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September 29, 2010

Micro Hydroponics

Roof-top gardens

Environmental Protection–Always an issue

September 29, 2010

For the past 14,000 years, the Middle East has practiced “Hima”. Hima translates to “protected place” and the concept was that before Islamic law interfered with Hima, an private land owner could set aside parts of his land to preserve. Any living organism in that area was to be protected, along with any stray animals that crossed into the area (including those from another herd).

Then, Islamic laws began to alter Hima, so that any land, private or public, could be set aside using Hima. These lands would either be permanent, or temporary.

I found it interesting that they considered Hima as not only a system to protect the earth, but also the people in the communities around the Hima areas (if I’m saying this correctly). It pushed people to share resources, to better manage land, and to live a more sustainable life.


September 29, 2010

Robbins opens Chapter 2 by talking about Phoenix, Arizona.  He talks about the vast number of people that live there and the amount of resources in which the land has to offer.  It is disconcerting to think about the 12th largest city in America being in the middle of a dessert, especially when one thinks about the roadways and housing developments that are currently being built.

Is the world overpopulated with humans?  Is it too late to do anything about it?  Robbins reminds us that there are some that hold the position that populace growth leads to innovation.  Take agricultural development for example.  As more and more people have come into existence there have been advancements to produce more food.  After all, there was a time in which humans lived in a hunter/gatherer mode of life.

In 1999 it was estimated that the six billionth person had been born.  Some estimated that there have been about a hundred billion people to ever live.  It is difficult to imagine that the living populace makes up for six percent of the entire human population that has ever lived.

The question begs the answer:  “Is population a social driver of environmental change or is it actually the product or outcome of social and environmental circumstance and conditions?”

The Jevon’s problem is quite interesting.  The idea that technological improvements that increase the efficiency of a material ultimately lead to an increased rate of consumption is an interesting one.  A good example of this is England and lumber.  The English found effective ways to gather and shape trees in order to sail around the world.  As a result, many forests were devastated.

Green washing is one of my biggest pet peeves.  A good example of this practice is the way in which Toyota advertises its hybrid cars.  Take the Prius for example, it is considered to be one of the most fuel-efficient cars sold in the United States.  As fuel-efficient as it may be, the company fails to advertise that the engine blocks for the cars came from across an ocean in a giant cargo ship.

“Many governments, including the United States, therefore express fear that if they make sacrifices in this direction while others do not, they will no longer be competitive.  The benefits of carbon reduction, in a parallel way, would be experienced by all countries but must be paid by individual countries.”  Prisoner’s dilemma is a provoking problem in Game Theory.  It is curious that situations occur when multiple parties will not cooperate, even if it is in their best interest.

Project Proposal

September 29, 2010

I am thinking that I want to put together a comparative study/project of Ohio’s census population over time versus it’s Timber rattlesnake abundance and distribution over the same timeline.  It would be very interesting (and disheartening) to summarize the species’ demise as Ohio’s population grew.

Coral Bleaching Likely in Caribbean This Year

September 29, 2010

According to the NOAA Coral Reef Watch monitoring system, coral bleaching is likely in the Caribbean in 2010.  Coral bleaching is when the water gets to warm and the coral die off because as a result of this.  The waters in the Caribbean have been warmer than usual all year long.  The prolonged coral bleaching has the potential to wipe out the coral in that region, which would lead to the loss of marine habitats.    The hard part is there is really nothing that can be done to prevent this from happening.  The decline and loss of coral reefs has significant social, cultural, economic and ecological impacts on people and communities in the Caribbean, the United States, Australia and throughout the world.


Enviroment and Society I

September 29, 2010

In chapter 2 it talks about how we should depopulate the people on the planet.  There is no rhyme or reason on why we should do this.  How would anyone ever be able to decide who to keep and let go?  That would be a hard decision to make.  This would also mess up society and how it functions.  China will be hurting in the future because of there birth laws and how they can have only one child per family.  This has lead to them keeping millions of babies from being born.  All the older people are going to retire in society with no one to take there position.  There needs to be competition in the labor force.  We as a society need to figure out how to keep the same amount of population but not let it grow.  There still needs to be competition in the marketplace.

The book mentions tragedy of the commons and the problems with free loaders these days.  Tragedy of the commons is when many individuals are only thinking of themselves and using resources to there own expense.  In the future we will pay for this with the environment.  People don’t care because there is no effect on them right now.  Free loaders is another problem we have these days.  Free loading is when you have someone who doesn’t pay for the good and still benefits from the good.  For example if people want who live on a lake want it cleaned up but not everyone will pay for it and they clean it up anyways.  Everyone on the lake will benefit from it.  It’s a problem that is hard to regulate.  Hardin does mention that privatization would help the with freeloaders.  This also means that everyone would be responsible with maintaining there own property.  So, the city would no longer pay for trash trucks to come around and pick up the trash that you put out on the curb.  The good thing about privatization would be the lowering of taxes though.  This would happen because the governement or town would not have as many expenses.

Ethics is another topic that the book points out and it has to deal with the environment.  Our ethics in the U.S. are not very good when it comes to eating and the amount that we waist.  We need to be more concerned with the way we are dealing with this.  There is so much waste that we produce from this country.  Just walk through the campus and look at all the left over food that has been thrown away.  It is also amazing how students can’t just put the recyclables in the recyclable bins.  It would inconvenience them to much to do that.  So, as a country we need to open our eyes and take a look at how we are treating the environment.  Maybe the government needs to put restrictions on how much food people buy.  I read an article about how they might try to put restrictions on fast food.  I am all for the government doing this.  The reading makes many valid points throughout the first part of the book that everyone needs to take a good look at.  Some of them I agree with and some not so much.  Even if making the environment green cost to much, we should still spend the money.  It will better us off in the long run.

Green taxes are a big discussion that is currently going on and will happen.  Companies that produce pollution should be taxed on how much there are polluting.  This will give them an incentive to either get better technology or to stop producing as much.  I also recently read an article on taxing gasoline at the pump.  It would be a Pigovian tax which is put on something that gives of negative externalities.  By taxing the $1 on every gallon of gas sold to the buyer would generate billions of dollars to put back into the environment every year.  This would also give drivers an incentive to find other ways of transportation for example biking, walking, public transportation, ect.

More than a 5th of world’s plants face extinction

September 29, 2010

According to a new study, more than a fifth of the world’s plants are facing extinction according to a study conducted by and the Natural History Museum. This is the first time that a test has been conducted on the worlds estimated 380,000 plants. According to Stephen Hopper, a professor at the gardens,

“This study confirms what we already suspected, that plants are under threat and the main cause is human induced habitat loss. For the first time we have a clear global picture of extinction risk to the world’s known plants. This report shows the most urgent threats and the most threatened regions. In order to answer crucial questions like how fast are we losing species and why, and what we can do about it, we need to establish a baseline so that we have something against which to measure change. The Sampled Red List Index for Plants does exactly that by assessing a large sample of plant species that are collectively representative of all the world’s plants.”

The study revealed:

  • About one third of the species (33%) in the sample are insufficiently known to carry out a conservation assessment. This demonstrates the scale of the task facing botanists and conservation scientists — many plants are so poorly known that we still don’t know if they are endangered or not
  • Of almost 4,000 species that have been carefully assessed, over one fifth (22%) are classed as Threatened
  • Plants are more threatened than birds, as threatened as mammals and less threatened than amphibians or corals
  • Gymnosperms (the plant group including conifers and cycads) are the most threatened group
  • The most threatened habitat is tropical rain forest.
  • Most threatened plant species are found in the tropics
  • The most threatening process is man-induced habitat loss, mostly the conversion of natural habitats for agriculture or livestock use

Global Groundwater Quickly Depleting

September 29, 2010

         This article talks about the depletion of groundwater supplies globally. The research done in the Netherlands has shown that the majority of the groundwater used ends up in the ocean, ultimately making the water undrinkable, and useless for things like irrigation. Groundwater is used primarily for drinking water and irrigation, mostly irrigation in places that don’t receive much rainfall. It is said that evaporated groundwater from irrigation accounts for 25% of the annual rise in sea level. This is astonishing because the evaporated irrigation water makes up the same amount of sea level rise as the melting of the ice caps and glaciers. So is the real problem greenhouse gasses? or the overuse of groundwater? This problem of the looming doom of no groundwater shows as an opportunity to recycle ocean water and turn it into drinkable, or at least water that can be used for irrigation. If a system can be created to economically convert and transfer this new water across a nation, a massive market could be created, along with a mass of jobs, infrastructure, and an avoidance of global political tension and possible war.

Environment And Society I

September 29, 2010

        This reading was much more interesting to me than the first few. This is probably because the content matter is more along the lines of my areas of interest, politics, economics, human nature in different cultures, sociology, etc. I like how this author takes a bunch of different factors into account and really delves into the nitty-gritty concerning the effects of societal views, standards, and functions on the environment.

     One point that I felt compelled to delve a bit deeper into is the correlation between labor competition and  overpopulation. Since there are so many people filling the global marketplace in developed and non-developed nations, it is extremely difficult to find work. There are a multitude of economic explanations for the global labor shortage, but the most important and prominent issue is so obvious, humans have overpopulated concentrated areas, landing themselves with a harder time finding a job due to numbers alone. Additionally, due to technological advances, and the emergence of global markets with the WWW it is hard to find jobs in a well-developed nation such as the US since labor, middlemen, and retailers can now operate an entire business by themselves through the internet, getting rid of lots of once tangible job titles and cubicles in offices.

      The second point I would like to address is the overconsumption of resources due to the recent explosion of credit markets. Humans are inherently greedy creatures, we want more and more and more all the time, we are never satisfied with sustaining, we want to flourish. With this being said, historically humans have increasingly used more resources than we need to sustain life. Through this principle, credit markets were created. As a result, people are conditioned to spend outside of their fiscal limitations. Because of credit cards, mortgages, loans, etc. humans have dramatically over-consumed natural resources, and soon we will pay for it through shortages of water, land, metals, coal, oil, and the list goes on. People consume things that are completely unneccessary for survival, and waste things like water flushing toilets, brushing teeth, running dishwashers etc. There will come a point where all of these natural resources wont be able to be replicated, or reproduced, and the human race might be in real danger of extinction. So why is it that humans as species have neglected these obvious facts for so long?

        In response to our complete mistreatment of our planet there has been a huge “Green Movement” to try to repair some of the damages done. The coincidence to this green movement is that although many corporations businesses, and individuals  are taking measures to save resources and stop the harmful ways of business in the past, it costs more. This causes “faux green actions” among many businesses and individuals. Because of the added cost of using organic materials and energy-efficient measures, businesses fake being green to increase sales and their public image. This is a major concern, and needs to be more controlled. This is where my project for this class comes into play, with a legitimate standardized set of guidelines to being “green” it will create a well-known identifying mark for true green companies, and will help to weed out these “Faux Green” companies in the consumer’s eyes, which are the lifeline for all businesses. Corporations will lie and steal from consumers all day everyday if they are allowed to, hopefully this system will take a small bite out of this type of corporate greed and mistreatment to consumers.

EP&S for the 21st century: Part 1

September 29, 2010

agrarian v. industrialized system

-An agrarian system is a concept used to describe the dynamic set of economic and technological factors that affect agricultural practices

– Industrial society is associated with the emergence of industrialization which transformed much of Europe and United States by replacing essentially agriculture based societies with industrial societies based on the use of machines and non-animal sources of energy to produce finished goods.

-In agrarian societies more than 90 percent of the population was rural. In industrial societies more than 90 percent is urban

-In agrarian societies 90-95 percent of the population was engaged in what sociologists call the “primary” industries (farming and extracting raw materials). In the United States today it is 4.9 percent.

macroscopic understanding of environmental and society.

“Pollution problems can be generalized as a change in element ratios in environmental cycles through the addition of waste flows from some industry or human settlement.” (p 23)

Geothermal Energy

“uses the difference in temperature within the earth to circulate hot steam to operate machinery or generate electricity” (p107).

Most geothermal facilities operate virtually emission free

-Geothermal energy has the smallest land use of any major power generation technology

-one fourth of our current electrical need would be able to be supplied by geothermal energy

– really only successful/ effective to use in New Zealand, Iceland, Italy, and California

not just power sources for civilization (p. 107):

  • convert heat to land forms and purify atmospheres, rivers, glaciers and land surfaces.
  • tapping sources takes power away from their roles in supporting civilization indirectly

Energy for Mining

  • deposits are not economical when a substance is below the concentration at which it can stimulate auto-catalytic concentration (p121)
  • Auto-catalytic reactions are chemical reactions in which at least one of the products is also a reactant
  • ores at Mahd al-Dhahab may contain about an ounce of gold per ton of rock

    Gaia Hypothesis

    • the idea that life organizes the earth for the continuation of life (Lovelock)
    • ecosystems could control their climate
    • views the Earth as a single organism
    • sea creatures produce sulfur and iodine in approximately the same quantities that is required by land creatures
    • when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, the biomass of photosynthetic organisms increases and thus removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere