Ecology Essay Example on Environmental Impact

Date:  2021-04-05 02:15:03
6 pages  (1621 words)
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Carnegie Mellon University
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Part A: Eco Footprint and Remedies

According to the ecological assessment, my ecological footprint is not quite sustainable. My activities have contributed to putting a strain on the available resources on the planet. However, on a positive note, there is room for improvement to remediate the impacts of my ecological footprint. I consume as much as the average North American due to the nature of my daily activities. If everyone lived as I did, we would require five planet earths to provide adequate resources. This finding implies that my living setting is not environmentally friendly.

It is dismaying to find out that I contribute to environmentally unsustainable practices. However, there is a lot that I can do to reduce my ecological footprint. My major areas of consumption are services, shelter, mobility, goods, and food., To begin with, I can reduce my power consumption at home to a bare minimum. Standby power, also known as vampire power has been associated with increasing power consumption (Knezek et al., 2013). Disconnecting appliances from power is a positive move. In addition, I can minimize the power consumption by turning down the thermostats to optimal settings. I can also reduce the amount of driving and use of public transport and try to use bicycles or skates when going to work. I can also take vacations closer to home and reduce flying and driving times.

Part B: the Hotel Industry and Environmental Impact

Research findings indicate that individually, hotels have a negligible impact on the environment. However, collectively as an industry and in addition to other services such as transport that accompany the hotel industry, hotels have been attributed to large-scale wastefulness and consumption that depletes major resources and a significant ecological footprint. According to research, an estimated seventy-five percent of hotels' environmental impacts can be openly linked to extreme consumption (Bohdanowicz, 2006). Not only does excessive consumption lead to the uneconomical use of resources and builds up negative effects on the environment, but it also increases operation costs unnecessarily.

In Bohdanowiczs 2005 study that was aimed at investigating the ecological impact of the hotel industry, he established that hotels use a lot of natural resources in various forms. In addition, the hotel industry also generates a lot of waste which directly affects the environment. In one estimate from the study, Bohdanowicz states that that an average hotel produces more than one kilogram of waste per guest per day (Bohdanowicz 2005:190). Considering the size of the hotel industry and the sheer numbers of visitors who are guests on a daily basis, it is justified to state that the hotel industry has a massive negative impact on the environment. However, Bohdanowicz also believes that an estimated 30 percent of waste in hotels can be reused or recycled to prevent it from negatively affecting the environment. In addition, measures can be taken to reduce the amount of waste generated from hotels and the excessive consumption that characterizes the hotel industry.

The hotel industry is driven majorly in part by tourism and business needs among other requirements. Subsequently, traveling is a major activity that facilitates business in the hotel industry (Claver-Cortes, 2007). Tourism traveling means business for hotels but has significant adverse effects on the environment. To begin with, tourism puts a strain on the natural resources in regions that are visited by numbers beyond what the ecosystem can support. Secondly, the means of transport most commonly used pollute the environment and led to a greater ecological footprint. For instance, air travel and road transport are common forms of travel for tourists (Gossling, 2002).

Road and air transport have direct, indirect and cumulative effects on the environment in both the short term and long term. The burning of fossil fuels and use of non-renewable energy has an impact on the environment. The pollution effect of burning fossil fuels and use of non-renewable energy is important and deserves priority attention because according to research, 15% of global emissions of CO2 have been attributed to the transport sector (Gossling, 2002). The hotel industry contributes significantly to the transport sector. Among the effects that the burning of fossil fuels and use of non-renewable energy has on the environment is affecting biodiversity, affecting water quality, contribution to climate change, noise pollution, affecting air quality and changing of landscape due to mining and associated activities. People travel to work in gasoline and diesel-burning vehicles. In addition, they visit places driving or flying using fossil fuels. There is a demand for energy due to the hotel industry and its associated factors.

Part C: Burning of Fossil Fuels (gasoline)

The United States is one of the world's largest consumers of gas by volume according to research. Gasoline is a petroleum product. Petroleum products are mainly composed of a combination of hydrocarbons (an arrangement of hydrogen and carbon molecules) that are combined with lesser levels of other substances (Gary, Handwerk & Kaiser, 2007). Gasoline is developed from the refining of crude oil. Crude oil is mined from onshore and offshore deposits by being pumped from underground.

Refining of crude oil to gasoline is a process that involves various stages as indicated in figure 1 below. The first step involves exploration to determine the location of the parent ingredient for gasoline that is crude oil. Crude oil is the product of high temperature and pressure compression of animal and plant fossils (Gary, Handwerk & Kaiser, 2007). It is mined by digging wells in areas where it is found and pumped to the surface. After obtaining petroleum from the wells, it has to be refined because itself it cannot be used effectively as a fuel. It requires high temperatures to burn, and it is not fluid. The separation is carried out through fractional distillation in a system known as a fractional distillation column.

The oil is heated in a furnace, and this heating causes vapors to rise. The vapors cool as they rise through the column due to the different boiling points of all the compounds. Bigger, heavier molecules will condense first lower in the tower, and the shorter, lighter molecules will condense higher in the tower. Near the top, less dense molecules such as natural gasses, gasoline, and kerosene are released. Denser compounds such as those used in the manufacture of plastics and lubricants are removed lower in the tower.

Further refining is carried out to isolate gasoline. Catalytic cracking is one of the refinery methods used to refine gasoline. A catalyst is used to initiate chemical change in petroleum. Commonly, catalysts such as aluminum, platinum, processed clay, and acids are included in the petroleum to make it have the desired gasoline characteristics. After refinery, additives are added to gasoline. The additives include anti-knock compounds that slow down the rate of burning gasoline to prevent engine knock (Gary, Handwerk & Kaiser, 2007). Leaded gasoline has tetraethyl lead added as the anti-knock additive. Further refinery reduces the need for anti-knock additives leading to the production of unleaded gasoline. To prevent the formation of gum in the engine, antioxidants are added. Gum leads to the formation of a compound that leads to wear of the engine.

Production of gasoline has little or no waste material. However, the process uses combustion that produces smoke laced with harmful chemical compounds that damage air and water quality. On the other hand, gasoline use is associated with the production of carbon monoxide and lead emissions for the use of leaded gasoline (Bhat, Sen & Eluru, 2009). Combustion of gasoline has been associated with the production of toxic waste into the air that finds its way onto water bodies and also contributes to damaging the ozone layer and contributes to global warming. In addition, gasoline is a nonrenewable fuel, and its use contributes to depletion of natural resources.

Part D: Alternative Processes

A technological approach can be used to remedy the effects of the use of gasoline by eliminating or significantly reducing the use of gasoline. Electricity generated from hydroelectric power is clean and a renewable resource. Electricity can be used as a source of energy for transportation using battery-powered electric and fuel-cell vehicles (Kristoffersen, Capion & Meibom, 2011). Battery-powered electric are charged by plugging the vehicle into a standard electrical source that enables the battery to store power to run the vehicle. On the other hand, fuel cell vehicles run on power generated from an electrochemical reaction due to the combination of hydrogen and oxygen. One advantage of the use of electricity for transport is that electricity is clean and efficient while also it does not pose as much a threat to the environment as gasoline (Kristoffersen, Capion & Meibom, 2011). In addition, an electric network already exists and some forms of transport such as trams and trains use electricity. On the hand, electric cars are not as fast or powerful as gasoline powered cars. However, this is a compromise that is worth the change from gasoline to electricity as the benefits outweigh the risks.

 

References

Bhat, C. R., Sen, S., & Eluru, N. (2009). The impact of demographics, built environment attributes, vehicle characteristics, and gasoline prices on household vehicle holdings and use. Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, 43(1), 1-18.

Bohdanowicz, P. (2005). European hoteliers environmental attitudes greening the business. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 46(2), 188-204.

Claver-Cortes, E., Molina-Azorin, J. F., Pereira-Moliner, J., & Lopez-Gamero, M. D. (2007). Environmental strategies and their impact on hotel performance. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 15(6), 663-679.

Gossling, S. (2002). Global environmental consequences of tourism. Global environmental change, 12(4), 283-302.

Gary, J. H., Handwerk, G. E., & Kaiser, M. J. (2007). Petroleum refining: technology and economics. CRC press.

Knezek, G., Christensen, R., Tyler-Wood, T., & Periathiruvadi, S. (2013). Impact of Environmental Power Monitoring Activities on Middle School Student Perceptions of STEM. Science Education International, 24(1), 98-123.

Kristoffersen, T. K., Capion, K., & Meibom, P. (2011). Optimal charging of electric drive vehicles in a market environment. Applied Energy, 88(5), 1940-1948.

 

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