Module 9: Leverage is Key


2. My somewhat simple diagram visually attempts to explain the arduous and complex task of what occurred that caused multiple nations across the globe to have a common interest. The root of the problem begins with fossil resource depletion as it is in every country’s “best” interests to exploit their natural capacities. The end-uses of these resources ensure food surpluses and higher standards of living (cheapest, fastest way), which is a sign of a countries’ growing industrialism. However, fossil resource exploitation specifically derived from fossil fuel, releases large quantities of greenhouse gases that when taken into consideration with other industrialized nations or industrializing nations, becomes a global problem. The widespread emissions lead to climate change that has various affects upon different regions and nations alike in a negative manner usually. Now that most governments can no longer plead ignorant to the rapid pace of changes in the last 50-100yrs, there has been at least a semblance of acknowledgement as this has been reflected in international agreements that seek to alleviate the dangers caused by fossil resource depletion. An example of such collective action taking place can be seen at the Copenhagen Accord. As with any international agreement, climate ones especially are very tedious and time consuming as every individual nation is sacrificing “the easy road to development” in the interests of everybody taking the more challenging road to development through more sustainable means. The U.S. as revealed in the WikiLeaks, was very involved behind the scenes in making sure that a majority of nations that are part of the U.N. “pledged” (Copenhagen Accord has no Kyoto clause meaning rich nations aren’t bound to stick to their words of capping emissions) to the Accord. It will remain to be seen in the next 10 years whether any concrete agreements with definitive goals will be reached.

3.After reading through the WikiLeak cables several times over, I do not condone the U.S. for taking the steps it had taken in strong-arming countries to “put their name on the dotted line”. Personally, yes, it was a complete steamroll of distributive justice as less economically developed nations had no leverage at the table of the big boys (developed nations). Though the U.S. used an “ends justify means” mentality (procedural justice) leading up to the Copenhagen Accord that may seem altruistic to a degree, in contrast it was rather self-defeating, as the Copenhagen Accord doesn’t require developed nations to “pay their dues”. (The U.S. knew this and would rather have this then the UN’s Kyoto protocol) In effect, the international agreements have become weaker and have become more akin to “guidelines” that when crossed over, the offending country faces no or little repercussion. Another motive the U.S. has in the Copenhagen Accord and others like it, is that the countries that are the most influential in these collective treaties have the opportunity to reshape the modern world or in simpler terms =power play. For example the country that takes advantage of the present circumstances and is readily capable of adapting to the future can “afford” to give the less developed nations aide…(I mean bribery) as a cost of leaving the others in the dust so to speak. On a side note, the U.S. can “afford” these contributions of aide because it doesn’t literally cost the gov’t itself anything, as they only have to print money so in the end, the public foots the bill and the less developed nations receive currency that is worth less over time instead of tangible real assets. The State Department cables shouldn’t have been made public as this reduces the leverage the U.S. has when negotiating (imagine if every time I tried to negotiate, the other party knew everything…no point in negotiating as I won’t get a “fair” trade). Procuring an international treaty in the bests interest of everybody that every counterpart agrees on will never happen so the next best option is using leverage (define that how you will).

Jordan Dodderer – Climate Change/WikiLeaks


In my system diagram I seek to explain the connection between Climate Change and WikiLeaks and the various input and output sources of those two items. As inputs, to Climate change, I included the burning of fossil fuels, which leads to a build up of CO2 ppm in the atmosphere. This build up of greenhouse gasses leads to climate change. As an output of Climate change, we have the proposed climate accord. The climate accord has various outputs of its own. These are the dealings of the United States government in an attempt to win support, and seek benefits for their own country. These outputs also serve as inputs to our output problem, which is the wikileaks hack. The wikileaks scandal made the US government look bad for their various secret dealings. This scandal served as an output source.

Drawing on this lesson’s core value of understanding the cause and effect of climate change, I think that any sustainability agreements that are reached on a global level are a win for environmentalists. In an environmental setting the accord is a winning output policy. However, as a surveillance state and the issue of public and private security I do not support the actions of the US economy. I think that there is a more altruistic and ethical way of dealing with such problems. The backdoor deals and coercion are a stain on democracy. So while I support the measure and the output policy I do not support the means by which the policy was achieved and hope for better in our future.

Climate Change Module

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 4.41.42 PM

In my systems diagram, I focused on the core cause of climate change and examined part of the environmental and political effects of it. Primarily, I focused on the Copenhagen Accord, which works to have countries pledge to undertake specific actions that will help mitigate the core cause of climate change – emission of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2. As a primary polluter, the United States sought out support for the Copenhagen Accord since their pledge was the lowest by any other leading nation. This would benefit the United States due to being a collective action effort to reduce emissions causing climate change. To gain support, the United States used techniques, including secret cables, use of CIA to discover secret information from other countries, and manipulation. Through this, they were able to gain support of 140 countries for the Copenhagen Accord. The poorer countries did not support the Accord due to being a small contribution in climate change. Pollution is a big factor that comes from emission of greenhouse gases, and as recalled in the IPAT equation, poorer countries cannot contribute as strongly to pollution due to not having enough funds for technology and having low affluence, thus having no need for the Copenhagen Accord since countries who barely contribute to global warming do not have the funds for programs that mitigate pollution. The small focus on climate change shows how a rise in temperature can cause an unsustainable environment. Climate change affects the earth due to temperature shifts, water level shifts, and cause extreme weather events, all that require adaptation for humans and the environment to adjust to, thus causing harm in the end to both parties.

The State Department cables should not have been made public because it showed the United States in a negative light. I believe that there are some policies that can be implemented without response from the media and by publicizing the cables, the United States is seen to other parties as untrustworthy and could affect the way people support future policies that the United States tries to implement. With that being said, the United States should have conducted climate change diplomacy in a different manner that had been done. Obviously, nothing can be reversed and the United States cannot change the way they gained support for the Copenhagen Accord, but in future times, the United States should negotiate in a way that is fair to all participating countries. The use of spying and manipulation makes the United States more of an enemy than an ally to many countries, and I think the United States should establish credibility and respect through showing other countries what can be offered through actions. This is an issue of ethics, especially distributive justice, where the United States should take responsibility for what the United States has done in regards to climate change and act in a way that aids poorer countries, rather than forcing them into something. Because the United States is such a great participant in the burning of fossil fuels, it should be their responsibility to reduce their fair share of what they are producing. The burning of fossil fuels is very important to our industry and lives, but the United States can take action to reduce their own emissions through implementing a carbon offset policy for huge factories.

Module 9: Climate Diplomacy

WikiLeaks climate change nit5075My system diagram shows the connection between the WikiLeaks cables and climate change. The article explains how the United States used different tactics to gain support for the Copenhagen accord and highlighted the unethical ways to do business. The diagram starts with the climate change issue because it is the focus of the article and the reason for the Copenhagen accord. In my diagram, climate change is linked to the Copenhagen accord because the U.S saw this opportunity to boost themselves on a global scale and that the accord’s purpose is to reduce the impacts of climate change. The next linkage is the WikiLeaks Cables. This is the center for the diagram for it being the main point for the article. The WikiLeaks Cables reviled how the U.S was able to gain support for the Copenhagen accord. The WikiLeaks Cables also showed how the United States took this issue of climate change and lead the world on changing it. The result of the United States efforts to gain support for the Copenhagen Accord made 116 countries associating with the accord and 26 counties intend to associate with it. The WikiLeaks Cables is also linked to climate change because the United States tactics helped curb the effects of climate change. The last linkage in my system diagram shows the overall results of the Copenhagen accord. The article states that 75% of the 193 countries that are parties to the UN climate change convention and support the accord are responsible for over 80% of current global greenhouse gas emissions.

I believe that it was right for the State Department cables to be made public after the fact. It shows how the negotiations are made between countries and what is the true costs. This kind of collective action problem can be dealt with in different ways. The way the United States handled it would be different if another country was focused on making the accord happen. The issue of climate change is growing and cannot be solved by one country on their own. The individual and collective action changes are ways to begin to create ways reduce the impact of climate change. Some of the ways the United States conducted climate change diplomacy showcased in the WikiLeaks Cables can be unethical. The use of spying and threats were probably used as a last option, but should not have been used to gain support for an important issue like climate change. This effects everyone in the same way and the Copenhagen accord should have benefited all counties equally. Also, the United States does not look as trustworthy if they are spying on counties and threating them for support. The WikiLeaks Cables did raise awareness of how important the issue of climate change is on a global scale. The United State should have worked more closely with the counties wanting the same outcome and have an open discussion with the counties that were more hesitant with the Copenhagen accord. Another option was to go through the United Nations and follow their standards to create another accord on the issue of climate change.

Russo Module 9 – Climate Diplomacy

Burning fossil fuels started 200 years ago. Once this started, the world was burning more than they could regenerate. This led to a substantial amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. Climate change is a major problem affecting the entire planet. In order to adapt to this problem and combat it, the world must unite to form a plan of action. As a way to unite and discuss this issue, the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit was held in 2009. The result of the summit was an unofficial document known as the Copenhagen Accord. This document was not adopted into the UN process, so it was irrelevant to many countries. The accord offered to solve US problems, such as finding an easier way than the UN process to bind in rapidly growing countries. Negotiating a climate treaty is no small process, it involves the re-arrangement of the flow of billions of dollars to reduce global carbon. In order to reap the benefits of the accord, the United States needed to get as many countries as possible to back it. They accomplished this by sending financial aid to some nations and by using espionage on other more powerful nations. They were able to gain supporters both ways which led them to receiving allies against some of its most powerful adversaries. As a result, 116 countries are currently associated with the Accord and there are another 26 with intent to join. These countries produce 80% of the world’s emissions. The United States now has the upper hand when it comes to combating global warming.

I personally believe that climate change mitigation is a collective action problem. In order to adapt to this changing climate, we need to find a middle ground and work together. No matter what country burned the most fossil fuels, every single person on this planet is affected by our choices. Even though it is a collective action problem, the larger countries who produce the most greenhouse gases should pay or contribute more to solve this problem. A small island nation with environment friendly attributes should not have to be burdened with solving this problem as much as heavy polluters like the United States and China. It would be difficult for the richer nations because they would have to reduce emissions by reducing industrial production which leads to less money for the nation and its citizens. Nobody wants to make less money. We can also help reduce greenhouse gases ourselves. Individual action also comes into play. One person may not seem like they will make a difference, but there are many people who are similar in their lifestyles. There is a large percent of the American population that live in automobile suburbs. If everyone carpooled to work or school, that would cut emissions greatly. I do not believe the State Department cables should have been leaked to the public because it will make climate change negotiations much more difficult. I feel as if countries will not trust the United States and make things worse off than when the talks began. The United States should not have been so shady in conducting their deals. They should have been open with other nations and gain trust the respectable way. There should have been no espionage or bribes. The United States should find a common ground with the UN. The countries supporting the accord should merge with those supporting the UN’s protocol. There should be a plan that every country agrees with. This would be a very hard task but extremely beneficial for the world.


Mod 9 System Diagram

Module 9- Climate Change Julie Cardillo


The core ideas behind my diagram begin with people realizing how serious climate change really is. Once people realized this, the nation wanted to reduce climate change. Hence, that is why the UNFCCC created the Copenhagen Accord. The United States sought this accord as a beneficial opportunity for them, as well. However, they needed other countries to support it. The problem was many of these countries didn’t agree with the accord. I mainly wanted to illustrate, in my diagram, how the United States targeted these poor, less developed countries with the use of cables, aiding, threats , spying , and finally bribery. It seemed that money was a huge encouragement to get countries to sign the accord. In my diagram, I showed how the United States threatened Ethiopia to sign the accord by saying, “sign the accord or discussion ends now,” the United States promising to commit to Saudi Arabia’s economic desire to move away from petroleum, and how money was promised to Maldives. In addition, I showed how China used spear phishing to obtain information from Todd Stern. I then illustrate the fact that we now have 116 countries associated themselves with the accord and another 26 intend to become associated with it as well. All of these cables were exposed by WikiLeaks in 2010 and as a result trust was lost. Finally, my diagram mentioned that if people continuously reduce the use of greenhouse gases, then this collective action problem can be solved and we can eventually reach climate mitigation.

Coming from a citizen’s standpoint, I think that it was right for the cables to be revealed to the public because we should have the right to know. The way that the United States approached this caused was selfish and resulted in countries to not trust them. Basically, these countries were bribed and threatened,causing them to sign the accord for all the wrong reasons. I feel that is is a perfect example of the ends justifies the means because it’s almost as if the United States said, “Unfortunately, we have to bribe and threaten you less developed countries, so that you can sign our accord.” I do not think that it was a good idea to gain support by bribes and threats because that was not ethical at all. The United States was more concerned about the fact that they would be benefitted from this, without any consideration for other countries. I have learned that climate change is a huge issue and that nations worldwide should work together towards reducing the emission of green house gases to better the world we live in(collective action). If trust is lost (like the US caused to happen), then this issue will never be solved. Also, climate change is a collective action problem, meaning that this is a problem for every country. I think that the United States is better than this. Therefore,I think that instead the United States should have approached this by informing the countries about reducing greenhouse gases and negotiating fairly; I feel that this would have been successful. If we can all successfully come together to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, then climate mitigation can most definitely be obtained.

Module 5 Case Study – Global Deforestation – Sebastian Hollabaugh

The first case study takes a look at deforestation in Costa Rica. It is provided by undergraduates from Colby College in Maine. It claims that if Costa Rica were to continue its logging operations at the pace their going, they would lose all of the tropical rainforests. Logging in Costa Rica is a viable option because it is readily available and produces high profits. The deforestation creates erosion increases spring runoff and soil destabilization. The deforestation also significantly reduces plant and animal diversity within the rain forests.By cutting the trees, the ecosystem significantly reduces its resilience, which the species are unable to overcome. A third significant loss is the carbon capacity. With significantly less trees and a growing population, Costa Rica will increase greenhouse gas emissions globally, thus changing the climate.


The second case study also takes a look at deforestation. This study shows the effects of deforestation in India, and is provided by the rainforest conservation fund. It details that since the 1940’s, the overabundant rainforest land has been significantly reduced by the growing population. The once forest heavy lands have now become wasteland, leaving about 40% of the country this way. The deforestation has ruined water sheds and coastal agricultural lands. This has also increased poverty in rural areas, and continues to worsen as the population grows.


The two case studies show the impacts of deforestation, which is a foreign problem to rural Pennsylvania. State College is surrounded by an abundance of plant and forest life that is rarely chopped down without proper restorative measures. As the population grows however, so will the need for logging. The mountainous geography most likely prevents any significant deforestation, but the climate change developed from other deforesting nations will have an impact here. Government limitations will hopefully decrease the rate of deforestation however, making the impact minimal. The problems that arise can be seen and avoided if any serious logging were to occur in Pennsylvania however.

Getting to Know you – Syed Amirul

Salam Sejahtera!

My name is Syed Amirul, I am currently a Senior majoring in Economics (BA). I have now lived in State College, Pennsylvania for four years, but I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (which was why I greeted you in Bahasa Malaysia- it means hello!). I have a keen interest in photography so I might pursue a career in doing commercial photography while helping my family run our business. My interest in this course is to generally learn about the Earth. I’m always interested in learning about the nature ( I took meteorology and astronomy classes) and I think learning geography will help me connect the dots between human and environment interaction and its effects towards one another. One fun fact about me- I can solve a Rubik’s cube in 40 seconds. If anyone could solve it faster, please teach me!

Now that we’ve been introduced to some perspectives in the field of geography, one example that came in mind was an issue that’s becoming a national controversy in my country. In Pahang, the largest state in Peninsula Malaysia, the government are being condemned after active bauxite mining that has turned into a harmful economic activity to the locals of the area. Many reports have address the issue and its negative impact, one coming from Malaysian Society of Marine Sciences chairman Dr Harinder Rai Singh who said the contamination would be fatal to marine life. The coast of Pahang are mostly contaminated and is bound to be ‘dead sea’ within three years. This issue is important to be scrutinized on, mainly on how the human-environment interaction caused these harmful conditions, and how that in turn will affect the lives of humans living in the vicinity of the polluted area.

Getting to Know Sebastian Hollabaugh

Hello everybody! My name is Sebastian Hollabaugh. I currently live off campus at University Park, PA, but I grew up in Sunbury, PA. I’m currently in my last semester as an Architectural Engineer. I will be working in the Philadelphia area starting in June once I finish up. One of my biggest hobbies is competing in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. It is quite different from more its recent iterations, and I enjoy competing at local and national tournaments in it.

As an architectural engineer I think that buildings are very interesting, and geography has arguably the biggest impact on building design. The physical landscape, location, and local environment provide the basis when designing a building. I think an issue that geography is well suited for is mapping climate zones to address specific building mechanical systems. Since climate change is occurring relatively rapidly, maintaining an updated climate map is essential for system selection in relation to buildings. For example, the choice heat or enthalpy recovery is greatly dependent on location, and having a reliable climate map is necessary for making the proper selection.

Module 1: Getting to Know You

Hi everyone! My name is Karissa Kelly and I am a junior currently attending Penn State at University Park. I live with my parents in Kennett Square, PA when I am not attending school. Growing up I moved around frequently, I lived in Littleton, CO until I was ten. From that point my father’s job relocated my family to Shanghai, China which I found to be an amazing experience. After three years in China we moved back to Colorado for a year, until we found a home in Kennett Square, PA where we have lived ever since. As an Agricultural Sciences major I hope to use my degree in either conservation work overseas or in plant related research. My interest in this course stems from my desire to understand the connections between humans and their environment as well as how we can better those interactions to positively benefit the environment. A fact about me is that I love to travel the world and have already been to places such as Canada, Japan and South Africa.

One of the biggest issues that I believe Geography can address in our world today is climate change. Climate change is a direct result of human impact on the environment. As stated in the Scale section of this module, climate change is an issue on a global scale. Though I cannot argue with this point I also believe that there are smaller scales to take into consideration such as a city scale. One of the main arguments is that climate change in caused by car emissions. Higher populated cities will have more cars which will give off higher amounts of emissions. So while it is true that climate change is apparent on a global scale it is also true on a combination of smaller contributing scales. This idea of car emissions causing climate change also plays into the ideas in the Human- Environment Interactions section. Our two systems are currently not existing in a sustainable manner. Globally we need to find a way to reduce our carbon dioxide output before damaging the world any further.

Module 1 Getting to Know You: Joseph Carlamere

Hello class, my name is Joseph Carlamere; I was born and raised in the southern part of New Jersey in the town of Hammonton. Hammonton is a farming town known for its blueberries and peaches. I currently live in Swedesboro, New Jersey, which is located approximately twenty miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and ten miles from Wilmington, Delaware. Similar to Hammonton, Swedesboro is also a farming town, but it is growing quickly. I am pursuing a degree in Energy and Sustainability Policy with a minor in Energy Financing. I am also thinking about taking a second-degree program in Energy Engineering if it becomes available through the World Campus. This degree will provide me with the knowledge to address complicated issues such as climate change, energy consumption and renewable energy technologies. Through this course I am looking forward to learning more about the natural and social conditions of the Earth. A few additional tidbits about me; I am a Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles fan, and my wife and I enjoy going to the beach on the weekends during the summer.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph I am interested in the third sub-discipline of geography, environment and society. This encompasses the interactions between the human world and the natural world. It is important to study this aspect of geography because our actions have a direct affect on the current and future conditions of the planet. This impact is seen globally in the form of climate change; this is not a theory rather an actual environmental event. The melting of the glacier ice caps, rising sea levels, and unique weather patterns are the evidence, which explains that climate change is in fact taking place. We all have an obligation to leave the planet, our home in better condition than when we found it; unfortunately this has not been the case for previous generations.