March 30, 2011

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It was interesting to me to see an entire book written about lawns because it is a topic that I would absolutely never consider writing about at all or reading for that matter if it weren’t assigned for this class.

My pop is really into doing lawn care and stuff I think maybe so that he actually has something to do.  He and my nanny actually lived in a condo in Florida and then sold it and moved to a house because he wanted to be able to do his own lawn maintenance.

I think it is interesting to think about people who don’t mow their lawns or don’t mow them often.  I think if it were all up to me I would want to keep my lawn well manicured because I feel as though it gives a reflection of how you are as a person.  I don’t know how this has come about to be but I feel as though everyone thinks it and so people just try to conform to society.

Breakfast of Biodiversity

March 30, 2011

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The book Breakfast of Biodiversity was very informative in that it had a lot of facts, but I don’t think that it is the type of book I would just pick up to read by choice.  It is nice that the book is not very biased in its opinions.

I was really happy that they made a point of noting the detrimental effects that can come from the fact that we ignore how our rainforest is deteriorating.  I have been aware of this going on for a while but I think it is something that needs to be addressed.  Tropical rain forests cover only about 7% of the earth’s surface but are home to more than half of all the plant and animal species of the world.  They are also home to a large percentage of the plants used to make medicine.

I also enjoyed the part about the bananas because that information was totally new to me.  I had no idea that something that we enjoy so much and that appears to be so good for us can be so bad on the other hand.  I just can’t believe that the government of Costa Rica lets that go on.

No More Ozone?! Sounds like a good band name.

March 30, 2011

Yes its true. We are STILL losing more ozone gases. Just in case you didn’t know ozone gas is the ESSENTIAL gas that our planet needs to block the nasty UV light emitted from the sun. Without it we would all get cancer and die a horrible death. So the fact that the planet is at a record low is not good. Scientists attribute it to much lower temperatures in Arctic. check it out HERE.

Plutonium in Soil

March 30, 2011

Full Article

The tusami that hit Japan has had some major environmental effects on the country one of them the continuing problems with the Fukushima nuclear power plant. While another event such as Chernobyl is unlikely extreme caution is still being implemented in dealing with the nuclear reactors. However, they are now finding trace amounts of plutonium which is a high risk factor to any animal including humans. While current levels are not a health risk they are approaching to contain the areas.

Lawn People – Paul Robbins

March 30, 2011

I thought Lawn People was a very interesting read, taking something that I rarely think about in depth and analyzing its history, meaning and place in society. When I think of my lawn, I think of it as the place that everyone else I live around has, but I can’t think of any real reason why it is necessary for us to have it. Some people plant trees outside or use it for gardening. We have a few bushes lining the front of our porch but that’s about it. My mother does her gardening in the backyard. The only time I can think of me using the lawn extensively is when I was little and used to play outside all day. Other than that, it’s just a rectangle of grass that needs to be cut every now and again. We don’t keep it maintained and I don’t think my parents ever felt the need to, especially since both our front and backyard are pretty small.

What I find silly about people who do take care of their lawns, is that even if they use chemicals and recognize that it’s detrimental to the water supply, they continue, as Robbins points out. Maybe it is because the lawn has become such a personal thing for homeowners. It is like how a lot of people have that feeling about recycling that one bottle in the trash won’t make much of a difference. It doesn’t affect that person directly, or it seems not to for them, so they have little concern.

I enjoyed learning about the differences in how people in different parts of the world use lawns. For the United States, people mostly have lawns in suburban areas and less so in rural parts. Professor Hickcox taught me that suburbia shows people’s desire to return to rural settings. People have something to care for, as they would animals, except it’s their lawns. In Europe, the lawn is agrarian in meaning. It is a celebration of the rural way of life that was expropriated by the growth of industry. Did Americans have their rural way of life taken from them? It doesn’t seem that way. So is it a status thing? Robbins speaks of how people with lawns are influenced by other people that have lawns. At what point does it stop being homage to agrarianism and become a status symbol?

Look at those beautiful lawns that aren't really used for anything.

I think what drives lawn people to continue caring for their lawns is that the idea of caring for a lawn is ingrained and taking for granted. I have never questioned until now the commercials I see for weed killers and grass fertilizer. We don’t grow grass in our front yard for any special use. We aren’t getting anything physically satisfying out of it. The lawn is a mental complex.  Lawn people take care of it like it’s their kingdom, that they can show everyone else. It takes hard work and dedication and makes you feel proud, but that’s all mental and emotional. It may have been used for social gatherings long ago, but outside someone’s home – nothing really. It’s a cycle of self indulgement that is hard to recognize because business that provide lawn care services fed off of it.

“Where your lawn means more.”

Lawn People: The most thorough analysis of lawns I have ever seen.

March 30, 2011

This book has its charms. I would not say it was very interesting just because it all about the history of lawns and the chemicals we use on them. But it does do a very good job at observing and classifying the characteristics that make people and their lawns seem crazy!

The author, Paul Robbins, makes the lawn look like a massive source of power in our economy. And when you sit do and think about it, even though it is crazy, it really is. Think of how much time, effort and money people put into their laws every year. When the season is right its hard to find a home in america that does not have a well kept lawn. And it seems pretty simple why. The lawn has become a source of pride to the american. We look on other peoples lawns with awe when they are lush and green. We thrive to be better then our neighbor. We are almost controlled by it. It has created a form of conformity over our society. It creates in equality and divides our people. But to what cause?

Well with every form of conformity there is always a way to cheat to try and get to the top. And that is what this book is about, chemicals. In order for you to have the best lawn possible you need to kill all the weeds and make the roots grow strong and thick. This will make a beautiful turf that you can show off. This idea controls our communities. It forces people to interject the care and chores of these laws into there schedule’s. Everything fro watering and fertilizing to trimming the edges and cutting the grass twice a week. But this idea has also made an impact on our economy. It causes people to spend masses of money on these products that are flushed into the earth.

In the end it is our fault for contaminating the environment with grass, but grass and lawns are not bad. Without grass our world would be a in a whole of trouble. But we need to be more considerate of how we maintain our lawn. And it is nearly impossible for the whole of american’s who love their lawns to do this. It is a sad though, but true.

I have never had this view of a lawn before. I was not raised that the lawn was something that needed to be cared for and cherished. In fact it was way more of a burden on my family. We never wanted to cut it, we all had better things to do that make our lawn pretty for the cars passing by. So I guess in that sense that is why I have never thought of the lawn as being such a controlling factor. Oh well. I plan on having a yard full of rocks! HA! problem solved 🙂

Like This One!


Lawn People

March 30, 2011

Last semester in Environmental Alteration, Dr. Hickcox briefly mentioned that lawn mowers are one of the largest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, which at first I didn’t believe it. I think part of the reason I refused to believe it is because my dad is definitely one of those lawn people.  Several times throughout my childhood, I was told I cannot play/walk on the grass because my dad had put some chemical on it. Never really crossed my mind, until later in life. What on earth were we putting on the grass, that people couldn’t touch?! If my dad needed to wear gloves when putting this chemical on the grass, than CLEARLY it is not something safe for other animals to touch. My dad always HATED weeds so much, we were never able to make a wish on those dandilions, because as he said “everyone’s wish is the same, MORE WEEDS, and they always come true. Our yard was always perfectly trimmed. If the weather didn’t cooperate and parts of our grass would die, or there was a grub investation, my dad would not just plant new grass, but he would lay out those patches of grass so it never looked bad. It is so strange, because I most definitely did not grow up in one of those stuck up, fancy neighborhoods where as Robbins mentions were legally bounded to keeping a perfectly groomed lawns, but my dad was so concerned about how our yard looked. We are also the ONLY liberal family on the block, our recycle bins are always filled, our outdoor lights are solar powered, yet our lawn is chemically treated. I think my dad definitely needs to read this book. Especially because, our house is on top of a hill, below is a creek. All of this runoff is potentially going into the creek, which deers in the area depend on for water. WE COULD BE KILLING DEERS!!!

How did we get this way? Why is it only Americans who are so obsessed with the image of our lawns? Robbins talks about that many people putting these chemicals on the lawns have no idea what they are actually doing, that it may even HELP the grass and surrounding environment.   I think Americans need to educate themselves better, or we force them to read this.

Lawn People

March 30, 2011

The first paragraph summed up exactly what this book was going to be about, why we care so much for our lawns. I actually found it surprising that someone decided that their lawn was more important then their dog; that despite the risks of the chemicals in their yard, that already had an effect on their dog, that they would continue to treat the lawn. Will they design special dog “booties” for their kids too, and their friends or what about the other animals? Robbins following discussion on why people do this, where there has clearly been an effect on someone or something due to the chemicals that they continue on. I understand the idea behind lawns and how they can make your home look nice but the idea that people are willing to treat their lawns even when effects are apparent is just agitating.

The images of homes in America compared to homes in other countries wasn’t a fair comparison due to the fact that the stages of development are different in these countries which I view as a direct response to what they view important to what we view important, appearance.  With that said the lawn cycle graph was amusing as it seems mowing the lawn is a daily occurrence.

The chapter dealing with the actual hazards and the health effects on both humans and the environment was alarming, especially considering some of these outcomes were tragic.  Looking at the effects and how new chemicals for lawn and insect control/care are continually being produced, its as if we are conducting longterm biological warfare against both nature and ourselves.  Longterm because the effects are not always readily seen, cancer can take awhile to develop as well as other biological problems.

The final chapters focusing on advertising and what people actually think of the lawn chemicals was surprising. Advertisements wasn’t something that I considered would influence the desire to have a clean lawn, however I was surprised to see how these products were advertised as I had never paid any attention to them before. They remind of the cigarette advertisements with the healthy, attractive people having fun, except of smoking they are doing all of this on a nice lawn.

American Energy Policy Losing Steam

March 30, 2011

The U.S. fell to 3rd in the world ranking for clean energy investments last year. China came in first and Germany second. Two years ago, the U.S. held the top spot, but our lack of a consistent clean energy policy makes it difficult to invest  in any alternative energy sources. With the dangers of nuclear power now being broadcast in the news thanks to the Japan quakes, odds are people will be hesitant to get behind that as a new major energy source. Some states have passed minimum energy standards, but they are usually surrounded by states that have not, making that policy shift almost useless.

The full article can be found HERE.

Breakfast of Biodiversity – Vandermeer and Perfecto

March 30, 2011

For as long as I can remember, I have seen promotional advertisements and warnings and awareness posters and whatnot telling us that we need to save the rainforest. Hell, there was even a cartoon based specifically on conservation – “By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!” But I have been seeing all these things for so long that my concern fizzled to the back of my mind. Perhaps it was just taking too long. Humans can’t seem to think very often in the long term. It’s probably the reason why we got ourselves into all of the environmental problems we have now.

The manly smirk of conservation.

It wasn’t until I went to Costa Rica that it sunk in. We went on a horseback riding expedition of sorts through the jungle, and how did we get there? Logging roads. What did I see along the way? Downed trees. What did I see when we made it to the top of the mountain? Patches of rainforest all the way around where huge trees like the one I was leaning on stood. So I thought, how long did it take for this tree to grow so big? There are tons of these here, and they can be cut down in minutes. How long will it take for 50 to grow back? What happens to the animals and plants in those patches during that time? I guess these thoughts wouldn’t be going through the minds of the manager of this logging business. It’s just the capitalist way: clear out all we can get, then move on.

Vandemeer and Perfecto are trying to help us realize what business can do to any environment. Chiquita Banana has quite a large building in Cincinnati, it is tall and eerily looming. Just when reading the Wikipedia article on “Chiquita Brands International” it gives a little background then goes into three huge controversies revolving around the company’s operations in Latin America. I am going to pull an urban geography concept and ask how a company based in southwest Ohio ever intended to manage operations in Central America? What I think the authors are wishing for us to understand is that our current way of thinking in how we spend our time in the rainforest, the capitalist mindset, will not help to save it.

And slowly over the past couple of years it seems that our mindset is changing. Advancements to environmental legislation had been laid out and some has been enacted. As Vandermeer and Perfecto are saying, we must deal with this problem socially, so we can improve environmentalism and environmental and social justice. It all comes full circle, especially since the issue of the rainforest is connected to all sorts of social, governmental, industrial, and environmental problems that aren’t noticeable on the surface that is conservation.