All posts by burkba

Going Against Social Norms is Hard!

I fully understand that eating meat is bad for the environment. I know it’s not the best thing for my health. I know I could be making better choices. However, living a meat-free life is harder than one would imagine. Meat is a great source of protein, and as a person with an iron deficiency meat is often the best way to get the nutrients I need. Going meat-free is a lifestyle I would definitely be interested in, but it is a difficult path, or at least that’s the way I perceive it as a person who eats meat. I am also definitely biased as a meat eating person, but there are ways to raise animals for food products that does not involve their pain and suffering, and this article ignored all farming techniques where that is the case- they say all animals suffer.

In addition, this article uses the word “murder” quite often. I am not sure how I feel about animals as sentient beings and if we are morally obligated to not kill them. For example, the article compared killing and eating other humans to killing animals. I am not sure I’d draw that same connection. I agree with the ideas of the article: we should eat less meat because it is better for us and it is better for the environment and it is better for the animals. I just don’t think calling people who eat meat murderers is the best way to get them to stop eating meat. I think a better way to go about it is to perhaps politicize the matter more by placing taxes, or something similar, on meat consumption. It has been done before on soda, something similar could probably be done for meat. Another method could be treating meat similar to cigarettes- run media campaigns that warn against the dangers of eating meat (bad for the environment, increased likelihood of obesity, etc.) to convince people that eating meat should be lessened. Berating people for doing it is only going to make them more resistant to stop eating meat. People generally don’t like being told what to do, especially if it’s to stop doing something they enjoy.

Overall, I think the article has a good thought behind it, I just don’t think presenting ideas on meat eating in this way is the most efficient way to achieve a goal of our country eating less animal products- whatever the underlying motivation may be.

Nature, or Religion?

When reading these 22 theses on nature, I can’t help but think of Martin Luther’s 95 theses on religion, both because of the name, and loosely because of content. The way the author of these 22 theses describes nature is spiritual. Saying nature is “all encompassing,” “simply given,” and “radically open,” is not usually a way in which we think about nature. The first thesis implores the importance of considering humans to be a part of nature, and nature as being a part of humans, especially in our anthropocentric age of climate change and general destruction of the planet. Perhaps if more people thought about nature with the same reverence and respect people grant their religions, we would be more prone to take care of our planet.

The sections on perception are particularly resonant with the idea of nature as a spiritual entity. All things surrounding us change us, at least in small ways. The same feelings of awe and connection many people feel while out in natural spaces could be described similarly to religious connections people experience. The author of these theses, however, in a way argues that those feelings of connection need to be felt even in areas that humans have heavily impacted. We are part of nature, and cannot be without it, so by extension our communities and human inventions should be revered as natural. It is because of this we must change the ways the human parts of nature effect all other parts. There should be no separation, and the way we currently live our lives brings about that separation.

This article brings up an interesting point about nature: we are just a small part of it. Nature is “all encompassing,” as the theses describe, so it will go on once we are gone. Any harm to nature will eventually be repaired, but it is not likely that humans will be there to see it. Nature will go on without us. It is much more resilient and flexible than humans are.

It Sure Seems Great in Theory

Is degrowth the only way to save our planet from the effects of climate change? I don’t know. Would it help negate the consequences of our materialistic world? Absolutely. But is it practical? I just don’t see it. I personally love the idea of degrowth in theory, but when thinking about it further, when realizing all the benefits of this “growth centered society” and all its capitalist  comforts would essentially be lost in a degrowth society, my brain gives me pause. Specialization and division of labor is a cornerstone belief of all heavily industrialized societies, like the one we live in in this country. I love the fact that someone else has specialized in agriculture and food preparation so I don’t have to. Going back to a self sustainable economy is an admirable goal to have, but spreading it to the general population will be more easily said than done.

The main problem I see with the degrowth movement is in its implication. In order to truly convince citizens that this is the way to save our future, small steps into these “grassroots nowtopias” the authors of this week’s reading describe will have to be taken, and at the rate the climate is changing, I do not know if we have time for the small steps to be taken. However, that same thing could be said about any movement looking to make radical change. I just know persuading our culture to give up so many of the comforts and conveniences of modern capitalist life will not be a painless endeavor. This is especially the case with a lot of the political ideals proposed by the degrowth movement, such as a wage ceiling, or a living wage. Humans as a whole do not like change, and a movement to such “radical” beliefs by our standards may not go over well, especially among those who are “successful” by the capitalist standards described in the reading.

I’m not sure if the world is ready for the commencement of a degrowth society, but for the sake of our future, I hope we are. Or at the very least, leaders of the movement can implicate it in a digestible way for the general human population.  I fear though, like with every utopian society, it sounds better in practice than it will actually transpire in reality.

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But Aren’t Humans Special?

There is not a doubt in my mind that there is something unique about humans. Our ability to communicate, collaborate, and think deeply and profoundly about the world around us is astonishing. That being said, humans also have an unmatched capability to be selfish, ignorant, and greedy. Our range of abilities allows us to change the world around us in ways that are absolutely unprecedented on this planet in the past. Historically, our technological advancements have only benefitted us as humans. The industrial revolution may have improved the short-term quality of life for the people directly impacted by the technology, but now almost 200 years later we are seeing the down falls of that once cutting-edge technology. This week’s reading pieces were interesting, because while Lynn While essentially blames advances in technology for our destruction of the natural world, Pope Francis argues that only further advances in technology can work to reverse the damage. It is also very interesting that White’s essay urges people to abandon the Christian idea of human superiority, as that disregard for other life forms is the reason humans are now in the current climate crisis that we are in. The current Pope, the leader of one of the biggest Christian factions, is now stressing the importance of plants and animals not only for their benefit to humans, but also as individual lives. The views of the Christian faith seem to be evolving, at least a little bit. I think it is that ability to change our ways that makes humans so unique. We can consider the world around us, and actively work to change it. Hopefully this time we will be changing it for the bettering of all species- not just for our personal advancement. It is this ability to change that makes me hopeful for the future of this species and this planet. If any species can combat the current crisis, I believe it is humans. After all, isn’t it undeniable that humans are special?