Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Teach a Man to Fish by Randi Salinas

Teach a Man to Fish & you Have Fed Him For a Lifetime
Randi Salinas
Warner Pacific College
December 18th 2013

Teach a Man to Fish & You Have Fed Him For a Lifetime

            The famous Chinese adage reads as follows: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.  As this proverb continues to resonate deeply in my mind I find that the ability to hold oneself accountable is of upmost importance in regards to how we, as a society, determine the value and importance of our natural resources.  The Lents community right here in southeast Portland, and also the Puget Ridge community in Seattle has determined that raising public awareness through sustainable urban farming, or simply put, community gardens, is one way to become environmentally conscientious. 
            It appears that our society has become accustomed to a lifestyle of convenience.  The problem that I can identify here is that many young adults are unaware of the importance of harvesting your own food supply.  Learning how to grow food under the right conditions is a skill one should not live without.  By having your own personal garden, or a community garden, we can become effective in sustaining our natural environment.  By decreasing the need for purchased items in the grocery store and then by canning your own fruits and vegetables for the off-season, you are conserving energy at a grand scale.  Teaching the community, especially the younger populous, is an invaluable asset that can only strengthen a community, and furthermore give us the knowledge of how to assess our natural resources on a level we can all understand.
            When addressing environmental concerns, such as food supply or land management, we can establish environmental regulations by contacting an agency, such as The Natural Resources Conservation Service where they can give us the technical assistance needed to get a project up and running.  “Conservation technical assistance is the help NRCS and its partners provide to land users to address opportunities, concerns, and problems related to the use of natural resources and to help land users make sound natural resource management decisions on private, tribal, and other non-federal lands” (, 2013).
            In order to be effective in sustaining our environment we need to make informed decisions, and also understand the importance of how making those informed decisions not only affect our current situations, but also how the decisions we make will affect us in the future to come.  By first recognizing and admitting that there is indeed an environmental issue at hand, we can then become advocates for the solution, whatever that may be. 
            Environmental agencies can use tools and fancy equipment to test and give an overall assessment of the quality and or quantity of our natural resources, but we as a society can start by taking accountability for the impact we have on our environment—negative or positive. By acknowledging the information provided to us by these agencies and using the knowledge to teach others, which ultimately has an overall affect on our culture and lifestyle, we can sustain our natural resources as well as our future. 
            Being only takers of our resources in our natural environment will not teach us how to sustain for a lifetime, we must educate ourselves and the public on the footprint we choose to leave behind
Ashton, D. F. (2006). Lents' Children's Garden helps kids grow by teaching the how to gardenRetrieved 12 18, 2013, from

Conlin, R. (2011, 01 27). Making it work. Retrieved 12 18, 2013, from Seattle.Gov:

USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. (2013). Conservation Planning. Retrieved 12 -18, 2013, from

Withgott, J. &. (2013). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories (5th Ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

Portland's Water by Kristin Palmer

Protecting Natural Resources
Kristin Palmer
Warner Pacific College
December 17, 2013

Protecting Natural Resources
            How can we make sure that we are able to live on our planet for as long as possible? Protect what we have and keep it going as long as we can. Humans have a huge impact on our environment every day. The key to keeping our ecosystem going is to figure out the best way to go about our day to day lives and make the smallest impact on the environment as possible. There are so many systems to consider. When I hear that we have a lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere, it makes me even less sure as to what I can do to help. As I said before, we have a big impact on our environment. Everything we do makes a difference. Unfortunately the difference is not always good. The energy that I am using right now sitting at my computer to type this paper has an impact on the environment. Simple little things like that, things that you probably do not even think of, have an impact on the earth around you. That makes it seem even more overwhelming to try to figure out how to make less of an impact.
            One of the biggest impacts that we have on our environment happens to be on the water cycle. Environment, The Science Behind the Stories tells us that the water cycle affects all other cycles, and our impact on the water cycle is extensive. We put up dams, we hold water in reservoirs which causes it to evaporate faster, we clear cut plants and trees to develop land which causes soil erosion. Pollution  in the atmosphere is absorbed in water as rain falls, so rain is not even clean water anymore, (pg. 120-21) (Withgott & Laposata, 2014)
            I remember growing up, during the summer there would be advisories against using water because it was so hot out and we had water shortages. People were discouraged from washing their cars or watering their lawns when it was hot out.  Of course I remember my mom still washing the car in the backyard so no one could see her, and we still had our swimming pool filled to play in. The major one I remember was in the summer of 1992 and there was a drought, so the water supply in Portland was running low. I found a brief paragraph about it in a Portland Water Bureau report that talked about water usage in Portland.  They said that the water shortage of 1992 had an influence on customers continued outdoor water use. Many people realized that if they didn’t water their lawns then they didn’t have to mow. It also said that overall per household water use is down from the 1990’s in Portland. (Portland Water Bureau, 2008)
            Looking toward the future, in 2008 there were roundtable discussions around Portland to discuss the future of Portland water. Many Oregonians do not think that we will have enough water in 2028 (20 years from the discussions) to cover all of the needs we will have. Oregon and Alaska are the only two western states without a plan on how they will meet future water demands.  (Milstein, 2008) It seems that even with things like water saving toilets and showerheads, and overall consumption being down, we may still have a problem in the future.
            I do not really know what to do to solve these problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a plan in place for all cities to cover their open reservoirs. This has been a huge issue in Portland, as the reservoirs on Mt. Tabor have been a part of the city for years. The idea behind this is to protect the water from Cryptosporidium and other disease causing bacteria.  (EPA, 2013) I do not think that it is a bad thing to protect our drinking water; I feel that it is unfortunate that we will lose the reservoirs since they are beautiful to look at. I remember as a kid during the summer walking to Mt. Tabor and walking around all of the different reservoirs. I wonder what the city is going to do with them once they are empty, and I think a lot of other people want to know the same thing.
            I do think there should be a way to protect our water. It is our greatest natural resource, and without it, nothing would be able to live. I am just not sure how you would go about creating a committee or actually enforcing limits on our water usage. Unless there was some sort of a device in each home that cut off the water after a certain amount was used each day. This is a tricky thing to tackle. With logging, they are required to replant trees to replenish what is cut down. Yes, it takes years for a tree to grow back to be as big as the old growth timber that they are clear cutting, but at least the process can be started over again and the trees will re-grow. We cannot exactly grow ourselves new water, but if we do not do something about it, in 20 years we may not have enough water for everyone.
EPA. (2013, February 11). Water: Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule. Retrieved from Environmental Protection Agency:

Milstein, M. (2008, December 30). Oregonians forsee future water shortages. Retrieved from The Oregonian:

Portland Water Bureau. (2008, March 20). Portand Water Bureau. Retrieved from Water Conservation plan:

Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2014). Environment The Science Behind The Stories. Glenview, Il: Pearson Education Inc.

Nick Wiltgen's view on Natural Resources and Regulations

Resources & Regulation
Nick Wiltgen
December 14th, 2013

                                                            Resources & Regulation
            Imagine for a minute a utopian society in which the natural environment flourished, seemingly untouched by man, where all of our natural resources were utilized efficiently and harmlessly, and there was no need for environmental regulations which in turn allowed us to lead prosperous, healthy, peaceful and harmonious lifestyles. Now imagine a society in which our tremendously fast paced, money-making and convenience driven lifestyles prompt us to nearly deplete our natural resources, in turn causing severe environmental damage and danger to the global climate, leaving us to ponder and assess how to better utilize and preserve our natural resources while establishing environmental regulations in an attempt to curb the damage to earth. It isn’t hard to imagine the latter, because this is the reality we live in. It is critical to assess our natural resources and to come up with regulations to sustain our environment and reduce our carbon footprint.
            So how do we, as a society, assess our natural resources? Unfortunately we cannot dream about a society in which our natural resources are untapped, because we need them to sustain our lives and meet the needs of the ever-growing population. The most important thing, with both renewable and non-renewable resources, is to approach them as delicate and use them wisely. The first step to assessing our land and natural resources perhaps comes from advancing our knowledge and scientific research. “Decision makers must know how natural resources may be affected by changes in the demand for or use of them, and what impact these changes may have on our economy, our environment, and our quality of life” (USGS). Fortunately, we have people, programs, and institutions, such as the EPA and Center for Natural Resource Assessment, that take on this monumental task. Without the tedious studies of environmental scientists and passion of those working towards the greater good of our planet, we would be doomed.
            Take logging, for example. We need wood for a variety of reasons – from building homes, making heat in fire places, producing paper, and all sorts of other products that we depend upon. While I don’t condone the decimation of the environment, as someone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, I understand the importance of logging. Oregon is the largest lumber producer in the United States (Business Oregon), and this not only produces a plethora of goods and products that people rely on, but also creates jobs and boosts our economy, allowing people to live appropriate lifestyles and raise families. However, clear cutting is frowned upon, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that cutting down trees is not in the best interest of the environment. So what can we do? The best thing to practice would be minimal cutting, and replanting of native trees. Things get complicated when regulations are put into place with various federal and state laws, and various parts of land – be it BLM/government land or private land. If a law says that clear cutting is prohibited here, it might not apply everywhere on a federal or state level. Just like many laws and regulations, there will always be loopholes. “Federal environmental laws that apply to BLM and Forest Service lands require analysis of environmental impacts, public input, rigorous stream protections, and protection and restoration of endangered species habitat. Private and state-owned forest lands in Oregon are managed according to the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA). This allows for clear-cutting, minimal stream buffers, aerial spraying of herbicides, and no public involvement in planned activities” (Legue, 2012). As you can see, regulations are put into place, with the environment in mind, but also trying to please the economy, population, and culture. Perhaps this is a happy medium.
As more and more environmental challenges appear before mankind, one thing is clear: we will eventually run out of our natural resources if we continue to use them so rapidly, and we must carefully assess them and look to alternate forms of renewable energy, such as wind, sun, rain, etc. In the mean time, we must take care of our planet, and creating environmental regulations is a step in the right direction – the difficult part here, and later, is managing these regulations to appease the earth, our society, culture, and lifestyles.
Business Oregon. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Legue, C. (2012). Private vs public: different lands, different laws. Oregon Wild. Retrieved from
USGS. (2005). Assessing our natural resources. Retrieved from

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ricardo Gallegos' views on Western Culture and The Scientific Method

The Scientific Method and Western Culture:
Ricardo Gallegos
PHS 100A Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College
December 10, 2013
The Scientific Method and Western Culture
The scientific method is that which can be observed, tested, and measured; and to express the results of these measurements in quantitative terms. The utmost effort must be given to objectivity and the avoidance of any bias, as the results obtained will be tantamount to useless if one does not. Before talking about how the scientific method has influenced western culture, let us first understand what our western culture has become.
Rapacious and superficial, with all its ugly and selfish characteristics – that is what our western culture is. We celebrate the rich and the beautiful, and even the stupid, so long as it’s famous. Usually these trivialities are but distractions by the few, in order placate the masses. However, it is perpetrated with our willing acquiescence. Society and our culture as a whole have become shallow and trite; partly because we are conditioned to be so, and partly because we consent. We refuse to be set free from our collective adolescence; the “id” of our nature has a stranglehold on us and we cannot escape our desire for immediate gratification. While one could agree that a certain amount of hedonism is appropriate and necessary, we take it to the extreme.
There is a saying from the bible that is appropriate here. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11). This is profound in its wisdom and simplicity, and also its necessary truth. Sadly, our culture has yet to embrace the spirit of these words, and shows no signs of doing so.
There is a duality to the influence of the scientific method on our culture. On the one hand we accept its merits and utilize all the fantastic gadgets and medicines that result; for science as brought “wondrous treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross” (Star Trek: TNG, 1989). Yet, on the other hand, we steadfastly ignore its numerous warnings of impending disaster, blithely content in the misguided belief that no matter what we do to ourselves or the planet, science will save us and nature will heal itself in the end. There is a chance (albeit small) that this will occur, and by all means let us pray for its success, however, this cannot be depended upon to transpire. We must save ourselves from ourselves.
In their textbook, Environment: The Science Behind the Stories, Jay Withgott and Matthew Laposata describes science as “a systematic process of learning about the world and testing our understanding of it”, and as an “accumulated body of knowledge” and its method as a “dynamic process of questioning, observation, testing, and discovery” (Withgott, Laposata, 2013). This description is surely correct, however, it leaves one with a sense of ambiguity in that it seems rather imprecise and too narrowly confined. Do they mean only our world – as in the planet? Can it be expanded into knowledge of the cosmos, or transversely, the subatomic? You see, science is a tool – a method that can be applied to anything under the heavens. Hopefully when they use the term “our world” Withgott and Laposata mean everything. Withgott and Laposata (2013) go on to describe the scientific method as “hypothesis-driven science, research proceeding in a more targeted and structured manner, using experiments to test hypotheses.”
At Western Culture Global (WCG) they say that “western culture can be also referred to as advanced culture; this is because its ideal and values promote the development and sustainment of advanced civilizations” (, 2009). This statement flies in the face of many facts, not the least of which is that the society it created cannot be sustained. How can anything that claims to be advanced (translation: enlightened) be the cause of its own undoing? WCG goes on to say that “western culture has at least some presence in nearly all nations of the world” (, 2009). I would compare this to the spread of a disease. For it is widely understood that if all the nations of the world, particularly those such as India with its massive population, where to suddenly live as we do, the world would quickly become unlivable.
The scientific method has allowed us to gather and keep vast amounts of knowledge and information. Yet there is no discipline in its use. We simply take step after step building on the works of others without consideration for consequence. This dangerous application of knowledge may very well lead to our own demise. Western culture is thought by many to be the age (or application) of logic and reason. Yet there is little logic, and vary little reason in how we use it. At its core the scientific method of a beautiful thing, however the truths and wonders it reveals should be followed (through the use of logic and reason) to their logical conclusions before being brought into the world and placed into application. Some things simply should not be done. Because we can do them is not reason enough to proceed (the invention of the atomic bomb springs to mind). Our culture of gluttony and waste simply cannot be sustained. We are sacrificing future generations at the altar of our self-centrism. As we know, children playing with dangerous toys seldom go unscathed.        
Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2013). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New
York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN-13: 978-0-321-89742-8
Western Culture Global. (2009). What is Western Culture?. Retrieved 9 December, 2013 from
Roddenberry G. (1989). Star trek: The next Generation: Q who? (Episode 16). [TV series]. USA:
            Universal Studios.
The NIV Study Bible. (1995). 1 Galatians 13:11 (10th Anniversary Edition).Grand Rapids, MI.
Zondervan Corporation.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wester Culture and The Scientific Method by Monica Mast

The Scientific Method and Western Culture
Monica Mast
PHS 100A Environmental Science
David Terrell, PH.D
Warner Pacific College
December 10, 2013
The Scientific Method and Western Culture
What is the advantage of scientific thinking? What practical difference does it make to live in a culture that believes in using evidence to explain the world? According to Withgott and Laposata (2013) scientists have developed what we know as the scientific method, which is a technique for testing ideas with observations. Nothing about the scientific method should be intimidating or daunting. It is merely a strategy that any of us might naturally use to resolve a question we have. There are a series of steps that are practiced by researchers or research teams as a means to learn how the world works. The active involvement by scientists, utilizing the scientific method has driven our modern culture to new heights of awareness which gives way to environmentalism.
What precisely does the scientific method consist of? A sequence of steps outlined to resolve a question or problem using observations, and experimentation. First, to simplify this, a scientist develops and interest and has an idea. The scientist begins with observing some kind of occurrence that he or she would like to illuminate, such as the excessive growth of algae in local ponds (Withgott & Laposata, 2013). A plethora of what, when, how, and why questions are posed by the scientist, which sets the stage to formulate a hypothesis. As defined in our textbook, Environment: the Science behind the Stories, a hypothesis is a statement that attempts to explain a phenomenon or answer a scientific question (Withgott & Laposata, 2013). An example of the scientist investigating the questions of why algae are growing excessively in local ponds might observe that chemical fertilizers are being applied on farm fields nearby. The scientist might then propose a hypothesis as follows: “Agricultural fertilizers running into ponds case the amount of algae in the ponds to increase” (Withgott & Laposata, 2013).
The scientist will then test the predictions by performing experiments that manipulates variables or conditions that can change. For example with our algae hypothesis the scientist could make a prediction linking algal growth to fertilizer by selecting two identical ponds and adding fertilizer to one of them. In this example, fertilizer input is an independent variable, a variable the scientist manipulates, whereas the quantity of algae that results is the dependent variable, one that depends on the fertilizer input. This type of experiment is known as a controlled experiment because the scientist controls for the effects of all variables except the one he or she is testing. To validate the hypothesis, the scientist will want to perform this experiment as many times as possible obtaining the same results each time. The data from these tests is used to determine the strength and reliability of patterns they find (Withgott & Laposata, 2013).
 The last two pieces to the scientific method are the peer review and conference presentations. Peer reviewed work occurs one a scientists work is complete and the researcher writes up the findings to be considered for submission to a scientific journal for publication. The editor of the journal will ask several other scientists, otherwise know as peers, to review the manuscript and provide comments. Sometimes scientists present their work at professional conferences which gives their peers a chance to interact with the information being presented and give feedback and comments. However, there are many flaws and areas of opportunity with peer review, such as politics and personal preference, this is the best system at the present time to analyze and confirm results (Withgott & Laposata, 2013).
Now that we are well versed with what the scientific method consists of, how does it influence western culture? Science is a core value of Western culture. Scientific knowledge is made possible by reason and, therefore, the history of science is, to an important extent, the history of Western culture and its development (Williams, 2007). As a method of obtaining reliable data (in fields such as astronomy, physics, geology, metallurgy, engineering, chemistry, biology and medicine); the scientific method has significant and demonstrable advantages over known or traditional alternatives such as inexact observations propagated as folklore. The advantages of the scientific method have been well documented and widely promoted in late 20th–century and early 21st–century western culture (Slyman, 2004-2013).
As you can see, the advantages of scientific thinking and furthermore the scientific method are an outstanding method to revealing the truth. There will always be truths outside the scope or observable range of any experimental data we may gather. Scientists are, like the rest of us, inherently reliant on the ideas or inspiration that comes to them in response to the stimuli they observe and decide to pursue. Because science is forever bound to the study of the frequent, the commonly observable and repeatable, the imaginable; the scientific method has vastly influenced western culture by answering many questions relating to the infinite and eternal, and will be essential in answering many future questions.
Slyman, M. (2004-2013), Science and philosophy, Retrieved December 10, 2013 from:
Williams, H. (2007), Science culture global, Retrieved December 10, 2013 from:
Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2013). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New  

York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings.