Environmental Organization


Rate Your Legislators

Lighting survey

Car Shopping


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:

You must cover at least the following topics:

  1. Common and scientific name of the organism.
  2. Range (where it is found now and originally; perhaps a map?)
  3. Habitat
  4. Why is it endangered?
  5. What is being done to help it recover?

50 points 

Download EarthAware Software

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?

Environmental Organization
25 points

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?

25 pts. 

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

25 points

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).   Click 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

25 points

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.

Car Shopping

25 points

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.


Tailpipe Tally:  How Much Does Your Car Pollute?

US-EPA's Green Vehicle Guide

Project/Paper Requirements: 

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 presenting this.
     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.

  1. Are flowers blooming, birds returning, and insects emerging earlier than before due to global warming?  What are the ecological implications?
  2. George W. Bush has vowed to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.  Is this a good idea?
  3. 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.
  4. Should Pennsylvania adopt a "bottle bill"? Should the federal government? The Sierra Club thinks so. Why have such attempts failed in the past?
  5. Critically review of George W. Bush's environmental record (or record on energy policies). How does he stack up compared to past presidents?
  6. 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
  7. 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)?
  8. Organic vs. traditional farming methods. Which is more productive? More environmentally benign? Discuss topics like pesticides, no till farming, etc.
  9. In the western US, the major environmental problem is water. Discuss this problem which sets farmers, ranchers, developers, and environmentalists at odds.
  10. A cost comparison of heating your family home for the next 20 years using solar heating vs. conventional heating like gas or electricity.
  11. 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?
  12. 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.
  13. 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?
  14. Cogeneration -- cities that burn their garbage for heat and electricity.
  15. Soft Path energy programs -- what common sense energy ideas are espoused by Amory Lovins?
  16. What will life be like without petroleum and its products?
  17. Trace the refining of oil from the ground to your gas tank.
  18. The sun is free -- so why isn't solar energy cheap, too?
  19. 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 alternative?
  20. 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?
  21. What is the best way to handle the many nuclear wastes we have created?
  22. Shippinsport -- the first nuclear reactor to 'die' of old age -- what have we done with it?
  23. 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?
  24. Acid mine drainage -- how it kills streams.
  25. Supertankers and oil spills -- their ecological aftermath. How well did Alaska survive the Exxon Valdez tragedy?
  26. A conflict of interest -- fishermen vs. oil drilling on America's most fertile fishing grounds.
  27. Acid rain -- Pennsylvania as both a source and recipient.
  28. The economics of acid rain--why the midwestern states won't quit burning dirty coal.
  29. Fires burning underground -- mine fires in Centralia and other Pennsylvania cities.
  30. Acid rain--its effect on lakes and streams
  31.      on forests.
  32.      on agriculture.
  33.      on human health.
  34. Chemical pesticides--an agricultural blessing or an ecological disaster? Why don't we make greater use of biological pesticides, like insect pheromones?
  35. City planning--how can you build an environmentally sound, beautiful, energy efficient, recycling society?
  36. Mass transit is a way to save energy and reduce pollution -- why do so few cities use it?
  37. 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?
  38. Choose your topic and present it in a novel way: write an original play, make a video, paint a picture, write poetry, etc.
  39. Design (that is, draw a very specific blueprint) an energy efficient home.
  40. The Kyoto Protocol -- why the U.S. should or shouldn't sign it.
  41. 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.
  42. Study your use of energy for several days. Figure out what it takes to support each of us.
  43. 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.
  44. 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 neighborhoods.
  45. Must business & environment always be at odds? Can environmentalism be good business?
  46. Discuss George W. Bush's environmental record as president.  Is he an environmental president.  Does it matter if he is or not?
  47. Why you should or shouldn't buy a hybrid automobile.  Test drive one!  Tell us about it!
  48. In 10 years, will we all be driving fuel-cell powered automobiles?
  49. 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?