Friday, September 23, 2011

Define the Environmental Footprint

English: The carbon footprint as it is underst...
English: The carbon footprint as it is understood by people. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Carbon Footprint Environmental Issues:

what is the definition of greenhouse effect?

According to the Carbon Footprint calculator, the national average for the US is 7.5 tons per year. My annual carbon footprint is 10.76 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Half of my carbon footprint comes directly from commuting. I have a fuel efficient, commuter car. However, traveling 90 minutes per day puts a significant impact on my footprint. The other portion, at 4.67 tons per year, is the food I eat, the clothes I wear, and the other items I purchase. My electricity is small in comparison, only at 0.8 tons per year.
It looks like the only way to reduce my carbon footprint is to move closer to work, or move work closer to home. The commuting is a significant factor however it was the only place to find work at that time. Also, if I had the opportunity and a garden to grow my own vegetables, I would be able to reduce my carbon footprint a little bit. My fiancĂ©e’s mother has her own garden out of choice for fun, but the secondary impact is she is reducing her carbon footprint. Most years we also get many vegetables from her, as her garden is often fruitful.
In trying to manipulate the calculator by altering my inputs, I find that the miles driven significantly impacts my carbon footprint, while changing the type of car I drive does not make much of a difference. Also, by purchasing local products changes my footprint, as it costs less to move products when they are closer to the consumers.
According to the Climate Crisis webpage, my carbon footprint is only 1.05 tons per year, compared to the previous estimate from the Carbon Footprint webpage. There are many simple ways to reduce my carbon footprint. Some of them include replacing regular light bulbs with the energy efficient CFL ones, purchasing energy efficient appliances when they are being replaced, and planting a tree. There are more complicated ways to minimizing my footprint, such as buying locally owned and produced foods, use a clothesline when possible, and avoiding heavily packaged products.
The simple changes are already being implemented in our home. However, the more difficult ones are difficult because they are out of my hands. Purchasing local goods is very difficult, because I live in a major city area and almost everything has to be transported in. Also, using a clothesline is impossible because we do not have a backyard to put one in. And third, it is difficult to avoid the heavily packaged products because often times things are sent and we have no idea what kind of packaging they will come with. The only thing we can do about that is ensuring we are recycling or reusing that packaging
Carbon Footprint. 2010. “Carbon Footprint Calculators.” Internet:
Climate Crisis. 2010. Internet: <>.
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

The land use to be dry and barren with no hopes of survival

The Colorado River from Laughlin
The Colorado River from Laughlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Environmental Issues: Colorado River

The area that the Colorado River runs through is the driest in the nation. These deserts are drier than some of those found in North Africa. Thanks to major agricultural changes in this area, now tens of millions of people can now reside on this land. Utilizing the Colorado River, which gets a significant amount of water from the Rocky Mountains when the snow melts, can now permit this dry desert to be a thriving community, compared to the “inhospitable land” that it once was (Sierra Club).
The land use to be dry and barren with no hopes of survival for any creature that required water to thrive or even live. The land was so dry that it was essentially a waste of valuable acreage. Now that the Colorado River is able to have water diverted into this area, it is an area that can be utilized for agriculture, communities, and thriving families and companies. Essentially, the “Colorado River has become a plumbing system” (Sierra Club). As a result of this plumbing system, crops such as cotton, alfalfa, fruits, and vegetables can be grown here. However, these changes come at a price.
The changing of the natural flow of the Colorado River has had detrimental effects on the river and the area around the Colorado River Basin. This basin provides water around the entire southwest US. Not only are most of the endangered native fish now endangered, but all major bird migration stopping points have severely devastated by the changes in the functions of the river. The largest human impact of the changes in the Colorado River is the result of over allocated water supplies. Since there are now so many people reliant on this water source, it is no longer a viable, long term solution to the drought that is naturally common in this area.
The California 4.4 plan is a plan that is currently being developed. The point of this plan is for California to reduce its usage of the water from the Colorado River to only the 4.4 million acre-feet allotment. The only way that this plan will work is if the state of California prohibits any additional additions to this water source in order to sustain the amount of water available to this particular area. This is a very concrete, cut and dry plan. It seems a little unfeasible because many people are wishing to move and/or build in this area and having a stringent rule like the California 4.4 plan makes it difficult for people to maintain. The plan is viable if the California state government implements strict guidelines that regulate the plan that is mean to assist in sustaining the Colorado River basin for a length time.

Sierra Club. “Colorado River Report.” Feb. 2001. Accessed: 8/8/10. Internet:
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Genetically Modified Food

Environmental Issues

Transgenic organisms are a direct result of genetic engineering. Scientists are utilizing their knowledge in the manipulation of genetic material in order to create the most efficient, productive organisms to mankind. Specifically speaking, creating a transgenic organism, such as a source of food supply, can greatly assist the human race in its growth while helping conserve the environment in which we live. There are many pros and cons for genetic food modification, some of which we don’t yet fully understand.
By genetically engineering food sources, humans can drastically increase the nutritional values in the food consumed which benefits everyone. In addition, genetically enhancing crops can create a plant that is friendlier in growing in unconventional climates. Permitting growth in more geographical places for crops increases overall production. However, there are still many “unknowns” in regards to genetically enhanced food sources. The question of whether or not the food is dangerous for consumption cannot yet fully be answered. Another concern is whether or not these transgenic organisms would be a form of pollution to the natural environment. Similar to the concept of cloning livestock, the long term effects just simply aren’t known.
The concept of genetically engineered crops and plants is similar, yet different to the idea of selective breeding. While both methods try to single out the most desirable products in order to create a superior product, one is creating what is considered the desirable product while the other pulls from a group of pre-existing product. For example, genetically enhancing strawberries to be more diverse in where they can be grown changes the initial plant. Taking the plant once enhanced to create a superior crop results in widespread results, in theory. Selective breeding takes two horses, for example, that are deemed to be superior in desired attributes and are bred together in order to create more superior attributed horses. These two methodologies are similar, but remain very different from onset.

Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Clinton administration the roadless rule

Colorado Meadows
Colorado Meadows (Photo credit: QualityFrog)
Environmental Issues

How can the government impair your ability to survive?

In 2001 during the Clinton administration, the roadless rule was implemented protecting 58.5 million acres of land. The roadless rule prevented an additional road construction or maintenance on the specified land. The land consisted of national forest land as well as general US land in several states, including California, Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico. The roadless rule was publicly supported by 4.2 million people however the Bush administration overturned this legislation. Federal judges reinstated this legislation in 2007 although this issue is still going through legal channels (Withgott & Brennan).
The roadless rule impacts many states, including Colorado. The state of Colorado has a $10 billion annual income from outdoor recreation. Colorado received $500 million in state tax revenue and 107,000 jobs are created as a result of outdoor recreational activity. This way of life supports the state’s economy. However, the roadless rule is not welcome in Colorado. According to the Denver Post, the roadless rule is not “good enough.” The rule that is geared at protecting the natural land in Colorado does not provide any long-term care of the land. Although this legislation does prevent further construction on the land, it does not provide any long-term maintenance that will ensure the current roads will be in safe condition for the use of people attending recreational events and activities. The roadless rule also does not provide protection for communities from wildfires (Abel & Robinson).
Colorado Sky
Colorado Sky (Photo credit: Let Ideas Compete)
While Colorado does not believe the roadless rule protects the best interests of the recreation economy in Colorado, the President agrees with environmental agencies that firmly believe that this legislation is more beneficial than detrimental. The Obama administration has continued to push forth the benefits of the roadless rule, which “prohibit[s] commercial logging, mining, drilling, and road-building on about 58 million acres of national forests, including 4 million acres in Colorado” ( Harmon). The environmental agencies welcome the support of the Obama administration and are grateful for the assistance in maintaining this legislation against scrutiny.
There are pros and cons for whether this legislation remains in effect or is successfully repealed. The roadless rule prevents further building on designated land, but does not provide maintenance on existing roads on the land. This, as in the case with Colorado, can be detrimental to state revenue that is earned from recreation in these national forests. On the other hand, the roadless rule prevents companies from building more roads or buildings on this land, thus preserving the land as it currently is.

Gary Harmon/Grand Junction.  (2009, August 14). President sides with
environmentalists to reinstate roadless rule. Daily Sentinel.  Retrieved July 18, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 1830838501).
Mike Van Abel, & Brady Robinson. (2010, June 20). Roadless Rule Not Good
Enough. Denver Post,p. D.4.  Retrieved July 18, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. (Document ID: 2063073791).
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

World Conservation Union Save the Animals

Blue Iguana I
Blue Iguana I (Photo credit: pjah73)
Environmental Issues: Survival for Animals

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is the World Conservation Union, which is an organization that maintains a list of animals that are dangerously close to extinction on what is known as the “Red List.” The ultimate mission of the IUCN’s Red List is to provide valuable information regarding the endangered species and statistics surrounding each species. The two major goals of the Red List are to: identify and document species in need of conservation and to provide a global index regarding the species on earth (IUCN). There are many affiliates who work with IUCN in order to help them achieve their goals. According to the IUCN official website, some of the partners are: IUCN Species Programme (working closely with the IUCN Species Survival Commission), BirdLife International, the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at Conservation International (CI), NatureServe, and the Institute of Zoology at the Zoological Society of London.
The Red List provides a search engine of information that has been collected regarding endangered species. The List is separated into categories, such as least concern, near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild, and extinct. There are different levels of criteria for each category.
Blue Iguana II
Blue Iguana II (Photo credit: pjah73)
Looking at the IUCN Red List online, we can use the Mustela lutreola, more commonly known as the European mink, as an example. The European mink use to be widespread across the European continent, however has decreased in abundance to predominantly Eastern Europe and parts of France and Spain. The major factors that have caused the dramatic decrease in the population of this endangered include excessive hunting and the loss of the mink’s habitat.
English: '.
English: '. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In addition, human developments such as hydroelectric developments and water pollution have helped decrease the population as well as pest control measures, such as trapping, contribute to the decline. Due to the endangered status of this species, the European mink has been protected and conservation efforts have been made across several nations where the mink can be located. The mink is legally protected in most sections of Europe.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.” International Union for Conservation of
Nature. February 2010. July 6, 2010. Internet: <>.
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lead Poisoning Information

Rain forest NZ
Rain forest NZ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Environmental Issues on Lead.

One major issue that harms the environment as well as mankind is lead. Many people have long forgotten about the dangers of lead and think this is an issue that has already been handled. However, there are many lead sources still around us in many forms. Lead can be found in homes built before 1978, soil, paint, dust particles, drinking water, old smelters, and some work places. This is a problem for all of us because the sources are so numerous and a part of our everyday lives.
Rain forest
Rain forest (Photo credit: laura0509)
Lead can cause many issues for people. Paint chips is the most well-known source of lead contamination as the dust particles from the paint can cause health problems. Young children and pets can also consume paint chips that can cause health complications. Many of us have heard about imported children’s toys and pet toys that have high concentrations of lead. The most recent news we have heard regarding lead contamination was about the Shrek® glasses from McDonalds®. There is also a great deal of lead in the soil, especially in communities that have old smelters that has launched lead particles in the air over a significant amount of time.
The cost of the problem is decreasing over time. As we continue to eliminate lead from our production we are seeing fewer issues associated with lead. However, there are still many sources of lead in existence. Many of our homes have lead supplies built into the structure. Many of us have lead paint at the core of the walls. It will take a significant amount of time to contain and hopefully eliminate lead in our daily lives. The current cost issues right now can be linked to health care that has been needed as direct responses to lead related illnesses.
Looking at solutions, it may not be feasible to actually eliminate lead from our environment, but containment has been the popular solution in recent decades. Many homes that contain lead paint encourage owners to either have the paint removed or isolated within the walls. In regards to the soil, communities encourage children not to play in the soil and to wash thoroughly in order to prevent any lead dust or particles from getting into food, water, or airways of people. The best solution for lead is two-fold. The continued non-use of lead substances will help diminish lead-related illnesses coupled with the isolation of current lead products will continue to address the lead problems in our society.
Rain forest around Mt Kenya 1
Rain forest around Mt Kenya 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So far, these approaches to resolve the lead abundance and use in our society have been effective. Eliminating the use of lead would also help combat the health risks associated with its use. If the US did not permit the use of lead in any product and monitored imported items would assist in keeping lead out of the US and out of the bodies of Americans. Being cautious when renovating a home or when gardening will also help minimize risk of lead illnesses. These tools will also help combat this environmental issue. A combination of government assistance and personal responsibility will also aide in the lead problem and in moving forward with solutions. Elimination of future lead use would have a significant impact on future lead related illnesses for the coming generations. The transition from lead products to more environmentally friendly products will likely cost more, however taking into consideration the costs that are related to illnesses as a result of the lead exposure, it will be financially beneficial to eliminate lead in the long run.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) has a section regarding the prevention of lead based paint poisoning. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) also regulates the use of lead products in homes and workplaces. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and lawmakers utilize CFRs, TSCAs, and other legislation to regulate the use, handling, isolation, and clean-up of lead. Many third world countries, especially China, do not have such restrictions on lead use in everyday products as more industrialized countries do. The use of lead in products is cost efficient and that is why it is often permitted.
Lead poisoning lawyers
US Environmental Protection Agency. “Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil.” Accessed: July 1,
2010. Internet: <>.
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Emergency preparedness survival readiness

English: Waterfalls are example for natural re...
English: Waterfalls are example for natural resources (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Environmental Issues

By definition, preservation ethics are “an ethic holding that we should protect the natural environment in a pristine, unaltered state” (p. 15). In comparison, the definition of conservation ethic “holds that people are and should put natural resources to use but that we have a responsibility to manage them wisely” (p. 16). Essentially, the major difference between preservation ethics and conservation ethics is whether or not natural resources are utilized in taking care of the earth. Preservation ethics state that we are not to use any resources on the planet and to preserve it as is, without any changes. Conservation ethics state that we can utilize the resources available to us, but we are to use them prudently in order to conserve what we have and to take care of the planet on which we live.
To be quite honest, I find it difficult to live in a habitat without utilizing the surroundings. I find myself to identify more with conservation ethics because I do believe that we should be wise in our decisions to utilize the resources around us. However I also believe that we should be able to use them to gain benefit as a society. To completely preserve the environment “as is” in which we live would be very difficult because every footprint, every step we make will change our environment. I think it is impossible to preserve all of earth while we are living on it. Each time we breathe, walk, or work we are changing our environment. It is simply impossible to preserve ALL of earth.
English: Bachalpsee in the morning, Bernese Alps
English: Bachalpsee in the morning, Bernese Alps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Now, if we were to look at preservation ethics for a particular area that is more realistic. If we are protecting Mount Rainier State Forest, for example, then that is a specified land area that can be preserved and left unaltered. This would be beneficial because that forest not only is a state park that is protected to represent the Evergreen State, but it also preserves the lives of the animals that depend on that habitat and supports the ecosystem. Sectioning off a particular part of the earth, such as this park, would make it possible to take the preservation ethics stance. Now, to look at the forest belonging to Weyerhauser would require a conservation ethics approach. This company harvests trees for transformation into various products. However, Weyerhauser has maintained its environmentally friendly stance by planting trees and cutting trees in the same quantities. This is a way that the company can conserve the natural resource but also utilize it to benefit society as a whole. In regards to the development ethic, I believe it is irresponsible to take this approach. Humans are not “masters of the environment” and are not superior to the planet. We as a society do not have the authority and responsibility to utilize all resources as we see fit without considering the impacts. That is simply unethical and irresponsible. Humans are special, but not that special. We still have a responsibility to take care of our environment, especially if we want to survive as a species.

Survival equipment 
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Environmental studies online

Environmental problems article

An increase in fertilizers on the farm are causing increasing amounts of algae in the lake nearby, thus causing a decrease in the number of fish in the lake.
If fertilizers are added directly to the lake, there will be a significant increase of algae in the lake. The increase of algae in the lake will cause a decrease in fish.
English: Algae harvester Made in San Jose, Cal...
English: Algae harvester Made in San Jose, California, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A simple experiment would be to directly add the fertilizer (cow manure) found on the farm into the lake water. By monitoring the lake water, the farmer would be able to see if there is a significant amount of algae increased as a result. This would help determine whether or not this is the cause. The suspected cause is the runoff fertilizer from the farms into the lake. The increase in algae is resulting in a decrease of the number of fish in the lake. If the farmer was able to regulate the runoff of cow manure and redirect where it went, it is feasible to think that the algae in the lake has the potential to decrease, therefore providing a more healthy environment for the fish to thrive in. By manipulating the dependent variable, the fertilizer/cow manure, the farmer would be able to observe its impact on the independent variable, the algae, with any changes that may be implemented through this experiment.
One question I have is whether or not the algae have killed off all potential fish to thrive in the lake. If between the farmer and the algae all of the fish have been exterminated then the lake will no longer have fish in it without another source being introduced.
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Specific Environmental Issues

Easter Island
Easter Island (Photo credit: Ndecam)
Environmental Issues

various environmental issues

Easter Island is remote and located in the Pacific Ocean. In 1722, the landscape was described as “barren” and was only populated by fewer than 20,000 people. The people of Easter Island lived in caves and had a few “meager” crops. Explorers also noted several hundred gigantic stone statues, indicating a sophisticated civilization had previously existed on the island.

The sophisticated inhabitants of Easter Island overused their limited number of natural resources, resulting in a more primitive form of survival to emerge.

Easter Island
Easter Island (Photo credit: Ndecam)
After implementing the scientific method to the questions surrounding Easter Island, the logical conclusion would be that the hypothesis is correct. Taking into consideration the pictures on cave walls and the large statues that were meticulously erected in specific places, one can conclude that there once were numerous trees on the island. In addition to this evidence, soil tests were conducted which differentiated the types of trees once found on Easter Island. In the course of investigating the soil, 21 different plant species, predominantly trees, were identified to have once existed on Easter Island, but sadly are completely eliminated. Since the trees were eliminated, soil erosion caused a loss of productivity on the agricultural front, therefore resulting in less crop yields with increasing years. The erosion was able to be proven by looking at the lakes and the sediment that has accumulated at the bottom of them. As a result of the decrease in available food, population decline was inevitable and imminent. Scientists found that with the decrease in food and population, those that were left became very protective of the few resources they had and built fortresses with entry ways in order to protect their few crops and live animals from others. As the text states, this led to “clan warfare” amongst the few remaining people on Easter Island. Weapons were located in the soil as well as human remains that had head wounds on the skulls.
environmental pollution and global issues
Easter Island
Easter Island (Photo credit: Ndecam)
What happened to the people of Easter Island is a warning for the rest of the world. Even though it was on a much smaller scale, the harsh lessons the people of this island learned can definitely be beneficial to today’s world population. While there are many people across the world who do not overuse limited resources, there are a significant amount of those who do. As Easter Island used up all of their primary resource, trees, the decline of civilization as they knew it fell quickly afterwards. As the modern world today is so dependent on the limited resource of oil, we too can find ourselves in a similar predicament in the not so far off future. The lessons learned in history can help teach us how to prevent such a catastrophe in our future, providing we utilize those lessons and teachings. Even though oil is the primary commodity in current societies, there are still other limited resources we depend on, such as trees (for building supplies, heat, etc.), fish (food source), and metals (for building materials, equipment, and transportation needs). All of these materials are used in such an exaggerated fashion that we may find ourselves without any resources in the very near future. One local example for me is the salmon located in the Pacific Northwest. If the salmon hatcheries were not protected and the fishing limited, the salmon would have already been extinct in our area. 
types of environmental issues 
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom 
Creative Commons License
The Understanding Environmental Issues by Survival Readiness, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. 
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.