Drive Less. Fly More?

With improvements in both automobile and airplanes with regards to energy efficiency, depending on circumstances, it might just be better to fly than drive to your next vacation destination.

According to this link, driving today is considered to be more energy intensive than flying; defining energy intensity as ‘the amount of energy needed to transport one person a given distance.’ So, yes, technically speaking since an airplane transports so many more people than a car, it is less harmful proportionally to the environment.

Michael Sivak found that, in 2012, the energy intensity of driving a vehicle was 4, 211 BTU per person mile, whereas flying domestically was 2,033 BTU per person mile.

Let’s put this in terms we can all understand:

1 BTU = 1,055.0558 joules

[(4211 BTU)/(person∙mile) x (1055.05585 joules)/(1 BTU)] = 4,442,840.184 joules per person∙mile

[(4211 BTU)/(person∙mile) x (1055.05585 joules)/(1 BTU)] =4,442,840.184 joules per person∙mile

*Note that a 100 watt incandescent light bulb uses 360,000.0 joules in an hour- just so you have something to reference.

[(airplane/vehicle)] = [(2033 BTU per person per mile)/(4211 BTU per person per mile)] = 0.48 which is about 0.50 = (1/2)

The energy intensive per person per mile of an airplane is half of that of a car.

Does this mean flying is always going to be more energy efficient? definitely not, but this goes to show that flying isn’t as horrible for the environment that we once all believed. Next time you think about traveling, think about how many people you’re going to be traveling with, with gas mileage the car you will be taking has per gallon, and compare that to if you were to fly. But don’t forget to factor in your own personal comfort!

Save the water pt 2.

“In the United States, we are fortunate enough to have access to some of the safest water in the world just by turning a tap. Water is an important part of our daily lives and we use it for a wide variety of purposes The average person in the United States uses about 80-100 gallons of water each day, and the average The United States is one of the world’s leading consumers of water yet we only have 4.52% of the world’s population. According to Scientific American, America’s water footprint measures in at 1.053 billion cubic meters per year (that’s 278,173,171,133.1 gallons).”

Revisiting my last blog I began to think…What if everyone used water like we do in the U.S.? How much water would we need?

322million people use \[ 2.842 \times 10^{6} \text{ L} \]

Of that \[ 1.924 \times 10^{14} \text{ L} \]  is used in agriculture.

Total water per year: \[ 322 million \times  {2.842 \times 10^{6} \text{ L}} = {9.15 \times 10^{14} \text{ L}} \]

\[ {9.15 \times 10^{14} \text{ L}} – {1.924 \times 10^{14} \text{ L}} = {7.227 \times 10^{14} \text{ L}}  \]

To find the amount of recyclable water per person per year:

\[ \frac{7.227 \times 10^{14} \text{ L}}{322,000,000 \text{ people} } = 2.24 \times 10^6 \text{ L} \]

If there are 7billion people in the world… How much water do they need for agriculture?

\[ 4.28 \times 10^{15} \text{ L} \]

And how much for everything else?

\[ 1.568 \times 10^{16} \text{ L} \]

If everyone lived like the way we did in the US

We would use and need: \[ 2 \times 10^{16} \text{ L} \]

Globally we actually use:  \[ 9.087 \times 10^{15} \text{ L} \]

Although it may not seem like a lot of water it really is…. The difference between those two numbers is : \[ 1.09 \times 10^{16} \text{ L} \]

This is more than the total used.

\[ \frac{1.09 \times 10^{16} \text{ L}}{9.087 \times 10^{15} \text{ L}} = 1.2 \]

This means that the whole world use more than double its current amount! Currently at this time there is not enough water in the world to sustain this type of usage.

All of the numbers used came from 







Example 3.32

From the Sustinability 2.1 Exponential Models Notes, I decided to work out an example. I thought it was pretty interesting because it discusses the population of Japan.

Example 2.32: Not all countries are growing in population. Some are actually shrinking. One such countryis Japan. Its population is roughly 127 million. In the last year, the country had roughly 1.03 million births,1.19 million deaths, and a net migration into the country of 0. Estimate the population of Japan after one year.

What I did for this example is as follows…

1.03 million births / 127 millions * 100 = birth rate = .81%

1.19 million deaths / 127 millions * 100 = death rate = -.94%

94%-81%% = 13% (Negative, because it’s the death rate that is greater)

127 million * 13%= the decrease in population = 16.51 million less than current population

127 million – 16.51 million = what we can expect in one year =110 million people


What will the population be in 10 years? Thats a good blog post for someone else to try out!

Soylent.. The food of the future?

Soylent was something I heard of in a class of mine last semester and I thought it would be interesting to share it with the class. Soylent is a meal replacement that aims to provide its users with the adequate nutrition to avoid eating food altogether. This means no more meat or dairy, or even vegetables.


Soylent doesn’t spoil and all the miraculous mixture needs is water. Although the liquid isn’t the tastiest thing in the world, and it is unlikely people will trade in their steaks and fries for a shake (obviously not). There are other potential benefits to Soylent in which it may help people in less economically developed countries who are suffering from malnutrition.


According to Edesia, 20 million children in the world are severely malnourished while another 35 million are moderately malnourished. This again is only in regards to children; there are still millions of adults who lack the proper nutrition to survive.


The Soylent website claims that people will be able to live off less than $10 a day for food and less than $4 per meal.


CEO Rob Reinhart wants the mixture to become more synthetic in the future so it will not be affected by fluctuating crop seasons.


Although solving World Hunger is a few years out according to Reinhart, he claims one hurdle he must overcome is that just because people are poor, doesn’t mean they aren’t picky eaters. The formula will need to be tampered with to make sure that even though its nutritious, people will look forward to consuming it.


It seems like the future is rapidly approaching, with these odd inventions and people trying to revolutionize the way in which we live. However I would like to ask you, would you trade in your hamburger for a shake of tasteless goop to aid in saving the world?

Climate Change the Ultimate Prisoners’ Dilemma?

Prisoner’s dilemma is a game in game theory in which two individuals acting in their own best interest pursue a course of action that does not result in the perfect outcome for both parties involved. The typical prisoner’s dilemma is set up so that both parties choose to protect themselves at the expense of the other participant. As a result of following a logical thought process to help oneself, both participants can find themselves in a worse situation than if they had cooperated with each other in the decision-making process. Below is a chart that helps to describe the classic prisoners’ dilemma.

1111111111 Math 33 blog

Another example of the prisoners’ dilemma could be global climate change.Earth’s atmosphere is a resource that everyone on the planet uses and abuses. Air pollution and greenhouse gases from various industries and transportation increasingly damage this valuable, shared resource. Global climate change has been on the international agenda since 1992 when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was created. Over the last 20 years the issue of climate change has received a lot of international attention giving hope that something will be done, but despite high hopes and universal recognition that something ought to be done to address the problem, little progress has been made. This is why climate change can be considered a prisoners’ dilemma.  Although there are multiple players (countries) with different costs, benefits, and interests, the idea is the same. The best individual outcome for any country would be for them to (defect) continue to pollute while other nations (cooperate) reduce their emissions. This would give the polluting country a competitive advantage over other nations who limits their use of fossil fuels (free rider).

In a traditional prisoners’ dilemma best outcome is for all parties to cooperate because this reduces the total amount of prisoner time faced by the two prisoners. The worst collective outcome would be for both parties to defect causing them each to serve to three months in the model above.  If all countries were to partake in a global cleanup effort, everyone would profit. But there are huge incentives to cheat, especially for the smaller countries that do not emit a lot of greenhouse gases. In order for there to be a significant change in emission rates, big powerhouses such as the US, and China need to participate in the cleanup procedure. Conversely, smaller countries can get away without participating. They can still reap the benefits of a cleaner environment without having to spend the money and effort that the larger countries would need to invest. But if small countries do not participate, larger countries have less of an incentive to start a cleanup operation, because they would be the ones doing all the work. Like the original prisoner’s dilemma, the Nash Equilibrium occurs when all the countries decide not to clean up.



Citizen’s Climate Lobby Proposal

Going along with this week’s topic “Policy proposals for limiting carbon emissions, I decided to research the “Carbon Tax: Citizen’s Climate Lobby proposal”. Many new policies are being put into place now that the danger of global warming on society is beginning to be fully realized and acted upon. According to the Citizen’s Climate Lobby website the carbon fee and dividend is the plan to internalize carbon-based fuels. Fossil fuels still remain fairly cheap and are extremely profitable. Therefore, people still use them because they are accessible and are effective.   The average person does not consider the social costs that burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon emissions to the environment. According to AAA the average cost of a gallon of gas is equal to $2.58.   In terms of cost this is the best we have seen in a while. Surveys from AAA reveal that 68 percent of people are more likely to take a road trip this summer due to the price of gas. The mentality of people needs to change to align with the negative impact on the environment. The basic layout of the plan is to place a fee on CO2 content of fossil fuels at a steadily increasing rate. The money made form the fee would be redistributed to households. Border regulations will be put into place so that companied couldn’t re locate to avoid the fee. The plan is said to boost the economy and have a very positive effect on the environment.

While the plan seems at the surface to be a great idea to help save the environment, I personally cannot see people and especially companies allowing the proposal to take effect without a fight. Big oil’s monetary power is astounding and they will make it very difficult to create the changes necessary in time in order to make a difference. Personally I do not like the idea of taking money from the poor and simply redistributing it back to them via dividends because they cannot afford the new prices, they could be putting that money to other uses. The program states that gas prices will climb at a rate of around 10 cents every year until co2 emissions return to “10 % of Co2 equivalent emissions in 1990. According to the environmental protection agency in 1990 the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled around 6,300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.

Thus, the plan is to get emissions to around :

.90 X 6,300 million metric tons of Co2 emissions equals : 5670

6300 million metric tons – 5670 million metric tons equals: 630

So, while this proposal has great intentions and is great for the future of the planet and human race, how will it effect the present population?


Kindles vs Books

I got to thinking about my own carbon footprint. I have always been against e-readers because I like holding a book in my hands. I never thought that it was that selfish, specifically because I didn’t want to see written work become obsolete. Then I started wondering if it was better to buy a kindle or just buy a book.

That depends on how much you read. Kindles can be hazardous waste if you’re the kind of person that upgrades when every new model comes out. A biproduct of producing books is carbon dioxide emissions. If you’re an avid reader, and you keep your device for a few years, its better for the environment to read on a kindle. The environmental impact of one book is less than one kindle, in the long run, but when you start adding issues on the kindle instead of brand new books, the kindle becomes the better choice.

What I was thinking about though, is that everyone reads at least several books in their lifetime  so it really just makes sense to get a kindle as soon as you can and rely on that instead of buying one book, even if you might not read one for another 6 months. Just take care of your e-reader and it’ll be the smarter thing to do.


Here’s the link that I referred to for creating the blogpost:

Ice in the Antarctic

“During the past decade, Antarctica’s massive ice sheet lost twice the amount of ice in its western portion compared with what it accumulated in the east.” This is not very good news for the people of earth. Researchers from Princeton University have concluded that the Antarctic ice is melting increasingly faster each year. “The researchers “weighed” Antarctica’s ice sheet using gravitational satellite data and found that from 2003 to 2014, the ice sheet lost 92 billion tons of ice per year.”
This is a staggering amount of ice and is very hard to imagine its size. To put this into context the Princeton researches compared it to Manhattan. “If stacked on the island of Manhattan, that amount of ice would be more than a mile high — more than five times the height of the Empire State Building.”

One of the major problems that this research team is addressing is the fact that a large amount of the ice that’s melting in Antarctica is happening on land rather than in the ocean. This is problematic because where sea icebergs melting don’t cause the sea level to rise, as land ice makes its way into the ocean this causes the sea level to rise. “Overall, ice-loss rates from all of Antarctica increased by 6 billion tons per year each year during the 11-year period the researchers examined. The melting rate from West Antarctica, however, grew by 18 billion tons per year every year.”

“The fact that West Antarctic ice-melt is still accelerating is a big deal because it’s increasing its contribution to sea-level rise,” said Christopher Harig, a Princeton postdoctoral research associate in geosciences. “It really has potential to be a runaway problem. It has come to the point that if we continue losing mass in those areas, the loss can generate a self-reinforcing feedback whereby we will be losing more and more ice, ultimately raising sea levels by tens of feet.”

In the realm of geoscience and climate change something changing by 10 feet doesn’t seem to be very significant. But when we talk about global sea levels this would cause many extreme problems.


The Grand Banks Cod

The tragedy of the commons can be described as an economic theory by Garrett Hardin, which states that individuals acting independently and rationally according to each’s self-interest behave contrary to the best interests of the whole group by depleting some common resource.

A great example of the tragedy of the commons would be what happened in Canada with their fishing source. The harvest of cod was enormous and for many years seemed endless, but it did end abruptly in the 1990’s after an attempt by Canada to bring it back after a near breakdown in the 1970’s. In 1968 the cod catch from the Grand Banks was 810,000 tons, but in 1974 it was 34,000 tons.

There were many factors that lead to the depletion of the cod fish population in Canada. Part of the problem was the development of more effective methods for netting up codfish. When fishermen first began fishing in the banks they were only able to catch as many fish as their nets and tiny boats could catch and hold but with the creation of new technology such as bottom trawl nets, on boat refrigeration and larger boats the fishermen were able to catch record levels of cod. The dimensions of drift nets became enormous. Not only did these large nets haul in large numbers of fish but when lost they were devastating to the cod population.

Until 1977 the Grand Banks were part of the open ocean where the ships of any country could fish without limit  but in 1977 Canada along with many other nations of the world with coastal boundaries extended its national sovereignty to a 200 mile limit. This created the opportunity to manage and conserve the fish populations of the Grand Banks but in Canada they created subsidies which allowed the country to expand its own offshore fleet to exploit the gap left by the foreign ships.

Canadian fisheries experts advised their government that the imposition of proper catch limits would allow the cod population to recover. They set the limit of Cod at what they thought was the maximum sustainable yield which is a spot where you can take the most amount of fish with the population still being able to grow back. The quotas were set too high continually, so that the country could sustain their fishing market. Eventually the fishing market collapsed because there were no fish left and the population would not grow back.

What happened in Canada is an example of Tragedy of the commons because most fishermen in Canada were fishing from the same bank. They all received a large benefit from getting large amounts of fish at first. (The government subsidies that came from fisherman’s insurance etc.) The depletion of the fish population did not seem like a problem from the start because each fisherman only felt a small portion of the costs related to overfishing. The more the fishermen fished at the banks the less fish there were but the fishermen did not stop fishing because they were still reaping the benefits from the population of fish that was left. Because the fishermen and the government of Canada did not look at the bigger picture and what could happen if the fish population continued to decrease overtime, the fish population became unsustainable and the fish population continued to decline at drastic levels.  Two main problems with the Canadian banks were that the banks were open to all the fisherman (non-excludability) and no reason to cooperate. Because the fishermen and government did not listen to the fisheries experts this created a tragedy of the commons.





How do the largest cities in the world consume goods such as electricity, water and other natural resources? A mega city is a term used to identify a metropolitan area with a population of 10 million people or greater. In 1970 there were a total of 8 mega cities across the globe, this number increased to 27 in 2010 and is expected to reach 37 by the year 2020. Mega cities are home to 6.7% of the world’s population, although they consume 9.3% of global electricity and produce 12.6% of global waste. So why do these cities use an unproportional amount of resources and are all cities equally bad? It turns out the answer is no.

Cities in colder climates tend to use more energy for heating and similar purposes. In addition wealthier cities create more waste, due to increased consumption. “Wealthy people consume more stuff and ultimately discard more stuff,” said U of T civil engineering professor and industrial ecologist Chris Kennedy. The average New Yorker uses 24 times as much energy as a citizen of Kolkata, and produces over 15 times as much solid waste.

In a world where more people are living in cities each year it is imperative that we find a more sustainable solution to these wasteful mega cities.