Reusable Energy at a higher level

Throughout this term, we have learned how to apply mathematics with sustainability. This course has taught us how to make predictions, understand variability in graphs and conversions. Week 6, we learned about different kinds of reusable energy. This is where I will be expanding my thoughts and global engagement. According to New York Times writer, Nadja Popovich, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication pulled research from the American population on where they stand on reusable energy. One surprising statistic found is that in almost every county of the United States, Americans support they aspect of having at least 20% of their energy as reusable (that being wind, solar, hydro). In addition, 68% of Americans argue that there needs to be an increase in carbon taxes for drilling companies. Finally, because reusable energy is a growing industry, 85% Americans said they would invest funding on research for reusable energy.

For week 6, we were asked to describe what the reusable energy source was. This week, after reading this article should have a positive shift in how people view reusable energy. Although we already have 2 dozens states implementing a policy requiring some time of implementation of reusable energy, many of them fall short of reaching the goal. We need to take this data and spread awareness, communicate with others about the importance of reusable energy by increasing research and policies.

Shouldn’t we all be Swell?

Within the past decade at Union College, students and faculty have been working extremely hard to decrease the fossil fuel and carbon footprint of the school. This has been a beneficial contributes to the school because now we have more recycle bins around the school and distributed toilets where we can choose the “type of flush” that we want. For this proposal, I propose that every incoming freshmen will get a free aluminum – swell type water bottle. Every year, 17 billion barrels are used to create at least 50 billion disposable water bottles in America alone. Also, reusable bottles such as the well can save an American about 200$ per year. Plastic bottles have also been linked to contain BPA (which is a plastic linked to cancer). So why not, where we can decrease our own risks and the rest of our student body’s risk? Furthermore, this being said, investing in the metal water bottles is very costly, but as a school that has a student body dominated by athletes, this would be a great investment to decrease out plastics purchase and increase our reusable bottle community. Although we are a small population, if all colleges and universities take part in this, the rate of oil required for plastics can decrease significantly.

Cost-effective but not long term effective

When discuss wind energy, we think about the way in which we create electricity using the wind from the atmosphere. Now a days, the wind turbines use capture the kinetic energy from the wind to then generate electricity. There are three main types of wind energy. The first conducts small wind, which is used to direct power directly to a home and less than 100 kilowatts not connecting to a grid. The second is a utility wind power which is sends electricity to power systems through the power grid. Finally, the third is an offshore wind. Here the turbines take the wind from large bodies of water to generate power. From kinetic energy, the rotation turns the energy into mechanical energy. The rotation then turns the internal shaft connected to a box, which increases the speed of the rotation by 100 times. The average turbine stands 262 feet tall ad in order to generate energy, around 6-9 miles per hour of wind is needed. Additionally, if the wind is blowing faster than 55 miles per hour, then it will turn off and not generate. Throughout generation, the turbines can generate electricity 90% of the time. All wind turbines are connected in a wind farm, which is then connected to the power grid. Once the grid receives this generated energy, the power operators will send out energy where needed.

Out of all energy sources, wind energy is the cheapest form. This energy can cost up to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour. By this being one of the cheapest forms of energy and being as cost effective as it is, it is a system that should be considered to have more around the wind turbines. There are also many disadvantages to these. One is the amount of space required in order to just create one. We clearly cannot have wind turbines in the middle of a city. Another problem is the fact that we have depend on the weather. As climate change and global warming is increasing our weather is becoming more unpredictable and extreme. With more extreme weather patterns, the more often the wind turbines will have to turn off.

Fertility Rates Throughout the One Child Policy

Is it weird to think that a country could introduce a policy that limits the amount of children a family is allowed to have? I think it is a bit odd, but I do understand the reasoning behind it. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, China’s population rapidly increased. From 1960-1975 the each woman on average gave birth to 5 children. But then, in 1979 the One Child Policy was introduced to help control the population.

This strategy worked in population control, but not with gender demographics. Because, many families still work on farms, they decide to keep the male babies and put their female babies up for adoption. This resulted in a ratio of for every 120 men, there are 100 women. This ratio then suggests that by the year 2030, there will be over quintuple the amount of males who have never married. Since this policy has been implemented and then edited, now each woman on average has 1 to 2 children.

Lets break this down,

In 1960, the fertility rate was 5.75 children per woman

In 2018,: 1.64 children per woman

Decay rate: 1.65 children / 5.75 children = .285

Percent change 1-.285 = .715 = 71.5%

–>  this suggests that there is a 71.5% decay rate of fertility per woman throughout the time in which the One Child Policy was applied.

I find it interesting that the government is controlling how many children each family is a allowed to have. As a child of the One Child Policy, I support the idea of why it the policy was applied, but it does not surprise me that there are more males and females and now the countries is concern is reproduction.

Are you a tree hugger?

Do you understand the value of a tree? Do you wonder about the welfare of a single tree? Forest? Do you think trees communicate and feel pain like humans can? Trees communicate with each other, by releasing chemical drifts, they can warn the trees around them if they are in danger. Well, lets take a step back and think about how important our forests and trees are.

In California alone, 129 million trees have died alone due to different variables of climate change since 2010. Trees are extremely generous; they provide nutrients for animals and other plant species in addition to help generate energy. But, with all of the extreme weather patterns: droughts, rainfall and fires trees have been struggling to survive. But, we are all aware of the benefits that trees and forests bring. They provide habitats for animals, they provide income for many resources in different industries, and they cultural recreation.

To put this in perspective, there is 1.7 million acres of forestland in Seattle. This land is worth “more in the total value than the annual revenue of Amazon.”

–>  with this perspective, it leads me to question why our president is trying to develop unprofitable coal plants? Developing coal plants on forest territory will not only destroy the habitats of many species and it takes away resources for other industries for their productions. Our president’s mission to create coal plants will cost consumers “hundreds of millions of dollars.” At the end of the day, is it worth it? Is it worth for unsubsidized industries that base their success based on the beauty of nature have to fight against the administration? Who wins?

–> Well trees are significantly important because they are extremely profitable and are crucial to help keeping us alive by providing us the necessary oxygen.

The graph below shows the significance and the rate in which trees are dying each year. This data only includes from the California, but if our President actually implements coal plants, the graph will spike dramatically. Also, one of the graphs shows the deforestation rates over the past decades. It shows a significant drop during the industrialization period throughout the 1900s.

What do you think? Do you agree with our president that we should develop and build coal plants? Or do you think we should try to preserve our forests?

Are you a tree hugger?

Power Plants breached, Pig Waste Spilling and Hazard Materials Exposed

As many of us have been reading, Hurricane Florence has hit the Carolinas in addition to causing over 10 deaths. Florence has not only forced people out of their homes, left many without electricity, but has also breached the Duke Energy Sutton Power Plant and damaged the Pig’s waste site resulting in manure discharge. Power plants are responsible for generating electricity by burning coal. Not only does it require a significant amount of energy to generate, but it also results in many metals and other substances left over. These substances that result from this generation, are linked to influences of respiratory illnesses and cancer. Duke Energy published a statement on Monday stating that their the Sutton Energy Plant has been compromised, therefore, the harmful metals are now not contained and threat to the safety of the pubic. The breach of the Sutton Plant was displaced around 2,000 cubic yards, but to put that in perspective, that’s about 2/3 of an Olympic size pool!

Hurricane Florence also damaged the structures of the Pig waste “lagoons”. North Carolina is home to 9.7 million Pigs, which produces about 10 billion gallons of manure. Of course, the waste must go somewhere, and that “somewhere” is what farmers call “lagoons.” On Monday night, Florence was so powerful, that the structures of these lagoons cracked, releasing waste discharge.

Additionally, the Carolinas are home to over 2,000 toxic waste and Superfund Hazard sites. These are the sites in which substances such as arsenic and other substances that can result in death are sent. Although, Florence did not breach these sites, if more unpredictable and catastrophic events continue to occur, then the structures of these sites will breakdown and result in multiple breaches.

Below graph the locations of the hazardous chemical sites and the Pig farms. These locations are in relation to the amount of rain fall and highest wind milage as Hurricane Florence attacks. The darker red is predicted to be effected most by the hurricane, and as we can see, there are a significant amount of chemical sites and pig farms located in these target areas. Furthermore, if this graph is accurate, then we can predict that the more rain and the highest milage of winds, then there will be more power plant breaches, chemical sites broken down, and an increase chance of pic lagoons releasing waste.

The Ecological Impact of Almonds

Do you substitute half&half with almond milk? Or do you snack on almonds for a quick stomach fill? Well, I do. Oddly enough, I have never considered the ecological footprint for the production of almonds, have you? Well, according to the well-regarded California Almonds Organization, it takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow a single almond. In a classic serving size, there are 23 almonds. This calculates to 25.3 gallons of water used to make only 1 serving of almonds. The amount of water used per one serving of almonds is more than quadruple the amount of water used for an efficient dishwasher to run or for an efficient toilet to flush according to the in class activity. Also, 99% of the total production of almonds comes from California. California also produces 80% of the world’s production. As California is in a current drought, and the fact that almonds require 10% of California’s total water supply each year, one could say that this statistic is astounding. But, if you were to purchase 1 quart size container of almond milk, and use it for your cereal or in your coffee, you are consuming less than half of a serving of almonds, which is about 12.7 gallons of water, which is comparable to 5 loads of laundry. The effect of the amount of water required for almonds must be relatively compared, like all products. This is exemplified by comparing the amount of water required to produce 1 gram of protein from almonds and beef. For almonds, 1 gram of protein requires 4 gallons of water, while for 1 gram of beef; 27 gallons of water are needed. As for water amount, it takes 6 times less the amount of water to produce protein out of almonds than it is from beef.

Carbon Dioxide and its’ Effect on Agriculture

Although living organisms emit carbon dioxide (CO2), in this context it is considered as a pollutant. For this specific context, CO2 is defined also as the modes of transportation, the use of power plants, factories and so on. And as industries are expanding, more of the gaseous CO2 is being released resulting in an increased overall atmospheric temperature in addition to affecting the growth of agriculture.

Furthermore, plants need CO2 to survive. One way in which this process is completed is by taking advantage of photosynthesis. In a study completed by researcher, Elliot Campbell, data found that over the past decade, humans have contributed to the identified increase in photosynthesis. This increase of photosynthesis has been at a rate of 30%.  At first, the results overall suggested that with increased amounts of carbon dioxide present, there will be an increase in crop abundance, which therefore benefits the farmers.

But, the results are not as simple as they may sound. Increased amounts of photosynthesis does not translate to a direct increase in produce. Other influential factors of agricultural growth are due to the advancements of seed variants, irrigation systems and fertilizers. Surprisingly, research has found that more CO2 can make plants less nutritious. With an increased presence of CO2 it has been found that plants contain lower concentrations of  important nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and copper. Higher rates of carbon dioxide also result in a faster rate in which microbes take up nutrients. This acceleration in microbe action prevents the plants from taking up valuable nutrients through their roots. The lack of nutrients further can make humans more vulnerable for diseases including pneumonia and malaria. Furthermore, increased carbon dioxide levels have also influence the concentrations of iron. Iron is a crucial in helping pump oxygen throughout the body.  This research suggests that the “rate of iron deficiency” will increase from 21% to 27% in the next 10 years. 

            There needs to be an increase in awareness and communication about how to decrease an individuals’ carbon footprint. Our own use of fossil fuels decreases the nutrient value in our produce and weakens our immune system.

Sustainability Blog #1

From spending summers in Beijing, to months in Australia and New Zealand my view on what sustainability means has drastically changed. To me, sustainability is defined as something that can be managed and maintained over time at a controlled rate. In the context of environmental climate change, and with this definition, clearly climate change has not been environmentally sustained. The New York Times published an article, Pollution May Dim Thinking Skills, which emphasizes how the world is not sustainably maintaining the environment. The results of this longitudinal study suggest that pollution can negatively influence people’s language production, processing, math skills, and increased risk for Alzheimer’s and respiratory disease. China’s carbon dioxide emissions have increased over the previous year, even though the country has been setting climate change goals. At this rate of pollution, scientists predict that by the year 2030, about 75.6 million people will suffer from Dementia. The goal of this study is to increase awareness about the negative effects of climate change and to prevent developing and developed countries from increasing carbon dioxide emissions. Individuals should reflect and take a step back and track their carbon footprint – such as are there places where you drive, and should walk instead? What temperature do you keep your air conditioner on?

Australia study abroad 2017 – Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia