Archive for April, 2012

Final Reflection Blog

Friday, April 27th, 2012

While I knew there were many problems facing the environment globally, the scope of the problems we have to face was not very encouraging based on the what we learned in class. It’s very disheartening to see that we as a species haven’t really learned from past mistakes: as Ponting states in A New Green History of the World, “all human interventions tend to degrade ecosystems and [show] how easy it is to ip the balance towards destruction. It also suggests that it is very difficult to redress the balance or reverse the process once it has started”(71). To me, this seems self-evident; I find it very hard to understand the thinking of previous eras that did not get this concept. While I know this makes me a product of my time, just as this previous thinking made people products of theirs, it just seems to obvious to me that I really can’t wrap my head around not seeing such an obvious link between humanity and the natural world.

One thing I felt about this class was that it highlighted the problems the United States faced as well as global problems (it is, after all, a global issues class). Part of this that struck me is that I know that I am part of the problem: my lifestyle is part of a culture that relies on lots of energy, which also causes environmental issues. I think it’s unfair of countries such as the US have most of the responsibility for carbon dioxide emissions (Ponting 401), but we refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol and we have yet to really make a concerted effort as a country to fix or moderate our part of the pollution and carbon dioxide use. We have “5 per cet of the world’s population but [we are] responsible for just under a quarter of the world’s output of carbon dioxide”(Ponting 401): this is unacceptable. It is irresponsible for us to use this much when other countries must go without or are working to use less.

I think what I took most from this class is that there is a lot we still need to work on and fix, but that there is hope. The fact that plans are being made to combat the degredation of the Chesapeake Bay, that movies such as Food, Inc. are released, and more and more famous personages are taking action to raise awareness of these issues says to me that our world (and our country) can change. It will be difficult, and I know lifestyles will have to drastically change, something that is hard for many Americans (including myself, although I accept and understand it needs to happen unlike some) to realize and implement. The greatest way, in my mind, is to make it so economically unfeasible to pollute or take the easy way out that environmentally friendly policies and products become the new social norm. This would work well in our country, as we are driven by the need for profits in business and personal wealth. Getting into people’s pockets, making the external costs of things such as pesticides and soil degredation part of the cost of food, is really the only way to effect lasting change.

New Crab Discovered–It’s Fabulous!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Purple crab discovered in the Philippines!

purple crab

Manatees: It’s not overfishing that’s the problem

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Since we were talking about fish related harvesting, I thought I would stick to the ocean theme for this post.

Manatees are not fish, but whales and dolphins as as affected by overfishing as we are. The problem for manatees, however, isn’t food: it’s collisions.

Manatees are frequently killed by collisions with human vessels. With their bad eyesight, they frequently do not see the fast moving boats until it is too late. This article from the Huffington Post says that while the eyesight is a problem, their hearing is perfectly sound, and they can distinguis motorboat noises from other ambient sound in the ocean. This is something different than the sonar related issues that pertain to dolphins; it’s not indirect activities that affect the manatees.

Save the Manatee Club has a great run down on the facts about manatees. Their aim is to protect manatee habitats, and they try to enact measures such as speed limits for motor boats and sanctuaries that don’t allow boats at all.

Manatees, in my opinion, are adorable. They have been called sea cows, and they really do look similar to them. It’s a shame that something so harmless is so greatly harmed by us.

This Space Available (In the landfill) *Activity Blog*

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

After watching This Space Available last week, it got me thinking about not only the visual pollution and energy waste created by the billboards, but also the physical waste.

Billboards (non-digital ones) are made with vinyl, something that does not biodegrade. Almost 10,000 tons are thrown away every year, according to this site. All of that vinyl takes up space in landfills, and never goes away; it just sits there. What I liked about the site I found that discussed it is that they turn the vinyl into backpacks, recycling it for a better purpose. What was really interesting to me was that I couldn’t find a definite number on google on the amount wasted every year except for on the site that was marketing the re-used vinyl; I thought that was really strange, and wondered if people haven’t looked into this issue.

This Space Available was a thought-provoking documentary on visual pollution. It certainly was never something I thought about before. The fact that the visual pollution extends to energy and solid waste pollution as well just goes to show how interconnected everything in the world is today. I, for one, would welcome getting rid of billboards, as they are very distracting on the road, but I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon here in the US.

This is Annika, signing off her activity blog.