Category Archives: EESC230

Final Reflections

Global Environmental Problems is the most interesting class I have taken ever. It is a class where we learned what the real issues were but instead of just listing those issues and forgetting about them our discussions allowed us to discuss the issues and try and come up with some ways of solving them. This class gave me the tools to start making a difference. I can now pick a reliable non-government organization to support thanks to my classmates presentations. I know the small things I can do like investing in renewable energy resources as well as limiting my impact as much as possible. I now know that it will take massive change to ensure that the world is passed on to our future generations.

One of the main things that I’ve taken away from this course is that our environmental problems are not able to be stopped by one person or even one country and that it will take lots of time to create a sustainable and resilient society. From taking this course I also now believe that our society will not be able to change on its own. Something will have to happen before we take action its just human nature to continue going until something happens and than change. The greatest thing I gained was the knowledge of how to talk to people about environmental issues. Before this class I thought if  I were to try to talk friends or family about environmental issues I would be seen as a bit radical but with all the information I have now and the practice of talking to people in class I can now say I can put forth a valid argument of why environmental problems are the biggest problems facing the world.

I believe the first move the world should take into becoming more sustainable is by investing more in renewable resources. I think this will be the most effective way of starting the transition into a more sustainable future.

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.

Final Reflections Blog

The completion of this course has opened a new side of environmental science to me, more than learning facts from the book about river systems, fisheries and other ecosystems.  It’s something that a text book can’t teach you.  To really have an impact you need to be understanding, and listen to people.  You need to be able to not only put the environment first but also the people and their needs; to be able to put your place in someone else’s shoes and see their struggles and difficulties.  Why they might be destroying or degrading the environment. Because I really doubt there are people out there who just enjoy harming  plants and animals.

Non Profit Organizations are a great example of why we need to work together through common interests. A good NGO will listen to every party in the situation they have, and with this information they’ll make a plan on how to help everyone while still having their personal interests being prominent.  Using agreements to make sure they’re getting things done example: “if the NGO and       Organization A make an agreement, then the NGO can help out Organization B with what they achieved from helping Organization A.”  The simple concept of if I scratch your back you scratch mine.

Environmental Science is too negative, lots of people focus on what the problems are and what’s causing them.  But it should be a positive science; because we, as environmental scientists, know how to help these problems. Which is why we should be cheerful that there is way to help the world and all it’s beauty.  To be eager for graduation and go out and help the environment is what I’m taking home from this course.  To help through agreements and negotiations  is what will help the world progress to a more green everyday life.

Choose your problem set!

“Time bombs with fuses of less than 50 years” is how Jared Diamond described the top twelve environmental problems that we face. If we continue the way we are going, we will deplete most of the world’s remaining marine fisheries, deplete readily accessible reserves of oil and natural gas, and approach the photosynthetic ceiling all within the next few decades. The biodiversity of our planet will continue to crash as our population growth soars. However, this is assuming that we continue with our current consumption rates.

Assuming that we could convince the world to take military-quick action, where would we begin? As noted by Diamond, we must solve every twelve of the major sets of environmental problems facing societies for the earth to be balanced again. These twelve major sets include: the rapid decrease of natural habitats, wild food sources, biological diversity, and soil; ceilings on energy, freshwater and photosynthetic capacity being met; the generation of toxic chemicals, alien species and atmospheric gases; and the increase in human population and the impact we humans have on the environment. It is true all twelve must be solved, but is it possible to solve one and have others (of course, not all) fall into place? I personally believe that one of the more important ones to put our focus into would be the last one: the impact we humans have on the environment. If first world countries would accept a less materialistic lifestyle to be the ideal standard of living, then this would create a cascade of positive effects throughout the other sets of problems. It would decrease our consumption rates which would take pressure off of wild food sources and soil erosion. We would not be so apt to resort to toxic chemicals to find quick fixes to products and instead put care into what we create in every aspect from materials to the disposal of them. Atmospheric gases would decrease as we would be resorting for the more environmentally conscious vehicles and not gas-guzzling show cars. Even though this would not solve all sets of problems, I feel this one would be an important environmental problem to focus on as it would relieve pressure and potentially solve others. Which problem do you believe we would need to begin with if the world was all of a sudden ready to tackle the problems with military-quick action?pathways

Choose your problem set!

“Time bombs with fuses of less than 50 years” is how Jared Diamond described the top twelve environmental problems that we face. If we continue the way we are going, we will deplete most of the world’s remaining marine fisheries, deplete readily accessible reserves of oil and natural gas, and approach the photosynthetic ceiling all within the next few decades. The biodiversity of our planet will continue to crash as our population growth soars. However, this is assuming that we continue with our current consumption rates.

Assuming that we could convince the world to take military-quick action, where would we begin? As noted by Diamond, we must solve every twelve of the major sets of environmental problems facing societies for the earth to be balanced again. These twelve major sets include: the rapid decrease of natural habitats, wild food sources, biological diversity, and soil; ceilings on energy, freshwater and photosynthetic capacity being met; the generation of toxic chemicals, alien species and atmospheric gases; and the increase in human population and the impact we humans have on the environment. It is true all twelve must be solved, but is it possible to solve one and have others (of course, not all) fall into place? I personally believe that one of the more important ones to put our focus into would be the last one: the impact we humans have on the environment. If first world countries would accept a less materialistic lifestyle to be the ideal standard of living, then this would create a cascade of positive effects throughout the other sets of problems. It would decrease our consumption rates which would take pressure off of wild food sources and soil erosion. We would not be so apt to resort to toxic chemicals to find quick fixes to products and instead put care into what we create in every aspect from materials to the disposal of them. Atmospheric gases would decrease as we would be resorting for the more environmentally conscious vehicles and not gas-guzzling show cars. Even though this would not solve all sets of problems, I feel this one would be an important environmental problem to focus on as it would relieve pressure and potentially solve others. Which problem do you believe we would need to begin with if the world was all of a sudden ready to tackle the problems with military-quick action?pathways

Sustainable agriculture is in our hands

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Traditional farming had been used throughout the existence of our societies. But with the increasingly growing population, it had more damaged than benefited the modern world. And the environment had been the most vulnerable factor in traditional methods of getting our crops. Burning of biomass, deforestation, removal of native vegetation, widespread clearing of land, losses of organic carbon in vegetation, which results in increase of CO2 levels in the atmosphere. For instance, slash and burn farming method is not a sustainable practice that harms forests and lands. Right after the farming plot had been burned, there are big profits, but shortly the soil looses its fertility dramatically and unless it doesn’t receive time to regenerate, it becomes less and less resilient to this practice.

However, it is difficult to focus on sustainability part of the agriculture with the growing number of social problems and an alarming rate of which the population grows currently, which is a huge hindrance to what the farm lands really need. And with poverty where millions of people live under 4 dollars per day, it is quite challenging to focus on the sustainable farming. So people simply follow the short-term way of getting the food.

Therefore, there is a huge need for sustainable agriculture in our modern society because people simply do not have an access to or cannot afford the riight technologies for a better farming. However, soild rotation is a good and accessible form of maintaining healthy soil.

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Crop rotation is a good way to improve soil fertility. It reduces erosion, building-up of pests, dependence on agricultural chemicals, and increase net profits. It involves rotating plant families from one season to the next. For instance, if a farmer would plant tomatoes over and over again in the same spot, it will loose the productivity and the farmer would suffer from economic losses. But if you change the tomatoes with each season and substitute them for, for instance, potatoes, then the fertility and net profits will increase, thus, improving the nutrients balance in the soil.

 

References taken from:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/gardening-techniques/healthy-soil-crop-rotation-zmaz10fmzraw.aspx

https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications

 

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/