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A Great Semester

Just wanted to thank everyone for a great semester. Our blog, over the course of the semester, had over 1,000 unique visitors, according to Google Analytics. These visitors came from 78 different countries or territories, from all continents except Antarctica. The top ten, in order: U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, France, Philippines, Poland, India, with Bulgaria, Spain and Hong Kong tied for 9th. Following Carlisle, the cities with the most visits were New York, London, Paris, and Manilla. Visitors came from every state of the United States except New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Hawaii. In terms of the three countries we studied intensively (the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba), there were 23 visits from the former Soviet Union (including 9 from Russia), 6 from China (or 16, if we include Hong Kong), and none from Cuba.
Thanks everyone for taking part in the blog; this will be it, for this year.

I recently found this site and thought it was very interesting. You can see current and past environmental problems which I honestly think is great.



This may be a tad late relating to when i went to this event, but i remeber attending Professor Jacksons rush hour sometime in march or april. Professor Jackson was very interesting as he presented eco-friendly housing ideas. I though it was very interesting to see solar panels and other eco-friendly materials for the house because to be honest, I don’t know if I would ever do something like that. I though it was very neat but i hate to admit i would never move to be that sustainable. I don’t think i would be able to live without air conditioning as I need it to be cold to sleep especially in the summer. I thought the idea was great, just something I would not take part of.

On April 26th, I attended the Environmental Studies Senior presentation in Kaufman Hall. The first presenter was Angelo Lin. He spent his senior year researching the land change in Monocacy Creek. The question that Lin wanted to answer was: “How does change of land-use impact stream flow of local streams?” Lin chose Monocacy becuase its location was realtivly close by, it was a manageable size, and it was both in agriculture and residential area. To see how the stream flow changes, Lin received data from 1958, 1986 and he did his on research in 2011. The most interesting component of Lin’s research was that he used mathematical equations to figure out the change in stream flow. The idea of using math equations was an interesting prespective. I was astonished to how accurately the computer program that he used predicated the change in stream flow.


Just an interesting article I stumbled upon today about the increase of plastic in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” which continues to grow at an alarming rate. It also mentions the affects on the marine environment.



I was stumbling around cleveland.com (I’m from there) and I found this article talking about urban agriculture in Cleveland. I didn’t even know this was going on so I did a little more digging and apparently Cleveland has some of the best urban agriculture laws in the country. They passed a zoning law that set aside parts of the city for urban growing, which is pretty cool. Also, I was home (in Cleveland)  a couple of weeks ago and along the sidewalk, there was chard and kale growing in a planter. I wish I had taken a picture because it was really bizarre but also really neat. At least Cleveland has something going for it.

On Thursday, I attended the last Earth Issues of this academic year to learn about what my fellow ES majors have been doing this past semester. There were so many presentations (10!) that I’m only going to briefly discuss the presentations that relate to discussions we had in class.


Scott – Food Consumption and Purchasing at Dickinson

For anyone that read Scott’s piece in the Dickinsonian a couple of weeks ago, you probably remember the exhorbitant amount of food (specifically meat!) we consume on campus. The article stemmed from Scott’s internship here on campus.  The purposes of Scott’s internship was to calculate the percentage of food served at Dickinson that is local – food that it grown, produced, etc. within 250 miles. After going through 35,821 (no that isn’t a typo) invoices, he discovered some interesting facts. For example, only 1% of the dining hall budget goes towards purchasing french fries, while 20% goes towards fruits/veggies, and 23% towards meat. Scott focused on the fact that only 0.35% of the Dining Services budget goes towards purchasing food from the Dickinson College Farm. He emphasized that while it’s great that we have a college farm, Dining Services should depend more heavily on locally grown food than on the importation of meat, non-local fruit, french fries, etc. In conclusion, he stated that he would like Dickinson to enact a sustainable food purchasing plan on campus.


Louisa – Soap Making from Glycerin Byproduct.
Since 2008, Dickinson has been making both liquid and bar soap from glycerin byproduct. But unfortunately, only liquid soap has been successful because it is typically of higher quality, easier to lather, and does not “sweat” or melt like its bar counterpart. One reason behind the difficulty to create a biodiesel soap from glycerin product is the abnormally high glycerin content – 40-80% versus 10-15% in traditional soap. Louisa tried various additives – coconut oil, vegetable shortening, olive oil or a combination of all three. After repeated tests, she found that adding coconut oil was the most successful. Louisa stated that she would like to see Dickinson use more soap that is eco-friendly and local.


Anna – Food Alliance Partnership

During this semester, Anna focused on not only growing the Food Alliance’s presence in Pennsylvania, but also establish a connection between Dickinson College and the Food Alliance. One reason the Food Alliance was chosen as an organization to work with is the Food Alliance’s committment to “support safe and fair working conditions” – an aspect somewhat unique to their organization. The organization also supports farms that hire individuals with disabilities such as the Red Wiggler Community Farm. Anna stated that Dickinson College’s Dining Services is now a Food Alliance “supporter” and would like to see more farms in PA become part of the Food Alliance network.


Here’s a link to an article discussing the modern-day caveman: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/utah-caveman-quits-money/story?id=16273605#.T6QK7-09VB4

Last week, I attended the Environmental Studies Research Senior Presentations, where three soon-to-be graduates of Dickinson College presented their research to a classroom filled with students and professors alike. I found one of the presenters, Angelo Lan, to be very interesting. He discussed the impacts that land-use changes have on stream flows of local streams, specifically the Monocacy Creek located in Northampton County, PA. This research is important because it will help asses future local urban development.

The Monocacy Creek is a small watershed and was an active USGS gauging station. Of all the water that flows from the creek, 45% is used for agriculture while only 25% is used for residential work. Lan’s research plan included building a model that would predict the stream flow of Monocacy Creek. The particular model that he used is called the Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC-HMS) which is developed by the Hydrologic Engineering Center, US Army Corps of Engineering.

The data needed for the model was land-usage information, precipitation levels, stream flow, and GIS data (which includes soil types). For the land-use information, Lan used data from the past 3 years. For the precipitation levels, Lan used the gauging station in Allentown to study the water.

An important component of the research that Lan discussed is the curve number which is a critical research input. Lan tried to minimize the difference between observed flow and simulated flow by adjusting the curve number. He addressed the question of how the impact of a change in land-use will impact stream flow. In conclusion, Lan identified that there was a significant and consistent increase of residential land use with a decrease in farmland. There was also a significant difference in the terms of runoff generated from different land use. Overall, I found this presentation very interesting and informative. I enjoyed learning about an area that was so close in proximity to our school.

For my Green Event, I attended a “rush hour” in Tome 115 about a week ago that was called “Whats Weird with the Weather?”  During this event, two Dickinson professors John Henson and Jeffrey Neimitz shared the allotted time in order to present their information to the students and other professors.  This talk was incredibly interesting and relatable because they discussed issues that we face daily.  Niemitz, an earth science professor, spoke during the first half of the rush hour and started his lecture with striking facts and statistics about the rain right here in Carlisle.  Nietmitz said Carlisle had 63 inches of rain this past year, where it is usually around 20 inches.  I thought I put my rain boots to use a lot last semester but 63 inches is way more than I would have guessed!  Nietmitz went on to discuss all of the natural disasters that have occurred within the United States.  He began with Hurricane Katrina, while showing a devastating photograph. After Katrina, Niemitz mentioned the 2011 Texas drought and how there were 92 consecutive days of being over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, in which reservoirs began to dry up.  Futhermore, Niemitz showed a picture of the contrast of precipitation between Texas and Pennsylvania and it was absolutely astonishing.  He also stated that the most devastatingly, extreme events are occurring worldwide affecting a much more vulnerable population (Pakistan flooding, Russian wildfires, European winter 2012).  Additionally, he mentioned the great decline of ice in the arctic and how some say it is the culprit.

After Nietmitz spoke, it was John Henson’s turn and he mainly discussed the impact of climate change on human health.  John Henson, a biology professor, started off with proving how the sea level has changed at least 5 or 6 meters higher due to a 125,000 year old fossilized coral reef on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas.  Then Henson began to primarily focus on the health and climate change where he discussed extreme temperature events, weather related natural disasters, drought/water availability, and sea level rise = flooding, loss of agricultural land, and climate change.  I thought it was helpful and pretty awesome when Henson shared the article he has read about the impact of climate change on human health.  With this, he explained the dangerous effects of extreme heat and how a lot of people have died due to heat related situations.  Henson ended his lecture on the Dengue fever.  He explained how the fever spreads more as the temperature increases.  Lastly and unfortunately, I’ve learned that the United States is not immune to the fever.

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