Thursday, August 30, 2007

287, 297, 298 Map of Germany, meaning of Environment

Message no. 287 Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Thursday, February 8, 2007 4:36am Subject: map of germany

Here is the map of Germany. Essen is in the northwest (upper left) part of the country, Munich in the central south. f=q&hl=de&q=essen+to+munich&ie=UTF8&z=6&ll=50.443513,10.129395&spn=6.802461, 14.80957&t=h&om=1

Message no. 297[Branch from no. 293] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Saturday, February 10, 2007 10:59am Subject: Re: Professor's Discussion Questions Pat Friedirhs

Pat, I agree with Michelle -- you have really set the standard and raised the bar for all of us with your detailed and intensely personal perspective on the questions I posed. Very nicely done! I hope others will look to you as a standard bearer and inspiration and use the energy and effort you put in as a model to follow. Reading your work should also make it easier for those who may still be confused about how to interact with the subject material to go about it. And Michelle, your interaction with Pat's post is the perfect way to go about engaging in a discussion. Well done.

What I like best is that you are each beginning to appreciate the complexity of the notion of an "environment". You are gaining the most important insight that this class can deliver -- that "environment" is really what the word says it is: That which environs us. Environ means to surround. So "saving the environment" is a very complex notion because it merely means "saving what is around us." If we don't like what is around us, then saving it may not make sense! If we do, then it might very well be a top priority.

Environmentalism is a strange term. It, and the word "environmentalist", refer to people who are concerned with their environment. But that would include everybody. So everybody is some kind of an environmentalist. The conflict is that we all live in and enjoy different environments. We all care about different environments. And we have to learn to compromise.

The question of "what is nature" is even tougher. Many of you will fall back into a bias that Nature means trees and rivers and rocks and animals. It does, but it also means buildings and plastics and trash. Everything is nature. In this course I would like you all to try out the idea that when WE talk about Nature, we mean everything that exists. When we want to talk about birds and lizards and grizzly bears and rain forests and oceans, we will have to specify. In this course we can't use the word nature and assume it means the same thing to everyone. In fact, as Pat pointed out about the textbook, we can't use ANY words and assume they mean the same thing. As scientists (or students of a science) we have to specify EVERYTHING. A bit of a pain, I know, but that is our task.

More on that in future posts. For now, well done! Keep probing and thinking and describing!

Message no. 298[Branch from no. 288] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Saturday, February 10, 2007 11:09am Subject: Re: map of germany

Hi Michelle, As usual this silly discussion area won't let us make a long url link. what you clicked on was just what is in blue, and that just took you to the google site, without including the rest of the info. What you have to do is cut and paste the entire address into your browser unfortunately. It is a pain. It might be easier just to go to google maps and type in "Essen Germany" and then "Munich, Germany" and create your own maps if you want to see where we were. But don't sweat it. Now we are in Cairo, Egypt.

The nicest thing we saw from the beautiful train ride through the snowy forests was a huge solar electric field between Augsberg and Munich. There the farmers make extra money "growing" electricity. Over acres and acres they have solar panels on poles. In the summer their sheep rest in the shade of the clean quiet solar panels so they never overheat (this also saves on the amount of water the farmer must provide his animals). In the winter and spring the sheep can hide under the panels to get away from rain and wind. In between the panels the sheep can graze on the grass and farmers can grow crops. In other parts of Germany and Switzerland the farmers plant wind generators. They grow crops between the windmills. When the price of a crop goes down in the market they sell electricity. When the price of electricity falls, they sell crops. In this way farmers never have to worry about being put out of business by the uncertainties of price fluctuations in the volatile global market. Combined energy and food farming is the answer to revitalizing the farming sector.

Do you guys know of any examples of this in the U.S.? Have you seen it occurring?

From the area where the solar farm was toward the town we started then to pass barns, farmhouses and then villas and apartments covered with solar electric and solar thermal (water heating) panels. It seems that the people in this part of Germany have realized that not only is this a great way to farm, but that their houses can benefit from these things too. Any energy they don't use spins their meters backward and they sell it to the city and make profits.

It was neat to see this out of the window of the silent high speed train for miles and miles!

I will try to show you what it looks like from a google map if I can find it.


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