Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peak Oil and A Crude Awakening

Staggering Fact #1: 2008 Level = World burns 30 billions barrels of oil/year.
Staggering Fact #2: The estimated reserve = 1.1-1.3 trillion barrels.
Staggering Fact #3: Estimated 40 years of oil left with what we know can be recovered with current technology.
Staggering Fact #4: The National Petroleum Council estimates 1,125 billion barrels is left, of which 374 billion barrels would be recoverable.
Staggering Fact #5: Hubbert claims we have peaked in oil in 2002, but expectations and improvements in technology should allow us to contunie to rise and not peak until 2030 and maybe even 2060.
Staggering Fact #6: CO2 injection maintains and restores reservoirs pressure, and captures CO2 emissions from power plants.
Staggering Fact #7: Today, 90% of worlds oil is under direct control of producing countries.
Staggering Fact #8: As technology increases, attainable oil will also increase, and by 2030 estimated total of 16000 billion barrels will be used from the overall 4,500-5,000 billion barrels estimated to exist.
Staggering Fact #9: "Expected spare production capacity is what drives the cycles in oil prices.
Staggering Fact #10: There exists an optimal price for oil/barrel, which is the "most sustainable," (layered in irony) is roughly $60-$70/barrel.

Debriefing Part 2

The high points as I mentioned in "Debriefing Part 1" were the field trips and the interactions our class had with the field trips. I believe learning about a Progressive Education and then directly applying it is something that opens your eyes about education and the way it can be tought given the right circumstance. Some things that I found difficult was the movies. I know its expected to do the readings and watch the videos (which i did) but they are very preachy. It's Glen Beck-esque if he were to take a Xanex and calm down for an hour at a time. I like Ed Norton, I like Brad Pitt (Fight Club is my favorite movie) but they did preach to the quire. I agree with the fact that global climate change is a serious subject, and I respect the way that you (Muldoon) did not in any way get political while explaining it. From what I've heard, the other teachers take the "preachy approach," and I would have gotten into a few teacher-pupil debates if it wasnt for your refrained approach. I enjoyed how you let us decide if the information being portrayed was serious or not. Everything we learned is relevant to the global climate change issue, and again, I respect that you let us students have an open mind and not try to sway our decisions one way or the other. DOUBLE THUMBS UP!

Debriefing Part 1

The colloquium class has once again opened my eyes to not only the global climate change problem, but to the beauties that lie not only in SW Florida, but all over the world. The interrelatedness of everything was what fascinated me most. For example, how a drought in Africa, which leads to a severe dust storm, which consequently leads to a higher ashtma rate in the Caribbean was flat-out scary. The experiences through Colloquium was key to perk interest. Ding Darling was awesome, and it was a shame the 40-year-old Croc crocked out the day after we visited. ECHO was intriguing to know that you can feed the poorest of people by educating them on how to make due with regular thrown away objects such as tires and Duck Droppings. Finally, the downtown restoration project/field trip was definitely what kept me coming back for me. To think we have the potential to reshape downtown Ft. Myers (even though it is unlikely they will chose our solar powered yacht club) was a much funner project than a term paper or lame group powerpoint that is totally irrelevant to the outside world. Overall, this class exceeded my expectations and was not just a blow off class, rather a "keep an open mind" class.

India and China Leading the Way

One important thing that I have learned about China during my time in Colloquium is that they have already surpassed the U.S. in emissions of fossil fuels. Becuase of the booming population in China, they have gone far and beyond what people expected of a Communist country, and have made it known that any future infrastructure shall be completed with low-energy, high-efficiency and low-emission in mind. India is a fascinating story as well. In roughly 40 years, India's poverty rate has dropped from 60% to around 30%. This can be linked to the industrilization of their country as well as the abundance of physical and human resources. They now have water governances to protect their citizens from extremely-polluted water. The most fascinating part of developing countries is how they become developed. In most cases, they wipe out their natural resources and use them to develop trade-agreements with other countries. While this is beneficial to them, they lack the necessary education on how to replenish the resources they destroy (such as the deforestation in poor Southern American countries) and they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and will do anything to improve the conditions for their own sake as well as their countries sake.

Food, Inc

Meat, Chicken and Pork. Pork Chicken and Meat. Ding, Dang, Dong. I could eat one for breakfast, one for lunch and the other for dinner 365 days of the year if it was possible and healthy enough to do so. Yet the way the meat-packers go about getting this food to our stomach is anything but eco-friendly. They brutalize em, feed em pesti's, take em out back and "off with their heads." Second,Corn and Soy beans are the devil. They look sweet, but are coated with evil. Every kernal has been sprayed with god knows what, and each soy bean has had its fair share of spray; obviously unethical and unsustainable. Finally, the major food companies are a farse! Food is cheap, cheap is good, poison is bad! Petroleum-based chemicals -- those which we use with ease -- slowly but surely contaminate our food, the soil our food comes from, all the way to the water than soaks into the soil which is contaminated. It's a viscious cycle, one which is combined with the worst food-habits that are openly promoted by Big Business's in America to keep the economy (ORR!) going at a good pace, even though its scientifically proven that eating fast-food makes you fat, increases heart disease and promotes a very unhealthy diet. (So do cigarettes)

How to reduce my reliance on energy and promote conservation

Many things I do should be changed to promote conservation. There are many steps I could take to reduce my reliance on energy. Yet, it's hard to imagine any of these things because of the world we live in, per say. Some things I could do would be to buy a bike and bike anywhere that is deemed in biking distance. This would not only promote conservation but save me some $$$ in gas. I could also set my home thermostat so that it turns off during the time of day when I am not home. This would reduce the AC bill as well as save tons of energy that didn't needed to be used in the first place. On top of all this, the hardest, yet easiest, thing I could do to reduce my reliance on energy is to turn off the lights. It sounds easier than it is, but by remembering to turn off every light in the house before I leave, as well as unplug any appliances such as the Foreman and Toaster, can greatly reduce my energy output and make my home a greener home. As i look around my house, I see the porch light on, the TV screen frozen due to a pause in the DVR, the dryer still going at 12a.m. four different ceiling lights on, my bathroom light, my bedroom light, a black light, my closet light and the garage light all sitting there on for some unknown reason. The first step to reducing my reliance on energy is to recognize my problems. All of aforementioned have been turned off -- minus the blacklight, whose dim light provides a superb sleeping experience -- and I have already won the war against global climate change in my house.

David Orr > Marjory Stone Douglas

Instead of writing about MJD, I decided to write about Orr's essays in that they were far more interesting and current than MJD's articles about the everglades. The main thing I liked about Orr's articles was his take on "Biophilia." It was cool to note that I, in fact, am a Biophiliac. Orr states that what we call "modernization represented dramatic changes in how we regard the natural world and our role in it." It is suffice to say that with economics acting as the driving force of this modernization, people can easily get lost in the fact that a greener world might not be directly related to a greener wallet. The biophobiacs out there, such as Woody Allen, are free-riding there way to a two degree temperature rise, and represent the bigger problem because Biophobia, according to Orr, is the foundation for a politics of domination and exploitation. Also, I'm a big Orwell guy, and Orr recollects Orwell's words on how the placement of nature and human nature by technology and the replacement of real democracy by a technological tyranny is now looming on the horizon. Look at how Obama won the election; Facebook. Not comparing Obame to a tyrant, but the implementation of technology is becoming prevelant in politics, and it is only a matter of time until this "Biophiliac Revolution" turns into a Coup.

DVD E2 -- Deeper Shades of Green

The three key people in this episode -- Ken Yeang, Werner Sobeck and William McDonogh -- are innovators for the fight on environmental sustainability. The building they portray are honestly "building of the future." The Tropical Building was fascinating in the fact that wind actually comes through the building and can either pass through or pass up. The craziest part of this video was how one environmentalist called plastic bottles "idiotic." He explained how the entire design of a plastic bottle is slightly toxic, and while it doesnt affect the toxicity of drinking water, it affects the environment when it is broken down while being littered. It was also interesting to see how the architecture of tomorrow will lead to a better harmony with nature, if done correctly. The R129 prototype blew my mind. It was explained how it could be put anywhere... from a field of grain to an artic ice cap. All in all, the limitations for tomorrow are unlimited. Research and development is continually being improved and with a total global effort, these improvements can and will lead to a better tomorrow.

DVD E2 -- Green Machine

The Green Machine, which Chicago became to be known, is known as the place who invented the skyscraper and laboratory for green architecture. It was very interesting to see how the mayor enforces the idea that Chicago is the greenest city in America. As the third largest city in the US, there are tons of resources being bought and sold and it's sheer brilliance how the mayor did many sustainable things such as "greening" the City Hall building. By doing so, the Mayor established the relationship between the people who live there and the environment they live in. The Mayors "progressive" ideals are leading the way for not only the city of Chicago, but a lesson that all of the major cities should turn to. It saves money in the long-run by improving efficiency in numerous amounts of categories and is not only eco-friendly, but its aesthetically pleasing as well.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Favorite Place On Campus

I believe my favorite place on the FGCU campus is the North Lake Village Waterfront. They really went out of their way to have an attractive beach front for their dorm rooms. Not only is it an aesthetic treat to walk out of your dorm to a beautiful lake and tiki hut, they offer canoes and sail boats to all students. I have went canoeing on the lake and have sailed from coast to coast, and can say that I am proud to go to FGCU...What school has a beach at it? Or encourages skiing and wakeboarding and a giant water-trampoline? The lengths this school goes through to not only improve the student's life, but the surrounding environment as well, shows that they do in fact care about the future. Besides the beach front, the FGCU Nature Trail is up there on my favorite-list. They have many trails that go from North Lake village all the way to South Lake Village, and it is a real stress reliever -- as well as a good source for community service hours -- to walk the trails and even clean them up so that people behind you can continue to enjoy what our unique school has to offer.

My "Sense and Place"

My sense and place of the global climate change issue is simple. While I believe it is infact a tragedy that numerous amounts of life on this planet is going extinct, and that with every species that gets wiped out due to human ignorance, we lose a treasure that this planet wanted us to have, I also believe that it isn't a big of issue as some make it seem. While the population is increasing at alarming rates, and resources dwindling, i believe the Darwinism concept of "survival of the fittest" will come into play in the near future. Soon, these poor countries in which uneducated people reproduce at rapidity with no concern of the other people of Earth, they will eventually become a piece of history. India, Africa, China and all the other rapid growth countries all suffer from a great deal of poverty. Once the tipping point occurs, the population will see a decline. Whether its communism in China or HIV in Africa, something will lead to a decrease in population once resources become only available to those who can afford them. Yes, this means that Africa will see its population of animals probably become wiped out completely, because they will have no other way to survive. And while they will rob the rest of the world of cheetahs, elephant tusks and hippo's they will inevitably be the cause of their own destruction.

Climate Change Is Not An Issue

According to an article at, ( NASA's top official, Michael Griffin, has claimed it is "arrogant" to consider global warming a problem that needs to be tackeled. While Griffin recognizes the trend of global warming, he cites that we don't know that the current level of Earth's climate is the optimal climate. He also states that it is NASA's responsibility to collect, analyze and release information about climate change and to say that we are 100% certain that this climate change is a threat to mankind, "indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change." I believe that this is a credible argument. He is a credible source being the top administrator from NASA, but also could be swayed by the government. It's not too far fetched that the government (the source of the funds for NASA) had something to do with his interview and statement regarding global warming. This was published in 2007 during George W. Bush's term, and it is widely known that he tried to conceal the belief of global climate change, citing that it was a Liberal issue. While Griffin is correct in saying we aren't sure if these current climate levels are the optimal levels, global climate change isn't just about temperatures and arctic ice caps. One can clearly see the negative-relationships with the depletion of trees, overfishing, and pollution in rivers and our drinking source, and the effects they have on the residents of Planet Earth.

Tragedy of the Commons

"Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit - in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons," said Garret Hardin. The basis of Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons" is that we are acting without restraint to maximize personal short-term gain. A capitalistics Free-Market economy rarely allocates optimal amounts of resources. Because of the free-market, incentives are based on short-term financial goals, and besides the global climate change concerns that have come up in the recent years, there have been no consideration for a sustainable future while trying to improve the bottom line. Also, because of the competitive market, negative externalities such as polution and overfishing get blinded by the $$$'s. When fiscal goals become the main-target, above sustainability and long-term global improvements, the resources suffer. In some cases either trees, plants of animals, can become extinct or will decrease to the point where they are in jeopardy of becoming extinct, and cause the people who depend on them to evolve and find a new way of life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shrimp in the Arctic

A Yahoo!Science article, by Seth Borenstein as seen in the Associated Press on March 15, 2010, explains how scientists found a shrimp-like creature and a jellyfish "frolicking" beneath the arctic surface. This came to to a surprise to scientists who were "operating under the presumption that nothing's there," said NASA scientist Robert Bindschadler. This discovery has inspired scientists to seek questions as to whether life at this sub-temperature is possible on other hostile places, such as Europa a frozen moon on Jupiter. Cyan Ellis-Evans, a Microbiolist at the British Antarctic Survey was intrigued by these findings. "this is the first for the sub-glacial environment with that level of sophistication," he said. This article is very interesting because it does put a new perspective as to where life can be found on Earth. It is worth nothing that they have yet to figure out the food source of these creatures. It begs the question as to where else can life survive in extreme conditions?

Monday, February 22, 2010

One Degree Factor

This video was very intimidating to say the least. The disappearance of animals, specifically 60,000 Caribou forming a "ghost heard," seems to be more than just a cycle, but that of a species struggling with rising temperatures. Noticing this is just one factor of the entire problem, it still is an indicator of the potentialities of what could/will happen with other species. Another interesting tid-bit that ties in with caribou is the mosquito effect, which is mostly a domino effect. It says the life of a caribou is split into "time spent evading insects and time spent feeding." The increase in temperature leads to larger swarms, and these larger swarms of mosquitoes make the caribou spend more energy to evade the insects, thus leading to a declined population. The unfortunate part to all of this is simple. The caribou clans are having trouble evolving to the changing ecosytems and are in danger of getting erased completely, which they say could "impoverish mankind," citing mankind relied on caribou for food for hundreds of years. Taking a look into the ocean, it was interesting to note that plankton, such as krill. The west coast plankton levels were down 20% from what they were in the 1950's, that led to concern, because they are central in the food chain, and could cause an unraveling of the food chain. Yet, the krill population recovered, which they say is tied to rearrangement of hot and cool water, or a "regime shift." These shifts disrupt the food supply and change the nutrients that come up from the bottom of the ocean to the top. Finally, another thing i found interesting was the connection of some Caribbean Islands such as Trinidad and global events that occurred thousands miles away. The connection involved the medical mystery of the increasing number of children being infected with Asthma. The link that tied these together is simple; dust...from the Sahara Dessert, because of the lakes, such as Lake Chad, that have dried up to shallow channels due to significant droughts, which causes more dust which is being blown to the America's. Overall, this video explained many domino effects. These domino effects include links and connections between animals, humans, disease, plants, the atmosphere, lakes/oceans, and almost every living/nonliving species on the planet. The world continues to change, mostly for the worse, and no one will ever know what other effects might be stemmed from the ever-changing climate.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Reflect on how you might decrease your own Ecological footprint.

According to the quiz, if everyone on the planet lived my lifestyle, we would need 5.92 earths. Fortunately for the earth, there are copious amounts of people in Africa/India/China and almost every other country besides the U.S. who live with limited to no electricity, limited water supply and no possibilities of getting in their car to get a double bacon cheeseburger at Wendy's. With that said, there are some things that I could do to decrease our ecological footprint and improve the Earth's well-being. One thing I could do is use cleaner transport. Instead of getting into our car to go down the street, or around the block, I could, how dare I say it, walk, or even take a bike. I could also install energy-saving features to our home such as install florescent low-emission light bulbs and energy efficient appliances, as well as weatherproof my home. I could also adopt water-saving habits such as taking shorter showers and start washing my dishes as opposed to running the dishwasher every other day. Finally, putting to use the 3 R's -- Recycle, Reduce, Reuse -- would be an easy way to improve my footprint. By continuing to recycle all glass, paper and plastic, as well as buying recycled and biodegradable products. I could also reduce the amount of electricity i use, by turning off my amplifier after i'm done, as well as not leaving my black light on 24/7. Overall, there are many things that I could easily change with my dad-to-day life as well as adapt new practices that would decrease my lasting effect on the planet.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Favorite place to be in Buffalo, NY

My favorite place to go while in my hometown of Buffalo, NY, is to take a walk down the Niagara Gorge. After the water falls from Niagara Falls, it whirlpools downstream through the Niagara River and is surrounded by walls of stone aka the Gorge. I've been on the Maid of the Mist as well as the Cave of the Winds, where you can "touch" the falls, and nothing comes close to hiking down the Gorge. My friends and I would often hike down the Gorge to fish and hang out when we were bored. The worst part about it is the 2000+ steps you need to walk up and down, but it's more exciting than it is tiring. There are "short cuts" which are usually little paths angled almost 90 degrees, and there is nothing like balancing yourself on a branch and praying that you don't slip, because its a pretty long fall. When you get to the bottom of the Gorge, its indescribable. You are at water level, and its not just a lazy river rushing past you, its rapids and whirlpools. There are rocks to climb and hidden caves you can venture off to if you are bold. Also, I was introduced to "Cache" by my girlfriends father. This is where an online community hides random objects through out Western NY, and they give you the exact GPS locations as well as a few clues, and you can try to find them. Once you found them, there is no prize, only a log sheet where you can put your name and date. The reward is the experience of hiking and climbing and ducking through out the woods and nature trails. More of a priceless treasure...

Expectations for learning and outcomes from Colloquium

I have very few expectations from Colloquium. It's not because i don't respect what we are learning, but most of it I have already become familiar with. I took Environmental Bio. of SW FL. as well as Marine Systems during my Freshman year, and it seems that this class is an advanced form of them... with more writing. I do expect to take from this class the diversity of other people's views. While i think this class is trying to indoctrinating us students towards a particular view, I do believe it is somewhat warranted. The surrounding area of Southwest Florida is a fragile ecosystem and is deteriorating because of the economic growth of this area. Appreciation of nature comes through knowledge and experience of nature itself. The more people aware of the animals and plants, and rivers and estuaries, and the importance of each into the entirety of the ecosystem, the better. If more people were aware of what it means to the area as a whole when you wipe out entire ecosystems that have been around for hundreds, even thousands of years, they would understand the lasting ripple effect of this ignorance towards the environment. Overall, I plan to strengthen my view about nature, and take a greater appreciation to all that Southwest Florida has to offer.