Environment and Society: Part 2

Chapter 9 – Carbon Dioxide:

  • “Living things have the ability to influence the biochemical characteristics of the earth, often in ways that change the conditions to which they must adapt in order to survive.” The author made it clear that this was a key idea in learning about how carbon dioxide impacts the earth. The smallest bacteria can make massive changes in the chemical makeup of the earth.
  • “Modern civilization is carbon civilization…” – Carbon dioxide has always been in our environment but it was not until the invention of fire that it was intensified. It’s somewhat of a lose-lose situation because as we become more technologically advanced, which is good for societal development, we expel more carbon dioxide, which is bad for the environment. How can we find a balance?
  • When I was studying abroad in Switzerland, my group and I went to the EU in Brussels and were given a lecture regarding the UN Millennium Development Goals, which is a set of goals devoted to bettering education to sustainability. The sustainability aspect has a few individual goals, such as reducing biodiversity loss and increasing the amount of safe drinking water across the globe by 2015. Reaching these goals seemed so out of the question at the time. Hopefully, there will be at least small results. (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/environ.shtml)
  • Consumer choice: green carbon consumption. Option 1:  buy products that are climate safe. Option 2: carbon offsetting. – Making changes that decrease carbon dioxide emissions can really only occur when people are comfortable forgoing their personal preferences for good of the earth. It can sometimes involve changing a daily routine or schedule, which so many Americans are not comfortable with. It’s also a sad reality that firms, who are responsible for a large portion of carbon emissions, only really make changes when there is beneficiary incentive on the table.


Chapter 10 – Trees

  • Trees are, “symbolically important but also a material part of human history – fueled millennia prior to petroleum.” Absolutely true. Trees play such a fascinating part of our lives. We rely on them in so many ways, including survival (no big deal), but we also exploit them and use them only for our benefit.
  • Forest – a place away from culture – made it easier for people to make way for urbanization. The idea of a forest being a place of “wilderness” serves as an excuse for people to “make way” for urban spaces and human consumption. This is a sad violation of nature and how there is this obsession with controlling nature and seeing how we can make it something that is not itself.
  • Significant portion of the world’s trees are not in forests – reconciliation ecology – balance between humans and trees, practices that help them thrive in the midst of humans. This is the key!
  • Ecocentrism – although the meaning behind ecocentrism is a good one and extremely important, it is not always the best choice to put environmental issues above human priorities. There needs to be a balance!


Chapter 11 – Wolves

  • Wolves are apex predators – have no natural, regular predators
  • Wolves subjected to systematic killings, mass exterminations
  • Fate of wolves is “tied to its cultural symbolic value”
  • “man as righteous hunter, wolf as evil hunter”

Chapter 12 – Tuna

  • Throughout this entire chapter I could not help but think about my personal choices and how I am part of the problem, especially in regards to animal rights. When I’m not at school, I eat tuna sushi on a regular basis, maybe once a week or so. I never spent a lot of time thinking about how it can impact the species as a whole.
  • It’s interesting to read that people place such importance on dolphins’ survival and sustainability whereas tuna does not receive such care, usually. The “social construction” of dolphins as “charismatic” and special in comparison with other oceanic creatures makes a huge impact on levels of activism, awareness, and change.


Chapter 13 – Bottled Water

  • Puzzle – bottled water is known for health benefits but puts has made extremely negative and serious environmental impacts. The fact that bottled water isn’t even technically better for you than tap water and puts so many people at risk in other countries makes personal preference and consumer trends that much more powerful to study.
  • Advertising definitely plays a huge role in molding consumer’s perceptions. It doesn’t seem likely that bottled water companies would explain that it is no more safe than tap water in efforts to curb land filling and plastic waste.

Chapter 14 – French Fries

  • This chapter reminded me a lot of the documentary SuperSize Me. It not only exposes the physical trauma that McDonalds can cause, but also how much we are dependent on it. People from all socioeconomic backgrounds need to be able to afford healthy foods and not just foods that will never mold or rot.
  • This is an incredible article about a man who saved a McDonalds burger for 14 years and it barely changed. http://www.businessinsider.com/man-saves-mcdonalds-burger-for-14-years-2013-4

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