Environment and Society

November 12, 2014

A quote from Environment and Society that stuck out to me as a concise summary of the ideas we have discussed in regard to our conceptualization of nature is, “Everywhere we seek a world beyond people the marks of human creation and destruction confront us and where ever the works of humans are in evidence there are non human systems and creatures all operating in there own way.” To me this quote hits the nail on the head in terms of our troubles giving nature or wilderness a clear definition.

Of the perspectives on the relationship between the Environment and Society outlined in this book, I found valid points in all of them, but found the tragedy of the commons idea most useful. I agree with the neomalthesian model of exponential population growth and linear resource growth, but find the practices and implications of this ideas adherents deplorable.

The Kuznets curve is the idea that a nations environmental impact decreases after the nation develops. China just signed its first climate deal and this idea is something to keep in mind when analyzing this deal. Some think that Chinas goal of leveling off their carbon emmisons by 2030 isn’t really a goal and is instead something they think will happen naturally as the nation develops. The Kuznets curve only seems to apply to certain types of environmental impacts like deforestation and damming. It dose not seem to apply to carbon emissions that are continually emitted after the country develops.

China struggles with eerily gross rivers and dangerously poor air quality and the measures they have taken will do nothing to stop or reverse this. It was similar crisis in the US that allowed public acceptance of important, yet unrelated to the crisis, environmental legislation like the clean water act.

I thought the way the the book chose objects like french fries or bottled water and used them to tell larger stories of agricultural impacts and trash accumulation helped make the chapters more readable and the issues more tangible.

Rising sea levels not only water issue- environmental issue-Boucher

November 12, 2014

I read the article- That Sinking Feeling: Rising Sea Level Isn’t Cities’ Only Water Worry, written by John Roach, on NBC News.

The author discusses how several of the world’s expanding coastal cities are facing a big threat involving water; specifically how they are sticking giant straws into the ground to suck up freshwater can cause issues with the ground below to sink at the exact same times that sea levels are rising.

Some areas in Bangkok, Thailand, have sunk more than three feet since the middle of the 1970’s according to the author, and environmental research letters published on October 10, 2014.

The author talks about the worst- case scenarios of the sea level rise would be almost 6 feet if countries around the world continue to grow their economies with fossil fuels.



Environmental issue

November 12, 2014

A report from the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center ranks Ohio as the 10th worst state for toxic discharges into its waterways. The study is based on the federal governments 2012 Toxic Release Inventory which compiles self-reported data from discharging facilities. More Here.

Cuyahoga Fire


November 12, 2014

I thought this book was really interesting, more than most of the books we have read. It really put in perspective how much garbage we produce and where it goes. This book really made me realize how irresponsible we are with the waste we produce as a race. There have been many times that i have just thrown my trash away for the day and not think twice about it or feel bad about how much or of what i am throwing away. just as long as it is away from me It hasn’t bothered me. One point i thought was interesting/ disturbing was the problem with plastic. We produce so much plastic and it ends up in our environment and does harmful, terrible things to animals. In the book, The author states  “We’re putting everything in the ocean on a plastic diet.” This really hit home for me because I love the ocean and I am really conscious of aquatic issues. It really disgusts me that we are doing things every day that destroys something so beautiful.



November 12, 2014

Overall I thought this book was very interesting. I learned a lot while reading it and thought it did a really good job actually putting into perspective how much garbage we produce. I know that a lot of times when I throw something away I forget about it and do not think about where the garbage is going to end up. I think that this is a good book for people to read because it makes you really think about the waste we produce. While I was reading this book I was thinking about possible ways that I could try and produce less waste. I liked the graphs and charts shown that made it easy to read and get the message the author was trying to convey. At the end of the introduction there is the sample of American Annual Waste. I was interesting to see the list of things that made it into the landfills but it was also upsetting to see how many of those things could have been recycled or reused. For example the 35 Billion plastic bottles could have been recycled instead of thrown away.


The first two chapters set for an interesting beginning to the book. It was interesting to hear all the details about the landfill near Los Angeles. I personally found the techniques used to keep out the birds and rats interesting because I didn’t realize they had those plans in action to try and keep the trash from being disrupted and spread further. The fact that the book then goes to talk about trash management plans and how they got set into action. Reading that I realized I defiantly take it for granted that I live in a lifestyle that I can just throw my trash into the garbage can and thats it. I thought the fact that they used to feed pigs the leftover food waster was really interesting. I could see why in the longterm that plan didn’t work but it does seem to be a creative solution to the problem. In chapter three I found and very interesting quote by Packard “Wastefulness had become a part of the American way of life”. I think that that quote basically summarizes a large portion of the book. This talks about the philosophy of buying new products instead of replacing old ones and that buying things will magically heal the economy when it goes through a difficult time. Even in the section talking about all of the plastic in the ocean was surprising to me. I had seen articles talking about there being large quantities of plastic floating in the ocean. I never realized that it was mostly little shards of plastic and that it is not actually plastic bottles or other pieces of plastic that we are used to seeing. I also thought that the situation where twenty-eight thousand plastic bath toys were accidentally dumped in the ocean and they were tracked and able to see the ocean currents and that they were consistently washing ashore the same beaches.


The second section of the book was probably my favorite. I thought it was very interesting to see about all of the science that can go into analyzing trash. I thought it was interesting that you could track where trash goes. I personally found it gross when they talked about how the trash is buried quickly and instead of decomposing it is preserved. In chapter eight they found the 25 year of guacamole that was still green. It was interesting how they talked about food waste being increased in times when there were food shortages, because that is really the opposite of what you would expect to see. Even into the third section of the book were they disuussed that concept that people will creates as much trash a you let them create. It talked about how when people who had been producing consistent amounts of trash for years were given bigger trash cans they then started producing more trash. It is not known weather things that used to be recycled were now being thrown away or if things that were just collecting dust were now actually getting thrown away. I found it interesting that in parts they were talking about being able to tell how wealthy a community was or who was likely living in a home based on the trash produced by the room. I appreciated that the book ended with tips of how to try and reduce waste which I think is something that we should all try to improve upon.

All About Insect Diversity

November 12, 2014

Insects can be found almost anywhere and they are incredibly diverse. Insects evolved very long ago and according to this article that 50 percent of multicellular organisms including plants is an insect. This article looks at the genetics of insects and is able to look all they back in their evolutionary history when insects first migrated onto land. This article dates insects to having started their unique evolutionary history from other arthropods about 450 million years ago. In order to compare insect evolution they sequenced the DNA from over 140 types of insects and compared results of 1478 genes. It was surprising that insects evolved to be on land roughly 500 million years ago and then were flying by 400 million years ago. Overall this article discussed the great diversity of insects and talked about their ability to evolve incredibly quickly. 6367



November 11, 2014

A few important things I thought should be pointed out:

-The book mentions an engineer from the late 1940’s named J. Gordon Lippincott, whose company created product designs such as the Chrysler Pentastar, Betty Crocker’s trademark spoon, Campbell’s Soup label, and the “G” from General Mills cereal logo. He had a very interesting view on the disposal of items. He thought that the people of America should embrace their wasteful lifestyles even though it went against human nature. He believed that America had reached a point where its wealth, resources, and potential did not have any limitations, being an “infinite economy of abundance”. This would benefit him directly as well, because the more people wasted, the more things he would be able to sell to more people willing to buy those things. This would lead to America becoming richer overall because wasting more would make more jobs, heighten business, and increase production entirely. I can see that he makes a good point, but in the end I do not agree with it. I think wasting in general just causes more money to be put out for nothing. Goods should be used to their fullest extent before being discarded to get the money’s worth out of them. Besides an economical issue it is also an ecological issue because the more we waste the more trash there is that we have to try and find a place for on our continuously crowding planet.

chrysler pentastarSource

-In 1983, a trash agency named the Los Angeles Sanitation District had an innovating idea to make its miniscule trash heap into modern waste and energy facility. This would involve having a combination of high-tech power plants making garbage that came in every day into electricity, along with a center that sorted and recycled and a landfill for what could not be reused or converted into energy. This “waste-to-energy” seemed like a good idea at the time, since cities were having such a hard time finding where to bury their garbage. Burning trash in incinerators to create steam that runs generators to power those cities was well supported. Advocates for this said that the recycling center part of it would make the sorting for the recycling easier, thus driving more people to make the effort to recycle. This issue was it that people were not conscious of the carbon emissions that would take place from this industry, especially since global warming was not a peak of discussion at that point. I think it is great that they thought of a way to get an alternative energy source and take care of the trash at the same time, but in my eyes it is not worth depleting the ozone layer. Sadly I think landfills are less damaging, but I still do not agree with those either for obvious reasons.

waste to energy diagramSource

-I thought the concept of “garbage piggeries” was extremely interesting. Up until about the late 1960’s, they were widely used in disposing waste and the production of pork. In the time of World War One, it was suggested that giving garbage to pigs could help conserve food. The problem was that the quality of the meat from garbage fed pigs used for human consumption was poorer than conventionally grain fed pigs (it was soft and oily). These pigs were usually bought at a discount by meat packers. The “fattening value” of trash also decreased over time, so farmers were less inclined to feed their pigs garbage. So this ended up being an economical issue as well. After the war was over, it was learned that eating the meat from trash-fed hogs correlated with increasing rates of infections in humans of the parasitic disease trichinosis. The garbage also created epidemics of vesicular exanthema, which was fatal to the pigs themselves. By the time 1960 arrive, many states made it a requirement that the garbage be cooked before fed to the pigs for sterilization purposes, but this proved to be too expensive and time consuming so within a decade they were gone.