All posts by roberdan

A snowstorm does not mean climate change is fake

“Geo-engineering” is a concept that I had never heard of before reading these two articles. All things considered, it seems like a really cool idea unless it actually got implemented into society. The fact that we are even considering pumping sulfur into the air over reducing our emissions blows my mind. People would rather change anything else over their own habits. Like the “Re-Engineering the Earth” article said, “It’s like taking aspirin for cancer.” I didn’t even know solutions like that existed, and that they would be terrifyingly cheap.

The fact that 38 people in the world are rich enough to make drastic changes in the climate is crazy. No one would even be able to stop them, and they could completely change the way the world works. Everybody thinks they know everything about climate change, and I’m afraid that people will act irrationally.

I appreciate that they gave more reasonable solutions; one I liked was the carbon towers. The article suggested that big towers be constructed around the globe that can absorb carbon in sheets, and then be transported and put back into the ground. Genetic engineering of trees to absorb more carbon also sounded like a creative idea that could potentially work, but I don’t know enough about the science around that.

The biggest point I’ve taken away from this class is that no matter how much evidence we push at people or how many solutions we come up with, it won’t make a difference unless people believe it. Climate change is not a political position to take. It’s not an opinion, scientific data has backed up that it is happening. We need to make a decision now, or someone or something else will make it for us.

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We don’t join the geophony, we overpower it

Bernie Krause wrote with a lot of wonder and optimism in her piece “The Great Animal Orchestra.” It was really neat to read about someone else’s experience with nature and how different it is almost 40 years later.  She loves the sounds of nature – wind, rain, thunder, and snow – and writes about them constantly trying to describe their unique tones. It is really hard to try and describe to someone how something sounds without them being able to hear the exact snippet of time that you are trying to show them. I particularly like when she talks about how wind cannot be recorded. That the only sound you can record is what it moves. I honestly had never thought about that before, because people always say “Oh, that sound is just the wind, it’s nothing to worry about!”

Honestly, reading this excerpt made me worry about the future and whether or not I will be able to go outside and just hear nature. It made me sad to think that someday in my lifetime I could never find a place that humanity hasn’t touched. Bernie wrote at the end of her article that as more and more species evolved they all added to the geophony (I love the use of this word) of a “world abounding with life.” I can’t help but think that she would leave humans out of the equation if she could because we don’t really add our sound peacefully, we overpower all the other ones. I love being able to just drive 10 minutes a find a place where I could be utterly alone, but whenever I go into a city I forget that some people who have always lived there don’t get that luxury. They can always hear the sounds of the city. We need to appreciate the sounds of nature and the ease we can record them, before they are drowned out forever.

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Climate Change Doesn’t Just Mean It’s Getting Hotter

In high school, we learned a lot about climate refugees in our climate change unit. How they are multiplying every day, and no one seems to know what to do. We can’t blame a country like you can with war refugees. You can’t even blame a singular natural disaster. These people are being forced out of their homes because of a climate that is changing a little bit every day.

It’s a delicate line to walk when talking about indigenous people – most of the world hasn’t had the greatest track record with respect in those areas. One part of the Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society mentions how the world is trying to adopt rules and regulations for indigenous people and their contributions to an environmentally friendly world. However, I don’t think that is where our focus should be right now. Why don’t we focus on our factories and put some more regulations there? Move away from coal power? Indigenous people are nowhere near the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions but the government feels like they need to regulate those people as well. Environmental regulations are a good thing to have in general of course, but it seems unnecessary right now.

That previous paragraph I think pertains mostly to America, but I think around the world countries are not doing enough to cut back on their greenhouse gas emissions.  Unfortunately, countries that contribute the most are not seeing (or at least not recognizing) the climate changing and the refugees it’s creating. Sub-saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America are the most vulnerable regions, and the majority of those places fall low on the emissions charts. America is the second-largest contributor to GHG emissions by country, and we have had massive hurricanes come through the south lately -way more than there should be. It’s time for people to notice that climate change will not only affect us in the future – it is affecting people drastically right now.

Weather Humor is Really Starting to Dry Out

I love dystopian stories and constantly devour them whenever I can get my hands on them. As I grow older I am starting to realize that things that used to be very fictional are now scarily a possibility. I once read a book where humans ended up cutting down all the trees on Earth, assuming we could survive on oxygen produced by other plants and the algae in the ocean. Cities were constructed under big domes, and the air became taxed.  When I look at society around me, I realize that that may be closer than I would like.

In “The Tamarisk Hunter,” they focused on water being the primary downfall of society. I think everyone should read this short story. It puts everything into perspective in the way that many people alive today will be affected if we continue to ignore that our climate is changing because of us. I thought this story was very well done – the reader has to figure out what they are talking about through context clues, and the reader slowly realizes that the world is running out of water. I found the paragraphs describing the shower taking extremely worrisome because I can just envision that so clearly as something that is very possible. The main character had to go from showering every day to showering once a week, and then just using buckets. He also described how everyone used to joke about it, but now that it is actually killing people, society knows that this is the new normal.

It comes back around to the topic yet again of “but what can we do about it?” People need to know that yes, little things that they are doing can make a difference, but policy change is going to be the biggest impact. We have to force the world to create a new normal. If we don’t, we’ll all end up hunting tamarisks.

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1000+ years from now is quickly becoming 10

“Based on this framework, we argue that social and technological trends and decisions occurring over the next decade or two could significantly influence the trajectory of the Earth System for tens to hundreds of thousands of years…”

In the opening section of Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, this phrase jumped out at me. I think a lot of people don’t realize that the things we do today and the choices that the people on Earth are making can affect us in our lifetime. We can inadvertently cause our own lives to be in jeopardy because of decisions being made at this very moment. We are in a massive upswing of technological advancements right now in our society and the majority of the population isn’t listening when scientists (people with degrees in this stuff) are telling us that we are stomping all over the Earth as we are running forward.

The explanation of a stabilized Earth in between the Hothouse Earth and the Glacial-Interglacial cycle was very easy to understand and I think it could make a lot of sense to someone even if they didn’t have a scientific background. Figure 1 was very helpful and created a terrifying visual of what we are heading towards. The fact that we passed the first “fork in the road” per say is a little scary but I’m glad the article ended with ways that we can get back on track. Articles like this only work if you determine the problem and provide a solution or else the reader is at a loss of what to do.

This article is very thorough, but if I had to add one thing, I would suggest that the author tell the reader what they as an individual can do. It depends on who the audience is for this paper (it seems more scientific in nature) so it may not be necessary, but I am not a scientist and I think I was missing that aspect. It leaves an everyday citizen wondering what they could possibly do to save the Earth from the apparent impending doom.

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Can we afford to lose our planet just because we like the taste of meat?

This has been a topic of debate for years now, especially as climate change has become more prevalent, and as a vegetarian/veganism diet has become more accessible and popular. I have been a vegetarian for 7 years, and I’m currently trying to make the switch all the way to vegan. As a nutrition major, you bet I’ve watched documentary after documentary and read article after article on this. I was so excited when I saw the title of this article, On the Limits of Food Autonomy, because I’ve been doing research on it lately and it pertains (somewhat) to my major.

I’ve heard many arguments on both sides of the vegan debate, and they tend to usually be the same ones. I thought this article was really interesting because it brought up something I’d never really thought of before – eating meat is what everyone grew up with, and most people don’t want to stray away from the societal norm. Lots of people claim it is harder to be vegetarian or vegan, and that can be true in some cases. It requires an extra step or two of thinking when you eat out at a restaurant, and you have to plan your diet to contain the nutrients that are harder in some cases to get with those dietary restrictions. However, if society considered veganism or vegetarianism more normal, options would soar for places to eat and items to get in the grocery store (and prices would go down for direct vegan substitutes; a general vegan diet tends to be cheaper than an omnivore one).

I could type for hours about the many reasons to transition humanity to a more plant-based diet, and I think the biggest barrier for most people is that the average human does not know how big of an industry livestock raising is, and how staggering some of these facts are. 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases come from the emissions used to raise livestock – that’s more than all of the transportation systems in the world combined. 70% of the water available to humans is used to give to farm animals; 20,000 pounds of water is used to create 1 pound of beef (whereas a pound of potatoes takes only 60 pounds of water). I am really hoping that if more information gets out to the general population, more people will consider reducing their meat intake. I really hope that we aren’t condemning our planet just because we like the taste and convenience of meat.

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If We Push Nature from all Sides We’ll Only Run into Ourselves

“We must think of nature without…exempting ourselves from it, and also without remaking it into our own image.” Thesis 2.

Humans have almost always thought of ourselves as separate from nature. Nature was always something we explored or adventured in – it was almost synonymous with the word “wilderness.” I still say to my friends, “oh, I haven’t seen enough of nature recently! I need to get out into the forest!” However, if we continue to think of ourselves as separate from nature, there isn’t really going to be a way to fix how we are affecting it. We have to treat humans and nature as connected in one system so that we can really see how our lifestyle impacts the world we live in (and on). By separating it, I believe we are distancing ourselves from so-called “Nature” and the environment itself. If we claim not to be a part of nature, then we think we really don’t have a responsibility to clean up our act.

“However far we go in space, we will never find an edge or boundary.” Thesis 4

I really liked this quote, because I feel like the author was trying to tell the reader that we are treating the Earth like outer space. We keep pushing and pushing our boundaries into what we consider “nature” and we aren’t considering that eventually we will meet ourselves on the other side. Space is infinite, and we have endless places left to explore. Humans are well aware that Earth is a finite resource, and yet we still act like we have all the time in the world to make a change in our attitude. It starts with stopping the mental separation of nature and humans. I really enjoyed this reading and I thought the format of 22 Thesis was a very interesting way to get a point across.

The Degrowth Theory Seems Great! …In theory

This article had an extensive review of the word “degrowth.” There was so much going on that it took me a while to understand what I wanted to take away from the three authors. At first, I agreed with what Kallis, Demaria, and D’Alisa where saying about the negative environmental impact of growth. I particularly connected with the quote “To date there are hardly any countries who can claim an absolute reduction in material use or carbon emissions while growing.” This rings so true in a way that I don’t believe a lot of people had thought of. Every country (especially developed countries) wants to advance faster and better than the next – but they will just outsource their dirty energy practices to countries behind them. Especially with the fact that our natural resources will run out eventually, we need every country working on ways to be sustainable. The degrowth transition includes a transition to renewable energy as a way to keep advancing technologically but making sure that we don’t take the Earth down with us.

However, I was sort of confused when the article went deeper into the economic and political aspects of degrowth. It didn’t seem to match the rest of what they were saying – and I really didn’t understand their reasoning. I think they were being a little too optimistic in hoping people would accept this change. There is a reason America is a democracy – everyone wants their opinion to be accounted for. I don’t think this “degrowth principle” would sit well with a majority of the people in America – much less across the globe. America likes to be set in its ways – which may mean it is time to change some of those. However, if we had an “unconditional basic income” granted to all citizens no matter what, a lot of people would not put effort into their work. On paper, this theory seems to work, but when the work ethic of a good amount of people is put into play, one realizes that it just wouldn’t work the way it would need to.

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Paganism Could Be the Way to Go

As humans, we have always considered ourselves above nature – not a part of it. When we started designating “nature” as a separate entity is when we lost our respect for it. Every other animal is considered part of nature – since we do we get to count ourselves out? Is it when we found out we can design our own technology to shape it? I was really intrigued by the path that Lynn White took in “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” and even more so when I realized it was written in the 60’s. This author was way ahead of his time. My favorite quote of his in the article is, “its [technology over nature] acceptance as a normal pattern of action may mark the greatest event in human history since the invention of agriculture, and perhaps in nonhuman terrestrial history as well.” If we are to progress environmentally in any way, he is encouraging us to have to change our point of view – and he recognizes that it most likely will have to be religiously.

White goes into immense detail on how humans have transitioned from a pagan belief that nature is to be respected, to a Christian belief that nature is to be used and is only there for them. The Greek and Roman myths have always intrigued me, and I immediately knew what he was going to talk about. Humans used to worship nature and look at every living thing like it had a soul and was its own spirit, and we had to respect it. If we didn’t, the gods would curse us or cast us out. It was a fantastic comparison and backed up his point nicely.

The article written by the Pope goes well with White’s article, especially since White encouraged the general population to turn to the Pope and change how we think religiously. My favorite line from the Pope was “We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.” It rings very true and summarizes what White was trying to say in his writing. Both men back each other up in their beliefs, and I’m glad we read both together.