Tuesday, April 23, 2013

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment