Part 1. Draw a systems diagram representing the state at which biodiversity is changing today. Be sure to include detailed information about the reduction/conservation of biodiversity and how these factors effect it. The diagram should have at least six system components and the arrows should point in a logical direction and be explained.
Part 2. In a paragraph of 250-350 words, explain the ideas behind your diagram and connect these ideas with concepts you learned from other modules.
Part 3. In another paragraph of 250-350 words, present an example of a threat that effects biodiversity in your hometown and what steps could be taken to reduce this threat.
2. Biodiversity plays a crucial role in the future of sustainability, this is why we must continue our efforts to conserve the environment in order for biodiversity to thrive around the world. In my diagram above I have shown some of the problems concerning the reduction of biodiversity and the steps that have been taken in order to reverse these effects. The diagram uses contrasting red and blue text blocks to depict the problems (red) and solutions (blue). The first red block closest to the top gives a general overview of the main issues negatively effecting biodiversity. I then broke the main block down into two categories, human and non-human factors. Each of these categories contain specific examples of human and non-human factors and how exactly they are impacting biodiversity. On the other side of the diagram I have the blue blocks containing information on the conservation efforts to help grow biodiversity. Some of these efforts include a stronger push for conservation through which people use the idea a collective action to help raise awareness of reduced biodiversity around the world. Another catalyst in this conservative movement is the work The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has been doing. They’ve created a systematic scheme of the different levels of protected areas and what each of those areas means in terms of what they do for conservation. However, in order for these conservative efforts to have a greater effect, more of us need to acquire an ecocentric mindset. We can continue to develop as a species but we need to learn how to do it in such a way that protects habitats and other ecosystems while trying to gather the resources we need in order to thrive.
3. Anyone who has lived in or visited Pennsylvania, especially during the summertime, will probable be familiar with some of the many bugs that call this state home. Most bugs play an important role in the food chain and even agriculture but there is one species in particular that seems to be doing more harm then good. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug or stink bug for short is an example of an invasive species that has been impacting biodiversity in Pennsylvania. Originally found throughout East Asia, it is speculated that the stink bug was brought over to the U.S through shipping materials and was first discovered in the late 1990s in Allentown Pa. In module 10 we learned about some of the dangers invasive species can pose to biodiversity and what it could mean if that problem isn’t dealt with. Stink bugs have been known to feed on a variety of plants, including fruit trees, ornamentals, and various other crops. Since the stink bug has no natural predators here in the U.S, they can continually cause damage to locally grown produce. So the question remains, what can we do about these pesky insects. Insecticides are one option but why spread more chemicals into the environment when there are other ways to deal with them. I have known farmers who have used mineral clay as a means of preventing stink bugs from both laying eggs and feeding on crops. Another effective way to get rid of stink bugs are to buy stink bug traps. We have used some of these traps around my home and I was amazed at how many these things could hold, there must have been hundreds of stink bugs in each one. The nice part about stink bug traps is that they aren’t polluting the environment with toxic chemicals and they are made to only attract stink bugs.
1) Although it was difficult to get an accurate reading of the natural hazards in my hometown of Coplay, Pennsylvania, using the data from the Nathan World Map, it still showed me a generalized idea based on the northeast region I’m from. It is expressed on the map that Pennsylvania is in zone 4 for tropical cyclones, zone 2 for tornados, and zone 2 for hailstorms. However this is all I could gather from the maps presented because they were a little difficult to read. Considering there were no boarders for countries or states represented I had to rely on my general knowledge of geography; I could only give a rough estimate of where Pennsylvania was in relation to the rest of the North American Continent. The natural hazards I pointed out are real threats, I have seen all of the one’s I listed above occur at some point in my life.
2) As I was scrolling through the RSOE EDIS map I came across a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that took place in Papua New Guinea earlier today. I have only experienced one earthquake a few years ago while I was sitting in my house but it was only around M 2.1, a third the magnitude Papua New Guinea experienced. The risk of any serious damage caused by an earthquake is very low for Coplay or the rest of Pennsylvania for that matter. However, if a M 6.1 earthquake hit my hometown the event would cause a considerably greater amount of damage. It did not specify the impact radius of the earthquake but given the fact that Papua New Guinea is larger then Pennsylvania in terms of geographical area but smaller in terms of population there is a greater chance that more people would be affected by this natural hazard. Papua New Guinea only has around 7 million inhabitants as compared to Pennsylvania’s 12 million. Pennsylvanians are not as well equipped for earthquakes, we don’t usually have to worry about the destructive power an earthquake carries. There are many abandoned and decomposing buildings in and around Coplay that would structurally fail under the impact of an M 6.1 earthquake. We would be left cleaning up the town for weeks. We are much more vulnerable than that of other countries better equipped to handle these types of situations. Coplay’s demographics show 44% of town’s residence are over the age of 65 or under the age of 18, making them more susceptible to injury or death for naturally hazardous events. In order for Coplay to be less vulnerable the town needs to rebuild some of its older structures.
3) Growing up in Coplay I have a number of first hand experiences involving natural hazards in the area. We’ve had a few damaging hailstorms and blizzards throughout the years. In one instance we had a blizzard that dumped so much snow, the roof of the local gym collapsed. I called my parents and asked them if they remembered other events like this and they brought up a blizzard from 1993. According to them the storm caused some roads to be impassable for over a week and lots of people lost electricity. We have also had a few tropical cyclones affect the area over the past few years, Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Both of these events caused fallen trees, damage to houses, and some minor flooding. There have been other hazards like fires, earthquakes, and tornados but they are very far and few between.
4) Coplay is a small town and I know a lot of people who could play key roles in decreasing vulnerability in the event of a severe natural hazard that turns into a natural disaster. My dad works in the Coplay borough which is an administrative center for the town, the building is also connected to the police department. The police chief is a good family friend who happens to know the mayor very well. The three of them combined could create a number of pre-event preparedness plans like what buildings could be used as shelters and different evacuation routes. I did talk to the police chief who informed me of some of the emergency response measures they have in place but he said they never really went in depth with the precautionary strategies they would implement.
1) I come from a small town called Coplay in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Coplay is a suburb of Allentown located just north of the city, right along the Lehigh River. With a population of just over 3,200 people, Coplay would be classified as a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood because of the many shops, restaurants and offices all within walking distance of the residential areas. Growing up I would walk to school everyday with my friends and then grab dinner with them at a local pizza shop just down the road. Living in a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood is nice because on days you can’t make it to the gym, you are still getting a little exercise by walking everywhere and may even find yourself running into a friend or two along the way. The only problem in my town is the amount of traffic coming through from other areas on their way to the main parts of Allentown (especially to downtown).
2) Like my hometown, Beacon Hill in Boston is another example of a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. Established in the 1800s when walking was the main form of transportation, the neighborhood is set up in such a way that everything you need for day to day life is only a short walk away. Beacon Hill has shown how these pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods are still relevant in urban design today and not just for convenience but also for sustainability. When more people walk rather than drive a car, they are decreasing the amount of emissions let out into the environment. In the lesson it says many people can afford cars but choose not to use them in Beacon Hill. If there was a way that the residents of my hometown could convince the commuters driving into Allentown to take a bus instead, overall quality of the environment would improve. Less traffic means less emissions, just another lesson we could learn from a small neighborhood in Boston.
3) Chicago Illinois is a massive city with 2.7 million people, making it the third largest city in the United States. It may be a bit of an abstract idea to think you can compare Chicago to my hometown of Coplay, which is much smaller in comparison but they both have a common goal, sustainability. Coplay works on being sustainable by promoting healthier ways of transportation to its residents like biking and walking. Chicago uses a system known as urban agriculture to help drastically reduce the transportation time of produce to the grocery stores. This system in return improves air quality and rain water management. I think urban agriculture is a great system and I would love to see this implemented in my own hometown. Not only is it great for the environment but it could be a great community project that would strengthen ties between many of Coplay’s residents.
1) For years I have always been careful with the type and amount of food I have consumed. Being involved with sports since I was young has made me have to watch what I eat, however it has not always been easy. When I arrived at college I made a lot of new friends but not all of them are as cautious of what they eat as I am. Making a midnight run to the local pizza shop is kind of a norm among college kids and of course I wanted to fit in with my new friends. It was difficult at first for them to understand why I didn’t want any food because for them it was like I was rejecting a friendly offering. Eventually I caved and had a slice. This was not me making a choice based on my own personal preferences but rather me being pressured into going with the social norms of college life.
2) Unhealthy eating habits among college students has contributed to obesity all across America. As recently graduated young adults going out into the real world, many will not change their diets. I see people going for two or sometimes three plates of food in the dining commons, it’s becoming excessive. If we keep developing these habits and continuing to eat more than we need, it will lead to an increase in the use of industrial agriculture. Pollution from cattle, farming equipment, and fertilizer will continually grow; not to mention the acres of land that have been lost due to deforestation. I understand eating meals with peers is a good way to socialize but we have to learn how to control ourselves and not letting friends influence what we eat because that’s what they are doing.
1) The first case study I chose to write about comes from a paper reviewed by Colby College on the topic of air and water pollution in Indonesia. Over the past twenty years, the Indonesian economy has been one of the fastest growing economies throughout all of Asia. Although still considered a developing country, more jobs have become available, income has doubled, and poverty has fallen over the past couple of decades. While this is great for the country to have had huge strides in development, many factories are not up to the environmental code. Attempts have been made as early as the 1980s to improve conditions through the use of agencies like BAPEDAL (established 1989) to lead many of the environmental stability programs combating factory pollution. It wasn’t until 1993 when BEPEDAL’s Program for Pollution Control, Evaluation and Rating, (PROPER) issued a color coded system to evaluate where certain facilities’ pollution levels; black (no effort), red (some effort), blue (satisfying the requirements), green (above the requirements), and gold (exceptionally good) that change started to occur. These ratings were made public and since then pollution levels have declined.
2) This next case study I am going to discuss comes from United Nations Environment Program being studied in China; specifically about the pollution of the Huangpu River that flows through the heart of Shanghai. Around the 1980s the Haungpu River started having major problems with pollution from industrial zones and domestic sewage. This became a major problem for the 13 million people that the river supplied water for. Eventually the Shanghai Environment
Project Office devised a plan to construct a pipe that ran underneath the river to carry the waste-water to the other side the Pudong Area for pre-treatment with screening. The project costed around $200 million which was mostly supplied for by the World Bank. It was completed in 1993 and has proven to be a success. It recovered the ecological systems of the Huangpu River, improved drinking water quality, and eliminated the unsanitary conditions in the river.
3) I am from Pennsylvania and over the years, fracking has become an increasingly problematic issue. Fracking has been found to contaminate ground water with methane, ethane, and chlorides. These toxic chemicals make it dangerous for anyone living in an area affected by Fracking who own wells. Like the previous two case studies I’ve looked at, this is another issue of environmental pollution. There have been governmental policies put in place in the interest of Fracking but many of the processes of developing these policies come from looking at global development and how these types of issues have been solved throughout the world. I think it’s important to see how the quality of living overall has improved once these regulations and policies have been put in place in order to expedite the process in our own country. We can see how important the environment is and what it means for us to set up a sustainable future by looking at what it has done for other parts of the world.
Coming from the country, my family and I have always been mindful about the amount of water we use on a daily basis. Since we are not connected to a public water system we have to use a system known as a drilled well. The well was dug with a rotary style drilling machine so that it could make a hole several hundred feet down in the ground to reach the water bed. Rain water seeps down into the ground to replenish the well, which in turn is brought into my house through the use of an electric pump. We use this water for everything: drinking, bathing, going to the bathroom, and doing the dishes. My family has to make sure we conserve as much water as possible so that the well doesn’t run dry and we aren’t left without water. Any excess water that we use goes straight into a septic tank that is buried in the back yard. Any waste material is broken down in the tank by bacteria and the water flows out into a drain field where it is filtered trough gravel and absorbed by the ground again.
Going from using 65 gallons of water per day to using 2 gallons was challenging even though it was only temporary. My primary focuses were to use the water for hygiene and consumption. I did take a shower but rather than keep the water running I only used it to rinse off which took about 30 seconds meaning that I had used approximately half a gallon already. I used about another half gallon to brush my teeth once, leaving me with only one more gallon left and it was only 9am. The rest of the day I was very careful with how I used my limited supply of water. I avoided flushing the toilet which for us here in the U.S. is unsanitary but for someone in Mozambique or Haiti is a luxury just to have indoor plumbing. I also drank about half a gallon of water throughout the day which did suffice since I am a relatively smaller person and don’t need to consume as much. I avoided washing my hands, substituting the water for those small disinfectant sheets you would put in a travel bag or maybe take camping. During the evenings I usually go to the gym but avoided it for this experiment so that I did not need to take another shower. Overall the day was long and difficult without using the amount of water I am accustomed to; I was able to do it but I was cutting it close to 2 gallons. I have a greater appreciation for people living in developing countries who do not have the same resources that I have. I now see the importance of conserving water and how vital it is to the preservation of life and the environment.
2. Do the ends justify the means (ends ethics vs. means ethics)?
An important question in the context of action ethics we must ask ourselves is if what we are doing now will eventually lead to a justifiable outcome. I believe that this is a difficult question to answer without any context, it all depends on what the situation is and who is involved. For instance, America is the only country to have ever used nuclear capabilities in war. Nearing the end of World War II our government had to make a decision, should they drop nuclear bombs on two small cities in Japan? If they did it would kill thousands of innocent civilians but would most likely bring an end to the war, potentially saving more lives than those that would have been lost. However they would still be killing thousands of innocent Japanese and weren’t even sure that the war would come to an end. They decided to use the bombs and it did end the war in Japan,however many people were still killed. This is a case where we really aren’t sure whether the ends justify the means. We don’t know what the other outcome could have been had we decided not to use nuclear capabilities. Of course there are some more black and white scenarios like, if I stay up all night to finish a show on Netflix, is it worth losing sleep and decreasing your productivity the next day at work or school. For me it is simple, the answer is no. Nothing is ever clear cut and no matter what decision you make you are never going to know the ends (results) of what else could have happened had you chosen the other option. In most cases though I would agree, the ends do justify the means.
4. Do ecosystems matter for their own sake, or do they only matter to the extent that they impact humans (ecocentric ethics vs. anthropocentric ethics)?
We live in a time where anthropocentric ethics is more important than ecocentric ethics. It’s part of the reason for the climate change we are experiencing and why the sustainability of the human race is becoming more questionable. I believe in considering the welfare of non-human animals and their environments just as much as the welfare of humans. Destroying or altering an ecosystem effects the animals and natural processes in that environment. It is like the butterfly effect, one small action triggers a series of other events that can spiral out of control. If too much thought is placed on what is important for humans we neglect the natural world, and without the natural world humans wouldn’t exist. Ultimately what it comes down to is that ecosystems should be held at a higher standard because they are just as important to people as the new Wal-mart they are putting in that field or the road they are running through that forest. Every city, town, store, or restaurant that has ever been built has probably destroyed an ecosystem. It doesn’t matter how small it may seem, if we can’t take care of the ecosystems (some of which are necessary for our survival) then the ecosystems can’t take care of us.
6. Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?
This is another complicated question to answer. Speaking from a moral standpoint, no human life is worth more or less than anyone else’s. Ethically I believe this is true in most cases. Now I understand that this is a bold statement but let me elaborate. If you had a choice to save someone who works as a surgeon at the local hospital or a criminal serving multiple life sentences, who would you save. I would save the doctor who is capable of saving other lives. Don’t get me wrong a person is a person and every life matters but in certain situations you may have to look at the bigger picture. I know I would save myself before I would save a person who would spend the rest of their life in jail anyway. Recently I watched a video clip from a show which took place at a hospital. We watched this clip in my management class to learn how ethics works in a business setting. The scene depicted a situation in which a child needed an organ transplant or he would die and a serial killer who was admitted into the ER after he tried committing suicide was found to be a perfect match. This was a great example of what ethical action to take and who is more important, saving a child or saving a serial killer. There is always a gray area in which you really have to sit down and analyze what to do or what you should do.
Humans have impacted the natural environment more than any other animal this planet has ever known. In the diagram I have created there is a distinct relationship between society (India) and the environment. When you look at this from a systems perspective, you are able to see how both systems (humanity and environment) affect each other positively and negatively. As you can see there seems to be a direct correlation between population growth and decline in both health and sustainability. People need food and in order for more people to eat, more fuel needs to be consumed (leading to deforestation in this example). Geography in this case is needed to answer the question, “what happens when the carrying capacity has been reached/exceeded and people no longer have the resources to sustain the overgrown population?”. This is when we see innovation occur, like the bio-gas tanks used to capture methane as a viable source of fuel. There are many parallels in fact between my diagram and the one given to us by Gerry Marten. Both Marten and I use webbing to show how different things interact and effect each other. We also incorporated things like technology, population, plants, and human built structures in our examples. However Marten’s illustration is more of a template while my graph is a specific example of a problem in India. I think what we can take from these two examples are that these diagrams can be used to show the cause and effect of any change in an ecological system no matter how small.
Hey everyone! My name is Matt and this is my first year at Penn State University. I currently live near Reading, PA, but I am originally from Allentown. As of now I’m in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, trying to explore a wide variety of majors including; business, engineering, and kinesiology. However business will be something I will pursue one way or another because I have hopes of starting my own martial arts school in the future. I was interested in taking this course because I think it incorporates a lot of different fields of study and also covers some of my general education requirements. I believe despite whether or not you are interested in a career involving geography, it is important to have an understanding of how we as humans are impacting the earth and what that means for generations to come.
The resources still available on earth are dwindling every year. Understanding geography is vital to solving the issues surrounding the sustainability of natural resources. How can we prosper as a society without disrupting the already existing ecosystems? This has always been something that has interested me and I hope to learn more about these issues in the weeks to come.