Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Unit 4 Lab Project

Patrick Callaway
Lab Project Unit 4


The purpose of this lab project is to educate myself and others further on what superfund sites are and how progress is made within them. 

Part 1:

1. What does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do? 

The EPA’s mission and obligation is to create laws and regulations that protect our environmental health, and ultimately protect our individual health as a nation here in the United States of America. 

2. Why was the EPA established?  

The EPA was established in the 1970s due to a growing concern with environmental pollution. Standards needed to be set to monitor and maintain a healthy environment for U.S. citizens. 

3. What is a superfund site? 

The United States EPA has a national priority list. When a hazardous waste site is scored and deemed as a possible health hazard it is added to this list and then considered a superfund site. It is then the EPA’s priority to make sure the site is cleaned to standards which will no longer deem it as having a negative affect on us and our environment. These sites began in 1980 as a way to clean up abandoned waste sites. 

Part 2:
Superfund Sites

A. Navajo Nation Uranium Contamination accessed 5/9/12

The Navajo Nation is located over three states in the four corners areas. The unique geologic traits of these lands make them high in Uranium, which was used for weaponry and with atomic power in the 1940s. Mines were used in extracting this resource beginning in the 1940s. This uranium is high in radioactivity and has since infected the land and deemed it hazardous; with radiation even seeping into drinking water of the area. The Indian Health Service with the Navajo Nation were given a 5 year plan to clean up the sites beginning in October of 2007. Major progress has been made since the beginning of the EPA enforced clean-up date. No phytostabilization was used. Below is a photo displaying the clean up process and tearing down of a home on the Navajo land. accessed 5/9/12

B. 914th Airlift Wing accessed 5/9/12

The 914th Airlift Wing is located just 15 miles north of Buffalo, New York; and east of Niagara Falls. Since the 1940s it has been used as a combat base to train soldiers. Due to spills, waste disposal practices, etc. there is a variety of soil contaminants in the area. Benzene, trichloroethene and vinyl chloride have been noted as the hazardous components created by and surrounding the base. As of 2001, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is obligated to clean the hazardous material. Great progress has been made. No phytostabilization was used. 

C. Ashton Texaco Oil Release accessed 5/9/12

A Texaco gas station in Ashton Idaho has been tagged as the source of vast gasoline leaking. It was believed that a 12,000 gallon tank was leaking, along with pumps. As it turns out, the tank is not leaking, however, traces of gasoline have been found surrounding the site in large quantities. The texaco has since been shut down and EPA emergency response units have been called to assess the situation. No phytostabilization was used. accessed 5/9/12

Part 3
Iron King Mine Tailings: accessed 5/9/12

5. How were the specific plant species chosen for phytostabilization of IKMHSSS? 

The plant species that were chosen for phytostabilization of IKMHSSS were specifically chosen because they accumulate metals in the root zone. This keeps them from entering the food chain by preventing extraction into above ground bio mass. They were also chosen based on USDA plant habitats and visual examination of the Dewey/Humbolt area. 

6. Why would composting increase the pH of the soil? 

Composting increases the pH of soil because it involves new material into the soil, which in turn raises the acidity level. 

7. Interpret the tables in the O’Sullivan Field Study Paper. 

a. Refer to figure 1 and observe the shaded bars. Give the grams dry weight for each species with 
10% compost applied. Which species grew more with less compost? 

Buffalo Grass: 3.9
Mesquite: 0.9
Quailbush: 1.1
Catclaw Acacia: 0.3
Mountain Mahogony: 0.4
Arizona Fescue: 0.2

Based on the above grams dry weight, the Buffalo Grass clearly grew the most with less compost. 

b. Refer to figure 3. What was the bacterial count for the planted control at time zero (at the 

The bacterial count for the planted control at time zero was just under 10^3 (CFU G^1 Dry tailings)

c. Also figure 3. What was the average bacterial count for the planted treatment area on Day 60 
with 15% compost? 

The average bacterial count for the planted treatment area on day 60 with 15% compost was roughly 10^8.


Superfund sites are incredibly important in keeping our environment safe. There are far more than I had realized, and it is imperative the these sites make great progress in keeping ourselves and our environment healthy. I personally realized the importance of environmental health and it's link to hazardous waste through this project.

Works Cited: accessed 5/9/12

Cunningham, William P. (2011). Environmental Science: Inquiry and Applications. New York, NY.   Mcgraw: Hill. 

Unit 4 Compilation

Unit 4 Compilation
Patrick Callaway

Chapter 12/Energy (sections 12.1,12.2,12.4)

Table of Contents:
Exxon Valdez (textbook website case study)
Energy Resources and Their Uses
Fossil Fuels
Energy Conservation

Exxon Valdez (textbook website case study) accessed 5/6/12

Exxon Valdez was an enormous tanker which, in 1989, was traveling through Alaska seas with an amazing amount of oil on board. When it crashed, over 11 million gallons of oil spilled into the ocean. Only 10 percent of this oil was recovered and this spill inevitably had a severe affect on the wildlife surrounding the area. In sea birds alone, between 100,000 and 300,000 were killed. Amazingly, this only accounted for 5 percent of oil spills that year. If our dependance on oil isn’t shifted soon, we will greatly damage our world. accessed 5/7/12

Energy Resources and Their Uses:

Energy from resources such as fire, wood, etc., has been a part of man kind since the dawn of our civilized species. More recently we have turned to fossil fuels for the large majority of our energy production. Unfortunately, these fossil fuels (oil, coal, etc.) are highly detrimental to our environment to extract and to produce energy with. More progressive and environmentally friendly methods have been put into effect by countries such as China. accessed 5/7/12

The richest countries in the world have grown completely dependent on such fossil fuels as oil, coal, and natural gases, in-order-to maintain their convenient lifestyles. Less wealthy countries use exponentially less fossil fuels to fuel their daily lives. The United States itself accounts for one-quarter of fossil fuels used yearly. 
Most of this energy use in the U.S. is consumed by various industries (e.g. mining, milling, smelting, etc.). Residential energy needs only account for 41 percent of energy consumed. 

Fossil Fuels:

Fossil fuels are described as organic compounds derived from decomposed plants, algae, and other organisms buried in rock layers for hundreds of millions of years. accessed 5/7/12

Among these fossil fuels are vast foal deposits. These deposits greatly outweigh the amount of oil and gas resources. If we were able to extract all-of-the worlds coal supply, it would be enough for us to use as a natural resource for thousands and thousands of years. Unfortunately, the extraction and use of this coal is highly detrimental to our environment. Coal burning also accounts for major releases of C02 emissions into our atmosphere, which is directly linked to global warming. There are ways in which we can make our coal plants cleaner through use of the integrated gasification combined cycle. This would create zero emission electricity from coal. Many areas high in coal resources are beginning to focus on renewable energy resources as a more environmentally friendly energy production method. 

Many believe that our dependance on oil will cause us to pass peak oil globally within the next few years. This happened in the United States alone in the 1970s, and our global reliance on oil has only grown as our populations have grown. This means that the amount of oil that we can globally produce may soon come to a halt; seeing as how this natural resource is not unlimited. 

Due to the environmental risk that oil and coal present, natural gas is becoming a more popular source for energy. Natural gas releases half the C02 emissions that coal produces. There are still risks involved in the use of natural gas, however, the potential for lessening the onset of global warming is making it a more popular option.

Energy Conservation: accessed 5/7/12

One of the absolute best ways to limit the amount to which we rely and use up our fossil fuels is to conserve our energy. There are many new innovative methods in which are being handed methods to limit our energy consumption. Gas/hybrid cars are now available; these vehicles use far less gas than a regular vehicle and also release far less pollution into the air. Also, new methods of “green” building are being brought forth to drastically lessen pollution and energy consumption. Certain options include solar paneling on houses, solar water heating, etc. These methods are not only limited to new housing, but can also be added to older homes. 

Chapter 8/Environmental Health (sections 8.1, 8.2, 8.3)

Table of Contents:

Are Shrimp Safe? (textbook website case study)
Environmental Health
Fate of Toxins, Movement, and Distribution

Are Shrimp Safe? (textbook website case study)

While shrimp were long considered a delicacy among food lovers, they have in recent years become much cheaper and harvested in much higher quantities. All over the world, various ecosystems are being rebuilt to fit the needs of shrimp harvesting. Often, on top of destroying important natural ecosystems, harvesters add chemicals such as formalin into these shrimp ponds to kill off pathogens that may infect the shrimp. Unfortunately, these chemicals can leak into nearby aquifers and greatly danger local organisms. While shrimp may be healthy for us to consume, it is proving to be very unhealthy for the surrounding environments it affects. 

Environmental Health:

As with our physical health, our environmental health is of high concern in the longevity of our species. In-fact, our physical health is highly dictated by our environmental health. If we do not have a disease free, healthy living environment, we are running the risk of acquiring infectious diseases ourselves. The World Health Organization (WHO) spends vast research time determining what a healthy environment is, not only for us, but all-of-the organisms of the world. accessed 5/7/12

Much of the leading causes of global disease are changing with time. For example, heart disease, which was fifth in a list of causes of global disease only 10 years ago, is expected to be the number one cause by the year 2020. Certain such changes can likely be attributed to our obesity epidemic. Poor diet and overall unhealthy living is the leading cause of obesity, which is soon becoming the leading factor in global disease; being directly linked to various heart problems, diabetes, etc. 

Many pathogens in still developing areas are still leading causes of disease and death among populations. Many of these areas would have a major turn around if they had cleaner water and cleaner overall living conditions. Various pathogens can lead to diarrhea, acute respiratory illnesses, malaria, etc. in our developing areas of the world. 

Humans aren’t the only ones affected by such global diseases. Many animals are equally affected and experiencing death in high numbers. Ebola fever, for example, killed many humans, as well as, gorillas along the Gabon-Congo border. accessed 5/7/12

Many of the world’s growing population is in developing countries where poverty can truly be lethal. Health care benefits coupled with cleaner living situations could save hundreds of thousands of lives. 


Toxicology is the study of various toxins and how they are capable of negatively affecting us, as well as, our environment and all organisms within it. In the most extreme cases, toxins have the potential to fatally harm an organism. Various allergens, antigens, neurotoxins, mutagens, are examples of toxins which can greatly harm us as individuals and other organisms we share our environment with. One of the most extreme and harmful toxins is known as a carcinogen, which can cause cancer. Cancer is currently the second leading cause of death in the United States; about half a million people die of cancer annually. 

Fate of Toxins, Movement, and Distribution

There are various sources related to all toxic chemicals and all of them react differently within our body, as well as, within the body of other organisms. How a toxin will affect us is largely determined by the factors surrounding the toxin itself (e.g. chemical composition and reactivity, presence of impurities or contaminants, physical characteristics such as the solubility, etc.). Among these factors, solubility and mobility are very important in determining how a toxin will move through the environment and our bodies. Toxins which dissolve in water can easily move throughout the environment, and also, easily enter our bodies. accessed 5/7/12

How we respond to toxins is determined by exposure and susceptibility; dictated directly by the environment around us. In developing areas of the world, people may be exposed to harmful toxins on a large degree strictly by consuming dirty water. In Europe, 32 million people are exposed to harmful carcinogens in the work place alone. Various reactions within toxins can even increase toxicity. 

Chapter 15/Environmental Policies (sections 15.1 -15.5)

Table of Contents:

Fighting for Environmentalism in Woburn (textbook website case study)
Environmental Policy
Major Environmental Laws
How Policies are Made
International Policies 
What We Can Do?

Fighting for Environmentalism in Woburn (textbook website case study):

Woburn is located in Massachusetts and for periods of time in the 1800s and into the 1900s it was known as a big leather manufacturing area. The factories manufacturing this leather created many toxins which contaminated local wells that the local citizens used as their drinking waters supply. In the 1970s, many children were diagnosed with varying diseases (some fatal) with speculation that the contaminated wells was the main factor involved. After the death of a child, and bring the situation to court, the largest superfund project (a 68 million dollar clean up) was put into effect. It’s important for us as citizens to take action against such environmental issues, and unfortunately, it sometimes takes death for people to realize the importance of the issue at hand. 

Environmental Policy:

Environmental Policy is incredibly important in protecting our overall health and the health of our land. It is made up of various rules and regulations which protect us and the organisms living within our environment. While we often take for granted such things as clean water, due to the United States environmental policy, we are able to live and survive in a mostly clean and livable atmosphere. accessed 5/7/12

While large and financially powerful groups often dictate the environmental policies surrounding us, we as citizens can make a change as well. Power in numbers with citizen movements for environmental quality have been thriving throughout the globe. In China, a large protest led by students and artists ended up canceling plans to build various dams on the Nu River. 
Many of our policy are dictated through more economic standards of cost-benefit analysis. This allows us to essentially weigh the pros and cons and come to an intelligent conclusion which handles the matter properly. 

Major Environmental Laws:

Various major environmental laws protect the world around us and allow us to drink clean water, breath clean air, eat clean food, etc. The following are our most important and major environmental laws:

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (1969); establishes public oversight

The Clean Air Act (1970); regulates air emissions

The Clean Water Act (1972); protects surface water

The Endangered Species Act (1973); protects wildlife

The Superfund Act (1980); lists hazardous sites

How Policies are Made:

There are important governmental steps made in-order-to create and enforce such laws as the ones mentioned above. Environmental laws can exist on a local level, national level, and international level. In the United States environmental laws (at the federal level) can be modified and placed into effect through the three branches of government; legislative, judicial, and executive. 

The legislative brand of government establishes the federal laws. Thousands of laws and bill are proposed every year, which must be enacted by Congress and signed by the President to come into effect. It’s important to be involved in our governmental elections and aware of the power an individual can have. accessed 5/7/12

The judicial branch resolves legal disputes through recognizing exactly what the law means, if laws have been broken, and whether it violates our constitution. Interpretation and dissection of each law is important in establishing all components and affects of a law. 

The executive brand directs administrative law. The executive branch includes the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), who are in charge of enforcing their public laws and have direct contact with the President in doing so. 

International Policies: accessed 5/7/12

Throughout the past 25 years over 170 international policies have been brought into effect to protect our world. Major international meetings are held to determine these policies, which gather representatives of 113 countries to speak and negotiate on what will be placed into effect. One of the first meetings which sprung many more was in 1972 concerning the Human Environment in Stockholm. Other notable international agreements include: 

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES, 1973)

The Montreal Protocol (1987)

The Basel Convention (1992)

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1994)

Often, international agreements are based around an idea that care about their reputation internationally. 

What Can We Do?:

As citizens, the most important thing we can do is become aware, make others aware, and greatly reduce our consumption of resources. There are many who have devoted their lives and careers to educating others on such topics, and we need as much as we can get. There are various undergraduate and internship opportunities to individuals who find passion in making change. We need to make it a priority to educate ourselves and others in any way we can to help support the longevity of ourselves, our planet, and all of the organisms that share it with us. accessed 5/7/12

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wildlife Corridor Lab Project

Wildlife Corridor Lab Project


The purpose of this project is raise awareness of the benefits of wildlife corridors. I will go through various steps in designing a mock wildlife corridor, as well as, thoroughly describe what a wildlife corridor is. 


A wildlife corridor (also known as a landscape linkage) is a strip of land which connects  two natural habitats when they have been separated due to road placement, urbanization, or other reasons. Roads and urbanization separate habitats and create habitat fragmentation in natural ecosystems throughout various temporal circumstances. Habitat fragmentation essentially lessens the amount of natural habitat in which animals can thrive, and thus, highly lessens diversity amongst various species. In an extreme cases, it could lead to areas of complete abiotic habitats. While wildlife corridors do not act as mitigation for a loss of core habitat, they allow species to roam freely through what natural habitat still remains; allowing for genetic interchange, thus, limiting the potential for inbreeding among species. The following is my personal design of a wildlife corridor. accessed 4/14/12

Step 1: Areas Intended to be Connected

My wildlife corridor is intended to connect two prominent natural forest habitats, whose wildlife populations have been separated and extirpated due to paved roads and interstates. Many paved roads have separated wildlife habitats, most notably busy interstates and highways. The two habitats that I would like to aim at connecting would be within the Coconino National Forest. The busy interstate I 17, cuts directly through the Coconino National Forest, separating this dense habitat. This interstate, coupled with various other roads throughout the area, could potentially result in habitat fragmentation in the future. Not to mention that such a busy interstate within this natural habitat is not only putting animals in danger of being hit while trying to cross the road, but also puts us at risk of hitting wildlife while driving our vehicles; putting both us and the Coconino wildlife in potentially fatal situations. With a goal of reducing dangerous circumstances and, moreover, allowing passage ways for wildlife throughout remaining forest habitats, I propose implementing overpasses for the Coconino wildlife. While the Coconino National Forest includes Sedona Red Rocks and various other geographic features and locations, this corridor will be placed just outside of Flagstaff, within the dense Ponderosa Pine forests. 

Step 2: Target Animals for Corridor Design

The target animals for the design of the corridor will be Elk (Cervus canadensis) and Cougars (Puma concolor). These animals will act as the umbrella species, while also allowing for smaller animals of the Coconino (e.g. bobcat, jackrabbit, porcupine, collared javelina) to make use of the wildlife corridor as well. accessed 4/14/12 accessed 4/14/12

Step 3: Needs of Target Species

One of the most important reasons for implementing such a wildlife corridor is to make our interstate(s) more permeable to wildlife. We are the ones that have invaded upon these species’ habits, and the least we can do is make an effort to give something back.  Regularly, we see species on the side of the road who have been hit and killed by drivers on the I 17. This can be especially dangerous if a vehicle collides with one of the larger species in the Coconino forest habitat. In this case, we are putting ourselves and the Coconino wildlife in extreme danger. The wildlife corridor overpass would allow these animals a place to cross the interstate safely, for both us and them. Furthermore, we need to account for future urbanization and road development within the Coconino National Forest. If we are able to implement successful wildlife corridors now, we can continue development in such an area, while also creating a comfortable environment for the natural species which occupy it. It is important for us to find ways to successfully live amongst the species in our environment and allow for a steady and diverse species demographic in this natural forest area. 

Step 4: Accommodating Movement within Corridor

To accommodate movement within the corridor, it is important that we make the size of the corridor large enough to appease our target species, as well as, make the ecotonal features as close to the natural habitat as possible. The total length of the corridor with be roughly 150 to 200 feet, while the width will be around 150 feet. There will be roughly 25 feet on each side of the interstate in case the interstate is to be widened in the future. All impediments to movement must be thoroughly assessed to ensure that the corridor will work effectively. Some of these may include: making sure the topography of the corridor closely matches that of the surrounding natural habitat; we will need to regularly monitor this to ensure that there is efficient concealing cover on the corridor. Fencing will need to be placed on the edges of the corridor to ensure that wildlife doesn’t fall over and onto the interstate. It will be important to implement no high-beam lighting when approaching the corridor at night to lessen light pollution. Wildlife crossing signs will also need to be placed on the side of the road to keep drivers at a low speeds when meeting with the corridor. Conservation easements must be implemented in order restrict property or building of any kind on the corridor.


Step 5:

As you can see from this map, the wildlife corridor overpass will be placed over Interstate 17 in the Coconino National Forest area. There will be enough room on each end of the interstate to widen the road if such development needs to take place in the future. The vegetation and overall topography of the area will closely resemble the surrounding habitat. A fence will be added to keep wildlife from plummeting onto the interstate. 

Step 6: The following is a watchdog campaign poster to keep local protection over the corridor:

Keep Our Forests Wild! accessed 4/14/12

We need your help to ensure the continued survival of our native forest species!
The newly built wildlife corridor overpass will help our wildlife migrate throughout our Coconino National Forest without finding their way onto the middle of the I-17. 
Animals this will help protect will include: elk, cougars, bobcats, jackrabbits, squirrels, mule deer, etc.
accessed 4/14/12

This corridor is highly beneficial to the forest habitat that we live in. Please help keep an eye out for trespassers or any potential foul play that may be detrimental to the longevity of this corridor. Please call 555-1234 with any further questions. 


While wildlife corridors do not guarantee effectiveness, they are certainly a step in the right direction of striving to maintain a comfortable habitat for our wildlife to thrive in. To ensure effectiveness, various measurements need to be taken-into-consideration for each corridor built depending on it’s surrounding habitat (such things as current species population, birth rates, and spatial distribution of population are among things to consider). We can only measure a corridors effectiveness through time and study, however, with proper adaptive management strategies, we can progressively take strides in building effective wildlife corridors. 

Unit 3 Compilation

Unit 3 Compilation

Chapter 4/Human Populations

Table of Contents
Families in Thailand (textbook website case study)
Current Versus Past Population Growth
Views on Population Growth
Determining Factors of Population Growth
Culture and Fertility
Stabilizing Population Size Through Demographic Transition
Family Planning
The Future We are Creating

Families in Thailand (textbook website case study)

Mechai Viravaidya has been credited with raising awareness of various birth control options and, thus, greatly lowering the annual population growth of Thailand since the 1970s. Prior to this, it was somewhat frowned upon to discuss sex in general in public; which left many completely unaware of the current birth control methods of the time. Viravaidya used his knowledge of persuasion through media outlets to let people in on potential birth control options. He knew, however, that lack of knowledge of birth control was not the only leading cause of large families. Children dying of infectious disease caused many families in poor areas to birth many kids out of fear that many may not survive. Viravaidya (and his organization: Population and Community Development Association; PCDA) brought innovative techniques to these small villages to increase health amongst all in the village; and greatly less death by disease. This too limited lessened the population growth of Thailand greatly.

Current Versus Past Population Growth accessed 4/14/12

Population growth has become significantly apparent in recent years. Amazingly, about five children are born every second; which is much more than deaths per second (being around 2). This accounts for close to 80 billion people being added to our world on an annual basis. This growth rate is still climbing, leaving many wondering when we will peak and when the population size will begin to decline. 

Throughout our history, population growth has generally been growing (with the exception of plagues and serious epidemics). However, until recently, this growth rate was substantially slow. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution that this growth climbed rapidly in short time (adding multiple billions in less than 2 centuries). Many fear this perpetual rise in population levels believing that we will deplete our natural resources and potentially create an unlivable environment on this planet. Others still, however, believe that a constant rise in population levels will only increase the amount of geniuses and progress in general as a species. 

Views on Population Growth

Population growth and its potential drawbacks have been an issue up for debate for quite some time now. Even in the mid seventeen hundreds Thomas Malthus wrote an essay aimed at raising awareness for the potential lack of resources and food supply based on too high of a population. Since then, and especially since the industrial revolution, our population has grown drastically. A mathematical biologist of Rockefeller University came to the conclusion that the amount of people that our world is capable of sustaining is somewhere between 10 and 12 billion people Being that we are currently around 7 billion people worldwide, and growing rapidly, this is of major concern for the longevity of our species. accessed 4/14/12

Luckily, with the rise in population that came with the industrial revolution also brought a boom in technological advancement. Through progress in research in technology, we are continually being able to feed and keep healthy more and more people. Population growth also gives us more workers and more overall intelligence. However, because technology relies on natural resources to exist, with more technology used, more resources are in turn being used. This ideal is summarized in the I = PAT formula (I-product of our population size, P-times affluence, A-and technology, T-used to produce goods and services we consume. A person who uses vast amounts of technology and material consumption can be more detrimental to our world than large amounts of people truly living off of the land (farms, etc.). 

Determining Factors of Population Growth

There are two prominent demographics contributing to population factors; these being, poor, young, and growing immensely, as well as, old, rich, and declining in population. Some thriving features in population growth seem to revolve around various locations around the world. Many poorer countries and less developed countries (e.g. Africa) are birthing many children per woman; largely due to lack of birth control options. On the other hand, richer and older countries (e.g. Western Europe) are showing to have a steadily declining population size. Reasoning for this can include couples choosing to have just one or even no children. 

However, richer countries aren’t the only ones with a declining population size. Certain epidemics causing large death rates are taking place in areas such as Russia; due to various reasons such as severe pollution, crime, corruption, etc. Areas in Africa are also experiencing a decline largely due to the spreading of AIDS; killing people at an alarming rate. 
Fertility rates (number of children per woman) are a major factor in determining population growth. In many more developed areas of the world, it’s natural for a woman to have between 0 and 2 children; while in other areas (generally poorer areas) a woman may birth upwards of 7 or more children. Fertility rates can largely be linked to various culture styles and religious beliefs. accessed 4/14/12

Another major factor in our growing world population is found in our current human life expectancies. Although the average life span of a healthy human has not changed much throughout history (our bodies simply wear out and deteriorate naturally over time), the length to which people live throughout the world has risen greatly. This is greatly due to innovations in health care and medicine, as well as, largely due to nutrition, sanitation, and overall education. As we’ve grown to learn more and more of our bodies, we’ve found healthy ways to further our existence in fairly recent years. In Japan alone, the average life expectancy is about 75 years, which has risen 10 years from only 2 decades ago. 

Culture and Fertility

Pronatalist pressures (reasons that increase people’s desire to have children) vary from culture to culture. It is no doubt that often times people want to have children simply out of the sheer joy of raising offspring. However, other factors have proven to be legitimate reasons as well. In a poor family, the more children you have, the more workers you have to help put food on the table and also take care of chores and other work. Also, in many areas of the world, children care for there elderly when they can no longer care for themselves. Thus, if a person had no children, they may be struggling to survive in their elder years. Another more primal factor is in that males often feel the need to pass on their genes as much as possible; this is especially prevalent in areas such as Niger and Cameroon.

On a separate note, education has shown to affect fertility rates. In the early 1900s, when women were given more opportunity for education and careers, birth rates dropped degrees. While career oriented women will still certainly have the instinctive want for a child, their priorities may shift towards independence and financial stability in certain circumstances. Even if a highly career oriented woman did choose to have children, if she wants her job to remain a prominent part of her life, the likelihood of her birthing vast amounts of children is lessened. 

Stabilizing Population Size Through Demographic Transition

Transition from lower birth and death rates to higher birth and death rates is described as demographic transition. A growth or decline in population is generally closely linked to economic development. An example of these shifting birth and death rates is well described in the following graph below (pg. 90). accessed 4/14/12

Urbanization will cause shifting of birth and death rates throughout a period of time until both stabilize and are generally low on both ends. It is believed that, currently, many areas are in the process of demographic transition, and thus, (hopefully) our world population will stabilize sometime in the near future. Various factors such as advanced technology bringing major advancements to developing areas, as well as, the fact that we’ve witnessed demographic transitions take place and thus have a model to follow are helpful tools to utilize in stabilizing populations. 

Family Planning

Planning the number of children per family is an important and legitimate way of reducing world populations and limiting the potential for overpopulation. While we have had a major growth in birth rate in the last two centuries, this has not been the case throughout history (but rather most likely due to the industrial revolution and a boom in technology). Controlling fertility is not a strictly modern practice. Even in ancient times various birthing regulations were implemented (e.g. abortion, celibacy, medicines). Today, with our constant rise in technology comes constant and innovative ways of controlling fertility. While celibacy and abortion are still two leading contenders, we now have the option of condom use as well as various pills and even shots to control chances of birthing. We currently have access to more birth control options than ever before in history, thus, family planning should be easier than it ever has been. 

The Future We are Creating accessed 4/14/12

Many people have varying ideas of when our world population will stabilize and how heavily populated our world will be at this time. However, what we can say is that changes need to be made on a mass scale to ensure a lessened global population. Luckily, our global average fertility rate has lessened tenfold in the last fifty years. Due to perpetual improvements in birth control options (causing much easier and convenient family planning techniques) we can hope that this decline continues. Awareness and change are factors to implement and rely on in order to keep from overpopulating our world. 

Chapter 14/Economics and Urbanization (14.1-14.3, 14.5 only)

Table of Contents
Big Watershed and Sustainable Development (textbook website case study)
Cities Hold Both Opportunity and Crisis
Planning of Urban Areas
Sustainable Development and Economics
Jobs, Development, Etc.

Big Watershed and Sustainable Development (textbook website case study)

The Jiangxi Province (located in China) is a great example of once thoughtless environmental behavior turned around into progressive sustainable development. For a long period, the people occupying the Jiangxi Province cared only about economic development with absolutely no focus on detriments to the environment. Such neglect led to serious erosion issues which lessened the water level in their lake greatly by the year. In the 1980’s, they implemented a sustainable development plan in efforts to maintain what was left of their land, as well as, strive to bring back some of it’s original features. Through various steps in their MRL Program, much successes have been made, as well as serving as inspiration to others in how progressive a sustainable development plan can be. 

Cities Hold Both Opportunity and Crisis

As our world population grows constantly, more and more people are living in large cities (more than ever before). Currently, more than half of the world population lives in cities, and this number is expected to grow exponentially in the near future. While cities are certainly consuming major amounts of resources (most notably, mega-cities, which occupy over 10 million people) they are also the stomping ground of innovation and technology. Cities are where ideas are brought to life. Also, if our world population was spread throughout the countryside, this could be far more detrimental to our environment than having congested areas of high-population cities. accessed 4/14/12

In just over ten years, cities worldwide are expected to grow tenfold, many being still in still developing areas (e.g. Mumbai, India; Karachi, Pakistan; Jakarta, Indonesia). China alone plans to build upwards of 400 urban areas with populations exceeding 500,000 in our near future. Amazingly, the current plans for these developing cities are aiming at being highly eco-friendly. They are aiming to be self-sufficient in energy, water, and most food products, as well as, shooting for zero emissions of greenhouse gases from transportation. 

With larger amounts of people comes major amounts of waste and pollution issues, especially among still developing cities. China, with it’s major cities, has become the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases; it even holds 16 of worlds 20 cities with the worst air pollution. This terrible air pollution has even been attributed to 400,000 premature deaths per year. On top of air pollution, many of the world’s cities are facing other drastic (even fatal in extreme cases) problems and health hazards; such as lack of sufficient sewage and major water shortages, as well as, a lack of sufficient housing. Simply providing water and proper sewage for these areas could greatly improve living conditions among these poor, city livers. 

Planning of Urban Areas

One of the most important factors to implement in city growth is proper planning of urban areas. Transportation is a major factor of concern among people in general. While automobiles have given us the luxury individual transportation, they also account for widespread pollution and many car accidents (often fatal). There are more innovative ways to approach transportation importance, such as the mass transit buses found in Curitiba, Brazil. Everyone in the city is within walking distance to a bus stop, and they come at an affordable price. Other cities have implemented metro lines with a similar purpose of moving mass amounts of people for a cheap cost. accessed 4/14/12

Another innovative way of planning our urban cities is to implement smart growth. Smart growth is described: as making effective use of land resources and existing infrastructure by encouraging in-fill development that avoids costly duplication of services and inefficient land use. It is aimed at being a more eco-friendly growth factor which uses the land in a less wasteful manner. Many current cities are attempting to redesign metropolitan areas to make them fit the idea behind smart growth. Some examples include: maintain greenbelts in and around cities for recreational space and limiting air pollution; locate shopping and services so people can meet their daily needs with less stress and automobile dependency; encourage walking or use of low speed and low energy vehicles.

Sustainable Development and Economics

Sustainable development, or meeting the needs of of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, is an important part of innovative city growth. However, whether or not this is possible lies very much economics. 

Classical economics, developed in the 1700’s, assumes that natural resources are finite; that they exist in fixed amounts. It also states that as populations grow, resources are limited and competition ensues. The more scare a product, the more expensive and the more competition to get it.

Neoclassical economics, developed in the nineteenth century, expanded this ideal of resources to also include labor, knowledge, and capitol (any form of wealth that contributes to the production of more wealth). Knowledge and labor, while not finite, were viewed as resources through neoclassical economics because of their high importance in creating the goods and services. Neoclassical economics also put high importance on growth through goods and services; resulting in more capitol. Popular in neoclassical economics is the idea that a resource can be substituted with another in order to maintain capitol if one resource is used up completely.

Ecological economics places high importance on ecosystem functions for the longevity and continuation of human economies and culture. Unlike neoclassical economics, in ecological economics a natural resource is highly important and none can be substituted to replace another. High priority is placed recycling of resources their constant continuation. 

Jobs, Development, Etc. accessed 4/14/12

International trade can have positive, as well as, negative effects. In terms of positive effects, international trade can stimulate growth in suffering economies when such a place has steady access to a particular resource. If an area has steady access to a resource, they can sell it much cheaper than other areas, and thus, create a steady flow of income for their economy. Unfortunately, many other countries don’t have as strict of environmental laws as does the U.S., so in purchasing some of these goods, we may also be contributing to the pollution created by its factories. 

Chapter 13/Solid and Hazardous Waste

Table of Contents
Waste Disposal at Yucca Mountain (textbook website case study)
Waste That We Produce
Ways of Disposing Our Waste
Lessening Waste
Toxic and Hazardous Wastes

Waste Disposal at Yucca Mountain (textbook website case study)

Yucca Mountain area, located in Nevada, has been decided to be one of the best permanent storage areas for massive amounts of nuclear waste. This nuclear waste has been growing and growing in temporary storage areas throughout the country (some of them highly inadequate for storage purposes) and needs to be transported elsewhere to an area of permanent storage. While the Yucca Mountain area seems to be one of the best locations for such a storage of hazardous waste, many are arguing that this location, like most land throughout the country, is not reliable for such storage. At least 30 faults have been discovered by critics in terms of adequacy of location, while others feel that this location will successfully hold this waste for a minimum of 10,000 years. If this passes as permanent storage for such waste, plans for more nuclear power plants to suppose to ensue. 

Waste That We Produce

We produce mass amounts of various forms of waste with each passing year. On average, we produce around 3.6 tons of waste per person, per year. This waste comes in forms of agricultural waste, industrial waste, municipal solid waste, as well as others. While agricultural waste and industrial waste can often be reused, municipal solid waste is hard to reuse due to being composed of many different materials. While it accounts for a fairly small percentage of waste in the grand scheme of things, it still adds up to be a massive amount per year. accessed 4/14/12

The waste stream describes the flow of wastes compiled through households, sewage plants, commercial businesses, and all in between. It describes all waste produced. Unfortunately, there are many reusable waste products which get saturated too much with other non-reusable materials and essentially get lost and discarded with the rest of our waste. Better methods of recycling could be extremely beneficial to this cause.

Ways of Disposing Our Waste

Unfortunately, some of the most common ways of disposing waste are not the most environmentally friendly by any means. One of the worst disposing methods is open dumping. In extreme cases, open dumping consumes a large area of land, where it is simply exposed to air, wind, rain, as well as, various animals (e.g. rats, flies). This is common in less developed areas. Often, people even work on these massive heaps of trash in search of recyclable materials or even edible materials. While this is less common in the U.S., as well as other more developed areas, littering can account for major pollution problems. In simply throwing trash onto the ground, it has the potential to enter sewers, and then possibly reach the ocean. 

Ocean dumping has become a major problem throughout the world. Until fairly recently, many U.S. cities simply dumped various forms of waste into our oceans. This has an extremely terrible affect on much of the sea life and organisms which thrive around oceans. Plastic waste has even accumulated in the Pacific ocean to the size of Texas. 

Sanitary landfills serve as a better method for disposing waste than open dumping, however, they are still creating various hazards. They are designed to contain trash, keeping out of the wind, and striving to keep most animals out of it. Yet, they do create immense amounts of methane and because of this, serve as close to 12 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. 
Much of the global waste is exported to less developed countries to be dumped. Most notably, this happens with e-waste. E-waste describes the waste from various electronic equipment (televisions, game consoles, etc.), to which much of these components become out-dated in a matter of only a few years. Some of this e-waste can contain such hazardous and pollution causing materials as mercury, gallium, nickel, palladium, beryllium, etc. accessed 4/14/12

Another form of waste disposal is found in incineration, or energy recovery. These incinerators create energy through the burning of various wastes (enough to generate electricity for entire buildings). While these incinerators are much more progressive and effective in terms of reducing waste, they come at a hefty price (upwards of 300 million dollars) and also create various health hazards. Some of the ash created through burning trash with incinerators can have high levels of dioxins, furans, lead, etc.. Ways to reduce this hazard would be to make sure various wastes (e.g. batteries) are not included with burned waste. 

Lessening Waste

One of the best possible ways of reducing the constant flow in the waste stream is through recycling. Recycling saves money, energy, land space, and pollution (when compared to the previously mention waste disposal methods). We have come a long way in terms of recycling in the last few decades, and hopefully this will continue. However, people still fail to recycle, for no good reason. Aluminum is incredibly easy to recycle, yet very difficult to extract fresh and still thousands of tons of aluminum are thrown in with the trash annually. It has become so easy to recycle in our towns and cities, yet still people don’t. Luckily, increasingly more people are catching on every year. 

Composting, or breakdown of organic matter in aerobic conditions, is another progressive way of reducing our waste stream. This method, in turn, can also create nutrient rich compost for yards and gardens. 
Even better than recycling is simply reusing products. This cuts out the cost of having to breakdown the product into another usable product. There are various (sometimes innovative) ways we can use products or containers over again to limit our waste stream. A couple ways I do this include: reusing glass bottles for beer making, reusing plastic bottles for water, reusing plastic containers for food storage or other storage. There are countless ways everyone can implement this into their lives. 

Lastly, and most importantly, is the importance of reducing and its powerful effect on limiting waste. Ways in which companies can reduce are to use less of a material to create the same product. This, in turn, saves them money and energy, and also, allows for more the the resource to still be available. 

Toxic and Hazardous Wastes 

Hazardous and toxic waste are the most dangerous part of our waste stream. A hazardous waste is known as any discarded material, liquid, or solid, which contains materials that can be: fatal to humans or lab animals in low doses, toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic to humans or other life, ignitable with a flash point less than 60 degrees, and/or explosive or highly reactive. Most of this is correctly disposed of in factories or recycled into a non-hazardous form, however, the small amounts that enter the waste stream are extremely detrimental to our environment.

Luckily, two strict federal laws regulate hazardous waste management and disposal in our country. These two laws are known as the RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) and the CERCLA or Superfund Act. Various rules included with each law keep hazardous waste disposal regulated to a strict degree. 

There are ways of creating far less of these hazardous and toxic wastes that simple procedures can allow for. Recycling and reusing various wastes are important ways of limiting hazardous waste. Certain waste of one product may be of value in another industry. Such waste recycling management would greatly reduce our amount of annual hazardous waste produced. Another option is to convert hazardous substances into less hazardous ones. Ways of doing this can include physical treatments and chemical processing. accessed 4/14/12

Certain hazardous waste products simply can’t be recycled, reused, or made less hazardous. These particular waste products must be stored permanently and safely in either permanent retrievable storage or secure landfills. 

Chapter 9/Air: Climate and Pollution (9.1-9.3 only)

Table of Contents 
Economists Can Control Climate Change (textbook website case study)
Our Atmosphere
Changes in Climate Through Time
Is the Climate Changing Faster Now?

Economists Can Control Climate Change (textbook website case study)

New ways of implementing global warming reduction strategies have been brought forth by economists. One of the prominent sources of global warming is through C02 emissions into our atmosphere; this C02 retains heat more so than other chemicals, and when released on a mass scale, can serve as a leading cause of climate change. Economists have brought forth the idea of “carbon trading” in hopes of reducing carbon output per country. The strategy is to put a limit on the amount of carbon released. If a country goes over their limit, they will have to pay a fine. While if a country is under their limit they will receive “carbon credits.” These carbon credits can be sold to other countries with higher C02 emissions. These carbon credits will be sold on the open market just as any stock would be and the price will be agreed upon through the buyers and sellers. 

Our Atmosphere

Our earth’s atmosphere consists of various gas molecules which surround the earth. Among the earth’s atmosphere, there are four separate temperature zones. Temperatures, wind, as well as, precipitation on a daily basis is referred to as weather; while long-term temperatures and precipitation are referred to as our climate. The zone closest to the surface of earth is called the troposphere; here, air circulates in convection currents which constantly distribute heat and moisture around our world. It also contains about 75 percent of the total mass within our atmosphere. Above this zone is the stratosphere, which is much more dilute than the troposphere. It is also a very calm atmospheric zone which absorbs many UV rays; protecting us greatly from them. After the stratosphere comes the mesosphere and then the thermosphere at the end of our earth’s atmosphere. accessed 4/14/12

We gain vast energy through our atmosphere from the sun. While much of this energy is absorbed by our atmosphere, much it is absorbed by the earth itself. Certain surfaces reflect this energy and are referred to as having high albedo (these include fresh snow, dense clouds, sand, etc.). 

There are also various ways in which our earth finds ways of redistributing heat. One these ways is through water vapor; when water vapor is present in the air, it stores 580 energy calories per gram, this stored heat is referred to as latent heat. Globally, this water vapor accounts for major amounts of energy. Another form of heat redistribution is through ocean currents. Ocean currents greatly influence our earth’s climate conditions on land. 

Changes in Climate Through Time

Our earth’s climate in not as stable as we think it is. There have been various climate changes throughout the history of our planet. One of the ways in which we can measure this is through ice cores. Through drilling into ice sheets, we can measure various changes in climate, as well as, recognize periodic volcanic eruptions and isotopes of oxygen. A persistent warming of our climate has been predicted by many; many of which believe we will soon have a record warm climate in our earth’s history. Various things can change our earth’s climate, such as volcanic eruptions or oscillation. In particular, El Nino caused a major shift in climate. 

Is the Climate Changing Faster Now?

While studies of climate change have been taking place for some time now, we currently are coming to the understanding that our climate is warming at a fairly drastic rate. It has warmed exponentially from the 1950’s, and scientists believe that this will only continue to progressively occur. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), composed of scientists from all over the world, have come to the conclusion that this climate change is certainly due to human activity (studies show that they are 99% sure of this). It is believed that this quickly warming climate will result in extreme heat waves, rising sea levels (melting glaciers). accessed 4/14/12

Some of the direct evidence of global warming is extreme. Temperatures in some of our coldest countries have risen by as much as 7 degrees (F). Over the last 150 years, the warmest years have been in the last 20 years. Arctic sea ice has depleted greatly (it is only half as thick now compared to 30 years ago. Storms are becoming stronger and more damaging. Entire glacier mountains are melting completely. By the year 2100, this global warming could raise sea levels by upwards of 6 feet if action isn’t taken. 

While climate changes have happened in the past, they have never happened to the level that they are currently occurring. If we don’t make changes now, we will be forced to make changes in the future.