Jessica Scherry Final Evaluation

December 17, 2013

Introduction

Project Postings:

Readings:

Current Events:

McDonald’s Potato Story

What is nature worth?

Rick Gresh delicious recipes and more

National Parks

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Reading Responses — ATN

December 17, 2013

Desert Solitaire

So the very first thing I noticed about this book, Dr. Krygier, was the choice to dot the latter “i” in “Solitaire” not with a tittle, but rather something reminiscent of a certain illegal cannabinoid. I’m sure this was just a choice by the publisher for a bit of artistic flair, and not the author (primarily because the author typically has little control over the cover of their books, though I’m certain Mr. Abbey reveled in the anti-establishment, and likely partook in this illegal cannabinoid for that reason, among others.) I do not look upon Mr. Abbey in a kind light; he is vehemently against nearly everything I adore or believe, it seems, but this is not an unforgivable sin. No, I found my disdain for him in his prose: the way he revealed his disbelief in my ideas, scorning them in his biting tone, but the biggest issue I took was with his own propositions, which to my mind made no sense at all – complete non-sequiturs. Take, as an example, the chapter titled “Polemic: Industrial Tourism and the National Parks.” Hell, the title alone says it all! A “polemic” is a strong attack against something, in this case “industrial tourism” and the pational parks. Why would someone possibly be against the national parks? Simple, Mr. Abbey feels that the national parks should be nothing more than landscape, cordoned off, not with a fence, but by property law, able to be entered only by the intrepid explorer because there is no infrastructure or any trace of modern life in the national parks. Mr. Abbey feels that the concept of a national park should be “preservation”, meaning thus that the park is not to be maintained in the fashion that it actually is. This seems nothing more than simple elitism to me. By making accessing the park difficult, it becomes the case that only those who are healthy enough and can afford the trip, in terms of both time and money, can enter the park; even then, it will be limited to those who desire to take a camping trip to see a national treasure. That’s what this boils down to, in my mind: the national parks “preserve” national treasures – fantastic monuments ingrained into the culture of the American. To deny any American the ability to view these treasures in person is an elitist prick.

I cannot go so far as to say that one of us is correct, much less which of us is correct, though I’d very much like to. Consequently, what I have to thank Mr. Abbey and his book for is the further solidification and articulation of my own beliefs.

Eating on the Wild Side – Veg

Krygier’s espousal of this book’s easy-reading nature set me up for the devastating realization that there was way more information in this book than I thought. Seriously, though, that’s actually pretty cool: I had no idea this much information could have even existed about the plants that people who aren’t me typically eat (I distrust vegetables). By no means should you mistake my enthusiasm for information with enthusiasm for the subject; despite the wealth of new information obtained on vegeables from this book, I am little closer to acknowledging the necessity of most vegetables, and that is considering only the common ones that this book’s decries. I am certainly not going to consider the fancy vegetables, despite all their nutritional benefits. These are the views only of this author. The book, opinions aside, is packed with a lot of information on rabbit food, as well as lots of advice for the budding cook who is thoroughly enthused about eating plants. It is, indeed a book I would very much recommend to one of those people. Graphs helpfully demonstrate some information; recipes are interspersed throughout. Interesting book. But I can’t think of anything else to say

Fruit

I don’t really know what else to say about this book. I liked our dinner classes which sampled the recipes in this book. The apple crisp recipe I made was pretty tasty. I just don’t know that the information in this book is going to be pertinent to many people; the products are extra healthy, but cost extra money, and extra time – these foods won’t be purchased at your local supermarket where the average American shops. At least Robinson isn’t unsavory, as Mr. Abbey is.

Nature

I love this book. So much. It’s dry, factual, and humourless: truly everything I’ve ever dreamed for in a book. I’ll point out that unlike a textbook, this book is pleasant and easy to read, though a bit dense. The first part of the book includes a competent expose on the nature of the idea of “nature.” This first chapter is important, as it is impossible to frame any discussion of nature without being aware of the possible considerations that word includes. Thence, the implications are that no discussion of nature can be easy, no examination all-encompassing, no conclusion simple. It’s a philosophical wasps’ nest, and Coates decided to tackle the problem by relating an exhaustively detailed account of the attitudes toward nature of western civilizations/periods, including ancient Greece and Rome, the middle ages, and the renaissance, as well as the American history. Well, that’s the first half of the book, at any rate.

Part II

The latter half of the book begins, as I see it, with chapter 6, which examines the view nature as landscape, which examines the dichotomy of nature, which is never framed, and landscapes, those framed pieces of art representing nature. This problematic dichotomy leaves something to be desired in light of modern issues, and chapter 7 considers the evolution of the way civilization regarded nature through the romantic period and forward, through the creating of ecological science. The book then sums up, in chapter 8, all that it had said previously; namely that there is a multiplicity of views on nature, none of which seem to be very compatible. Then, in chapter nine, frames with this information the question of what we are going to do about the future of nature, given that we are a part of it and we need to ensure its continuation to ensure our own. It was a very interesting book and perhaps the most illuminating on the subject.

Environment and Society

It seems that Environment and Society is the preeminent textbook for environmental issues, and I do mean textbook. Nonetheless, it provides readers with an overview of the diverse conceptual tools and traditions used for consideration of the environment, and lists crucial environmental challenges facing society today. This text really builds off Coates’ Nature, because that book examines the relationship of society and the environment going back thousands of years, but this book takes that research, plus more, and demonstrates how that theory applies to current environmental problems with the most recent theoretical concepts. The book also realizes, and notes, that many different and conflicting conclusions can be reached about the environment, based on people’s philosophies. As such, I think this book is the quintessential foundation for any consideration of current environment events.

Eating Animals

The second half of this book is the one on which I presented, starting at the chapter “slices of paradise/pieces of shit.” I didn’t really put together much in the way of presentation material; I was hoping to lead a discussion eliciting my classmate’s thoughts on certain aspects of the book. Alas, they had little to say.

The chapter slices of paradise begins by telling of a daring (?) escape made by a cow from a slaughter plant. I wanted to know: “who did you root for in this story? Why?” The story for me was happy and sad; both parties lost and both parties won. I like the idea of a cow getting away, but I also like beef, and small businesses.

Even a hardened capitalist such as myself doesn’t like the idea of suffering. This is the issue with factory farms, from which more than 99% of meat comes in the US. These farms have bred animals to yield better meat, but often at the cost of a lot of suffering for the animals. “If these animals were bred to yield the great meat they do, but without causing them pain, would you still consider factory farming distasteful?” I don’t particularly. The animals would probably be happier with a bit more space, but I’m honestly not sure that that’s actually case, and I’m apathetic either way.

The first part of the book was something about which I was happy I did not have to present, because I simply was annoyed by much of it. Mr. Foer kept the sanctimony to a minimum, thankfully, but he used some literary devices that annoyed me. A small quibble, it may seem, but my biggest complaint has to be that passage wherein the text reads only “Speechlessness / Influence” repeated ad infinitum, seemingly.

Garbology

Oh dear, was this book a joy ride. I was familiar, to some extent, of how much crap is thrown away each year, but the book was illuminating with its exhaustive detail. Beyond that, it provided amusing anecdotes about the trash-related activities of certain groups, including artists and a family which throws away a mason jar’s worth of trash a year.


Final Blog Posting — ATN

December 17, 2013

Introduction — also includes response to The Meadowlands.

Project Proposal

Project Report — PTD and Environmental Protection

Reading Responses — all except Meadlownads.


Thomas Bain; Final Post

December 17, 2013

Introduction

Project

Project Proposal

Project Report

Group Blog

Readings

The Trouble With Wilderness and Meadowlands

Proposals and Class Project Notes

Desert Solitaire

Eating on the Wild Side Parts I & II

Nature Part I

Nature Part II

Environment and Society (In-Class Presentation)

Eating Animals

Garbology

Articles

Fracking 

Fascinating Conservation

Cork Wallets

The Climate Movement?

Regrowth of Disease


Nature Part I

December 17, 2013

In the earlier parts of the book we see Coates show how the notion of nature applied to both ancient civilizations and later the formation of europe. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this discussion on Nature is how Coates shows that over time Nature has been used as a conceptual weapon in debates over what culture, religion, or identity is responsible for encouraging the destruction of what we term “primeval” Nature. There are two most common sides of this discussion (in the context of especially europe), first are those which charge Christianity as heralding the destruction of the ‘wild’ places in europe through its conquering of the native religions of europe and their view that nature was a divine space to treated with reverence. The second are often Christian theologians who respond with discussions over how one interprets the bible and many early church figures whose writings are interpreted to be ‘pro Nature’ or even modern in their thinking.

Coates first points out in this discussion how hard it is for modern scholars (especially those studying religion and theology rather than medieval history) to find descriptions of the actual environmental landscape in available texts and interpretations of those texts. In fact if one even goes to find firsthand accounts they are often as concerned with religion and theology as the scholars are. When one looks at the evidence available though some conclusions can be drawn. First is that the view of pre-modern or even Roman England as a vast forested and marshland wilderness does not take into account that one of the main hunting techniques of the pagan native peoples revolved around regular clearing of woods through fire to condense game. They regularly changed the landscape (sacred or not) to suit their needs. The next is that many of the Christian scholars held up as almost modern in the way they saw the environment were still primarily motivated by the philosophies of their time such as a hierarchy in Nature with man near the top (below God). Nonetheless, these chapters show us that not only has man regardless of his culture or religion shaped his environment to suit his needs (and that environment to later be christened as ‘pristine’ by other people) man has also used nature as his conceptual defense of his own beliefs and actions.


Garbology Response

December 17, 2013

The first thing we are hit with in the book is the sheer staggering amount of trash the United States has on its hands. Over five pounds of trash per day has to go somewhere in this country when we factor in the manufacturing and other sectors in combination with just consumers. More than just present us with large numbers to catch our attention though, Edward Humes tackles the issue through both what causes such staggering amounts of waste and something more, not only how to deal with it, but asking if we really are.

When looking at trash generation in the United States we are shown that far and away our largest problem is how our culture has changed in how we treat the things we buy in the last 60-80 years. To simply throw something away while it could easily be fixed or re-used or even scavenged for parts is something that has grown out of both our ability to make goods cheaper and the increase in the standard of living over time. We throw away because we can afford to do so, and Humes points out that by simply altering this wasteful practice we can completely change our waste landscape.

One of the most important parts of the book for me was how Humes showed that by simply treating recycling as another disposable means, in other words, we can not simply toss it in a recycle bin and think of it as “taken care of”. We must be aware of where those recyclables are going to ensure that they are indeed recycled. By changing how people are able to dispose of things we can make recycling a more viable option, such as changing the sizes of the containers available for pick up and how often they are picked up.

The treatment of our garbage is we purely ignore, we do not care where our waste goes and this is something Edward Humes believes we cannot ignore, Garbology goes a very long way in convincing the rest of us that this is something we to address now instead of later.


Eating Animals

December 17, 2013

Eating Animals is a book that tries to tackle many angles of a complicated issue, the fact that people consume and eat other animals, and more importantly that we often do it in unnecessarily cruel ways. While many people are already aware of the terrible conditions agriculture causes many animals to go through I still feel it is an important discussion to have. Jonathan Safran does not try to hide that he favors vegetarianism but does try to give equal treatment to alternative methods of eating meat in a more sustainable manor while pointing out each sides weaknesses including those of vegetarianism. Ultimately however Safran’s argument is a moral one, he cannot justify eating animals to himself, especially when it causes them pain. Eating something else to survive is not something Safran wants us to be comfortable with, but he does his best to show that no solution is perfect. He is not trying to make us feel like terrible people so much as show that no solution in our food dilemma is as clean as we would like it to be.

The impacts of how we eat animals in this country is certainly an important discussion and one that has many merits outside of Safran’s moral argument. The current agricultural system we have now is one that is unsustainable and reliant on injections of fossil fuels to keep it going. This is one of the most powerful criticisms to me of how we eat our food, it is literally something that we cannot keep up. I feel that if perhaps we keep this in mind with Safran’s argument than we can avoid the ideological “battle lines” it sometimes builds up. In this way perhaps we can more clearly say one of his next important statements, that there is no easy answer to solving how we eat animals, but we had better get started finding a solution.