1. In 150-200 words, describe what the biodiversity is like in your hometown. Do you feel that your hometown is more or less diverse than others?
Blue Bell, Pa is home to many different plants and animals. For plants, there are many deciduous and coniferous trees sprawled about my town along with all different types of flowers and shrubs. For animals, in my backyard alone I’ve seen squirrels, rabbits, foxes, groundhogs, mice, deer, skunks, and different types of birds. There’s also lots of insects like ants, grasshoppers, praying mantises, bees, butterflies, etc. I believe you would be able to find all of these animals and insects anywhere you go in town. I’m not really sure where my hometown stands in terms of biodiversity. I would imagine that it has more biodiversity than your average big city like Philadelphia due to there being more grass and wooded areas for animals but I’m not sure. It certainly would not be more diverse than a place like the Amazon rain forest which was mentioned in the module. I think my town has an appropriate amount of biodiversity.
2. In 200-250 words, follow H.I.P.P.O. and write about which threat you believe is the most harmful to your hometown today. What can you or anyone else do to help stop this threat?
I believe that the biggest threat to biodiversity in my hometown, and many hometowns is habitat loss. I’m not sure how many species of plants and animals were originally where my hometown is but I imagine that there has to be less due to deforestation and humans building the town. Today, there are still new buildings and shopping centers and all kinds of expansion going on which are destroying habitats. Take deer for example; sure there are still woods for deer to live in but the majority of them have been cut down. As a result, they have to venture onto our properties to try and find shelter and food. I have seen plenty of deer in my yard trying to eat our flowers or tomatoes. All you have to do is drive down any major road and there’s a good chance you’ll see a deer on the side of the road that was hit by a car. This can happen to all animals, not just deer. There isn’t a whole lot that can be done to help save the biodiversity because a lot of people would agree that human expansion is a good thing. One thing that I could do though is try and persuade my local government to set aside land for reserves that cannot be touched.
My diagram is very simple and it shows how our burning of fossil fuels has lead to change in how we produce pollution. I started the diagram with fossil fuels considering it is the core of everything that has happened. They are very useful considering the amount of energy that can be produced from them but they also create a lot of pollution that hurts our atmosphere. That burning is the main cause of global warming along with other gases such as CFCs. Global warming is causing the Earth to heat up which is then leading to climate change around the world. Climate change has been written about and noticed for awhile but only massive changes have been made recently worldwide. One of these proposed changes was the Copenhagen Accord. It was created to help to environment but it failed initially because it was made to help solve a lot of the United States’ problems. It was also shut down do to many smaller countries feeling that the Accord wasn’t helping them, only larger countries. The United States eventually bribed the smaller countries into agreeing with the act so that as many countries as possible would sign it. As of today, 140 countries have signed the act and it has been successful.
I think that it’s important that the United States cables were made public. It’s embarrassing for the country’s reputation that we were caught attempting to spy but I think it’s important that the world knows when things like this happens. I don’t think that the United States should have done the things that they did but in the long run it is beneficial for a lot of countries to sign an act like this for the good of the world. I think that countries should be able to do what they want to do in terms of how they run their country but at the same time I think that everyone should be forced to comply with things that will benefit the entire earth. As long as everyone contributes a proportional amount of course. One of the negative results of this sneaky behavior is losing trust between other countries which could prove to be problematic in the future. What should have been done is propose a proposition where every country tries to contribute as much as they can to protecting the environment. Have the larger more developed countries put more effort into being more environmentally friendly since they have the resources and give the smaller countries more slack so that they can become more developed.
1. After looking at the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards, I see that my hometown of Blue Bell, PA is affected by a few natural disasters. It could potentially be affected by tropical cyclones, hailstorms, winter storms, and tornadoes. I have seen all of these except tornadoes in my town so I would say that the map identified those correctly. However, the storms are all rare and definitely not a common occurrence. I didn’t like how the map was zoomed out all the way to show the entire Earth because it made it hard to identify what disasters happen where.
2. On the RSOE EDIS I found a biological disaster that is happening in Wisconsin and Michigan that started on March 5th of this year. My hometown along with just about any other town could experience a disaster like this. I’m not sure the likelihood of it happening but I imagine it is pretty low since I have no experience with something like it. The scale of the event is the same scale as my hometown because it isn’t explicitly saying how much of an area is definitely infected. If this were to occur in my hometown, I imagine the same results would occur because my town is small and towns in Wisconsin and Michigan tend to be small as well. The vulnerability of this would be different from person to person and the people who are less hygienic would most likely be infected first. The best way to reduce this vulnerability would be to make sure we wash our hands before and after eating.
3. From my personal experience, my hometown can be affected by snow storms, tropical storms, and hailstorms which is what the Nathan map said. The most common of those would be snow storms that happen almost every winter and they deliver a lot of snow. We also get some flooding from time to time but they’re never significant enough to cause worry. According to usa.com, Blue Bell can also be affected by earthquakes and tornadoes but I have not experienced either of those so it’s not something to worry about. Overall I think it is a pretty safe place to live.
4. There’s not a whole lot that can be done to prevent a natural disaster but there are things that can be done to make sure there is less damage. For example, if there is a snow storm, salt could be put down on the roads before it happens which would help with plowing. For tropical storms and hailstorms there isn’t really anything that can be done besides warning people. The township or county can send out warnings through text, tv, or radio to make sure that everyone is prepared to minimize damage. I could help spread the message to people to make sure everyone knows what is about to happen.
My hometown is Blue Bell, PA which is located in southeast Pennsylvania, a little over 30 minutes outside of Philly. It is a small automobile suburb home to around only 6,000 people. It is rare to see people walking around and most people choose to drive. There is a bus system but it only goes through one part of town and I do not know anyone who uses it. It’s part of the Philly metropolitan area which has about 6,000,000 people. I have been connected to this town since I moved there when I was four years old. I think that it’s a great place to grow up and live in and it was even voted as of the best places to live in the United States by Money magazine.
The first city that I want to discuss is Copenhagen in Denmark. Copenhagen is nothing like my hometown of Blue Bell but I would like to see Blue Bell become more like Copenhagen in terms of transportation. Even though Blue Bell is not an urban town, I think that it could benefit from more public transportation. Sure, most people have vehicles but not everyone does. I like the idea of using bikes to get around instead of cars. Blue Bell doesn’t have any bike lanes on its roads and I have seen people resort to riding bikes on the road shoulders instead. If bike lanes were created on the main roads, I think it would help promote different modes of transportation. This different mode of transportation would help the town become more sustainable in the sense that it would help the environment.
The second city that I want to discuss is Curitiba in Brazil. Again, this city is nothing like my hometown but I think that my town could learn from it’s method of transportation. Blue Bell was designed with farmland in mind because it used to be mostly farmland. Everything is pretty spread out which is why people drive instead of walk. Because everything is spread out, I think Blue Bell could benefit from a more improved bus system. As far as I know, only one bus runs through town with a few stops in it. It definitely doesn’t cover the majority of neighborhoods which makes it useless for many people. I don’t think the roads should be redesigned with a new bus system in mind like Curitiba but I think that a better system could be effective. Like Copenhagen and cycling, this would help my town too in terms of the environment by cutting down on greenhouse gasses.
My food choice throughout college has always been influenced by social norms. There will be times when I am planning on cooking and eating a meal at home but my friends will invite me out to a restaurant instead. This results in eating food that is generally tastier, but unhealthier compared to something I’d eat at home. My food choice has also been heavily influenced by how cheap food is. I will tend to choose food that is cheaper to save money and this usually results in eating more unhealthy food. It’s not that I don’t like healthy food, it’s that unhealthy food is more readily available and comes at a cheaper price. Fortunately I know how to balance my healthy and unhealthy eating so it is not a big issue for me.
The results of my food choices can lead to obesity in society if other people make the same choices. Having unhealthy food be cheaper and more convenient to buy will lead people to purchase that kind of food more often which can lead to weight gain or other problems if gone unchecked. This diet along with a lack of exercise and not following the food pyramid will lead to obesity. This should not be the societal norm though. The norm should not be to just buy the cheapest foods to save money. That is the norm that I follow and it will not end well if I continue to follow it. The norm should be cheaper and more fresh food that is readily available so people choose that instead of a $1 slice of pizza.
My first case study is from IRIN News (http://www.irinnews.org/node/255779) and it discusses how Sri Lanka planning a $675 million dollar project on floods. The project involves capturing rainfall to be used as irrigation as well as generating electricity. Reservoirs will be built across Sri Lanka’s dry zone which is in the northern part of the country and the extra water from those reservoirs will be funneled into hydroelectric dams to produce electricity. Currently, Sri Lanka does not have any infrastructure that allows the country to use rainfall effectively. This project is important because it will help irrigate 350,000 acres and 70 percent of the population in that region is involved in agriculture. It is also important because it will help the country adapt to climate change and help save food and water sources. This type of development is much different than development in a first world country because first world countries normally do not have to worry about their food and water supplies.
My second case study is from Gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/dr-congo-at-50-rebuilding-roads) and it discusses rebuilding roads in DR Congo. The DR Congo has a large main road called Route Nationale 1 that connects its capital Kinshasa with Lubumbashi and a large city, Mbuji Mayi. This road is supposed to connect the country but in reality it is in poor condition and journeys along it take much longer than they should. Lorries will slide off of the road and end up in ravines. It is one of many roads that have deteriorated and need to be rebuilt. The consequences of this is literally a matter of life and death because poor roads force people to take longer or more hazards routes. One woman talks about how the only source of water is a two hour walk down a mountain that is infested with worms. Her brother became sick from this but could not get to a hospital because no ambulance could get there due to the roads and he passed away. A scenario like this is something you would only see in a developing country as developed countries have the means to prevent situations like this.
I’m connecting both of these studies to my hometown of Blue Bell, Pa which is outside Philadelphia. With the case of Sri Lanka, the region of the United States I live in does not have dry zones but could be prone to flooding. Sri Lanka is taking active measures to control flooding and harvest the water and energy from it. Although we have measures to control flooding now, we don’t have anything that could be strong enough to protect us from climate change. Since Blue Bell is fairly close to the Delaware River and the Atlantic ocean, if sea levels were to rise, there is nothing to protect from that. With the case of DR Congo, our roads are maintained but they are constantly under construction. This construction creates traffic jams and prevents us from going about our day to day lives quicker. It could potentially prevent emergency services from reaching a person in need.
1-a. The water supply chain for my hometown of Blue Bell, Pa starts at the Delaware River, where 93% of the water comes from (7% from groundwater). Approximately 96 million gallons of water per day is diverted from the river to Neshaminy Creek where it then flows to Lake Galena. Water from the lake then flows to the Forest Park Water treatment plant in Chalfont, Pa. After the water is treated, the North Wales Water Authority takes its share of the water and holds it in distribution mains. From the mains, water travels through pipes until it reaches homes. Once the water is used in homes and businesses, it goes down the drain into the sanitary sewer pipes. The water then flows from the sanitary sewer pipes to the East Norriton-Plymouth-Whitpain Joint Sewer Authority in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. It is treated to remove sludge through primary sedimentation, aeration, final sedimentation and chlorine disinfection. The treated water is then dispensed into the Schuylkill River.
That is total of 54.5 gallons of water.
1-c. For this challenge, I tried my best to limit my water usage but it was not easy. I kept drinking water as a priority and tried to cut back on everything else. I cut my shower time in half since that was one of the activities that used the most water and even went to the bathroom in the shower to save a toilet flush (don’t worry, just peeing). Brushing my teeth was about the same since I didn’t want to skimp on that. For washing dishes I just used paper plates which still isn’t good for the environment but it cut down on water. The toilet flushing was also something I couldn’t really cut back on because there was no way I was just going to let it sit there. Even though I was able to cut down on my usage, the experiment was still a failure. Compared to my average usage, it’s just not realistic for me to live on two gallons a day unless I took some extreme measures. Geography makes a huge impact on water usage because if you don’t near a source of fresh water or some sort of plant that treats water, you’ll have to limit your usage. What we need to do is make a collective action to save water so that the people who do live in more isolated areas can have the water that we’re not using.
- Is it more important to be a good person or to perform good acts (virtue ethics vs. action ethics)?
This is a tough question to answer but I think it’s more important to perform good acts. Naturally it could be assumed that the good person would perform good acts, but that is not necessarily true. A good person could be someone who just has good thoughts but never acts on them. Yes, a person who performs good acts could also perform bad acts but I think it’s worth taking that risk to see the good acts come to fruition. Besides, a person who performs good acts could be seen as a good person while a good person who performs a bad act could still be seen as a good person. This all changes under the circumstances however. A person who does 100 good acts and one horrific act will likely never be seen as a good person whereas a person who does 100 bad acts and and one fantastic act could potentially be seen as a good person. It all depends on the magnitude of the acts.
5. Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans (speciesism)?
I think that this question depends on the animal. For the majority of animals on Earth, I think that yes, they do matter as much. If you think about an animal like a mosquito, however, I highly doubt you’re going to find someone who values its pain and pleasure as much as a human’s. There are plenty of species on Earth that don’t even have the capacity to even feel pain or pleasure and I think in that case they do not matter as much as a human’s since they can’t even process it. This subject matter gets very tricky when it comes to farm animals. Farm animals have the ability to experience pain and pleasure and naturally you’d think that it’s just as important as ours since every species has the right to live on Earth. I think that almost everyone wants to care about animals and would hate to see one in pain but from a global perspective, the reality is that their pain and pleasure do not matter as much. If it did matter as much, you would not be seeing any kind of meat sold at any store at any place in the world. It’s hard to even think about how the world would be or how it would even progress if everyone was a vegan.
6. Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?
For this question I believe that all three options are valid depending on the circumstance. Odds are you value your life more than everyone else. If it came down to a life or death situation with you and another person of the same age and same background, odds are you’d do everything you could to save yourself. When you change the scenario, the perspective changes quickly. If there’s a life or death situation between you and your child (if you had one), I’d bet that you’d do everything in your power to save your child rather than yourself. In these cases you could perceive your life as being worth more or worth less. In my everyday life, assuming everything is normal and I’m not running into a freak situation, I think of my life as worth the same as everyone else’s. What makes me more important than the guy who sits next to me in class? How could I be seen as being worth more than someone on the other side of the world in a completely different living situation? I think it’s very valid to believe your life is worth more 24/7 if that’s how you think but I think it’s also valid to put the needs of others before yourself or even give equal treatment to others like you would to yourself.
The core idea behind my diagram is sustainability and that everything in the diagram affects or is affected by something else. It is a system diagram showing how the social system affects the ecosystem and vice versa. Assuming the diagram is accurate and successful, the biogas system will lead to population growth which will then lead to carrying capacity.
My diagram is fairly similar to Gerry Marten’s diagram of the same concept. We both have columns for ecosystem and social system with arrows going across connecting them. Marten separated biogas into biogas technology and biogas generators where I just have biogas generator in the middle of the diagram. We also do not have the same exact items for either system in our diagrams. There are similarities and differences because we both have the key concepts down of what goes on in the village and what the biogas generator is like, but we interpret how they are connected in different ways. From comparing two diagrams, we can learn how each author of the diagram thinks. We can also see what was included in one diagram but not the other and how they were all the different topics in each of them are connected.
Hey everyone! My name is Michael Celoni and I am a junior at Penn State’s main campus studying Environmental Systems Engineering. I’m from Blue Bell, Pa which is a small town about 30 minutes outside of Philly. Ideally I’d like to do something engineering related for a career (hence the major) but I’m keeping my mind open for all options. I want to be an environmental and civil engineer and do work for clients related to that because that’s what my dad does. I’d love to work on designing energy efficient buildings. I’m interested in the course because I don’t know a whole lot about geography and I think a class like this is absolutely necessary if I want to follow my major. When I’m not doing school work I’m either on Spotify or Netflix all the time. I also love playing video games (Xbox One if anyone is wondering).
The key word that stood out to me in the first module was sustainability. I believe it’s important for the whole human race to keep the idea of sustainability in their heads as we progress into the 21st century and beyond. With global warming becoming more of an issue and pollution increasing, it is vital that we learn to take care of our planet. We only get one Earth to live on (as far as we know) and it could potentially be completely ruined by the time I have grandkids. There’s a Greek proverb that goes, “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in,” and I believe that’s the kind of mindset we need to have when working towards saving our planet.