The first step to global learning is global awareness

The first aspect of global learning is that of global awareness. It is the step you must take in order to be fully globally educated and fully globally aware. It is the foundation of all global learning, as one must be aware of something in order to act upon it. 

Global awareness is being able to understand these relationships and analyze how they affect our planet. For example, in this class, we talked a lot about global climate change, the impact that humans had on this detrimental process, and how to calculate it. On several of my blogs, I talked about how the factory farm industry has a massive negative impact on our environment, and I used math to support my answer.

I used what we learned in the breakfast foods project, as well as my own research, to discover what kind of impact eating meat and dairy has on the health of our Earth. In one of my blogs, I stated that “Right now, it is estimated that 30% of the planet’s landmass is set aside for  factory farms, a.k.a. for meat, dairy, and egg production.” I went on to talk about that “Livestock production causes an even larger contribution to climate change than the transportation sector worldwide.” It turn out that it is very simple to use math to make sense of concepts like these, and that is all part about being globally aware in order to globally learn.  

My sustainability act

Eating a plant-based diet is not only great for your health and the animals, but it is also crucial in combatting climate change and helping save water. It’s definitely hard to make the switch 100%, but doing simple things like “meatless Mondays” are a great start and will make a bigger difference than one might think.

Green grant, saving water in the bathroom

For the green grant, I would like to see the school further initiate their solution that helps reduce the amount of water waste from toilets and sinks. There are already more sustainable flushing systems and motion-sensored sinks in some of the bathrooms on campus, but I think it should be a universal theme in every building, in all facilities. These sustainable practices are highly beneficial in saving water.

In terms of the dual flushing toilets, they “take water-efficiency one step further: using 1.6 gallons for solid waste and only .8 gallons for liquid waste.” As opposed to using 1 1/2 gallons of water per flush, everywhere that has implemented this system gets to dave almost an entire gallon per flush.

Additionally, “millions of gallons of water are wasted every year through faucets that are left running for too long or not closed properly after use…It is believed that installing motion sensor faucets can save as much as 30% to 50% on overall water use.”

It would be nice to see Union implement these ideas further into campus, as a lot can be achieved by sticking to these sustainable practices.


Efficiency of wind turbines

One of the largest ways of creating wind power is through wind turbines. To generate wind power, one needs an apparatus that enables air flow to provide the mechanical power to turn electric generators. Wind turbines acts as an alternative to burning fossil fuels. There are a surplus of wind turbines in this country, they are “renewable, widely distributed, clean, produce no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, consume no water, and use little land.” They are overall extremely sustainable and a wonderful option instead of burning fossil fuels to power generators.

Though wind turbines obviously rely on certain weather conditions, they produce more than enough power for how much they save the environment. A single wind turbine can produce energy for nearly 500 homes. As for cost, “Wind turbines under 100 kilowatts cost roughly $3,000 to $8,000 per kilowatt of capacity. A 10 kilowatt machine (the size needed to power a large home) might have an installed cost of $50,000-$80,000 (or more). Wind turbines have significant economies of scale. Smaller farm or residential scale turbines cost less overall, but are more expensive per kilowatt of energy producing capacity. Oftentimes there are tax and other incentives that can dramatically reduce the cost of a wind project.”

Though this may seem like a hefty financial necessity, the amount of good that these wind turbines are doing for the environment is undoubtedly worth the cost.


Decline of honeybees

Bees have been endangered for decades now, and the chart above depicts just how much the number of bee hives in the Unites States has declined since the mid 1900s. What is still in question is the roots of the bee population problem. Some scientists are questioning whether global climate change has anything to do with the endangerment. The article I read talked about how much the bees were affected by this problem. “Climate change can influence consumer populations both directly, by affecting survival and reproduction, and indirectly, by altering resources. However, little is known about the relative importance of direct and indirect effects, particularly for species important to ecosystem functioning, like pollinators.” Although some research shows that it does in fact have to do with climate change, the direct foundations are still uncertain. Based on this chart, I decided to calculate a the percentage change to get a more accurate percentage on just how much the population of bees has changed.

The percent change from 2000 to 2006 is about 6%.

The correlation between race/wealth & higher education

In my AP Gov class I took a few years ago, we did extensive research on the correlation between wealth and race and higher education. We studied if what your race and annual income was had an effect on your level of education. My classmates and I found that there was in fact a direct correlation between the two things, and I have found a few charts to help visualize it.

It comes as no surprise that the higher salary one makes, the further along they’re going to go in their schooling. Compare an upperclass, white family in New England to a lower class, African American family in Baltimore. There is a much higher chance that the children in New England are going to receive a high level of education. And what’s the correlation? There are many factors that play into these outcomes, but the more financially stable a home is, the more time they have to focus on getting their kids to school, and the better areas they can live in with better school systems. A lot of the time, lower income families do not have the drive to send their children to school because they have too many other financial responsibilities to worry about, or they just do not live in an area with effective school systems/schools at all.

I watched a documentary called “Step” that follows a few girls throughout high school in Baltimore. Though the children may have had the motivation to do well in school, some of them weren’t being pushed or supported by their families because they didn’t have the time or money. Going to school should be a human right, but unfortunately, at least today, it is a privilege. Not enough kids have access to higher education, let alone education at all.



A Meat-Free Diet Can Save the Planet

Our planet is getting to a point where we need to start taking matters into our own hands in terms of climate change. We can no longer rely on government figures or political action…it’s time we make positive adjustments on our own. We are no longer a part of the climate accord of Paris, people are advocating for certain sustainability policies that are going to be tough to get passed, and there is just not enough productivity to reverse the negative environmental effects we have had on our home.


Right now, it is estimated that 30% of the planet’s landmass is set aside for  factory farms, a.k.a. for meat, dairy, and egg production. According to the UN, “Livestock production causes an even larger contribution to climate change than the transportation sector worldwide..” It seems shocking, but the numbers add up. Factory farmed animals are a much larger contributor to climate change than all the world’s cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships combined.


So what can we do about this? Reduce the amount of animal-based foods that we consume. The graph below depicts the amount CO2-equivalent emissions produced when making a half pound of both animal products and vegan products. It is unquestionable that the plant-based foods produce a significantly less amount of CO2 than the animal-based foods. Just imagine if you cut out animal products from your diet just for 3 days a week. The amount that your personal carbon footprint would decrease would be staggering.


We clearly do not need to rely on politicians and activist to make a change in the condition of this planet. We need to take matters into our own hands and start by making the conscious decision of what we put onto our plates each and every day.



Shame on avocado toast

Avocados are one of the hottest foods out there right now; Between putting it in salads, smoothies, or on toast, avocados seem to hold all the hype. However, though they may be a superfood for the human body, they have the opposite name for our planet. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Avocado production per capita jumped from 1.1 pounds annually in 1999 to 4.5 ponds in 2011. Now avocados don’t require nearly as much water as say almonds, however they require a significantly higher amount than other produce. It takes 74.1 gallons of irrigated water to grow a pound of avocados in California, a surprising 30 pounds higher than the second highest crop, peaches. “Land devoted to avocados has expanded rapidly—from about 6,180 hectares (15,270 acres) in 1980 to 27,000 hectares (66,700 acres) in 2006, all the way to 36,000 hectares (88,960 acres) in 2014, according to the USDA.” Now avocado production is seasonal which is beneficial for the environment, like almonds and other damaging nuts, but it still does require massive amounts of water for production. California currently takes a laissez-faire approach to groundwater regulation, and this should certainly be implemented in every country avocados are grown (Chile and Mexico included).

Thinking about Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide, among other green house gases are naturally occurring. The green house effect/trapping of heat in Earth’s atmosphere is also naturally occurring. Warmed by the sun, our planet’s land and ocean surfaces constantly produce infrared radiation (heat). However, since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the use of carbon dioxide hurting our environment. The human population has been heavily reliant on the use of fossil fuels which exacerbates this issue of climate change. According to the video, “Climate 101,” we now rely on carbon-based fossil fuels to produce 85% of our energy, and humans produce up to 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Only 55% of this CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, land, and vegetation, while the rest is trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere causing an exponential increase in Earth’s temperatures. The biggest culprits to these numbers are fossil fuels, power plant and factories, and transportation. According to, “Without this natural greenhouse effect, Earth’s average annual temperature would be below freezing instead of close to 60 degrees F.” Despite this seemingly positive process, the way society functions today is hugely detrimental to the condition of our planet. Not only will temperatures continue to increase, but an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere also means an excess of evaporation, leading to an excess of precipitation, which will have the potential to produce catastrophic storms.

Climate Central also raises an inconvenient truth about the climate reality the human population now faces. “The world has blown past the 400 million parts per million carbon dioxide milestone, and is unlikely to return below that threshold again in our lifetimes.” Now naturally growing plants in the northern hemisphere will decrease these parts per million slightly, but until humans no longer need to rely on carbon-based fuels, we will bring a “one-step forward” too many steps back.

What sustainability means to me

One of my favorite classes I took in high school was AP Environmental Science. On the first and last day, my teacher gave a very in-depth explanation of the greenhouse effect. He did this to ensure that if we were to only take away one thing from that class, it would be how this process worked. It was that very first day of class that sparked my passion for environmental sustainability, and I have been doing things to help the environment ever since. For example, it only took until the APES midterm for me to completely change my diet. As soon as I learned about how disastrous the factory farm industry was to global climate change, I essentially decided to boycott the concept of factory farming as a whole. I stopped consuming all animal products immediately. I then did my own research outside of class that only validated my decision to live a vegan lifestyle.
To me, environmental sustainability means being able to generate power, get rid of waste, etc., with minimal detriments to our planet. We live in a world that may, on a basic level, appear alright, however the number of excess greenhouse gases that are trapping the heat in our atmosphere is skyrocketing. With advancements in technology, and an expanding knowledge of the root of environmental problems, I believe a healthy planet should be sustained, and that all life on earth can and deserves to thrive.