10/26/10-Post Bay Game Assignment

1. According to Meadows, elements, interconnections and a function or purpose are necessary components in systems. Describe the elements, connections and/or functions or purpose in the Chesapeake Bay watershed system. Diagram the system including these elements.

The seven different roles I found to be the main elements of the Bay Game since they were the ones making the decisions. Ultimately the Regulators (Bay, Agriculture, and Land Use) had the most power in the game because they could limit/allow, encourage/discourage the Crop Farmers, Animal Farmers, Land Developers, and Watermen. Depending on what the goal of the Regulators was, they could decide to give more profit to those they regulated for sustainable practices (and tax more for unsustainable practices), or limit business in the case of watermen. This would allow for an increase in Bay Health. But they could also allow more business to occur, and the decision of sustainable vs. unsustainable came down to those regulated. Those looking for more profit would most likely choose the unsustainable route.

The game also depended on communication between watersheds and Regulators/those regulated. More communication meant working together as a group towards a goal of balancing economy, quality of life, and bay health. Less communication encouraged the gain of the individual—everyone looking out for themselves only.

Goals of the individual affected the game as well. The individual could ignore the limits or take advantages of the allowances of the regulators and try to gain quick profits. This usually led to decreased bay health, and ultimately decreased economy and quality of life because the supply of business would rapidly deplete to nothing.

2. Describe how your diagram and understanding have changed since your first diagram of the Chesapeake Bay watershed system.

I based my first diagram on what affects the Bay health, not on who affects it. My second diagram focuses more on who affects the Bay health and strategies to decrease/increase the bad/good practices (or the what). Ultimately, people can decide not to pollute or practice sustainable solutions, but they have to have incentive to do that. After playing the bay game, I realized that those three elements we had to rank importance of (quality of life, environment health, and economy) drive our decisions. If we find the economy to be most important, then sustainable practices have to be encouraged by satisfying that incentive to make more money from them.

3. How do you think delay affects the efforts to improve the health of the Bay?

Delay plays a big role in Bay health. In business, everyone feels the needs to do as much business as they can at once. I was a waterman, and the other waterman in my business would pot and dredge 100% of the amount of time given by the Regulator. If I did less, I would be making less profit! So, we talked to our Regulator about this, and it basically came down to her limiting our practices. If Bay health decreased during a turn, less potting and dredging time was allotted to us. This allowed the fish/crab population to increase again, and the water pollution to decrease. Delay in other business practices I assume work the same way. If we use our resources so quickly and have such a strong surge of business at once, more pollution appears in runoff and the watersheds, and the resource (and basis of business) is depleted! The balance that’s the most difficult to strive for is delaying long enough for the resource to sustain/regenerate it’s population quicker than we use it.

4. What was your perceived understanding of the goal/s of the game? Did you think the overall goal/s “fit” with your goals as a stakeholder and citizen? Describe how your understanding of the goal/s affected your actions within the game?

My goal for the game was to achieve the life balance of economy, bay health (environment), and quality of life. Personally I found quality of life to be affected by the other two elements, but was a little unsure how that element was separate in the game. I place the bay health and economy to be of the greatest importance (both the same amount), and I put quality of life in the last position, but not much less than environment and economy. My decisions were based on how to increase/decrease my life balance. I ended up always trying to decrease my life balance score because the environment health ended up way higher than the economy and quality of life. The James River Watershed had many environmentally goal-oriented people in it. At first, I was trying to try and achieve the balance within my own role, but I realized that everyone else was working mostly towards environmentally friendly practices, so I could focus more on making a profit than affecting the environment. However, I realized this a bit too late, so by the time I tried to reorganize my goals, I had three turns left and not so much money. Therefore, my life balance ended up about 90% environment and 5% economy and 5% quality of life, which was way off my original balance goal. Therefore, my life balance score was way higher than it should be, and I did not reach my goal for the game. While playing, I felt like both a stakeholder and a citizen. My decisions were based on risking my needs for the group’s at times, and at others I made decisions based on my needs only. Even through communicating to other people in the watershed on what their goals were, I never felt 100% positive they were making decisions that achieved their goals, which made me want to make mine based on my life balance alone.

Optional:

We are improving the UVA Bay Game with each iteration and would like your feedback. Please share any thoughts you have on how the game could be better, what you liked, how it could be best used, and any other comments you have.

I think the room we were in limited the amount of communication between watersheds and regulators/those regulated. If we had been in a large room with tables, that could have been helpful for communicating. Also, in class someone mentioned a way of instant messaging our regulators. I think also, if there was a way  for watersheds to communicate, maybe between regulators of different watersheds, that would be more effective in getting everyone playing the game to work as one large group, instead of several watersheds, or even worse, individuals.

 

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10-19-10 Solar Diagram @ O-Hill

O-Hill

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Newspaper Article-10/4/10

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703440604575496261529207620.html?KEYWORDS=unfreezing+arctic+assets#articleTabs%3Darticle

This is a link to an interesting newspaper article I read a couple of weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal. The author predicts northern countries (by north, I mean Canada, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Russia) to start becoming more populous and economically savvy in the future as global warming comes upon us. He imagines the now small town, too-cold-for-many-to-stand (but 15% of the earth’s surface area, which is about the size of the US) cities to become the “New North”. I think as our population grows and these areas warm up, it makes sense that these areas will become more populated. However, could they one day be as booming as New York? Possibly. The author imagines the “New North” to be like Arizona, with a few hugely successful cities but mostly barren. I think that he doesn’t quite factor in the population growth that’s predicted. According to the population division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the world population will grow from the current 6.9 billion to about 9.15 billion (http://esa.un.org/unpp/p2k0data.asp). So, the “New North” will definitely see more people moving in, but a new center of world business? Maybe. I think it would be interesting to see how a big city in the high Arctic would be built.

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Discussion 9-21-10

Morven 1940

The edges in this photo are thin near the top, maybe a line of trees to  separate the patches, but mostly it looks like boundaries of dirt paths or small roads separate the patches abruptly from one another. This is not ideal for animals living in the area because the open space is huge. They need more variability in natural resources to shelter, feed, and protect themselves. The mosaic of patches can almost be consolidated into one patch with a defined edge of forestry. In this case, the edge is much larger than the interior, making the edge species more populous and better equipped to survive than the interior species.

The small roads/corridors are for movement of people across the patches, or to mainly bypass all patches except their own or destination patch. The size of the roads probably allow some movement of species across patches, but like I stated earlier, the appeal to stay in plain sight on these patches could only appeal to the people that occupy them.

Morven-2010

The edges separating patches in this more recent photo are much thicker. There is more forestry separating patches allowing for optimal movement between patches for animals living in the area. They are more likely to actually move across patches as well because shelter, food, and protection are closer in proximity. However, for humans occupying the patches, they probably don’t move across patches on foot at least. Uncertainty in what’s ahead of them appears with a loss of vision of neighboring patches. The corridors are more defined and allow people to move from patch to patch quicker because of newer cars that motivated the building of better roads. Furthermore, corridors now split some patches in two, but these larger scale roads could divide a population living on that patch leading to possible loss of individuals.

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Discussion Assignment 9-14-10

I did two drawings to show different aspects of the section. I think what amazed me was the twenty degree difference between shade and direct sunlight that happened both on grass and concrete/asphalt. As you move further away from the water, the earth got drier resulting in hotter temperatures. The breeze was highest right next to the pond (right side). They came diagonally out of the page. The open area definitely allowed more breezes, and that breeze was coolest coming off the water. The combination of the searing black asphalt, dry earth, and less open space to allow wind to enter near the house led to the most miserable part of the section.

The walkway across the pond allows a bit to spill over in the middle. The flow before the spillway is next to nothing. The water almost stands still, but after the spillway there’s a bit more movement in the water. The movement of the water allows for cooler water and filtration of runoff that comes into the top part of the pond. The constructed walkway is a constructive manmade disturbance of the pond. Being manmade itself, the pond would otherwise be a still body of water collecting heat, runoff sediment/possible pollutants, and not much aesthetic pleasure. Because the pond is in such an open area, the sun hits it directly, which could be a destructive aspect to the walkway because it’s heated up throughout the day, which could cause increased water temperature.

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Reading Response-9/14/10

In A Manual for Ecological Design, Yeang explains many factors designers have to consider in constructing a renewable and ecological structure. He starts off by a devastating fact, that “although humans account for only one quarter of the 1 percent of the earth’s biomass, they are responsible for 99 percent of all the earth’s pollution.” It’s true we do more than our fair share of polluting. This reminded me of a diagram Professor Clarens showed my class in Introduction to Environmental Engineering last year. It depicts carbon dioxide emissions, something the world today is very concerned with.

If you look closely at it, you see that humans only contribute to a very small percentage of the emissions compared to other natural processes. Yet, it’s the fact that our little impact tips the balance. This brings to mind the whole point of Yeang’s ecodesign rule, that we must design by integration. But natural processes pollute too. Do we have to go beyond integrating with the environment and design to be invisible in the environment?

Yeang further talks about how we must know how ecosystems interact and run, change, and flow to be stable.He says they’re dynamic–a predator moving in changes the whole system. In the past two hundred years, have we been the biggest, baddest predators in ecosystems? I do think that our buildings have affected ecosystems around us, and destroyed many. But are we just like other predators that contribute to the dynamic factor of an ecosystem, or are we on a whole other level?

I also found it interesting when Yeang introduced the concept of ecomimicry. He defines it as “designing architectural ecosystems to emulate the properties, structure, functions and processes of ecosystem in nature.” That’s a huge task he’s asking us to undertake. To mimic the ecosystem around the structure, so that it’s a part of that ecosystem is something that’s a little difficult to get my mind to understand. If we were to build a house, for instance, in an ecosystem that has a stable balance of inflows and outflows, it’s almost impossible to make some sort of impact. I guess the general question that arose in my mind when reading this was whether Yeang is asking ecodesigners to integrate with the environment or become invisible to the environment. If we design to integrate with the environment we still take in energy and generate some waste, which does happen in a natural ecosystem. What if that energy in-waste out flow is just enough to tip the balance of the ecosystem? Or is he asking us to design to be invisible to the environment…an almost impossible task of taking in no noticeable energy and turning out no noticeable waste?

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Reading Response – 9/7/10

I found it interesting in the Thinking of Systems section on leverage points, the most important was transcending paradigms. The way the book is laid out seems very well structured with a set of defined rules and terms. However, Meadows states that the most important thing to remember is that no paradigm is “true”. Instead of trying to control systems, Meadows encourages us to rather “dance” with the system and stay flexible.

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