February 28, 2007

CHAPTER 8: THE DISUNITED COLOURS OF NATURE         “there is no single Green position.”(Pg.145)

green has many competing shades

         Ideas of nature have been a central feature of various ideologies (Pg.146)

1) Nature, capitalism, and socialism

         “Every culture projects its values onto nature and then holds them up as nature’s own authority…to justify its vision of society and the world.” (Pg.146)

Adam Smith:

         Scottish arch-theorist of capitalism

         “laws of nature sanctioned the accumulation of wealth.” (Pg.146)

         Social Darwinsim: wherein “competition drove the evolution of higher life forms, ensuring biological and social progress.” (Pg.146).

Survival of the fittest: emergence of powerful individuals and corporates.

         Sociobiology: revised Social Darwinism to incorporate a belief where in, nature laws were tied together with economic laws.

They both run hand in hand. Therefore, like the “process of naturalization, cut throat capitalism, a human creation” (Pg.147) must be accepted and obeyed.

         Eco-socialists: wary of appeals to nature

“nature and human nature and both malleable entities, historically and socially constructed.” (Pg.147)


         His case “relies heavily on his criticisms of capitalist mishandling of natural resources.” (Pg.147)

         Prior to capitalism there was a feudal relationship with nature, a sense of harmony

         During capitalism nature took on the role of a factor of production.

With more understanding of the science behind nature came more control over it.

         “All progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the labourer, but of robbing the soil.” (Pg.148)

Mainly through use of raw materials, failure to recycle, soil degradation, low wages, and poor working conditions.

         Holds a man comes before earth orientation.


         Stresses “capitalism’s sale of the earth [and] he notes the ill effects of most modes of production.” (Pg.148)

Eg. Overgrazing and deforestation

         Engles “urges us to remember that our actions may rebound on us.” (Pg.148)

         “The earth’s surface, climate, vegetation, fauna, and the human beings themselves have infinitely changed, and all this owing to human activity.” (Pg.149)

NOTE: To both Marx and Engles freedom represented the “emancipation from the problems of securing food, shelter, and fuel.” (Pg.149)

          Marx’s Labour Theory of Value:

         “matter has no value aside from that imparted by the human labour needed for purposes of extraction and processing.” (Pg.150)

Nature is given no intrinsic value

         The fruits of the ‘wealth of nature’ are appropriated by humans.

         Only addressed the objectification of labour, not of nature.

2) The Greening of Socialism


School’ thinkers hypothesized the modern ecological dilemma had its source in more than just capitalism and class conflict.

“indefinitely spiraling levels of production were ecologically unsustainable and therefore unattainable.” (Pg.153).

      Deep Ecology: concept created by Arne Naess.

         They “deny humans any right over nature, regardless of how they exercise authority.” (Pg.154)

         “real solutions are sought at the individual level.” (Pg.154)

We are directly responsible for our ecological footprint. One shouldn’t blame external authorities for our misdoings.

      British Green Thinking:

         Ideas condemning zoos, vivisection, hunting, and fishing, and promoting eco camping, scouting, and the back to the future movement.

US Scholars attack on Elitism:

         Discuss the discrimination in the idea of ‘wilderness experience’ for the white middle class.

         Need to address environmental racism, ie. “the deliberate location of environmentally hazardous facilities in disempowered, low-income and ethnic/ racial minority communities.” (Pg.157)

         “Their goal is to redeem the city by re-conceptualizing ‘nature’ and ‘the environment’ as peoples’ ordinary daily living, working and playing spaces.” (Pg.157)

         Address the ignorance with respect to being damaged and already damaged environments.

Growth of Public Parks:

         “City parks offered some outlet for suffocated energies and suppressed aesthetic desires.” (Pg.160)

Public parks provide the common masses with a taste of nature, regardless of who you are.

3) Nature Beyond the Left

         Impact on birds, use of bird products, fashion statements, and fads.

Nazis and the Environment:

         Believed in superiority of those nearest to nature

         Christianity ruined pagan closeness to nature

         Creation of nature preserves; progressive forestry.

         “The German people need the forest like man needs wine… to warm the inner man.” (Pg.166)

         Their perspective of nature could be used to justify almost any Nazi viewpoint. Eg, “views on sexual orientation, racial purity, and woman’s status.” (Pg.170)

No homosexuality in nature. Also, “for many Nazis, the very existence of Jews, huddled in ‘lifeless’ cities apart from nature, was an affront to the national order.” (Pg.170)

      Eco-radicals: believed humans to be cancerous growths on earth

      James Lovelock: said that humans were like parasites on the body of earth.


CHAPTER 9: THE FUTURE OF NATURE      Francis Fukuyama:

         He notes “that the twentieth century ‘has made all of us into deep historical pessimists.’”(Pg.173)

         But he believes that there is “still plenty of life left in the idea of history as progress.” (Pg.174)

         Singled out environmentalists as the greatest threat to history.

They undermine human domination over nature.

       Bill McKibben’s:

         We have changed and manipulated nature so much that we have blurred “the distinction between nature and culture.” (Pg. 174)

         His book, The End of Nature, addresses the dangers to traditional ideas of nature and culture caused by human induced climatic change.

         By altering the climate we are creating an artificial world, ie. the destruction of wilderness. (Pg.176)

1) The Mortality of the Earth and the End of Nature

         “Intellectuals at various times have viewed [the earth] as a mortal being well advanced in age and suffering from virtual exhaustion.” (Pg.175)

         With time more people are becoming aware of the ecological crises beginning to loom over our heads.

         McKibben’s defines nature as: “a certain set of human ideas about the world and our place in it.” (Pg.176)

Destruction of nature refers to the loss of the concept of nature, ie. wilderness.

            He is critiqued for undermining the “extent to which deforestation, farming and hunting

have brought permanent damage.” (Pg.177)

       Michael Pollan:

         Prefers to abolish the concept and attachment to nature. He favours cultivated, man-molded land.

         He believes that we have more choices than the two stark alternatives: “deflowering nature or setting her on a pedestal beyond human reach.” (Pg.177)


2) Tampering with the Essence: Biotechnology

         Baconian perspective: nature is infinitely malleable. (Pg.178)

         There appears to be a continuous progress in biotechnology.

         1987, US Supreme Court declares that life forms created by humans can be patented.

3) The Nature of Animals

         Part of this section addresses the different views individuals hold with respect to the relationship between humans and animals.


         Believed animals to be elevated above humans. Mainly because he believed them to, have a higher moral code, be less violent, and have greater intelligence.


         Animals have no souls.

         “Speech embodied human rationality as against the thoughtlessness of animals.” (Pg.180)

“[Speech] interpreted as an expression of the soul rather than of intelligence.” (Pg.180)


         Refused to accept that animals could have language.


         Argued that human and animal intelligence differ only in degree. “Nature as a hierarchy of states of consciousness.” (Pg.181)


         Maintained the categorical distinction between humans and animals.

Culture is what sets us apart from animals.

      Animal speech: birds communicate with dialectics, and whales communicate with whale


4) The Postmodernist Challenge

      Postmodernism: Refers to the fact that every aspect of reality is socially constructed via

      language and signification; what really matters is that we create reality.

         There is no such thing as intrinsic truth, truth is made.

5) The ‘New’ Ecology         Nature is continuously changing even when not touched or manipulated by humans. 

Old Ecology:         According to Clements and Odum, nature tends to move back to a state of equilibrium when left long enough undisturbed.New Ecology:

         There is no clear outcome known for nature. There exist several possible outcomes.

6) The Old Nature

         “nature’s powers are too immense for total conquest,” (Pg.188) says Donald Worster.

         The concept of ‘nature bats last’ or ‘nature’s  revenge.’ (Pg.189)

Putting things that have been taken apart back together again.








A) Does environmental quality hinder or facilitate economic growth? We simultaneously wish to

     meet our own needs, without damage or alteration to the environment. Where is the balance?

B) Is it fair to pollute areas inhabited by the poor, ie. environmental racism? Why does it tend to

    work this way?

C) What are consequences of shoving humanity of its pedestal? (Pg.171)

D) Is it alright to assume that progressing human technology will be able to repair our past mistakes in the future?

E) Is genetic engineering really an extension of well established methods of selective breeding?

    And is it ethically correct for scientists to be playing the hand of god?


F) Is speech the only form of communication?




February 28, 2007

I found the reading hard to finish. I know its important to know and understand the history of nature but it was very dry. But the author did do a good job of comparing and constrasting how the different time periods treated and viewed nature and what events made the views shift with humanity and nature. Leslie

Remote Controlled Pigeons

February 28, 2007

Scientists at the Shandong University of Science and Technology, in China, have created a remote controlled pigeon. The scientists stimulate various regions of the pigeon’s brain using electrodes implanted in the brain. Using the electrodes the researchers can command the birds to fly left and right or up and down. In 2005 the same group scientists preformed a similar experiment on mice. The scientists hope this technology will have practical uses in the future, but no specific uses were stated.



The New York City Beaver

February 28, 2007



For the first time in almost two centuries, a North American beaver, which was once forced out of town by agricultural development and overeager fur traders, has returned to New York City. This citing is a testament to both the animal’s versatility and to an increasingly healthy Bronx River. Not to long ago, the Bronx River was used as a dumping ground for abandoned cars and rubber tires, but has been revitalized due to a huge clean-up effort.

The beaver’s return is marked by “gnawed tree stumps and the 12-foot-wide lodge — evidence that pointed to beavers, which are rarely seen in the wild because they tend to work at night and avoid people.” Biologists were able to video tape the beaver swimming in the river and is said to be “several feet long, two or three years old, and appeared to be a male in search of a mate.” The return of this beaver also shows that you cannot control nature and that if left alone, it will reestablish and organisms will re-colonize. This relates to our recent discussion and how we said that nature will reclaim the land over time on its natural course with out humans trying to introduce “native” animals.



Supplements Don’t Help to Live Longer

February 28, 2007

This article was based on research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Many people that take the supplements to prolong their lives but this study results that taking supplements don’t boost longevity and appears to increase the risk of dying because it interferes with the bodys defense mechanisms. Other important notes that the study did not address the question of multivitamins effects on the body and longevity. Leslie   

Red reading

February 28, 2007

At first I did not like this reading before we had our discussion. Part of the reason why was because I really enjoyed Desert Solitaire. But the discussion helped me realize that the authors are very different from one another and just because one author writes one way the other author should not be thought of as less of an author.  And secondly there were a lot of new topics and ideas present in Red compared to Desert Solitaire. My favorite chapter was Coyote’s Canyon for the different variety of personal experiences and how and why they came to the desert to escape


Mexico City’s Toxic Air

February 28, 2007

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the first candidate for the open geography position talked about his research in Mexico City.  His focus was on gentrification, but he did point out that Mexico City’s air is highly polluted.  I did some reading about it, and I decided it is something we should all be aware of…even though we don’t live there.

The site that I’ve included in this blog seems kind of sketchy and not reliable, but I looked at other more reliable-looking that say the same things.  I didn’t put the other web sites on here because they were also full of technical information that I thought might lose your interest.

The reason that Mexico City has such awful air pollution is that it sits in a basin about 7,000 ft. above sea level and is surrounded on three sides by mountains.  These conditions create a trap out of which none of the fumes can escape.  Most of the cars in Mexico City are over 10 years old and emmit more hazardous fumes than newer cars AND about 36,000 factories!   These fumes at such high altitudes make matters even worse.