Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Siemens Energy: This is why we care

It is clear that any investing in science will develop the technology that will change our lives.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Society’s Vulnerability to Natural Hazards by Carol Wilks

Flash Floods

PHS 100A Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College

September 20, 2011

Society’s Vulnerability to Natural Hazards

As a child, I experienced a flash flood while visiting relatives in Savannah, Georgia. My memories of the flood bring a smile to my face as I recall the boys who were on their surfboards in the golf course behind Uncle Bubba’s and Aunt Mary Nell’s house. The only thing scary about it to me was that I couldn’t get to my mom who was at Granny’s on the other side of town, and she couldn’t get to me. I was too young to be aware of the possible dangers surrounding us.

The natural hazard known as a flash flood can be especially dangerous because of its sudden formation and potential widespread destruction. Flash flooding occurs when precipitation falls too quickly on saturated soil or dry soil that has poor absorption ability. The runoff collects in low-lying areas and rapidly flows downhill. Cities located along rivers or beneath dams are especially vulnerable if the amount of water generated during a flash flood overwhelms protective barriers.

Of the deaths that occur due to flooding, nearly half of all flash flood deaths are those of people in vehicles. The United States National Weather Service gives the advice "Turn Around, Don't Drown" for flash floods, recommending that people turn around and get out of the area of a flash flood, rather than trying to cross it. The mistake that many people make when it comes to low-lying flood waters is thinking that it’s not too deep. It takes only 18 to 24 inches of water to float a car or SUV. Once a vehicle is afloat, its tendency is to turn sideways and roll over, trapping the people inside. More people lose their lives in flooding than in any other weather related event (NOAA’s National Weather Service).

On average, flooding causes over $2 billion of property damage each year. Flash floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, while scouring out new channels. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 20 feet or more (NOAA’s National Weather Service). Furthermore, flash flood-producing rains can also trigger catastrophic erosion, producing mud slides that take out roads, homes, and businesses. Many people have been left homeless by flash floods due to the fact that their homeowners insurance did not automatically include flood hazard coverage.

Ecosystems are affected by flashfloods through various ways. Erosion from flash floods can uproot trees and destroy riverbanks. These natural features normally provide protection from flooding, but once they are gone, the landscape is altered and the chance of further flooding is increased. Fish and wildlife are impacted by toxins from destroyed buildings that spread through the water, including paint, gas, and pesticides.

In the event of a flash flood, the Center for Disease Control lists ways to prevent injury during and after the disaster. These include avoiding wild animals and stinging or biting insects; using alternative sources of fuel for cooking, heating, or cooling to avoid possible carbon monoxide poisoning; avoiding electrical power lines; leaving a building immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal that the structure may fall or if you smell gas or suspect a leak; boiling water to drink or cook with (CDC).

My family was fortunate. Uncle Bubba’s and Aunt Mary Nell’s house sat up high enough that the flash flood didn’t reach us. We did have to wait a few days for the flood waters to subside to reunite with the rest of the family, and we did have to get typhoid shots when we returned home. But we were safe.


NOAA’s National Weather Service; retrieved Sept., 2011 from

NOAA’s National Weather Service, Southern Region Headquarters; retrieved Sept., 2011 from

The Effects of Flash Floods, retrieved Sept., 2011 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, retrieved Sept., 2011 from

LaShawn K. Phillips' view on Hurricane Irene

Warner Pacific College

Environmental Studies PHS100A

September 07, 2011

Just recently Hurricane Irene made its mark. Hurricane Irene swept through Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, United States, and Canada ("Hurricane Irene", n.d.). During Irene’s devastation fifty-five people were killed, and eight people went missing ("Hurricane Irene", n.d.). For me having family in Virginia, and a cousin who is serving in the U.S Navy in Virginia, it was very hard to hear about all of Hurricane Irene’s devastation. In this Essay I will be discussing Hurricane Irene from beginning to end, and discuss how my family prepared, and dealt with Hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Irene was a large and powerful Atlantic hurricane of the 2011 season that left extensive flood and wind damage along its path through the Caribbean, the United States East Coast and as far north as Atlantic Canada in August 2011 ("Hurricane Irene", n.d.). Subsequent convective organization occurred as it passed the Leeward Islands, and by August 21, it moved very close to Saint Croix, U.S Virgin Islands ("Hurricane Irene", n.d., para. 1). The next day Irene made landfall at hurricane strength near Puerto Rico, where high winds and intermittent torrents caused significant property damage ("Hurricane Irene", n.d., para. 1). After passing through the Turks and Caicos Islands, the hurricane quickly strengthened into a Category 3 major hurricane while it passed through the Bahamas ("Hurricane Irene", n.d.). Category 3 major hurricanes are described as major hurricanes in the Atlantic or Easter Pacific Basins, which can cause some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings, particularly those of wood frame or manufactured materials with minor curtain wall failures ("Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale", n.d.). Irene then made its way north skirting past Florida and making its landfall over the Eastern North Carolina’s Outer Banks in the early morning of August 27 ("Hurricane Irene", n.d.). Irene then moved along southeastern Virginia, affecting the Hampton Roads region and on the morning of August 28, landed near Little Egg Inlet in New Jersey making Irene the first hurricane to make landfall in New Jersey since 1903 ("Hurricane Irene", n.d.).

Having family in Virginia I was very concerned about what Hurricane Irene was capable of. My cousin Tracey and her husband boarded up their windows, and stocked up on needed supplies like water, batteries, and non-perishable foods. My cousin Melissa who had just moved to Virginia with her husband who is in the navy was calling me around the clock with updates; she was really scared seeing as though she had never experienced anything like this before. Melissa’s husband Will serves our country in the Navy and is stationed in Norfolk VA. During Hurricane Irene’s raft Will was unable to wait out the storm with his family. Will was out assisting ships to sea to avoid hurricane Irene and also busy moving the USS Enterprise to the Norfolk shipyard to protect the ship from the storm. After moving the ship back to the ship yard Will stayed on the ship constantly checking updates about Irene with the other commanders and sailors. Thank God for the men and women who serve in the U.S Navy.

I have always been really involved in following natural disasters in the United States and across the world. But when it came to Hurricane Irene, I was really concerned and was checking online and, the television whenever I got a free second. When your family is involved it hits home and given that it is a natural disaster there is no telling what will be the end result. Hurricane Irene caused over 50 deaths in less than a week. The hurricane also caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage. I am very thankful that my family who may have lost power for a few days, and had some minor damages, safely made it though the natural disaster that is hurricane Irene.


Hurricane Irene. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved September 7, 2011, from

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved September 7, 2011, from

Kelly Hannan's view on Natural Disasters

Environmental Studies PHS 100A

Warner Pacific College

September 19, 2011
Great Northeast Power Blackout of 2003 and My Experience:

On August 14, 2003, parts of the Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada experienced widespread power blackouts. The US states of New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts were affected.

Among the major areas touched by the electrical power outage in the United States were the cities of New York City, Albany, Buffalo in New York, Cleveland and Columbus in Ohio, and Detroit. Ottawa and Toronto in Canada were also affected.

Power was suddenly lost around 4pm Eastern Standard Time. New York State and Ohio, and air traffic was slowed as flights into affected airports were halted. Lightning seemed to be the likely suspect and terrorism was quickly ruled out as a cause for the incident by federal authorities. Approximately 50 million people were affected by the outage.

The cause of the outage was still being debated the following day, as efforts were still underway to restore power to affected areas. Industry and government experts were appearing to place the blame on an outdated interconnecting grid system.

The Detroit Area

About 2.3 million households and businesses were affected, including almost all of Metro Detroit, as well as Lansing, Ann Arbor, and surrounding communities in southeast Michigan. The blackout affected three Michigan utilities; Detroit Edison (whose entire system went down), Lansing Board of Water and Light, and a small portion of Consumers Energy's system in the southeastern corner of the state. Word quickly spread to the surrounding areas without power and many flocked to surrounding areas that still had power, resulting in crowded stores, packed restaurants, booked hotels, and long queues for the gas stations in these towns. Locales closest to the affected areas in the northern Detroit suburbs that did not lose power included the areas of Oxford and Holly, communities along M-24 and M-15, and into the Lapeer and Flint/Tri-Cities area. The city limits of Brighton and Howell were unaffected as well. Television and radio stations were temporarily knocked off the air and water supplies were disrupted in Detroit due to the failure of electric pumps. Because of the loss of water pressure all water was required to be boiled before use until August 18. Several schools which had planned to begin the school year 18 August were closed until clean water was available. A Marathon Oil refinery in Melvindale, near Detroit, suffered a small explosion from gas buildup, necessitating an evacuation within one mile (1.6 km) around the plant and the closure of Interstate 75. Officials feared the release of toxic gases. Heavy rains on Friday coupled with the lack of sewage pumps closed other expressways and prompted urban flood warnings. Untreated sewage flowed into local rivers in Lansing and Metropolitan Detroit as contingency solutions at some sewage treatment plants failed. In the midst of a summer heat wave, Michiganders were deprived of air conditioning. Several people, mostly elderly individuals, had to be treated for symptoms of heat stroke. In the Detroit area, local television stations' news helicopters were told by each station's management to "stay above the cars' headlights" at night, and to not venture into Downtown Detroit (due to the hazard of flying into an unlit skyscraper). During the days immediately after the blackout, many stations were back on the air, but with limited resources (in one case, WXYZ-TV's news anchor was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, as opposed to his normal news suit, and apologized to viewers for the "rather warm conditions" in the station, as they only had one air conditioner and a couple fans working).

How this affected me:

It was approximately 8:30 in the morning on August 15, 2003, when I received a call from my father (who just recently passed). He called to tell me that my brother had died in a fire. At that time I started to cry and told my father to stop playing this sick joke on me. My father then began to cry and I knew that in fact this was no joke. My whole entire life; I never had see nor heard my father cry. Not once. This is how I knew it was true my little brother was dead.
He had gone out with some friends the night of the blackout. Apparently he had a little too much to drink so rather than drive; he spent the night on a friend’s sofa. They had lit candles because most of the Detroit area was still with out power. They joked and talked until they passed out in the wee hours of the morning. The candles burned down and the table caught fire and spread rapidly. According to the rest of the story, the friend awoke in the middle of the night with her place engulfed in flames. She ran outside and made it out alive but my brother and her dog did not. My brother’s cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. I am very thankful he did not suffer. Very thankful.
Amazing how this chain of events affected my family. I almost lost my baby when I received the news but pulled myself together for my mother and sister. My sister has not been the same since the fire. She had to be on medication for 2 years after his death and has a very hard time now just getting though everyday life. They were very close. Naturally my mother is still devastated and cries frequently over the loss of her youngest child.
My son never got to meet his uncle. But he is alive in my son every time he smiles.

Note: Also see fatalities under wiki link above under “Belleville man”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Great Outdoors by Alison Hoyt

Warner Pacific College

September 12, 2011

When I first began writing this paper, I thought that a particular topic would stand out to me and I would just go with it, however, I got caught up just reading about so many different areas of interest that for the sake of time and considering that this paper only required 500 words, I started just rambling about my views on environmental regulations, but it wasn’t well put together so I kept looking around on the internet when I found a subject that may not be considered a direct environmental regulation, but it is associated and definitely brings a breath of fresh air to all of the negativity that comes with politics, money, and our one and only mother nature. When the president of the United States of America gets involved with an issue, it means that there is serious business to be conducted. That’s why on April 16th, 2010, President Obama initiated the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative to develop a modern day conservation and recreation plan. This initiative is a joint effort between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. America’s Great Outdoors believes that permanent conservation solutions should rise from the American people, and that the security of our natural legacies is an unbiased intention shared by all Americans and beyond. America’s Great Outdoors may be one of only a few organizations that recognizes that many great ideas do not come from the political powerhouse within Washington, D.C. What makes America’s Great Outdoors so unique is that rather than determining policies, this initiative relies on communities for local, grassroots conservation proposals. Instead of brewing the system of government, it summons for the reworking of useless policies as well as making the Federal Government a better companion with all of the states, tribes, and local communities and even those afar. This initiative at first glance did not seem to have a specific target population, but after further review, I realized that it is subtitled, “A promise to future generations.” While the outdoors are for everyone of every age, race, creed, and color to enjoy, I do recognize the importance of educating our youth to preserve what they have, just like my generation was taught. The truth is we cannot undo all of the damage that has been done, so education is vital and begins with the next generation of responsible and compassionate human beings. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar stated that “Young people are the next generation of conservationists and we must empower them to take a leadership role in shaping their future.” As I stated above, I couldn’t agree more.

The Secretary of the Interior Mr. Ken Salazar recently announced a new website that is directly targeted at concerned active youth. is full of information that allows adolescents to take on some responsibility without being overwhelmed. What makes this program even more exciting is the different partnering environmental agencies have begun creating paid jobs for youth to gain work experience while making a difference within an ecosystem and gaining an extreme amount of pride amongst themselves. In 2010, more than 21,000 adolescents worked in a position related to the great outdoors ranging from working in the concession stands of National Parks, ensuring the cleanliness of a specified area, to creating trails for Unlike many of our governments ideas, this program was not just put into place by adults, many people from all backgrounds and areas of expertise, of all ages were involved in this effort, all with an abundance of targeted goals. This is an example of one of the reasons that I am proud of my country and of my president. So much responsibility lies on the shoulders of adults, mainly parents to provide appropriate information to our children, here is a perfect example of the government positively getting involved and making a direct difference to not just a young adult, but to their future and our planet!


America’s great outdoors. 2010. Accessed on September 12, 2011 from

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It is the Word by Jorge Melendez

Peace in Christ,

In our relationship with God, I find his beautiful Word of truth impeccable, and because of it I see why & how the enemy makes it extremely difficult for one to maintain faithful. The other day I contemplated on why our faith is so very difficult. Understanding that everyone is different and what causes one to sin is not necessarily true for others. However, there are some generalities that are true for all. The LORD explained this wonderfully in the parable of the Sower, found in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23 (NASB):

3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

When walking through the warzone of life, take stock of who you are and where you stand. Be one that spiritually grows and flourishes and not one that withers or is choked. This life offers many distractions and entertainments that are all tailored for us to spiritually die. Whatever the devil can use to draw our attention away from God, he will, be on guard against those traps that will attempt to keep you locked down in an emotional daze of spiritual neglect. “Be strong and very courageous” for the LORD is with you (Joshua 1:9) and stay faithful in the beautiful power of God’s Word.

Your brother in the faith,

Jorge Meléndez

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sumer Musing About Power

Energy Trust of Oregon is sending letters to customers of NW Natural and PGE letting them know how good they are doing in energy use relative to the neighbors in that area. This is a great idea! Not only because it shows how you are doing, but will make you think about how you can improve your energy use. In my case for instance I know that I have to work on my home's envelope, need new more efficient windows, new wall isolation, and remove all drafting through doors and windows. Of course if I have new windows installed that would fix the air draft there!
Envelopes are critical in any structure in fact there is a group working in this subject at Portland State. Today architects think about the envelope from the very beginning of the design, not as it was done in the good'ol days when the last thing in the architect mind was efficiency, I think (of course you can prove me wrong) that in the good'ol days architects were only concerned about looks and it would be up to the engineers who would have to deal with structures but I would say that never thinking about energy conservation. At the end they would have a lot of tools to fix the livability or habitability of a residence, such as central heating and air condicioning. Of course these tools are available today too, and much more efficient than before but the whole idea with a good envelope is that the home will require much less energy heating or cooling to confortable temperatures.