Module 10 Learning Activity

Using 250-350 words, describe why biodiversity is important for humans to consider, and also explain what we can do to preserve biodiversity around the world, keeping the H.I.P.P.O. acronym in mind.

Biodiversity is vital for us to understand, not only to protect species of animals, but also to protect our way of life now and in the future. In protecting species around the world, we preserve the “circle of life” for various habitats. For us to sustain our way of life, we need food chains around the world to continue to thrive, because we are a part of the global food chain ourselves. If a species of plant goes extinct due to overharvesting, not only will humans no longer be able to use it, but also we could drastically alter sources of food for many organisms, leaving them to go extinct, causing another organism to lose their source of food and go extinct, and so on and so on until we lose whole food chains from the bottom up.

The H.I.P.P.O. acronym stands for Habitat loss, Invasive species, Pollution, Human Population, and Overharvesting. To do our part to preserve biodiversity, we must make sure that we do not force rare native species out of their habitats for purposes ranging from urban development to agriculture. We should also make sure that we do not introduce invasive species that could negatively impact the ecosystem they are brought into, such as the brown tree snake in Guam. We must  strive to reduce pollution levels in every activity that requires a source of energy to prevent bioaccumulation from disrupting food chains from the bottom up and causing serious damage in regions around the world. The human population’s rapid growth is a serious issue facing the world in the coming years. As more and more humans come into the world, the more space and resources they will need to survive, which will impact biodiversity negatively. Harvesting practices need to be closely monitored to prevent overharvesting of plants and animals, not only for the particular species’ sake, but to allow humans to continue to have the species as a resource in the future. Keeping all of these things in mind, we can preserve biodiversity now and in the furue

Tom Devenney Module 8 Learning Activity

My hometown of Lititz, Pennsylvania is in an area of the world with low risk of natural disasters. According to the Nathan map, Lititz is in the second lowest risk zone for hailstorms, extratropical storms, and tornados. It is in zone 1 for wildfires, which indicates that there is low risk of them occurring there. During El Nino, Lititz experiences warmer weather and fewer tropical storms, according to the Nathan map. During La Nina, Lititz experiences more tropical storms. The Nathan map also indicates a rise of 0.3-0.5 degrees celsius per decade and an increase of 0-15 percent for precipitation per decade. In my lifetime, very few hailstorms, extratropical storms, and tornados have affected my home. Also, wildfires have not been reported in my area since I have been able to remember. This is why I find the Nathan map to be very well suited for my hometown.

The natural hazard that I have identified on the RSOE website is a volcanic eruption in Mexico. According to the website, no one was injured or killed, and the affected area is not explicitly stated. Other information on volcanic eruptions states that the affected area may be as far as 10 kilometers away. Lititz occupies a total area of 2.3 square miles, or 3.7 square kilometers. If there was an eruption in the center of Lititz, everything and everyone would be wiped out. Even if the eruption was very small, many people would be killed and many buildings destroyed. A lot of the human factors that affect surviving volcanic eruptions are due to the preparedness of the people. Wealth would help people to be able to purchase insurance policies to contribute after they lose goods. It would also help residents to have access to news outlets, television, and cars to help evacuate. Education level would help residents to be able to understand the messages that governing bodies would produce in the event of an evacuation. Strong governance would help if they would hire geologists and other scientists to monitor volcanic activity, and they would have the resources to inform residents that they need to evacuate. The geologists and other scientists would need to have technological resources to be able to tell if they need to inform governing bodies of volcanic activity. Age and gender would be less of a factor in this situation, because this situation requires the residents to be able to evacuate, which each resident would be able to do given proper notice.

The assessment that I will provide is based on my own knowledge and information from the website listed below. According to the website, Lancaster County is at a higher risk for tornados than is most of the rest of the country. Other major natural hazards that affect Lancaster are floods, hailstorms, and winter storms. In my experience, flooding occurs on a regular basis, as do hailstorms. Depending on the year, winter storms may be a huge hazard. When my mother was pregnant with me, she could not leave our home because snow had accumulated to over four feet in the course of one blizzard. Four feet of snow could be very dangerous, taking out telephone poles, causing a lot of property damage and the potential for major injuries and deaths.

“Lancaster, PA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes.” –™. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016. <>.


Examples of pre-event preparedness would be contractors building basements for tornados, building levees to prevent flooding around river and stream areas, building hail-resistant roofing on buildings, and building strong roofing and supports to reduce blizzard and wind damage.  Meteorologists should be responsible for notifying residents. Emergency response in each of these cases would involve keeping fuel and electricity, transportation, telecommunication, and clean water available. This would involve government workers. Also, shelters, water, and food should be available to anyone affected by the natural hazard. The local government and charities should organize this. Post-event recovery and reconstruction should be handled by charities, friends and family of those affected, and by insurance companies that are responsible for paying back what was lost in the hazard. What I can do is hire contractors to prepare my home, have a plan, and keep an eye out for warnings.

Lititz Ideas Module 7

I hail from Lititz, a town in Lancaster County in Southeastern Pennsylvania. In the center of town, it is extremely pedestrian-oriented. It is similar to the example of Beacon Hill in Boston, where many different shops, places of work, and sources of entertainment are within walking distance. In the areas surrounding the center, there are many automobile suburbs, where most of the residents live, including myself. Due to this, the automobile suburbs enjoy low urban density, with plenty of room for children to play and dogs to run around in yards. This is also a mixed-use area, where people do not necessarily need to go far to find residential areas, shops, or places of work. According to the 2013 census, Lititz has 9,388 residents. I love living in Lititz. It is a great place to start a family or retire. Besides all of the friendly people, there are great places to eat, get a drink, or just walk around the town. We have a great park and great places to enjoy on sunny days.

Copenhagen, Denmark is a shining example of a city that attempts to be extremely sustainable. Copenhagen instituted a policy they refer to as traffic calming. In an effort to deter cars from interfering with people, they have car-free streets and slow speed zones. This leads to many more people choosing to walk or ride bikes, which is a much more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable method of transportation than driving cars. In my town of Lititz, these methods could easily be applied. It would be relatively simple because Main Street is always packed with people, and it is hard to drive on it anyway, so it could easily become a car-free street or slow speed zone. The town would just need more bike racks, which would cut down on the need for parking, allowing more room for trees and grass that residents could enjoy. It could also cut down on gas usage, especially if gas-friendly foods are provided more in our town.

Bogota, Columbia is another great example of attempting to be sustainable by cutting down on driving in their city. Every Sunday and holiday is a Ciclovia, in which cars are forbidden or significantly restricted. Lititz could definitely benefit from having Ciclovias on specific days throughout the years. In the center of Lititz, everything is within walking or biking distance, so a few days a year without cars on the road, while not incredibly significant environmentally, is still more environmentally sustainable than allowing cars to drive downtown every day and a viable option to stimulate the downtown economy and celebrate everyone coming together to do something for the environment as a community. Again, this would require more bike racks and road blocks, but this cost could easily be covered by the stimulated economy of our town. Also, if gas-friendly foods are provided on these days, the gas being saved by walking, biking, or skating could be maximized.

Thomas Devenney Food Choice and Social Norms


Subway is an example of exceptional marketing in the food service industry. First of all, their slogan, “Eat Fresh,” generates an association with clean, healthy food. Also, their spokesperson Jared was an example of how eating Subway could help a person become healthy from eating their food. This marketing association led me to be a huge fan of their food. I consistently chose to eat their food as a teenager because I believed it to be healthy food as opposed to other sources of fast food. I wanted to eat healthy food because it is a social norm to be skinny in this day and age. One can become a social outcast by being overweight or seemingly unhealthy in appearance. This is why I consistently chose to eat their food, to avoid ridicule for being overweight.

Subway’s fresh food policy is a sustainable food consumption policy because fresh food needs to be from a local source, cutting down on fuel and energy consumption. Also, Subway claims to not contain any genetically modified organisms, which is more healthy for the human body. A major societal issue associated with Subway is obesity. Subway’s marketing suggests that an obese man can lose a lot of weight from eating their food over a long period of time. My view on the social norm for body image and health is that someone should not be an outcast for being overweight, but at the same time they should be encouraged to eat healthy and make healthy decisions to reach a healthy weight that they can sustain without using unhealthy means to get there.


Tom Devenney Development Learning Activity

The first case study that I’ve selected takes place in Santa Monica, California. The information has been provided by the City of Santa Monica, so it is possible that there may be some bias in the information. The goals of this course of action were to implement sustainable development in the areas of community and economic development, construction and development, education, energy, hazardous materials, housing, purchasing, solid waste, storm water and wastewater, transportation, and water. The general goal of sustainable development is to generate development in the present without comprimising the needs of future generations, so the development that the city is doing needed to be environmentally, socially, and economically friendly in the present and in the future, which is generally extremely difficult to do without impacting fossil fuels, freshwater resources, minerals, trees, and food sources. Here is a link to the web page:

The second case study that I’ve selected takes place in Malaysia. The information comes from the Ministry of Tourism in Malaysia and studies by professors at the University of New South Wales. This case of sustainable development is interesting because the ultimate goal is to increase tourism in their country. The specific goal is to implement sustainable practices into resource development and operation. This would generate more tourism because the amount of visitors that support environmentally and socially responsible tourism is increasing. This is an extremely difficult challenge for Malaysia because tourist locations consume more energy, water, and non-durable products that other buildings of similar size. This sustainable development could be incredibly important, not only for the natural resource conservation for future generations, but also for the increased tourism and lift to the economy for future generations as well. Here is a link to the web page:

My hometown of Lititz, Pennsylvania is in the middle of a huge economic and social development. I see how my small town is growing commercially and residentially through new buildings, homes, and businesses. My hometown is similar to Santa Monica’s development in terms of recognizing the need to develop sustainably to ensure the welfare of future generations, however sustainable development on the west coast in 1994 is different than sustainable development in rural Pennsylvania due to the differences in resources, climate, and topography. We can learn from Santa Monica that there are a lot of different aspects that an area needs to focus on to ensure sustainable development. My hometown’s development is similar to that of Malaysia’s because Lititz is a hotspot for tourism and intends to keep it that way. It is different again because of the differences in climate and demographics in Lititz and Malaysia. Lititz can learn from Malaysia in that a way to ensure tourism growth is to develop in a sustainable way.

Tom Devenney Module 4

Part 1-a:

My hometown is Lititz, Pennsylvania. I live in the Lititz Borough, which is one of many boroughs and townships that make up our school district area. The Lititz Borough has several wells throughout our area, and the locations of these wells were not revealed to me. The well water from each of these sources is sent to the Lititz Water Treatment Plant. From there, water travels through a series of pipes that converge under the Lititz Springs Park. The water is then sent through pipes in different directions to households and places of work in the Lititz Borough. Water that goes down the drain is sent through sewer pipes to the Lititz Wastewater Treatment Plant. Unfortunately, information from that point forward would not be revealed to me; however, through my own research, the wastewater is sent into the Lititz Run, a stream in my borough that leads into the Chesapeake Bay, where the wastewater ends up.

Part 1-b:

Teeth brushing: .25 gallons

Water bottle in the morning: 16.9 fl oz (1.05 pints)

3 water bottles during/after morning workout: 50.7 fl oz (3.15 pints)

Post-workout shower: 10 gallons

Small cup of coffee: 6 fl oz (.373 pints)

3 Toilet flushes: 9 gallons

3 hand washes: 3 gallons

2 bottles of water during the day: 33.8 fl oz (2.10 pints)

Dishwashing by hand: 2 gallons

Bottle of water: 16.9 fl oz (1.05 pints)

Teeth Brushing: .25 gallons

Total: 25.47 gallons

Part 1-c:

Major areas of water use in the experiment for me were drinking water and restroom use. I chose a day in which I did not have to attend classes or try to impress anyone so I would not have to shower or shave. This left my main priorities to drinking, using the bathroom, and washing hands. I limited myself to not wetting my toothbrush before using it, and very quickly rinsing it afterwards. I also would take a sip of water to quench my thirst from time to time. Toilet flushing was the trickiest obstacle in this situation, so I was a slave to however much water flushed the toilet. Even my best attempt at this was a failure due to how much I rely on water on a regular day. Compared to part 1-b, I used much less water than I would on a normal day, which makes me seriously consider how much I need to do all of the things I normally do. Geography scopes the availability of water, essentially. Water is a natural resource more readily available in some parts of the world than others, which really shows how water usage is a collective action issue.

Thomas Devenney Ethics Views Learning Activity

To answer question number 2, I believe that each situation would need to be seen from a larger view to say whether ends justify means or not. I hold this view because it depends of the depth of the action itself or the consequences to truly determine whether the ends justify the means or not. For example, if someone wants to raise the property values of an area of a city, one would think that the ends are a very good thing. However, if his or her way of doing it is to drive people out of lower income residences to replace their residences with something of more value, I would argue that the ends do not justify the means. If his or her way of doing it was renovating the lower income residences while not displacing the residents, these means would be an excellent solution. This is why it is important to take into account the whole process, not just the end results. In a scenario where a student cheats on an exam to pass a class, this student may argue that the ends justify the means, but the rest of the students would most likely argue otherwise.

To answer question number 5, I believe that the pleasure and pain of humans is more important than those of the other animals. I hold this view because I am a human and I want to live in a world that we, as humans, have control of. Even though I do believe this, I believe that the welfare of other animals is important to the welfare of humans in that we need them for food, agriculture, and general enjoyment, but not to the point where we should see them as equals. This would lead to a slippery slope where we may not be able to eat meat or hunt for pleasure. In the case of race horses, they get injured and get put down in today’s society. In a society that sees animals as equals, horses would not get put down, leaving them to suffer on a daily basis until they would inevitably pass away. My dog was suffering to the point where she could not move, and we had to put her down, which would have been much worse for our entire family if she had to suffer for days.

In answering question number 6, I believe that the lives of others is worth the same as my life. I believe this because each person has an impact, directly or indirectly, on other peoples’ lives, and they should try to make most of these impacts positive. I try to live my life in the exact middle of selfishness and altruism, because either one on its own can lead to poor decision making. For example, I would do a lot of things for charity, but I would not give away all of my money. Doing things for yourself is not always bad. For example, not letting a student cheat off of your exam may be seen as selfish, but my molar compass would tell me that I would be doing the right thing. It is best to find a healthy medium in which you give to those that need it, but still have the ability to provide for yourself comfortably. This would be like giving your time and effort to charity, but still be able to do the things you want and live the way that makes you happy and fulfilled.

Thomas Devenney Learning Activity Module 2

biogas_twd5204My systems diagram proves that the carrying capacity of areas using a biogas system increases by increasing the energy resources (fuel), money, and schooling (opportunities for increased monetary resources in the future) available to the people that work in handling the cow dung, compost, and biogas system itself. It is possible to argue that this systems diagram could represent a positive feedback loop in job creation in the short term for a much larger system, being the Indian rural community as a collective. This could be due not only to the initial jobs that the first biogas systems create, but also the potential jobs that it could create for other rural communities in India that hear about how beneficial the biogas system is and want ones for their own communities. My diagram is similar to the Marten digram in that mine shows how the biogas system affects education, money, health, air pollution, plant growth, and plant preservation. My diagram is different than the Marten diagram in that it does not show how values, social organization, animals, microorganisms, or water are impacted by the biogas system. There are similarities and differences between the two diagrams because this video did not portray possible effects to the topics that I did not include, however, it is more than likely that all of these areas are effected in ways not explained by the video. We can learn from this comparison that not every system affects each of these areas, as each system is different.

Learning Activity: Getting to Know You

My name is Thomas Devenney, but I prefer to be called Tom. I grew up and have my permanent residence in Lititz, Pennsylvania in Lancaster County. I am staying in State College, Pennsylvania while I am attending Pennsylvania State University Main Campus. My major is Environmental Systems Engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Science. I hope to one day pursue a career in engineering with an environmental focus. I hope to be a registered engineer to have flexibility in being able to design and help design many different things. I am interested in this course to further my understanding of the relationship between humans and our planet. I am playing varsity football at Penn State and enjoying doing this very much. My favorite hobby is playing guitar.

The two concepts that stand out to me as important issues moving forward as a society are human impacts on the environment and environment impacts on humanity. As humanity has evolved throughout our history, we have made incredible advancements in technology. The issue with this is that these advancements come at a cost. We are depleting natural resources at a rate that we will not be able to replace them for future generations. The use of these natural resources play a significant part in generating greenhouse gases that cause Global Warming. Global Warming is causing the melting of the polar ice caps which cause shifts in climate all over the world that could threaten humanity in certain places of the world. This is why we need to move to make our technology sustainable to slow the effects of Global Warming and to reduce dependence on our natural resources to preserve our planet for future generations.