ENV S 1 - Section Assignments
ENV S 1 - Section Assignments ENV S 1
Popular in Environmental Studies 1
Popular in Environmental Studies
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Brunn 1 David Brunn Professor Alagona Environmental Studies 1 24 October, 2014 Section Assignment 2: Your Ecological Footprint 1. How many “Earths” would be required to support your lifestyle if everyone on the planet lived as you do? What do you think this means? It would require 4.54 “Earths” to support my lifestyle if everyone on the planet lived as I do. Different areas of the planet are less urbanized and developed. The majority of the planet does not have the costs associated with this survey. California is barely half of one percent of the world’s population. We are fortunate enough to be able to utilize gas, electricity and running water in our homes regularly. Driving a car is often taken for granted considering less than ten percent of the world owns a car. This ecological footprint survey is slightly biased since it compares wealthy expenses to a world total. The majority of humans on the planet do not have access to the technologies mentioned in this survey, so they do not live in the way I do. In a worldwide comparison, I am careless of my resources. This comparison still provides pertinence since it suggests I should become aware of my impact on the planet. I must manage my resources more carefully. Brunn 2 2. In which category do you consume the most? Do you think you live a sustainable lifestyle? Why or why not? How could you improve your level of sustainability? I consume the majority of my environmentally harmful resources through food products. I feel that this is because I eat a lot of takeout food and processed foods. In my current living situation, I do not live a sustainable lifestyle when it comes to food. I could live a more sustainable lifestyle by choosing to consume organic food products and cooking all my own meals. Planting a garden with fresh fruits and vegetables would help make my lifestyle more sustainable as well. 3. Describe the global pattern of resource use. Do you think population or consumption is the most important factor in determining a country’s total environmental impact? Why? Population does not determine the ecological footprint of a country. Countries such as India and Bangladesh have high populations, but they have a minimal ecological impact. Countries in the Northwest region of the globe tend to consume the largest amount of resources; this includes the United States and Canada. The use of technologies such as automobiles and public transportation is less seen in countries who have low ecological impact. Food diet determines impact as well. More local farms for organic food exist in countries that have lower ecological impacts. 4. Do you think that sustainability is more related to individual choices or collective action? Explain your answer, giving at least two specific examples. Sustainability is related to a collective action of a large group of humans. Individual choices are influenced by collective culture. If a particular diet that is more sustainable and costefficient is popular, then groups of people are more likely to adopt it. Common behaviors are adopted as a culture that lead to sustainable, positive changes over time. Brunn 3 Farming your own foods is one way to make a collective action to make a more sustainable community. Choosing recycled materials or secondhand furniture for homes is also another way that we can form a sustainable lifestyle that has less of an ecological impact. I could reduce my carbon footprint by sharing rides and utilizing public transportation rather than driving a car by myself. 5. Do the members of your group purchase and use such products? Which ones? Which factors shape these consumer decisions? Based on your group’s experience with this survey and your reading of its methodology, what role do you think green products have to play in moving toward a more sustainable society? David Brunn Professor Alagona Environmental Studies 1 17 October, 2014 Section Assignment 1: Hometown Environmental History 1. Your first task is to identify three different kinds of primary sources that you can use as evidence about the environmental history of your hometown: (1) one living person with first hand knowledge of the history of the area, (2) one published academic source, either a book or peerreviewed journal article, and (3) one popular source, such as a newspaper or credible internet site with trustworthy information. (1) My father, Gerald Brunn My father, Gerald Brunn, has lived in Modesto since moving there when he was 2 years old in 1959. He is an attorney who continues to live and practice law in Modesto. He teaches various courses at Modesto Junior College and Chapman University’s Modesto campus. He has represented clients in Modesto since 1986. My father’s cases have involved issues such as land use, eminent domain, permits for land use, applications for lot splitting under the Williamson Act, the effects of contamination caused by leaking underground fuel storage tanks, and construction defect cases that are almost inevitable following the completion of almost every subdivision in the last two decades. He is very concerned about the huge growth in population in Modesto and other Central Valley towns. According to my father, as a child he traveled down McHenry Avenue, the main street in Modesto today, and the street was surrounded by peach orchards on both sides. In the Summer, the peaches were as big as grapefruits, and the whole town smelled like ripe peaches. Modesto social life in the 60’s and 70’s truly resembled life as depicted by Modesto native George Lucas in the movie, “American Grafitti.” Today, due to the demand for housing from people working in the Bay Area, developers have torn out the orchards and replaced them with subdivisions filled with cheap, poorly built houses. The population has exploded from 36,585 in 1960 to 203,547 in 2012. Gang violence and the production, sale, and use of drugs has changed the small “Peach Capital of the World” that existed in the 60’s to a town that is remarkable for its notoriety on “the worst city” lists that are published in the media. My father holds out great hope for Modesto. But, he worries about the effects of the city being manipulated by developers and their money. He says, “bigger is not better,” and he is a strong advocate for the environment. He has had dairyman clients whose hardearned savings have been depleted by immigrant workers who turn milkers’ houses into “meth labs.” Houses that are used for the manufacture of methamphetamines must be torn down, the soil underneath the homes and septic systems must be excavated. He has represented landlords whose homes have been used as marijuana grow houses. Those homes, too, are ruined by their unintended uses, and my dad’s clients lose their investments in the homes. Modesto and other Central Valley towns have experienced a negative change in the environment. However, my father feels that the future is bright. Pursuant to the Williamson Act, farmland cannot be subdivided for housing projects. The Stanislaus County Environmental Division works tirelessly to assure remediation of contaminated property. Almond crops are flourishing and, if the drought ever ends, Modesto and the Valley communities will experience a resurgence as agricultural towns. (2) Starr, Kevin. Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. New York: Oxford UP, 1996. Print. Dr. Starr recounts the history of California from the Gold Rush of 1849 through 1939. His description of the population growth in Modesto during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s is especially interesting, and adds information and insight to my father’s recollection of the environment in Modesto since the 1960’s. In particular, Dr. Starr describes the huge influx of Oklahomans to the Central Valley. The Little Oklahoma outside Modesto, for example, was first subdivided in 1935, with lots selling at an average of $125, with terms set at $10 down and $5 a month. By the summer of 1938 more than two hundred families, approximately one thousand people, lived in this Little Oklahoma. Many of these shacktowns, such as the Little Oklahoma outside of Modesto, eventually made the transition from a haphazard collection of tents, trailers, packing boxes, cardboard, tar paper, and gunny sacks to rows of whitewashed frame houses; but such transitions took years, and in the meantime, most of these shacktowns, like squatters’ settlements everywhere, were strewn with garbage piles and polluted by human waste (Starr, 229). It is interesting that Modesto of the 1930s may have been less appealing than the overdeveloped, crimeridden community of the last few decades. Certainly, my father would have to agree that shantytowns surrounding Modesto, complete with garbage piles, human waste in the streets, and related disease and other problems would not be a better environment for Modestans than that which exists today. (3) http://ci.modesto.ca.us/about/ Modesto is a progressive city centered on agriculture. “Modesto is twiceblessed with mild weather yearround and some of the world’s richest soil. Modesto is the 16th largest city in California with over 210,000 citizens and is the seat of Stanislaus County.” Some of the main cash crops in Modesto include: dairy products, almonds, walnuts, wine grapes, tomatoes, apricots, peaches, melons, and poultry products. A weekly Farmer’s Market is hosted downtown to exchange these various commodities. The Stanislaus River runs just north of Modesto and provides water for farmers. In addition, the Stanislaus River is used by many locals as a popular rafting, biking, and horseback riding destination. Modesto contains seventyfive parks designed for public enjoyment and leisure. The median household income in Modesto in 2010 was $50,877. The median housing value is $118,000. There are 75,300 housing units occupied by citizens of median age thirty four. 2. Spend some time with each of your primary sources. For the living person, you should conduct a short interview, of no more than 15 minutes, to learn what that person knows about the environmental history of your hometown. Read the academic and popular published sources. For each of your three primary sources, answer the following questions: What kinds of information can each source provide? What kinds of information is each source unable to provide? Do the sources offer any conflicting information? (1) My father is able to depict Modesto as it were from the 1960s to today. He lived through these time periods as a resident of Modesto and watched it slowly develop over time to what it is today. He is a reliable source of information for many businesses in Modesto since he is a lawyer and maintains good relations with many of the organizations throughout Modesto. Although my father is reliable on describing physical and professional changes in Modesto, he is unable to provide many specific quantitative facts and figures. Information I learned from my father through the interview was primarily qualitative of Modesto. In the interview, my father mentioned how Modesto’s population spike was negatively affecting farmland. Orchards were replace with housing developments and less land was preserved for agriculture. However, my father is optimistic about recovery and resilience of farms since the Williamson Act, which declared that farmland could not be subdivided for housing projects anymore. (2) Kevin Starr’s book, Endangered Dreams, highlights Modesto as a city starting out small in the early 1930s. Starr’s description of the population growth in Modesto during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s is especially interesting, and adds information and insight to my father’s recollection of the environment in Modesto since the 1960’s. In particular, Dr. Starr describes the huge influx of Oklahomans to the Central Valley. This book does not provide much information about Modesto history specifically, rather it covers the early development of the Central Valley of California. This source is unable to provide detailed, quantitative information for Modesto in the 1930s, rather it highlights qualitative facts. Information in this article was not in conflict, it was just not updated with new facts. The book was published in 1996 and does not cover the great changes Modesto has gone through to the present. Instead, it was useful as a brief history of Modesto’s early development. (3) The City of Modesto website (http://ci.modesto.ca.us/about/) was a very good source of recent, quantitative information on Modesto. Updated demographics are posted on the website as well as a list of current community facilities. This website is not a very good source of historical information on the city of Modesto. It is a website that is meant to be updated with the latest statistics and facts on the city, rather than depict its environmental history. Most of the facts from this source was numerical, so there were no apparent conflicts in information. This site is ran by local government and is updated regularly for accuracy. 3. Now use these sources to write and onepage environmental history of your hometown. Be sure to begin your minihistory with a clear thesis explaining how the environment of your hometown has changed over time, and what this means for people and nature there. Modesto, California resides in the middle of the Central Valley of California and is responsible for much of the country’s agricultural and dairy products. Over the years, the city has expanded and is now overrun with crime. Through increased population and development, Modesto has transitioned from a farming town dominated by peach and almond orchards into a sprawling, upcoming urban city. In the early 20th century, Modesto was known as a progressive city centered on agriculture. It is twiceblessed with mild weather yearround and some of the world’s richest soil, perfect for crops. Some of the main cash crops produce in Modesto included: dairy products, almonds, walnuts, wine grapes, tomatoes, apricots, peaches, melons, and poultry products. Every Thursday, a Farmer’s Market was hosted downtown to exchange these various commodities. The city of Modesto transitioned into a much more urban environment with the funding from developers. Today, due to the demand for housing from people working in the Bay Area, developers have torn out the orchards and replaced them with subdivisions filled with cheap, poorly built houses. The population has exploded from 36,585 in 1960 to 203,547 in 2012. Gang violence and the production, sale, and use of drugs has changed the small “Peach Capital of the World” that existed in the 60’s to a town that is remarkable for its notoriety on “the worst city” lists that are published in the media. Unfortunately today, Modesto tops many demeaning lists each year that label it as one of the worst places to live in the United States. In 2013, Forbes listed Modesto as the fifth worst place to live. Foreclosures continue to plague Modesto with 6,859 foreclosure filings in 2012. This represents 3.8% of homes, which is the third highest rate in the United States. Recent unemployment was 15%. The median household income is around $50,000 per year and more than 20% of the population (over 40,000 residents) have less than a high school education. Modesto and other Central Valley towns have experienced a negative change in the environment. However, the future for the city of Modesto is bright. Pursuant to the Williamson Act, farmland cannot be subdivided for housing projects anymore. The Stanislaus County Environmental Division works tirelessly to assure remediation of contaminated property. Almond crops are flourishing and, if the drought ever ends, Modesto and the Valley communities will experience a resurgence as agricultural towns. 4. Identify one place, object, site, or other physical feature in your hometown that represents or illustrates the thesis of your minihistory. Describe it and explain its significance. Robert McHenry came to Modesto in the early 1880s. In 1883, Robert McHenry had the McHenry Mansion built in high victorian italianate architectural style that was popular at the time. This mansion was place in the heart of downtown Modesto and was pivotal in establishing the community. McHenry Avenue, named after Robert McHenry, is the main street running through downtown Modesto. Every local Modestan is fond of McHenry Avenue and often cruised up and down this street on a regular basis. In the 1960s, McHenry Avenue was a home for farmers and agricultural business. Slowly farmland was torn out and replaced with the housing subdivisions, hotels, and bars of today’s Modesto. McHenry Avenue represents a changing Modesto and is a defining part of the city for all Modesto natives. 5. What kinds of additional information do you wish you had available to write a better, more interesting, and more complete history? Where might you expect to find this information, if you had the time to do more research? David Brunn Professor Alagona Environmental Studies 1 31 October, 2014 Section Assignment 3: National Park Management 1. In your own words, briefly describe the requirement for and purpose of this management plan. The purpose of this management plan is to define a standard which will continue to preserve the resources of the isolated Channel Islands National Park for future generations to appreciate. There are a variety of species that are unique to this fragile environment, making it very important to moderate and maintain the conditions. Its isolation has led to many subspecies which are not found on the mainland. The park provides feeding and nesting grounds for many exotic species such as 90% of all nesting bird species in southern California. The requirement for this management plan was to preserve the delicate environment and its native species. 2. Now go to chapter two. Briefly describeagain, in your own words the plan’s three alternatives. How are they similar and how are they different? The first alternative to this management plan is a continuation of current policy otherwise known as “no action.” This policy depends on the environment maintaining itself along with the continued effort of the current management. The second alternative is an active participation to incorporate resource protection. This would mainly focus on preserving the natural environment and its native species. The third alternative focuses on visitor opportunities. The facilities and an unobstructed view of the Channel Islands should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. This alternative focuses on restoring the environment on the islands. 3. Why did the Service present three alternatives? Which of the three alternatives does the Service prefer, and why? The Service presents three alternatives to address multiple issues that may affect the Channel Islands. The third alternative is preferred by the Service since it is the most extensive and focuses on restoring the environment. Restoring resources and maintaining the environment of the Channel Islands is vital to preserving them for future generations. 4. The Service’s preferred option would significantly alter current land management designations. Describe the role of wilderness in the Service’s preferred option. The wilderness is the first concern of the Service. Any alterations to the current land management designations would ultimately be for the better of the environment. Changes outlined in the third proposal promote a larger ecosystem. The goal of the preferred option is to preserve the Channel Islands so that future generations may be able to enjoy their unobstructed scenery and wildlife. 5. Your group’s task is to formulate an opinion on the plan, and write a one to two paragraph comment of the kind that you would submit to the Service. It can be positive or negative, but in any case it should be intelligent, professional, and substantive. Your group can submit the comment as a single sheet with everyone’s name on the top. Brunn 1 David Brunn Professor Alagona Environmental Studies 1 14 November, 2014 Section Assignment 4: Environmental Justice 1. Design a onestop environmental justice tour of your hometown. Provide a brief description of the site you choose, and discuss the environmental problem(s) that characterize this site. Agriculture is the primary industry in most of the Central Valley of California. Modesto was founded in 1870 and quickly became established as a primary source of agricultural business for the rest of the country. Known as the “Breadbasket of the World,” the Central Valley is one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. More than 230 crops are grown there. On less than one percent of the total farmland in the United States, the Central Valley produces eight percent of the nation’s agricultural output by value. Its agricultural productivity relies on irrigation from both surface water diversions and groundwater pumping from wells. Water is the lifeblood of the Central Valley, flooding the fields that will feed the world. However, California has recently been in a drought and has not received any water from rainfall, rivers and reservoirs, or from the government canals. Farmers in the Central Valley are drilling their way out of the drought. Since California does not restrict how much groundwater can be used, drilling offers a quick fix to a desperate problem. However, this carries longterm consequences and is literally sinking the valley. Brunn 2 New, deeper wells sap the freshwater aquifers of their precious water. Aquifers normally provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. However, we are drawing down these hidden, mostly nonrenewable groundwater supplies at unsustainable rates in the Central Valley. This massive drain of groundwater causes the valley to sink. When too many wells are drilled and too much underground water is siphoned off, layers of floating clay particles get compacted and the entire landscape collapses. This damages the flow of surface water and prevents the natural refilling of the groundwater following the drought. Farmers must work together to minimize water use. The drought in California has severely impacted our water sources and we must now use our back up supply sparingly. Maintaining groundwater is beneficial to balancing a natural water cycle. California should enact policies which regulate groundwater use and publicize welldrilling records. Limiting consumption of groundwater will benefit the entire environment and the future Californians who will rely upon it. 2. What kinds of people in your hometown are most exposed to the environmental problem(s) at your site? Why? To answer this second question, you may want to consider the area’s history, geography, and ecology, as well as social factors including the race, class, gender, and citizenship status of the people living in the affected community. Residents who live in the Central Valley of California are those who are most exposed to the unregulated water usage. Wealthy farmers are permitted to drill unregulated wells and this leaves no more water left for the residents to use. When farmers drill these deep wells, they drop the level of the aquifer and prevent citizens from accessing the water. Farmers have an unfair economic advantage in accessing Brunn 3 these scarce water resources. They are able to spend big money on promoting and allowing permits for them to dig deeper wells. Policy in the Central Valley allows for an advantage in agricultural use over domestic use of water. 3. If people live in a polluted or otherwise atrisk area, such as your tour stop, do you think they are necessarily being subjected to an environmental injustice? Explain your answer. People who live in the Central Valley of California are being subjected to an environmental injustice. The current policies for agricul ture allow large farmers to control water usage. These policies do not favor the fair treatment or meaningful involvement of the majority of people living in the area. There is little concern for the environmental impact of drilling these deep wells since welldrilling records are kept secret from public view and there is no statewide policy limiting groundwater use. When farmers drill these deep wells, they lower the aquifer water levels and prevent residents’ wells from reaching the source. There is no regulation on this as farmers could be sapping water from countless neighboring wells. 4. Have you, or has anyone you know, ever experienced an environmental injustice? If yes, then explain. If no, then why do you think you have been fortunate enough to avoid such an experience? My father is an attorney in Modesto, California. He has represented an elderly widow, Mrs. McDonald, who owned a home whose well was contaminated by underground fuel storage tanks from a nearby car wash. Mrs. McDonald experienced an environmental injustice when she was forced to close her well as a result of a leak from Brunn 4 the car wash. The nearby car wash had a contaminated hydrocarbon plume which leaked out and polluted Mrs. McDonald’s well and only source of water. 5. The Santa Barbara County’s South Coast (including Goleta and IV) is an area known around the world for its natural beauty. Yet it also has a residentially segregated population and extreme disparities in household wealth. Which local site, or sites, would your group include on a Santa Barbara environmental justice tour? If everyone in your group is new to the area, then discuss how you would go about looking for such a site. Brunn 1 David Brunn Professor Alagona Environmental Studies 1 5 December, 2014 Section Assignment 6: Climate Wedges 1. Identify each of your wedges, and summarize the overall design and logic of your plan. Why did you choose this approach? My plan was designed to establish lasting infrastructure which would greatly reduce our carbon emissions in the long run. This plan is designed to alleviate environmental damage and to minimize our overall ecological footprint. By decreasing our reliance on coal as a fuel source sooner, rather than later, humans will be able to transition easier. I chose this approach since it establishes codes and regulations now in order to improve for the future. Relying less on coal and private transportation will reduce our global carbon emissions. Restoring forests and creating windgenerated electricity farms would help to reduce our environmental impact. Wedge #1: Conservation Transport A wedge would be achieved if the number of miles traveled by the world’s cars were cut in half. Ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, have already demonstrated the future of transportation. Waiting for public transportation will be a thing of the past and it will no longer be necessary to own a personal vehicle. Wedge #2: Efficiency Buildings Cutting emissions by 25% in all new and existing residential and commercial buildings would achieve a wedge worth of emissions reduction. Heating houses and the water they use contributes to the largest emission of carbon in homes. Implementing building codes now to improve insulation and energy strategies for heating would lead to much more efficient and reliable buildings. Wedge #3: Forest Storage Halting global deforestation over fifty years would provide one wedge of emissions savings. Land plant biomass can be increased by both reducing deforestation and Brunn 2 planting new forests. New flora must be planted and maintained in order to limit carbon emissions and environmental impact. Wedge #4: Wind Electricity To gain a wedge of emissions savings from wind displacing coalbased electricity, current wind capacity would need to be scaled up by a factor of 30. Establishing a market in wind electricity earlier rather than later would provide the Earth with plenty of clean energy. Wind turbines are not very costly, however it is difficult to get them approved to be built since taxpayers/consumers do not want them “in their backyard.” Dedicating land solely for the purpose of harvesting energy from wind turbines would be beneficial for society. Wedge #5: Fuel Switching Electricity A wedge would require 1400 large (1 billion watt) natural gas plants displacing similar coalelectric plants. Because of the lower carbon content of natural gas and higher efficiencies of natural gas plants, producing electricity with natural gas results in only about half the emissions of coal. Switching our primary fuel source to natural gas now would benefit us in the long run. It would be a costly change, however it would greatly reduce our overall carbon emissions. Wedge #6: CCS Electricity A wedge would be achieved by applying CCS to 800 large (1 billion watt) baseload coal power plants or 1600 large baseload natural gas power plants in 50 years. As with all CCS strategies, to provide lowcarbon energy the captured CO2 would need to be stored for centuries. Coalburning power plants are the leading contributors to the world’s carbon emissions (at about one fourth the total). Wedge #7: CCS Synfuels A wedge is an activity that, over 50 years, can capture the CO2 emissions from 180 such coaltosynfuels facilities. Synfuels require large amounts of of coal to be heated, which release carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The process is costly and harmful to the atmosphere. Brunn 3 2. Describe at least three costs or impacts you considered in designing your plan. How did these shape your decisions about which wedges to include? One of the main impacts considered in my plan was the cost. Choosing practical strategies to include first is beneficial. The changes must be at a reasonable price in order to be implemented immediately. It is important to implement these strategies as soon as possible, so choosing a cost effective method is necessary. The availability of natural gas as a substitute for coal limits the transition to alternative resources. We must utilize wind energy by dedicating an area equal to ~3% of the U.S. land area for wind farms. Electric technology is quickly replacing fossil fuel usage as well. Private transportation is becoming less popular with advances in public transportation. Ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, make instant rides appear anywhere to customers worldwide. Cutting miles traveled by all passenger vehicles in half is reasonable with ridesharing. 3. Do you think your approach is politically feasible? What kinds of political impediments might you confront in attempting to implement your plan? I believe that my approach would be politically feasible. It is beneficial to society in the long run. However, it initially affects energy companies. Energy companies are forced to spend large amounts of money to transition to natural gas and meet new standards. My approach would have to be implemented slowly over time to be possible. 4. The Wedges Game implies that there is no single solution to the problem of stabilizing carbon emissions. How does this insight shape your understanding of the complexity and magnitude of the problem? Carbon emissions are a serious issue. There is no exact solution to reverse the damage, we can only attempt to control our emissions by enforcing strict guidelines. Natural resources and fossil fuels must be regulated and limited. We must implement strategies that will change our lifestyle to be much more environmentally friendly. This issue requires a major change. Brunn 4 5. The Wedges Game is intended to be a thought experiment. But do you think it is realistic enough to offer meaningful insights? Where does it succeed and where does it fail? Explain.
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