Digital Portfolio – Justin Winfield

June 4, 2021

Week 1 – Introduction – February 8, 2021:

Project Ideas: Feb. 8:

Environmental News 1: Feb 10:

Week 2 – Reading: Feb 10:

Week 3 – Reading Feb. 16:

Week 4 – News Feb. 24:

Week 5 – News Feb. 28:

Reading Mar. 3:

Week 6 – Nothing

Week 7 – Reading Mar. 3:

News Mar. 16:

Week 8 – News Mar. 20:

Reading Mar. 24:

Week 9 – News Mar. 29:

Week 10 – Reading Mar. 31:

News Apr. 21:

Week 11 – News Apr. 25:

Week 12 – Reading Apr. 28:

News May. 4:

Project Report- Chase Patton

May 25, 2021

Course Summary

May 25, 2021

Week 2:


Class Project:


The Meadowlands:

Week 3:

Environmental News:

Week 4:

Desert Solitaire:

Environmental News:

Week 5:

The Home Place:

Environmental News:

Week 7&8:


Project Proposal:

Week 7 Environmental News:

Week 8 Environmental News:

Week 10

Eating Animals:

Environmental News:

Week 12:

Placing Animals:

Week 13:


Environmental News:

Environmental News – Mantle rock found in Maryland

May 25, 2021

Chunks of peridotite rock (image attached) were discovered right outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Peridotite is a rock made up of the mineral olivine, a magnesium iron silicate. This mineral is what peridot, a particularly rare and valuable gemstone, is made of. Olivine, however, is only rare in the Earth’s uppermost layer, the crust. The most abundant rock in the Earth’s mantle layer is peridotite, which is the only place that the rock is formed. Having mantle rock on the surface of the Earth gives us a fantastic view of the processes going on underneath the surface. We can only go so deep, so viewing the mantle in its proper location is impossible.


Placing Animals

May 25, 2021

I quite liked this book. I interact with animals nearly every day myself – my pets. I keep cats and snakes, and I feel like they are all happy how they are. But this book makes me think – even if they’re happy, should they be there in the first place? Obviously I’m not going to abandon my pets, but it reminds me of our original discussion of Humans vs. Nature. If we are a part of nature, then our interactions with pets shouldn’t be an issue. But if we are separate from nature, should we bring nature into our non-natural environment? I’m by no means a philosopher, so I don’t know the answer myself. 

Another point that stood out is the ethicality of scientific and medical testing on animals. On one end, these animals are likely living an unfulfilling life, and could have physical and emotional stresses put on them that they would never experience in nature. On the other hand, these advancements in medical technology can save people. Are the lives of one hundred testing animals worth the lives of potentially thousands of sick humans? Once again, something I can not answer myself.

One last thing is the implication of peoples careers being based upon the abuse of animals. The puppy mill example is a particularly strong one – While there is abuse that goes on in puppy mills, the people who run them would have nothing if these practices were banned. Again, are the livelihoods of these animals worth the careers of the people?

Eating Animals

May 25, 2021

First of all, I really appreciate how this book takes a non-judgmental approach to veganism. I have a family who is a vegan, and get judged for my own meat-eating habits. That being said, I particularly liked how Foer understands that there is no right answer to the issue of eating animals. We can’t really place these within our own mindsets, and as such can’t understand what they are experiencing when we farm them. Though, personally, I prefer the more academic approach any sort of subject such as this, the more casual approach would be beneficial in gathering a larger audience. 

One thing I found particularly ironic is Foer’s statement about how we are overdue for a pandemic. Seeing as the current COVID-19 virus likely originated from an animal, it seems fitting. Though it’s currently unknown if the coronavirus came from a farm animal or a hunted animal, his point still stands.

One point of discussion is the “free range” topic. I had no idea that “free range” could be literally the same as non-free range, just with something as simple as a screen door instead of a wall. This upset me quite a bit, as I had always thought I was doing good by selecting the free range alternatives. I’m sure that there are many farmers like Foer’s turkey example, however it truly seems that “free range” has just been used as a marketing tagline.

Giant Winogradsky Columns Project – Photos

May 24, 2021
Dirt Samples from three locations across Ohio: (Left to Right) Columbus, Ohio; Vinton; Ohio; Delaware, Ohio
Water Samples from three locations across Ohio: (Left to Right) Vinton, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Delaware, Ohio. Photo was take post Column production procedure which explains why the water levels are low.
Final Completed Winogradsky Columns: (Left to Right) Vinton, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Delaware, Ohio (Sample since terminated).
Formation of Bubbles in the Columbus, Ohio Winogradsky Column. Presence of bubbles indicated the activation biochemical pathways involved in oxygen or hydrogen sulfide production. Results indicate positive result as bacteria are replicating and will continue to do so.

Eating Animals

May 24, 2021

Foer’s Eating animals provides chilling and thrilling insights into the world of factory farming. Throughout the book, I was particularly struck by the genetic variations and engineering found between different forms of chickens and pigs. In the same chapters the discussion on Common Farming Exemptions and standards for animal housing and welfare proved to be sickening and rather uncomfortable to read. Additionally, the fourth section of the book “Hiding/Seeking” provided an exhilarating account of searching a factory farm in the dead of night. Although, the odd formatting choice made it rather difficult to read and some of the statements were oddly placed. Overall, Eating Animals was an interesting and captivating read with plenty of insights into the effects and practices of the farming industry.

Beginning with the farming of chickens, Foer explains that they are separated into two major categories, Layers and Broilers. Layers, as the name implies, lay eggs while broilers are farmed for meat. What is interesting about the two groups, however, is that they have varying genetics. I was expecting the different metabolisms, functions, and production features of each chicken to be more dependent upon the nutrients being supplied to them, however, once reconsidering, varying genetics does make more sense. The selection of chickens which produce the most eggs or meat to continue the line in their respective fields would result in the amplification of desirable phenotypes; this is the most traditional form of genetic modification and has been carried out since humans began domesticating plants and animals.

Pigs, on the other hand, tend to only serve one purpose: the production of meat. Still, the variations in farming methods result in traits that are more desirable to one farmer than another. Because of this, they have been selectively bred into varying breeds. These breeds are similar to the different subgroups of chickens (Layers and Broilers) in the sense that they fill specific niches. These niches include the rate of feed conversion, the leanness or mabled qualities of the animal’s meat, and the susceptibility of the animal to different stresses and injuries. Even with special attention being brought to a breed’s health, this does not excuse them from the disabilities related to domestication however, as many pigs experience heart and leg problems coupled with a host of emotional disorders. Foer discusses the negative effects of stress not only to the animal, but to the quality of it’s meat to the market as well. Stress results in the formation of acid which breaks down muscle into Pale Soft Exudative pork. Foer also explains that while scientists have attempted to remove “stress genes”, they have failed to completely eliminate stress from the farmed pig population. This is likely because the gene being removed is more likely to be associated with the localization of the acid in the muscle rather than directly influencing stress.

Common Farming Exemptions are exemptions from animal welfare legislation in the event that the action is industry standard. This means that the companies involved in farming set the guidelines to what is humane and best for farm animals. This typically means that animals are kept in cramped conditions the size of a sheet of paper or are put into large groups with little to no supervision for insurance of healthy maturation. In “Hiding/Seeking” we see a glimpse of this when Foer invades a farm to find barns full of chicks; a small population of which are dead, matted with blood, or covered in sores. These living conditions are horrible and promote the death of surrounding animals through infection yet, because it is industry standard, it is allowed. While these conditions are egregious, what I found more infuriating was the treatment of downed animals. Foer explains that it is estimated that there are around 200,000 downed animals a year and, because euthanizing these animals (although, in most circumstances, there is nothing wrong with them) costs money that won’t be made back on the animal, “downers” are often just thrown live into waste dumps. This is incredibly infuriating from a moral standpoint and rather foolish from an economic standpoint as many of these animals just require basic aid like food and water. Why not simply transport the animal to an isolated enclosure, provide them with their needs, assess their health, then return them to the main population?

Overall, Eating Animals was an important book to read because it presents many downsides to farming practices which should be known by everyday consumers. While I will likely continue to consume animal products, common farming practices clearly need to be more heavily regulated in order to ensure the quality of life for all organisms involved. As such it is important that we become involved in policy influencing events when they present themselves. There is much more information to be gained throughout the book including the highly destructive and malicious treatment of chickens in KFC supplying farms and the actions and impacts of PETA. As such, I would encourage those interested in factory farming to obtain a copy of Eating Animals and read through it.

Coates’ Nature 2/2

May 24, 2021

Although my previous question, “How should we reorient our view of nature going forward”, was not addressed well in the second half of Coates’ Nature, we did learn more about modern thoughts and theories surrounding nature. Throughout the reading, I was constantly reminded of a form of wilderness that we discussed earlier in the semester: that of The Frontier which is so pervasive in western ideology. Primitivism seems to consume a fairly large portion of “Reassessment of Nature” and, while I do not agree with the citations whole heartedly, I find that a healthy balance of their ideals could prove to more accurately embody nature. Additionally, the discussion regarding genetic engineering forced me to engage with my own thoughts on the subject in order to defend or alter my own positions. When combined with the examples of thoughts from ancient philosophers and scholastics, this half of Nature really showed me that humans haven’t changed much when it comes to our view of our place in nature.

The definition of nature seems to rely too heavily upon nature being either entirely good or entirely evil with no room for gray. While Hobbes felt that nature is only redeemed by human governance, encyclopedists erected a strict divide between the corrupted culture and pristine nature. Even Ovid’s Metamorphoses (while portraying the cycle of humanity’s ever unresolved feelings on nature), when considering an unspoiled nature, focused on brilliant, picturesque scenes with little to no conflict. While I agree that nature can be brilliant in some contexts, this must be tempered with scenes of disaster that are also pervasive to nature. 

Despite its surge in popularity following the sixteenth century, I still don’t believe that primitivism can provide humans with happiness. Certainly, the prospect of sitting on a lush hillside surveying an unfettered wood gently rolling with the accompanying breeze seems luxurious. But we must also consider that, in a primitive state, modern shelters, medicines, and defences will be sacrificed; leaving us to the whims of the elements and predators. Despite these dangers, humans continue their search for a primitive world due to their fascination with the erasure of perceived modern evils and monotonies.

Chapter 9 serves as the best support for human’s fascination with the Frontier. Fukuyama’s acknowledgment of the twentieth century as turning us into historical pessimists, in combination with the accompanying excerpt, exemplifies how modern humans are encouraged to escape to simpler, more savage worlds through various media. To further support this, Nature discusses factors which can evolve into apocalyptic statements of the demise of nature and the planet: notably genetic engineering.

Two different viewpoints were addressed in Nature in regards to genetic engineering: one where industrial genetics proves that we see nature as malleable matter and one where genetic engineering is just an expansion upon the abundantly practiced genetic modification. I align my views more closely with the latter due to genetic engineering just being a quicker form of modification. Throughout history we have selectively bred plants and animals over generations in order to produce desired traits; genetic engineering allows us to directly influence a creatures traits across just one or two generations. There are many concerns that genetic engineering will deconstruct nature into mere programs or will destroy nature through the designing of animals. Though I agree that engineered organisms must be kept separate from natural environments, we must also acknowledge that this technology can bring revolutionary changes to medicine and quantification of contaminants.

Coates’ Nature 1/2

May 24, 2021

The first half of Coates’ Nature regales us with the thoughts and histories of ancient civilizations as they pertain to nature. From the Greeks and Romans to the Christian societies of the middle ages and beyond, we see a dramatic shift in how nature is treated by humans spurred on by increasing population and disease. Still, I found rather interesting comparisons to be made between the environmental conservation efforts of today and the actions of Greek and Roman societies. While some of these practices do appear in the medieval ages, they seem to focus on the needs of the people rather than the needs of nature. 

Beginning with the Greek and Roman civilizations, their religious practices seemed to venerate nature in order to keep it protected. Similar to the modern national parks, preserved sites were set aside as sacred to certain gods or goddesses. Despite their small size, hunting, logging, and farming was restricted in these areas under threat of divine punishment or punishment by a cleric who lived on the reserve. To provide a specific example, the book tells of Agamemnon’s poaching of one of Athena’s stags. As recompense for this transgression, he was forced to sacrifice his daughter. While, of course, originating from mythology, the tale still provides us with an example of what was critical to the modern lives of the ancient Greek people. These practices were rather interesting as I found them to correlate rather closely with today’s national parks and laws surrounding hunting. The book, too, makes this connection. 

As expected, religion was not the only aspect that guided the Greek and Roman view of nature as academic thought and debate also brought the hierarchy of nature into question. Thinkers such as Pythagoras and Lucretius all questioned the impact of humans on their surrounding environment and discussed the inherent morality of the situation. Lucretius argued that humans are justified in their control over nature due to the actions of creatures such as goats. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Pythagoreans practiced a form of vegetarianism because they found the consumption of meat to be tied to savagery. This sentiment did not only extend to humans as they found even wolves and tigers to be savage due to their diets. Still, the existence of Lucretius’ argument does portray that the human need to justify or downplay the abuse of nature has been ingrained in our being for centuries.

Even more extreme than the Greek and Roman views on nature were those of the mysterious Orphic cults. Orphism venerated gods and goddesses deeply tied to death and practicians sought to rid themselves of their evil nature through successive reincarnation. Nature briefly explains their views on nature as “belief that all forms of life are intelligent and possess souls and vital interests.” Because this view seems so extreme as to suggest swearing off the consumption of all plants and animals, I would personally love to learn more about it. Additionally, because of it’s close ties with primal nature, one has to wonder: as we travel back farther and farther in human history, do we come closer to a more harmonious relationship between humans and nature?

Conversely, the middle ages seemed to be a period of increased land usage and colonialism. The untamed wilderness was no longer venerated by people but was feared or seen as evil. The text points to Glacken’s story in which hell is described to be at the center of a dense forest. The needs of the people are more present in the thoughts of medieval governing bodies as the rise in population required in increase in resources. Overhunting proved to drive species to extinction so preserves were put in place not to venerate nature, but ensure that it could provide settlers for years to come. Alternatively, the decrees could be tied to the human fascination with “The Hunt” as increased animal populations would allow for a more fruitful hunt and feast. Following these decrees came the failure of many agricultural land plots leading to malnutrition and the arrival of the infamous Black Death. Although not addressed in the book, I wonder if this lack of food and widespread disease would have resulted in an increase of land colonization as humans attempted to make up for dwindling food or a decrease due to the decreased human population.

Moving towards the modern day, the text indicated that it was between the Renaissance and the scientific revolution that we became the most alienated from nature. The anthropocentric and humanist ideals of the renaissance were dependent upon the fact that renaissance humans no longer considered themselves a part of nature. Rather, they felt as if they possessed certain qualities like intelligence, creativity, and purpose that nature lacked. This thought was even more radical than that of the Greek philosophers who commonly accepted that nature still possessed a soul of some sort. The advent of the scientific method was a game changer to how we treated nature. Rather than fearing or revering it, we could find a solution to the unknown and conquer it. 

If I learned one thing from the first half of Coates Nature, it would be that humans haven’t changed much since the oldest records we have. Despite the existence of preserves in ancient Greece, sacred trees were often cut down to build shrines which was deemed acceptable. Additionally, the contamination of water sources was somewhat understood by ancient Babylon and Greece although nothing was done. Of course, the medieval and renaissance view of nature most commonly resembles our own today. We still acknowledge that harming nature can be harmful to our own health but continue to do it because we see no other option. The question is, how should we reorient our view of nature going forward? A question that will likely be answered in the second half of the book.