Self Appeasement and Nature

March 21, 2017

Self appeasement is misjudged as lazy, unproductive, and a waste of time in today’s materialistic, capitalist-driven, and ultra productive society. The basis of this book is the notion that one’s leisure time is an essential cost to one’s busy life. Unfortunately leisure time is also essential to being happy and self fulfilled. This book reminds people of the benefits of taking time to reflect, to meditate, and to appreciate one’s surroundings. I often caught myself nodding my head in agreement with reading this book. This book reminded me of my recent trip to New York City over spring break. I felt like every person had their own private mission, driven by a sort of tunnel vision. There was not time for leisure or socializing in the eyes of a New Yorker. It felt like many New Yorkers could learn from the perspective of this book. I do not think a productive life is more valuable than an unproductive one, in terms of one’s professional contribution to society. I do think many people develop an unbalance in their lives between taking time for themselves and not wasting time. For example, in my life, I am a firm believer that sleep trumps studying if it’s past midnight in most circumstances. But, I seem to be in the minority especially in college. I hear conversations in which college student are comparing their sleep cycles (or lack of sleep), like it’s a good thing to get less sleep. It is understandable that college is a tough and time-consuming sector of our lives, but I think more people would feel happier and feel more rewarded if their lives weren’t being compared to others’ lives so much. I think this book would agree in the sense that more of life should be savored than rushed.  Productivity should be checked against one’s level of exhaustion. We are constantly pressured to see how far we can reach before breaking. I think a majority of us are closer to that breaking point than is healthy. Being overcommitted isn’t necessarily the most healthy habit even if it’s viewed as a sign of productivity. I think what is worse than pressuring oneself are the external comparisons and negative social stigma that one’s productivity or idleness level receive.

With all that said, I think some social stigmas have turned around since 2005 when this book was published. I think there is a growing concern over the over-prescribed antidepressants this country’s citizens consume and a growing push to develop alternative methods to cope with the overcommitted lifestyle. There is still a negative social stigma toward taking time for oneself, but it is getting better. Not only does savoring one’s lunch, taking a long stroll, or meditating slow down one’s busy life, it improves one’s mental health. Mental health is something that this book doesn’t really bring up, but I think it could go hand in hand with the message of this book. Mental health is crucial to executive function in the workplace and elsewhere and should be a top priority for the individual and for society as a whole. Beginning in childhood there is a pressure from relatives and strangers alike to look and act the best, but we are not taught to care for our mental well-being along the way. This book brings up many ways to remedy the stresses of modern life without explicitly stating their benefits for mental health. Savoring time for tea, fishing, and taking naps heal the spirit and the mind. All these acts reflect on the major theme of this book which is finding ways to “just be”.

 

Current Event:

http://asset-manager.bbcchannels.com/workspace/uploads/bbcw-real-happiness-white-paper-final-v2-58ac1df7.pdf

Instead of a recent news story, I found a somewhat recently conducted study that found watching Planet Earth makes you happier. I thought this article relates to this book because of the major themes of happiness and self appeasement. What is better than finding those things than through nature (even if it is through a screen).


Environment and Society

March 8, 2017

 

This book covers a lot of different topics and devotes a relatively good amount of words to each, which I really like. The hardest part to remember is that each topic could have an entire book of its own, so it’s important to recognize that there are still concepts and facts that we haven’t learned. However, as for the basics, I think it did a good job of touching on the relevant subjects. Initially, the material is basic and geared toward our global society, treating humans as one big population, but then it begins to categorize and differentiate populations. The book does a good job of incorporating examples from other countries and provoking the reader to consider other cultures beside their own by illustrating how values/morals/norms differ among them. It reminds readers that when considering environmental problems there is not a ‘one shoe fits all’ solution and we must be innovative and empathetic to others.


 

New Priority for Ocean Resorts: Restoring Reefs

Outrigger’s Ozone, a collaboration between a handful of resorts and local dive teams, is an initiative whose program is designed to rebuild and regrow damaged coral reefs off the resorts property islands. Outrigger’s Ozone works to undo the reef damage caused by large structures on the beach, climate change, land-based pollution, and the impact of fishing.

The coral restoration process is similar across all resorts: broken but still-living coral fragments are attached to a frame, either metal or concrete, and the whole system is secured underwater. It’s a slow process (coral takes about 10 years to fully grow) but with care and protection, the reef regenerates itself on the frames. One of the resorts, the Andaman, has Asia’s first inland coral nursery, allowing guests and staff members to start the regeneration process in a safe place and then transplant it to the ocean. Furthermore, all the frames are designed to become carbon-negative within a few years to reduce the properties carbon footprint.

To date, across all the resorts, more than 321 coral frames have been transplanted into the reef. The Outrigger team alone has already planted about 21,450 square feet of new coral and at the Andaman, 200 baby corals from the nursery have made it into the ocean. One hundred more are still growing and nearly ready to transplant.

Click here to learn more!


Environment and Society (pt.1)

March 8, 2017

I really enjoyed this book because it brought up a lot of ideas that I’ve thought about a lot as well as some others that I haven’t but definitely interest me.  This book didn’t offer a lot of opinions, which is fine because it gives you the facts, the history, and the options so that you can make your own opinion.

One of the points that he talked about that I’ve thought about a lot is the carrying capacity of humans on Earth.(pg. 15)  It’s a complicated question and I liked that they included multiple different explanations for why the population has changed and is changing the way it is.

One of the points that they made that I hadn’t really thought about is the relation between hybrid cars and gas prices.  Economics isn’t my strong point so I tend to put those points off to the side.  However, it was interesting they way they explained how an increase number of hybrid cars could actually increase the total amount of gas used.  I guess this effect is inevitable until hybrid cars are more universal? People wouldn’t start driving so much more that that couldn’t have a negative affect on the use of gas.

The other thing that he talked about that interested me was the different takes on hunting (pg. 76)  I feel like I fall in the middle of the two sides he talked about.  I don’t like hunting, but I understand the necessity of it.  However, in the case of the white tail deer, I think it would help to remember that they are overpopulated because humans over hunted their predators.  So we have to hunt because we hunt in the first place. A more controversial example is the goats and tortoises on the Galapagos Islands, where the invasive species of the goats are outcompeting the native tortoises.  The solution is to kill the goat herds en mass and I’m curious what other people think about it because I know I still feel uncomfortable with the idea, but completely understand the necessity.

Current Event

30,000 acres of forest was burned by a wildfire in Peru and then flooded by heavy rainfall soon after.  Local conservation groups are working on rebuilding , specifically the Spectacled Bear Conservation who saved over a hundred bears from the natural disasters while trying to keep their headquarters from flooding.  


Environment and Society Part 1 Notes

March 8, 2017

Chapter 1: Many of the ideas about social constructs, environmental ethics, environmental justice, risks and hazards and defining wilderness seemed repetitive compared to what we have already read, so this might be a better book to read at the beginning of the year to serve as introductions to those topics. The authors also gave a strict definition of “environment” and “society,” which might have been an interesting topic to discuss at the beginning of the semester while we tried to define “wilderness.”

Chapter 2: We have been working with mathematical models in my marine biology class, specifically with the Malthus equation and logistic equation to model populations. While the Malthus equation is only accurate on short time scales, it is a fundamental equation in population biology that has influenced most other population models. Most of the models we have been working with deal with birth and death rates, so it was interesting to see Ehrlich and Holdren’s impact model that is influenced by affluence and technology, to read about where humans place blame for environmental impacts – on the overall population, on the wealthy, the poor, and even women – and see how much of an impact education can have on population size. It would be interesting to add in terms like education, sustainability programs and healthcare to Ehrlich and Holdren’s model. Then, we could manipulate these variables to see how the model predicts population growth may change. We could even test out the model with different types of healthcare policies or educational programs. If overpopulation is a problem in certain areas, these mathematical models could inform the government what types of programs might be useful.

Chapter 3: This is an interesting article that analyzes the effects of green taxes and has a table listing impacts of green taxes in different countries. Much like how cap and trade can lead to “locally disastrous” pollution, the banking and withdrawing techniques seem like a dangerous attempt at a solution because it depends on destroying habitats and creating habitats in places they otherwise would not naturally be. Certain species might only thrive in one particular area, and there is no guarantee that by creating a habitat like a wetland in a different location that the same species will inhabit that wetland.

Chapter 4: This chapter brought up the point that people are more willing to work toward a common goal and cooperate if they can set limits on themselves, together, rather than being forced to comply to certain limits. I like that the authors look at strategies from different angles, like explaining common property, while it is successful at times, can also be dangerous since it is dependent on binding and excluding “potential user populations” (62).

Chapter 5: Here is an interesting article explaining the successes and failures of the Endangered Species Act. Singers argument of “good” meaning maximizing pleasure and happiness reminded me of a section of Calicott’s “Triangular Affair.” It was Bentham and Mill who proposed the binary that pain is evil and pleasure is good (Callicot, 19), so it would be ethical to increase the good and minimize the pain in the world. The land ethic encourages us to “[reappraise] things unnatural, tame, and confined in terms of things natural, wild and free” (Callicot, 32), and pain is natural and, as Callicot points out, necessary. In the case of things like disease or injury, pain informs the individual that something is wrong, so animals can respond in a way to become healthy/ healed. To stay in physical shape, animals need to exert themselves to a healthy level, and pain informs them of what that healthy level is. Stress can help to keep animals vigilant or focused, for example if prey is being hunted its stress can keep the prey vigilant, or if humans are in a dangerous situation stress can inform them that a response like fight or flight is necessary. Overall, pain is necessary and beneficial to survival. Callicot’s work also explains animal liberation from different viewpoints, including the land ethic, so it would be an interesting work to read in supplement to this chapter.

Chapter 6: Hazards can “fall in between natural and anthropogenic” because humans can increase the risk of a situation. For example, building houses all out of wood increases the risk of fire, building homes right on the ocean increases risk associated with hurricanes, and humans overuse pesticides partly because yielding so much of one crop in one area leads to a bigger insect problem.

Is every decision “…inevitably social and political…”? (93)

What are some examples of risks affected by cultural differences in America compared to other countries?

Chapter 7: The section on “commodification” made me think about how ecotourism is a prime example of nature being valued for exchange rather than itself. Ecotourism is in part a way to “…use market principles to solve environmental problems…” because it allows certain areas in nature to be preserved to attract tourists (109). At the same time, it does treat nature as a part of politics and the economy, so in a way ecotourism is a partially desirable “produced nature” (109).

Should we give up on the idea of “going back to ‘wilderness’”? (109)

Chapter 8: The introduction of this chapter explaining how we choose vacation destinations and how what we think we see in forests is influenced by other people reminded me of a place my friend stayed at while he was in Peru. The Ecolodge in Oxapampa, Peru helps their visitors feel more secluded by building their lodges so that no lodge is visible from the road, or from looking out the windows of the other ecolodges. None of the ecolodges have electricity, all use recycled running water, and all food was either bought from local growers or obtained from around the ecolodge.

 

I also find how large an impact the media has on our idea of nature very interesting, and was reminded of a vacation pamphlet for Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas. It has a picture of an elegant hotel rising up in the background of a digitally-enhanced picture of blue water with colorful marine life. The pamphlet says “Welcome to Paradise” and “Paradise Found”, directly connecting to Cronon’s explanation of “Nature as Eden.” The pamphlet also says “Sometimes you have to get away to get together,” connecting to the idea that wilderness is an escape and a “place of recreation” (Cronon, 78).


Environment & Society Pt 1

March 8, 2017

Environment & Society: I found this book harder to read mostly just because it’s a textbook and it was weird to read through half a textbook straight. However it was interesting enough. I enjoyed the chapter about population/overpopulation as that’s always been interesting to me but I’d sort of forgotten about it until now. A lot of the economic things I had already learned, so this served as a review. Linking the basic economic concepts to the environment/resources was something I never did in high school. I’d heard of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, but had never seen it applied environmentally. It explains a lot about carbon emissions, with countries valuing competitiveness over taking one for the team and reducing carbon emission. The solutions the authors mentioned for Prisoner’s Dilemmas seemed effective, but unrealistic. Personally I think there’s not enough incentive for governments to actually make big moves, so we’ll have to deal with small changes for a while yet.

 

Current Event: Why are Pandas Black and White?

Turns out it’s for camouflage and communication. They don’t hibernate, so they continue eating bamboo through the snowy season. Their bellies are white for camouflage. The black parts on their ears and eyes are for intimidation with other pandas. That’s really all there is to the study, which took over 100 hours at UCB.

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Environment & Society- Part 1

March 8, 2017

 

Fig 2.3 shows that the population growth rate has been declining since the 1960’s. I think this makes perfect sense because of how expensive everything has became since then. Having a child becomes very expensive, having multiple even more so. To me this is the most logical answer so why our population rate in declining, people sometimes can’t afford to have kids or even themselves too. This ties in with the idea of having to few children. How does that affect countries in the long run? Well it’s a good and bad thing. Good for the environment because places that tend to have less people emit lass pollution into the environment. Bad because when those children grow up they may not decide to live in that country anymore, there will be a drop in the economy since you’ll have less people to spend money, creating a lower need for jobs.

While reading I came across the word ‘rewilding’, which is mankind’s attempt  to restore what we’ve destroyed. So basically bringing life back to areas which we’ve killed. I never heard this word before and I was surprised that we’ve had to come up with a word that describes our attempt to fix our mess ups. We shouldn’t have to create a word to fix our mistakes, we shouldn’t be making these mistakes in the first place. Another thing, how messed up is it that we charge for nature. You can’t go to some National Parks without having to pay an entrance fee, parking fee, etc. Yes charging people to see nature pays for the park ranger, but having to deal with money, something only humans need to worry about kind of defeats the purpose of going to see nature in the first place. Like we’ve said before people go to these parks to get away from everything human. Yet, of course humans find a way to make it more difficult for people to even do so. We’re so selfish.

 

Current Event: Stubby Squid found !


Week 8: Environment and Society (Part 1)

March 8, 2017

Environment and Society (Part 1):

Part one of Paul Robbins’ book, in collaboration with two other authors, analyzed key ways to interpret the environment and society relationship. One of the key concepts that is recurring  is the increasing human population and our interactions with the natural world. The topics covered in the first half of this book how humans deal with the environment, such as: consumption versus producing resources, economically beneficial environment, ethics and interpreting issues with our environment. It was an interesting read, because when I think of the environment I always think of them as mutually exclusive unless there was a problem that was human-caused, such as oil spills or deforestation. I think this book does a good job to shedding light on how humans view the environment and to how we, in our everyday actions, have negatively effected it. Especially in Chapter 8 how it ties environment to society and the tendency for people to understand and interpret environmental issues and processes through language, stories, and images that are often inherited through systems of media, government, education or industry. The way that our environmental issues can severely impact or encourage actions or behaviors that can have other environmental and social consequences.

Current Event

Insects, especially bees, help pollinate both food crops and wild plants. But pollinators are declining worldwide due to habitat loss, disease and exposure to pesticides, among other factors. Miyako, a chemist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan, bought 10 kiwi-sized drones and taught himself to fly them and covered the bottom of the surviving drone with short horsehair, using electricity to make the hair stand up. Adding his gel made the horsehair work like bee fuzz.In tests so far, the drone has successfully pollinated Japanese lilies more than a third of the time, brushing up against one flower to collect pollen, then flying into another to knock the grains off, his team reports in the Feb. 9 Chem.

Read more here:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/fleets-drones-could-pollinate-future-crops