Sustainable Cities: Module 7

I live in a small borough in Jessup, PA. The total population is about 4,600. The closest city is Scranton in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania located right off of Interstate 81. The city is broken into six sections. Some of the neighborhoods are pedestrian-oriented, others are more automobile suburb. The urban downtown area is mostly commercial. The population in the metropolitan area of Scranton is estimated at 562,037 in 2013. I have many connections to Scranton. I attend college and live within the metropolitan area. Another personal connection is both of my parents attended college in Scranton. The city is currently in a revitalization phase, trying to bounce back from almost going bankrupt in 2012. The city is also the setting for the NBC show The Office where its fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin is located. Scranton also hosts a marathon once a year that attracts many visitors.

The first city I selected is Copenhagen, Denmark. The main reason I chose this city is because of its successful traffic calming program. The city of Copenhagen and Scranton are similar because they both experience cold and snowy winters. Scranton has one main biking/walking trail that runs through part of the city, but it is broken in sections where the trail intersects with roads. Also, Scranton has a Tour de Scranton event that attracts many cyclists. Scranton does get traffic congested at certain times. Dedicated cycling routes would help to improve the city, while reducing the overall pollution. I believe it will attract more people and increase the quality of life. Since the demand for cycling is there, Scranton should look at ways Copenhagen was able to incorporate cycling into their city.

The next city I select is Bogota, Colombia. Bogota has weekly car-free events known as Ciclovias. The Bogota Ciclovias takes place every Sunday and on their holiday. The Ciclovias works by banning or restricting cars on almost 75 miles of streets throughout the city. This allows for people to use the streets safely and promote exercise. Scranton can adopt this type of event every easily. Scranton already has people have that like to cycle and walk and has some ways to include this. Also, it would be the most cost friendly of ways to include cycling and walking. This will help Scranton be more family friendly and attract more events and businesses. Scranton’s adoption of an event like Ciclovias will help promote a more sustainable development.

Module 5: Development Case Studies

Ecuador’s Huaorani Indians Fight Against Maxus Energy Corporation’s Plans to Extract Oil on Their Traditional Territory, is an Environmental Justice Case Study by University of Michigan students.  It is about how Maxus Energy Corporation has been in a dispute with the Huaorani Indians. Their territory lies in the Ecuadorian Amazon for many years. The Ecuadorian Government allowed Maxus Energy Corporation to explore for oil on the native lands beginning in 1992. Ecuador supports Maxus because it depends on its oil resources for almost half of its income. This case study can relate to many concepts discussed in this lesson. One concept this study highlights is the global issue of environmental justice. The Huaorani only want their land to be healthy and undisturbed, but they are not powerful enough to fight against it. The tribe has to suffer with the negative impacts Maxus Energy brings to the area.


Supporting Local Biodiversity Plans at Sonadih and Arasmeta Cement Plants, is a biodiversity case study from India by Lafarge. Lafarge operates cement plants in the Chhattisgarh state. They promoted biodiversity by designing and implementing and contributing to local biodiversity plans. Lafarge estimated that 70,000 tree saplings were planted as part of the local “Green Chhattisgarh” program in hopes of preserving the unique natural heritage. The study also explains how this company’s actions created a close relationship between the quarry, the local community, local authorities and local businesses. This company recognizes the harm it brings to the ware where they operate, but also helps offset the impact it has in the future. This case study relates to the sustainable development concept discussed in this lesson. This case study shows how this type of developed can be sustainable and also have a positive impact in a unique way.


I live in Archbald, near Scranton, PA. In recent years there has been an increase in development in and around this area. I recent months, there are two proposals to build separate natural gas power plants. These plants will be less than two miles apart and will be near an already operational electric plant. The two case studies can be related to this situation in many ways. The people against these plants are using the same reasons the Huaorani Indians used to stop Maxus Energy. The residents are worried about their properties, their health, and quality of life. On the other hand, the case study in India can be related by the positive impacts the plants will have such as the increase in local school funding and promises to give back to the community. The location of these plants is important because they have access to highways, gas lines, a water source, and power lines. The land they will be built on in their eyes is a perfect fit for their development.

Water Usage – Hollabaugh


My hometown is Sunbury, PA. According to our municipality, the primary source of our water comes from a dam located along Little Shamokin Creek. The dam contains a 3 million gallon reserovoir. This reservoir then uses gravity to feed into a 17 million gallon, and 25 million gallon reservoir. During dry seasons, the Susquehanna River is used as a secondary source. The Susquehanna River is one of the longest and widest rivers in the US, and as such is most likely used as a water source for other cities that lie along its banks. The water from either of these two sources is treated at a filtration plant, and sent through 35 miles of underground pipe to the residences of Sunbury. The transmission and distribution service has nearly 5000 connections that helps to serve a population of nearly ten thousand.

b. Total of about 77 Gallons/day



If I had to make an attempt at living on 2 gallons of water for a single day, I would have to prioritize mater water usage, and in some cases possibly reuse it. Obviously I would have to eliminate the dishwasher, toilet use, and shower from my already existing regime. I would have to use an outdoor latrine in place of the toilet use. Drinking water would be the highest priority, followed by cooking, and then cleaning. I know that I can boil water in order to reuse it for drinking or cleaning purposes, so the only aspects that would matter would be tasks that require me to dispose of the water. These would probably only include cleaning (i.e. brushing my teeth, dishes, or bathing), or consumption where I can’t get it back. In order to make the most of the 2 gallons, I would save all of the cleaning until the end of the day, except for brushing my teeth once in the morning. My water schedule for the day would consist of the following;

  1. Brush teeth and drink a glass of water (-0.125 gallons, 1.875 remain)
  2. Pasta for lunch while collecting, and reusing the strained water to boil for distilled water. Leave dishes for end of the day. 2 glasses of water to drink. (-0.5, 1.375 remain)
  3. Essentially the same concept for dinner (-0.5, 0.875 remain)
  4. With the remaining water I would clean the dishes, and then give my self a sponge bath. I would brush my teeth, and any remaining water would be used to wash my hair. (-0.875, 0 remain)

This would most likely succeed, and would be possible for everyone regardless of where they live. This experience greatly differ from part 1-b. It requires much more work on my end for the same results, which really comes down to being a luxury. Water use however greatly depends on location. Some western state experience droughts often and need to limit their consumption, while eastern states use it like an infinite resource. Then there are some developing nations who don’t have the luxuries of indoor plumbing, and have to retrieve the water from streams with buckets daily, which essentially turns into the schedule I created.

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.

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 You- Julie Hetu

Hello. My name is Julie Hetu and I am currently a freshman living at State College. However, my home is actually about thirty minutes outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Throughout my whole life, I have lived in the same exact house surrounded by the same exact neighbors who have become like a big family to me. I am in pursuit of becoming an elementary school teacher. Eventually, I would like to further my education in Special Education. When I was a young girl, I spent countless hours pretending to be a teacher. Although this course is a requirement for my degree, I am actually very interested in learning more. The only geography that I remember taking in my education was specifically dedicated to learning where different countries were on the map. From this course, I have already learned that geography is not simply the location of areas, but rather so much more. I hope to have a better understanding of geography after taking this course because this is something that is lacking in my own education.

In a recent science course at Penn State, I have learned a lot about the climate change and changes in our environment that is often caused by human interactions. Human-Environment Interactions is not only based upon the results of the environment caused by human decisions, but also based upon the natural events of nature that affect humans. One of the main concerns in human-environment interaction is sustainability. Sustainability is defined as the human activities being able to exist without disrupting the ability of natural ecosystems to function. Along with sustainability, another core concept involves governance, which involves how people make decisions and how they are inhibited by outside forces to make these decisions. The idea of sustainability and governance is rather important for the future of the world. It is important to determine how humans are able to thrive on this earth without destroying the environment around them. In infinite amount of ways, humans rely on the environment to live and survive, and without sustaining the ability of natural ecosystems, the ability to live will also change.