The case study I chose from the provided sources involved hog farms and the environmental consequences and nuisances involved with these operations.  I found this case study from the list compiled from the University of Michigan at  The hog farms in question are located in North Carolina which according to this information is second in the country for hog production.  The goal of the development is to produce hogs conventionally in highly concentrated systems.  Also, the case study mentioned that there was a gap in the agricultural production because tobacco production has fallen off; hog production has filled this gap.  It relates to the development module because these farms are filling the demand for cheap meat sources that a developed country such as the US requires.  The farms seem to be located in rural areas that are less affluent, which also makes environmental justice relevant to the situation.

Also, I found a case study that looked into the treatment of agricultural workers and environmental effects from the farming systems that they work in.  This study was published in Environmental Research Letters, Volume 2, Number 4, and I accessed it online at  These farms are located in the Valley of San Quintin in Mexico, where a large amount of fruits and vegetables are grown for export using migrant workers for labor.  The living conditions are very poor for the agricultural workers, but also they are exposed to many negative environmental effects because of the area they work in.  They are exposed to pesticides, respiratory contaminants, and disease.  These operations are driven by the demand for produce by the US, but there is little regulation in Mexico to ensure safe conditions for the workers and people who live in these areas.

I chose these two agricultural topics because that is large part of the economy in my area in Erie County, PA.  In some ways they are similar because there is environmental consequence to any agriculture.  The hog situation is similar because there are nutrients that end up in the creeks and streams, however it is different because it seems like there is much more regulation here that dictates how concentrated animal operations can use manure. Also, there are not many instances where the burden of agricultural nuisances are placed disproportionately on lower income areas.  There are also seasonal workers for some farms in my area which relates to the migrant workers in San Quintin.  These workers also have potential to be exposed to pesticides and contaminants. The seasonal workers I am familiar with do have access to good housing and utilities unlike the Mexican workers however.  I think what can be learned is that there needs to be some regulation in all of these areas.  When development is only driven by economics, there tend to be injured parties.  With some oversight, community involvement, and good stewardship of resources, it is possible to create more sustainable development.  Geography also plays a role; the situations in case study illustrate very concentrated development, while the agriculture in northwest PA is more spread out and regulated.

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.

My Ethics Views- Katy Bordt

Question 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)?

In my opinion, I believe as a culture humans have an anthropocentrism view. Anthropocentrism puts humans at the top of the food chain, so to speak.  Humans are only worried about themselves and how they can use other things for their own gain. I believe ecosystems do matter for their own sake. Ecosystems were here long before we were, however since they do not have a voice we use and abuse them as we see fit.  We as humans are depended on ecosystems to survive, yet we abuse them. I believe if we started to change our views more towards ecocentrism, the ecosystems would be better off in the long run. Ecocentrism puts ecosystems as most important instead of humans. I believe for the world to have sustainability we as human will have to have more ecocentric ethics and less anthropocentric ethics. I believe we need to be cautious of what we do to the ecosystems for our own gain. If the ecosystems are taken away we will not survive.

Question 5: Do the pleasure and pain of non-human animals matter as much as the pleasure and pain of humans (speciesism)?

I believe speciesism is the human way of life, we value our lives and those alike us more than “animals”. Speciesism is when one species is deemed more valuable than another. I believe humans view themselves like a god, they are the only one that matters and will do anything if it helps them.  I do not believe humans are more important because we have reasoning, and other abilities. Research shows more and more animals have these same abilities as human do, such as dolphins and monkeys. Animal Cognition is the study of mental capacities of animals. Furthermore, there are the animals we use to help us in everyday life, such as guide dogs and police dogs. I believe their lives should be worth just as much as our own. I believe if someone was to harm or kill a police dog (K9), they should be charged will killing a police officer in the line of duty. On the other hand, we put down dogs or other animals after they harm us, such as a dog biting a child. I believe rapist, killers, etc should be given the same treatment and be put to death. I believe humans and animals, especially the ones we view as pets should receive the same treatment and we should value their welfare.

Question 6: Is my own life worth more than the lives of others, the same, or less (selfishness vs. altruism)?

I was think of this question when I started watching Z Nation. Z nation is a show about getting a specific person from upper New York to a lab in California to make a vaccine to save the world from a zombie apocalypse.  You can imagine there are many lives lost to save one person along the way. They all believed they were doing the “right” thing and sacrificing their lives to save humanity.  They were sacrificing their lives for more than just one live. This show made me think what I would do, would I pick to save myself, and be selfish or help for as long as I could, and be altruistic. I believe my life in this scenario would be worth less than the person who could potentially save humanity. I believe if there were emotions involved I would not choose myself, just as with a family member, significant other or friend.  On the other hand, I believe I would choose myself if there was nothing known about the other person and no emotions involved.

Biogas Concept Map- India


The provided system diagram that I’ve made is relatively simple to what other students might have and also from Marten’s diagram. What I’d like to show in the diagram were mainly how the biogas technology impacts both the ecosystem and the social system of the part in India which applies the biogas system. This invention produced two major products; methane gas and slurry. Both of these outputs brought various effect to fore-mostly the ecosystem, then affecting the social system as well. The production of methane gas leads to less environmental pollution and also reducing deforestation due to the people having an alternative energy choice for cooking. This in return will benefit the people health-wise and allow the children to go to school instead of gathering fuel. The slurry, on the other hand will help local farmers to fertilize their soil and grow healthier crops. At the same time, the slurry provides a certain group of the population (mainly women) with job opportunity by processing them into fertilizers to sell to farmers. Both the farmers and the women will gain economic profit from this.

For the most part, this diagram is much simpler and straightforward than that of Marten’s. It is similar in a way that both charts are divided into two major divisions- social system and ecosystem. Also, this diagram shows the effect that all outcome from the ecosystem side eventually leads to a healthier ecosystem, which isn’t shown in Marten’s diagram. Comparing the two diagrams, I think we could all learn more from the more complex relationships appearing on Marten’s illustration because he listed along the products and processes that goes along in the exchange of points such as cooking fuel, cut wood or put in biogas generators.

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.

My First Perspective on Sustainability and Global Issues

Hi, Geog 30 Instructors & Classmates!

My name is Laurene (Loreen). I currently live in State College, but I grew up not to far from here in New Columbia, PA. I have lived in a small town in Pennsylvania my whole life. Although, I have had the opportunity to live and study in Peru. I am interested in geography and culture, which is why I enjoy traveling. I hope to explore more countries of Europe and South America soon.

I am graduating this spring with a B.S. in Psychology. I took the business path in psych because I plan to open my own business one day. Until then, my plans for after graduation include interning at a wildlife center and working my way up to a profession in wilderness therapy. In the future, I’d like to pursue a doctorate in naturopathic medicine or environmental psychology.

This course completes a requirement for both of my minors: geography and environment & society. I am interested in sustainability and how the globe utilizes their resources. My geographic perspective is biased towards environment and society but includes human and physical geography. I enjoy learning how humans incorporate sustainable practices into their lifestyles, and I am curious to see how humans will adapt or mitigate environmental changes from global warming in the near future.

Part II: Issues 

Module one addressed global issues. I think many of us do not consider the impacts our individual decisions as a consumer have on wildlife, biodiversity, and other humans globally. Sustainability works to not disrupt ecosystems while benefiting the individual concerning health, financially, etc. Decisions we make to oppose commodities that cause deforestation or pollution for other humans and animals are easily sustainable practices we can make. Individual decisions in consumerism lead to changes in environmental policy. So I ask, what sustainable practices do you incorporate into your lifestyle? I chose not to eat meat. Farm industries not only bring disease to the animal, but they affect the people who live nearest to the business. Ethically, I see a reason, plus I have seen an increase in my health!