Saturday, November 28, 2009

Future Homes

This past Friday The Oregonian featured a new home near where I live in the Skyline Blvd. NW Portland. The owner a consultant on green building and sustainability Scott Lewis is building their dream home using local materials and as much recycled and reused materials. There are some important developments that they are not using such as hydrogen power but the economic incentives currently offered in the stimulus package makes this venture an attractive endeavor!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

John M. Broder is a good reporter and his latest article in the NY Times is a good example of the analysis we must have when dealing with policies that will affect the world's future. Have a look at the article:
the other article is worth mention is the one by Eliane Engeler writing about how the UN reports that in 2008 greenhouse gases hit a record high! Read it here:
Hope you have a great Thanksgiving! Dr. T.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Natural Resources and Environmental Regulations by Cindy Downey

November 13, 2009
Warner Pacific ADP
There are differing views around the world about natural resources, and the ownership and stewardship that follows. This is true not only around the world, but even within the web of American society. When oil is discovered on property, does the landowner own this? If a river runs through someone’s property, is the water theirs to do with as they wish? The process of evaluating our resources is an ongoing one.
The essay “The Tragedy of the Commons” (Withgott, 2008, p. 59) shares Hardin’s view that “a resource held in common that is accessible to all and is unregulated will eventually become overused and degraded. Therefore, he argued, it is in our best interest to develop guidelines for the use of such common resources.” Our natural resources include both substances and energy sources needed to survive. (Withgott, 2008, pp. G-13) This thought process lead to a way of viewing our resources, in which we have a shared responsibility and oversight.
Our coal and oil fields are immediately considered when thinking of resources. However, resources include our waterways, wind power, and food supplies, to name only a few. We have seen depletion of our natural resources through decreases in animal populations. During the 1800s, the buffalo roamed freely across the nation. As the settlers increased their westward movement, the buffalo were hunted into almost extinction. This is also happening with types of tuna and whale, which are considered delicacies in other parts of the world. Even though something is a renewable resources (such as animals), without proper monitoring, they can become extinct or depleted.
I recently read a novel based in the early 1900s in Niagara Falls, Canada. This marked the change that the Niagara River experienced when dams were built on the river. While people on both sides of the border welcomed this additional energy, the damage that was done to the environment because of the dams was significant. This has also been a topic of discussion in Oregon, with the dams on the Columbia River. Although the energy created by the dams is needed, does this need outweigh the cost to the salmon and other animals affected by the change in the river?
Many individuals feel that government is interfering in the ownership of their property, by telling them what the land can be used for. One example of this is zoning requirements for farmland. Individuals purchased land numbers of years ago with the thought they would subdivide and sell small parcels of land at a profit. However, zoning requirements changed and this was not allowed. The expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary continues to be one that sparks much debate in our community and in communities around the nation.
The need for energy is one that continues to be a topic of discussion. As with the now dismantled Trojan Nuclear Power Plant, this was cutting-edge technology at the time it was created. With time, we found that disposing of the nuclear waste created a greater hazard than our need for the electricity created by the plant. Nonetheless, the need for energy has not decreased. As we look for new ways to harness energy, we have to look at the effects on nature. For example, wind power appears to be a resource that does not create waste. However, the windmills create deadly obstacles for the birds that occupy that airspace. As the Native American saying states “All things are connected,” this is a very true statement. We must consider the impacts of all decisions on our environment. This involves monitoring the situation now, and also into the future.
Sometimes we do not realize the impact on the environment until years down the line. For example, my father worked for a chrome shop during the 60s and 70s, and the company would simply dump the chrome by-products at the edge of the property for disposal. This was a common occurrence at the time, because the effects of the dumping were not immediately known. In the 1980s, this work site was deemed a serious toxic waste site, and the owners had to pay for the removal of all the dirt where the chrome had been buried. However, some of it had seeped into the ground water creating health problems for those living in the area. This was eventually cleaned up, but at an enormous expense.
As stewards of our environment it is important to know the risks of our actions, and to continue to monitor our carbon footprint on the earth. Even beyond monitoring, it is our responsibility to make the tough decisions to change our methods of operation if we can tell that they are creating problems. We must not only identify the problems, but work to bring solutions into place.

Merriam-Webster. (2009). Culture. Retrieved November 3, 2009, from
Withgott, J. &. (2008). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories (3rd ed.). New York: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Making a Difference by Danielle Higginbotham

Making A Change
If we were to look back about 50 years, things have been very different as far as taking care of the environment goes. There may have been concern for our environment but nothing like today. The years I have been alive I have seen much improvement in making positive solutions to making the world around us a better place to live in.
I know in my own life I haven’t paid much attention to environmental issues or cared enough to get involved. Every where I go I see or hear about people and businesses going green and really trying to make a difference within their community. It has really caught my eye the past year or so. Even at my work they are making it a big deal. Now that it has caught my attention I have taken more consideration into attaining knowledge about issues and finding myself wanting to join in on the process of making a difference. At first I just thought it was just the “in” thing to do because we live in Portland, Oregon. Not so much anymore, it’s a bigger issue than that I have found.
Seeing as how going green and environmental issues seem to be a bigger deal these days I have seen how environmental regulations have an impact on not only just Oregon and small communities but places around the world. For example, I have seen the impact in local stores and communities such as New Seasons Market. They sell organic products. They are very big on recycling and going green. This affects the community because they are very involved with what New Seasons promotes. Something else that I have seen that has affected the lifestyle of today is that not only grocery stores but businesses are using recyclable hand bags with their logo and a note for recycling for everyday use. I guess you could say it’s the “in” thing right now. I feel like everywhere I go I see some kind of attraction like that to get me to think about what’s going on to day and also to get involved.
There is so much to take part in. We could be doing so much more if people would want to have an understanding of how they could make a difference in their environment. Even though it may not seem like they are making a dent in helping but they are starting the process in making a difference. I know for myself, now that I have become more aware of certain issues, I want to be included in the positive change. So I have been really making sure to do the things I can to help start the process of making this a better place to live in. I hope that more will also make that choice to better their community. It really makes a difference.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Relationship between scientific method and western culture by Zac Perkerewics

Scientific Method and Western Culture
Technology in western culture has been advancing dramatically in the past 100 years. Things we take for granted today were not even in peoples’ dreams twenty years ago. Automobiles, cell phones, computers, and the internet are perfect examples of this technological advancement. These items and others have redefined many people’s environment and how they live their lives. The scientific method has played an integral role in the development of these products. Over time, man has always asked the question “What if?” and focused on making things easier. The scientific method has executed those questions and in turn helped advance western culture to what it is today.
There are numerous items in my daily life that I take for granted. Most of these items are certain conveniences that were not available in years past. It seems that most of these inventions used the scientific method; however, it’s hard to believe that they all did. The automobile, for example, is a modern convenience that I—and my family—probably could not live without. A few centuries ago, someone asked “What if” and an inventor created a personal wheeled device. The first automobiles were steam, electric, and gasoline powered. Scientists and auto-makers realized that the most abundant source of power would be gasoline. Auto makers developed internal combustion engines based on scientific experiments that proved gasoline would produce the most horsepower. Plus, at the time, gasoline seemed like the most abundant fuel source. At the turn of the 20th century, electricity was not that common so it did not catch on as much gasoline. The scientific method helped this technology; however, scientists did not realize the long term affects until many years later (Britannica, 2009).
The Industrial Revolution is another bit of history that used scientific method to advance the western culture at a cost to the environment. This Revolution has definitely taken its toll on the earth and created a negative image of our way of life in the United States and other western cultures. Currently, however, the United States and many other nations are involved with reversing our dependency on fossil fuels. This way of life will be a complete change in convenience from what we are all currently used to. In the book Cradle to Cradle, authors William McDonough & Kenneth Braungart state that“We are at the beginning of the next Industrial Revolution” (McDonough & Braungart, 2002). The authors of this book are spot on with what is currently going on in our culture. We have made observations and questioned why things are the way that they are. We have also focused on developing science that doesn’t rely 100% on fossil fuels and designing systems with more of a holistic approach. This type of science and advancement is something that I am proud to be a part of and pass along to my children.
I believe that the text for this class picked the perfect quote from Carl Sagan to describe why science matters. In the quote, Sagan states that we “profoundly depend on science and technology” (Withgott & Brennan, 2008, p. 11). We as a human race depend on our technological conveniences to make it through the day. I am excited about this class and to learn about how science can advance our civilization into the next Industrial Revolution.

McDonough W. & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. New York: North Point Press.
Withgott & Brennan (2008). Environment: The Science behind the Stories. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Educational, Inc.
automobile. (2009). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved November 2, 2009, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: