All posts by robinski

Why have one when you can have both

I felt that the article on geo-engineering was incredibly interesting. Creating mechanisms to change the environment has always seemed like science fiction to me, being an idea that is often played around within pop culture. However, this article has definitely shown me that there are valid methods to create solutions for Earth’s CO2 problem.

On that note, I do feel like the optimal solution is a combination of geo-engineering and cutting down on CO2 consumption.  Geo-engineering, although clearly a great solution, does have its downsides like how the sulfur idea would likely cause acid rain and different environmental issues. But, ideas like the CO2 collectors would be a great system to use alongside with CO2 cutbacks. 

As an engineer, this conversation has made me look at my engineering potential a lot more. I have always been interested in sustainability and green solutions and feel that geo-engineering is something I would like to pursue more.

The hills are alive with the sound of nature

As someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, I feel that the sounds of nature can’t be beaten by any type of music. One of my favorite things to do when I backpack is sit down, close my eyes, and just focus on the sound. Describing the sounds of nature is difficult, but I feel that they are real, emotional, interesting, calming, and uplifting. I find that focussing on rhythmic, methodical sounds from the outdoors really helps me get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life as well as connect with nature on another level.

I played cello for 14 years and often used the sounds in nature as inspiration for my musical expression. For instance, when playing a “powerful” song, I often thought about how a wild thunderstorm made me feel and tried to recreate that feeling through my cello. Similarly, for a more calming song, I may take inspiration from the gentle flow of the ocean and use more legato to make the piece more peaceful like the waves.

One aspect of the sounds found in nature that I really enjoy is they remind one of how little we as humans matter and how unimportant all of our worries our on the grand scale of life. I may be very stressed about homework one day, but after exposing myself to the sounds of the forest or the wisp of the winds over the hills, I am reminded that my existence on Earth is very short-lived and that I should focus on the positives in life.

Rich Planet, Poor Planet

I must start by saying this article was incredibly hard to get through. Not only were all the pages big blocks of text written in small font, but often times the syntax used in the writing made the reading incredibly dull and forgetful. I think Robert Melchior Figuera needs to retake technical writing.

 

Anyways, I appreciate the point this article is trying to make in terms of cultural maintainment and the demand for greater cultural protection for indigenous people. I hadn’t really thought about the topic much before, but this article really made me step back and think about some of the differences between an advanced society like the US versus an underdeveloped community of indigenous people. People in advanced society make the environment work for them versus indigenous people who work with the environment. I laugh when I write this because my previous sentence sounds incredibly similar to a line from a financial book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad where there is a quote that essentially says “the rich have money work for them while the poor have to work for money.” Now obviously these two cases tackle different areas, but one common idea can be taken from both: growth is dependent on one being in a place of power and dominance rather than cooperation and always doing what is ethically right. This idea naturally has some holes in it, but I think this is a mindset that humans have lived by throughout history.

 

I believe advanced society is entirely capable of returning to a point where the environment is respected and not utilized beyond repair. However, it will depend heavily on government regulatory action because let’s be honest, advanced society isn’t going to just stop caring about financial gain and isn’t going to stop ignoring the detrimental toll on the environment.

The Hunt for Water

When I first started reading The Tamarisk Hunter I wasn’t completely sure what was going on. However, as the story progressed, the clash between lower and upper-class individuals became clear. In the story, humanity has reached a point where water is a scarcity and people without money are left to survive against the severe temperatures. From an environmental perspective, I felt that that the circumstances in this story were not unrealistic regarding what may become if humans continue to use up these resources without looking towards more renewable options.

 

During summers, while I was in high school, I worked in Arizona. One of the aspects that was always shocking to me was the incredible temperatures. As a child, I had been in Arizona when temperatures exceeded 100ºF, but during high school, each year was exceeded 115ºF. Now, these steep temperatures still didn’t surpass the record temperature in Arizona of 122ºF that was set back in the 90s, but the fact that the consistency of these high temperatures is increasing raises a lot of concerns. It isn’t just in places like Arizona that temperatures have been increasing. In much of the world, the last two years have presented some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded.

 

In terms of water shortage, the worlds usable fresh water supply has been decreasing for years. Of the total water on Earth, 97% is salt water and just 3% is freshwater. However, of that 3%, humans can only access roughly 1% of the supply since the other 2% is stored in glaciers and the poles. Already many countries face severe water crises and water scarcity consistently makes it into annual top 10 issues for the world.

 

As intelligent humans, there are things we can do to slow down the problem of water scarcity. A few options that could help significantly decrease the rate at which fresh water is being used are decreasing shower times, decreasing the number of times per week clothes and dishes are washed, and decreasing the rate lawns are watered.

 

Better late than never

The idea that Earth is heading towards a “point of no return” is not a new statement to my ears. In the last five years, many scientists came out with studies that showed if humans didn’t start cutting down on the amount of CO2 emissions, the planet would reach a point where global warming would increase at an incredibly fast exponential, irreversible rate. Fortunately in 2015 many countries came together and joined the Paris Agreement, which essentially was an international agreement to increase climate justice efforts. Although this was a huge first step, it still would not be enough to make drastic changes, and with the current administration leaving the agreement, we are even further from living in an environmentally conscious world.

 

In order to really make an impact on the current environmental issues, I feel companies need to held incredibly accountable for pollution and CO2 emissions from their factories. There are known methods to reduce factory CO2 emissions, yet they cost money to put in place, so are not popular by companies. Another step to reducing the carbon footprint is to increase the amount of public transportation and restrict the number of cars that can be on the road. This idea would be a drastic step, one that many people would oppose, but honestly, it’s one of the only ways humans will ever possibly achieve lower carbon emissions.

 

In my opinion, these two ideas are the best ways humans can start making a big difference. Of course, there are options like the one we discussed last week about reducing the number of animal products, but I feel options like this are not as realistic. Although the two option I suggested above are drastic, I think they could easily be enforced and they would also have the added benefit of advancing technology in society.

I know it’s a good point, but I hate sudden change

Of all the readings we have been assigned in this class, I felt that this was the most interesting yet. For me, most of the ideas presented in this reading were familiar, but never before now had I read a piece that went so in depth to the privacy of food consumption and its effect on human’s decisions.

As someone who is an athlete, I have consumed meat to fulfill the health requirements of protein and certain vitamins. However, I do see the consumption of meat as a non-necessary dietary choice…for the most part. I felt the reading brought up very good points about morality and where the line should be drawn. I have thought of the morality issue in regards to consuming animal-based products a lot and do see validity in the claim for non-consumption, however, if I were to stop eating meat, it would not be because of morality.

I obviously think the animals that are raised for consumption should be treated well and the food industry should have a no tolerance policy on animal cruelty. However, do I think it is morally wrong to kill an animal for consumption? No. I believe raising animals to be eaten is fine, but could get behind a sort of “ration” technique where the amount of consumption is limited. This idea ties closely with my main reason for ever considering to stop eating meat: there are technically other sources of the nutrients found in meat that don’t require the killing of animals, which would, in turn, have the benefit of reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.

Is nature God?

Nature is all-encompassing. It is both our physical world and the vast emptiness of space that surrounds it as well as the reactions that result from every action. No matter whether it is a thermostat who “feels” a change in temperature or the stone falling from a cliff that “feels” the pull of gravity, nature is within everything. Sounds familiar, right?

 

While reading this entire article, I kept thinking about how similar the author’s views were with common religious ideas. According to religion, God is everywhere, whether the physical world or the imagination. God is even “with us” in every action we perform, in every stone that falls, and I guess using the same logic, in every thermostat that “feels” a temperature change. During the second half of the article when the author started discussing nature as information, I couldn’t help but feel like there were some underlying religious messages that he was trying to sneak in.

In terms of my own opinion, I don’t know if I like thinking about nature as the “force” controlling my every action. I prefer to think of nature as the physical and the experience, but not as a “force” that influences. It’s hard to put this kind of conceptual, almost philosophical, idea in words, but none-the-less the idea that nature is both everything and energy is an interesting idea.

Competition or nah?

This isn’t the first time I have heard ideas for drastic societal change, but I am willing to say this article highlighted one of the most dramatic that I have ever seen. Simply the idea of creating a society where everyone lives equally seems insanely foreign to me. I have grown up my entire life on the basis of competition and trying to attain a better life than the next guy. One of my biggest motivations is that one day when I am successful, I can look back at all my competition growing up and reflect on how my hard work paid off.

 

In a society like the one described in the article, it is assumed that people would live hand in hand and not revert back to the ways of today’s competitive society. Although this idea may be a potential reality in the future, I don’t see anything close to it happening in my lifetime. In the world we live in today, competition is what spurs development and technological growth. Without the constant threat of others getting further ahead, I feel that businesses would stop investing their time and money in engineering new technological advancements.

I feel there is a much better way to restructure society so that the environmental toll is kept under control and the number of green technology increases, but creating a completely socialistic society doesn’t seem like a reasonable or even smart idea. I feel like large-scale efforts to clean up the environment and reduce fossil fuels should be taken. I also feel that poverty and homelessness could almost be entirely eradicated with large-scale measures, of which making everyone equal not being one.

 

Maybe it’s just my competitive ways, but I don’t want to live in a society where the people who don’t work hard and don’t show drive receive the same results as those who do.

Awareness is there, action is required

For a global society that largely recognizes climate change and the destruction of nature caused by human interference as a serious problem, it is astonishing that more is not done to prevent further harm and clean up existing climate issues. In fact, according to an article by Business Insider, The 10 most critical problems in the world, according to millennials, two of the top 10 issues were about mankind’s effect on the natural world: water scarcity and climate change. However, despite human’s awareness of these serious matters, no long-term measures seem to last more than a few years before they are overturned.

 

Looking at the documents we were tasked with reading, the focus seemed to highlight on raising awareness as the best way to bring on change. In fact, in bullet 30 of the Pope’s Encyclical, the author writes: “the problem with water is partly an educational and cultural issue since there is little awareness […].” I would disagree with this statement. Take the 60s and 70s in the US for example. As is now common knowledge, this period of US history was marked by an incredible drive for climate justice and climate awareness. Demonstrations were held and people protested. From this era, many great wilderness areas became protected and new measures were instituted into law to help protect the environment. However as this era of peace and love ended, so did the attention and measures to fight climate change.

 

We now live in a society (mainly 1st world) in which a vast majority of people are aware in some way of climate change and the need for immediate action. Yet, despite all the awareness, we still are made to read documents telling us that the answer is more awareness. I completely disagree. I feel that the time for raising awareness already occurred in the last 40-50 years and that what we need as a global society is deliberate and long-term legal action. We need to stop allowing large corporations to emit the amount of fossil fuels that they do. We need to increase the number of measures that protect our wildlife and wilderness areas. We need to set up new regulations for waste disposal and water usage.

 

Climate change is an issue that makes me pretty irritated with the human race. Mankind knows of this incredibly pressing issue, yet decides to sit on it and preach about awareness. The awareness is there, now action is required.