Senior Thesis Abstracts 2010
Why is Government in the Garden? Case Studies of Resilient Co-Governance in Urban Community Gardening Programs
Henry Barmeier, 2010
The American food system faces complex and profound problems that affect social, environmental and economic well-being. Today, as at other points in the country’s history, community gardening has emerged as a popular means of addressing some of these problems on a local level. Community gardens are plots of public or private land tended by volunteers who either keep or donate their produce. Community gardens can promote the resilience of a local food system by reducing its sensitivity to adverse environmental and socioeconomic shocks and by enhancing its capacity to adapt to these shocks. I argue that policy should aim to promote resilience across all aspects of the food system.
Through the lens of community gardening programs, this thesis investigates the mechanisms of local-level policy-making that can promote food system resilience. Specifically, it asks how local government and the third sector—or citizens and nonprofit organizations—can collaborate to manage the food system for resilience.
Case studies from Seattle, Portland and New York find that the municipally-sponsored community gardening programs in these cities exemplify schemes of “adaptive co-governance.” That is, the programs facilitate a sharing of power and responsibility among public and third sector actors that allows them to respond resiliently to changes that threaten gardens’ viability. In turn, this promotes the gardens’ contribution to the resilience of the local food system. The ability of the co-governance schemes to promote the resilience of gardens and of the food system depends, however, on the ability of public and third sector partners to manage their own relationships for resilience. I argue that the resilience of gardens and the resilience of relationships are linked in a cycle of “budding,” “building,” “bonding,” and “breaking.”
A case study from Philadelphia of a community gardening program operated almost entirely within the third sector suggests that co-governance can function without government. However, the absence of a public partner reduces the capacity of the co-governance scheme to adapt to adverse shocks to gardens.
These case studies highlight three lessons for the development of a resilient food system. First, schemes of co-governance can promote food system resilience by engaging local government in food system management. Second, the collaborative structure of co-governance promotes creation of relationships across geographic scales and policy areas that allow local actors to expand their influence to wider initiatives contributing to food system resilience. Third, the resilience of relationships among public and third sector partners underlies the partners’ ability to promote resilience of the food system. Collectively, these lessons point to the promise of adaptive public-third sector co-governance schemes to mobilize effective local responses to food system problems.
Given the potential importance of public-third sector co-governance, future research should focus on understanding its emergence and the possible means of promoting such arrangements.
Cost-Effectiveness of Weatherization in Low-income Urban Housing
Jon Bradshaw, 2010
Residential energy use currently accounts for roughly a quarter of U.S. energy consumption and energy-related carbon emissions. Weatherizing houses to reduce space conditioning (i.e. heating and cooling) loads represents a substantial source of energy and carbon savings. Federal weatherization assistance programs provide weatherization treatments for low-income families, which are disproportionately burdened by high energy bills. With limited resources, it is advantageous to determine the optimal way to invest in weatherization assistance programs.
This thesis examined how weatherization cost-effectiveness varies geographically due to difference in climate, housing stock, and energy infrastructure. This thesis used American Housing Survey Data to represent the low-income urban housing stock in the Milwaukee, Detroit, Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles-Long Beach, and Orlando metropolitan areas, which represent a range of geographical and climatic areas. This data was used to drive the Home Energy Saver to model current energy consumption and expected energy savings from a combination of three weatherization treatments: replacing a standard thermostat with a programmable thermostat, installing attic insulation, and envelope air sealing. Results of this analysis show that the optimal investment strategy depends on the goal of the weatherization program, as, for instance, maximizing energy savings, energy bill savings, carbon savings, or carbon abatement cost all suggest different investment strategies.
Design and Construction of a Solar Powered Aircraft
Nathan Buch, 2010
Our senior independent work goal is to design and construct an unmanned solar powered aircraft, to be used in a variety of applications. These applications could include monitoring environmental concerns from the air, such as animal migration, flooding, forest management, or traffic patterns, and radio relay communications as a low-cost alternative to satellite communications. The twenty-foot wingspan craft derives one hundred percent of its power from solar radiation, and is controlled remotely. The craft is capable of flying indefinitely by diverting collected solar energy in excess of its cruise flight requirements to an on-board battery array, and flying off the stored solar energy at night.
The Interaction of Leadership, Risk Assessment and Information Exchange in Plains Zebras (Equus burchelli): Reaction to Lion (Panthera leo) Dung near an East African Savannah Water Hole
Zackory Burns, 2010
Plains zebras (Equus burchelli) adapt their behavior to avoid predation. Lion feces have been used on different species to show a change in their foraging habits; however, none of these studies have been performed on equines and few studies have been done to reveal the reactions, leadership dynamics or information exchange that occurs from olfactory stimuli.
At the Mpala Research Center in Kenya, lion dung pellets were placed around a water hole and zebras were filmed for analysis. The zebras reacted to lion dung—they were more vigilant after encountering the lion dung than the controls. Leaders and the first harem into the water hole reacted more often than followers and the second harem into the water hole. This reveals that the first harem and the first individual experiences more risk than subsequent individuals and groups. The risk perceived by the zebras was then communicated, through reactions, to other members of the group. These reactions altered the zebras’ behavior; however, the zebras still chose to enter the water hole. While the risk of lion dung alters zebras’ behavior, it did not prevent the zebras, except in one instance, from continuing to the water hole.
This study highlights how information transfers within and between harems when a predator stimulus is detected. It also suggests that the decision to enter the water hole may be an individual decision and not a group decision.
The Industrialization of Beef Production in Colombia: Unintended Consequences of a Trade Promotion Agreement with the United States
Juan Candela, 2010
The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed increased public scrutiny on industrialized beef production and its regulation in the United States. Waste mismanagement and the contamination of river ecosystems, along with increased epidemiological threats to public health, have become major arguments behind calls for stronger regulation of Confined Animal Feeding Operations and of corn-intensive diets for cattle (Walker et al. 2006, Osterberg & Wallinga 2004). Colombia and the United States have signed a Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) that in the case of beef and corn will gradually eliminate trade barriers.
This thesis analyzes, with a static before-and-after two-good two-country trade model, how the removal of tariffs affects the beef and corn markets in Colombia and thus incentives to switch from grass-based systems to a grain-based one, a transformation riddled with negative environmental consequences and increased risks to public health. Although some parameter estimations render the model an approximation, results suggest that real prices will decrease by approximately 43% for standard beef cuts and 33% for yellow corn.
Another Dime, Another Diet: An Analysis of Development and the Associated Effects on Diet Composition Worldwide
Chandler Clay, 2010
Over the last few decades, the level of food consumption throughout the world has shown stark disparities between the amount of calories consumed in developed and developing countries. Since 1986, North Americans have consumed on average more than 3,600 kilocalories per person per day, significantly exceeding the minimum daily requirement of 2,700. Meanwhile, residents of countries in central Africa and other developing countries are consuming as few as 2,072 kilocalories per day, approximately 12% below the minimum recommended amount. The most commonly considered causes for the differences in food consumption levels across countries include income, urbanization, other demographic changes, improved transportation, and consumer perceptions about the quality and safety of food.
This paper focuses on the changes in the composition of diet that occur over time and across countries with different levels of per capita GDP, including analysis on the effects of urbanization, transportation, and socio-demographics. These changes in diet that take place with economic development, not all of which are positive, are often referred to as the “nutrition transition”. The adverse changes in diet include shifts towards more energy dense foods with higher amounts of fat and added sugars, increased intake of saturated fats (the majority from animal sources), reduced consumption of dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates, and reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables.
This paper examines there dietary transitions across several countries through an econometric analysis that considers the associations between different indicators of development and diet composition over time. The environmental impacts of the changes in food consumption choices are also closely considered. The results show that the level of urbanization for countries is the most statistically significant development variable associated with higher meat consumption and lower fruit and vegetable consumption, suggesting that as countries become more urbanized, they consume a less healthy diet with a greater environmental impact. Policy suggestions are made to reverse this nutrition transition in the conclusion of the paper.
Disaster Risk Science: Innovation and Experiment in Africa
Carolyn Edelstein, 2010
Natural disasters happen. They happen fairly consistently and are happening with growing frequency. Though deaths from disasters worldwide have been decreasing over time, the cost of damage and number of survivors from natural disasters is rising. Many survivors subsequently require assistance to escape becoming casualties. These rising numbers of affected people live mostly in the developing world, where internal capacity to respond to emergencies is inadequate. To meet the challenges posed by natural disasters, policy needs to shift from a relief-response frame of mind to a more holistic, developmental viewpoint.
In 2005, 164 member states of the United Nations committed to the Hyogo Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, through which they pledged to make substantial efforts to prevent or minimize the effects of natural disasters. The holistic approach to disaster risk reduction examines how factors of human vulnerability, such as poverty, conflict, and poor governance, erode populations’ ability to withstand environmental hazards, and seeks to mitigate those vulnerabilities. The prescribed methodology emphasizes the need to educate professional disaster risk managers and residents in vulnerable areas, and to study disaster risk at a micro level.
To research the question of how academia and policy in developing regions can build local resilience to natural disasters, I investigated the efforts of the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DiMP) to improve disaster risk reduction research, policy, and practice in Africa. Based at the University of Cape Town, DiMP is a leader of efforts to build local research and professional capacity to for disaster risk reduction in African contexts. This thesis is a program review that examines the contributions DiMP has made to the field, including curriculum generation, research output, and student graduates.
To evaluate DiMP, I first examine three broad claims: 1) the classic approach to disasters, that is, short-term relief and response efforts, should be replaced with an integrated, trans-disciplinary, developmental approach; 2) disasters are not events, but part of processes that can be understood through analyses of development shortcomings and socio-economic disadvantages; 3) Africa needs to increase its disaster risk reduction capacity to ensure more sustainable development. I argue that these claims are true. I then test if the DiMP program has been successful at creating knowledge and expertise in disaster reduction by describing and analyzing its overall goals and operations and then by examining the Community Risk Assessments, which are research projects that DiMP trains its students to conduct, and which are designed to improve risk reduction in southern African informal settlements.
This paper examines political and institutional barriers to DiMP's success. It argues that the DiMP approach to disaster risk reduction exposes the need for greater university-based knowledge generation as a way of informing the developmental process. It also provides suggestions for how to improve its long-term efforts to institutionalize university-based disaster risk science. In Africa, where relatively little knowledge about micro-level vulnerabilities and hazards exists to inform disaster management planning, there is a discernable gap for an academic unit like the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme to fill.
Impact Assessment in Alaska: General Guidance, Project Application, and Sustainable Mitigation
Alexa Glencer, 2010
The purpose of this thesis is (1) to identify the need for Health Impact Assessment (HIA) as a standard component of the Alaskan resource extraction industry permitting process, (2) to describe HIA evolution to date within Alaska, (3) to identify persistent issues that impede formulation of a consistent HIA methodology within Alaska, and (4) to suggest strategies by which HIA could be best employed to resolve the tension between broad Alaskan public health concerns and corporate responsibility.
HIA is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary methodology designed to identify and analyze the potential public health effects of projects, programs, and policies. It is intended to influence decision-making by providing information that can be used to implement strategies that effectively minimize project-related negative health effects and enhance project-related positive health effects. While HIA is routinely conducted by European nations, multinational corporations, and International Finance Corporation (IFC) loan recipients, it is relatively novel in the United States. Recently, the State of Alaska has taken domestic initiative by incorporating HIA into its large-scale resource extraction project permitting process. Over the past twenty months, an interagency team representing federal and State health and regulatory departments and tribal organizations has worked to develop a general HIA guidance document to be used as a voluntary framework for implementing best-practice procedures. Functioning as a technical tool, the guidance does not claim to offer comprehensive solutions for project-specific challenges; instead, it is expected that early Alaskan HIA efforts will set important precedents and that subsequent projects will build upon past experience. Already, prior to the release of the guidance document, HIAs have been conducted within the State, and two new proposed mining projects, each anticipating the permitting stage, have requested that HIAs be performed.
In Alaska, communities potentially affected by large-scale resource extraction projects tend to be rural Alaska Native villages. While they have been increasingly integrated into the cash economy over the past century, they still rely heavily on a subsistence way of life. Subsistence is integral not only to their diets but also to their social organization and traditional cultural practices. Thus, project-imposed subsistence threats are particularly serious, for they have the potential to generate profound physical and psychosocial health consequences among local populations. They, therefore, warrant inclusion in the HIA process; however, it is often difficult to isolate project-related impacts from macro-level modernizing trends and to control for the mediating role of personal choice. Some of the greatest controversies encountered in current HIA negotiations are the product of project proponents’ adamance that limits be placed on the extent of their financial responsibility for determining baseline subsistence consumption figures and for enacting subsistence-related mitigation.
The management team overseeing exploration activities at the proposed Donlin Creek mine site in southwestern Alaska has recognized, however, that comprehensive social programs enacted within surrounding communities actually serve the financial interests of corporations. In addition to a dependable source of income, Donlin Creek employment has provided local residents with individual skills training, substance abuse counseling, and culturally sensitive outreach events. Each element of this approach has also been critical to maintaining a reliable workforce; corporate social responsibility is aligned with wise business decisions. In the future, a new methodology focused on human rights may be employed as a widely accepted means of analyzing and mitigating the complex socioeconomic and cultural repercussions of large-scale resource extraction projects in rural Alaska. HIA would certainly still be relevant, but its risk assessment protocol is likely to become significantly more quantitative.
In Southern Soil: A Study of Ecology and Landscape in the Works of Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner
Justine Hausheer, 2010
For my senior thesis, I chose to write on the works of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.
The subject matter of both authors has a distinctly southern focus, and it is clear that both O’Connor and Faulkner drew inspiration from their native environment. Critics of Faulkner and O’Connor traditionally focus on themes of race, class, gender, and religion within their writings. Yet I noted an environmental undercurrent to their works, only acknowledged by a few critical sources. I wanted to explore how these authors interacted not only with the south on a social level, but on an environmental one. O’Connor is best known for her short fiction, and I selected four principle stories to study: “A View of the Woods,” “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” “The River,” and “A Circle in the Fire.” For my study of Faulkner, I chose his novel Go Down, Moses, which itself is a novel made up of linked short stories. I focused on the central story within the novel, “The Bear.”
My examination of O’Connor’s fiction revealed a deep concern with the development of modern Georgia. O’Connor saw much of her home in rural Georgia carved out to the forces of development, and her fiction reflects her anxiety over her native land. In my first chapter, I argue that O’Connor portrays such development as grotesque to emphasize her preference of the natural world. In my second chapter, I further this argument by proposing that O’Connor also views the natural world as grotesque in its own way. The natural grotesque is preferable to the developed grotesque, for it imposes order on the landscape through natural justice, while development breeds disorder.
In “The Bear,” Faulkner writes of a young boy’s hunting encounter with a legendary bear of the Mississippi wilderness and how that encounter shapes his life. In my third chapter, I discuss how Faulkner also wove development into his fiction, specifically the development of the Mississippi-Yazoo delta. Like O’Connor, his influences for writing development into his fiction were partly biographical. My fourth chapter then examines the development of the delta in relation to the principle character, a giant bear named Old Ben. Old Ben is the focus point for Faulkner’s incorporation of ecological principles into his fiction.
Over all, O’Connor’s writings reveal a fascination with south land on the level of landscape, and her stories are populated with sweeping views of rural southern Georgia. O’Connor’s readers are restricted to interaction with the landscape on a visual level, yet O’Connor is still effective in conveying her concern over developing Georgia. Faulkner’s narrative takes a more scientific and ecological focus than O’Connor’s, literally immersing the reader into the delta woods. Readers and characters alike are exposed to the ecological underpinnings of the delta and the threat that development poses upon the fragility of the natural system. Both authors effectively, if subtly, communicate an environmental message to their readers, suggesting that there is both beauty and fragility in the southern soil.
Reducing Contact Resistance in Multi-Layer Organic Thin-Film Transistors
Jacob Hiller, 2010
Advances in organic thin‐film transistor (OTFT) development offer enormous potential to usher in a new wave of ultra‐cheap, lightweight, flexible and energy efficient electronic devices. Yet even the best devices today continue to be plagued by disordered morphologies that limit device performance. Organized multi‐layered devices constructed from anthracene bisphosphonate self‐assembled monolayers attached by metal linkers could allow for precise nanomorphological control in device design. Yet so far, prototypes have failed to function. Excessive contact resistance at the metal‐molecule interface is identified as a likely barrier and new molecular capping layers are envisioned and synthesized in order to construct new devices.
"Bromo" and "Cyano" substituted anthracene phosphonic acids offer the potential to improve electronic interaction at the metal‐molecule interface through unique bonding schemes with the gold electrode. In order to be incorporated into multi‐layer devices, the monolayer formation capabilities of the “Bromo” substituted anthracene phosphonic acid is tested and verified against a known control.
Structural and Constructional Feasibility of Glass Elements: a Hyperbolic Canopy
Gregor Horstmeyer, 2010
This research investigates both the structural and constructional feasibility of a glass shell; in particular, a hyperbolic umbrella composed of four identical anticlastic glass panes. Felix Candela created reinforced-concrete hyperbolic shells that efficiently utilized the concrete's great compressive strength and downplayed its weaknesses (Garlock et al. 2008). The structure's geometry -- hyperbolic paraboloid (hypar) -- is generated by sweeping a parabola with positive curvature along the path of a parabola with negative curvature while maintaining orthogonality between the two parabolas' paths. The resulting anticlastic geometry limits bending stresses and buckling under self-weight and external loading. Four centrally supported hypars create a structural umbrella.
While glass has been used as a cladding material for over 100 years, building and glass technology developments over the past two decades have promoted the use of glass as a structural material. These advancements, along with the material's light-transmittance and anti-corrosive properties, have allowed architects and structural engineers to realize complex and provocative structural systems. Still, other than Lucio Blandini's \glass dome", curved structural glass has attracted minimal research (Sobek 2005).
One central concept of this research re ects the idea that, as for concrete, the immense compressive strength of glass can be exploited because the hypar geometry produces predominantly compressive stresses under external loads. Furthermore, employing a combination of strengthened glass and annealed glass sandwiched with a laminate interlayer lets the structure overcome any tensile stress concentrations originating at surface aws while also providing increased post-breakage capacity (Bennison et al. 2008). Numerical finite element model- ing of the umbrella canopy indicates acceptable ultimate limit and service limit along with acceptable buckling behavior under symmetric gravity loading. The efficiency of the hypar shell is validated through a comparison with a planar canopy | an inverted pyramid with the same aerial footprint and rise as the hypar canopy. The planar canopy fails to meet any design requirement under symmetric gravity loads. The research incorporates physical experiments that explore the construction and manufacturing of a scale-model umbrella canopy.
Lastly, the thesis considers the sustainable energy benefits that the glass canopy oers through passive solar heating. The tightly bound electrons in glass' non-crystalline structure allow photons in the visible spectrum to pass through the material while trapping outgoing thermal radiation. This phenomenon can significantly reduce a building's conventional active heating and cooling energy requirements. The thesis concludes and makes suggestions for further work in the field of curved structural glass design.
Optimizing the Green Government Dollar: ARRA's Local Energy Efficiency Project Implementation
Virginia Maloney, 2010
This thesis is premised on the idea that government investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy can (i) create "green jobs" to revitalize the economy, (ii) promote environmental benefit and energy security, and (iii) address socio-economic concerns. The Obama Administration accepts this premise and funds unprecedented government investment in environmental endeavors through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA). The influx of federal spending in renewable energy and energy efficiency grant programs presents a unique opportunity for the analysis of the effectiveness of these investment flows. This thesis investigates three ARRA-bolstered Department of Energy (DOE) energy efficiency grant programs-the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the State Energy Program (SEP), and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG)-to identify opportunities for local officials, barriers to successful project implementation, and principles that guide effective place-based models.
This thesis seeks to optimize the impact of government spending across the three goals of government environmental investment by identifying areas where the federal government could better support local innovation and the key factors guiding successful projects. This thesis argues that place-based energy efficiency projects have enormous potential, and that although they should not necessarily be promoted to the exclusion of any other approach to energy efficiency investment, encouraging and supporting these initiatives can ensure that money is spent to meet community needs and to its optimum potential.
First, the thesis identifies several challenges imposed by ARRA's funding distribution structure on innovative local project implementation. The conclusion identifies three areas where the federal government could further support local energy efficiency project administrators: (i) the timing and pace of federal funding flows, (ii) the disjointed system of funding distribution to local projects, and (iii) the inherent restrictions of federal funds that limit innovation.
Second, the thesis identifies four recommended principles behind effective place-based models to be applied broadly in current and future local government investment projects to optimize the impact of government spending. The conclusion encourages locally administered energy efficiency projects to: (i) leverage funds in an integrated government spending plan, (ii) target funding at a specific geographic area that is preferably selected on the basis of equity, (iii) build collaborative partnerships, and (iv) take a community-based approach.
From "Finca" to Forest: Forest Cover Change and Land Management in Los Santos, Panama
Ruth Metzel, 2010
This thesis explores the socioeconomic factors that lead a region to its forest transition point through examining Los Santos province, Panama. First, I determine whether forest cover is increasing in Los Santos; second, I determine the socioeconomic factors underlying this change; and third, I suggest policies to guide this reforestation period. An analysis of Landsat satellite images shows that from 1990 to 2009, forest cover increased 4.4% in Los Santos, indicating that this environmentally degraded province in the wealthiest Central American nation is experiencing a forest transition. At the individual level, a survey of 85 land managers in two Los Santos districts, Macaracas and Pedasí, indicates that the decision of whether to maintain forest is associated with land-holding size, secondary occupation, inheritance status of land, and secondary school education (in Macaracas).
The fraction of forest maintained by those who do decide to maintain forest in Macaracas is as sociated with land-holding size, education level, and number of children working in agriculture. Participants' answers to questions about farm management practices reveal the species, reasons and locations of trees left and planted on their farms, and their strategies for management of live fences. These results suggest that to sustain the current increase in forest cover and ensure that this increase promotes biodiversity the Panamanian government and non-profits should encourage live fence and riparian corridors, mixed native species carbon-timber plantations, and education about erosion and soil degradation.
CHM of Natural Organochlorines Produced by Lichens, Fungi, and Mosses in Pine Forests
Lauren Miller, 2010
The high toxicity and bioavailability of several anthropogenic organochlorine compounds, as well as their potential uses in the fields of pharmacology and agriculture, warrant studies on the chemistry of naturally formed organochlorines.1,2 Several recent studies have shown that organochlorine compounds are produced in soil ecosystems during the decomposition of plant material, and the source of these compounds has been attributed to soil microorganisms.2,3 However, neither the molecular structures of the compounds produced, nor the mechanisms of their transformations have previously been determined.
To assess the role of lichens, fungi, and mosses in natural organohalogen production, I examined the nature of the chlorinated compounds using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Analyzing a variety of lichen, fungi, and moss samples from the Pine Barrens (NJ, USA) a total of 36 novel chlorinated compounds were found. Several of these compounds are identical to those found in weathering leaves, suggesting that lichens, fungi, and mosses play a significant role in the transformation of inorganic to organic chlorine in weathering plant material. Many compounds exhibited seasonal variation consistent with biological activity, and lichens from rock surfaces contained no organochlorine compounds.
These findings provide a more complete picture of the biogeochemical chlorine cycle and serve as the basis for policy recommendations concerning pharmacology, bioindication, and bioremediation.
The Role of Cement Durability in Carbon Dioxide Sequestration: Effects of Acid Corrosion on Microstructure, Transport, Material and Mechanical Properties of Portland Cement and the Consequences for Carbon Dioxide Sequestration in Depleted Petroleum Reservoirs
Joshua Muketha, 2010
Carbon dioxide capture and sequestration is mooted as a potential method to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere. It basically involves capturing, pressuring and injecting the carbon dioxide into underground sites for long-term storage . The main problem with underground storage locations, particularly in geological formations in which petroleum extraction has taken place, is that the cement used to seal these wells is subject to degradation as a result of attack by carbonic acid formed from carbon dioxide reacting with groundwater . Degradation of cement by acid attack leads to the formation of an amorphous decalcified silica gel matrix at the final stages of corrosion, which is unstructured, weak and highly porous thus compromising the integrity of the cement as an effective seal for carbon dioxide sequestration .
The focus of this project is thus to examine the microstructure, transport, material and mechanical properties of the amorphous silica gel formed during the final stage of cement degradation. To investigate this, ordinary Portland class H cement samples were prepared at water/cement ratio 0.4, corroded in carbon dioxide-saturated brine solutions at different hydrochloric acid concentrations (pH 0-4). This took place over the course of about 6 months during which time various analyses were carried out.
Qualitative observations confirm that at full corrosion, the decalcified silica is soft and fragile, and easily susceptible to mechanical deformation. Surface area measurements from nitrogen gas adsorption indicate that structure of the corroded gel is independent of pH of corroding solution; a statement supported by pycnometry measurements. However, the pore surface area measured was extremely high. This indicates the presence of a large number of pores meaning that the corroded gel has a highly porous and permeable network. Increase in permeability after corrosion was confirmed by the measuring the tortuosity, which reduced quite significantly after corrosion. From depth-sensing indentation measurements, a sharp decline in hardness and elastic modulus indicated that the corroded gel is much weaker than uncorroded cement.
Consequences of these findings for carbon sequestration suggest that once complete corrosion has taken place, the resulting silica gel left from the leaching of the cement would likely be ineffective at sealing the carbon dioxide underground. In addition, the porous and permeable nature of the silica gel would provide a pathway through which further corrosion could be propagated upwards in the well.
This scenario, is highly unlikely to occur in proper well conditions, as the rate of corrosion would be extremely slow. Data was not obtained for corrosion at higher acid pHs (which would be more representative of well conditions) due to the time constraints imposed by the scope of the project.
Interest Inclusion and its Effects on Public Policymaking: A Comparative Analysis of Dietary Recommendations in Advanced Industrialized Countries
Marci Pasenello, 2010
By assessing nutrition policies in advanced, industrialized countries, this thesis evaluates why some governments promote optimal dietary recommendations for the public good at large, whereas others favor particular interests in society -- namely agriculture and food industry's business interests. My definition of 'optimal’ advice involves dietary recommendations that aim to advance long-term public health while simultaneously improving the sustainability of our food system.
I theorize that policymaking institutions lead to the development of different models of interest inclusion, either a conflict-centered, party-based, or consensual model. Rules and procedures affect how interest groups are included within the policymaking process and influence policy outcomes.
To test this theory, I compare the national value of agricultural goods and fishery markets to state-led public health initiatives. I find that the Sustainable Consumption and Production policies in the United Kingdom and the Environmental Effective Food Choices in Sweden have endorsed optimal dietary recommendations irrespective to the conflicts posed to food-related business interests. Yet, the USDA’s MyPyramid and the Japanese Food Guide Spinning Top appear to favor the short-term economic preferences of food industries in ways that are inconsistent with nutritional science.
The Fishery-Mangrove Link: The Interaction of the Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems
Morgan Pecora-Saipe, 2010
Moreton Bay is an estuary on the eastern coast of Australia whose intertidal coastlines are composed of mangrove and salt marsh habitats. The adjacent coastal waters support a substantial commercial fishery. The Moreton Bay social-ecological system is an important intertidal habitat to study due to the intensifying anthropogenic pressure on both the marine (i.e. fisheries) and terrestrial fronts (i.e. development and port construction). The ecological relationship between the fishery and mangrove systems is hypothesized to be attributed to: (1) the outwelling function, (2) food supply, and/or (3) protection (Odum, 1968; Robertson and Duke, 1990a; Williamson et al., 1994). This study investigates the relationship between the mangrove habitat and the adjacent fishery system of east Moreton Bay. The baseline of this study is a personal logbook of a local commercial net fisherman who recorded his daily fish catch abundance and location for the past 23 years. The fish catch data and historical environmental data, which includes mangrove area, salt marsh area, and the Brisbane River discharge, comprise the variables investigated in the analysis of the fishery mangrove link.
The scientific questions asked in this study are: do mangrove forests create a sustainable adjacent fishery system? What other environmental factors support the fishery system? In addition, evidence of a fishery-mangrove biological link would provide the rationale to assign an economic value of the mangrove habitat to the fishing industry. In response to the acknowledgement of this economic value, mangrove conservation will benefit the economy.
The analysis concludes that the fish catch abundance responds to both the magnitude of the mangrove area and the location’s distance from the Brisbane River. The area of the mangrove forest supports the adjacent fishery system as a source of primary production, and the distance from the Brisbane River is a measurement of the influx of freshwater to the adjacent estuary system. The data supports a fishery-mangrove link, which elicits an economic value from the mangrove forest; this is significant because the finding can motivate conservation of the vital environmental variables upon which the fishery system relies.
Drilling through the Layers of Uncertainty: Brazil-s Social Gain or Resource Curse?
Monica Ramirez de Arellano, 2010
“Brazil takes off” headlined The Economist in its November 2009 issue. While articulating Brazil’s growing economic importance in the global and Latin American theaters, the image on the cover was far more captivating— the iconic Christ the Redeemer launched into the sky by trail of flames. This image depicts Brazil’s energy situation very clearly.
Brazil has been blessed with abundant energy resources since, in 2010, it finds itself in possession of vast amounts of petroleum and biofuels. It stands on the largest oil discovery in the Western Hemisphere in 30 years, known as the pre-salt fields, which can increase six-fold Brazilian oil reserves. While cultivating only 1% of its total arable land, Brazil’s ethanol production ranks as the world’s second largest producer and the largest exporter of ethanol. Now looking towards the future, the sky is the limit for Brazil’s opportunities; however, it will have to navigate through various political, economic, social and environmental considerations. The task for policymakers will be how to manage the energy resources and how to spend its revenues.
Until 2004, Brazilian energy policy focused on achieving energy independence. At first, energy policy entailed top-down decrees and laws under a government of overly intrusive presidential power. These policies weakened as the government lifted its subsidies. Then, energy policy set out to introduce market competition, starting with the “flexibilization” of Petrobras— Brazil’s national oil company (NOC). The resulting energy matrix is such that Brazil is energy independent and derives a large share of its energy from renewable sources.
As Brazil begins to develop pre-salt oil, the question of the “resource curse” surfaces. Even though some of the criteria have not been applicable, Brazil has arguably avoided the “curse.” In analyzing the symptoms of “curse” through economic, political, social and environmental lenses, Brazil’s success could depend on two factors: its diversified economy and its integrated-NOC model of Petrobras. The government controls at least a minimum 51% of Petrobras’ shares, while the rest are traded publically among the Brazilian and international stock exchanges.
In 2010, the conditions for energy policy are different. First, Brazil has to opportunity become a large oil exporter, whereas previously it was an importer. As it gears up for the new role, policymakers will have to decide on how to address the technical, product and financing challenges involving pre-salt development. Second, Brazil’s global, national and sub-national aspirations call for the improvement of its social welfare. These social goals make the production of cash imperative.
Therefore, the core of the thesis will discuss the four pieces of legislation that are currently being presented in the Brazilian Congress to the extent that they will shape Brazil’s pre-salt future. Moreover, the level of uncertainty is great in regards to who and how the pre-salt will be explored, developed, processed and marketed. In order to transform the pre-salt into social gain, Brazil could adopt the production sharing agreements to oil exploration and production in order maximize both its control and share of the wealth. To achieve the social gains, a Social Fund could serve to invest in long-term projects that will address the regional inequality. To avoid the “resource curse,” policymakers would have to maintain ideology aside, and continue to run the energy sector professionally and competitively.
Stolen Wind: Engaging Public Voices in New York’s Offshore Wind Debate
Daniella Roseman, 2010
Presently, the only fully functioning offshore wind farms in the world are located in Europe. Recent proposals for offshore farms in the United States have met with significant public opposition. A consortium of public and private agencies and utilities has proposed siting a wind farm with the capacity to generate 350 MW of energy on the south shore of Long Island and the outskirts of New York City. The Long Island – New York City offshore wind project was considered in concert with anthropological and policy analysis from the vast body of literature concerned with local debates over facility siting. The discussion was supplemented with data from semi-structured interviews conducted with representatives of seven of the dominant sectors of the Long Island - New York City environmentalist and energy community, in combination with local media excerpts, local policy documents, and publicly accessible materials from the public hearing phases of the previous Long Island Offshore Wind project.
Juxtaposed with the European record on offshore wind, and recent developments with community wind in New England, the Long Island debate comes sharply into relief. Projects proposed according to the “decide-announce-defend” model face greater difficulty in garnering public support. In order to begin to site offshore wind farms successfully in the wind rich Mid Atlantic bight, it seems the wind industry must look to those community-engaged approaches to siting wind energy technology that have met with success.
Fragile Climate, Fragile States: A Proposal for the Inclusion of Climate Change Indicators in Measurements of State Fragility
Molly Slotznick, 2010
In recent years, scientists and policymakers alike have come to realize that the future manifestations of climate change will have dire results for millions of people, as increased temperatures lead to greater intensity and variability of precipitation and ocean patterns. Droughts, floods, hurricanes, sea level rise, and desertification, among other climate events, threaten to inflict acute damages on food security, infrastructure, health care, education, and economic livelihoods. In turn, these consequences of climate change, which will become evident within the 21st century, have the great potential to undermine the stability of governments and states and incite violent conflict, which will itself increase instability. If governments exhibit characteristics of fragility prior to climate events, they will be less able to prevent and respond to the damages caused by climate change, exacerbating an already severe problem.
In the last decade, political scientists have attempted to quantify state fragility, loosely defined as a government’s inability and/or unwillingness to provide necessary goods and services for its people. These experiments have resulted in the creation of fragility indexes, which compile data for political, social, economic, security, and occasionally environmental indicators into a final score for each country. Final scores are compared to those of other countries or to those of the same country over time in order track relative trends in state fragility. Final scores can also be broken down into their component scores so that the causes of an individual state’s fragility can be identified. The results of an index allow policymakers to pinpoint which states are most fragile and what has led to the conditions of fragility so that they may tailor foreign and development policy appropriately and effectively.
Recent events in Kenya provide an example of how the manifestations of climate change and prior conditions of state weakness can exacerbate each other to create undue human suffering. In 2007, Kenya experienced a corrupted elections process and post-elections violence that left the government in a continuing condition of tenuousness and factiousness. In 2009, Kenya suffered a drought followed by El Niño rains that put millions of people at risk of food insecurity. The devastation from these natural disasters led to mass migrations, disease epidemics, and violent conflict over resource scarcity, and these effects are still felt today. Neither the government nor the international community took the necessary steps to either decrease the vulnerability of the Kenyan population prior to the climate events or to fully respond to the needs of the Kenyans after the events had occurred, perhaps because of the ongoing consequences of the 2007 election. The use of a climate change-inclusive fragility index could have allowed the international community and the government to better understand the interactions between climate change and fragility and therefore prevent the death of thousands and the suffering of millions.
Although the authors of existing fragility indexes aim to comprehensively and accurately depict the factors that can lead to state fragility, none of the existing indexes include what will become a major driver of fragility in the near future: climate change. The impacts of climate change on human populations will in many cases become sufficiently grave as to become more determinant of a devolution into fragility than many other traditional fragility indicators. This thesis argues that, without the inclusion of climate change indicators, fragility indexes remain incomplete and therefore cannot provide meaningful guidance to policymakers concerned with anticipating future conditions of state fragility.
France and the Future of U.S. Nuclear Energy: Using the French Nuclear Energy Program to Determine the Potential for a Nuclear Renaissance in the U.S. Today
James Thorman, 2010
This thesis uses the experience of the French nuclear energy program, particularly drawing on the scale-up that occurred in France from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, to assess the potential for the U.S. to support a nuclear renaissance today, should the government decide that it wants to pursue such a policy. After the 1973 Oil Crisis, both France and the U.S. were similarly poised to adopt nuclear energy as a prominent plank of their respective energy policies, but by 1975, their paths had diverged significantly, with France constructing new reactors until nuclear energy generated 80 percent of the country’s electricity whereas the U.S. only achieved a scale-up to only 20 percent. Given the benefits of nuclear energy and its potential as a way to combat climate change, the fundamental impetus for using the factors that supported the implementation of the French program to analyze the nuclear landscape in the U.S. is to determine whether the U.S. could support a nuclear renaissance at this time. The author contends that today, the U.S. could not support a significant revival of nuclear energy in the short run as there are still too many inhibiting factors that arose in the 1980’s undermining the industry.
To address this question, this thesis analyzed the genesis and development of the French program and extracted the various conditions that supported the extensive implementation and scale-up of the technology there. This analysis covers the political, social, and economic aspects of the French program as all three components were integral to its establishment. With these factors isolated, they were then applied to the current U.S. environment to determine whether enough of them are in place in the U.S. today to support a potential nuclear renaissance.
By using the French program as a lens to assess the future of nuclear energy in the U.S., this analysis found that, as hypothesized, the U.S. could not support a nuclear renaissance at this point in time. While there have been some significant changes in the U.S nuclear landscape in the past decades since the program reached its current level of generating 20 percent of the country’s electricity, there are still too many conditions undermining such a revival. From this analysis, it is clear that the main obstacles impeding a nuclear renaissance are economic in nature. The industry is still stigmatized by the long licensing and construction times, and concurrently, the traditionally high costs of reactors, which crippled the industry in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. While there appears to be more social and political support of nuclear energy, until the economics of reactors can be proven to be cost-effective for utilities, the country cannot sustain a large-scale revival.
While a large scale revival is not feasible at this time, it is possible for the U.S. to take several steps towards supporting a revival, should one be deemed desirable. The next decade is integral to the assessment of the economics of nuclear reactors to determine whether utilities could pursue such projects. To support the industry and shape the landscape to support a revival, the government could implement the following changes: implementing carbon controls, providing greater financial support and subsidies for nuclear energy, further streamlining the permit and licensing process, working to establish a standardized set of reactor designs, and finding a solution to the nuclear waste problem. These changes would help eliminate the obstacles in place that are currently undermining a potential renaissance in the country today and would make it easier for the government to implement a scale-up in the long run should it choose to pursue one.
Planting the Seeds for an African Green Revolution: The Millennium Villages Project and Input Subsidy Program in Malawi
Joseph Vellone, 2010
In 2005, the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) chose a small group of villages in southern Malawi, collectively known as “Mwandama,” to become the site of one of the first Millennium Villages. Shortly thereafter, the MVP began a range of interventions in agriculture, health, education, and other sectors promoted by the Millennium Development Goals. 2005 also marked the start of a national Input Subsidy Program (ISP), in which the Government of Malawi distributed heavily subsidized fertilizer and maize seed to 2 million of the country’s smallholder farmers. Despite their differing approaches to agricultural development, both of these programs have led to increased maize yields, higher rural incomes, and a general improvement in rural livelihoods. However, the MVP is scheduled to end its programs in 2016, while the ISP is expected to be significant scaled back, if not ended altogether, by 2020.
This thesis seeks to identify the programs and policies currently being implemented in Malawi that would advance the country toward achieving its own Green Revolution. In order to do so, the thesis divides its analysis between the Millennium Villages Project and the Input Subsidy Program with the goal of sustaining the achievements of these two rural development programs beyond 2016.
The Millennium Villages Project has implemented several agricultural programs that could continue after the Project ends in 2016. The distribution of fully-subsidized fertilizer and maize seed to all farmers in Mwandama, the rehabilitation and maintenance of key water points, the storage of maize surpluses in a community-managed Grain Bank, and a farmer-supported primary school feeding program were identified as successful programs whose management should be transitioned from the MVP to the community before 2016. Furthermore, data collected from fieldwork in Mwandama present evidence indicating that the village Grain Bank could expand its operations from a maize storage warehouse to a local microfinance institution. It is determined that challenges to sustaining the success of the MVP’s gains are posed by erratic rainfall patterns associated with climate change, administrative issues in the procurement of inputs, and rapidly escalating fertilizer prices.
The Input Subsidy Program has distributed fertilizer and maize seed at a subsidized rate to 2 million smallholder farmers in Malawi. It has led to increased maize yields throughout the country, though at a lower yield rate than that achieved in Mwandama due to the absence of extension training and interventions in farmland irrigation, which are included in MVP interventions. However, the program has been challenged by allegations of corruption, rapidly escalating fertilizer prices, and a high budgetary cost. In the face of opposition from foreign aid donors, it is expected that the ISP will not continue beyond 2020.
This thesis recommends that the Grain Bank expand its role from a grain storage warehouse to a local microfinance institution, that the Grain Bank divert maize holdings to support a universal primary school feeding program, and that the MVP expand its interventions in sustainable agriculture in Mwandama. The thesis also calls for a stronger integration of the ISP with MVP activities in Mwandama and a scale-up of the MVP model to other villages in Malawi. Taken together, these recommendations provide a strategy for sustaining the MVP and ISP achievements to 2016 and beyond, thereby continuing Malawi on its path to achieving a Green Revolution.
Acaricide Use and the Control of Theileria Parva at the Wildlife-Livestock Disease Interface in Kenya
Josephine Walker, 2010
Theileria parva is a tick-borne protozoan which infects cattle and buffalo in eastern and southern Africa, causing a variety of clinical syndromes including East Coast fever and Corridor disease. The epizoology of the disease is complex because of the interaction between wild buffalo and domestic cattle, which are treated with acaricides to kill ticks. Previous studies have focused exclusively on cattle and have only speculated about the influence of buffalo on the dynamics of the disease or about the influence of extensive acaricide use on the epizoology of the disease.
Here I determine the impact that acaricide use has on the ecology and epizoology of Theileria parva especially in terms of disruptions of a state of enzootic stability. In order to investigate these questions, I gathered data on tick populations and disease prevalence at two ranches in Kenya which apply acaricides at different frequencies and developed a continuous time compartmental model. I show that acaricide use depresses tick population levels, but that it may or may not be sufficient to disrupt enzootic stability in buffalo populations depending on the case-fatality rate of a susceptible population. However, acaricide use maintains cattle population in an unstable state of low disease incidence; a disruption of the regular treatments would lead to a devastating outbreak.
I propose the use of an integrated and adaptive management strategy that combines immunization with acaricide use as needed and offer suggestions for its implementation.
Pull the Plug: The Influence of Social Norms and Prospect Theory on Energy Conservation in Princeton University Dormitories
Julia Yang, 2010
In light of increasingly urgent environmental concerns, there is a burgeoning movement to utilize theories of decision-making and behavioral change to promote sustainability efforts.
The present study aims to contribute to this field of applied environmental psychology through a campaign on the Princeton University campus encouraging undergraduate students to conserve energy within their dormitory rooms. In this randomized field experiment, several messages based on psychological theories – presenting the slogan “Pull the Plug” -- were tested against one another to see which would induce the highest rate of unplugging dorm appliances prior to winter recess. Three of the flyers were based on the compelling power of social norms. The first provided normative descriptive information about fellow students’ behavior, the second emphasized provincial norms as derived from focus theory, and the third applied social pressures to comply with the energy conservation request. Two other flyers were based on prospect theory: one was negatively framed in terms of energy loss, and another was positively framed in terms of energy gain.
As predicted, all five of these theory-driven messages resulted in higher levels of unplugging than both a generic environmental flyer and a control of receiving no message at all. The findings of this pilot study support a strategically rigorous approach that can be continued and expanded upon in consequent pro-environmental campaigns, by providing a model of how to shape the most compelling determinants of sustainability behavior.