Two Endangered Species Reports
Due dates: April 3 and 10
Choose two species, one plant and one animal; one double-spaced typed page
for each species. Each is worth 25 pts. Here are some ideas:
- Endangered/threatened outside of US, e.g. Cheetah, Mountain Gorilla,
- US endangered or threatened,
e.g. California Condor, Furbish Lousewort, Indiana Bat, Spreading
- Pennsylvania endangered or threatened
invertebrates, e.g. Fisher, Osprey, American Beach Grass
You must cover at least the following topics:
- Common and scientific name of the organism.
- Range (where it is found now and originally; perhaps a map?)
- Why is it endangered?
- What is being done to help it recover?
Due Tuesday, January 22.
Turn in the Analysis report printouts and your
response to it. The program has given you a rating in each of six
categories. Consider what your category rankings are as well as your
overall rating. How do you feel about these ratings? Do they
accurately reflect your lifestyle? Do they surprise you?
Comment especially on those which are less than favorable. What
could you do to improve these? Do you think that you can or will do
anything to improve?
Due Tuesday, January 29.
Investigate and report on the environmental
organization of your choice. It may be local, national, or
international. In no more than one page, tell what the organization's mission is and how they
try to accomplish it. Do they have any direct connection to energy
issues? Indirect connection? Are they successful?
Due Friday, March 28.
Write a letter (email or telephone calls are
acceptable) to someone who has an impact on an energy/environmental issue.
This can criticize them for their position or performance. It may
also pat them on the back if this is warranted. (Praise is good!)
Write to an appropriate person! For
instance, don't write to the Mayor of Scranton about the Acid Rain--he can
do nothing about this. Similarly, don't write to the President of
the US about your community's recycling program. For addresses of
many elected officials, visit the Citizen
Action part of this website.
Be sure you write an appropriate letter, as
described in class.
You must document your communication. If it
is a written letter, submit to me the finished letter in an unsealed
envelope which is fully addressed and stamped. I will read it (only
to ensure that you have fulfilled the assignment) and then drop it in the
mail. If you used email, you must provide me with a copy of the
document you sent. If you phoned someone, submit a summary of what
both you and they said.
Rate Your Legislators
Due Tuesday, February 5.
Rate your federal legislators. Look up your US Representative and
your two US Senators on the League
of Conservation Voters website (or another one you may know).
here for your representative's record;
here for your senator's.
Discuss their environmental voting records. When you must consider
all the other issues that a legislator must face, will (and should) this
make a difference to you the next time they are up for election?
Home Lighting and Shopping Survey
Due Tuesday, February 19
Inventory all light sources in your place of living. Count how
many bulbs and of what kind and wattage. Visit your local WalMart,
Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. to price energy-efficient replacement
bulbs. Estimate the costs and savings of replacing all your old
bulbs over the next five years.
Due Tuesday, February 12.
Determine the initial cost, fuel costs, and emissions of your current
automobile(s). Next do some shopping: determine the same
figures for a 2008 auto you might buy if environmental
considerations were at the top of the list of your buying criteria.
Finish with a commentary about why you will or won't let
environmental concerns guide your next car purchase.
Tally: How Much Does Your Car Pollute?
Total points: 125
Topic due Thursday, February 28. Final product due Tuesday, April 29.
Select a topic which interests
you. The list below may give you ideas, but you are welcome to
modify one of these or come up with an original idea. Topics must be
cleared with me. All topics are first-come-first-served; i.e., only
one person in the class may have any topic. Prepare a 'paper' which
thoroughly investigates the topic. (I can't imagine that anyone
could do this in less than 5 pages of text.) Shorter papers will be
tolerated from those who choose a field topic. The paper will be
written in normal 'English-class' style. This means that you must cite
all relevant materials and have a Literature Cited section. (Nota
bene: I am as picky of a grader on grammar and spelling as any English
professor!) This paper is worth 100 pts.
You will also present your project to the class
during the last week of the course. I strongly recommend a
PowerPoint presentation. I will teach you how to use PowerPoint if
you wish. This presentation will be judged by your classmates, and
is worth 25 points. Here's an
example of a well
done PowerPoint presentation. Remember, the speaker added much while
It is strongly recommended that you submit a
draft for my inspection and comments before the due date.
Possible Project Topics for Environmental Science
This is a list of potential topics. You may do one of these, modify
one, or choose something altogether different.
- Are flowers blooming, birds returning, and insects emerging earlier
than before due to global warming? What are the ecological
- George W. Bush has vowed to open up the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge to oil drilling. Is this a good idea?
- Become Keystone's acid rain monitor -- collect water from each
rain/snow and measure its pH. Compare your results with state and
national trends. Report your results to local media.
- Should Pennsylvania adopt a "bottle bill"? Should the
federal government? The Sierra Club thinks so. Why have such attempts
failed in the past?
- Critically review of George W. Bush's environmental record (or record
on energy policies). How does he stack up compared to past presidents?
- Monitor the quality of the water that runs through campus, e.g., the
pH, temperature, flow rate, species of fish present, alkalinity,
buffering capacity, etc
- Investigate "green consumerism", or how consumers can have
an effect on product manufacturers by their buying habits. Talk to
grocers and customers. Is there enough of a preference for
ecologically 'friendly' products (for example, eggs packed in
recyclable cardboard cartons rather than styrofoam)?
- Organic vs. traditional farming methods. Which is more productive?
More environmentally benign? Discuss topics like pesticides, no till
- In the western US, the major environmental problem is water. Discuss
this problem which sets farmers, ranchers, developers, and
environmentalists at odds.
- A cost comparison of heating your family home for the next 20 years
using solar heating vs. conventional heating like gas or electricity.
- Is the U.S. an energy pig? Or, do our contributions to the world in
terms of technology and inventions justify taking more than our share
of world resources?
- Evaluate Keystone's (or your employer's) plans for a recycling
program for paper, aluminum, plastic and glass. What are its strong
and weak points? How could it be made more efficient? Discuss
Keystone's plan with the recycling coordinator.
- Scrap yards -- what they can recycle, and what they can't. What do
they pay for recycled materials; why does the market fluctuate so
much; how much do they make in this business?
- Cogeneration -- cities that burn their garbage for heat and
- Soft Path energy programs -- what common sense energy ideas are
espoused by Amory Lovins?
- What will life be like without petroleum and its products?
- Trace the refining of oil from the ground to your gas tank.
- The sun is free -- so why isn't solar energy cheap, too?
- A debate: your town needs a new power plant. Should it be a fossil
fuel-burning plant, or a nuclear plant? Is there any other feasible
- Three Mile Island and Chernobyl -- what happened, and how have these
events affected the U.S. nuclear industry? What about the many other
underreported nuclear accidents?
- What is the best way to handle the many nuclear wastes we have
- Shippinsport -- the first nuclear reactor to 'die' of old age --
what have we done with it?
- Canada's Bay of Fundy tidal power project--the pro's and con's. What
ecological effects will it have? Is it worth the ecological costs?
- Acid mine drainage -- how it kills streams.
- Supertankers and oil spills -- their ecological aftermath. How well
did Alaska survive the Exxon Valdez tragedy?
- A conflict of interest -- fishermen vs. oil drilling on America's
most fertile fishing grounds.
- Acid rain -- Pennsylvania as both a source and recipient.
- The economics of acid rain--why the midwestern states won't quit
burning dirty coal.
- Fires burning underground -- mine fires in Centralia and other
- Acid rain--its effect on lakes and streams
- on forests.
- on agriculture.
- on human health.
- Chemical pesticides--an agricultural blessing or an ecological
disaster? Why don't we make greater use of biological pesticides, like
- City planning--how can you build an environmentally sound,
beautiful, energy efficient, recycling society?
- Mass transit is a way to save energy and reduce pollution -- why do
so few cities use it?
- America's love affair with the car -- how it effects our energy and
resource supply, and the environment. How would things change if the
rest of the world had as many cars as Americans?
- Choose your topic and present it in a novel way: write an original
play, make a video, paint a picture, write poetry, etc.
- Design (that is, draw a very specific blueprint) an energy
- The Kyoto Protocol -- why the U.S. should or shouldn't sign it.
- Invite a politician to class to guest lecture on energy/environmental
legislation. This might be a governor, US senator/ representative,
state senator/representative, local official, etc.
- Study your use of energy for several days. Figure out what it takes
to support each of us.
- Former Vice-president Al Gore has been called an environmental
extremist by some, even former President Bush the First, who labeled
him as 'a kook from out in the ozone' What is Gore's philosophy? Read
and criticize his best-selling book, Earth in the Balance.
- Minorities suffer more environmental insults than any other
group. Why? Some topics to include are plans to site radioactive waste
dumps on Native American reservations; the presence of an inordinately
high number of chemical plants, power plants, landfills, etc. in poor
- Must business & environment always be at odds? Can
environmentalism be good business?
- Discuss George W. Bush's environmental record as president. Is
he an environmental president. Does it matter if he is or not?
- Why you should or shouldn't buy a hybrid automobile. Test
drive one! Tell us about it!
- In 10 years, will we all be driving fuel-cell powered automobiles?
- Alternative forms of lighting. Why do you (or Keystone or your
employer) continue to use old style incandescent or fluorescent bulbs
when much more energy-efficient alternatives already exist?