Upon reading chapter 3, Beginnings of Time, I honestly struggled to see a correlation between the themes discussed and the Anthropocene. However, I examined the main idea closer, and that main idea was that humans have had such an expansive impact on Earth that there is hardly any place free of human sound. I liked how the author connected the Anthropocene to how it impacted animals. Particularly, the author evaluated how singing birds and more specifically nightingales, are impacted and how they adapt to the environment as we have changed it. Interestingly, this chapter claims that many birds have been benefited from human’s impact on nature. A beautiful relationship was drawn between all beings of the Earth, that no matter the difference in language or species, we can all connect and understand one another through music.
In this chapter, poetry was deeply analyzed. Another theme that came up was that humans try to copy the music nightingales create, but can never live up to the skill and natural talent of the nightingales. I think this idea emphasizes the greater sentiment that the original is always superior, no matter who tries to copy them. Nightingales can sing perfectly for hours, while humans may struggle to keep up their tune for an hour. These birds return to their same exact territories, so although we have humans change and shape the world, the nightingales stay true to their habits and continue as they always have, adapting to their changing world yet honoring who they are.
A third important idea is that there is sound all around us constantly, and we are hearing it, but we are not always listening. The author encourages us to deeply listen. Taking time to listen to your surroundings is important to living in the moment and appreciating your environment.
As Columbus’s arrival on American shores marked the beginning of globalization, COVID-19 began a new era of globalization as trade and movement have been restricted and altered. I find it an interesting connection between disease caused by imperialism and the virus of COVID-19 because COVID lockdowns affected people on a global level, not just native vulnerable populations such as during imperialism. It is very tragic how many people were killed by these diseases while their homes were being overtaken by an invader. A very complex and interesting point is brought up in this reading, referring to how COVID-19 caused so much damage in our modern world. The reading points out that it seems unreal how much destruction was caused by the virus when we have so much knowledge. I think a big reason it caused so much damage – and continues to do so – is that our leaders and restrictions, mandates and regulations, etc.. were not consistent and still aren’t – for example, with mask mandates. Leaders are also making decisions based on science that really isn’t solid science, just science that supports their agenda. For every study that supports one point, there is another study to disprove it. It is also important to make the distinction that COVID-19 did not cause the economic crisis – it was the lockdowns and shutdowns – although secondary to the virus – that caused the economic crisis. The same leaders telling us to all wear masks are also the ones attending expensive, lavish parties maskless while people are losing their jobs, homes, and livelihoods. The government does not care about our health, but rather control — just as Columbus did and his crew did when they came over and took over native regions. He did not care about the people that were being harmed, only about his own interests of wealth and power. History continues to repeat itself, but people stay blinded and do not learn from it.
The reading summarizes 22 different theses about nature and how we should conceptualize nature. Although each thesis varies from one to another, the general theme is that nature is constantly changing. There is also a general opinion among the theses that humans are not superior to nature. It is that very belief – that nature is made to serve humans – that has gotten us to this debate over how to save our world. One interesting take in this reading was that we must recreate nature in a way that is not in our own image – we are part of nature, but we are not nature. This is a hard point to argue because although the intention is pure, I am afraid humans have left such a deep mark on the world that we cannot wipe away our mistakes, and we are responsible to care for them in a way that best serves the interest of nature, not our interests. There are many people that are willing to do this, but those with money and power will most likely continue to serve their own interests. For example, many high profile people that travel to climate summits fly in their own private jets — this only shows that they don’t actually care about the climate, but about their image and their own interests.
An interesting term was presented in this reading; individuation. The definition of individuation is the development structure of a person associated with their social environment. Individuation relates to nature in the means of its energy and informatics. These ideas only further reinforce that nature is continually changing and has no end. As we know that nature is always changing, we have to consider what we as humans do to influence that change and whether our influence will be good or bad for Earth.
This reading looks at geography, specifically human geography. Geographer, Jared Diamond, examines how societies rise and fall based on how they use and manage environmental resources. Diamond believes that the fall of the Norse society was because they cut down their forests. Diamond creates a bigger statement, claiming that societies do not fall due to outside circumstances, they destroy themselves from within, committing societal suicide. Instead of adapting to their changing circumstances, they stayed set in their ways that no longer suited the environment. Is Diamond suggesting that instead of trying to stop and slow climate change, we should adapt to our environment as it changes? What could that possibly look like?
I thought it was very interesting that the author brought up that Oregon has done a great job limiting new construction sprawl, but now the legislation surrounding that has changed (that was 2005, where do we stand now?). As an Oregonian who has seen Oregon grow and eliminate small family farms and rural farmlands, I’m well aware of this problem. A major issue in Oregon right now is that so many Californians dislike the political state and current housing situation of their own state that they move to Oregon, but then turn Oregon into another California. Other states like Texas are also experiencing this. To accommodate them, farmlands are bought up and new houses are built. In Wilsonville, where I am from, an equestrian center was sold, demolished, just to be replaced with hundreds of cookie-cutter houses. Other traditional farms had been bought out to build another massive, sprawling neighborhood, Villebois. I am not surprised that Oregon’s legislation has changed because of how Kate Brown, governor, has been ruining Oregon from within. Upon reflecting on this, I do agree with Diamond that societies destroy themselves, although I feel that governments and people in power are far more responsible for the destruction of their societies.
Upon learning the topic for this week’s discussion, I was excited to learn about geoengineering in hopes that it will bring up actual solutions to the issues we face. It is an interesting topic because it considers efforts to engineer something to intervene with the environment rather than cutting back on waste and choosing to reuse, etc…. A question came to mind while reading the article; we’ve been arguing over the same subjects for decades, so how will we come to a consensus soon enough to act and solve our problems at hand before they worsen? This article brought up many interesting ideas, such as how we want evidence-based policymaking, but that is hard to achieve when so much of our evidence is made by special interests, and then due to that commonly contradicts itself.
The Gaian perspective was very interesting to me. It holds the belief that geoengineering will have a further negative impact on the Earth. Man has already hurt the world with intrusion, how will more intrusion solve the problems we started? They also believe that geoengineering is trying to play God – which in history has been shown to have very negative consequences.
The Promethean perspective opposes the Gaian perspective and believes that technology can solve our problems. This perspective claims that “playing God” is the highest expression of human nature – isn’t that the problem that got us here in the first place?
After reviewing both perspectives, I personally side with the Gaian perspective. Although the idea of being able to solve our man-made problems with man-made technology sounds hopeful, I have deep reservations about that. I believe that the risks of harm are too high and that there are better ways to help save our world. I’d have to learn more about the details of geoengineering before coming to a stern position.
In Our Ancestors’ Dystopia Now: Indigenous Conservation and the Anthropocene by Kyle Whyte, the Anthropocene is defined as the time era in which humans have greatly influenced the world. It is argued that this period began in 1610 with global trade and colonialism. There are many different moral philosophies in regards to extinctions and conservations and how we as a generation move forward in the world as it was given to us. Similarly, some argue that we need fiction to preview what our future world may look like, and others believe resorting to ancient methods will help to solve the issues we face. A major idea in the paper is that we already live in what our predecessors would define as a dystopian future, which brings the question, would we feel the same about the future after we leave this world? I found the author’s perception of “campaign” very interesting because I believe a campaign is present in our country and the world today — although not necessarily related to the environment. The similarities I saw were belligerence, but the next steps, such as containment practices and dependency, are occurring now and soon. The steps of these campaigns is how those in power take control over a nation. I think about indigenous nations a lot and the crimes done against them, and another tragic fact of the situation is that we really cannot make up for what happened – because the world is so different now, it’s not like the land that was taken from them can be returned as it was. We cannot undo what our ancestors did. What does that mean for us and our successors?
Another idea in these sources was about choosing which animals to save from extinction and which not to save, which I’ve drawn a lot of connections with my ethics in animal agriculture class. So far in that class, we’ve learned about the many different philosophies in regards to how we should treat animals as productions animals, as well as companion animals. Some philosophers believed in the past animals have no feelings of pain or emotion, while others believe that we as people have a moral obligation to treat animals of equal or higher status. In terms of production, the scales of the welfare of some animals vs greater benefit of the population is weighed and many aspects are taken into consideration, similarly to the themes in this paper.
 Whyte, Kyle. Our Ancestors’ Dystopia Now: Indigenous Conservation and the Anthropocene. Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. <https://kylewhyte.marcom.cal.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/07/Our_Ancestors_Dystopia_Now_Indigenous_Co3.pdf>
 Croakey, director. Talking #JustClimate and Decolonising Climate Science with Professor Kyle Whyte. YouTube, YouTube, 24 Feb. 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbAqnbJTW3Y.>
Art is used to address a multitude of topics and issues in our world. These topics are vast yet complex and it takes many different art forms to express each topic – of which are often controversial. Historically, painting and poetry among other art forms incorporated nature into art, primarily as a way to record their environment and things of importance to them at the time. During the Renaissance, the perspective of simply recording nature changed to studying nature and shaping it into man’s ideal. This tied in with the Industrial Revolution, greatly damaging the Earth and changing the world. During the 19th century in America, art was used to express the perspective of Manifest Destiny, a desire to conquer the continent. In the second half of that century, the attitudes shifted to conserving nature. Has this attitude held steady and/or grown in presence? I would imagine it has grown, yet we are still fighting the same battle. In our contemporary times, artists use art to seek change – be it political, social, environment and what have you. Art can be in many forms, poetry, sculptures, painting, photography and videography, even pottery! I remember in my AP English Literature class in high school, and my teacher told us that artists are a threat to totalitarian governments because they question what is established and influence others to think differently on different issues. Artists have an important role and responsibility in society to question the current status quo. One of their many important responsibilities is to raise awareness to engage communities and provoke thought in the public. Asking questions isn’t enough! Artists have immense freedom to explore, develop, and redefine current notions and have a responsibility to take advantage of that freedom. Related to the two responsibilities mentioned above, artists lead change in society through their art. Artists make others see things differently, from a different perspective. Not every artist must have the same objective, the same opinion, or style – and that’s what makes each piece powerful and persuasive in its own way.
Brown, A. (2014). Art & Ecology Now. Thames & Hudson.
The definition of Anthropocene is a geological time period dating from the beginning of significant human impact on Earth’s ecosystems. In The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis, White discusses his beliefs that humans and Christianity has negatively impacted the ecology of the world. His first argument is that all living things impact their environment, which I believe most people would agree. As species are introduced to different environments and different natural disasters, among many other events, populations of all organisms are continually impacted. However, people have done things to cause severe damage to the ecological system. White describes that human ecology is deeply defined through a cultures beliefs about nature. White delves into how he believes that Christianity is responsible for the destruction and damage done to the ecological system. He explains that Christianity gave man the mindset that nature exists to serve man, and therefore nature has been exploited and damaged. White praises western science and technology, but explains that more science and technology will not heal or stop the destruction, only changing the mindset of the people to respect and care for nature will. I do understand and relate to some of White’s ideas. For example, I personally choose not to eat meat because I love animals (pre-vet major!) and it doesn’t feel right to me because I am aware of how animals suffer and don’t always have the living conditions I wish they would all have. Lots of people feel entitled to use animals for their purposes (aside from meat), but I am someone who does not see animals beneath people. Not all people who eat meat and use animal products view animals in this way, which makes the conversation interesting because so many people have different experiences and views on things. Some people take a viewpoint of gratitude and respect and want the animals to live in good welfare and have the least stressful processing experience possible — something I support as progress to a better world. This is an example of although people have different views, we may have more in common than we think and it is possible for people to work together to find a solution.
In the other text written by the Pope, it is addressed the global destruction that is and has been occurring, but takes a different viewpoint on it. Instead of blaming Christianity for the damage, it calls people to make changes to protect the ecological system as it was given to us by God, and therefore we should care for it. Their goal is to restore nature to how it was originally given to us, by changing attitudes and lifestyles. My take on the connection between these two articles is that although people can disagree and have different opinions on a topic, it is still possible to work together to come to a solution to protect the common interest.
Lynn White, Jr., “The Ecologic Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155:3767 (10 March 1967), 1203-1207.
Pope Francis,**Laudato Si