Module 10- Biodiversity

  1. Describe the biodiversity of your hometown or around your area in 150-200 words.
    1. My hometown is Wyckoff, NJ, which is a suburban area located in Northern New Jersey. In my hometown, we have many species of plants, birds, and animals and a variety of wildlife. One of the ways that people in my community has effected biodiversity is through new development of the town and the lost of habitat for animals. Throughout the recent years, Wyckoff has been building new restaurants, buildings, and housing developments. Also, living only 30 minutes from New York City, I’m completely aware of the biodiversity that happens there. New York City is home to more than 8 million people and is known as the financial powerhouse of the world. It also is one of the greenest metropolises in the world and is remarkably known for their variety of habitats and the common and rare wildlife and flora that live there. For example, Central Park located in Manhattan houses a rich ecological community. Central Park soil has an abundance of species that have been brought in from all over the world.
  2. In 150-250 words, explain what are some ways you can protect the future of biodiversity in your hometown?
    1. Some ways we can protect the future of biodiversity in my hometown is by first educating people and having them be more aware of the individual impact that they are having on biodiversity. Also, creating protected areas in the community that people cannot build upon to be able to control the areas that animals need to be able to live. The government should also implement rules for such protection and the public should cooperate with the government and follow the rules. Another way to protect the future of biodiversity in my hometown is, creating campaigns that advertises the growth of trees, grass, and flowers but, also encourages the actions of recycling and throwing garbage as well as practicing eco-friendly food strategies at home. Lastly, we can protect the future of biodiversity in our hometown by encouraging local biodiversity within the community. This can be by taking care of your lawn, turning your grassy lawn into a more diverse area with flowers, trees, and vegetable gardens.
  3. Look up a current event relating to biodiversity. Summarize what you learned in a paragraph of 150-200 words
    1. I read the article “Wildmeat: Overhunting threatens species and people”. This article talked about how the issue of overhunting is damaging both diversity but also, people’s food supplies. When people are overhunting these species, this affects both the existence of the species in the future, but also the lives and health of people who rely on hunting for food. Hunting is a major threat to about a third of the threatened mammals and birds worldwide. The mammals most at risk from overexploitation are big and reproduce slowly, such as larger antelopes and elepants. Overhunting is blamed for the extinctions of elephant birds and giant lemurs in Madagascar, giant kangaroos in Australia, moas in New Zealand, and megaherbivores in the Americas. What I learned from this article is, documenting the problem of over-hunting wild meat is the first step. The second is doing something about it. If we come together, and make an effort to protecting the future of biodiversity and hunting, we can make an enormous progress.

Society For Conservation Biology. “Wildmeat: Overhunting Threatens Species And People.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2002. <>

Module 9- Climate Change


  1. In my diagram, I wanted to illustrate the connection between the WikiLeaks cables to climate change. I began my diagram by demonstrating how climate change is taken place. The burning of fossil fuels produces greenhouse emissions, which in the end causes changes in the atmosphere. The change in the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is then led to climate change. The need to reduce greenhouse gases then leads to the need of the Copenhagen Accord. This accord would allow countries to set their own goals for cutting greenhouse gases, but it didn’t guarantee the greenhouse gas cuts needed to avoid dangerous warming. The United State as a whole is one of the top producers of greenhouse gases and with this being said, they were extra careful coming up with a plan to reduce greenhouse gases that was selfish and that would benefit them. Next, the United States used secret cables, aiding, threats, spying, and bribery to target other countries. It seemed that the money was a huge motivation for other countries to sign the accord. In the end, it led to 116 countries agreeing to this accord, 26 countries saying they would also like to associate with it, coming to the total of 140 countries that intended on associating themselves with the accord. The 140 nations that support the accord represented 75% of the countries that are parties to the UN climate change convention and are responsible for over 80% of the current global greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, if people continue to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases used, then this collective action problem can be solved and we can eventually reach climate mitigation.
  1. In Module 9, we learned that climate change is a problem and is becoming a serious issue in today’s society. As members of society, if we continue using greenhouse gases, sustainability might not be a possible solution in the future. I’m concerned that we’re not taking the proper action to solve this problem and climate change in the future will only become worse. I think as a whole we can come up with a collective action that involves every nation working together in unison towards effective action. I believe that the small and poorer countries need to work together with the large and richer countries to somehow negotiate and discuss climate change mitigation. Also, another important concept I took away from this module is what really causes climate change. Climate change is not caused by temperature increases or the increase in radiation from the sun. People need to be more educated on the topic of climate change and know that, climate change is caused due to greenhouse gases from everyday human activity. Lastly, on the topic about if the State Department cables should have been made public, I believe it was right for the cables to be leaked. Even though the United States approached this situation in a selfish manner and resulted in countries to not trust them, the public had the right to know. In conclusion, I have learned that climate change is a huge issue in today’s society and that nations worldwide need to work together towards reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases to better the world that we all live in.


Module 8- Natural Hazards

  1. My hometown of Wyckoff, NJ was really difficult to pinpoint on the map because the scale is very large. The color code is difficult to identify along with closely seeing the state of New Jersey and my town on this map. But really looking into the Nathan World map of natural disasters, I was able to tell that my hometown has a medium-low risk of winter storms, along with a low risk of wildfires and a medium risk of encountering tornado and hail storms. This map would be better suited for this assignment if, we were focusing on areas of the world rather than focusing on our individual hometown.
  2. The disaster that I chose is a biological hazard in Angola, Africa that started on February 16th, 2016 at 3:12 am. There is a yellow fever outbreak in Angola, which has caused 168 people to die, and 1,132 people infected. Unfortunately, infected mosquitos transmit the viral hemorrhagic disease. My hometown of Wyckoff, NJ has a very rare chance of experiencing yellow fever because unlike Africa, my area is not exposed to mosquitos quite often. The only times we are exposed to mosquitos are during the hot summer months of June, July, and August. With the amount of hospitals in my area I would think that fewer people would be affected from this disease before it spread around, unlike in Angola. Angola, Africa has a population of 21.27 million people where Wyckoff, NJ has a population of about 17,000 people, which if the disease affected 1,132 people in my area, it would cause more damage. Different people and areas of the world are more vulnerable due to money and where they live. In my town, the wealthier people are more protected because they have more resources to protect them from the disease where, the less wealthy are more vulnerable because they don’t have the proper protection and resources. My town could improve its vulnerability of this disease by being more educated about the severity of yellow fever and being aware of the danger of mosquitoes.
  3. Living in Wyckoff, NJ I’ve had my experiences with heavy rain storms causing power outages, falling trees, and heavy water outside and sometimes seeing it in my own or my friends homes. With New Jersey being at significant risk of rainstorms, it explains the hazard that Wyckoff faces throughout the year. From the map below, you can see that the Township of Wyckoff is at risk for rainstorms along with a bunch of other neighboring towns surrounding the area. When hurricane Sandy hit a few years ago, I experienced power outage along with seeing the damage that it caused the roads, houses, and cars.

  4. To fix this issue in my hometown, I believe that first the town should trim trees or cut down trees that are in dangerous shape and causing harm to the town. This would help to protect the community along with power issues that might be caused by strong winds or heavy rain. The best people to perform these actions are the department of public works. They can take steps to ensure a safer and cleaner environment for the whole community. As a member of the community of Wyckoff, I can take action in reducing vulnerability to natural hazards in my town by increasing my education on disasters that are going to occur in my area. By increasing my knowledge about disasters, I can be ready to take action if these disasters occur. I can also educate my friends and family so, they are prepared as well.

Module 7- Urban Planning

  1. My hometown is Wyckoff, NJ. Wyckoff is a township in Bergen County, New Jersey, which is located about a half hour outside of New York City. I would consider Wyckoff an automobile suburb. My town has a public high school, roads with sidewalks, and bus transportation to New York City. Although Wyckoff doesn’t have their own train station, we have neighboring towns that provide transit to New York City and other major cities, which is very popular for commuters. The population of Wyckoff is just a little bit over 17,000 people. Growing up in a town like Wyckoff has been pretty great because of the proximity to the city as well as having that small-town feel. Wyckoff has provided people with shops and restaurants around town that are easy to get to by walking, bike, or car. Lastly, Wyckoff and its neighboring towns have provided public transportation to larger cities by either taking the train or bus.
  2. First, I will be comparing Wyckoff to Copenhagen. Wyckoff and Copenhagen are similar in a way that just like Copenhagen’s pedestrian streets, Wyckoff has a center of town where a lot of people like to visit that have some restaurants and other shops. Wyckoff can be more sustainable like Copenhagen by encouraging more public transportation into the larger cities instead of individually driving. Also, the use of bikes should be more encouraged than cars, when people are leisurely driving around town. Walking to school can also be an alternative from driving to schools in the area because with everyone driving to school in the morning, it creates a large amount of traffic. This alternative would improve air quality as a result of less fossil fuels being burned by cars.
  3. Lastly, I will be comparing Wyckoff to Rochester, NY. Rochester and Wyckoff are both automobile suburbs and are both neighborhoods designed for families. Wyckoff is both similar and different than Rochester in a way that the town does have sidewalks on main streets and roads that allow pedestrians to walk from their homes to the middle of town. But, if you were to walk in your neighborhood, you sometimes have to walk in the middle of the street because of lack of sidewalks. In Wyckoff, most grocery stores, work, shopping malls, and schools require you to drive to and from. This causes a lot of traffic in the area, which causes pollution affecting the air quality and health of the citizens. Wyckoff can be more sustainable by encouraging activity such as running, walking, and biking that will not only increase the air quality but, also the health and happiness of the community.

Module 6- Social Norms of a College Student

  1. Living in a dorm room and not having a kitchen at your fingertips, is quite challenging. Also, taking classes, having a job, being involved in clubs and organizations, and hanging out with friends, it gets hard when you want to sit down and have a nice, healthy meal. Even though my dorm has a kitchen on the ground floor, it’s time consuming to grab all the ingredients and take time to prepare a nutritious meal. Having access to meal points on campus, it’s extremely convenient to grab something to go or something that’s pre-made because it’s a lot easier and saves a lot of time out of your day. When I am home for breaks and holidays I find myself eating a lot healthier because my food is prepared homemade with healthy ingredients and I have access to a kitchen that allows me to make the right choices.
  2. Being a student at Penn State and living in the dorm room of South Halls, I am always in Redifier Commons picking up food to eat. South Halls has an array of food choices that are easy for college student to pick up on the go and eat. This norm connects to the societal issues of nutrition and food waste. When students choose convenient and easy food options, they are normally choosing unhealthy and processed food. This poor diet of excess and unhealthy food results in obesity, which, is all across America today. Also, being able to pick your food, some students are more likely to order more food than they actually can eat. This in turn, leads to an enormous amount of food waste daily at Penn State. Also having buffet styled food options, a lot of food is prepared ahead of time and if it is not used throughout the day it becomes a waste.food_diagram_meb5867

Module 5- Sewage Treatment Plants

  1. Environmental Justice Case Study: North River Sewage Treatment Plant                      -                                                                     -My case study focuses on the North River Sewage Treatment Plant located in West Harlem of Manhattan in New York City. This study talks about how ever since the construction of the Sewage Treatment Plant, members of the community have talked about overbearing odors emanating from the North River Sewage Plant. Since the development of the plant, residents of the surrounding area have complained about the noxious odor, a smell similar to rotten eggs. Residents can’t even spend time outside on their front porch or even open their windows. The smell even gets worse in the hot summer months. Residents near the plant have also complained of itchy eyes, shortness of breath, and other symptoms related to asthma and other respiratory problems. This case study relates to what was discussed in the module because since the odors of the treatment plant is causing people to have symptoms like shortness of breath and asthma, this can cause the life expectancy of people in the community to decrease.
  2. Worldwide Watch Institute: Chinese Cities Lack Sewage Treatment                            -              -The next case study that I found was from a different source, and it discussed how nearly 300 Chinese Cities lack Sewage Treatment. Of these 300 cities, 8 of these cities have a population of more than 500,000. By the end of 2004, 708 treatment plants had been built in 661 cities. The Sewage Treatment in Chinese cities play an important role in boosting urban water quality. Without adequate facilities to treat their sewage, cities either release their waste into nearby rivers or into surrounding farmlands. The shortage of high-quality water has become a serious issue in many localities, and water pollution continues to threaten both public health and living standards. This case study is an example of a poor end use. Because without proper sewage treatment people will not be able to have good quality water.
  3. Throughout both of these case studies, it was shown how the structure of development can impact society. These case studies are both similar and different to my hometown. These case studies are both similar because the sewage treatment affected the populations health and living standards. I currently reside in Wyckoff, New Jersey which is a half hour out of New York City. I can relate to the first case study because I am in New York all the time because it is a great city and also because my brother lives there. In some instances when I am in the city, I can smell the odor of the sewage treatment plants in Manhattan and I too sometimes agree that the smell can become very overbearing. My hometown is different from case study two because unlike case study two my hometown has a sufficient sewage treatment plant and also we have great quality water.

Module 4

1-A) I live in a town called Wyckoff, located in Northern New Jersey. Our water is serviced by a company called Ridgewood Water. The Township of Wyckoff along with three other neighboring towns (Borough of Glen Rock, Borough of Midland Park, and the Village of Ridgewood) is serviced by Ridgewood Water. Ridgewood’s Water source is primarily groundwater from wells. Wells in New Jersey range from about 15 feet to 2,000 feet deep. The company owns and operates fifty-five active deep wells which are located throughout the four towns. They also purchase water from United Water NJ and, during summertime demands, water from the Hawthorne Water Department. Each source is tested regularly and treated appropriately to insure that it remains in compliance with all state and federal water quality standards. The groundwater is stored in underground areas called aquifers that is then pumped upwards to our tap. After the water is used it than drains into a pipe that leads to our township sewer system.

1-B) February 7th, 2016

Shower– 2 times (10 minutes)- 100 gallons

Using the Bathroom- 5 times- 8 gallons

Brushing my teeth- 2 times- 2 gallons

Drinking Water- 1 gallon

Wash Hands/Face- (7 times)- 7 gallons

Total: 118 gallons

1-C) After tracking my water consumption Sunday, I was really surprised that I used a total of 118 gallons. Yesterday, I tried to live on only 2 gallons, and it was really hard. I went through my whole daily routine and tried to limit the amount of water I used on each activity. My top priorities on my list were mainly daily hygiene activities like, taking a shower, brushing my teeth, and washing my face and hands. I tried to save water by only showering once and by limiting my shower to only 5 minutes. However, by cutting down my shower time by half and only showering once in one day, I was already way over 2 gallons. By tracking how many gallons of water I use in one day, I was able to reduce my water usage. I don’t think I’ll be able to reduce my water usage to under 2 gallons but, I can definitely try to limit the amount of water I use throughout my daily activities. Geography plays a huge role in water use because if there isn’t constant flow of water near your area than you are going to have to limit your consumption. Also, as a whole we need to come up with a collective plan to use less water in our daily activities.


Module 3- Ethics

  1. Question 1: Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts? (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)
    • I think it is more important to perform good acts than to just be a good person because ultimately performing good acts makes you a good person. Performing good acts not only affects you but, affects the ones around you. Holding the door for someone, saying Thank You and, volunteering or raising money for charity are several examples of performing good acts. Growing up I have always been taught to treat people the way you would want to be treated. Performing good acts of kindness can go a long way. People will remember the ones who made a difference in the world and who were kind to others through actions and through words. Even though people might perform acts with the wrong intentions, their actions will make a positive impact on others which, indirectly makes them a good person.
  2. Question 2: Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?
    • In my opinion for this question, both the ends and the means should be considered in the type of situation. The situation should depend on what the ends or goals are and what means are being used to achieve them. Sometimes people use the expression, “It doesn’t matter how you get what you want, as long as you get it.” People can achieve their goals through any means necessary, no matter what the circumstances might be. An example of this, is when people lie on their resume to get a job that they are not qualified for. By lying on their resume they are trying to make more money so they can provide for their family. However, lying on their resume can be beneficial or detrimental in one’s ability in getting the job. In the end, is it worth it to compromise your morals in getting a job that might not be a good fit for you.
  3. Question 6: Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?
    • I believe that my life is worth the same as others. I am a strong believer that everyone here on earth was brought into this world with a reason to do good and to benefit society as a whole. Often times, people are classified lower than others due to race, gender, beliefs, etc. but, we are all human and all at the same level. No one is above or below another person, we are all here to get along with each other. At times, I could be selfish but, I believe there is a part of that in everyone. I am compassionate about my values and my beliefs and I will do anything to make those things happen. I have goals and dreams and I won’t give up until they become a reality. In the end, I am here as a member of society and to do good and be good to the people around me and to get along with others.

Module 2: Coupled Human Environment Systems


The main idea of my diagram is to show the relationship between the social aspects and ecosystem in India and the impact of the biogas generator. The central idea of my diagram focused on how the Biogas Generator decreased health problems and created compost and cooking fuel. Also, the idea of Fertilizer being created by compost lead to working women which, resulted in business which increased income for the people of India. By looking at the system I saw both positive and negative feedback loops. A positive feedback loop was that the biogas generators produced fertilizer which the women can sell, which created an increase in money. An example of a negative feedback loop was that when biogas was put in place, it created a negative feedback for the need of wood.

My diagram is similar to Marten’s reading “What is Human Ecology?” because both of our diagrams address how the social system and the ecosystem are constantly effecting each other. Our diagrams are also different because Marten’s diagram shows the much smaller details within the system while also showing the bigger picture. By comparing our diagrams, people are allowed to interpret the information differently, while still getting the main idea. Lastly, by understanding both diagrams, individuals are able to understand all the elements and how they effect one another.

Getting to Know You- Mara Bunting

Hello everyone. My name is Mara Bunting and I am a sophomore at University Park, State College. I’m majoring in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. As an Education major I hope to use my degree to become a Kindergarten or First grade teacher or a Guidance Counselor. I live on campus at University Park but I grew up in Wyckoff, New Jersey, about a half hour outside of New York City. This class is a requirement for my major but; by taking this class I hope to gain more knowledge about the subject of geography. A fun fact about myself is that I love traveling and have been to places such as Italy, Greece, Turkey and a few of the Caribbean Islands.

Throughout my time in school, science related subjects have not been my favorite. But, when reading the first module, the topic that interested me the most was about human and environment interactions. One topic I am eager to learn more about is global warming and climate change. The concept of sustainability is very important because, we need to come up with positive actions that can better influence our environment. I am interested in what the world as a whole can do to help and improve the environment and hopefully understand what causes the changes. I am excited to learn more about the subject of geography and hopefully get to know you all in the weeks to come. Good luck to you all.

Best, Mara Bunting