Environment and Society: Part II

February 27, 2011

The beginning of this book dealt with ways to look at the environment and the problems that it’s facing, but the second half covers the issues themselves. These issues range from commonplace heavy-hitters (CO2, trees and bottled water) to some issues that we don’t often think about (wolves, tuna, and french fries).

When it comes to CO2, a major focal point of the book is international affairs surrounding global climate change. The book fully recognizes carbon emissions as a product of industrial society that we have become unable to do without. Generally speaking, no countries that produce a lot of carbon have any desire to stop themselves completely because (at least as of now) there is no other energy source as cheap and efficient as carbon-based fuels. Attempts have been made to solve these issues facing the world (the Kyoto Protocol, Copenhagen Accords are among them), but they have largely been inconsequential. With the U.S. refusing to ratify treaties like this, almost no headway can be made in the international arena regarding global climate change. The biggest problem is that it only takes one country to keep polluting, and the air will stay polluted.

Countries in green have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, those in red refuse, grey is undecided.

Another Major problem that the book addresses is deforestation. Logging not only destroys the trees that are cut down, but the entire surrounding area is destroyed because of the loss of the trees. Ecosystems vanish, species go extinct and global biodiversity plummets, all for some lumber. The vast majority of the world’s old growth forests are gone, in fact, since 1995, 125,264 thousand hectares of forest land have been cut down worldwide with more to come! Complete ecosystem destruction for land that is easier to work: according to the world’s industries, human needs seem to supersede all others.

The problem that I did not know was a problem (or at least the one that jumped out at me the most) was the issue surrounding the wolves in the United States. I don’t see many wolves (and haven’t my entire life), I never hear about wolf poaching or trapping, so I just safely assumed they weren’t where I was but were doing okay. Little did I know that wolves were once a fairly dominant species in the U.S., with large spatial distribution and strong communities. Social conditioning has taught us to fear and hate wolves, leading to our overwhelming urge to get rid of them. And why not? They are a competing predator; a threat to our perch atop the food chain. It makes sense to demonize the enemy so it will be easier to get rid of. However, we as a society need to start recognizing the needs of nature above our own. By removing a predator from an ecosystem, you fundamentally change how that ecosystem functions (sometimes completely changing the system as a whole).

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Preliminary Solar Project:

February 23, 2011

The aim of the project is to research two different kinds of solar options for the school to pursue. After completion of the project I hope to have a sufficient comparison available which would thus make it easy for the school to look into further. This I feel is a great idea as it will save the school costs, make OWU known around the country for its “green” image and help OWU alums in making their start-up company more successful.

The company that I have decided to involve myself with for this project is known as Plug-n-save energy products (www.plunsaveenergyproducts.com). It is a company started by a few OWU grads in California and they produce interior window coverings which are similar to plantation shutters (indoor shutters). This is the same technology as solar panel systems for roofs but incorporated in a different way and is available at a price 50% lower. Furthermore, this technology plugs straight into the wall allowing all the energy produced to be absorbed directly into the grid, instantly saving money. This could possibly be a good idea to start with in Stuyvesant hall which is going to go under renovation soon.

To compare to this with another project I have decided to choose the power output possibility to the installation of a solar dish on campus. Though this would require a much larger investment as compared to the blinds, the output of power produced is significantly more. Once complete the project will hopefully give the school two viable options to choose from.

The next step in my project is to research different buildings on campus and take measurements of different sized windows in-order to come up with cost saving figure and the wattage that can be produced.

 


Environment and Society Part Two

February 23, 2011

The second part of this book was more interesting than the first though maintaining the same analytical style as the first section. The reason I found this section more interesting was due to the factual nature of the content and its analysis of many of the pertinent issue regarding the environment in recent times providing the reader a comprehensive understanding of these events that many of us have heard but haven’t cared to fully understand.

The section begins by highlighting the primordial impact CO2 emissions are having on our planet and talks about commercial and corporate taxes much like cap in trade as well as tax and trade systems that could be used to control emissions globally especially focusing on growing third world countries and their current trends of over polluting. This issue raises a concern that was addressed in class last week that raises the ethical question of whether it is justifiable to be condescending to theses third world nations for thier current strive towards the future when much of the western world used the same technique since the Industrial Revolution to get to where they are now.

The book also talks about widespread tree planting efforts and highlights the issue concerning over-plantation of a particular species that in turn could dominate the environment and affect the natural balance of things. This portion of the book highlights the concerns over environmentalists and human factions that affect the environment in their own ways, trying to establish an ‘ideal’ nature in their opinions, and the potentially damaging impact this could have on the environment.

The book also talks about aquaculture and fish farming techniques in salmon and tuna populations. Genetic breeding of these species for human consumption and demand have created entire industries and the methods used in this production techniques could also have some potentially devastating consequences especially if genetically engineered species escape into the wild. Blue Fin tuna and the demand for such fish in the numbers that the modern world is buying up can only be maintained by these practices though as natural farming of these species have already caused much widespread depletion. Mitsubishi, the company that makes everything from ball point pens to aircraft engines also has a large stake in the Blue Fin tuna market and stands to profit from its global depletion externally.

Bottled Water at its finest

The book goes on to highlight issues regarding bottled water and the environmental concerns about the management of bottled water waste that usually ends up in landfills. Bottled water in my opinion is one of the greatest farces in the world and it is no surpirse that the opposite of EVIAN is NAIVE! Human concerns with obesity, especially in the USA is also highlighted and fast food restaurants are held accountable for this devastating sociological phenomenon that has reached new levels in these last few decades of human evolution.


Interesting sounds

February 23, 2011

This isnt an article but is something i found online where you can hear different sounds of the wild/nature. From the environment , to animals and evening the wind. Go ahead try it out! It may be a great escape. Try experimenting with different sounds and see what is ideal for you

http://naturesoundsfor.me/Rainy_evening_1

Also, If someone is interested in recycling. A friend of mine recently told me that see-through plastic water cups available in hamwill are 100% bio-degradable. If some one is interested in starting a drive to have those properly disposed off instead of thrown about. it s an idea.


Environment and society

February 23, 2011

The book was in my opinion quite engaging and strongly highlighted several different issues that many are concerned about today in regard to the safeguard of the environment. The latter half of the book really brought the argument closer to our daily lives as opposed to showing us the problem of the environment through a sort of outside perspective. The carbon dioxide argument was something that countless numbers of people have been stressing about for years. As the book points out clearly we are too enthralled in our busy lives to notice. CO2 emissions have a massive impact on climate change through ever increasing demand for goods and production. This brings about the importance of having an abundance of trees in our environment; unfortunately trees that play such an important part of our natural infrastructure for centuries have been cut down to support the growth of human expansion and development.

 

We see how the tuna industry through increased technology has caused the fishing vessels to fish massive amounts of tuna for mega profits the world over. The demand is ever increasing and personally if step gradual steps are not taken resources could be very scarce in the future. Where it really home is when the author spoke about bottled water and French fries and how they have a big part to play in damaging the environment. In my Environmental ethics class as well is where we mentioned the issue of bottle making, highlighting how various companies using the word “spring” manage to use regular water or tap water in order to make huge profits. This very fact is highlighted in the remainder of the book. For a resource readily available in abundance we use large quantities of natural resources all in search of high profits. To conclude these are serious issues that will have a unimaginable impact in the long run. I believe a serious “green” drive should start at OWU.

 


Environment and Society Part II

February 23, 2011

To start I wasnt aware of the true nature of the Kyoto Protocol so that section I found interesting and did a little research on the Kyoto Protocol as well as its history. What I found most intriguing about the protocol was the ranking of countries into the sperate annexes and how countries were placed as well as the countries wealth and progression. This is important as we spoke about the countries that are still developing and have yet to hit the stage where they produced large quantities of carbon emissions as America did during the industrial revolution but that these countries should still have the oppuritiy to progress forward. And the theory has worked as Europe has cut their emissions by a substantial amount. However, since the US is currently the largest emitter as well as not even being in the Kyoto Protocol is worrisome. The reason being is the calbration between countries when new technology is introduced or the making of new technology that could have both a posistive affect on productiuon and cutting emissions. The US may not be included in these talks and may be on our own for awhile when trying to com eup with new ideas.

Continuing n this was the discussion focusing on trees and the relationship they share with humans. While a table used in the book showed tree loss over time there was also indecation of the tree growth as the rates begun to slow down and the idea of more denesly populated areas forming instead of wide spread growth was allowing a regrowth. Also to include is the idea of having tree cover in these densly populated areas, where some buildings are treating their roof like a park or garden, various green buildings are being popular which hopefully will also help with tree repopulaiton. The othe rinteresting topic touched upon was the possibility of rights for trees. Personnally I find this to be a fantastic idea, as long as it is supported and regulated approitly, too many times you see areas cleared and “restored” elsewhere where the biodiversity is no longer present. A trend of this is seen with wetland restoration and how it isnt working.

Finally the last bit I wanted to mention was the effects of removing a single animal or tier in the food chain and the effects it can have on the entire system. The tampering of nature by humans, even on small scales, can have dire effects on a ecological system and the Yellowstone grey wolves is a testament to that while at the same time showing how far humanity has actually grown. What I found alarming was the genocide performed against the wolves in North America while at the same time claiming wolves as savage beasts while we would bait wolf packs with a single cub so we could slaughter them.

 

 


School Drinking Water

February 23, 2011

http://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/is-school-drinking-water-safe

This article is highlighting some of the concerns with the contaminants that are in school drinking water.  I thought this was a nice tie in because of the mention of bottled water in the Environment and Society book.  Study finds that drinking water at thousands of schools across the country contains unsafe levels of lead, pesticides, and dozens of other toxins.  Water contamination has been found in all fifty states and in eight to eleven percent of schools.