Category Archives: Assignments

Earth Day Every Day!

Since Day One this class has afforded me the opportunity to gain new insights and fresh perspectives. One thing that has really stood out in my mind is the parallel drawn in the first lecture – the financial analogy between human finances and Earth’s ecological finances.  This correlation really drew a “big picture” and set the tone for how to consider the topics of the rest of the class semester.  I really took to heart the aspect of “living within the budget” or in other words, consuming less than the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of Earth’s resources.  I plan and look forward to the opportunity to use this analogy when talking to others about environmental sustainability issues.

As a young scientist I appreciated the fact that this class approached the science of global environmental problems but then also made evident pathways to a solution as well. A lot of the problems that we (as the human race) are facing today are combination issues: social-ecological systems instead of just unconnected troubles.  I have a slight change in view now in regard to root causes of modern-day issues.  This would not have happened without awareness gleaned from class readings in Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse.”  Environmental degradation on Earth cannot be fully understood without connecting root causes such as population growth and resource consumption.

As at one point I considered getting a degree in History, I still have an interest in that subject and was excited to learn more about past world civilization histories but with an environmental spin. Past and present environmental crises can be compared and vision gained for our future on this Earth.  By aid of this class, I have tried a new approach to evaluating past and current environmental problems through looking at both scientific and social aspects.  I had not done this before.  Moving forward in our modern life, I can only hope that I can have a part in overcoming the challenges of achieving a sustainable society today.

 

Acknowledgements:

Mr. John P. Tippett, Professor, University of Mary Washington, January – April, 2016

 

References:

Brooks, M., Foster, C., Holmes, M., & Wiltshire, J. (2011). Does consuming seasonal foods benefit the environment? Insights from recent research. Nutrition Bulletin, 36(4), 449-453.

Earth Day Every Day!

Since Day One this class has afforded me the opportunity to gain new insights and fresh perspectives. One thing that has really stood out in my mind is the parallel drawn in the first lecture – the financial analogy between human finances and Earth’s ecological finances.  This correlation really drew a “big picture” and set the tone for how to consider the topics of the rest of the class semester.  I really took to heart the aspect of “living within the budget” or in other words, consuming less than the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of Earth’s resources.  I plan and look forward to the opportunity to use this analogy when talking to others about environmental sustainability issues.

As a young scientist I appreciated the fact that this class approached the science of global environmental problems but then also made evident pathways to a solution as well. A lot of the problems that we (as the human race) are facing today are combination issues: social-ecological systems instead of just unconnected troubles.  I have a slight change in view now in regard to root causes of modern-day issues.  This would not have happened without awareness gleaned from class readings in Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse.”  Environmental degradation on Earth cannot be fully understood without connecting root causes such as population growth and resource consumption.

As at one point I considered getting a degree in History, I still have an interest in that subject and was excited to learn more about past world civilization histories but with an environmental spin. Past and present environmental crises can be compared and vision gained for our future on this Earth.  By aid of this class, I have tried a new approach to evaluating past and current environmental problems through looking at both scientific and social aspects.  I had not done this before.  Moving forward in our modern life, I can only hope that I can have a part in overcoming the challenges of achieving a sustainable society today.

 

Acknowledgements:

Mr. John P. Tippett, Professor, University of Mary Washington, January – April, 2016

 

References:

Brooks, M., Foster, C., Holmes, M., & Wiltshire, J. (2011). Does consuming seasonal foods benefit the environment? Insights from recent research. Nutrition Bulletin, 36(4), 449-453.

A Tale of Two Programs

I thought it was very interesting to see the parallel that Mr. Tippett drew today (3/29) in class between his time for the Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. Both starting in 1985, the end result of these two organizations appears to have been the same. Once Mr. Tippett outlined the activities that each organization participated in throughout the years, I came to the same conclusion he did – REGULATIONS. Regulations are a necessary evil and absolutely required in some cases to enact the change that is needed.  When it comes down to costs & benefits of partnerships, once the costs start exceeding the benefits, the relationship will come to an end.

I really liked the comparison made. FOR really was founded and continues to utilize relationships with sponsors and the community as building blocks to grow and continue to operate. My reaction to this was “Wow, I better work on my people skills if I really want to make a difference.” But going beyond that, both the FOR and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program were involved with similar incentive-based programs. Even though incentive-based partnerships can be a great place to start, the end result was unfortunately not attained. Even with several chances to meet goals, the builders and participators did achieve the desired results. Working with the people that you wanted to change only got you about 50% there.

Non-government entities are invaluable in the way that they push authority and push goals. I have some experience with this as I work for an ISO 9001 and 14001 company. We have a third-party come in, audit and certify us if we meet those international standards of compliance. There is no way around it, we have to measure up. Third parties and non-government entities really help push the issues and contribute to everyone measuring up to the set standard (hopefully a sustainability standard).

 

References:

http://www.riverfriends.org/

A Tale of Two Programs

I thought it was very interesting to see the parallel that Mr. Tippett drew today (3/29) in class between his time for the Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. Both starting in 1985, the end result of these two organizations appears to have been the same. Once Mr. Tippett outlined the activities that each organization participated in throughout the years, I came to the same conclusion he did – REGULATIONS. Regulations are a necessary evil and absolutely required in some cases to enact the change that is needed.  When it comes down to costs & benefits of partnerships, once the costs start exceeding the benefits, the relationship will come to an end.

I really liked the comparison made. FOR really was founded and continues to utilize relationships with sponsors and the community as building blocks to grow and continue to operate. My reaction to this was “Wow, I better work on my people skills if I really want to make a difference.” But going beyond that, both the FOR and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program were involved with similar incentive-based programs. Even though incentive-based partnerships can be a great place to start, the end result was unfortunately not attained. Even with several chances to meet goals, the builders and participators did achieve the desired results. Working with the people that you wanted to change only got you about 50% there.

Non-government entities are invaluable in the way that they push authority and push goals. I have some experience with this as I work for an ISO 9001 and 14001 company. We have a third-party come in, audit and certify us if we meet those international standards of compliance. There is no way around it, we have to measure up. Third parties and non-government entities really help push the issues and contribute to everyone measuring up to the set standard (hopefully a sustainability standard).

 

References:

http://www.riverfriends.org/

A Tale of Two Programs

I thought it was very interesting to see the parallel that Mr. Tippett drew today (3/29) in class between his time for the Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. Both starting in 1985, the end result of these two organizations appears to have been the same. Once Mr. Tippett outlined the activities that each organization participated in throughout the years, I came to the same conclusion he did – REGULATIONS. Regulations are a necessary evil and absolutely required in some cases to enact the change that is needed.  When it comes down to costs & benefits of partnerships, once the costs start exceeding the benefits, the relationship will come to an end.

I really liked the comparison made. FOR really was founded and continues to utilize relationships with sponsors and the community as building blocks to grow and continue to operate. My reaction to this was “Wow, I better work on my people skills if I really want to make a difference.” But going beyond that, both the FOR and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program were involved with similar incentive-based programs. Even though incentive-based partnerships can be a great place to start, the end result was unfortunately not attained. Even with several chances to meet goals, the builders and participators did achieve the desired results. Working with the people that you wanted to change only got you about 50% there.

Non-government entities are invaluable in the way that they push authority and push goals. I have some experience with this as I work for an ISO 9001 and 14001 company. We have a third-party come in, audit and certify us if we meet those international standards of compliance. There is no way around it, we have to measure up. Third parties and non-government entities really help push the issues and contribute to everyone measuring up to the set standard (hopefully a sustainability standard).

 

References:

http://www.riverfriends.org/

Unsettling

directv-the-settlers-trading-large-7

The dairy farmers of the Goulburn-Broken Catchment are praying for rain.” (Walker and Salt, 39) As I peruse Case Study 2, this first sentence stands out. Are they truly resorting to prayer? Is this what it has come to? Is this what it may come to?

What the case study goes on to report is that these farmers of this region in Australia are some of the most efficient around (Walker and Salt). Their farming and irrigation practices would have enabled them to circumvent this current problem of rising salinity and drought had they been set up earlier (before the entire basin had been cleared of vegetation). I wonder what it feels like to know that it was in your power to prevent your current agricultural heartbreak but that power was squandered. Hindsight is 20/20.

With the day-to-day variables, the farmers of the GB Catchment lost sight of the big picture. Fixing today’s problems today, but what about such things as El Nino in the future? I’m not even talking about disasters (like the costly, unforeseen events discussed in our first lecture) but just consideration of the whole system – future rainy seasons would “wash out” the essential buffer zone in this farm land.

Land stewardship was the result of this particular crisis in Australia. I am glad at this outcome, I feel that we sometimes (and more often) have a moral responsibility to care for the planet, e.g. be good stewards. In the case of the GB Catchment, the new management was able to set an example for other regions.

Being more efficient is not by itself a pathway to sustainability.” (Walker and Salt, 52) I think this is a good perspective. When talking to people, sometimes I worry that they have this mindset. Increased efficiency is only a piece in the puzzle that is the preservation of our planet.

I like the author or book’s way of putting it “… if the early settlers had been forewarned of the problems that would be faced some one hundred years later,… would they have made different decisions on how they developed the region?” (Walker and Salt, 49)

 

References:

Walker, B. H., and David Salt. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems And People In A Changing World. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006. Print.

Picture source: www.ispot.tv

Unsettling

directv-the-settlers-trading-large-7

The dairy farmers of the Goulburn-Broken Catchment are praying for rain.” (Walker and Salt, 39) As I peruse Case Study 2, this first sentence stands out. Are they truly resorting to prayer? Is this what it has come to? Is this what it may come to?

What the case study goes on to report is that these farmers of this region in Australia are some of the most efficient around (Walker and Salt). Their farming and irrigation practices would have enabled them to circumvent this current problem of rising salinity and drought had they been set up earlier (before the entire basin had been cleared of vegetation). I wonder what it feels like to know that it was in your power to prevent your current agricultural heartbreak but that power was squandered. Hindsight is 20/20.

With the day-to-day variables, the farmers of the GB Catchment lost sight of the big picture. Fixing today’s problems today, but what about such things as El Nino in the future? I’m not even talking about disasters (like the costly, unforeseen events discussed in our first lecture) but just consideration of the whole system – future rainy seasons would “wash out” the essential buffer zone in this farm land.

Land stewardship was the result of this particular crisis in Australia. I am glad at this outcome, I feel that we sometimes (and more often) have a moral responsibility to care for the planet, e.g. be good stewards. In the case of the GB Catchment, the new management was able to set an example for other regions.

Being more efficient is not by itself a pathway to sustainability.” (Walker and Salt, 52) I think this is a good perspective. When talking to people, sometimes I worry that they have this mindset. Increased efficiency is only a piece in the puzzle that is the preservation of our planet.

I like the author or book’s way of putting it “… if the early settlers had been forewarned of the problems that would be faced some one hundred years later,… would they have made different decisions on how they developed the region?” (Walker and Salt, 49)

 

References:

Walker, B. H., and David Salt. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems And People In A Changing World. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006. Print.

Picture source: www.ispot.tv

Unsettling

directv-the-settlers-trading-large-7

The dairy farmers of the Goulburn-Broken Catchment are praying for rain.” (Walker and Salt, 39) As I peruse Case Study 2, this first sentence stands out. Are they truly resorting to prayer? Is this what it has come to? Is this what it may come to?

What the case study goes on to report is that these farmers of this region in Australia are some of the most efficient around (Walker and Salt). Their farming and irrigation practices would have enabled them to circumvent this current problem of rising salinity and drought had they been set up earlier (before the entire basin had been cleared of vegetation). I wonder what it feels like to know that it was in your power to prevent your current agricultural heartbreak but that power was squandered. Hindsight is 20/20.

With the day-to-day variables, the farmers of the GB Catchment lost sight of the big picture. Fixing today’s problems today, but what about such things as El Nino in the future? I’m not even talking about disasters (like the costly, unforeseen events discussed in our first lecture) but just consideration of the whole system – future rainy seasons would “wash out” the essential buffer zone in this farm land.

Land stewardship was the result of this particular crisis in Australia. I am glad at this outcome, I feel that we sometimes (and more often) have a moral responsibility to care for the planet, e.g. be good stewards. In the case of the GB Catchment, the new management was able to set an example for other regions.

Being more efficient is not by itself a pathway to sustainability.” (Walker and Salt, 52) I think this is a good perspective. When talking to people, sometimes I worry that they have this mindset. Increased efficiency is only a piece in the puzzle that is the preservation of our planet.

I like the author or book’s way of putting it “… if the early settlers had been forewarned of the problems that would be faced some one hundred years later,… would they have made different decisions on how they developed the region?” (Walker and Salt, 49)

 

References:

Walker, B. H., and David Salt. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems And People In A Changing World. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006. Print.

Picture source: www.ispot.tv

Sustainable Sustenance

To be honest, I have had a touch of writer’s block since coming back from the Galapagos. Some matters have been on my mind that were introduced during the course of my trip, and that is why this post is late.  I want to talk about one of these issues and so there may be a separate blog more in keeping with the scope of the class assignment but I have to get this out.

I was impressed with the way that the Galapagos managed their food. This was beyond just the care taken upon import which includes: careful inspections to ensure no introduced species, realistic ordering and navigation of carrying vessels, and not ordering more than needed to reduce overall $$.  On another level, however, I was there for almost 10 days and never once was I fed something out of season or special ordered just for us “tourists.”  The people there really seem to have a good idea of the potential impact to their environment if they were to “progress” more along the American way and import whatever they want, no matter what the cost.  Instead, they eat what’s local and they eat what’s in season.

In contrast, here in the US, we want it all and we want to have access to it all the time. We import so that we can have what we want, when we want it – for example, strawberries in November. This is not a supportable attitude or approach to an environmentally sustainable food source.  Premium product offerings such as these require more gas which therefore causes more environmental impact in a negative way.  Instead, let’s eat strawberries in spring and apples/pears in November. We should eat what’s local, what’s in season.

I feel like it might be true that most consumers in the U.S. really do not even know or understand what seasonality of food is. I asked a few people, for example, what they considered seasonal food in November was and the answer was “turkey” or “cranberry sauce”.  Upon further discussion, a secondary working definition by most seems to be that seasonal food is what’s grown locally.  This is really only part of it.

Consuming seasonal foods can form the basis of the reduction of environmental impacts in the (our) food chain. Please help to understand what is seasonal and join in the appreciation of local and sustainable food.  I know that the U.S. is not a lot like the Galapagos Islands but we can all do our part to preserve the treasure that is our country and our Earth.

 

 

References:

Brooks, M., Foster, C., Holmes, M., & Wiltshire, J. (2011). Does consuming seasonal foods benefit the environment? Insights from recent research. Nutrition Bulletin, 36(4), 449-453.

We don’t take kindly to your type around here…

From one of last week’s classes, a question popped into my head. A statistic was thrown out in our group discussion: approximately 1,000 people and 25,000 cows died as a result of the flooding in the Everglades before the government was prompted to step in 1950’s). A question that I am now considering is: After the governmental modifications were done to the environment, how many other species have died since, directly and indirectly as a result of what “we” (human) did? This leads me down a stream (pun) of questions – How much of “the cost” was really counted? Was it human life that finally tipped the balance? Did whoever in charge have 2 or more proposals on his desk and just chose the cheapest option? These are visuals that I try to put from the forefront of my mind but maybe, in order to learn from past mistakes, we should ask some of these questions and get answers.

In speaking about the species that may have been lost. I will consider them generally for now, time constraints do not allow me to provide a full report on individuals. It does appear that species diversity declined in the years following the government intervention and alteration of the Everglades (Forys and Allen 2002). Loss of native species and invasion by nonnatives directly affects the species diversity in an area. These dimensions of past and present Everglades locale are finally being studied and quantified.

I was glad to hear about recent restoration efforts in/to the Everglades ecosystems. I feel that the original modifications done almost 70 years ago could have been performed in a better way for the environment. Maybe they did not know what we know now. I think it is a daunting task to try and make sure that everyone from engineers to government officials to the military to the everyday homeowner has the same knowledge and education about environmental structure and ecological consequences. I think that all these groups do not have to have the same level of understanding but we need to get them all the same information about impacts to our society and Earth.

 

References:

Walker, B. H., and David Salt. Resilience Thinking : Sustaining Ecosystems And People In A Changing World. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2006.

Forys, Elizabeth A., and Craig R. Allen. “Functional Group Change within and across Scales Following Invasions and Extinctions in the Everglades Ecosystem.” Ecosystems 2002: 339. JSTOR Journals. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.