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

    Ohio Solar Tour

    September 29, 2010

    This weekend there will be 200+ renewable-energy-powered homes open for public tours all across the state. There are 3 homes in Delaware County alone, plus the Columbus Zoo! Most of the tour sites are at least partly solar-powered, but other forms of renewable energy are also featured such as geothermal, wind power, hydroelectric, and biomass. Lots of these sites are also LEED certified.

    Check out their website for more details.


    Environment & Society ( week 1)

    September 28, 2010

    Other than the extremely high temperatures, don’t move to Arizona because they’re running out of water. In the first section of this book Robbins and the accompanying writers explore popular theories used to address environmental issues.

    Robert Malthus:

    • (1) Wars, famine, destitution, and disease are natural limits to growth.
    • (2) policies promoting the welfare are counterproductive because the promote unnecessary reproduction and resource waste
    • (3) only way to prevent resource crisis is a moral code of self-restraint.<<He pointed to the need for women to exercise moral restraint. This is clearly an indication that Malthus was a misogynist or at least let his patriarchal beliefs trickle over into his work.


    I=PAT:

    • I=P*A*T  (impact is the product of population(P), affluence (A), and technology (T)). (16)

    >P represents the population of an area, such as a country. As population increases our environmental impact increases in at least the following three ways:

    • 1)Increased land use- results in the tillage of previously undisturbed soils and the loss of habitat for other humans and animals.
    • 2) Increased resource use- results in changing landscapes and dwindling resources.
    • 3) Increased Pollution.

    >A represents affluence and is measured by looking at a figure related to consumption, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    >T represents technology and is by far the most precarious. T is typically constructed on a case-by-case basis to meet the demands of that particular application of IPAT. In a study of human impact on climate change, the T variable might be greenhouse gas emission per unit of GDP, for example.

    Additional source material: IPAT equation

    Environmental Footprint Results:

    At the end of chapter 2 Robbins et al urges you to check out a fun and exciting website that can calculate your carbon footprint. Although the link they suggested didn’t work, I googled “footprint calculator” and found several. The footprint calculator surveys you, asking questions like: Monthly spending on utility bills? How often do you drive? Type of household? It then uses this information to calculate your footprint. According to their findings, if everyone lived like me it would take 4.4 planet Earths to provide enough resources. Individually, I will use up 19.2 global acres in a lifetime.  45% of my footprint derives from services, 19% from goods and foods respectively, 9% from mobility, and 8% from shelter.

    4.4 planet Earths

    Green taxes:

    It is the idea that taxing certain goods and services will result in the following: (1) decreased use of these resources, and (2) creative innovation will allow for more options in meeting our needs.

    The tax revenue can then be used to provide services and/or research and development of alternative resources.

    >>>Opposition: I stumbled upon this editorial written by a partisan voter in Ontario, Canada. He was writing about a politician and expressed his opposition to the elected official’s “eco-tax” ideas. Apparently the proposed idea would reinstitute a tax previously enacted. Currently the province uses “smart meters” which allegedly do “nothing to conserve energy or help the environment.” According to this partisan voter’s point of view, eco-taxes are just another ineffective tax burden to the middle-class family.

    Read it

    The article’s banner:

    Musings on Green taxes

    Could something like “green-taxes” or “eco-taxes” really become a trend in the US? Sure we already have environmental impact fees when discarding paints, oils, and chemicals, but I’m talking about a tax that would be directly applied to your water, sewer, refuse, gas, and electric bills respectively. The political climate as it is, with the “no-tax” Republicans and “tax-and-spend” Democrats makes an eco-tax of that magnitude unlikely.

    The simple notion of taxes can be problematic for some people, but the fact that our environmental impact can be reduced at no cost by making simple lifestyle adjustments is infuriating to many. It is debatable as to whether or not green-taxes would be effective. However, what is sure is that education must be spread and habits and norms must be changed.


    Health groups lobby for EPA greenhouse gas rules

    September 28, 2010

    Various national and state-level public health organizations urged Congress to allow the EPA to move forward in their attempts to apply new rules regarding greenhouse gas emission. The regulations are met with disapproval from the country’s manufacturing industry. Political and business leaders in Texas, for example, have come out in opposition to the EPA’s proposed regulations stating that it would cost “hundreds of millions of dollars in administrative costs and delays.” This is shaping up to be a competition between interests. Unfortunately it will probably be decided by which interest has the deepest pockets.


    Rebuilding Wetlands- Letting hurricanes do the job

    September 27, 2010

    Congress is in the process of creating/ passing several bills that would restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. A lot of the funds and resources would be used for large engineering projects that would divert water from the Mississippi river. New studies show that hurricanes actually do the job the projects are intended to do, especially large ones like hurricane Katrina. This article starts to go into how new wetlands would help flooding problems and why the hurricanes are a help.