Gender Equality, Especially Now, Appears to be Reliant Upon One Major Issue…

Essentially I focused on the goal of gender equality in my report. And mostly surrounding the thought that sexual violence, and violence in general, towards males and females is essentially what is going to hold that goal back from being achieved. I reiterated the fact that we need to greatly decrease or eliminate entirely the practice of victim blaming and need to institute a safe way for survivors to come forward. We have all heard this statistic, but its worth repeating that 1 in five women will experience rape in her lifetime, and 1 in 71 men will experience rape in their lifetimes. Sexual assault and rape cases are America’s most expensive crimes, costing the country around 127 billion dollars, and even then that number doesn’t nearly include the amount of cases that are un-reported. Because, the truth is, we won’t be able to start on gender equality in earnest unless we first handle the issues surrounding sexual, and non, violence towards women and men.

Green Fee Proposal

Honestly I think that there have been some incredibly viable and productive ideas that have both been produced in this class and through past Green Fee proposals. Obviously plastic waste and the absurd amount of disposable cups that go through this campus could be the most plausible, but I think competition needs to be inherent within these projects. Something like using an existing program, coffee stamp cards maybe, and every time you bring a reusable coffee mug to Starbucks or Dutch you get a punch on your card. The person with the most amount of completed cards could receive declining or have a more legitimate prize which could further motivate the students. In the end there is a lot left to be done, I found a very interesting report on sustainable College Campuses in America that lists Green Mountain College as the most sustainable campus in America.

Tiger Populations in India, After a Long Decline, Are Finally Coming Back

Everyone, at some point in time, has named the tiger as their favorite animal, and apart from being stunning and fascinating creature they are far more important then just as a beautiful animal. An obvious benefit to the existence of the tiger is the fact that, as a major predator, they maintain balanced ecosystems within their own habitats. Another less apparent benefit is economically, since tigers are mainly found in large numbers in areas with high poverty rates, such as India or Nepal, the presence of larger numbers of tigers will eventually lead to a tourist trade. This new tourist trade can benefit small businesses in rural communities and provide a greater flow of currency through these areas.

India conducts a census of tiger population every four years, and there latest census for 2018 is set to be released in January of 2019 with tiger numbers estimated to cross over the 3,000 mark. As of 2014 the tiger population was set at 2,226 tigers left in the wild, up 520 from the 2010 number of 1706, which marks the first time that tiger populations have been steadily increasing in one hundred years. The growth factor, just using those most recent values, comes out to around 1.30 with a percentage change of 30.5%, and a rate of change of about 130 tiger increase per year. Strictly looking at these values of exponential growth the 2018 census numbers may fall short of the 3,000 estimation around 2,894 wild tigers. The most recent worldwide numbers for tiger population stand around 3,890.

Home Owners and the Decline of the American Dream

It’s safe to say that the American Dream is still around in a pretty prominent way; however, is the American Dream and all it’s trimmings becoming obsolete? One of the key pillars of that famously patriotic dream was the idea of owning a home with a mortgage somewhere out in the suburbs. However, the recent years following the real estate bubble and the 2008 recession have shown a decrease and stagnation in home ownership across the country which could lead to the idea that the American Dream may stop being relevant.

There are massive amounts of articles discussing this problem in America, but the general consensus seems to be that there are five major reasons for the stagnation/decline of homeownership after the housing bubble and 2008 recession all outlined in an article for US News. The first is the lack of mortgage availability due to the credit shortage following the recession, which led to the decline in loan approval even with excellent credit. The second, an issue incredibly relevant to out generation, is the dramatic increase of student debt among younger generations and the rising prices of higher education which leads to the lack of saving for the future goals of owning a home. The third has to do with a more psychological aspect of s term coined “post-foreclosure stress disorder”, essentially meaning that families and individuals whom had their homes foreclosed upon during the recession could be more hesitant to take the risk on homeownership once again. The fourth and fifth reasons appear to be the issues of housing supply and affordability, and the supply is minimal while the affordability for first time home owners isn’t affordable at all.

The following data for homeownership was collected from the US Census Bureau’s website. Sorry it’s a download, my computer wouldn’t let me insert the excel sheet into the post.

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Are Craft Breweries Part of the Answer in Reducing Waste Water

We spend the majority of our year on the Union College campus, so it would be insane to assume that every single one of us remains unaware of the massive number of cases of beer consumed per weekend here. However, the amount of water used, and wasted, to produce such a college staple might surprise many of us. In an article by Justin Solomon for CNBC in which it is revealed that five barrels of water go into every barrel of beer made by MillerCoors. In a full barrel there is, approximately, thirty one gallons of beer. So that would mean that one hundred and fifty five gallons of water go into producing 31 gallons of beer, and these, reportedly, were the companies more water conscious numbers. Good, but not great.

Now we have a possible solution to all of the unnecessary water waste coming out of an, honestly, unnecessary product. An article by Cassandra Profita for NPR reporting that some small craft breweries in Oregon, the Portland area, have been assembled to use a form of highly treated, “high purity” wastewater produced by a Oregon water treatment facility. The facility, Clean Water Services of Hillsboro, has reportedly developed technology that can treat sewage to a point where it is safe for human consumption. The technology involves a three step system of ultra filtration, reverse osmosis, and enhanced oxidization. In order to get that ball rolling they enlisted thirteen local brewers in a competition to make beer using the treated wastewater, after being approved by the state of Oregon as a safe practice. The purified water that was used in the competition was thirty percent treated and filtered wastewater, but the ultimate goal for the company is to have brewers using one hundred percent recycled wastewater.

The goal for this experiment, and a healthy lesson for us all to learn, is that people need to come to terms with using recycled water for everyday activities before a major draught forces them to do so. Beer is by no means a necessity, but somehow it seems easier to approach major issues (like water management) through the means of something unnecessary. Sometimes, those are where the best answers are found.

Rising Levels of Carbon Dioxide Could Both Hurt and Help Crops

The crops that are grown globally, and sustain close to 4.5 billion people worldwide, are wheat, maize, rice, and soybeans. With these crops sustaining more than half of the world’s population, how are they not apart of the bigger conversation surrounding the rising levels of carbon dioxide?

In an article by Samson Reiny, published on NASA’s website, he discusses the fact that rising levels of carbon dioxide could both, simultaneously, help and harm the four crops listed above. He makes the argument that, so far, climate prediction models have only taken into account the effect that carbon dioxide will have on yields and not the effect they have on water efficiency, and even then are only measuring temperate climates. He reports on a simulation conducted by a Delphine Deryng in which the yields and evapotranspiration were manipulated to “to estimate crop water productivity” by using a measurement of yield that was produced per unit of water. In total, there were 30 simulations, six of which were using data from “five different global climate models” which assumed the carbon dioxide levels that were reported in 2000 had doubled by 2080. Another simulation models used assumed that the carbon dioxide levels had remained stagnant since 2000.

The simulation crops that operated at the 2000 carbon dioxide levels the yields suffered dramatically. However, with the doubled carbon dioxide levels predicted at 2080 both yields and water efficiency had a dramatic increase. These increases, however, depend upon regions and whether the crops were irrigated or rain fed. For example, Reiny discusses maize in terms of losses with the doubled carbon dioxide, due to the crop’s already efficiency of photosynthesis, maize would yield 15% less in areas using irrigation and 8% in rain fed areas. However, these losses would close to double without the doubling of carbon dioxide in the simulation, and the assumed doubling of carbon dioxide since 2000 would reveal that wheat would show crop yield increases “across the board”. These yields would be 8% increased with a 50% increase in water efficiency in rain fed areas.

Essentially, there needs to be far more research done about carbon dioxide and its effects, but the four most globally powerful crops need to be apart of that conversation. Through these simulations there has been discovered that a lot more research has yet to be done on the effect of carbon dioxide on these crops, but more so in developing countries that tend to have drier and more arid climates instead of the temperate climates of the west. Our climate models, and models for how we plan to feed future generations, need to include the countries that are not apart of the western hemisphere. How would any climate or environmental model be accurate if we exclude them?


Intro Post

I grew up on a farm, in the middle of nowhere, in rural Maine. So nature and the environment have always been concerns of mine ever since I was a young child, most the time completely subconsciously, but my parents raised myself and my other two siblings as what some would call “feral children”. We spent most of our time outside with animals and with dirt under our fingernails. The importance of our Earth was drilled into us at a very early age, especially the idea that we must care for it. Our little farm almost completely sustained my family through the spring and summer months. My father, who works in finance, constantly speaks about some economic downfall happening in the world. His words? “I’ve predicted the sky is falling for years and people just now started to look up”. So my childhood was built around the care for the environment and the economy.

My understanding of sustainability is the image of a circle. In a perfect world, waste from humans as a species would benefit other species, but that won’t work or be executed for a number of reasons. Sustainability, at this point to me, just means that we don’t make the environment or the economy any worse. At this point I think that’s the best we can hope for. We, as a generation, have been left a complete mess. Hopefully, we’ll figure out how to clean it up little by little; however, perhaps a major road block we face is the corporate greed that seems to blanket the earth. A small example of this is an article in Bloomberg which speaks about a Harvard study that determines the cost of Carbon capture centers as less, and more efficient, than the cost and efficiency of an electric car. This study has been conducted since 2015, but we’ve heard nothing of it. Why? Why have we been kept in the dark about something that could yield almost immediate results to our environment? The idea of sustainability needs to involve questions on our part. A lot of questions.

I honestly don’t believe that there will ever be a day where there will be zero waste, zero pollution, and so forth. I do think that there can be a drastic decrease however. Just like a lot of people who want to help the environment, my beliefs don’t always line up with my everyday rituals concerning what I eat and use. However, I’m really hoping that doing the math behind sustainability will embolden me into practicing sustainability in my life. My younger sister chose the picture…