Lately the topic of excess garbage, including food waste, has been a hot topic in the news because the destructive effects of excess waste are starting to affect health and safety of people. Excess waste has always been affecting our health and safety but until now the effects have not been so obvious. Excess waste causes air pollution, respiratory diseases, contamination of surface and ground waters and increased bacteria, insects and vermin urban centers. To help alleviate some of the stress on our environment caused by excess waste, I propose that each first year student receives a custom Union Tupperware container. This way the students can use the containers in Reamer for various food options; Rathskeller takeout; and in the dining halls so as to reduce the amount of to-go cups used as makeshift takeout containers. A typical square generic “Tupperware” container costs ~$1.00 so for an incoming class of ~700 students this would call for a grant of ~$750 for custom Tupperware containers. The waste we would be avoiding if this grant were to be granted would far out-cost the cost of the containers. Perhaps dining services could have some kind of program or contest once a term that incorporates the containers and when they hold their “pop-up” events, students should only be served if they have their reusable containers. Perhaps this would also encourage students to purchase more reusable containers and use less one-use containers!
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.
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.
The article I looked at claims that despite popular opinion, the global population is not growing exponentially, but rather is growing in a straight line. Exponential growth is described as the growth rate of the population, as a fraction of the population’s size, and is constant. Therefore, if a population has a growth rate of 2%, and it remains 2% as the population gets bigger, it’s growing exponentially. Despite the starting points of two quantities, the one quantity that grows exponentially will become larger than one growing linearly. For the United States, the population growth over the past half century has been very close to a straight line, the R2 is 0.9956.
Essentially, it seems as if people confuse the words exponentially and increasingly when talking about population growth. The graph shown demonstrates linear growth, and how exponential growth occurs only when the percentage growth rate remains constant as the population gets bigger.
Immigration has been an increasingly covered issue in the media in the last few years. Many americans fear that immigrants are “taking the jobs from american-born citizens.” However, this article in Forbes shows the wage-gap between US-born and immigrant americans. The discrepancies in pay between these two groups is in the thousands in over 29 states. This graph below shows the ten states with the highest wage-gap differences between immigrants and US-born citizens.
According to this graph, the top of the list is an almost $20,000 difference in the annual income of these two groups. The US-born citizens had a median annual income of $59,689 while the immigrants earned $40,145. The article also mentions that immigrants make less money than U.S.-born citizens in 45 states. So although some americans may fear that immigrants are taking opportunities from U.S.-born citizens, this data shows that U.S.-born citizens are, at the end of the day, making more money annually than immigrants.
I see voter turnout as a social justice issue. Voter turnout has consistently stayed between 45 to 85% of the voting age population in the United States. Voter turnout has clearly correlated to social justice issues, including who is allowed vote, who can afford to leave work to vote, and who feels politically empowered enough to vote. We see large dips in voter turnout prior to the great depression, as well as in the early 2000s around the recession and around the recession in the 1980s. Whenever there are poor economic times, we see dips in voter turnout. We also see dips in voter turnout when the population has less confidence in the government– this is especially true for during and post Vietnam war era United States.
Another social justice issue related to voter turnout for presidential elections is the fact that those who are financially disadvantaged tend to not be allowed to leave work to vote within voting hours. This is an issue that has been combatted by other countries including Australia, which enacted mandatory voting legislation in 1918 and has imposed fines on those who do not vote. However, since voting is not mandatory in the United States, not all employers let their employees leave work to vote. Since the United States does not have mandatory voting laws, we can attribute many changes in voter turnout to social justice issues.
Link here to data.
In his article, The World’s Top Cities for Sustainable Transport, Niall McCarthy discusses the research behind the graph below, which identifies cities across the globe that have the most sustainable public transport in 2017. Hong Kong has been rank number one for sustainable transport. I wouldn’t have guessed that one of the most populated cities in the world would be able to maintain such a sustainable transportation system simply due to the mass amounts of people circulating around the city each day.
Surprisingly enough, two other asian cities are also in the top-10. Due to the 23 different indicators that were involved in the ranking, some cities scored well in urban mobility. The article also notes that the top U.S. city is actually New York City! Ranking 23 overall, New York scored really well for its subway system, train connections to Long Island and New Jersey, and wheel chair accessibility. Although it’s not on the graph below, New York scored very well in comparison to other major cities in the U.S..
The huge corporation, Unilever, whose company mission statement states, “We meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal car with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life” started a sustainability campaign in 2010 due to increased distaste from the public with regard to Unilever products. Every year the company conducts a “Sustainable Living Plan” progress report and in the first year of the campaign the company’s greenhouse gas intensity fell 16% from 118.31 to 99.97 kg per metric ton of production, as seen in the pie chart. According to this chart which was included in the progress report the highest amount of greenhouse gas emission comes from customer use of soaps, shampoos and shower gels. As of 2018 the company has set a target to double its business while halving the environmental footprint of its products across the value chain, and sourcing 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably, all by 2020. This goal was set in 2010 so the 2020 goal seemed lightyears away but with 2020 right around the corner, data analysts have criticized Unilever for not providing the whole picture with regard to their sustainability progress. Specifically in the 2011-2012 progress report there was no data to back up this chart, there was only the chart. On the Unilever website, the company claims that that it is on-plan for every individual sustainable sourcing target thus far. I suppose we’ll find out in two years.
Although carbon dioxide emissions can, and are needed to increase plant and crop growth, emissions that are too high can decrease the nutritional value of crops. According to, PLOS Medicine, CO2 decreases the nutritional value of key staple crops, particularly rice and wheat, by lowering concentrations of protein, micronutrients, and B vitamins. Therefore, decreasing greenhouse gases could decrease 48.2% of negative health effects. Additionally, CO2 induced changes in plant chemistry will also have global consequences for all living things who consume plants, including us humans. Rising temperatures of 1 degree Celcius above pre-industrial levels are also expected to have a detrimental effect on crop growth due to increased intensity, duration, and frequency of heat waves.
This lack of nutrients from rising CO2 emission can lead to both malnutrition and can increase toxins in food. This is especially difficult because climate change and severe weather as a result can decrease food production to up to 21 to 35% of staple foods such as rice, soybeans, and wheat. In a study conducted in Japan, Australia, and the US, crops were grown in normal conditions and in experimental plots with CO2 enriched air. The current atmospheric CO2 level wis 400 parts per million. In the enriched plots, it was between 546 and 586 parts per million, “a level scientists expect the atmosphere to reach in four to six decades” (National Geographic). Results found a 9.3% drop in zinc level in wheat which led them to conclude that as CO2 increases, crop nutrients decrease. This result touches upon what is occurring now, and what can occur in the future. The article also touches upon how CO2 emissions peak in May every year, which is the a prime crop growing month. Even if we somehow figured out a way to stop carbon dioxide emission today, the damage already put into the atmosphere will affect us for years.