Module 10

Lititz, PA Coupled Human-Environment System

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I think it is important to understand biodiversity and the coupled human-environment system that I live in.  Therefore, my assignment to myself is to think about my hometown and analyze how biodiverse it is.  What have the residents of Lititz, PA done to save our environment?  How biodiverse is it for an environment located in the “temperate zone”?  


In order to describe my hometown of Lititz’s biodiversity, I created a general diagram to show the interactions between humans and our environment (a “coupled human-environment system”). The community of Lititz, in comparison to a rainforest, is not very biodiverse. But Lititz in comparison to the many American communities is!  Lititz has several diverse wildlife “sanctuaries” like the Wolf Sanctuary, Middle Creek Wildlife Refuge, and Amish farms. The Wolf Sanctuary is eighty plus acres of natural woodland home to the Speedwell Wolves. It has been the home to wolves for over 30 years and holds a unique position as “Ambassador” to the wild of Lititz, PA (“Ambassador” between wild animals and humans). The large woodland area allows for the wolves to have a safe home while giving the tourists of Lititz a view of their wildlife. Middle Creek Wildlife Refuge is another wildlife sanctuary located just up the road from Lititz that is home to many species of birds and serves as a stop-over to many birds that migrate up and down the eastern coast of the US.  Amish farms located in Lancaster County operate with as much self-sufficiency as possible (ex: cow and wildlife wastes are literally sprayed on plowed fields as a fertilizer for crops and mules are used to plow and pull harvest wagons).  The Amish live a minimalist life by using no electricity or cars and harvest and prepare their own food, create their own clothing, and recycle the wastes of their animals. The Amish are also important to the Lititz community because they have many roadside markets where the general public can purchase home-grown fruits and vegetables which lessens our “human footprint.”  The Amish are very environmentally friendly people and typically live off many acres of farmland. A majority of Lancaster county is made up of this farmland.


I mentioned these parts of the Lititz environment because local residents and lawmakers have worked hard to preserve the Lititz community (local and state levels).  Also,we are blessed in that we have experienced only a very few extreme weather conditions. Hurricane Sandy caused some flooding in Lititz, but nothing that was not easily repairable. Early spring frosts can cause  a year of low fruit yield (apples, stone fruits, grapes), but that, too, is only a temporary loss.  As was stated in module 10, areas where few natural disasters occur have a greater biodiversity.  I believe that is true of Lititz and the surrounding Lancaster County.  

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Module 9

I found all of the WikiLeaks articles very difficult to understand.  What I know is that most of our world agrees that carbon emissions have pushed our Earth close to a “Planetary Boundary” and humans have got to agree on what to do so as not to reach that “unsafe state.”  To reach such an agreement, many “treaties” have been developed, argued, and voted on, but none agreed upon globally.  The US found the “accord” developed at Copenhagen in 2009 to be very advantageous to its personal welfare.  As a result, the US set out on a mission to get all other UN countries to agree on this “Copenhagen Accord”.  During this mission, US politicians and ambassadors, among other things, offered “grants”, financial incentives, gave ultimatums, and implied that they were the targets of a “phishing” scam in order to get countries (big, small, wealthy, and poor) to agree to this accord.  What happened next was not anticipated by US authorities; WikiLeaks cables revealed how the US manipulated countries and “offered negotiating chips” to get this accord passed.  In the end, approximately 75% of the UN countries have backed this Copenhagen Accord.  Was the US morally corrupt in its actions?  I believe so, because it had been using its huge finances to accomplish its own goals.  Is it good that the “WikiLeaks” occurred?  I think yes because even though it has been embarrassing, it showed the public (both domestic and foreign to the US) how US politicians work and will stop at almost nothing to accomplish it own ends.  
Without a doubt, the US is one of the, if not the, biggest producers of toxic “greenhouse gases.”  Also, without a doubt, many people do not conduct “individual mitigation”! So many of us, and I include myself in this, believe that it is “everyone else’s” problem to lessen greenhouse emissions.  I believe many Americans ask themselves why we should have to reduce our standard of living just so others are not overcome by increased water levels, extreme weather events, and the negative impacts of global climate change.  Unless we are directly affected by global warming (either physically or financially), I believe the average American will not change their ways in order to prevent us from reaching a “planetary boundary”.   Yet I believe that we who are the primary “emitters” should be the people who monetarily pay for greenhouse mitigation.   Should the residents of small, poor countries who add very little to greenhouse emissions have to change their way to prevent global warming?  I believe yes.  Anything that anyone can do to increase individual mitigation should be done!  On my individual end, I can help by eating locally grown produce because that is definitely available to me and I can make sure that I recycle every can and bottle that I use, not just the ones that are easy for me to recycle.  For that matter, I need to use refillable drink containers whenever possible!  These might seem like very small actions, but they keep me mindful of the precipice that which our Earth sits.  As I stated above, I think it was good that the State Department cables were made public, because it served as a check as to how American and others do business.  It is so easy for wealthy individuals and governments to push their weight around so they can get what they want.  Truthfully, I do not know what is right in this realm of global warming. Certainly this course has opened my eyes and mind to the footprints that I leave here on Earth.  The only tenets that I can adhere to are those of individual mitigation (recycling my wastes, using reusable containers, eating low on the food chain, buying locally).

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Module 8: Natural Disasters

I am from the small town of Lititz, Pennsylvania (population around 8,000) which is in the south central portion of Pennsylvania.   From looking at the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards, Lititz is a relatively safe place to live as we are really only susceptible to hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and warmer temperatures during times when El Nino strikes.  I had a difficult time being precise with the Nathan World Map even after printing it out.  It is hard to discern where a state, let alone a city within that state, falls with regards to the degree of color for zones.  Although I can get an approximate idea of hazards in my hometown, I was disappointed when I couldn’t be very exact with these maps.  

Using the “RSOE EDIS” summary, I investigated a Biological Hazard in the states of Wisconsin and Michigan which was first reported on March 5, 2016.  It involves the spread of a blood infection caused by Elizabethkingia meningoseptica to 54 people, most of them over the age of 65. Eighteen of these individuals have died!  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been investigating this strange spread of the bacteria, but has not been able to detect a common variable between those affected.  Basically, officials in Wisconsin and Michigan cannot stop the spread of this “disease” because they don’t know how or why it is affecting people.    My hometown can absolutely experience a disaster just like this! Lititz has plenty of senior citizens (we have at least two “55-and-over communities”) with compromised immune systems, and plenty of soil and water sources which officials are saying are possible sources for this bacteria.  The population of Michigan (9.8m) and Wisconsin (5.8m) combined is 15.6 million, whereas the population of Pennsylvania is 12.8 million.  So after doing some simple algebra, Pennsylvania would have around 44 cases of this blood disease with 14.7 deaths if it were to strike in my home state. This is 44 cases and 14.7 more deaths than I’d like to see in and around my home state.  Also consider the cause for concern that this type of outbreak has in any population, and I would be very worried.  

When doing my own research, I discovered, what I found to be the most surprising;  Lancaster, PA is above the average in the United States to be hit by a tornado (“Lancaster, PA Natural Disasters”). I find this surprising because I have lived in Lititz my entire life and we have never been in danger of a tornado hitting our town. It was also stated that our town often has a high risk for thunderstorm winds. I completely agree with this because over the summer we have terrible storms that often cause a large amount of damage. From 1950 to 2010, there were a recorded 2,414 “thunderstorm winds”. Personally, I think that is an enormous amount for one tiny town (“Lancaster, PA Natural Disasters”). Also while researching Lititz’s natural disasters, I came across a story about a humongous storm that passed through the state of Pennsylvania. Forty-five tornadoes touched down in Pennsylvania during a three-day span in June of 1998. A mile wide tornado tore up approximately 48 miles. Entire herds of cattle were killed as well as people who were pulled from their home and thrown into another (“Pennsylvania”). It is crazy how dangerous tornados can be, especially affecting so many people in my state. In an extreme coincidence, as I am writing this assignment, my mother texted me to say that she received a “severe weather” text alert from the National Weather Service for tornadoes in Lancaster County!  One good way for Lititz and Lancaster County citizens to reduce their vulnerability to severe weather would be to take heed when such alerts come their way. Also, citizens should have a plan as to where their family would go (with a “To Go Kit”) in case of a tornado, hurricane, fire, etc…In our public schools (K through 12), we often have tornado and extreme weather drills which lowers our vulnerability (I checked with a teacher that I know from my town). I think that this is a very important practice seeing the statistics and researching more about natural disasters in Pennsylvania.

The town of Lititz has its own Fire Department, EMS Squad, and Police Force all of whom are on call 24 hours a day should a disaster occur and who have ongoing training so that they are best equipped to help residents.  Lititz also participates with the National Weather Service (located in State College, PA) to receive and send alerts when severe weather threatens the area.  Residents can now receive such alerts via email, texts, radio, and TV broadcasts.  I think what I can do to reduce my vulnerability while in Lititz is to stay attuned to any broadcasts of severe weather and health epidemics that may arise and take those alerts seriously!  Also, often the churches in Lititz have clothing and food drives to stock the local “Food Pantry” for unfortunate people who get struck with a fire, flood, or storm damage.  I can and should volunteer to  help with such drives.   A final thought that I’d like to add to this paragraph is that residents of Lititz and Lancaster County should check with their insurance carrier (homeowner’s insurance) as to whether they are covered should a hurricane/flood occur.  Although this would not prevent a hazard weather event to occur, it would soften the hurt after such an event and reduce vulnerability.  


“Lancaster, PA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes.” N.p., 2010. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <>.


“Pennsylvania.” N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <>.

Module 7

I live in Lititz, Pennsylvania which is a suburb of Lancaster, PA. The part of Lititz that I live in is considered to be an automobile suburb because it is a residential area where buses do not frequent and people have to use their cars to get places.  There has been a lot of growth and development in a mile radius of my home, but I’d still consider it to be of a low density as homes are on plots of ½ to 1 acre or more. Downtown Lititz would be considered a pedestrian-oriented community because everything is within walking distance; some residents of this area live and work in “downtown” and only rarely use a car.   There are a large number of shops, restaurants, parks, and convenience stores in downtown Lititz.  According to the 2014 census, Lititz, PA has a population of 9,400 people.  My town and the county of Lancaster are known for the Amish families who live there.  A lot of my culture and that of the Lititz environment is based off the Amish traditions. We embrace their culture while still keeping our “way-of-life” alive. For example, the streets are made for cars and horse and buggies. We share the road and both respect one another. We have many farmers’ markets sustained by the Amish and other farmers which allows for locally grown, fresh produce.   The outskirts of our town is made up of farmland with a few neighborhoods are spread throughout the area.  I was born and raised in Lititz and have lived in the same house for 19 years. I have friends that live close enough for me to walk to their home, and yet I live far enough from stores and my church that a car is a necessity. Bike riding would definitely be a possibility except for the fact that we do not have consistent bike lanes through the pedestrian or automobile suburbs.  My home/neighborhood/community is a wonderful place to have grow up!  


The first town that I want to discuss is Beacon Hill, Boston Massachusetts.  This would definitely be considered a pedestrian-oriented community because there are many places to work, shop, and seek entertainment within walking distance. The urban area has many streets that were first built 200 plus years ago, are made of “cobblestones”, and are so narrow that only one car can pass at a time.  Beacon Hill is a wealthy neighborhood and the residents can afford cars, but they choose not to use them very much because walking is a better option for the area; walking places makes their community more “sustainable”!   Beacon HIll is an inspiration for Lititz in my eyes because it is so physically beautiful!  The residents take pride in their homes and they strive to keep the area beautiful which, in turn, keeps the residents emotionally happy and fulfilled.  This fact about Beacon Hill reminds me of Lititz, PA because most Lititz homeowners do strive to make their “piece of the block” as aesthetically pleasing as possible.  Also, there are many shops, churches, doctor/dentist offices, a farmers’ market, schools, and recreational facilities within Lititz that are in walking distance that families can be sustained in the town.
The second city that I’d like to discuss is Detroit, Michigan.  Detroit really impresses me as a city with a lot of resourceful citizens.  The urban gardens, “farms”, rooftop gardens and markets are unbelievable and should encourage the people of any city to become more sustainable with “Mom and Pop gardens”.  As I watched the Detroit video, I could not help but think that the citizens of Lititz are not using half of the space that they have available to raise healthy food.  Certainly the Lititz Farmers’ Market that is held every Saturday morning could sustain more food stands and would, in turn, encourage the consumption of more locally grown, nutritious food.  One other thing that I noticed in the Detroit video was the fact that a volunteer was willing to help Will harvest and sell his crops.  I know that Lititz houses MANY high school students, church clubs, and adults who love to volunteer their time so as to help others.  I believe that , as Detroit, Lititz and its residents could grow a lot more fruits/vegetables and become much more self-sustaining.   

Module 6

  1. In my family, we try to limit our food waste to as little as possible. My father is a

hunter and, for many generations in our family, the males have always have been hunters.

Personally, I feel a little different on the subject of hunting, but I have always been lucky to

have food on the table no matter what it was. My father typically hunts for pheasants, duck,

and deer. These have never been my favorite types of food due to my picky taste, but

because of my culture and social norms of my family I was forced to eat it. It has always

been important that we do not waste food because there are some families that are not able

to put food on the table. Also my parents believe that if the food is good for you and gives

you energy to go on with your day, then there is no excuse not to eat it.

2. Due to my father’s beliefs on hunting and gathering our food, I have to respect what

he does for our family. If I did not respect our family’s social norms and did not eat what

was provided to me then this would be a societal issue of food waste. This is perfectly good

food that would be wasted on behalf of my picky taste. There are many people that are

dying of hunger due to lack of food and if I would not eat this just because I do not like the

taste then it would just be wasting it. Overall, I think that it is important to be grateful for

what I am given even if I do not enjoy it because there are families out there that do not

have what I have to nourish my body.

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American Cultures Affecting Foreign Means for Raising Money

One case study that interested me can be found at the following web address:  It describes how some people in Ethiopia are raising money to build a dam by having a lottery.  The lottery system was modelled after the American system where an individual purchases tickets in hopes to win one of the many amazing, worth-while prizes. These useful prizes included things like motorcycles, seven laptops, five TV sets, two refrigerators and a purifier. This makes their lottery unique because it is not just money that they could win, it is useful “tools” that will help them advance in life.The author goes so far as to say that it is an “historic” event in this country; never before has Ethiopia had such large-scale lotteries to aid a community.  I find it to be very neat that the lottery is supporting the environment; the people are considering “sustainable development”!  With the money raised from the lottery, it will fund the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Grand Ethiopia. These people are thinking ahead to future generations by providing a means to have ample supplies of water.  I think that this a very inventive and unique way to effectively raise money for their environment and its people.  The people feel good about spending money to help fund a community project.  

A second interesting case study that I read can be found at  Interestingly enough, this study also takes place in Ethiopia (and parts of Kenya) and is about the construction of a dam.  The Gibe III Hydroelectric Project was started in 2006 to create a hydroelectric power plant and was funded by the government.  An environmental justice organization called “Friends of Lake Turkana” (FoLT) are fighting the construction of the Gilgel Gibe III Dam on the Omo River on the grounds that a dam upstream from Lake Turkana would radically alter the landscape of the lake region, change the chemistry of the lake, and devastate the lake shoreline.  All of that, they continue, would have a huge impact on the local environment and fishing and agriculture economies and, therefore, cannot condone the dam . They also maintain that the dam would cause an alteration in the huge animal populations of the area.  FoLT people do not want their government funding the dam.  

These two studies are alike in that they both took place in Ethiopia and involve the construction of a dam. Both communities are trying to decide what would be ethical as far as the development of their society.   The case studies are not alike, however, in who is funding the dams and how the communities “feel” about the projects.  

As I read my first case study, I couldn’t help but think of The Pennsylvania Lottery run by the Pennsylvania government which is used to benefit “older Pennsylvanians”.  In both the PA Lottery and the one in Ethiopia, people buy chances to win prizes (monetary or physical prizes) and the proceeds are used to help residents who may not have a lot (both monetarily and physically). These two lotteries are trying to decrease health disparities between young and old, or haves and have nots.  The lotteries are used to, in a sense, “sustain” a group of people and positively develop their quality of life. It’s neat that both sides of these lotteries (the people of the winning ticket and the people who benefit in the long run from the lotteries) benefit from it.

Module 4- Water

  1. A) My hometown is Lititz, Pennsylvania. It is a small town in Lancaster County that is located in south-central Pennsylvania. The source of our drinking water in Lititz includes rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, and springs all of which feed wells. From what I’ve read, our water travels through the ground or over the surface of our land, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and even some radioactive materials. The water is then treated at The Lititz Borough Treatment plant before being pumped to my home. Our Lititz Run Watershed has been tested as having a medium to high-risk of significant contamination, which can be understood because northern Lancaster County has many farms and businesses that probably cause unwanted pollutants. From the sink to drain to sewer pipes, which is connected to approximately 560 miles of pipeline, the wastewater then goes through 1 of 38 pumping stations. Once processed through the station, the wastewater makes it’s way to the treatment facility. The wastewater treatment sight is called the Susquehanna Water Pollution Control Facility. It was designed to treat over 15 million gallons of wastewater per day. Our sewer and disposal sight is owned and operated by The Lancaster Area Sewer Authority (LASA). It is a municipal authority that was started in 1965. LASA currently owns, operates, and maintains a sanitary sewer system that serves approximately 37,000 customer, 100,000 citizens, and 1,300 businesses located in Lancaster.


  1. B) Monday: TOTAL: 45 GALLONS

Shower: 5 gallon x 5 minutes=25 gallons

Toilet: 3 gallons x 6 times=18 gallons

Hand/face washing: 1 gallon

Teeth Brushing: .5 gallons

Water drank: 72 oz approximately .5 gallon


  1. C) The areas that I directly used water in were the shower, toilet and for drinking water. I made it a priority to drink water because our body cannot function without it. The most water that I used was for taking my shower. I made it a priority to use my water while showering, because I am so used to showering everyday that if I were to go the day without it, I would feel very uncomfortable. I took a much quicker shower, though, than I typically do on an everyday basis in order to conserve water, but it was difficult to shampoo and condition my hair in such a short period of time. I also decided to use my water for the toilet. This is not something that I did/did not want to do; it was a necessity. I might have had an easier time if I was in the wild or a poorer country, like Haiti or most countries in Africa, because it would be socially acceptable to use the restroom in the wild, but since I was in State College, I had to use a toilet. I had a fairly easy time not washing my hands, face, or teeth in order to save water; this seemed like the most unnecessary of my water habits. Although I did not successfully complete the water challenge, I definitely cut down on my water usage. There was no way that I would have been able to effectively complete it with having to use a toilet and shower. I definitely cut down on my water footprint in comparison to my usual lifestyle, but I could not complete it.  I think that the biggest effect that this assignment had on me was that it made me aware of my “water footprint,” and alerted me to the fact that I should think twice before doing an extra load of wash or taking a second shower after I work out.   I also got to thinking about how lucky we are here in central Pennsylvania where the geography allows us to have a plentiful supply of water. Many years we get 25-30 inches of rain (that doesn’t include water in the form of snow), which is a luxury compared to the 5 inch average of rain that, for example, Kenya gets yearly.  The water use habits that I follow in central Pennsylvania are definitely very relaxed compared to habits that I’d have to adopt in areas of the world where precipitation is much less plentiful.


Module 3

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

Personally I can see a side to both being a good person and performing good acts, but for the purpose of this question I think that it is more important to be a good person (virtue ethics). I think that if you perform good acts (action ethics) just to be altruistic, but are a bad person on the inside, a day will come when you no longer do good acts. I believe that being a good person has to come before someone consistently does good deeds. It is important to be a good person because before you can develop healthy relationships with others and recognize what others need, you have to love yourself and be content. I think that an important aspect of being a good person to others is to be a good person in one’s own eyes. Being a good person means, among other things, doing what’s morally right, having a positive outlook on life, and treating other people with respect. Being willing to perform good acts will naturally follow from being a good person. However, just because a person does some good acts does not necessarily mean that he/she is an entirely good person.

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

   I would like no better than to say with 100% conviction that the pleasures and pains of non-human animals matter as much to me as that of humans, because I believe in a God who created all living things. I’d like to vow that I’d never hurt another living/breathing thing for my own wellbeing. After all, I continue, who am I to say that my living, breathing moments here on Earth are more important than the living, breathing moments of a cow or a mosquito? Who am I to say that it is OK to slaughter a chicken so that I may have meat to nourish my body? However, by raising animals specifically to later slaughter and eat so that my body can function well, I am actually acknowledging speciesism (humans are more important than chickens, cows, pigs, and all non-human animals). It would take a very major change in my lifestyle before I could say that I do not believe in speciesism. The truth of the matter is, I don’t know if I could ever survive not being dependent on non-human animals. I think that eating meat, fish, etc… and wearing leather shoes is so much a part of my existence that it would take some major life-changing event for me to live a life where I treat all non-human animals as if they were irreplaceable. 

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

My answer to the question of whether my own life is more, the same, or less important than that of others has two parts. First, I believe that my life is as valuable, if not more valuable, than the lives of others because it’s the sense of good self-worth that keeps me satisfied in my day-to-day life. Thereafter, it is only once I am satisfied with myself that I can then truly reach out to help others and become somewhat altruistic. When I am satisfied and/or happy with myself, I can analyze what others need and focus on what I can do to help them. Being altruistic then feeds my self-worth and I am, again, able to help others achieve a better lot in life. When I am unhappy with myself and/or my where I am in life, I have a very difficult time providing for the welfare of others (perhaps that is selfishness at my core). I believe that I am responsible to first “feed” myself physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually (value my life), so that I can then recognize the needs of others and help them achieve their needs/dreams.


Module 2- Diagram- Lisa David

lyd5055 diagram


The main parts of my diagram are the Indian Society and the Ecosystem. There is a “coupledness”, biodirectional interaction, or give-and-take relationship between these two important elements. The ecosystem is made up of (but not limited to) plants, animals, water, air, land, and forests. Women are the principal caregivers in this society and therefore do almost all of the cooking. They have tapped the use of “Biotanks” which helps to preserve the ecosystem. The social organization of the Indian society is such that women and children collect the dead fibrous plants materials, cow dung found in their immediate locals, and worms and add these parts of their ecosystem to their Biotank. The women then use two main by-products of the Biotank: methane gas and compost. They use the methane gas to cook their meals (it is kinder to the atmosphere than wood stoves) and compost from the Biotank to fertilize their crops. This use of a Biotank is much more efficient and kind to their ecosystem than past methods used to sustain Indian family members.

My “Biogas Systems in India” diagram is very similar to the one shown in Marten’s, “What is Human Ecology?” I added the term “coupledness” between the two main parts of my diagram, the Ecosystem and Indian Society, which stresses their interaction. However, the way that I arranged my diagram did not lend itself to showing all of the positive and negative feedback loops and/or interactions between the parts as well as did Marten’s diagram. All in all, both diagrams show that the Indian society and ecosystem rely upon each other for a healthy survival.

Getting to know

Hi my name is Lisa David! I am a sophomore at Penn State and I live on campus. I grew up in Lititz, PA, which is right out outside of Lancaster and about two hours away from State College. I am majoring in Elementary Education. When I graduate, I will be certified to teach pre-kindergarten through forth grade. I would love to become a kindergarten or first grade teacher. This is a required class for my major, but I do like geography. I am a very positive, happy person. I enjoy girly things like shopping, getting my nails done, surfing pinterest, watching Netflix, and going to the beach. I am planning on living in the south because I cannot deal with any more cold weather. I love kids and I am super excited to teach the future of America.

The issue I would like to address is visualization. Maps are a way to illustrate the layout of the Earth. The problem is the world is round and maps are flat. Projection is converting points of the round Earth to a flat map. They help us to effectively understand the layout of the Earth, our country, and even the layout of our town. It is difficult to effectively and accurately translate maps especially with constant construction and the land ever changing. I agree with the problem because it is difficult to always have an up to date map. With my experience, if my parent’s car GPS is regularly updated then the map will not make sense and we will end up lost. It is also just difficult to convert the 3D land onto a 2D map so not everything is accurate. Overall, I think that this is a very important problem to address and I hope to learn more about it as the course goes on.