All posts by prymolea

What do we owe ourselves?

It is kind of brilliant when you think about it. Geoengineering is a creative and proactive solution to getting the planet out of the position it is currently in. All of the reports in the news now paint a very bleak picture of our future even if emissions are cut down and eliminated. Even if we stop producing all emissions that currently affect climate, the planet is already on a course to heat up 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 50 years. There is obviously very little change that simply abstaining from emitting more junk into out atmosphere can accomplish.

In a new dawn of human capabilities, it is incredible that we have the technological capacity to literally change the world we live in. In retrospect, through out gradual effects on climate change over the last couple decades we have already been affecting our planet through technology, but it was inadvertent. To use out intellectual capacity as a species to purposefully make a positive impact on our planet is unprecedented!

If we ever hope to continue to prosper on this planet, we are actually required to take active steps towards correcting the wrong we have inflicted on the planet. Geoengineering is our present reality that paves the way for a future we wish to be a part of.

Nature HD Surround Sound System

I have always wondered how they record nature sounds: the ambient noise of whales, rain on a canopy, or waves hitting a rocky shore are contained on tracks that we play and replay when we need to relax. But I don’t mean wonder with regard to the instruments and how the recording process worked. What I mean is that it honestly baffled me as to where people go to record the sounds of nature undisturbed by man. It seems that there are so few places left in this world that are left untouched by the permeating sounds of humanity.

Which is the entire reason that nature tracks even exist. Supply and demand. There isn’t a lot of access to nature, so if you can corner the market on capturing that then big bucks are in store. We listen to the tracks are because we find comfort in the sounds of nature; it takes us away from our daily lives full of industrial noise and man-made intrusions upon our eardrums.

How did this even become so perverse? We pay money to listen to something that is freely available to us. So why do we do it? Accessibility is one answer I suppose. However, I think the further underlying cause is that we are slowly eliminating what once used to be so accessible.

The reading talked about how the natural sounds were obscured by a dam, oil spill, or some other human influence. When it happens, the absence of the sound of nature is felt. As time goes on though, the absence of sound becomes a norm, and eventually the absence is replaced by the sounds of growth and human prosperity.

Our world hasn’t always been as busy and aggressive as it is now. We made it this way. So now the only way that we can get a piece of the former ambiance is to go into the few places left with recording devices in order to capture the last remaining pieces. I suppose this is what is necessary if we are to relieve the stress of the life we have created. But thank goodness we have Bluetooth speakers to aid with that!

based on a true story

When you’re a kid and you read scary stories on the eve of Halloween, they impact you more because the ghosts and monsters are believable and feel like they could be real. The imagination of a child makes them real. As we get older and get into scary movies to celebrate the frightening festivities of the holiday, we are shaken to our core when the words “Based on a true story” float onscreen, because although our childish imagination dwindles, we are still rattled by the fact that this story has at one time taken place which means it can occur again. Paolo Bucigalupi takes our fears to their limits however in this haunting rendition of a dystopian future because the story plays to the everyday horrors we know for fact are real and imminently threatening.

As a general rule, I don’t read a lot of fiction. I find it a waste of time to get lost in a written fictional setting when I could instead use my reading time to learn something that will contribute to my growing knowledge of the world. Reading The Tamarisk Hunter however, was the exception to that rule. As I read on in this chilling tale of a future reality that is frighteningly within our foreseeable future, I was entranced by the parallel themes that intertwine within the story and our current political and social atmosphere.

It is difficult to turn away from a piece of fiction writing when I know that the lessons I learn from it could be very applicable to my life and my future. The extreme water shortage portrayed in the story is already emerging, so it is not hard to imagine our current situation cranked up a couple degrees (pun intended).

Fortunately, I believe that the omens in written works and scholastic teaching are making an impact. Stories such as this one help to appeal to our emotions while scientific teaching provide the facts necessary to incite a movement. Whether it is the process of water conservation, desalination treatments, or technological advancement, we have it within us to create the change we want to see happen in this world.

Check your Thermostat!

In scientific circles it is understood that humans have had a significant impact on Earth’s climate. Humans as a species are very special in the sense that we are ecological engineers: we make our environment to fit our needs. For a long time now, humans have been great at maintaining a comfortable stasis in what we deem a suitable living environment, without care as to how our comfort impacts the rest of the ecological network.

The “feedback loop” that we maintain has been based on our own comfort and convenience. However, it is time to add a couple more considerations into the feedback system. If we are to consider the system as a whole to include our behavioral impacts on the rest of our ecosystem, we will see that the world we live in is not in fact stable in any way, shape, or form.

Fortunately, we have it within ourselves to change. Now that we are aware of the issue, we can work on fixing it. Just as a thermostat senses the conditions and adjusts it’s setting accordingly, so must we adjust if we are to keep our living environment comfortable for every being residing where we are.

A Rational Reprisal

To depoliticize meat eating and put it on the individual to reason why they eat meat is very eye opening. However, I think the brazen shaming put forth by the paper is concerning. I don’t disagree with the institutionalized issues of our consumer and capitalist driven society, but I have an issue with the aggressive tone put forth by the vegan scholars and their critical animal studies.

Biologically speaking, consuming protein in the form of meat is healthy and encouraged by medical professionals. The only issue is the overwhelmingly massive amount of meat consumption that currently dominates a typical Western diet. Drawing attention to this issue is necessary and encouraged but to throw moral righteousness in people’s face is a bit much.

There are two sides to every story. It is apparent that we currently live in a society that industrially abuses animals in order to provide for the demand the system has created for itself. However, reading articles such as this one puts me on the defensive because of the drastic opposition to the status quo. I feel like there is a way to understand the need to consume a balanced diet while still respecting the organisms that we consume.

Stuck between oblivion and eternity

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the state,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an Idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

–William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Macbeth (Act V, Scene 5)

Try as we might, any reason and meaning humans articulate to portray how we understand the world, pales in comparison to the grandness and entirety of nature. How could something as limiting as human perception be used to encompass all this world and universe have to offer? We humble ourselves and give praise to the forces of nature and the phenomenon that lies out of our control. But it is a false humility. We sing songs of worship about the world around us and then simply write in our books made out of paper harvested from the trees that used to clean the air for us while we expel carbon dioxide from our lungs. After becoming aware, we then aim to reduce the amount of green we wipe forever out of existence and instead turn to creating high powered, clever, and elaborate technology created from rare earth metals that we gouged out from under our feet.

Our impact is not slight, though we may feel minuscule and insignificant in the blinding light of existence in our universe. Our actions are loud. Our words, however, are ephemeral.

Nevertheless, the first and most crucial step towards action is awareness, which begins with a conversation. After all, it is what we are good at.

WARNING: Take only as directed

Many of us have heard of a tapeworm: a parasite that sets root in a host’s intestines and feeds on the host’s partially digested food to leech nutrients for itself. A very interesting tactic that the tapeworm has however, is that it keeps its host alive for a very long time. While some infections or parasites kill their host, a tapeworm needs its host’s digestive environment functioning in order to make its home. Only when tapeworms breed out of control and the sheer mass of them causes blockage, impaired host functioning, or settlement of cysts in places other than the intestines is there a huge problem. Otherwise, a worm can live in a host without them ever even being aware of the threat.

Sounds gross, I know. Nevertheless, it is an apt analogy to the kind of threat and damage humans pose to the planet we reside on. We feed off of the planet’s resources and maneuver around the parts of the environment which we can reasonably gain access too. A distinct difference however is, we have now become aware that we are a detriment to our planet.

But think about it this way, if a tapeworm population became aware that their existence inside the host was causing their host to weaken and perish, what could the population reasonably do to limit their detrimental impact on the host already? The host is obviously already struggling: resources are dwindling but the parasitic population requires a consistent supply to keep them alive. What could be done?

Easy answer would be to get rid of whatever is causing the host to die. The parasite is the cause of the host’s misery; therefore, it must go, or else the host will go with them.

When considering a tapeworm, the concept of “limiting” the population wouldn’t even be discussed. The main reason being that if the population got out of control once, it would only be a matter of time before that happened again. The concept of degrowth seems to be the same for me. Humans, try as they might, are fighting a losing battle, we try to rework our resource consumption and find ways that we can hurt our surroundings a little less, but at the end of the day, our own existence and sheer mass of a population is hurting the place we call home.

Regardless, we can’t just kill off an entire population of humans. In the end, all we can do is treat the symptoms. Whatever medicine we prescribe for ourselves is simply treating the nuisances brought on by a chronic condition. The environment has sustained us for a long time now, all that’s left to see is how long can it go on for.

You can’t have disrespect without disregard

As humans learn more about the world around us, the more we abuse and exploit it; that much is evident. However, it seems to stem from a lack of respect. This lack of respect came unintentionally because we grew in our understanding of nature. Back when natural phenomena were confusing and scary, that fear incited an essence of awe and reverence. When the veil of mystery was finally lifted though the use of science and technology as outlined by Lynn White, then the wonderment of the unknown was tarnished, and as a result we no longer held nature to any high regard.

Religious teachings have been applied in the past to explain not well understood processes of this world. But as the processes began to be explained by science and technology rather than religion, then the respect for religious lessons and morals went away along with religious reason. White’s explanation of how religion was used as justification for man’s dominance over nature in every which serves as further support for those looking to discredit religious views in place today. It seems to be an ironic and vicious cycle without end: we further technology that pulls us further from faith while using a “God-given” right to justify us doing so.

Worse still, we accept this as a “a normal pattern of action” according to White. And then we have the audacity to take it upon ourselves to fix it and consider ourselves saviors of a world in ruin while completely disregarding the core reasons we got into the predicament in the first place. We go so far as to admit that our previous actions ruined our environment, but we never trace back to shed light on the reason for our actions. From what I have read, I believe humans have a need not just a need to dominate over our surroundings, but to obstinately and insatiably do so as well.