Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Week 14 Featured Journal Entries

This week's featured entries come from Zoe Doss, Louie Knolle, Robbie Ludlum, Sarah Martynowski, and Will Merck. Matt Despotes also had a top journal entry for the week.

Week 14 Journal Prompt

Sustainability is a global issue, but it also is a local issue. In what ways might you make your lifestyle more sustainable? List five achievable goals that you can implement in your everyday life. (If you need inspiration, check out http://www.worldwatch.org/resources/go_green_save_green and http://www.yousustain.com/knowledge/articles/Top_10_Easiest_Ways_To_Become_More_Sustainable_For_2008). Take a picture of yourself accomplishing each goal or accomplishing a task related to each goal. Post the photos on your blog with explanatory captions.


Zoe's Week 14 Journal

1. Think more before purchasing.



There are a whole host of things I wish for products to be before I buy them--organic, local, vegan, minimally packaged, and made by a company that strives for overall sustainable practices. It's a lot to manage when you're in out in the market! Because standing around reading labels for 10 minutes is not something I always want to spend time on, I'm trying now to research products beforehand to make shopping easier. The little icons (vegan, recyclable, forestry initiative certified, etc.) make it easier too. These are products I've bought recently with the things mentioned above in mind.

2. Reduce electricity use.





It's a big part of almost all of our energy use. This is a CFB I just replaced in my desk lamp (I know now that LEDs are actually the best choice...but quite expensive, so this is at least better than an incandescent). Other things I try to do are turn off power strips and lights and use less hot water. Every time I'm using power I try to think "you're burning coal right now!" and that image can help me remember the small things.

3. Generate less waste.




Zero waste is a dream of mine that I haven't been pursuing enough. So this goes back to purchases, buy things with less packaging. Reusable bags are a small thing that make a big difference. I have these three...but sometimes I make an unplanned stop by the grocery and end up with a thin plastic bag. I've now made a habit of always keeping a small one in my backpack/purse for such occasions.

4. Eat more sustainably.




This may not be the best example as it displays processed, packaged foods... But the point is that it's local (the cookies) and takes less energy to produce (almond milk instead of dairy) than the traditional alternative. And plus a picture of my produce is boring. I'm trying, albeit gradually, to eat no animal products, more local, and more organic foods.

5. Reduce fossil fuel use in transportation.




I drive too much. I should take the bus more, and here is my metro card ready to be used! Some people do seem to act like taking the bus uses a negligible amount of fossil fuels...but that's only if enough people are riding (often not the case, but I guess that's a reinforcer for more to ride rather than stop riding). But I already walk just about everywhere I can, going more places on the metro should be a good transportation footprint reducer.


Louie's Week 14 Journal

Goal 1: Actually use my Nalgene water bottle more frequently. I drink out of it a lot, but sometime I slip and find myself drinking from a disposable bottle of Kroger water. Professional photo, I know.



Goal 2: Substitute dish soap with Dr. Bronner's organic pure castile soap to cut down on the chemical products I use. I already use Dr. Bronner's for my everyday soap/shampoo. Why not cut dish soap too?




Goal 3: Continue to have my meals centered around vegetables every day, but try to buy more local, seasonally appropriate vegetables from farmers' markets.




Goal 4: Actually program the the programmable thermostat. My family has always had a programmable thermostat, but we could utilize it better by having it set at a cooler temperature when no one is home during the day to save energy.




Goal 5: Recycle more than I already do. My family is generally pretty good at recycling most recyclables, but sometimes things get carelessly thrown in the trash that can be recycled. Whether if it's because it needs to washed out some more, someone in my family doesn't know its recyclable, or it's just pure laziness, more can be recycled of what we use. We take all of our recyclables to the community recycling center.





Robbie's Week 14 Journal




This produce came from my local farmer, Mike. I belong to a 'Community Supported Agriculture' which is a way to eat local, organic food while supporting your local farmer. The average distance food in a grocery store travels is 1200 miles. That's a lot of fuel. My food traveled 61 miles. Less fuel and no fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides means a lot less petroleum goes into the food I eat.




Choosing to use my motorcycle as a primary means of transportation greatly reduces my carbon footprint. I get about 40-50 miles per gallon. It costs me $10 to fill up using 93 octane. And it means I'm a pretty cool dude too. So, as you can see I've got a lot going for me.



Here, we collect rainwater that overflows from the gutters. We use it to water our veggie garden, trees, and bushes. Also, it reduces the amount of water that enters the storm sewers during a rainstorm.



Gardening my own food also lowers my carbon footprint even more than belonging to a CSA. Seeds cost only a few dollars, and are fun to start and watch grow. This season we've also planted a myriad of perennial, fruit-producing bushes and trees: paw paws, peach, fig, chokeberry, serviceberry, plum, raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry. It also keeps me from purchasing from supermarkets.



Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of stuff you throw into the trash bin. So, not only are you reducing the size of Rumpke Dump but also are reusing old food by turning it into soil. It requires hardly any effort which is good because I am certainly a lazy man. I collect my food scraps in an old coffee container in the kitchen and when it's full I dump it into this bin. This is a new pile I've started as I just spread the compost all over the garden in preparation for the veggies I'm planting.



Yellow let it mellow. A toilet uses between 1.6 and 4 gallons of water every time you flush. Drinking water that is. Our mothers always told us to finish what was on our plates at dinner because "there are starving children in Africa." More Africans die of dehydration than a lack of food. There are two kinds of people in the world: those that piss in drinking water and those that don't. While the neighbors will probably call the cops if I start going on the front lawn, I can still mitigate my wasteful usage of drinking water by being mellow.


Sarah's Week 14 Journal

I am very excited to have this prompt this week, especially so close to Earth Day! Recently I went on a scavenger hunt with UC Sustainability and discovered multiple ways to green my life. From recycling to growing a garden to petitioning law makers, there is something for everyone. Together we can make a difference!

The first goal I had was recycling. My roommate and I have a recycling container at our apartment however I wanted to go beyond that. I searched online and found some great opportunities to recycle and give back to the local community.



1. New eyes for the needy: Often libraries take donations of old glasses. If you wear glasses this is an awesome way to get rid of your old glasses, declutter and help your local community.




2. Donate old magazines: Current issues as well as old issues were donated to the local library. This is a great way to recycle organize, and give back to the community.



3. Support our troops: donate your old coupons to military families! On the base and overseas commissionaires, military families can use expired coupons up to six months past the expiration date. I clip all my old coupons and send them to the Charity In Action (CIA) group at my home church. For a list of places where you can drop your old coupons off check these websites:

www.ocpnet.org
www.CouponsToTroops.com

Another option is to check with your local American Legion Auxiliary to see if they participate.




As you can see I became very passionate about recycling to help my local community. In addition to recycling I started saving all the glass jars from products purchased at the grocery store. A huge pile is building. I plan on using them as cookie jars for graduation gifts because I have 3 cousins and several friends graduating this year!


The third way I can create a more sustainable life is to pack my lunch and take water and Gatorade to school in reusable containers. My mother also made me a reusable shopping bag that I love taking with me into stores!




I am also looking to grow a garden at my apartment in Cincinnati. I grew up with a garden at my home in Cleveland with strawberries, grapes, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, onions, and apples. I miss it. Therefore, I have been researching different ways to grow an urban garden.


Finally, I would like to eat less processed food and meat products in general. After watching Food, Inc. and Forks over Knifes, my eyes have been opened but my mouth shut. I have been consuming lots of vegetables and fruits as well as pasta. It's difficult to consume a whole foods-plant based diet being a runner. However I find that when I consume more vegetables and fruits and lessen my intake of dairy and meat that my energy level increases, my attentiveness in class increases and much more. 



I also did more sustainable projects during Lent. Here is a link: http://40days-alentenjourney.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html 



Will's Week 14 Journal

Week 14 -- Woot!

My first picture is of me in front of my lovely west-facing windows. These windows allow me to not even turn my heat on during the winter, and even to open the windows to let some of the heat out. This last winter, no matter how cold it was outside, it was a balmy 70-74 in my apartment, and sometimes even warmer. In the warmer weather, I leave the windows open at night, then shut them in the morning and close the battened blinds to limit the solar gain during the day. This keeps my dog nice and cool while he's home waiting for us.

My second photo is of one of my dad's Christmas presents to me. It's a ultra-efficient LED bulb that supposedly lasts for an outrageously long time. We have the Duke bulbs around the apartment, but this is the light we use the most, so this is where we keep the super-duper high-tech bulb. The map in the background is of Boston in 1884, because it's pretty much the best city ever.

The third photo is of our newest experiment, diluting the dish soap that we use to clean items like pots and pans. We are lucky enough to have a dishwasher for everything else, but cutting boards and bigger stuff still require the old-fashioned method. My genius girlfriend Tara has started cutting our dish soap with around 30% water so it lasts longer and we waste less, because these premium Target brands are too rich for our blood. Those chocolates in the background are called Mozart Kugeln, and I will walk to Jungle Jim's to get them if I have to.

The next picture is of my water bottle that I can't leave home without. Literally won't do it. I have been late to EVST because I felt my pocket and didn't have my water bottle. I went to a sleep-away camp for 7 summers, and learned to carry a Nalgene like it was an extension of my being. I wouldn't have it any other way, and it reduces my bottled water consumption to next-to-nothing. I also try to use good refillable coffee cups every day, but none were available for a picture, seeing as they were all in need of a good washing. That's my dog, Fenway, who refused to acknowledge that he was being photographed.

My last picture is of my beloved Green B.E.A.N. delivery bin. They deliver the produce we need every other week, which reduces our trips to the grocery store by a large margin. They also send us local produce when available, and it's pretty much all organic. I wasn't a big believer in organic until I started cooking more often, and then I could really see and taste the difference. It also limits the number of plastic bags we have lying around our apartment, even though they come in handy as a dog owner. Resting on top of the bin is a Schlafly APA, a beer which I've never had before but am enjoying thoroughly. It's been a long week for my hometown, and since I can't buy those brilliant first responders at the Marathon a beer, I might just have one myself.

Thanks for a great semester, Dr. Arnold. I learned more than I ever thought I would.





Week 13 Featured Journal Entries

This week's featured entries come from Kelsey Bevis, Jon Schlacta, and Brian Snodgrass. Darren Grant also had a top journal entry for the week.

Week 13 Journal Prompt

Calculate your ecological footprint by taking this quiz: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/games-quizzes/ecological-footprint-calculator.html. Take a screen shot of your results and post it on your blog. Are you surprised by the results? Do you agree with them? What behavior changes, if any, will you make because of what you learned by taking the quiz? Explain how your ecological footprint connects to ideas about “greening the economic system” that we have discussed in class. Your narrative should 6–9 paragraphs.

Kelsey's Week 13 Journal

After taking this quiz, I was a little surprised by the results. I’ve taken one similar in the past and received slightly different results. Since the last time I calculated my ecological footprint, I haven’t changed many of my habits, however the ones that I have proved to have drastic impacts. In the past, I lived closer to my work and school as well as carpooled more frequently. While I am aware that driving too often is detrimental to the environment, I guess I never really added up those extra miles in my head as making as big of a difference as they actually do.

Re-evaluating my habits, the results that I got absolutely make sense. Aside from the extensive amount of driving I do, there are other habits that I could definitely work on. For example, I frequently eat meat during each week, which adds up to be very energy and resource intensive. Additionally, conserving electricity is something that I am often lax on. While I am very conscientious of my paper usage, that means I use my laptop more for note-taking, etc. and am therefore constantly charging it, which results in a lot of energy usage. I also consistently use a fan in my room, using even more.

Being aware of the habits I partake in that are energy and resource intensive is just the first step in bettering my impact on the environment. The first aspect I plan on focusing on is lessening my driving. Since I commute to both school and my work, this has always been a challenge for me. Whenever possible, I stay with one of my friends on campus overnight to cut down on driving at least one way, but that does not always happen. Beginning next year, I will live right off of campus, meaning that I will then only have to drive to and from work, which should cut down my driving significantly. 

My meat-eating habits are something that I have also been looking to work on. The main issue I face with my diet is constantly being busy and eating in a rush. When that is the case, I tend to either eat out or just heat up a frozen meal containing meat. I do often eat left-overs when they're there, however that isn't always the case. As for energy usage, I plan to stop spending so much time procrastinating on the internet while wasting my laptop battery, resulting in my having to charge it more and more frequently. Not leaving electronics plugged in or lights on when I leave a room is something I definitely am trying to be more aware of. 

In regards to what we have discussed in class in the sense of greening the economic system, I think providing more externalities by using more energy efficient methods would be a great start. In the quiz, many different public transportations were brought up and I believe implementing better programs for those is one way to give people a little bit more for their time and money. Expanding the use of externalities to various aspects of activities that could be greener than they currently are is another way of properly utilizing this method.

As for the way we give value to the environment as a society, it's seemingly more for show than it is actually helping the environment. Many different stores and companies utilize green-advertising to make buyers believe that a product is better for the environment while that may not actually be true. The main reason that advertisers do this is because, for the most part, if people think they're making a difference, they don't bother seeing if it's actually true or not. For them, buying this environmentally friendly looking product is enough, but that doesn't make it any better for the environment itself. These little things brought up in the ecological footprint quiz are the same types of things that we can work with when attempting to green the economic system and I think that's a great way to begin an environmental change.



Jon's Week 13 Journal



Well, we took this quiz in our Sustainable Development Class and I seemed to have gotten the same results. About 4.5 Earths. However, I argue that every American will at least need 4 Earths. We are just, just, used to living large. The results are on par to what I thought they would be: Energy Resources as well as Services (Cars, Planes ect…). I do use a lot of energy, but so do you, and so does Little Tommy Walker. We, as humans, tend do that. We are in a building for roughly, what 20 hours a day? While in that building we have lights, TV, radio, microwave, AC/Heat, water pumps, and so much more. All of that is using energy, and we are benefiting from it!

Not too sure I’m going to change because of this. I don’t think I live nessicary ‘outside’ of the norm, but I do think I consume a lot. However, my aurgument, is that all that I do, I need to do.
Car Driving: 1-50 Miles a Week: I drive to and from school every day, as well as to work. To and From school is about 25-30 minutes, and to work is about 15 minutes. If I gave up my driving, well how would I get to school? Public Transportation?! Please, our country hasn’t invested enough in mass-public transit for that to be reliable and timely.

Electricity: Here, I ‘spose I could try something different, but in all actuality I have, Lights, cell phone, computer, refrigerator, oven, microwave ect.. Sure, I could give up—well—let’s not lie to ourselves, I couldn’t give up any of that (haha) I mean, could I go without a cell phone? I guess, people do it, but it’d be a major inconvenience. Plus I’d have to get Home-Phone, which would be more expensive than just my 60 bucks a month for my cell phone plan. 

The others seem to be much more ‘basic need’ in nature. Without a fridge how am I to keep my food cool? Without the oven how can I cook? Open flame? Nah, that sounds like a little too much work for my dinner. Thus, I don’t think I can really ‘change’ perhaps limit what I do, or even lower consumptions, but I think even that would be difficult.

We can all agree that Americans, on average, consume the most. We are just used to it. Most Americans who move overseas are shocked by the small living spaces, lack of driving, and general simple way of life. We were conditioned for it. I, personally, believe that it follows the American Dream: House with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a dog. Now it’s more so: Mansion, with an Iphone, 2.5 kids with Iphones, a Hummer, ect… it’s all about status. Making a statement if you will. Even going back to that [very very very] liberal video we watched in Sustainable Development: Go forth and buy! BUY ALL THE THINGS! Consume everything cause it’s all made for you.

The general attitude towards the environment seems to be one of convenience. “When it suits me to be ‘green’ then I shall, but if I have to go out of my way to do so…well…eh.”—Everyone in America. So the question becomes: Can we change THEIR attitude? Nope. I’m going to be pessimistic and realistic in this. As I stated earlier Americans are just generally consumption happy. Thus, if we truly wanted Americans to use less, and consume less, then we would have to complete change our society ideas and wants. I truly think we are conditioned to consume. We must break that conditioning, which I think is just a little out of touch with reality.

Perhaps we could change, slowly. Very slowly. Very, Very, Very slowly. It would take a while, and I believe that even if that change does happen, it will only be negligible. Perhaps we should look at the economy as one of the ways to change the entire system. In our Sustainable Development class we spoke about our economy and how it plays it’s part in sustainable development. Mostly about device failure, and the need to keep buying. I think if we want to change our habits, our Economy must change first. I offer these three ways to fix this problem:

1) Invest in Green Technologies
2) Use high-grade materials that will make products last longer
3) Keep the ‘tech’ curve just slightly ahead so device outdating is slower

First, Invest in Green Technologies. In my Discussion group I discussed the fact that no matter what, it seems, the people are just not all that into Green Technologies. I think it’s because it’s so new. We aren’t exactly sure what the investment will bring or what exactly we will get out of this. It’s also expensive; any new technology is really, but it seems that green-energy/tech is the most expensive. Not too long ago I remember the energy efficient light bulbs were quite expensive, but as more and more were produced and demand went up the prices fell. I believe that is one thing we will have to do with the other green technologies. We will need to work and wait for the demand to go up, to bring the prices down.

Second, Using high-grade materials that will make products last longer. Now, the aurgument here is that either the company is using cheaper materials so that the consumer will A) have to buy more of them, more frequently or B) to save on money. I think the latter is truer than the former. However, in today’s world we really can’t rule anything out can we? I think companies just want to use products that are cheaper, thereby, their profit margins are extended. It may just be an added plus that they tend to break six to eight months down the line and the consumer must buy more.

Third, keeping the ‘tech’ curve just slightly ahead so device outdating is slower. We all know device outdating is the new thing in technologies. Case and point: Apple. Once you buy the Apple Iphone 4 they already announced the Iphone5. Then, people with perfectly good, working, wonderful Iphone 2-4s had to run out and buy the Iphone5. All the waste from those phones has to go somewhere and thus the cycle does not end. I believe that companies should always be researching and developing, it’s what the company is there for. However, I think companies should keep the curve only slightly ahead, this way device outdating would be slower. Perhaps give the device a two to three year life instead of a six month to a year.

I believe that if companies would take these three simple steps into their business practices I think we could very well Green our Economy. And once we green up our economy, I believe that people may be able to change their practices and perhaps even slowly turn the tide of how many “Earths” each of us need to live on.


Brian's Week 13 Journal

My Carbon Footprint
I was very surprised by my result. I’m usually fairly good when it comes to not eating processed food, driving an excessive amount, and running up the electricity bill. In my opinion the most mind boggling stat was that if everyone were to live like me, we’d need 4.5 planets to provide enough resources - 4.5!

I agree with the results. It seems a bit unfathomable that if everyone lived like me, we would need four and a half planets to provide enough resources, but when you think about it roughly half of the worlds population doesn’t have electricity and don’t live a normal American lifestyle. When things are put into perspective it can really change one's mindset.
According to the pie chart my highest category is services at 44%. Second is food at 22%, third is goods at 13%, and lastly are shelter and mobility at 11%. I found it interesting that the food was the second leading contributor to my carbon footprint. In the future I will be sure to take into account the services that contribute to the carbon footprint. 

I also found it interesting that to support my lifestyle, it takes 20.2 global acres of the Earth’s productive area. This equates to 21.7 tons of carbon dioxide. The leader for acreage is the land needed for energy. A global acre is the unit we use to measure the productivity of an average acre of land. More specifically, it represents an aggregate, world-average productivity for all biologically productive land and water in a given year (Global Footprint Calculator Network).


Pie chart numerical values (top right): Services 44%, Food 22%, Shelter 11%, Mobility 11%, Goods 13% 


Greening the Economic System
The two potential solutions (both being complicated) to “greening the economic system” are to change the makeup of the system or find creative ways to adjust existing incentives and constraints towards encouraging environmental protection. From my carbon footprint, I found that the two largest sectors were services (44%) and food (22%). Food and services go hand in hand because growing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking, and disposing of the food that you eat produce greenhouse gas emissions everyday. 66% of my carbon footprint are related to services and food, so what are some creative ways to green the economic system?

Kroger (grocery stores) could receive incentives from the city if they only use paper/mesh bag when bagging groceries. Grocery stores getting incentives to use paper/mesh vs. plastic would be better because the process of making plastic bags comes from a non-renewable resource. Local farmer markets receive a monthly income from state governments to promote organic foods. Organic farming methods for both animals and crops have a lower impact on the environment than normal methods. Not only is organic food better for the environment, but healthy too! Lastly, recycling and reusing items around the household is beneficial. Glass jars and plastic containers make great storage options. All three of these ideas would help to reduce the overall carbon footprint.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week 12 Featured Journal Entries

This week's featured entries come from Kevin Rigsbee and Nick Wilkerson. (Ian Scheffler's journal entry also earned an extra credit point for excellence.)

Week 12 Journal Prompt

In class, we talked/are talking about connections between national security and the environment. What are some ways that the federal government or state governments are addressing environmental security threats? Identify and describe at least two government initiatives, noting their missions, accomplishments, and future plans. Cite your sources. Your narrative should be 4–10 paragraphs.


Kevin's Week 12 Journal 

As has been mentioned in previous journal entries, climate change is one of the greatest problems facing the world today because it affects the entire world collectively. However, different nations are affected in different ways by the problem. Faced with the issues of changing weather patterns and shifting water sources, many national governments have decided to classify climate change as a national security threat. This has led to the rise of environmental security initiatives, which are designed to address the problem of climate change from a national security perspective. In this journal, I will profile two such initiatives undertaken by the US government. 

The first environmental security initiative I will be profiling is the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force (ICCATF) founded in 2009. ICCATF is devoted “to expanding and strengthening the Nation’s capacity to better understand, prepare for, and respond to extreme events and other climate change impacts” (“Climate…”). To that end, ICCATF has worked with other government agencies in such activities as: “building resilience in local communities, safeguarding critical natural resources such as freshwater, and providing accessible climate information and tools to help decision-makers manage climate risks” (“Climate…”). The agency is currently planning to encourage other federal agencies to implement climate change adaptation into their own plans. 


The second initiative is the Environmental Protection Agency’s task force for dealing with the outbreaks of pandemics. This task force’s mission is to prepare for and respond to pandemic influenza. The EPA’s most recent activity in this area was during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, in which they worked to sustain government services and to determine the extent and severity of outbreaks. In the event of future outbreaks of pandemic influenza, this task force’s duties will include “management and communication with Agency employees, contractors, assistance recipients, and other stakeholders; implementation of EPA’s continuity of operations plans; support for the federal response to a pandemic outbreak; response to hazardous material releases that endanger human health and the environment; and performance of the Agency’s national security functions” (EPA). 

In the process of dealing with climate change, the federal government has created many agencies and task forces, of which the above are only two. Countless more have been founded at state and local levels. By working together and with other government agencies, these groups hope to aid America’s adaptation to a changing world, and to protect the environmental security of the United States for the foreseeable future. In the event of catastrophic climate change, groups like these will be the best hope the country has. 

Works Cited
1. “Climate Change Adaptation Task Force,” accessed April 5, 2013,http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/sustainability.

2. “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Pandemic Flu,” accessed April 5, 2013, http://www.epa.gov/pandemicflu/


Nick's Week 12 Journal 

State Level: Florida Water Conservation Month
As the climate is changing, our planet is facing a major increase in regard to environmental security threats. One of the most well-known threats is in regard to environmental security is that of water scarcity. Around the globe we are witnessing water shortages, from countries such as Africa to even parts of the United States. Water is arguably one of the most important resources as almost every living organism requires it to survive.The state of Florida recognizes this scarcity threat and has launched a water conservation effort. The month of April is now recognized by the Florida Department of Environmental Security as Water Conservation Month (jcfloridan). This month has been dedicated to emphasizing water conservation with the goal of prompting action for utilizing the state’s water resources in an efficient manner. The plan also calls for the education of tourists, residents, etc; regarding actions that they can take in order to help protect Florida’s water supply at home.

Over the past year, the Florida Department of Environmental Security has launched a series of actions aimed at improving the state’s consumptive water use permitting programs amongst its five water management districts. This effort has included various actions such as incentivizing local level water usage, the revision of state rules to expand the usage of reclaimed water (jcfloridan). Even before the newly revised rules were put into place, the districts were continuing to fund water conservation efforts across the state.


Accomplishments (Florida)
Data regarding the states ongoing water conservation initiatives etc; show that the state’s efforts are working. Not only does Florida remain as one of the, if not the most, water efficient states in the country, it has reclaimed and utilized over 722 million gallons of water daily to replenish rivers, streams, and other various waterways (jcfloridan).

Ongoing Water Shortages: Future Plans (Florida)
Although Florida has taken significant steps and shown results in conserving its water supply, most areas of the state are still suffering from water shortages. In order to address this, the state plans to continue and strengthen its water conservation efforts for the foreseeable future. The state has also released a list of various conservation activities, etc; that every day citizen can partake in to help lower their water bills and help further assist water conservation efforts. Examples: only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full, install high efficiency shower heads, check your homes irrigation system for leaks, etc. (jcfloridan). 

Illegal Dumping in Montgomery County, Ohio
The Montgomery County Environmental Crimes Task force is a state level effort that to date has investigated and identified over 30 separate environmental crimes. These have included illegal waste dumping, public nuisance sites, unlawful transportation of scrap tires, etc. All of these illegal activities are not only a threat to our environmental security as they can damage the environment, thus spilling over into important resources such as agriculture, water, etc; they are also a major threat to public health. The overall mission of this task force is to further investigation into illegal dumping activities that pose threats to the state’s environmental security and public health (PRWEB).

Accomplishments (Ohio)

As mentioned before, the task force has contributed to more than 30 illegal dumping busts. Not only has the task force made significant strides in combatting these crimes, it has also contributed to citizen participation. A young teenager earlier this year reported an illegal dumping site consisting over more than 100 scrap tires, which is a felony in the city of Dayton, Ohio. Along with encouraging action amongst Ohio citizens, the task force has also launched efforts to educate local dealerships, tire shops, etc; in regard to their legal responsibilities. The education efforts have since then spread to citizens, aiming to inform them on how these illegal activities can affect the environmental security of their local communities (PRWEB).

Future Plans (Ohio)
Unfortunately, activities such as illegal dumping are ongoing. There will most likely always be somebody somewhere, committing one of the various crimes discussed. In order to combat this issue, the task force will continue to further enforce current laws, promote their agenda, and further seek citizen participation to help combat these illegal activities. 

Bibliography
"Regional Environmental Crimes Task Force Targets Illegal Dumping in Montgomery County, Ohio."Regional Environmental Crimes Task Force Targets Illegal Dumping in Montgomery County, Ohio. N.p., 30 Mar. 2013. Web. 02 Apr. 2013.

"Water Conservation Month Shows Floridians Importance of Year-round Saving." Jackson County Floridan. N.p., 04 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2013.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Week 11 Featured Journal Entries

This week's featured entries come from Norweice Anderson, Cheyenne Hassan, and Jeff Uckotter.

Week 11 Journal Prompt

While there has been near-gridlock at the U.S. federal level concerning addressing climate changes, some states and cities have been developing their own climate change adaptation and/or mitigation plans. Investigate whether Cincinnati, your hometown, or the state of Ohio appears to be strategizing ways to address climate change. (Probably you will find that at least one of these entities is taking some kind of climate change action. If not, look for climate change policies and plans adopted by nearby cities or states.) Describe the efforts one of these cities/states is pursuing to address climate change, citing sources as necessary. Do you think that these efforts are sufficient? If yes, explain why. If not, explain other steps you think the city/state should be taking. Highlight web links where a reader could find more information about the climate change efforts you are describing. Your narrative should be 6–9 paragraphs.


Norweice's Week 11 Journal Entry

There has been near -gridlock at the U.S federal level, concerning addressing climate changes.Some states and cities however, have been developing there own climate change adaption and/or mitigation plans. The state of Maryland has been strategizing and taking action to address climate changes.

In 2007 through 2008 a series of meetings were held in effort to address climate changes. These meetings over viewed things such as carbon mitigation, and proposals of policies involving agriculture, energy supply, and transportation and land use. Strategies to reduce the vulnerability of the states coastal, natural, and cultural resources and communities impacts on climate change where being suggested by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Maryland's Department of Planning MDP. In addition steps where taken further, as the group works to develop comprehensive strategies for reducing Maryland's vulnerability to climate change.

On April 20, 2007 an Executive Order was signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley to establish Maryland's climate change commission. The plans policy suggests adopting science-based regulatory goals. All this is an effort to submit to the Governor and the General Assembly during the 2012 legislative session.

Many actions have already been taken by Maryland starting back in 2007 the beginning of its climate change policy plans. Building resilience to climate change DNR's policy have been established to manage the land and resources with better understanding, to mitigate and adapt to climate change. On the state level, the comprehensive strategy for reducing Maryland's vulnerability to climate change is being coordinated and implemented by DNR, which is a key part of Maryland's climate action plan.

I believe these efforts Maryland have planned are sufficient. The steps that Maryland are taking recognize the risk to the citizens, ecosystems, and infrastructure. They have implemented a greenhouse gas reduction act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020.

With these efforts and policy plans Maryland is showing that it's future climate change situations are top priority. Maryland continues to implement the plans that they have set in place to continue action towards better climate change medication.I truly believe all of its efforts are sufficient.

Works Cited
http://www.mdclimatechange.us/twg.cfm, Maryland Climate Change Initiatives ,Copyright 2013 Maryland Climate Change Advisory Group, All Rights Reserved.

http://www.dnr.state.md.us/climatechange/, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Gene Deems DNR Internet and Information Technology Manager


Cheyenne's Week 11 Journal Entry


Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, more specifically Escanaba, MI, I was surrounded by organic farms, small family-owned shops, and national parks such as Pictured Rocks. The feeling in the Upper Peninsula is to respect the land you live on, and to produce as little waste as possible. Most people back home recycled and locally grew most in-season vegetables or fruits. For this blog entry, I plan on discussing multiple large-scale efforts to reduce emissions and become more "green" in both Marquette, MI and surrounding areas.

One of the first efforts I found was the introduction of LEED Certified buildings within campuses found in the Upper Peninsula both Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI and Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI have both made efforts with the LEED Certified program to convert a majority of the buildings on campus to become more energy efficient as well as lower emission rates within the universities. (McVicar 2012) University of Cincinnati also participates in this program and the results have been outstanding, by drastically cutting down both energy use and emissions.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is an organization that deals with climate change impacts and solutions that can be done, or have been done, to help lower the damage of increased greenhouse gases. A campaign has been started with help from this organization called the International Cities for Climate Change Protection Campaign which has been tackling energy efficiency, small-scale use of renewable energy, reducing waste, etc. across cities in the Great Lake region. This includes cities such as Marquette, Houghton, and Escanaba. Also, reduction of carbon dioxide in terms of forestry and agriculture have been hot topics when talking about the Upper Peninsula since the agriculture industry is such a huge part of the lifestyle and economy. Protecting forests from logging, increasing/maintaining urban tree cover, and also teaching good agricultural and land-use practices have all been done in the Upper Peninsula. (Union of Concerned Scientists 2009)

With the Great Lakes becoming more polluted than ever it has become a collaborative effort between Great Lake regions, including the Upper Peninsula, and Canada to keep them as clean as possible. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was signed first in 1972, and it's most recent changes were done in 1987. The US and Canada have decided to resign the agreement in hopes to update the information to better help protect the Great Lakes. (Stark, Water Quality) With Marquette and Escanaba, MI (including most large towns found in the U.P.) being right on the lakes this has become quite an important factor in the day to day lives of Michigan citizens.

One of the biggest environmental efforts is easily done by the community, which I touched on earlier in this post. From both high school students, to graduate students, to normal adults living with the U.P. Michigan community, almost everyone cares about the environment. One effort I found by searching the Mining Journal, was a story about Negaunee High School in Marquette, MI, and the efforts of the student body to start a large scale sneaker recycle program. For three years students and teachers have been collecting shoes from the student body in efforts to not only distribute them internationally to developing countries, but also to stop from these worn-out shoes to be sitting in a dump somewhere in Michigan. (Stark, Old Sneakers)

Marquette has been chosen in multiple situations to talk about climate change because it is so susceptible to the effects. There was a recent congregation of people from the Citizens of Forum at Lakeview Arena to discuss climate change in not only Michigan, but within the U.S. Individuals from all over the Upper Peninsula discussed how climate change effects their own lives, Marquette, and the rest of the U.P. Michigan. The public was allowed to make suggestions in ways to reduce waste, what they would like to see happen in the Upper Peninsula in terms of stopping climate change effects, and also the new science that has come out about climate change. This allows for a high amount of public awareness, and also for citizens to feel a part of what is happening in their local government in terms of climate change. (Smerika 2013)

Personally, I think that the Upper Peninsula Michigan is a rare place in terms of environmental protection and how much the citizens themselves care about what happens to the surrounding ecosystems. Marquette, MI as well as surrounding cities and colleges have made efforts in both infrastructure and the implementation of recycling programs in high schools and around the towns. Also, the U.P. Michigan plays a large role in keeping the Great Lakes clean by having the ability to sign petitions including the one previously talked about with Canada. U.P. Michigan not only has a local government that takes action in terms of having more energy efficient buildings and the large reduction of waste, but also listens to the citizens when dealing with issues. Public awareness of climate change is high in the U.P. Michigan, and I feel that is why this region is so successful in keeping a green economy.

Works Cited
"LEED Green Building Certification." Northern Michigan University. Web. <http://climate.msue.msu.edu/news/public_voices_concern_about_climate_change>.

McVicar, Brian. " 9 comments Achieving LEED Gold certification at Grand Rapids’ Old Federal Building a victory for Kendall College." Michigan Live. 05 DEC 2012: Web. <http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2012/12/achieving_leed_certification_a.html>.

"Confront the Challenge." Climate Change in Michigan. Union of Concerned Scientists, 2009. Web. 25 Mar 2013. <http://www.ucsusa.org/greatlakes/glregionmic.html>. 

Stark, Jackie. "US, Canada to Sign Water Quality Pact." Mining Journal. 07 SEPT 2012: n. page. Web. 25 Mar. 2013. <http://www.miningjournal.net/page/content.detail/id/579498/US--Canada-to-sign-water-quality-pact.html>.

Stark, Jackie. "Old Sneakers Find New Life in Recycle Program." Mining Journal. 24 FEB 2012: n. page. Web. 25 Mar. 2013. <http://www.miningjournal.net/page/content.detail/id/572868/Old-sneakers-find-new-life-in-recycle-program.html>.

Smerika, Molly. "Public Voices Concern About Climate Change." Michigan State University. 15 FEB 2013: n. page. Web. 25 Mar. 2013. <http://climate.msue.msu.edu/news/public_voices_concern_about_climate_change

Jeff's Week 11 Journal Entry


While there has been near-gridlock at the U.S. federal level concerning addressing climate changes, some states and cities have been developing their own climate change adaptation and/or mitigation plans. Cincinnati, Ohio is no different, and in June of 2008, Cincinnati devised its own climate change adaptation plan known as The Green Cincinnati Plan. The plan is dedicated to comprehensively greening the city and therefore is geared towards climate change considerations. The plan was last updated in early 2013. According to the City of Cincinnati, such topics covered in the plan are as follows: food, waste, land, energy, renewable energy, and transportation (OEQ, 2013). While all of the topics covered are important, for length considerations, only two topics will be covered in briefly: transportation and land management. Since I am in the planning school, these topics interest me most.

Transportation is an important issue that affects the city because transportation is the city’s veins. Without proper transportation, the city is nothing. People and social capital, who fill up the city buildings make the city – not the physical buildings. The right kind of transportation is key. The right kind of transportation includes the use of less fossil fuels. According to the City of Cincinnati, the rationale for including transportation in this green plan is greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,

Transportation is the second largest greenhouse gas sector behind the emissions from the building sector. The 2009 City of Cincinnati’s greenhouse gas inventory calculated the emissions from the community’s transportation sector to be 1.8 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents. The largest impact on this figure is from the increased fuel economy standards for cars and trucks. Reducing the number of commuters who travel alone by vehicle from the current rate of 71 percent to 51 percent by adopting the best practices of our peer cities in carpooling, transit, walking, biking and telecommuting can reduce overall transportation emissions by 2 percent. An additional 2 percent reduction in emissions can be achieved by switching 10 percent of the relatively short distance personal errands and school trips to walking and biking (Cincinnati transit 2013, 2).

This paper will not go into the old Cincinnati Subway project of the 1920’s for if the project ever came to fruition, the Cincinnati Metropolitan area would have looked and acted completely different. (Ask me about it if you were unaware we have an unfinished subway). Nor will I go into the current streetcar proposal for the CBD which in fact would aid in greening the city. But, both would have been beneficial in curbing GHGs.

Throughout the transportation section, the city makes many recommendations. One of the main cogs of the recommendations in the transportation section of The Green Cincinnati Plan is to make the recommendation to reduce vehicle miles traveled. Other recommendations that the city makes is to make trips by biking or walking, shifting away from the method of the single occupancy vehicle, and using a diverse set of transportation techniques from walking to using the proposed streetcar that has not been built yet. According to the City of Cincinnati, efficiency of energy is very important “Becoming more efficient in our trips – more people per car, more efficient driving by combining trips, up-to-date maintenance of vehicles, investing in higher mileage vehicles to electric vehicles – is also important to making transportation in our city more effective (Cincinnati transit 2013, 1).” The recommendations then basically go into why it is important to be green. According to the City of Cincinnati,

Increasing the number of residents riding bicycles or using public transit and
promoting the use of fuel efficient or alternative fuel vehicles, will help decrease the
amount of traffic on our city’s roadways. This means less congestion when traveling and an increase in the lifespan of roads, decreasing the amount spent on construction maintenance. Greenhouse gas emissions are also significantly reduced as people use alternative modes of transportation and reduce reliance on SOVs. This will help improve air quality in the region, reduce smog and reduce health issues related to poor air quality (Cincinnati transit 2013, 2).

I chose to use an extended quote because this seems to be the hallmark of this theme of transportation in the hopes to mitigate EPA criteria pollutants and GHGs. Honestly, the city hit the nail on the head in the quote above by suggesting to use a more diverse array of alternative modes of transportation and less use of vehicles that GHGs. Of course, this is possible because some areas in the city limits are very much walkable or bikable or segwayable, or well you get the picture. The name of the game with a walkable city is density. Of course, the entire city does not boast good density. Some of the city is sprawled out. Concurrently, the Cincinnati Metropolitan area is VERY sprawled out which not help in the greenhouse gas department. So for example, if the Cincinnati metro area was less sprawled out, maybe due to the subway that never happened, maybe we would be having a little bit less of this talk. In the end, the perfect walkable community’s key trait is density. But because the subway never got finished and the automobile came about, highways became the norm of transportation, which prompts the release of GHGs. This was a bit that the city released on this very issue that I found enlightening,

Most of the City of Cincinnati was built on a framework of transit. Dense mixed use centers surrounded by single family neighborhoods are the bones of our City. The dense development downtown would not be possible without a transit system that can help minimize the need for oceans of parking lots and expensive parking structures. Areas such as Uptown, struggle with congestion and parking issues that limit the ability of institutions like Children’s Hospital and University of Cincinnati to expand. A more robust transit system could help these areas flourish (Cincinnati transit 2013, 4).

This idea of density due to transportation is a perfect Segway in the coming paragraphs when I look into the city’s wonderful suggestions regarding land management. Sprawl is bad and density is good. 

Another topic described in this Green Cincinnati Plan was that of land management. Before writing up this topic, I thought they would go with land management in the form of urban planning, but instead the city went more of a natural route with the idea of land management. The topic discussed here was essentially sustainable land use involving carbon sinks and urban forestry. While the idea of effective transportation is important, this notion is also important since trees and vegetation can act to mop or soak up some of the GHGs produced by transportation.

So, obviously having lots of trees is beneficial in the urban setting. Tree’s employ other benefits besides carbon sequestration. According to the City of Cincinnati, in their land use document, “Trees and native plantings have many positive sustainability impacts. Trees and native plantings can reduce runoff flows into combined sewers, improve water quality and slow down the rate at which stormwater enters creeks. Deciduous trees serve many environmental purposes: shade during the hot summer months, provide falling leaves that can be transformed into compost for the following year’s plantings, and allow the sun to shine through their branches in the winter. Other benefits of trees and native plantings include providing habitat for wildlife, increasing property values, reducing the urban heat island effect, and adding to the beauty of the city through flowering plants and autumn leaf color. (Cincinnati land 2013, 1-2).” In turn these are very important ideas because “greening” a city is generally not just done for aesthetic reasons; there is a method behind the madness. 

While the preceding paragraphs were just a taste of the material presented in the Green Cincinnati Plan, a boatload of other information is available to inform the public of Cincinnati’s agenda to curb GHGs and make Cincinnati greener. It is rather interesting. Listed at this link: http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/oeq/citywide-efforts/climate-protection-green-cincinnati-plan/ is the gateway to all of the pertinent information. The city is undoubtedly addressing the issue of climate change and the efforts seem sufficient. But, it needs to be noted that because of deep budget problems in the City of Cincinnati, some of these environmental initiatives may be tempered.

None the less, despite the massive budget problems that the city is facing, the city has been recognized in its efforts to slow global warming. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, 

CINCINNATI— Cincinnati, Ohio, today joined more than a dozen other U.S. cities in supporting the Environmental Protection Agency and President Barack Obama using the Clean Air Act to clean our air, reduce greenhouse gas pollution and slow global warming. The Cincinnati City Council, in passing a resolution today, is the latest city to join the Center for Biological Diversity’s national Clean Air Cities campaign. “We are making great strides toward a ‘greener’ city with our Green Cincinnati Plan. To continue to work tirelessly for improved air quality, we must also send a strong message of full support for the Clean Air Act to the EPA,” said Cincinnati Council Member Laurie Quinlivan, who spearheaded the resolution (CBD, 2012).

For the entire press release which is rather enlightening can be found here:http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/clean-air-cities-03-07-2012.html.

In the end, Cincinnati has been making positive progressive efforts with regards to fostering a greener community to mitigate GHGs. Although, it has to be stated that some of these programs listed in the Green Cincinnati Plan may be tempered due to budget shortfalls. Just yesterday, the City of Cincinnati announced new layoffs coming for 2013. While this plan seems very doable, the budget concerns are rather looming. As an individual who is very plugged into the City of Cincinnati, I can’t help but wonder how this plan will be carried out in light of budget problems. None the less, Cincinnati is one of these laboratories for environmental policy change. If the federal government cannot do it, maybe local municipalities or the State of Ohio can. The City of Cincinnati is headed in the right direction.

Works Cited
Office of Environmental Quality. "Green Cincinnati Plan - Office of Environmental Quality." Green Cincinnati Plan - Office of Environmental Quality. City of Cincinnati, 2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2013. http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/oeq/citywide-efforts/climate-protection-green-cincinnati-plan/.

Center for Biological Diversity. "Cincinnati Joins Growing List of Cities Supporting Use of Clean Air Act to Slow Global Warming." Cincinnati Joins Growing List of Cities Supporting Use of Clean Air Act to Slow Global Warming. N.p., 7 Mar. 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2013. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/clean-air-cities-03-07-2012.html.

The City of Cincinnati. "Land Management Document." N.p., 2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2013. http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/oeq/linkservid/BE9A2983-D2C4-1905-E5EFC5DE831BC800/showMeta/0/.

The City of Cincinnati. "Transportation Document." N.p., 2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2013. <http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/oeq/linkservid/510147A5-BE31-CBC7-5F3761EDA4979935/showMeta/0/>.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Week 10 Featured Journal Entries

This week's featured entries come from Louie Knolle, Robbie Ludlum, Kendall Jent, and Will Merck.

Week 10 Journal Prompt

Many of our everyday choices and behaviors affect the livelihoods of people in the developing world, though we may not realize the connection. Consider whether you engage in any of the following behaviors/practices, then watch the video to understand how this activity is tied to development:

  • Coffee drinking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwYl69VstPw
  • Buying jewelry with diamonds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eThlmx7w9r0
  • Buying gold jewelry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbNAtWHhXq4
  • Using (and then disposing of) digital devices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkpBcFDjk7Y
  • Eating chocolate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD85fPzLUjo&playnext=1&list=PLOA_8QHMLBOFAQ8KZWLT2NI40NASFCAMA
  • Buying some types of inexpensive clothing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxppEs_z3Tg

(If you do not participate in any of these activities, let me know and I will help you identify one of your daily behaviors that is tied to livelihoods in developing countries.)

In your journal entry, post the video that you watched and then respond to these questions with 1–3 paragraphs per question (thus 4–12 paragraphs total):

1) Were you aware of the problems documented in the video?
2) Will you change your behavior as a result of the video? Why or why not?
3) As a society, how might we address the problems documented in the video?
4) How likely is it that, as a society, we will take the steps you identified in (3)? Note the factors which may facilitate or impede our efforts in addresses these problems.

Louie's Week 10 Journal Entry


The video I chose to watch was on the fire in the Bangladeshi clothing factory:



1.) Yes and no, I was only slightly aware of the problem presented in the video. Everyone often hears about the deplorable labor conditions in clothing sweat shops in parts of the world, especially in Asia. But the image that activists use the most to really stir people's emotions are small children sitting at looms for long hours each day. The side not mentioned as frequently, as shown in this video, are the adults who also rely on these cheap cloth manufacturing operations for their own livelihood. And because countries wish for foreign textile companies to come to their nations to open production facilities, they have to do things such as have lax safety codes to make it appear more desirable. 


For instance, the fire codes in Bangladesh. When the fire alarms first went off, the managers told their workers to get back to work. That is, until fire swept through the building and hundreds were kept from escaping. From the older appearance of the outside of the building that was burned and the destruction the fire left on the inside, one can infer the building lacked a sprinkler system. Also mentioned by the news correspondent was that most of the fire exits in the building were blocked. I had no idea that such "race to the bottom" tactics existed to such a degree.

2.) Changing my behavior as a result of watching this video is definitely something I want to do, but is easier said than done. The bulk of the clothes I have purchased over the past few years have come from Goodwill and other various thrift shops, for the main reason that they are cheap and are being reused. Of course, at one point in time, most of these clothes I'm sure came from stores mentioned in the video that have at one point in time manufactured clothing in Bangladesh (Wal-mart, J.C. Penny). I have purchased a few "organic cotton", "made in the USA" t-shirts over the past few years, but those make up such a small percentage of my wardrobe they are hardly noteworthy.


Even though I already don't buy clothes from department stores such as though, it is for money reasons mostly, not entirely for ethical purposes. However after having seen this, a lot more thought will go into my future purposes. Namely my online ones. Most of the clothes I do purchase new come from online websites where they are on sale, and I'm sure a good majority of those also come from factories with conditions similar to the one featured in Bangladesh. 

3.) As a society, there are many things we can do to address the problems presented in this video. Foremost, education of the general public is key. Most people I would think do not even consider where the clothes they are purchasing were produced, only if it looks good, is affordable, etc. An example of this is the Wake up Wal-mart campaign that often has television commercials about Wal-Mart obtaining a large percentage of their goods to sell in stores in countries like China. Also, to truly address the problem of textile and clothing manufacturing in developing nations, we have to take a step back and look at our values as a society. The uncomfortable topics, such as labor conditions in part of the world, we either put on the back burner or completely ignore because we feel we do not have the power to stop it. It is this heightened state of apathy that has led to such things going on for as long as they have, with not much being done. Our government by definition has to listen to the will of the people, but if the only people trying to usher in change are in the minority, things will never change.

4.) How likely is it that society will take the steps to change? Not very in my opinion if things continue as they have in recent decades. One major reason these clothes are cheap is the fact that they are produced in developing countries where the regulations on industry are less stringent in hopes more industry will propagate. If the public took a stance against such business practices, perhaps industry would be less motivated by money and move production back to developed nations to help bolster local economies. But I'm sure it'll be a cold day in Hell when a multi-billion corporation changes its practices to in fact make less money. 


Another factor needed for the winds of change to blow is global cooperation. Whether it be sanctions for allowing such factory conditions in the first place, or even requiring companies to have some sort of honor code where if they know the factories their goods are being produced, they are required to pull out from said factories and move elsewhere. Of course, that would have great impacts on developing nations' economies who are only playing catch up to their western brethren, and the global community has to be a little understanding. One hundred some odd years ago, similar situations existed in the US and England as they were first beginning to industrialize. 

Work Cited:
Global National, "The true cost of cheap clothing," uploaded November 28, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxppEs_z3Tg.


Robbie's Week 10 Journal Entry

1) Were you aware of the problems documented in the video?

No, I wasn't aware of these problems!  Thank you for this introduction to how chocolate is produced.  I had no idea even that chocolate came from a tree. 

2) Will you change your behavior as a result of the video? Why or why not?

Of course I'll be changing my behavior as a result of this video.  It isn't that big a test for me as I don't have much of a sweet tooth but it's still something to aspire to.  I'm a firm believer that with knowledge comes responsibility.  Otherwise, what's the point of knowing these things about the world?  I'm limited as an individual on what I'm able to accomplish.  My best tool available to me is to vote with my dollar.  It isn't going to save the world but I, as an individual, won't be participating in a system that exploits children.

3) As a society, how might we address the problems documented in the video?

There are a number of things that we can do as a society.  Boycotting these superfluous calories until there is real change in the way that chocolate is produced is one way.  Signing petitions and writing letters to the companies involved as well as our representatives in government, letting them know that this is an issue that we are interested in is another avenue. 
Maybe even charter travel agencies to set up transportation and a work-study so that we, as first-worlders, can see and work the very same places where chocolate is produced.  This will make it very real for the people that visit and work long hours in the hot sun - doing things that they wouldn't do so that they can buy the same product they consume perhaps on a daily basis.  A first-hand experience has the biggest effect on people. 

4) How likely is it that, as a society, we will take the steps you identified in (3)?

It is highly unlikely that any of those things will ever happen.  It was fun to dabble in fantasy though.  People do care about these issues.  But do not care enough to do anything about these things.  There's plenty of problems in their own neighborhood which they don't care enough to do anything about so why would they care enough to do something for people they will never meet an ocean away? 

I'd say that there are thousands of factors and reasons (justifications) that impede society's ability to deal with these kinds of issues.  I'm going to focus on what I feel is the root of the issue and that is the way that society determines esteem.  There are two kinds of people in the world - those that determine that esteem is earned through what you can do for yourself and those that determine that esteem is earned through what you do for others. 

The dominant way esteem is determined in the world today is how much you do for yourself.  "Go and make something of yourself," we're told.  Everyone is out for his or herself because very few others are out there looking out for that individual.  We consider someone successful if they have a nice house, nice car, can go on extravagant vacations, and maybe they're philanthropic to some degree but, that last point is not required.  I would say that Ayn Rand summed it up nicely when she called selfishness a virtue.  And in a point of view from merely our society, one has to agree with her.

The flip side of this is building esteem through actions which benefit other individuals.  I would have to say that this would closely be associated with tribalism or band-level people.  An example to start this off would be how hunts are done by some tribes.  Whomever makes the kill 'owns' the animal.  But not in the sense that you and I 'own' something.  They own it in the sense that it is their right to give it away.  And it is that very 'right to give away' which separates the 'civilized' from the 'savages'.  If they give away the choicest cuts of the animal they've killed, rather than keep it for their own consumption, they're held in high regard. 

Another example that can be used is how people of the Adena culture right here in Ohio would leave elaborate, highly sought after items in the grave of someone that was important to them.  Archaeologists used to believe that the person buried must have been rich since they were buried with so many items.  But when archaeologists finally began talking to Native Americans still living on reservations and still practicing their same religions and burying their dead in the same way that archaeologists were finding in areas that those tribes used to live before being forcibly removed, they saw the bereaved leaving beautiful and expensive items in the grave for the individual who passed. 

With those examples in mind, I hope it is easier to imagine what a world of difference a mere change in esteem can affect an entire society's mindset.  Individuals work for what is best for the group because it is what works best for everyone since there is a real dependence upon the group for the survival of all.  With focus on individual accomplishments at the expense of all others, you have the type of society we live in presently. 

Lastly, I do not see any hope for this society to change its ways, voluntarily, prescriptively, or through any other means of choice.  For the entire world to change its mindset collectively, reframing and re-meme-ing is something beyond the capacity of voluntary will.  A system of education would have to be in place which would have to be holistic - what good is it being in a classroom, being taught about the right thing when every other medium you connect with tells one otherwise. 


Kendall's Week 10 Journal Entry

Chocolate and the Kids


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD85fPzLUjo


1. For this issue, I was actually not aware of this problem. I think it’s one of those things where you take it for granted that it’s readily available in stores. Every time I go to buy chocolate from a vending machine, I’m definitely not thinking about where the chocolate comes from. When I first saw this issue, I tried to think about problems that it could be, before I even watched the video, and this hardly occurred to me. Obviously I was naiive and just thought, “oh it’s a well known candy so if there were any problems, it would be on my Twitter feed”. But that’s hardly the case, as the video suggests. 60 percent of the world’s cocoa beans are found in those small, remote locations, so obviously big names of chocolate are going to be eating there. I wasn’t aware of this problem, I’m aware that some kids in developing countries are often taken and forced into military service, but to force them to harvest cocoa was a complete shock. I think as an uninformed American, I just assumed that there were plenty of people over there who would love to work that so they can have money, but I was very wrong.

2. It’s hard to say I can make a huge change that’ll greatly affect my self esteem and make the world okay, but I don’t know. I’m not a huge consumer of chocolate, I spend a few bucks every month on it when I’m snacking in between classes, so me not buying chocolate in protest would be kind of silly because it won’t have an impact. What I can do is research. I may not be able to lead a huge protest to free these kids, but the very least I can/will do is look up the different companies I buy candy off of and see where there chocolate comes from. A well to do company of chocolate will certainly be aware of this issue, and will be very forthcoming if they are not involved in these types of trafficking situations. Becoming informed is the very least and the very most I can do at this stage in my life, as I have no resources to fight this and I already spend less money on chocolate but I think I owe it to those kids to at least, buy from companies that don’t partake in this.

3. As a person, you almost want to say take the military and save the day by just raising hell over there and freeing these kids, but realistically the government cannot do that. First off the society should be informed. We see viral videos of trafficked kids in Kony’s military, we need to expand that, then we need to see video of people going over there and doing something. We need options of what to do presented to us. Can I sign up for a task force or something? Can we investigate these chocolate companies, check their imports and question them extensively about it? I think the only way something gets done is for society to get mad. Public opinion these days is a major factor in agenda setting. This issue will probably never be on equal terms with top issues, but at the least we should massively inform society and let society be the cause of what happens next.

4. It is not likely that society will be informed, or presented with this issue, thus it is likely that nothing will be done about it. I think there are so many personal issues that the American public is dealing with that will seemingly trump this issue. It is hard for the public to be able to care about being informed, about a problem happening far away, if they’re still worried if their checks will cover their own bills. I think the agenda on our hands right now is the biggest obstacle. There are so many domestic issues that it’s hard for society to know this problem, much less fix it. 

Will's Week 10 Journal Entry

The Magic Elixir

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwYl69VstPw


As soon as I saw that one option for this week was writing about coffee, I knew it had to be done. I am relatively new to the substance, but it is one of my very favorite things. I can count the days on one hand when I have come into EVST without that magical drink. I must say that I am a black, unsweetened coffee man, so there will be as little discussion about foamy drinks as possible. I am writing this introduction before watching the video, so now I'm a little nervous that drinking what my dad calls the "Magic Elixir" will seem cruel. We shall see.

1) Were you aware of the problems documented in the video?

I was actually aware of the growing movement towards fair trade practices in the coffee world, but I didn't know much about the conditions and volatility that existed before that. I found out about Fair Trade during my freshman year at Curry College, where the students put together a petition that the school not serve coffee in the cafeteria unless it was Fair Trade certified. Luckily, the school only has 1500 students, and things can get done quickly. The president made it a rule that all coffee served on campus must be certified as Fair Trade, and there was much rejoicing. I had heard of Fair Trade in passing, but that's when I wanted to learn more about it. I read a little about the issues in Colombia in unrelated situations, and I became pretty familiar with FARC and other groups, but the issues with the crop spraying were new to me. 

2) Will you change your behavior as a result of the video? Why or why not?

I believe I will be more wary of where my coffee comes from, and I will always be looking for that little logo that means that the genuinely appreciative farmers around the world are getting their due. As a New Englander, I don't know if I can totally forego Dunkin' Donuts, but I certainly hope that they are (or will soon be) on the correct side of this discussion. It would be very easy to simply ignore where the Magic Elixir comes from, but this video really puts a face to the process of actually caring about the work. 

3) As a society, how might we address the problems documented in the video?

Since Fair Trade is a good system that addresses a major problem in itself, incremental increases in the floor price would be beneficial to the farmers. As the price of a latte goes from $6 to $7.50, the price that Fair Trade does not dip below goes from $0.07 to $0.075, for example. Incentives for large coffee distributers to get on board with this would be a good idea as well. Also, avoiding places that do not have the seal of Fair Trade, and being willing to pay just a little bit more for the really good stuff would be important changes. Allowing more transparency as to the process of where a cup of coffee comes from would add unseen value for customers, and they may be more willing to change their approaches if they could see the face of a farmer. 

4) How likely is it that, as a society, we will take the steps you identified in (3)? Note the factors which may facilitate or impede our efforts in addresses these problems.

As noted above, a problem in the way of total commitment to Fair Trade is the insatiable appetite for something cheaper. If a cup of coffee from Speedee is cheaper than Starbucks, more people will go for the monetary value as opposed to the societal value. Resistance to raising the pay floor would be another impediment, because companies are willing to pay a premium for the product, but as that premium goes up, that good will tends to diminish. As much as most people would like to see whole-hearted embrace of Fair Trade practices, it will be very hard to convince/educate the wider public who can't be bothered with something happening in Colombia, because it's not next door. 

Coffee is a magical drink, and this video just affirmed its mystique to me. As much as I think that Starbucks is committing highway robbery when they charge me $1.25 to fill my Thermos, I can see where the extra money goes. In the developed world, an automated machine would shake the coffee tree and the "cherries" would fall out and get demolished and there would be many just lost in the process, but this is much more personal. I said in my preface that I was hoping I wouldn't feel horribly guilty about drinking coffee after watching the video, and I had the exact opposite feeling. Instead of being concerned about those extra pennies I pay at the register coming out of my wallet, I can rest assured that they are going to the proper place.