Seven Generations Ahead

Seven Generations Ahead

In Allen Thompson’s “A World They Don’t Deserve: Moral failure and deep adaptation”, he discusses two key assumptions. The first one being that the next few hundred years of both the natural and social world are deeply uncertain, and the second being that members of the present generation have a moral responsibility to prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference”. However, the point that Thompson brings up that truly resonates with me is the fact that he calls any failure to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference “moral failure”.
This detail of his second assumption I find both true, and burdening. It doesn’t matter what world the current generation was given. As long as there is still time to change it, it is on them to do so. It is always the burden of the current generation to lay the groundwork for the next one, but it has never been more burdening to do so.
Failing to do this aspect can come in a number of ways. Of course, the main point and seemingly the most pressing one is that of climate change. While there is not a full consensus of when irreversible damage will occur from the effects of climate change, it is agreed that such things will happen soon.
Personally, I think that the biggest responsibility this puts on the worlds current generation is to change the world we live in. It is a fact that the way we live right now is not sustainable and it is our moral responsibility to change the systems we find ourselves in. However, there is also the matter of shaping how this and future generations think. Currently most of the world that produces carbon emissions and majority of the worlds garbage are run in systems that prioritize yourself first. The strange thing is that this form of thinking has only been so dominant in recent history. This means transforming this way of thinking would be world changing. We need to change our ways of thinking to become more sustainable and instead of looking out for our own gain of material wealth, we need to look out for the natural wealth of the generations to come.

Picture: https://sevengenerationsahead.org/

A Late Night Climate Ramble

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bangladesh-climate_refugee.jpg

Allen Thompson’s texts are the first in this course curriculum to ask the question: Now that we’ve reached the tipping point of climate cataclysm, what should we do? In his paper,  “A World They Don’t Deserve: Moral Failure and Deep Adaptation,” Thompson asks this question through the lens of a moral imperative, and attributes much of the current state of our climate to a moral failure on the part of present and somewhat earlier generations of humans, who have wronged future generations of humans. 

Thompson gives two major assumptions regarding the state of the climate as we know it: 1.) The distant future of mankind is “deeply uncertain” and 2.) People alive today are morally obligated to do something to prevent climate disaster, or else we have morally failed (Thompson 2). I agree with both of these propositions, though I agree with the second one more than the first. Thompson says that future generations will live in a world which humans today are not able to comprehend nor empathize with. I agree with this too, but there seems to be an implication here which cannot be ignored, which is that the effects of climate change have not truly taken place yet, and that present day humans will not live to see its major effects. Though climate scientists have roughly come to a consensus that we have 12 years to act or else damage is irreversible (or even 18 months, depending on who you ask. Either way, there’s very little time) (source [1]). Climate change is directly and presently affecting people of color through environmental racism, where people are dislocated from their communities or they are the target of industrial companies who have relocated specifically to their towns. 

Thompson brings up three common proposals of climate change solutions which he says are “Normatively Weak.” They are doing nothing, survivalism, and geoengineering (Thompson 7). I agree that these three solutions are not something to pay much attention to, especially at this point. Geoengineering in particular is a solution which I find pretty atrocious, given that it does nothing whatsoever to solve the problems that created climate change in the first place (not to mention that it is potentially very dangerous). I’m also glad that Thompson brought up the realities of survivalism, and how the common perceptions of it (the stereotype of stockpiling soup and an arsenal) can only get people so far, and how the only way to really make sure the species survives is if humans learn sustainability in a community (Thompson 8).

But we have not reached this point yet; I believe we still have time—albeit a sliver of time—to effectively redirect climate change before worldwide catastrophe ensues. Researchers at Stanford led by Mark Z. Jacobson, environmental engineering professor, conducted a study and found that it is very possible to realistically convert 100% of the world’s energy to renewable and zero-emission technology by the year 2030 (source below [2]). Then again, despite this being possible, it is still crucial to ask whether or not we should do this, since the manufacturing of renewable energy technology doesn’t change what caused the problem in the first place: extraction. So this must also be kept in mind. I’m really not sure how to answer a question like this, because all in all, extraction is inherently harmful and should be stopped somehow, but we’ve been presented with a feasible way to quickly move to complete renewable energy. But then in Thompson argues that the way our neo-liberal system is set up, people aren’t going to want to make this change in enough time, and thus we’ll have to figure out how to cope otherwise. So it looks like I’ve come full circle, and I simultaneously agree and disagree with Thompson’s point, and I don’t have a clue what the answer is, once again. There’s a lot more that I could write about but I think I’m going to stop now.

Sources:

[1]https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48964736

[2]https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CountriesWWS.pdf

Still Lookin’ Out for #1

Photo was taken from in-class lecture slides – Peter Clark [Data from SSP database (IIASA), CDIAC/GCP]
In his paper, “A World They Don’t Deserve,” Allen Thompson clearly concludes that the current generation that controls climate policy has failed, will fail, and can conceivably do nothing but fail to consciously act with the best interest of the human future in mind. He makes it clear for an ethical and physical need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet argues that there is little evidence to suggest that this will happen, largely based on the capitalist mindset that drives a materialistic perspective. He further argues that the current generation’s land-use policies continue to drive the current climate crisis, a problem which is also linked largely to a capitalist perspective of resources. Ultimately, Thompson points to human greed, a reoccurring theme throughout the past few weeks – as the root of the problem; a problem he seems to say “we” will not change, largely due to the narcissistic philosophy shared by the current dominant generation.

While these points are largely true and disheartening, what is most disheartening is the ethical debate offered throughout the paper of whether we should give up, rollover, and simply forfeit to climate change and try to improve the lives of future generations in other aspects of life be it cancer research, or literally doing nothing because of the Non-Identity Problem, or invest in social institutions as a form of apology to future generations.

First, the argument that cancer research may better benefit future generations RATHER THAN climate change mitigations is honestly quite appalling. It suggests that we can continue to make conditions worse for some while making some conditions slightly better for all. By this, I mean that climate change will ultimately impact certain communities more than others, such as southern countries, coastal cities, impoverished communities, and minorities (such as indigenous groups). Cancer research will help only those impacted, and not to be too morbid, but it’s only going to keep more of us around to further the effects of climate crisis (not that I don’t value cancer research, just not INSTEAD of climate change mitigation).

Secondly, the Non-Identity Problem is not something that really has a place in the climate crisis. This isn’t some philosophical debate. The effects may be uncertain, but the baseline for the disaster is comprehensible enough to propose this argument is to devalue the lives of all future generations. This argument is an interesting philosophical idea, but not here, not now, and not one that will hold any ground later.

Finally, an apology is good if it holds true to what Thompson proposes as the third element of a good apology: “restitution, actions in an attempt to rectify or compensate for the transgression.” Social institutions are not adequate restitution. If you can go as far as considering an apocalyptic scenario in a hypothetical playout of a climate change scenario (no matter how theoretical), you can’t possibly suggest social institutions as adequate compensation for climate destruction.

The problems outlines are too grave, and it is clear that the understanding of these problems is quite solid. To propose such inaction followed by such a soft apology feels like an insult to the future and a way to justify inaction in order to continue the “aim to lead good [life].” Start looking out for the future, not always the self.

The Reliance On Radical Hope: The Ecological Crisis is Very, Very Bad

Image: GETTY

For my response, I decided to focus on the article “A World They Don’t Deserve,” by Allen Thompson. I wanted to use my response as an opportunity to highlight the aspects of this article that I found particularly interesting or hadn’t necessarily thought about.

Firstly, I was very intrigued by the idea of radical hope. In “A World They Don’t Deserve,” Thompson uses Johnathan Lear’s account, Plenty Coups, to define radical hope. Radical hope is defined as “courage to act in the face of devastation, with a commitment to the reemergence of the good in a form that is beyond one’s present ability to cognize or comprehend.” Radical hope can be analogous to having faith (not necessarily connected to religion). It is the idea that you may not know what the future holds, but you have faith that good will come out of the future. I thought that the incorporation of radical hope, and the connection to the displacement of indigenous populations was very interesting. Especially when this example is given, many more examples in history become clear. The goal, I believe, in incorporating the idea of radical hope was to show that no matter what the climate and ecology of the Earth becomes, humans will adapt and try to thrive because there is no other option. 

That brings me to the second point that I found interesting: making up for the ecological disaster that future generations will inherit. I will admit that I had adopted the mindset, or felt strongly about the idea that fixing the climate was the only option. I never contemplated that we had alternative options, even if they aren’t very good. The idea that humans will (or possibly will) exist in a world that has been degraded, and that if we can’t fix the ecological crisis we have created, we should make up for it in other ways. I found this idea to be very compelling. Thompson brings up the example of cancer. If we can’t solve out ecological problems, we might as well cure cancer to take one burden off of the future generations. Thompsen also mentioned access to healthcare and education as another one of these “gifts.”

The last idea that I felt that I needed to mention was the idea of geoengineering. Thompson gave examples of geoengineering in the article, mentioning solar radiation management and stratospheric sulfur injections- all of these being implemented instead of fixing the true problem. The true problem being carbon dioxide levels, which can be lowered in part by reforestation. This really reminded me of the pharmaceutical industry. We create treatment and drugs for every sort of problem that we can, but often they don’t fix what is broken or amiss, instead they work to cover up the problem. For example, if you have a headache an instinct reaction is to take a pain reliever such as advil or ibuprofen. But all these medications do is mask the problem. Your headache may have been caused by dehydration, but instead of rehydrating and resting you disregard the cause of the headache for a quick fix. This is analogous to ignoring the high carbon dioxide levels (the root of the problem) and trying to mask it with other actions.

I, overall, felt that the attitudes and ideas presented in this article were very much something Greta Thunberg would reference and preach- we are morally responsible for the climate crisis and assisting future generations.

I Don’t Want Your Apology

Youth at climate strike in Edinburgh, Scotland
Photo from Chicago Tribune

The environmental crisis will lead to a collapse of the infrastructure of civilization. In fact, the impact of climate change is most likely more horrific than we can possibly imagine. These are both facts stated in Allan Thompson’s article, “A World They Don’t Deserve: Moral failure and deep adaptation.” Thompson bases his argument on two main assumptions: first, that the future conditions of the natural world are “deeply uncertain”; and two that the members of the current generation have a moral responsibility to protect the livelihoods of future generations through the mitigation of anthropogenic climate change. I agree with both of these assumptions, however I think that he is discounting a few very important other assumptions in his argument. 

Thompson’s article is based entirely on an anthropocentric worldview, meaning that he considers that the value of ecosystems and the natural world is instrumental rather than intrinsic. It is essential to recognize the intrinsic value of nature, not just for the sake of recognition, but also because it plays an enormous role in awareness and support for conservation policy. This article would lose a significant amount of validity if considered from an ecocentric point of view; it is impossible to apply deep adaptation principles to something that no longer exists. In this light, Thomspon’s discussion about novel ecosystems is a justification for ecosystem destruction, and a way for humans to continue exploiting already overburdened natural systems.

The idea of Derek Parfit’s Non-Identity Problem is fascinating, but I think it is applied a bit out of context. The environmental crisis is not only a future problem, it is a current problem. The victims of climate change are not some unknown, arbitrary people; they are citizens of the global south, coastal cities and towns, indigenous communities, and your (future) children and grandchildren. While the Non-Identity Problem argues that it is not immoral to fail to act on behalf of future generations, current generations are being devastated and it is immoral to fail to act on behalf of them.

In response to the ecological crisis and the moral failure of our generation, Allan Thompson suggests an apology. After his discussion of institution-collapsing and horrific repercussions of inaction, this seems far from sufficient. Thompson elaborates on his idea of an apology, including the component of “real effort”. My contention with his apology deepens here; how successful will an effort to repair a damaged world be when it has already been accepted that the world is doomed? If we can’t find funding to take action now, where will the funding come from when there truly is no hope for improvement? Furthermore, Thompson argues that if we can improve social institutions it will help compensate for our lack of environmental actions. At the beginning of his paper Thompson makes the assumption that the future conditions of the natural world are “deeply uncertain”. Taking this assumption into account, how can we be sure that social institutions will function the same as they do today, or even remain intact? It seems as if the focus on social institutions is a distraction from environmental crises. 

This course of action is not enough. Responses to climate change and environmental injustices cannot wait until we realize that it is too late. The burdens of climate change will not fall on generations far into the future, they will fall on my generation. I don’t want to live in a world with novel ecosystems and a geoengineered atmosphere, and I don’t want your apology.

The climate crisis: adaptation or mitigation?

In the essay “Radical Hope for Living Well in a Warmer World,” Allen Thompson discusses the impacts that the inevitable warming of our planet will have on our culture. He claims that consumerism is not likely to survive as our culture changes in response to our changing environment. Furthermore, he considers how future generations will have to develop “new environmental virtues suited to a new world environment” (Thompson 2). 

Much of the essay seems to be based on the assumption that there is little we can do now to mitigate the crisis of climate change, rather, we should shift our focus to the issue of adaptation. In the last chapter, “Technology and the Ghost Dance”, Thompson argues that it’s too late to reasonably place hope in developing a technological solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He discusses different forms of alternative energy and their feasibility in producing the amount of sustainable energy we need globally. He claims that although the sun continuously delivers far more energy than we could ever use, it’s unreasonable to think that we could come up with the technology to harness that energy within a short enough time frame to mitigate the climate crisis. 

However, I disagree with Thompson’s sentiment that finding a technological solution to the climate crisis, specifically in the form of alternative energy, is just a pipe dream, or as Thompson put it a “ghost dance”. If the sun continuously delivers eight hundred terawatts of energy to the earth, and it’s just a matter of harnessing thirty of those, then to me the obvious solution is to fund the development of technology that will harness the sun’s energy. Solar technology is already improving rapidly, even though we don’t provide energy research the funding it deserves. Before we effectively give up on facing the issue at hand by discussing adaptation to global warming, shouldn’t we first put our resources into attempting to develop a technological solution to the issue? It may not be feasible, but if there is even a chance that it is, then to me it seems logical to explore this possibility before it’s too late.

Are we willing to make a LIfestyle change?

In Thompson’s piece “A Radical Hope in a Warmer World”, he discusses how the lives we have grown accustomed to living in are vulnerable. The consumer culture we have so carefully cultivated is in desperate need of a change if we are to help diminish the catastrophic effects of climate change. As Thompson puts it, “today’s consumer culture would not be possible without the Industrial Revolution and so is intimately connected, at least historically, to the burning of fossil fuels for energy (Thompson 2).” As of right now most of our fuel is closely tied to the burning of fossil fuel and throughout history we have been “exploiting carbon-based forms of energy” (Thompson 3). I agree that our lifestyles need to change pretty dramatically, and we can’t just wait for technology to be our safety net. Especially since we have a limited amount of time before the effects of climate change become too great. But in what ways do we need to change our lifestyles? And how do we get people to do it? While I agree with Thompson that our lifestyles do need to change, how should we go about it? 

It is hard for me to imagine a world where people actively change their lifestyles to limit the effects of climate change when we are currently living in a time where there are people who still don’t believe climate change is a big deal. Or they just don’t believe it is a real thing. I think a lot of people, especially here in the US have grown accustomed to the lavish lifestyles we lead and I’m not positive people are ready to change that. Especially since those who are currently feeling the effects of climate change right now, and those who will soon feel the effects of climate change are really not the ones causing most of the damage to the climate right now. Climate change is going to affect the powerful and rich last and I don’t see them giving up their lifestyles anytime soon. 

Picture found on Pixabay by Cocoparisienne

All We Can do is Hope By: Kristen Adamec

Photo: Paolo Monti, 1969

Allen Thompson in his article “A World They Don’t Deserve: Moral Failure and Deep Adaption,” argues succinctly that we, as a human race, have a moral obligation to combat climate change. He firmly believes that we need to step up our efforts to combat the negative effects we are having on the planet in order to provide the best possible world for future generations to thrive in. Of course, as Thompson points out, all of this hinges on the continuation of the human race. Thompson provides strong evidence for the flexibility and perseverance of the human race, but believes that the best way for the current population to apologize to–and ensure the flourishing of–the next generation is by putting in marked effort to combating climate change. 

Reading this article, I found myself agreeing with Thompson’s arguments: apologizing and providing restitution to future generations is something we should focus more on, geoengineering is a very bad idea, and we have a moral obligation to provide the best possible world for those who come next. The morality of climate change is not something I had ever considered. Though I had previously considered that we need to address climate change to save the planet and future life, I had not considered it through the lens of morality.  All humans have the obligation to look out and provide for other humans. We, as a current population, have failed to provide for those coming after us, by focusing too much on the current needs of the population. Instead of being secure in the knowledge that the human race will continue on, we must, as Thompson argues, turn to stoicism and radical hope to believe that the human race will adapt to a warmth-ravaged planet. As Thompson puts it: “Hope is dead. Long live hope” (15). The hope that we can reverse or significantly slow climate change is gone, and a new hope must be kindled: the hope that whatever the consequences of climate change are, human can survive them. 

the angel of history

In Thompson’s “Radical Hope for Living Well in a Warmer World”, Thompson lays out two conceptions of a new kind of environmental ethics. One he calls “virtues of transition”, and the other “virtues of the future”. Virtues of transition prepares one for living well through a period of radical transitions brought about by the ecological crisis. These virtues aim at opposing “despair and hopelessness” and urged everyone to fight on against ecological destruction and the injustices and sufferings that it brings (9). On the other hand, virtues of the future, are our newly developed virtues after the ecological crisis has been stopped that will allow us to deal with the wreckage that the crisis has left. For Thompson this involves an abandonment of the concept of nature and a requirement that human civilization itself takes responsibility for the continued survival of nature (12). Although I think the idea of responsibility for nature as a virtue is an interesting one, I oppose Thompson’s distinctions of the two virtues. This distinction put means and ends at odds. The means (virtues of transition) being backwards looking involves returning to nature it’s autonomy and undoing the consumptive habits of society while the ends (virtues of the future) involves taking the responsibility for caring for nature which is forward looking (9, 12). Thompson provides an apocalyptic vision of change where the future has to be rebuilt after the end of the world. However, this vision misunderstands the significance of the environmental justice movement. The struggle for environmental justice, if it is to be effective, must be a struggle for freedom. It must be a call for humanity to take responsibility for its own fate and its own decisions in the world. In other words, it must rely on “virtues of the future” and not simply “virtues of transition”. Thompson sees the inevitable suffering brought about by ecological degradation as tragic, but this is not true. As the philosopher Theodor Adorno once wrote: “thought which does decapacitate itself leads to transcendence and to the idea of a world constitution in which not only is present suffering abolished’, but even the suffering that lies in the past and is beyond recall might be revoked” (qtd. in Zuidervaart). In other words, it is the achievements of future which sets the context for the suffering of the past. The sufferings of the present and near future can only be tragic if we have failed our historic tasks. Since we have only begun to realized our historic mission, I suggest we wait a little longer before passing judgement.

1. Zuidervaart, Lambert, “Theodor W. Adorno”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =<https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2015/entries/adorno/>.

The Need for Cultural Change

Thompson makes a very relevant point in his piece, “Radical Hope for Living Well in a Warmer World.” In order to truly live in a world that has had climate change forced upon it, we must make widespread cultural changes. In one swift thought, “impending environmental changes may spell the end for significant parts of our cultural perspective, including ways we are accustomed to conceiving of and valuing the natural environment and our received notions of responsibility” (Thompson, 6). While reading this piece, I was continually reminded of our previous readings. The above quotation feels as though it could have come from White or Yusoff. We must change the way we perceive nature, in Yusoff’s case this would involve rethinking how we articulate and write about the past and the natural environment, and in White’s case it involves revising this notion that we have dominion over the Earth. Thompson even echoes this thought when discussing Jamieson’s depictions of “human domination” over nature.

Throughout my understanding of the reading, I found myself agreeing with Thompson, that we cannot just rely on the possibility of technological innovation to get us out of this mess (or more accurately, prolong the inevitable), that we must actually change how we behave in relation to the Earth and the resources it provides. We must adapt to this new reality and face the consequences of our actions, not ignore our problems by coming up with band aid solutions. Thompson sates what many of us who know this reality face: “it seems that enough people simply will not voluntarily make the kind of changes in lifestyle or social organization required to effect significant mitigation” (Thomson, 9). “Yet we must not give up resistance and the struggle for change.” This is the basis of the idea of radical hope.

On page 10, Thomson discusses how easy it is to see someone else living outside of the necessary means, but it is much harder to admit that we personally live with the norm of excess consumption. A commitment to living without excess consumption and materiality necessitates radical hope and commitment. Popular culture is under the impression that we don’t have to live with less, yet every future generation will have to if we remain on the same track. Thomson relates heavily to the previous readings in his discourse of the necessary use of the Earth’s resources – that we are entirely reliant on the Earth for our livelihoods. He goes on to discuss the concept of how humans value nature, which I find connects to the concept of biophilia: the “idea that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life” (source). If we want to be able to continue to seek out connections with nature, we must alter our cultural expectations and behaviors so that this may remain a reality.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Dead or alive

Image by JonHee Yoon from NY Times article, “The Earth Is Just as Alive as You Are”

To say that geology is a study of non-life or the inert would be the same as qualifying the geologic science as the study of the current state of the planet, thus viewing the planet as a static system. 

Even from an elementary level, school curriculums teach the basics of the geologic rock cycle. This process started with heat and the formation of the first minerals and igneous rocks, and over billions of years has decayed into cycles of heating and cooling. Heat from the earth’s core radiates outward, bringing energy to matter, so much so it becomes liquid. This liquid heats and cools, convecting and bringing heart to the plastics above (core and mantle processes). These material cool at varying rates depending of their properties, and this forum unique solids (Bowens mineral series). This underlying heart allows large masses of these soils top move, colliding in to one another (plate tectonics). These collisions are capable of forces strong enough to build the highest mountains, where matter, once to hot to solidify, now reaches high enough into the atmosphere to store the coldest regions of the solid surface (mountain belts and metamorphic rocks). These landscapes bring energy of their own in the forum of potential energy. Here, erosive forces create sedimentary rocks. This new form of the same matter is transported to the lowest reaches of the surface, where the heat created from the same matter gives rise to more tectonic activity, returning the matter to whence it came. 

Without this internal heat, there would be no new rock formation, no liquid core to create a protective magnetic field, no covective mantel to give rise to plate tectonics, minimal mountain building, minimal terrain alteration, no dynamic earth systems, no life. The heat that makes this cycle all possible is derived from small particles of a deceist start, drawn back together by the gravitational fabric we can barely observe.

To see ourselves – as humans – as independent of interstellar and geologic processes is to view the universe as a static and dead system; and yet we see ourselves as the life (the one true light in this world). This is the mindset that Lynn White argued was fostered by religion, a mindset that encouraged individuals to view all external things as tools to the self, resources to exploit, an earth made for us. If this same mindset is now being used to link geology and racial exploitation (and thus a dive into an unconscious anthropocene), it is likely that neither is the root cause of the other, but rather our narcissistic and greedy nature/tendencies that are at fault. 

It seems that neither geology or religion have given rise to the mindset which has guided us as a species to exploit, but rather our is our nature – as collectives – to desire to conquer all things. Human nature is responsible for the possessive properties and interpretations of religion, the extractive curiosities that infiltrate geologic science, the urge to dominate all things and people deemed different; human nature was destined to give rise to the anthropocene. If we apply our character defining mindset to anthropogenically driven disasters, there is yet hope that we are self aware.

Mistreatment of Humans and Land: The Causes of Our Ecologic Crisis

In Kathryn Yusoff’s first chapter of her book A Billion Black Anthropocene’s or None, she addresses geology as well as how racism in colonial times, has negatively impacted the Earth today; her primary argument is that black and brown peoples being treated as inhuman has resulted in the current population treating their environment inhumanely. However, to be frank, I feel as though I only understand the basics of Yusoff’s work despite reading and re-reading over sections multiple times.

Yusoff goes into deeper detail of justifying her claim by utilizing slavery of African Americans as a prime example of the mistreatment of “inhuman objects”. She iterates that the mistreatment and domination of an entire population through slavery has influenced others’ mindsets of believing that they are not only able to, but also encouraged to subjugate inanimate objects or other beings to whatever treatment they deem reasonable. Another example of this being when Christopher Columbus first discovered the Americas. Although it wasn’t African Americans being taken advantage of, he forcibly took control of the Native American population that he came upon due to him viewing them as weak and savage. As a result of this misguided mindset, he enslaved the natives and forced them to find and excavate gold, and when they didn’t fulfill their quota, he often severed off their hands as punishment. This act of extorting both the native peoples and the land supports Yusoff’s claim of geologic and racial issues being the stem of the current environmental deterioration attributable to the people in these examples possessing self-righteous mentalities.

This common mindset relates to the poor treatment and current ecological crisis by the past ill treatment of land while being colonized by the Americans. For example, during the 1800s, Americans killed millions of bison, nearly wiping out an entire species which would’ve severely damaged the ecosystem if preventive efforts hadn’t been made by President Roosevelt. This was largely the cause of hunting for sport, however this also occurred because of the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad. Both elements were committed purposefully and with full knowledge of what negative outcomes could come out of them emphasizing the selfish and tunnel-vision perspectives that the Americans had while trying to attain their goals.

All in all, Yusoff explains that geologic and racial factors in the past have negatively influenced the modern world. Hopefully, by bringing awareness to these possible contributions to the damaged environment we have today, people will be able to prevent any further damage from happening as well as possibly finding a way to reverse the current level of destruction.

An Honors Colloquium in Environmental Arts and Humanities