Mahnoor’s Project Report

November 25, 2019

Green Roofs at OWU

Ohio Wesleyan University and the City of Delaware

Environmental Geography, Professor John Krygier (jbkrygier@owu.edu), Fall 2019

Mahnoor Ansari (mmansari@owu.edu), Kayla Adolph (kmadolph@owu.edu), Janelle Valdinger (jlvaldin@owu.edu)

greenroof1.jpg

An example of a green roof using a variety of plants


The Problem:

Currently, the City of Delaware does not treat its storm-water before discharging it into larger waterways due to its MS4 permit, which can lead to non-point source pollution. MS4 permits authorize cities, counties, or other governmental entities to discharge storm-water collected by their storm sewer systems to waters of the United States. This kind of pollution can augment to cause eutrophication or algal blooms, such as that which has occurred in Lake Erie. Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) is located in a hilly location and a city that produces more rainfall per year than Seattle (38 inches versus 37.5 inches), creating the potential for relatively high levels of storm-water runoff. Installing a green roof to prevent polluted storm-water runoff is an example of executing best storm-water management practices and a practical solution for addressing the problem.

Project Summary:

The aim of this project is to install a ~ 5500 sq ft green, sedum plant roof on the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center (DEC). This location is ideal because it is central to both OWU and Delaware. This project, initially proposed by the City of Delaware to manage storm-water, would benefit the student population, the university administration, the Delaware community, and the campus as a whole in multiple ways. Thus far we have investigated the feasibility of this project, researched its benefits, discerned key stakeholders and supporters, addressed safety and accessibility concerns, created a budget and implementation timeline, identified sources of funding, and considered maintenance planning. 

These are mark-ups to show what a green roof at OWU could potentially look like

Read the rest of this entry »


Mahnoor’s Digital Portfolio

November 25, 2019

Book Reviews and Reflections: 

Week 1: Cronon’s “Trouble with Wilderness” and Sullivan’s “The Meadowlands”

Week 2: Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire”

Week 5: Bruckner’s “Fanaticism of the Apocalypse”

Week 6-7: Coates’ “Nature”

Week 10: Foer’s “Eating Animals”

Week 11: Latour’s “Down to Earth”

Week 12: Urbanik’s “Placing Animals”

Week 13: Stoknes’ “What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming”

Environmental News Items:

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th

Project Posts:

Project Ideas, Proposal Draft, Project Presentation


Mahnoor’s 8th News Item

November 25, 2019

Climate Change’s Effect on the Panama Canal 

The Panama Canal, aside from serving as an important trade route between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, also provides 2 million Panamanians with water from its artificial lakes.

Due to severe droughts resulting from increasing climate disruptions, its water level has lowered. According to this NYT article, “any hiccup in its operation can ripple through the global economy and affect the United States, the origin or destination for much of the canal’s traffic. And those problems may become more commonplace as the climate changes.”

The Canal has also experienced issues with too much water. “The rainy season has its own challenges. In December 2010, torrential rains caused the lakes to overflow; the resulting flooding forced the canal to be closed for a day. Too much water inundating the system can also damage locks and other infrastructure.

Mr. Vargas said the authority has a team of meteorologists, scientists and engineers who forecast and plan how to handle water extremes, and their skills will be used even more as the climate changes.”


Mahnoor’s Project Presentation

November 25, 2019

Presentation including current proposal and budget:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1JLoJkBxQqdGbU4oeLL4rvg2qpieKUK6URCgQj11ikrE


“What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming” Review by Mahnoor

November 25, 2019

This book offered a lot of practical and applicable strategies for getting people to believe in the climate science and care about solving the climate crisis (or “global weirding,” “climate disruption,” and “global burning”). As a psychology major, I particularly enjoyed learning about his approach to the problem.

A lot of the problems and strategies outlined in this book were familiar to me because they mirrored Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s (CCL) approach. In fact, I think the head office of CCL must have read this book. Volunteers are encouraged to 1) turn barriers upside down using storytelling, trusted messengers, practical and simple actions, appreciation instead of shame, and non/bipartisanship; 2) stick to positive strategies by avoiding an apocalyptic narrative and instead adopting a solution-focused approach; 3) act as social citizens, not individuals, which is implied in the organization’s name and explicitly expressed in its mission statement. CCL is even careful about referring to its policy as a “carbon fee and dividend,” “carbon dividend,” “carbon pricing,” “price on pollution,” etc, and not a “carbon tax” because it’s not a tax if the money doesn’t stay in the government.

Urbanik’s references to Robert Cialdini were quite helpful in illustrating a person’s subconscious tendency to imitate and use social comparison/social proof and how this can be used to inspire climate action (or denial). I also studied his work on social influence in my organizational psychology class this semester so this added another dimension to what I learned.

And finally, I loved his last chapter where he referenced Albert Camus and described the concept of “grounded hope.” I deeply related to his description of Dr. Rieux as “an amalgamation of hardheaded pessimism with a die-hard optimism” who exemplified “not a bright, heroic fight, but a firm refusal to capitulate and a steadfast commitment to keep going, despite hopeless odds.” I’m sure I will read this book again and will try to get others to do the same.


“Placing Animals” Review by Mahnoor

November 24, 2019

“Placing Animals,” while being the culmination of many things we had already discussed and read in this course, provided insight into new ideas I hadn’t considered before.

Some concepts tied back to “Down to Earth,” but were explained by Urbanik in a more comprehensible way. On page 5 she talks about new social theories critiquing the “modernist view of the world” that humans and animals are divided by a dualistic hierarchy, placing humans “outside” of nature. Latour’s theory of “Terrestrials” which discards this geographically divided dichotomy, and his “actor-network theory” which Urbanik mentions on page 41, relate directly to the framework she is referencing.

Additionally, I gained a lot of perspective from her discussions on defining what it means to be an animal (page 7), the scope of nonhuman animals’ influence on humans’ lives (preface), understanding the field of geography (page 9), the historical attitudes towards discrimination against marginalized groups (page 16), the colonization of animals through farming (page 68, 107, 110), the liminal space pets occupy in human lives (page 61), and the human construction of wildlife (chapter 6, page 162). This book provides insight into our place on Earth alongside each other, as nations of our own, and how everything and everyone is connected.


Environmental News: Week 11

November 18, 2019

“Scientists Developing Warning System to Teach Bears to Avoid Trains”

In Banff National Park, train collisions are the number one cause of death in their Grizzly population. Because of this, the University of Alberta is attempting to develop a warning signal to cause the bears to steer clear of the train tracks. University of Alberta biologist, Colleen Cassady St.Clair said “There are more trains, and these trains are traveling faster than ever before. The possibility of collisions between wildlife and trains is increasing.” The managers at Banff National Park wanted to know why bears frequented the tracks and what was drawing them to the tracks. St. Clair’s research group found that many factors attracted the bears to the train tracks. Some of these factors are spilled grain, concentrated deer and elk populations, berries that grow near tracks, and the ‘corridor’ the tracks provide through the landscape. Cassady focused her research not on trying to keep the bears off of the tracks all together, but to avoid trains themselves. The warning system is similar to the kind that humans use with flashing lights as well as a ringing bell. In the article, it said “Preliminary results suggest the devices cause animals near tracks to avoid approaching trains several seconds sooner than they do when the device isn’t activated.”

https://www.folio.ca/scientists-developing-warning-system-to-teach-bears-to-avoid-trains/