Thursday, February 2, 2012

Future Environmental Issues: Related to Human Development and Teaching by Lori

PHS 100A: Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College

February 1, 2012

When looking to the future, I can see multiple paths that our society could travel down. We could keep going the way we are now and be certain that things will end badly very soon. We can make small changes and hope for a better future. Or we can make big, albeit expensive changes and have a wonderful future to look forward to. Personally I would choose the last option. However like I said, it would be expensive.

Our society is in desperate need for change. We need better ways to fuel our cars and heat our homes. At the rate we are going, our world as we currently know it will cease to exist in the near future. One way we can change we can make is our dependency on fossil fuels. Easier said than done right? Our society as a whole needs to take a step back and really analyze what we really should be dependent on. We need to be more conscious about how we fuel our cars and consequences of the emissions our cars produce. The amount of greenhouse gases every car produces in a single day is huge.

According the EPA’s website:

“The Fifth U.S. Climate Action Report concluded, in assessing current trends, that greenhouse gas emissions increased by 17 percent from 1990-2007. Over that same time period, the U.S. GDP increased by 65 percent and population increased by 21 percent. The dominant factor affecting U.S. emissions trends is CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, which increased by 21.8 percent over the 17-year period, while methane and nitrous oxide emissions decreased by 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively.”

From reading this, one obvious answer would be population control. Less people, less chance for green house emissions to go up. However, this is something I would never consider as an option.

In order to think about sustainability we need to look at new renewable resources such as wind and solar power. I think that solar power is a great way to go. I would have solar panels on my house if they weren’t quite so expensive. In the long run however, soar power would almost end up paying you. The website “” they detail the cost and rebates to having solar power in Washington State. They also have the details for every state in the country.

“Sample 5kW home solar electricity system cost — Seattle

1. Cost before incentives:$35,000 (5,000Watts*$7/W)

2. 30% Federal Tax Credit: Subtract $10,500

3. Estimated annual production ±5,500kWh*:subtract between $825 and $2,970

4. Avoided Energy Costs: subtract about $440 (cost of electricity increases 5.5%/yr)

5. Years to payback: as fast as 7 years!

Estimated Net Cost Now: between $21,088 and $23,233

Estimated Net Cost in 2020: ¡-$12,437!**

*in most of Washington, a 5kW pv system will produce much more than 5,500kWh of electricity a year. Ask your local installer for more details.

**that’s right. A negative cost. That is the same thing as a payment. In this scenario, the system has paid you to the tune of $12,437.00!!! A 35% ROI! We kid you not.”

So, I guess that solar power would be the way to go for an individual. This might be something that I would seriously consider doing in the future and would help sustain my family.

When it comes to how environmental issues affect my major I am not sure. Because I have not decided what I will be doing when I finish school I haven’t really thought about it much. I have been thinking about the possibility of teaching some day. When thinking in terms of schools and the students, there are many things that need to be done to help schools become more sustainable. The district I am looking at working for already has some good environmental habits in place but they still have quite a ways to go. One thing that I think would help improve the schools immensely is finding a better local source for school food. I have seen the giant semi trucks that go to the school and think of how horrible all the processed food must be. If they could find a local place to get their food from, I think they would be far better off. Another thing would to start thinking about having solar panels on the roof tops. There wouldn’t even have to be a lot of them just a few to help with the massive energy costs.

Personally, I think that a lot of what I have learned from this class would be extremely helpful to the students I would teach. Teaching them about ways they can help the environment and the society they live in would be a great step in the right direction. I hope that I do get the chance to help educate them on this someday.

Resources: retrieved February 1, 2012 retrieved February 1, 2012

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