Energy in the World

Energy is something that makes things move and essentially live. When it comes to the food we eat, there is a lot more than what people think goes into the overall production, transportation, and eating of the food that is consumed. It goes from the field to the stomach and the process that goes into it is one that is extensive and can be complicated from all the transporting that it goes through. An example that was brought up from Chad Heeter’s article is eating oatmeal for breakfast. He talks about how he taking a moment to consider everything that goes into play when it comes to just his simple bowl of oatmeal.

But before I put spoon to cereal, what if I consider this bowl of oatmeal porridge (to which I’ve just added a little butter, milk and a shake of salt) from a different perspective. Say, a Saudi Arabian one.Then what you’d be likely to see — what’s really there, just hidden from our view (not to say our taste buds) — is about 4 ounces of crude oil. Throw in those luscious red raspberries and that cup of java (an additional 3 ounces of crude), and don’t forget those modest additions of butter, milk and salt (1 more ounce), and you’ve got a tiny bit of the Middle East right here in my kitchen.

With him writing this and people reading it, all I can think of is someone eating their morning breakfast and drinking their coffee reading this and actually taking that moment to reflect on where their food would be coming from. Its honestly hard to tell what people think when they are just waking up they probably just think it comes form China like everything else we have in America. But then go back to their daily routine of driving to work or taking public transportation to get there depending on where they live. The energy used to fuel these is probably not used by biofuels but who knows where different larger cities have gone as far as these types of advancements.

That leads into a different type of energy that everyone seems to know the most about. This type of energy is dealing with different types of fuels that are used in order for vehicles and other machines function and move. Most places utilize fuels like oil and gas because of the availability and price in which it comes at in gallons compared to other forms of fuel. The other form of fuel that David Tilman and Jason Hill wrote about in the Washington Post is regarding biofuels. A century ago our first transportation biofuels — the hay and oats fed to our horses — were replaced by gasoline. Today, ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soybeans have begun edging out gasoline and diesel. They brought this up because of all of the environmental benefits that follow them and the energy that is saved that comes from plants that ship the oil from Middle Eastern countries to different parts of the US. Compared to biofuels that can be created in the same area that it is going to be used later on. Whether converted into electricity, ethanol or synthetic gasoline, the high-diversity hay from infertile land produced as much or more new usable energy per acre as corn for ethanol on fertile land. And it could be harvested year after year.

Overall the amount of energy that goes into everything to make things move in tremendous. It is almost scary to think about what this world would be like if we did not have these forms of energy that is utilized then where would we be. So maybe take a moment the next time you take a bite out of your food and reflect on where that food is coming from and how it got there.


Read pp. 142-155 of Deep Economy chapter 4, “The Wealth of Communities”


Red Bulls gives you Wings

You know it’s finals season when the Red Bulls on campus are gone and everyone looks like they belong on the Walking Dead. But what you may not realize is that there are some very sustainable practices occurring and I’m not talking about how people are sustaining from sleep. Actually, Red Bull and its company practice different business and production techniques to help the planet out just a little bit. They do this with their cans, transportation of their products, and the overall process of how Red Bulls essentially become the popular drink that college students enjoy.

In my sustainable world class we were asked to write a sources and destinations paper on any topic that we wanted. Well being the normal college student that I am, I waited until the night before and was trying to figure out what to use and the first thing I saw was Red Bull so I rolled with it. Well I did some research and come to find out that this business actually does some amazing things to help the environment.

First they focus on travel. They make sure that they use as many trucks as they need to deliver orders. This cuts down a decent amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and helps keep their cost down. Also, they ensure that all orders are filled and not leaving a can go empty and one that isn’t delivered. The company ensures that all of the aluminum used to make these cans is all used and that nothing ends up going to waste. However, if they did have extras left over then they would throw those cans back into their can processing line to get remade instead of being in the trash.
Another great thing about this company is that the trucks are used very last minute when it comes to the distribution of the cans. Because of the light weight cans, they are shipped via train and ship. Two forms of transportation that are sustainable in a way of not producing as much CO2.
Overall, I feel a little better about using this project because of how sustainable this product is because then I could be able to drink this as much as I can and recycle this because I know that they are helping the environment so why should I not help out as well. Also, I feel that if more people were to know about what they do then I think that others would be encouraged to do the same.

New Look on the World

What an eye opener being a commuter student is this semester. After I lost housing a few weeks ago, I never realized how much my car sucked when it comes to gas and how it basically eats gas. I feel bad having to go back and forth because I know the affects that it has on the environment and the world. I just wish sometimes, I was in a different situation in regards to living and gas. After doing my ecological footprint analysis, I noticed that my transportation section was the highest compared to my other parts that I was being evaluated on.

With moving home and taking this analysis, it made me actually reevaluate why I decided to major in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and Communication. I want to make a difference in the world in any way, shape, or form so that they can make a difference in their own lives. I see the Shenandoah Valley and the beauty that comes with it everyday and it just makes me want to change. I actually found a way to make this change and that is volunteering with the Center for Climate Change Communication (4Cs). I will be able to spread the message about how everyone is contributing to climate change and the effects that it has on the environment. This will help in the future when it comes to conducting further surveys to get accurate results for any research projects that I do for the company that I work for. The best part is, I get to combine two of my favorite things: people and the environment. There are two things that have a huge impact on each other and how without one the other could possibly fall/die.

This reminds me of the video we watched last semester for how over time people and companies have basically used up all of our resources. Also how we have started to kill off animals that our children will probably never see. They also went into detail about how we can also make a change. To me, I feel that this movement can start with a simple share of the video on social media accounts just to spread the word and message that this video is trying convey to the public. With just one person sharing this information to everyone else, then that that number of friends will see it and hopefully that friend will share it. From there who knows what can happen from there.

Pollution in the Black Sea

Our Earth is 75% covered by water whether it is by freshwater lakes within a country and by saltwater areas the oceans and seas. The area that is the World’s largest anoxic body of water,a model sea to study alien marine species invasions, heavily eutrophied, very beautiful, full of life is the Black Sea (Black Sea). This sea located between southeastern Europe and the western edges of Asia and the country of Turkey.However, pollution is becoming a common cause as to why there are current issues within these water sources. One area in particular that is facing major pollution problems is the Black Sea Most of the pollution is coming from human activity, agriculture, and chemicals, all of these are contributing to the degrading of the Black Sea (Black Sea SCENE). When boats and other forms of transportation goes through the Black Sea, the oil that is in these boats spill out into the sea causing issues to it. Along with oil, sewage contamination is a rising issue that is contributing to the total pollution within the sea.

Currently the Black Sea, is to be known as a rather young sea with the biodiversity within it evolving in front of our eyes (Black Sea). This ecosystem of life within the Black Sea has a variety of life. These species range from microscopic phytoplankton to larger size of fish. However, there are some advantages with the current conditions of the Black Sea that could help the current condition of it. Marine life of the Black Sea certainly is less diverse than that of a coral reef, and the Black Sea itself is relatively small; however there are advantages to that. The Black Sea is more suitable for research, and in many ways Black Sea ecology is more comprehensible to scientists. The ecosystem of the Black Sea quickly responds to external influences, both to the natural ones, like environmental factors fluctuations, or anthropogenic effects, like fisheries, construction works in the coastal zone, and all kinds of marine pollution. (Black Sea). However, these pollutants have been contributing to the issues regarding the biodiversity of the Black Sea. The current pollution within the water has been causing a decline in the number of marine life and other life that lives within the water.Every year, about 350 cubic km of river water pours into the Black Sea, which has resulted in soaring pollution levels, threatening marine habitats and livelihoods (Press Releases:August 2014 – UNEP). This pollution begins to add up overtime and affect the biodiversity of the area. When this happens and it does not get cleaned at all, then there will be a possibility of total lose of living organisms.

When the Black Sea is affected by pollutants, turning the quality of the water to a lower standard. Along with the water quality depleting, so does the economies and the rate of tourism of the surrounding countries. Not only does the pollution cause environmental health issues, but there have been reports of human health issues as well. The destruction or pollution of habitats there can destroy or drive away dependent species thus influencing the entire food chain all the way up to humans. Insufficiently treated wastewaters may contain pathogens, as for example the microbiological contaminants causing hepatitis-A or meningitis. The poor quality of coastal waters has a negative influence not only on life in the sea but also on tourism and the whole coastal economy (Problems with coastal zone management). There is evidence of this decline by how there is the direct relationship between pollution and tourism.  “In terms of socio-human and tourism resources, the region is characterized by a high degree of heterogenity; this generates a special interest for tourists around the world.” (Impact of Tourism). The effects of pollution does not only affect the life in the water but it also affects life outside of the water as well. It affects the economy, tourism, and the health of civilians the surround it.

Impact of Tropical Deforestation on Global Climate Change

Today on planet Earth there is approximately 31% of the land surface which is covered by forest. This percentage comes out to about 4 billion hectares compared to the pre-industrial age which had 5.9 billion hectares. A hectare is equivalent to 2.47 acres of forest. This change in hectare comes from people using deforestation to make room for expansion and other uses that comes from trees. Deforestation is is clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. When deforestation is to occur, there are several different techniques that are in place to effectively complete the tasks at hand. The most common types of deforestation methods include: slash and burn agriculture, clear-cutting, selective logging, and perennial shade agriculture. Clear-cutting a forest is removing all the trees and vegetation, regardless of species, leaving the land completely bare. In selective logging, only certain trees are chosen to be cut down. Perennial shade agriculture, like selective logging, leaves large areas of forest intact, so the period of regrowth is also relatively short. To give an overall picture of where tropical forests are, they tend to be located within countries that fall on the equator on the map. 75% of the tropical forest can be found in Latin American countries, 33% are in Brazil, 25% in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, and 18% are found in West Africa. These regions and the countries within these have been most affected when it comes the destruction of habitats, the economic growth of some of the countries, and the overall effects of the global environment.

Everything happens for a reason including deforestation. Companies and countries are tearing down forest in order to: To make more land available for housing and urbanization, to harvest timber to create commercial items such as paper, furniture and homes, to create ingredients that are highly prized consumer items, such as the oil from palm trees, and to create room for cattle ranching. These are just the common reasons to deforestation however, there are other reasons that companies and countries will destroy the rainforest areas and those reasons vary depending on the situation.

With action comes consequences, when a tropical rainforest is destroyed animal and plant habitats are destroyed, there is an increase in greenhouse gases, and affects the water cycle.  The height of trees allow animals that are able to fly and climb protection and homes and it also helps to regulate temperature for animals that need a lower temperature to survive. As the number of trees falls, there is an increase in the percentage of greenhouse gases that are in the air. When this percentage rises, it contributes to the global climate change issues that are constantly changing on a daily basis.

When people hear climate change, they begin to associate it with global warming. However, these are two global issues are different topics that are associated with the climate.Global warming refers to the long-term warming of the planet. While climate change encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet. Deforestation has been proven to have a direct correlation on the effect of global climate change over time. Forests help regulate the amount of carbon dioxide that is found in the atmosphere by going through the photosynthesis process. However, when these forests are cut down or burned, only does carbon absorption cease, but also the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere as CO2 if the wood is burned or even if it is left to rot after the deforestation process.

The Environment in the Media

UnknownWhen it comes to commercials and advertisements today, they usually mention products such as cars, toys, or movies. Sometimes they mention politics when it pertains to current pending issues such as global politics, natural disasters, and what the newest policies are. But what about issues that are associated with the environment and associated with policies that could affect where you live? What about those eco-friendly commercials that use the environment as a tool to persuade buyers to purchase their products? Exactly, in recent news and political issues, there has been barely any discussions regarding these issues. This could be because no one cares about the place that they live in or because they are just too busy with other issues to appreciate what they have.

Being a double major in Communication (with a concentration in Public Relations) and Environmental and Sustainability Studies (with a concentration in Politics) and a minor in Conflict Analysis and Resolutions, I have grown to recognize and understand how companies are putting their messages out to the public. They utilize the surrounding areas to appeal to their viewers and consumers that see the environment and associate it with the product and automatically see that it helps the environment or does not effect the environment in any way shape or form. For example, automobile companies that as associated with being fuel efficient and helps the environment. They place this fancy, brand new car in a beautiful, empty, environmentally friendly area to enhance the “idea” of the eco-friendly product. However, in reality the car uses a lot of gas and uses gas that is Diesel or any other gas type.

Now for everyone’s favorite topic…. politics. Many people do not associate the outside and trees with politicians and the United Nations. When it comes to understanding what exactly needs to be regulated it can be complicated and simple at the same time. There are rules and regulations for about every environmental issue that has come up over the years. With the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency they are designed to create and enforce the laws and regulations that are set. But within the last few years, they have not been as present in the media explaining current issues that have been present. Plus with recent Presidential debates, I have not heard of them talk about what their views are on the current issues and what can be done to improve the current state of the environment.

All in all, the environment and the media is a tricky subject. Whether it is dealing with advertisements and commercials or politicians in the news it is hard to decide whether or not what is being said is helping or hurting the current state of the environment.