Global Action Through Awareness

Global awareness through engagement can be achieved through a continuous effort by everyone on the planet. Our current generation has the largest ecological footprint in history and it comes directly from the developed countries who are harming the lesser developed countries. Together if the developed countries could work with those who are lesser developed to find more sustainable resources then we could begin to erase the tremendous hole in our ozone layer. By 2030, if developed countries can increase awareness through a continued engagement in developed countries to modernize infrastructure through sustainable industrialization then the developing countries will raise GDP and raise the industry’s share of employment.

Awareness is the most important trait to have because through communication we can make a difference whether it’s through word of mouth or through first-hand examples of sustainable actions. One in three people lives without sanitation which causes unnecessary disease and even death. Along with poor sanitation, access to nutritious foods should be expanded upon as well, in developing countries hunger is the leading cause of death. Again, unequal access and inefficient handling can leave millions of people battling malnourishment and hunger. One of the major examples of global perspective can be shown in ways that we can achieve this through the elimination of inequalities and discrimination. People should treat others how they would want to be treated because we are all created equal. The human race accounts for only a small portion of Earth’s history and it would not be fair to destroy it for future generations.

Green Fee Proposal: Wind Energy

Union College is known for the Nott Memorial, and the students of Union College know that the wind that is generated around the Nott across the Rugby field can be very strong. As a college, we should work to utilize this potential wind energy and put in wind turbines or a windmill that can harness the wind energy that is generated. Although wind turbines are unattractive, they could be beneficial considering how hard the wind blows and the energy we would receive could potentially save our school a lot of money. Every student at our school can vividly remember how strong and cold the winter winds are on our campus. If we could harness and store that energy then our school could potentially utilize a majority of this wind energy when weather conditions are optimal.

The Basics of Wind Energy

An example of a renewable energy source that I examined was wind energy, which creates electricity by using the wind, and air flows that occur naturally in Earth’s atmosphere. With the creation of wind turbines, we were able to capture kinetic energy that was created by the wind and generate electricity.  There are three distinct types of wind energy: Utility-scale wind are wind turbines that range in size from one hundred kilowatts to megawatts. The electricity is delivered to the power grid and then distributed to the end user by electric utilities or power system operators. Distributed or “small” wind single small wind turbines that are below 100 kilowatts and are used to directly power a home, farm or small business and are not connected to the grid. And the third type is generated by Offshore Wind, these turbines that are erected in large bodies of water, usually on the continental shelf. Offshore wind turbines are larger than land-based turbines and can generate more power.

The turbines typically stand a little over 260 feet high and wind measurements are collected, and they direct the turbine to rotate while facing the strongest wind, at the correct angle of its blades to capture energy. Over the course of a year, turbines can generate enough usable electricity over 90 percent of the time. These turbines begin to generate power when the wind reaches six to nine miles per hour and will shut down if the wind reaches over fifty-five miles per hour to avoid damages. The building and maintaining of these wind turbines can provide new jobs and begin the spread of “wind farms”.

Population Growth and Deforestation in Guatemala

The article that I chose to use looked at population growth and deforestation in Petén Guatemala. The population in 1960 was about 21,000 people and has risen to 600,000 today, which is over a 10% growth each year. This drastic rise in population forced the new citizens to find new land to survive. In Petén, the process of deforestation was designed to meet the new growing populations needs, but this process of removing trees will have a lasting effect on the growing population. This process of relocating people also made it extremely difficult to provide consumer goods, infrastructure, and health services. Without these necessities, families were being hurt due to the massive influx of new people.

Ultimately, the country will run out of room to house these people and will certainly create a rise in deaths. Countries should focus more on feeding their people while working within the natural environment rather than destroying the environment. Soon there will not be any naturally occurring forests and humans will be to blame, hopefully we never get to that point because it may be too late.

Graduation Rates in NYC in 2002 & 2003

The article that I looked at on Radical Math, showed graduation rates in 2002 and 2003 between male and female students while taking into consideration their race and ethnicity. The groups I looked at were American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Black (not Hispanic), and White (not Hispanic). Female students in nearly every category had higher graduation rates when compared to the Male students.

I found this graph and data very interesting and helpful to see how well we as a society have come. Considering the data is from 2002, it is great to see numbers for both males and females continuing to increase in NYC and throughout the rest of the country.

Where Our Garbage Goes

The graph I looked at shows discarded materials by the millionth ton from the years 1960-2005. I found it very interesting and alarming that so much of our discarded materials are merely just thrown into landfills, along with the fact that only recently we as a society started converting our waste into energy and composting as well. 

As a nation, we are slowly becoming more sustainable, but we must continue working to fix our problems and find new ways to convert waste into clean energy. Another graph that I looked at is landfill waste in the European Union in 2005 (Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK, Bulgaria, and Ireland). The waste was measured in kilograms per person. 

I found this graph very interesting to see Ireland was leading the way in waste per person and the average for the EU was surprisingly high. Although the statistics are over ten years old, it’s surprising to see how high some countries landfill waste was. As humans, we should continuously work towards getting away from landfill usage and utilizing our waste for energy. At this pace, we will not be able to properly discard any of our materials, because landfills will be overwhelmingly large and our ozone will continue to deteriorate.

Our Water and How We Use It

The article I chose is from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, and it discusses how we use water in our every day lives. However, the most striking piece of information I received from the article comes in the first line when it mentions that less than 1% of the water on Earth is available for human consumption. The other 99% is found in salt water oceans, freshwater polar ice caps, or just too inaccessible for human use.  Water plays an enormous role in our everyday lives whether it be for human consumption, for livestock, or crops such as corn. The article also mentions that the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day with about 70% of it used indoors.

I believe that we can make a significant difference in water usage indoors by limiting how much water we use in the showers. We could use a timer to minimize water usage in the shower so it’s not running idly which could save almost fifty gallons per day alone. Water is also used to manufacture our goods and even grow our food while maintaining livestock. Nearly half of the water used is for thermoelectric power and irrigation also requires a significant chunk of water power. 

Management of water has also become a growing concern over the past decade, and forty states have told the Government Accountability Office in a 2014 report that they expect to have water shortages over the next ten years that are unrelated to drought. These strains on water could resort in higher water prices, expensive water treatments, and increased summer watering restrictions. I believe that because of these water restrictions, water bottles are so popular since they are easily accessible. On average I can see the Union College community consuming over 5,000 bottles every day.

The Effects of Increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide

Kevin Loria’s article on the rise in Carbon Dioxide levels mentions that, for the first time in more than 800,000 years, the monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have topped 410 ppm. Providing a strong reason to believe this will have adverse effects on human health. This rise in CO2 levels will increase levels of pollution and the diseased related to it, as well as extreme weather patterns. These patterns would include heat waves, hurricanes, and spread the ranges of disease-carrying insects. Loria mentions that although the rise in Carbon Dioxide levels won’t have direct effects on our ability to breathe, but will “dramatically increase pollution and related diseases, potentially slow human cognition, cause extreme weather events (including deadly heat waves), and broaden the range of disease-carrying creatures like mosquitos and ticks.”

A study published in 2017 in the journal Nature Climate Change found that “30% of the world is already exposed to heat intense enough to kill twenty or more people each day.” This rise in atmospheric temperature may cause many more people to die every year and if temperatures continue to increase the numbers will multiply. This rise in temperature will also lead to a more intense hurricane season with rising water levels and warmer ocean temperatures. Along with extreme heatwaves, CO2 will destroy the ozone, which can lead to death through respiratory illness, asthma, and emphysema. Along with increasing rates of lung cancer, allergies, and cardiovascular disease. Insects along with their deadly diseases will spread to the warmer regions, who would typically die out during colder seasons would stay longer, and their habitats would expand further.

The effects of this rise in CO2 are already showing up, and without an answer, we will begin to see more and more severe consequences for our actions. The answers are more than just cutting back on CO2; this becomes a worldwide problem and not just a domestic issue.

Blog Post #1

The word sustainability has been used frequently throughout my life. My father has worked in the waste business my entire life and has instilled the values of conservation and protection towards our environment. His company has always revolved around way to reduce waste from communities by picking up garbage more than once per week, as well as pushing for a stronger urge towards recycling. At a young age, my father would bring me to the transfer stations and teach me about the importance of recycling. He would take me to the landfills in South Florida to show me how waste can be broken down over time or unable to be broken down. This led to his desire to lead a more sustainable life rather than continue down an environmentally destructive path. The knowledge that my father has given me has shown me the difference that we can make, as well as the fact that there is still time to fix the mistakes that we have made. Throughout my entire life, I have tried to live with a sustainable mindset while doing my part in making sure to reduce waste.