“Blogging Themes” resources are suggestions for overall themes or broad questions to pursue in each blog assignment. As mentioned in class, there is no requirement that you follow the suggested themes – you may write a post on any topic connected with the theme of the course. However, you are encouraged at least to start with these themes as you reflect on the subjects for your assignments.
The suggested theme for the first blog post is “Water”. This will also be the subject of Wednesday’s class. You can look at this topic at any scale. What is the relationship between ice loss in Greenland and sea level rise? How does total rainfall in California compare with water used? How does this compare with Pennsylvania, or just the Penn State campus? What’s the environmental impact of using bottled water? Below you’ll find a list of sources that you can refer to to get yourself started.
- Wikipedia. Not a primary source of course, but the article about water resources seems wide-ranging and well referenced.
- GreenFacts summary on water resources – also wide-ranging, seems a bit old in places
- United Nations World Water Development Report for 2015
- Water use and fracking for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale
- Overview of water management on the University Park campus
- Water bottles and refilling stations on campus
- The Spring Creek watershed in Centre County
- Rainwater capture in Los Angeles
- The water footprint of food
- Ideas for saving water at home
- How far do you have to walk for safe water? The issue of global water scarcity.
- Drought in California: state government drought website, article about using GPS to “weigh” the amount of water available, and a paper by Penn State’s Michael Mann about the CA drought and climate change.
- Paper from the Union of Concerned Scientists about cooling water use by US power plants
- Trouble at the Kariba Dam, the world’s largest artificial reservoir
You should expect to have to develop some ideas on your own even if you start from one of the references above. For instance, one of the suggestions that is made on the EarthEasy page about saving water at home (referenced above) is “Install low-flow shower heads”. To make a blog post about this with mathematical content, you would need to consult manufacturer’s specifications or home supply company web sites to find out exactly what are the flow rates for low-flow and normal showers. Then combine this with information about the total amount of time spent showering (perhaps from your own experience) to get a “gallons saved per week” figure that you can compare with data about total water demand in the US.