Saturday, October 17, 2009

Angela Ober's view of the future

Future Development and Sustainability
PHS 100: Online Environmental Studies
Professor D. Terrell
Warner Pacific College
October 8, 2009
Future Development and Sustainability During this five-week course on environmental studies I have been challenged in many ways to think about human interactions with earth and its surroundings, and the positive and negative imprints we have left throughout history. If the purpose of this course was to increase environmental awareness in the average student, it has gone above and beyond just doing that for me. But before I dive into how it has impacted and influenced my life I want to talk a little bit about the future of our earth that we dwell in. For the next few paragraphs I am going to focus on the future of our environment, and address different conservation and sustainability methods that might be put to good use in years to come. Ultimately, we will be facing many changes in the next few years if we hope to become a sustainable society that is focused on leaving resources and life for future generations. At the rate we are going we face depletion and shortage concerns, which is precisely the reason why we should promote life on earth, rather than death. Following my discussion of preservation and conservation I will share more on how this class has impacted my life and my hopes for future sustenance in my own personal habits. I will briefly discuss how these environmental changes will affect my future career as well. So without further ado, let us dive right in and take a look at what our environment will look like in the future.
When talking about water, food, land, energy, transportation, air, and more it is easy to focus on the negatives of how each of these are being affected by the way humans live today, especially in America. According to several studies, researchers, and scientists the human population is basically harming everything about our environment, from the air we breathe to the food we eat and ways we rely and depend on energy and water. Based on their predictions, we are not only killing ourselves prematurely, we are also depleting our land of its resources that are essential to life. And because we are consuming more than we produce there is concern and fear that we are going to ultimately work ourselves out of jobs and drive ourselves to the grave. Sure, the above statement may be true of a more extreme form of thinking, but you have to realize that from this general thought process we have birthed an international environmental crisis/concern-, which can be viewed as both positive and negative today, depending on the way an individual feels about the topic. Looking on the brighter side, this increased environmental awareness and urgency has motivated many to begin focusing on alternative forms of production and conservation in order to keep our society, at large, alive and thriving.
Speaking of conservation, there are several ways already that we have begun devoting our time and efforts to developing more energy and products from the earth’s abundant renewable sources. In doing so, we are creating alternate forms to depend on in time of need or urgency, for example present day if we continue in our bad habits of massive consumption. Some of these sustainability changes require more technology and knowledge than we have tapped into thus far, while others can be practiced by the common man. For example, in order to reduce greenhouse pollutants and emissions we can drive less (or drive hybrid) and pay into mass transportation or biking; make “green” upgrades on our homes, or move inner city to be centrally located to work and all other places of interest; print less paper; purchase more efficient appliances and office equipment; reduce our carbon footprint; and implement more cap and trade programs to encourage the downsize of certain negative habits. While some of us may practice most of these things diligently now, it is expected to become a norm of the future, especially if gas prices take a huge increase and the urban neighborhoods are the new rural. People will have no choice but to conserve.
In regards to food and water sources we are going to have to decrease our amount of consumption, and once again, especially in America. Being that we are the most obese nation in the world this should not be a problem for more equal and smaller portioned food distribution. The challenge in doing this will be found when Americans realize they cannot have everything they want and food does not grow on trees (not literally speaking). America will be forced to consider other inhabitants of the world, rather than doing what they have always done before and greedily “passing by” while taking notice of the apparent lack in the world, but not taking any action to make a difference. America has yet to realize that our decisions are literally impacting the world. Our amount of over-consumption is, in a sense, taking away from others in the world.
Turning our attention to energy and fuel sources we have already shifted to alternate forms to fuel cars and heat homes. The more natural, renewable sources we can find, the better off we will be in years to come. As I write this paper people are thinking of ways to advance technology and produce more tidal and wave energy; they are devising new plans for desalinating water at lower costs, and filling tanks with ethanol and leftover oil to ensure cleaner air is moving into our lungs. There are so many ways we have begun to produce alternative forms of energy, in the end it is hard to speak of all the negative environmental impacts when so many positives are being employed.
Sustainability is the focus and conservation is the plan. With increased awareness only great things can come as people realize they can make a difference- one person at a time. In my own life I have been challenged to think of ways I can conserve energy, reduce my water use, recycle more, and essentially feed into a healthier and greener lifestyle. In my future I want to be a part of the plan, rather than the problem, and contribute to society and the air we breathe by making my home as environmentally friendly as possible. From what I have learned in this course, I plan to share information with people as much as possible to increase their awareness of what is happening in this huge world we abide in. So often people do not invest time or thought into the environment because they either do not believe they can make a positive difference, or are not aware of the global effects our habits are having. They may only be aware of what is happening on the small scale in their home and neighborhood, rather than the larger scale- which includes the global air, oceans, crops, natural resources, etcetera.
As far as ways in which environmental studies will impact my career I cannot think of any at the moment other than just informing people of how they can make a difference in the world when they put their efforts behind great causes. I guess it is hard for me to know how I will apply this to work because I have yet to figure out what I want to do. Ultimately, I believe that everyone should focus on sustaining the environment and conserving energy in ways that they can. Of course one has to adjust to lifestyle changes, but after time if all of us adopted new methods of conservation we would be able to sustain the earth and provide future generations with abundant resources to use and enjoy.

Brennan, S. & Withgott, J. (2008). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. 3rd Ed. Pearson
Benjamin Cummings. San Franscisco: CA.

Monday, October 12, 2009

This is how you do it!

The web has been a source of great inovation and of course creativity. This site that I have just found eHow allows people to post how to do things and of course also allows people to find how do you do things: Have a look at this wibsite:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Green How To: Solar Power Phone

This is a good example of things to come! On the one hand the way we are comunicating and on the other how technology is advancing so fast. Enjoy this article at
Green How To: Solar Power Phone

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The Future of Our Society!

The Future of our Society Summary
By Nicole Phillips & Angela Ober
PHS 100: Online Environmental Studies
Dr. David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
October 8, 2009

The future of our society primarily rests on the shoulders of mankind as we decide how to conserve and sustain the Earth’s resources such as water, food, land, electricity, and fuel for transportation. It is only a matter of time before we will be facing depletion, on larger scales, of many of our resources including food, fresh water, and oil. The United States alone consumes far more resources than any other nation on earth, and well surpasses their ability to reproduce these sources before have been consumed. With this being said, what will the world look like in years to come? Will we deplete our land in entirety or will we learn how to conserve and sustain before it is too late?
In our PowerPoint presentation for this week we selected five main resources to focus on, and are discussing how we currently make use of these resources, and what we believe the future will look like in regards to these specific resources. The resources we selected were fuel and transportation, electricity, food, water, and land. Ultimately our focus throughout is on how we, as individuals, can learn to conserve energy on a greater scale and sustain resources for future generations. It is a scary thought to think that these next few years could be the end of it all, and I do not believe that we, as a society, are prepared to face the challenges that may arise. We do not know what the future holds, yet with the knowledge we do have we must learn how to become better stewards of our land. Ways in which we can do this include using mass transit for transportation, relying on renewable and new resources to provide energy to heat our homes and water; eat less and share more, reduce and lessen our water use, and preserve our land rather than stripping it of fossil fuels and cramming it full of housing and new developments.
Ultimately the future of our resources might mean that we must learn how to downsize and decrease our demand, and live simply again. For Americans this may be especially hard since we are a land full of takers, but it is possible in crisis times to change our ways and learn how to survive on less. The future may hold world wars, economic crisis, and land battles- but we do not know for certain. What we do know is that it is our responsibility to take charge now of what we can and prepare for the future, focusing on how we can make Earth a better place for generations to come. The end goal is sustainability; the daily plan is to conserve and preserve that which we have access to now.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vulnerability of our society by Eric Blevins

September 22, 2009
Society’s Vulnerability to Natural Hazards

Natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, forest fires, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions, take a toll of human life and property every year. Unfortunately, much of the loss brought on by natural disasters is a consequence of poor environmental stewardship. Hillsides and mountains are deforested, leaving the soil unprotected; people build homes and towns on flood plains; villages are nestled up to volcanic mountains; and cities are constructed on known geological fault lines. A general human tendency is to assume that disasters happen only to other people in other places, and even if there is a risk, say of a hurricane striking a coastal island, many people are willing to take that calculated risk in order to enjoy life on the water’s edge. According to the author... One writer suggested that town zoning boards should create a stupid zone for such people. Other stupid zone locations would-be in the middle of 10-year flood plains, in highly flammable coniferous forests, on top of
earthquakes faults and valleys below dormant volcanoes. Interesting? Lifestyle choices such as refraining from exercise, overeating, driving fast, imbibing alcohol, climbing mountain
and so forth carry with them a significant risk of accident and death. Every year brings its list
of disasters and the toll in deaths and in the miseries of people left homeless. From a personal standpoint with all this, I must say that humans are going to do what they choose to do with their lives, because it is within their nature to do otherwise. The winter of 2005, I believe was an interesting experience for myself, because of how crippling snow and ice can be. Portland,
experienced a tough winter during the month of January. It snowed for one week, about 6-7 inch.
Then came the ice storm that blanketed the entire metro area. Transportation came to a standstill. I could not drive my car for a week, because my tires were iced in about halfway up the rims. People were walking everywhere using the middle of the street as their pathway to and from. I’m not a big fan of driving on ice anyway so it was ok for me. What is interesting was seeing how people used their creatively to move around. I saw skis and poles, ice skates, backpacks were being utilized to carry food and water, and a few snowmobiles when buy the house.

We were fortunate not to lose electricity, because that could have been ugly for not only me, but for many others the outcome was different. Parts of the city did lose power and I felt for them trying to keep warm. This was a learning experience for me. The question is though...What if Portland had an ice storm like the city of Montreal did in the recent past? Would others and I still have been able to endure and in brace it?

Thousands of citizens were stranded as icy runways and jets shrouded in frost shut down the Portland International Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration said Passengers were sent home or to hotels. But a few hundred slept at the airport, using blankets distributed by the Red Cross. Around Portland, car, bus and light rail travelers were also stranded for a second day in a row because of the ice and snow.
Crews scattered sand on major thoroughfares in Portland, but side streets were blocked by mounds of snow. Interstate 84 through the Columbia River Gorge from Troutdale to Hood River remained closed, and many other roads and highways were closed at various times because of ice, accidents and downed trees. Federal Express canceled all deliveries in the Portland area for the first time in at least a decade. The storm also led to broken water mains and power outages. More than 30,000 Portland General Electric customers were still without electricity snow also stopped a northbound Amtrak train overnight in Vancouver, Wash., across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore. The train eventually returned to Portland and the passengers waited for another Amtrak train to take them to Seattle. The Associated Press 2005
Ice Storm 2005 was decidedly puny in comparison to many of the cold and snow events in Portland's historic record, for example January of 1950, or the winter of 1968-69 .The winter of 1919-1920 is still a record-holder in some categories
Freezing precipitation has caused over 16 billion in property losses in the United States alone and accounts for 20 percent of all winter-related injuries. About 70% of these injuries result from vehicle accidents. The average victims susceptible to ice storms are males over 40 years old. (Rubber, Robert, and John Walsh, and Donna Charlevoix 2005)

Heavy ice accumulation can bring down trees and topples utility poles and communication towers. Consequently, ice storms can disrupt communication between cities for days on end as they lose power and proper means of transportation. Road surfaces become damaged as well. Bridges and overpasses have a tendency to freeze before other types of surfaces and thus increase the risk of traveling during ice storms. Building infrastructures are vulnerable as well. Pipes can freeze and burst in poorly insulated homes. Insured property losses from ice storm events in the U.S. average 326 million dollars per year in damages. The agricultural sector is punished by ice storms as well. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to citrus fruit, crops and vegetation with damages recorded as high as 1.6 billion dollars in total damages per agricultural season. (Rauber, Robert, and John Walsh, and Donna Charlevoix 2005)

Although there is no record of deaths per year due to ice storms, the affects of ice storms attribute to the total deaths per year equating to 47 deaths per year (U.S.) Ice storm damages are insurmountably high partly due to ice pillage. In perspective, the weight of ice on a power line for a 300 ft span of power lines that are 1" thick coated with 1/4 inch of ice, adds 117 lbs. of weight to the object. Coated with 1/2 inch, the added weight is 281 lbs, coated with 1", the added weight is 749 lbs and coated with 2", the added weight is 2248 lbs. For a 1500 foot span of power line the added weight of 2 inches of ice is 11242 lbs! Overall, Accumulations of ice can increase the branch weight of trees by 30 times its original weight. The average annual property damage loss in ice storms based on an 8 year period is 226 million dollars and accounts for about 60 percent of winter storm damages
Preventative Measures
The National Climatic Data Center's (NCDC) Research Customer Service Group collaborated with the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) to provide preventative steps in regard to freezing rain. Overall, Ice storms are economic catastrophes which can and have forcefully dismantled cities and parks and have capabilities of disrupting air and land transportation. Because of new technology, ice formation forecasts save our country 29 million dollars per year in damages while the Integrated Icing Diagnostic Algorithm saves 33.7 million dollars in plane damages per year (Keith C. Heidorn 2005)

With that being said, it is better to be pro active than re-active. If we learned anything from Hurricane Katrina, is that we can never be to ready for a storm, flood, or any natural disaster. What is so hard about creating“ready to go” storage just in case. If you know your region and history of your area, then your not in the dark.

Ice Storms: Beauty Amid Destruction.” Keith C. Heidorn.
Rauber, Robert, and John Walsh, and Donna Charlevoix. Severe and Hazardous Weather. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2005.

The Associated Press Ice storm grounds planes, closes roads in Northwest 2005 Retrieved 09 30-09