name is Lucas Skiba. I am from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania which is right outside of State College. I still currently live here and have lived here for 22 years. Some facts about me are I like to snowboard, skateboard, wakeboard, waterski, and skimboard. Pretty much if anything has something to do with a board, going fast, hitting jumps and rails you can count me in. Clearly I like the outdoors and am currently trying to pursue a career in Energy and Sustainability Policy, because  I love the environment and want to do what i can to sustain it. I am interested in Geography not because it is one of my prerequisites but because I love to travel and see the world from different points of views.

A big issue of today is world population. According to in 1970 there was roughly half as many people as there is today. In the 20th century alone we went from 1.6 billion to 6 billion people. And the population is only going to keep getting bigger. Now you ask what does this have to do with Geography? Well it has everything to do with Geography, because the Scale of the earth is only so big. So we will need to figure out where were all going to live, how we will keep people from going hungry, what countries with grow and shrink/be taken over. The globalization of the world will only keep changing and growing, as will the diversity of our people and cultures.