All posts by kima2

TO be Sentient, to be CONSCIOUS

I really found the idea of consciousness and sentience in Nature intriguing, to say the least. As I was reading through the theses, I found myself being able to plant at least one foot into agreeability with most, if not all the theses.

In particular, 17, 18, and 19 caught my attention because it so.. “nicely?” (I tried to think of a more academic word) bounces between the ideas of sentience, consciousness, cause, effect, and affect for that matter, along with perception. Those particular theses had this underlying theme of something smaller or “insignificant” causing tidal waves when that thing at the larger scale had no perception of what that smaller thing was. Of course I had heard of the butterfly effect but most of the time, it’s portrayed in a way where we can see the chain of events linearly, clearly. For example, I forget my pen at my job, then someone asks for a pen and I don’t have one so I have to ask someone for one, but they don’t have one so they refer me to someone else, etc. etc. But I thought these particular theses were interesting because they present the butterfly effect, where a certain “section” of that chain of events, gets “lost” in the subconsciousness or rather, it acts on sentience. And I thought that idea was just a real eye opener to how we perceive the world around us. I will definitely be thinking about this more from here on out: How much information did I just, “ignore”? How “much” Nature is too much for me to perceive?

Yeah, I knew what a tamarisk was

Firstly, I googled what a friggin’ tamarisk was. I was really confused at the first definition then I watch a youtube video explaining what a tamarisk was which then made me feel stupid for not getting it at the first definition I found for it. ANYWAY,

I thought “The Tamarisk Hunter” was a very unique story that brought up an interesting “possible future world” (does that even make sense?) where water is the valued commodity. This story really reminded me of the Lorax in that there was a huge deal with business and necessary resources and it was somewhat scary because it really reflected our values as a society. A couple weeks ago we talked about values with the “The Vanishing” and I see similar themes presenting themselves here.

We as a society are pretty much willing to place a value on pretty much anything. Or rather, the United States has at least. We are willing to jeopardize lives with arguments like, “If you can’t work or pay for it, then you shouldn’t get it,” or ,”just work like everyone else and pay for it”. Although I do think work is very important, I also hope that people that argue arguments like that read this short story. It’s real, and shows a very possible reality where “working” isn’t the solution. It shows a world where we have to resort to stealing, being afraid of being caught, and even hesitant to help others especially with our self-preservation instincts kicking in as we saw in the story.

I guess the biggest question I had after reading this short story was and want to pose to those that so strongly uphold a society where everything has a value is:

For what?

世界の終わり

This week’s reading on “The Vanishing” article by Malcolm Gladwell was super interesting! What I got from the article is that our values and our biological survival don’t necessarily correlate and well, it creates almost a dark tone about where we as a race are currently heading.

As one who likes to contemplate “the end” a lot, I found this article darker. believe it or not, to other concepts of “the end” in other stories or ideas. Taking the ideas of the “end of the world” in the Sci-Fi show, “Doctor Who” and even some ideas my friends had, the end of the world I’ve heard is always a “nothingness”. Barren, empty, and simply put, silent – and since no one can remember things after death, “the end” is meaningless. But this article almost puts into perspective, the idea that there WAS life here, the idea that people STRUGGLED to survive. The quote from the article that said, “They commit suicide: they slit their wrists and then, in the course of many decades, stand by passively and watch themselves bleed to death,” really stuck because this is so relevant to the now especially as our environmental issues are becoming more and more prevalent. The article even goes to mention certain laws that were passed in Oregon itself, and it just makes me realize that the end might be nearer than I thought. We constantly hear that “the world will end by 20XX in that the effects will be irreversible” and it never really registers that the “end” is actually nearing us.

How far are we going to go until we as a people wake up? How long until people will start believing? What I really don’t understand is, even if climate change isn’t real, why is it so terrible that we treat the environment better? Oh right, “values”.

to forge a purpose

The artpiece I chose to look at and review was Antti Laitinen’s Forest Square. As an art piece alone, it is very beautiful. What the artist has done is take a 10 x 10 meter of forest and essentially, sort out every little bit of what was in that 10 x 10 meter box by its color. Aesthetically and probably for those that love neatness and perfection, it is simply, beautiful and very pleasing. As for what environmental issue it draws attention to, I’m having trouble deciding if it’s making a point about the environment at all. Even after doing more (but brief) research about the artist and this art piece it’s hard to say that he wants to convey a certain environmental message through it. In fact he mentions in an interview that he didn’t have a particular audience in mind when he made the art piece which in some ways indicates that he didn’t really have a “message” in mind either. Therefore, it is assumed that this art piece was mostly an aesthetic art piece. He mentions in another interview that although this was his most laborious art work, he didn’t think much of it and doesn’t necessarily consider it anything more than another art piece. However I think this art piece can be used to spark a conversation about our environment in that we can do certain things like compare this artwork to certain parts of the world where climate change has had a huge effect on forestry or perhaps use this art piece as a medium to have a “pathos” conversation about earth’s beautiful nature and how we should work to preserve “natural art”. Obviously these are only two random examples that I had just thought of but clearly, this art piece can at least be a good conversation starter about that sort of topic. Obviously, since there isn’t really a message attached to this art piece, there isn’t a “call to action” either. If anything, I think people will be quick to realize that the artist just took 100 meters squared of forest for an art piece and especially since there is no “activism” behind this will realize that it’s sort of counter intuitive to spark a conversation about our environment using this art piece. But who knows, people will first notice the art work and the beauty first and have probably have a long conversation about our environment before they get to the nitty gritty details about how this art piece was made.

Japan

Overall, the book Climate Change and Society by authors John S. Dryzek, Richard B. Norgaard, and David Schlosberg was an interesting read, to say the least. A part that caught my attention was Chapter 16 3.3 Endangered Languages and 4.1 Climate Refugees. These particular sections highlighted the idea of cultural loss and displacement and although this probably wouldn’t happen for a long time, the sinking of Japan came to mind.

The reading explicitly mentions the Carteret Islanders being displaced and although they were at “smaller numbers” (2,500 people displaced due to climate change), this made me realize that cultures are being replaced in the entirety. With this is the loss of language, environment, and almost a change in identity. This made me think about a larger island, that being Japan, and specifically, what the global impacts of a huge country with a long, long, history going under would have. This is especially prevalent to me because I am Korean, and historically, Korea has some huge ties with Japan and today, there are always talks between them (not all of them being “good” talks) and I can’t help but wonder Korea without Japan.

Although politically Korean and Japan have not always been the best of friends, we have shares in cultures including entertainment seen in anime (a korean super star is known for saying the line “Nico Nico Nee” from an anime “Love Live”) and KPop (where some extremely popular Kpop groups have very loved Japanese idols and sometimes, KPop groups would even release two versions of the same song; one in Korean, the other Japanese) and other cultural ties including food, way of life (although nowadays, Korea is being more “progressive”), and technology (like, just look at pictures of Tokyo and Seoul – the similarities are very apparent). It is pretty easy to see the connections between the two countries and although Japan of course, has global connections, it is very hard to see Korea specifically, without Japan.

As mentioned before, I do know that Japan (probably) wouldn’t sink for many years (if they ever will), but if for example. they sank tomorrow, I personally, with my love for Japan (enough so I self teach myself the language), probably would feel myself kind of lost, which is strange considering that I am full Korean, born and raised in the US. I can only imagine what it’s like for communities that have already been lost and I guess I can just “appreciate”, how this article articulates the idea that with climate change is a loss of something that affects not just the communities affected, but those around them too. In other words, a global loss.

Time

After reading the Introduction and Maria Garcia Maldonado, Rosario Garcia Meza, and Emily Yates-Doerrs’ essay, Sustainability, in addition to Jerome Whitington’s Carbon, I couldn’t help but reevaluate where we stand in the grand scope of time.

Admittedly, it is rather difficult not to think of time when thinking about the anthropocene but it surprised me how there were so many “labels” to what we may call the “anthropocene”. I found it very reasonable that Whitington described carbon as a marker of the anthropocene in that excess carbon (and other greenhouse gases) is very much a product of what human actions have done over the recent years. Yes, carbon had always existed well before humans “took over” as the “apex” but his phrase “carbon is a metric of the human” struck a chord with me because it made me stand back and think about what other things could be marked in correlation to the “anthropocene”. Of course, the improvement of technology is a major by-product of humans (and this is obvious) but in the grand scale of things, what could only be measured in today’s time? Or rather, what sustaining effects were solely brought on by humans?

War, money, religion, are three things very foundational to the global society today and almost all three things can be linked to the destruction of our planet. I won’t go into detail into how are connected since that’d make for a long blog post but I think most of us can see how, regardless. It is almost fascinating to see, however, how humans are trying to “correct” their mistakes in “going green” and being more actively aware of the harm we are doing the environment but as the Sustainability essay pointed out, even in languages there are different ideas of what it means to “sustain”. It seems that a huge difference between humans and other creatures of the earth is that humans have the most interpersonal conflict. I read a book over the summer for the Honors class about how humans can’t seem to view things from the same ground for a multitude of reasons including life experiences, religion, what you’ve been taught, etc. which makes it incredibly difficult to tackle our responsibilities towards this planet together. Togetherness is a thing you can see in nature whether it be the birds migrating in the air, or the wolves staying in a pack, or salmon swimming upstream, and it appears that another major trait for this “anthropocene” is “disjunction”.

In the end, it appears that all in all, environmental effects could almost directly be linked to humans. Looking back at history, humans have always been the “forerunners of everything bad” as I like to say, and it’s not that I think all humans are terrible or human life is the “bane of destruction” but rather, for a race so “innovative” and “intelligent”, we’ve done a lot of harm compared to the other animals and beings in the world in a few thousand years and I can’t help but wonder if this is all there is to the “brilliance” of the human mind. We’ve always been told to try and at least understand others who are different from you and I, but it seems that the human heart when push comes to shove, is unwilling to be so kind.

A christian’s view on lynn white and pope francis

As a christian myself, my reaction to both these articles may come as a surprise but I found both of them remarkably interesting and I actually learned a lot from both of them – both as a student and a believer of the christian faith. 

For starters, Lynn White’s article, The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis, was actually very eye-opening in that I never considered how religion (especially Judeo-christianity) played a role in the development of technology and science. The connections and observations he made about Latin and Greek interpretations as well as Islamic ideals regarding man’s relationship to nature was almost, profound to me in that I never learned about these other views nor did I even consider how it was that christianity “won the race” per se, against all the other religious views about the world. More specifically, the way he capitalized on the idea that christianity “appealed” to western Europe because it allowed western europeans to exploit nature for their own benefits without guilt especially challenged my current views of christianity, albeit I am still very much a believer. Personally, when he proposed the idea of “replacing” christianity as the “main” (for lack of a better term) religion for most western thinking (in which he believes leads the development of technology and science), as a method of saving the world from the ecologic crisis, I physically frowned as I knew this wasn’t what I believed about chirstianity which is why I eagerly read the Pope’s article to see how someone of my faith would respond. 

To put it shortly, the Pope’s article had me nodding many times as I found myself agreeing with most of the points that he was making especially when he brought up bible verses explaining why and how christianity does not support the idea that man has domination over nature but rather, man should be caring and in resonance with nature. Of course, I do have some skepticism over the bible verses he used since I don’t have the bible learned and memorized and well as he does and I do have my suspicions that some verses may have been used out of context in order to support his argument (much like how horror movies may use bible verses out of context to evoke a certain way of thinking). However, I do also believe that with some more digging around the bible, I’d probably come to a full agreement with the Pope’s claims and agree that christianity does not condone the claims of Lynn White. 

Just as a disclaimer, I did not take any offense to Lynn White’s claims or suggestions, but rather, I was quite intrigued by his claims and I’m actually interested to learn more about religion’s impact on the environment. Additionally, I am not one that just “agrees” with the Pope and with everything he says simply because I’m a christian believer but it just happens to be that in this particular article, I found myself agreeing with him on most of his points. I do disagree with some things he believes but that is besides the point.