Global Awareness about Clean Energy Sources

For this paper, I focused on the use of clean and affordable energy sources as one of the global goals in the Mathematics, Sustainability, and Global Learning unit. I found this an incredibly useful topic to focus in on due to the fact that it is such a needed topic for people to know more about and for them to utilize in their every day lives.

Throughout this course, we have talked a great deal about the importance of utilizing renewable resources to create the energy we need for our everyday lives. However, the reason I am now choosing to focus in on the “awareness” aspect of the paper is because I feel as though this is not fully known to so much of our planet. The United States has one of the larger carbon footprints when compared to other countries, showing that we are in overshoot and are not living a sustainable lifestyles. With this in mind, it is impossible to imagine that our planet will be able to survive if we keep up these actions. For this reason, I think awareness of alternative, and clean energy sources is an incredibly needed tactic in order to help save our planet and move towards a more sustainable lifestyle, in which we utilize other forms of energy.

Green Fee Idea

I think a great way that this school could manage and lower the carbon footprint of the students could be to lower the amount of meat products offered in the dining halls. After learning that the amount of water and natural resources needed to produce meat products for people to consume is unbelievably high, I realized that cutting back on meat would make a very large impact on our environment. For this reason, I think the school would benefit from using $25,000 to offer more vegetarian options and perhaps some meals on some days without meat at all. The school could use the money to invest in other protein sources, such as tofu and bean products, so that students are still attaining protein in their diet, minus the environmental impact.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is the way in which people can take the energy released from the sun and turned into energy. The most common way that people may see the use of solar energy is through seeing solar panels, specifically on the roofs of people’s homes. The way solar panels work is that they absorb the photons that sunlight generates. The panels then take these photons and turn them into electrons, which creates a direct current. This current is then turned into the familiar alternating current which is used as a means of powering heat. The major drawback of this type of energy is the extreme costs. Solar panels are known to be extremely costly, and also take up a lot of space. The look of solar panels on the roofs of homes isn’t the most visually appealing as well, so people should be aware of all of these factors before committing to this type of renewable energy source. It is also very weather dependent, and would vary depending on how much sunlight is available. On the other hand, some advantages include how much it reduces electricity bills. With this in mind, the investment could actually be worth it as although the first cost of the panels is quite high, the lower electricity bills might make it pay off. Also, there is very low maintenance costs, which means that they would not require much help or attention once installed.


Giant Panda Population Increasing After Being Called Extinct

Through my research of trying to find an article regarding the topic of growth and decay, I decided to focus in on the the topic of the giant panda population, and how they have been deemed a “vulnerable”, rather than an “extinct”, species. I read about it in this article.

The giant panda population has been known as the “world’s most beloved conservation icon”. Acting as the symbol of WWF, the World Wildlife Fund, the giant panda’s population increase is a relief to so many, as it is showing that conservation efforts are paying off in the end.

In the article, it is stated that there was a 17% rise in the giant panda population leading up to 2014. This was when the census recorded 1,864 giant pandas in the wild in China.

What this increase in the panda population shows us is that when people come together for a common cause, they are able to make a major difference in the environment. People and communities have been battling this extinction for quite some time, and the efforts are proving successful.

Comparing the Wages of Females Compared to Males

This graph was based off of information I found in an article regarding the wage gap and just how apparent it is in our world today. There is an obvious great deal of issues when it comes to gender roles, as there is more and more discussion regarding women’s rights. Finally, people are beginning to question why men are treated in such high regard when women are still managing to be given the lower hand.

The world is well aware of the fact that for some reason, men earn more money than women when comparing annual incomes. However, I feel as though it is less talked about how this is even more so the case when it comes to women of color. As shown in the graph attached, Hispanic women earn just over 50% of what White men earn when comparing their average annual incomes. This compares to Asian women, that earn almost 90% of what men earn when comparing their average annual incomes.

This baffles me, as I was already alarmed when I fist learned how little white women earn compared to men. When I found out the statistics regarding other races, I saw the gender gap as that much more severe. 

American Isn’t the Biggest Problem

In this article, it is discussed how many different countries, other than America, are found to be incredible dangerous when it comes to littering and keep trash off of the streets and oceans. When people tend to think of Global Warming and littering issues, they tend to only think of what they can do in their own country, and for the most part, this seems to be talked about in America.

I think an important part of this process, if we as humans are really trying to make a difference on our environment, would be to educate other countries about the dangerous of littering as well. As shown in the chart taken from this article, other countries such as China and Indonesia are struggling immensely when it comes to trash issues.

I would argue that we are not actually making an impact on the environment as a whole if we do not take a step back and make sure we are educating the whole world, not just our country. 

Taking the Easy Route with Bottled Water

In this day and age, it is no surprise that humans try and take the easiest, most available route when it comes to pretty much everything in their everyday lives. People tend to want the fastest, most convenient things, and this is one reason why bottled water has become one of the most popular drinks. Despite being free is almost every person’s home, people still tend to spend their money on large bottled waters in an attempt to get their suggested daily water intake, rather than investing in a reusable water bottle.

Although people may think that buying one water bottle isn’t the end of the world, some may argue that this is what is leading to our planet getting into such bad shape. In an article written about the harm that water bottles have on our environment, entitled, “Why You Should Give Up Bottled Water for Good”, the author states, “Did you know that, every year, the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce plastic water and soda bottles in the U.S.—not including transportation? Or that bottling water produces more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year?” This just goes to show what our country is willing to do for convenience.

I would estimate, on average, that each Union College student drinks between 1 or 2 bottles of water a day, since I have noticed reusable water bottles have become more trendy. With around 2,200 students at Union, I would argue then that there is around 4,400 bottles of water being used every day. For such a small campus, that number is truly terrifying.

How Do We Know CO2 is Affecting Our Planet?

In the article, “Climate change: How do we know?”, the author discusses just how prominent of the effects of global warming are today, specifically the effects that CO2 has played in getting us to where we are. The overall warming trend of the planet has been due to the result of human activity over the past years, specifically the increase in the levels of greenhouse gases being released into the environment.

Greenhouse gases are those that are released into the environment and trap the heat radiated by the sun, causing the warming effect that has led to the intense climate change we are experiencing. One of these very effective greenhouse gases is Carbon Dioxide. As shown in the chart attached to this article, CO2 levels, in units of parts per million, have reached new and astonishing levels where our planet is currently. Prior to 1950, the highest the CO2 levels ever reached was around 300 parts/million. However, today levels have reached numbers as high as 400 parts/million.

Everyday effects of global warming have been seen in the global temperature rise, of approximately 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century. In addition, there is the warming oceans, the shrinking ice sheets, the glacial retreat, the decreased snow cover, the rise in sea level, and many others.

Overall, this increase in CO2 levels, along with other greenhouse gases, proves to be resulting in a number of detrimental effects to our planet.

Why Math of Sustainability

The first moment I saw the earth as more than a mere surface we live on was my freshman year of high school. I was on a service trip in Nicaragua, and on the final night we climbed to the top of an active volcano, and sat while watching the most incredible sunset I have ever witnessed. Watching the incredibly large, bright red sun move down beneath the mountains on the horizon within minutes and witnessing the entire view turn to darkness was a new level of breathtaking. This is when I started to understand the utter beauty of this planet.

When I noticed that this was an option for a course, I felt that it would be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about making sure the planet can stay as beautiful and natural as possible. People constantly try to convince others to do what they can to help the environment and the world we live in, but so many of us do not understand why, or just how bad the state of our planet is. I think learning the specific stats and numbers surrounding the problem of the poor state of our environment will not only bring more light to the problem, but hopefully convince people to do what they can to help.