Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Social Capital and what affects it

The basic principal behind social capital is that investment in social relations will yield expected returns in many different places such as, the community, economy, and politics. Individual people interact and engage in social networking bonds, and trust which creates expected returns which in turn profit the community of those individuals. With all of this social networking going on it helps build a stronger and better community and thus there is more social capital within the community and therefore the community function better. After watching a few videos on social capital it was shown that communities with higher social capital tend to be a more desirable place to live. This is also show because the level of the community’s education and learning is higher, kids are skinnier and more active, there is less poverty, crimes rates tend to be lower, and there is a higher tolerance for gender.

My social capital includes various networks that I am connected to and in some way or another they all affect each other. The networks that I am currently connected to would be school, family, and friends for the most part. With being connected to these networks I feel that I benefit from them, but they also benefit from me as well in some way. There can be positive and negatives with being connected to these networks. I have found that since I have been going to school and working really hard with tests, homework, and studying all the time that it puts a negative outcome on my relationship with my family and friends because I am always busy focusing on school. That is why it is best to find a balance between school and personal time. School might negatively affect my relationship with friends and family, but if my friends and family understand the circumstances I am under. They can act as a positive influence on me by showing support and helping me through the program so I can have a successful outcome.
When I look at my social capital I find that on a personal smaller level that I can appreciate social capital more through my family and friends because they can relate to what I am doing and what is important to me. At the same time on a larger scale there are things out of my control that impact my social capital and might not be noticed or appreciated by me and in turn might contribute to how the community I live in functions and lives.

Royal Roads University Sustainability Plan

I go to Royal Roads University in Victoria B.C. and therefore we had to do a blog on the sustainability plan of Royal Roads University. I am not going to lie and beat around the bush, I have not read the Royal Roads University Sustainability Plan but will have to in order to make this blog post accurate. We had various speakers/employees of Royal Roads come and talk to us about where Royal Roads is on sustainability now, where they want to be, and a vision on how to get there.
According to the Royal Roads University Sustainability Plan, the university’s policy has had sustainability implemented since It opened in 1995. Many policies that have to do with sustainability have been made and passed throughout the years such as: Environmental Stewardship Policy and a sustainability plan. The university also has set many goals in addition to these policies. The main focus of the university at the moment is to become carbon neutral by 2010; this is because in B.C. all of the Public services need to become carbon neutral by this time.
According to Mr. Steve Grundy of Royal Roads University, the university’s goals and plans for the future are to become Grid positive or “off grid” by 2018. A big part of reaching this goal that is being implemented today is the preservation of using less energy. The university’s computer labs have energy star computers which help save energy, and they also are programmed to self turnoff or sleep at night. In order to reach their goal by 2018 many other plans need to be implemented, for this goal to be reached the university must introduce different sources of energy, heat and water. One idea that was broght up was the use of burning the methane gas that is produced by we organic waste to heat the campus buildings and being self sufficient.
The part about the university that impresses me, it the wonderful recycling program that is put in place. It consists of, compost, bottles, plastic, paper, juice boxes almost everything is being recycled. The supervisor of the janitorial staff talked to us about the recycling program and how they accumulated $11,000 in five years by recycling bottles alone. This money is then used to implement more recycling bins and also gets donated to The United Way Charity. Some of the janitorial staff were allergic to cleaning with chemicals and now use a micro-fiber cloth and water which actually works better. The micro-fiber cloth can then be washed and re-used up to 50 times which eliminates the amount of paper towel going in the garbage. In 2003 the janitorial staff came up with the idea to start using compostable paper towels in the bathrooms. By doing this the janitorial staff realized that they were eliminating 10 tons of paper towel going to the garbage per year, which is now recycled. The cafeteria at the university is also putting in their two cents about a sustainable campus by having a recycling program as well. The cafeteria’s plates, coffee cups, coffee sleeves, cutlery and plastics are made of a compostable corn material which helps eliminate unneeded wastes going to the landfill as these items can be composted.
The Royal Roads University Sustainability Plan is in full effect and is going to expand and excel through the upcoming years. The university is well aware of the changes that need to be made to meet these goals and by making small changes will reach their goal of being grid positive by 2018.

Royal Roads University Sustainability Plan, December 2008. 6B4F4A7/0/SUSTAINABILITYPLAN4.pdf

How can I tell what is sustainable?

From my previous blog posts I ranted about what sustainability was and the cost of climate change. Now the question in the back of my mind is how can I tell what is sustainable in the world today. When deciding if something is sustainable or not, I think of the bigger picture, the future and the non-renewable natural resources. As non-renewable resources are used up, more energy is required to extract these resources, which in turn would create greater and greater release of emissions for less use of the resource being extracted. What I mean by this is all or most cars run on fossil fuels, which are non-renewable natural resources, one day they will eventually depleted and be gone forever. This is why we have to find a way to make a change now, before it’s too late.

The reading for this blog post from the book “Geography of Hope” by Chris turner talked about a small Danish Island of approximately 4,400 people are pretty much running on self sufficient energy. This means that they are utilizing all of the natural energy that is produced by the sun. This community is using energy sources such as wind power, wood chips, and solar straw. For this community to sufficiently run and come together as one in the beginning had to all have the same idea and feeling of having a community of self sufficient energy. These changes had to take place in order to create a paradigm shift in the energy production on a community scale. This evolution of how a small community can come together and make major changes for a stable environment represents a shift towards a more fully functioning system. Each and every individual had to strive and commitment in order to help eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn helps in cost savings. When you combined all of these factors together, it makes for a very stable environment.

When we talked about what sustainable in class a good example was brought up about a company which looks at the energy and materials that is need to satisfy the production of their products, while also taking into account the waste that they are producing to do so, and trying to find a way to reuse this waste that was created to help in the process of producing their products needed. This would be classified as a closed system because the company is trying to take care of the waste produced internally and reducing the need of bringing materials in from an outside source.

The most interesting part that I learnt in class was “Bio-mimicry”, which is the replication of ecosystems in the design of human infrastructure. What this means is the way society is building things today they take into account the animals in nature. An example of this was the speed train that was designed after examining and looking at a certain bird that can dive into water and not even make a splash. A speed/bullet train was formed and designed to the same degree of the birds beak to help lessen the wind resistance.
In order to justify what is sustainable and what isn’t sustainable, the environment that we live in as humans needs to be re-examined. What is sustainable in the world today might not be sustainable in the future. What is sustainable to one person probably is not sustainable to another, so as a community on a lower lever we all need to try to get together to make a difference and a more sustainable future for others.

ReferencesTurner, C. (2007). The geography of hope: a tour of the world we need. Toronto: Random House.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Climate Change: The Cost of Inaction

How do we get all of the countries on board to help eliminate or reduce all of the harmful emissions and damage that we are doing to our world. This is nearly or almost nearly impossible, a large global plan should be put into effect in order to tackle climate change. The Stern Report claims that a global effort which can span the next 10-20 years will have a large effect on the rate of climate change occurring. The only way I feel that something to this magnitude will happen is when a world disaster disrupts and affects everyone in the world. If something this big happened I believe that it would possibly push all the world leaders to want to make a difference and get on board on saving the world. I know this thought is farfetched and unbelievable, but I believe if we could all just work together the world would be a better place.

I have always been interested in a more sustainable development plan in our world. Since starting this class of sustainable development with Chris Ling, it has finally fully opened up my eyes to all of the different aspects and ways that we as humans, help in destroying our own planet in our everyday lives. There was so much new information presented to me in today’s class relating to air pollution, food, forests, water, ecological footprint, and loss of biodiversity. I have never realized how sever our actions would be. In the last few years, I have always tried to make a difference in my adventures and have always thought about what I can do as an individual to help in lessening environmental impacts. I have now been recycling, everything that I can for the last few years to cut back on wastes going to the landfill. After sorting through waste and breaking the different wastes into categories at my previous school. I realized how much of the things that go to the landfill can actually be recycled and how not many people were recycling and therefore our landfills are growing rapidly. Just recently I have purchased a bike to help cut down on my fuel emissions and air pollution that my car would put out every day on my way to school and back.

The main point from today’s lecture that really got my mind racing was that every year the United States and Europe top priorities for the most part are spending billions of dollars on things like ice cream (11 billion), pet foods (17 billion), cosmetics (8 billion), and perfumes (12 billion). They should stop spending all this money on things that are more of a want then a need. They should cut back on some of these not so important necessities and should focus some of that spending money on helping people in less fortunate countries for a lot less of the cost. To help give everyone in the world the basic necessities to live, it would only cost 40 billion dollars instead of 48 billion on the previously mentioned things. I don’t know how I can personally make a difference in this matter but, I can start by looking at all of the different parties, and vote for the party that I believe has the right budget for helping the less fortunate out and vote for that party at election time.

I am going to be stating some other interesting facts that I have learned today and found very interesting and have inspired me to do some more in depth research and reading. If we keep living in the world we live today at the same rate and pace we are living at we are destine for some major changes in our future. If change is not implemented soon, the minor things will slowly start to escalate. The history of things such as the forests around the world shows that over time things slowly diminish if the problem is not solved. The amount of forests that use to cover the land was 50%, since the 90’s; 9.4 million hectares of forest were lost. If the sea level rises 1m due to climate change over 40 million Bangladeshis will be without homes. 1m doesn’t seem like a lot, but look at the massive change it could make if it happened. Canadians consume the most amount of water per day per person at 350L; this statement amazed me as a Canadian myself. I would defiantly cut back on water uses to help save a child, or to give a village water for a day. What will you give up to help make a change in the world today?