Current Event

February 24, 2016

– Lonnie Barnes

House Republicans seek to open up national forests to mining and logging

The Guardian

Two bills will be presented to the House committee on natural resources this week that proposes to hand over parts of federally-owned land for commercial activity.

The federal government currently owns 600 million acres of land, most of which is in the less-populated West.

One bill would allow each state to claim up to 2 million acres of national park land for foresting and mining, etc. The second would allow up to 4 million acres for each state as a way to remedy a “decline in national logging rates.”

The bills come only weeks after armed occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge in Oregon by protestors who wanted the federal government to turn over the land that that they felt was rightfully theirs.


Nature – Part 2

February 24, 2016

– Lonnie Barnes

The most interesting chapter for this week was “The Disunited Colors of Nature,” specifically the section nature, capitalism and socialism.

Coates cites some interesting arguments about the validity of the claim that Marx was an environmentalist. Though it is common nowadays to attribute anthropogenic climate change to capitalistic growth, Coates uses other authors to point out that in his critique of capitalism, Marx “lambasted capitalism for its use of raw materials,” but only based on the view that these raw materials should belong to everyone, not just the capitalists (148). Furthermore, “Marx’s labor theory of value–that matter has no value aside from that imparted by the human labor needed for purposes of extraction and processing–denied nature any intrinsic worth as surely as did capitalist commodification” (150). He reinforces this argument by discussing how the Soviet Union effectively dried up the Aral Sea–an act that could have also happened had the USSR been capitalist–though he does acknowledge that it was not a truly Marxist state.

Another section I found intriguing was considerations of the earth as “aging” or “old.” Even though it is six billion years old, I don’t really think of the planet in that way. Those signs of aging are probably caused by changes to the earth, whether they are caused by humans or not.

I was surprised to learn that as early as the third century there were people concerned with overpopulation of the earth: “Everything has been visited, everything known, everything exploited…everywhere people, everywhere communities, everywhere life” (175). Though Tertullian may have been somewhat right, he probably had no idea how large the world was and how many more resources there were to be used, whether on the ground, underground or in the ocean. He also had no idea how many people there were on the earth at that time. Fast forward 1800 years, and here we still are (a lot more of us), and this argument is more true now than it was then.


Project Proposal

February 24, 2016

Project proposal

Environmental geography

For my project, I am going to do an outdoor lighting assessment. There was one that was done in the past, however, after all of the new renovations to the university I think it is important to see if outdoor lighting was taken into consideration when undertaking these renovations. On top of looking at places that have been recently renovated, I want to look at places around campus and off campus that the school may not have jurisdiction to put up lights, but may need lights because of the foot traffic in those places during the evenings.

The importance of an outdoor lighting assessment is that these assessments help make sure that we are not wasting electricity and energy on unneeded lighting. Its also important, because there may be places on the university where we need lights in order to maintain safety.

 

Project outline

 

Feb 24th

Figure out if I will need to buy a lumen meter or lease a lumen meter if I cannot borrow one from the school or other connections.

 

March 4th

Completed at least two nights of observations with or without the lumen meter.

 

March 24th

Finish all out door lighting assessments and get all of that data into spreadsheets


Current Event

February 24, 2016

Dixon Stoddard

The article I looked at this week was on the record breaking heat during the month of January. In the article “January Smashed Another Global Temperature Record” it talks about how this January was the warmest January EVER! It looks at the average temperature around the world and talks about how this is related to climate change and global warming. It first looks at how the average temperature has risen from 1.11 degrees Celsius above average from the month of December to 1.13 degrees Celsius above the normal temperature during the month of January. This would not be such a concern but as they state in the article, “It marks the fourth month in a row where the globe has been more than 1°C”(Kahn). They also talk about how one of the telltale signs of this warming is the El Nino which is due to the warming sea temperatures. But what is most disturbing is that “According to NASA, temperatures in some parts of the Arctic averaged up to 23°F above normal for the month.”(Kahn) In this article they also talked about how this is contributing to the loss of sea ice.

 

Kahn, By Brian. “January Smashed Another Global Temperature Record.”LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 16 Feb. 2016. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.


Nature: Part II

February 24, 2016

As I read the second half of Coates’ Nature, I had the following overarching conclusions of the book:

  • We are an important part of nature’s history just as we are an important part of this history of nature.
  • Going back to Coates’ original argument of the five definitions of nature I think we can now conclude that nature is not a simple, objective idea, but instead a concept that is shaped in historical context by time, culture, and place.
  • We must separate our perception of nature as a physical place and recognize how cultures are not in opposition of nature, but shaped by them by their attitudes toward nature and utilization of it.
  • Nature is a foundation for religion, science, and social attitudes (gender, ethnicity).

One thing that I found interesting was the objectiveness of the book. Coates was acting only as a historian, providing context only in the sense of facts. He does not elude to his own opinions of what nature is or is not, which I found both frustrating and admirable. I felt that this is what made the book so difficult to read in places – you had no idea what the author actually believed or agreed with because he continuously contradicted his passages by providing different perspectives.

Aside from this realization, my opinion of the book did not changed. I remained to be simultaneously fascinated and bored. I found chapter 6 to be one of the driest in the book while chapter 9 was quite powerful.

One passage in particular I would like to bring forward from chapter 8:

                “According to the deep ecological world-view, ‘we the people,’ who drive too many cars, use too many disposable nappies and eat too many hamburgers, must shoulder direct responsibility for our ecological predicament, instead of palming it off onto some wicked military industrial complex, fat-cat elite, or exploitive economic order. ‘Real’ solutions are sought at the individual level.” (154)

I found this passage particular provoking when reflecting on the lecture on Monday. The speaker definitely did not have a deep ecological world-view in a sense. While she (rightfully) blames people for the environmental crises of today, she does not think solutions can be found at an individual, stating that we only participate at an individual level for personal ethic, not because we can find solutions on such a small scale. What would Coates have to say about this?


Superbloom & Nature

February 24, 2016

Coates Nature Part 2

The book investigated the difference between the rich and poor’s need or want for natural as a relief from daily stress. The rich does not need nature because they see it as wild and shocking to their delicacy while the poor see it as a beauty unknown in their industrial living.

“The needs of working-class people for relief from the pressures of modern urban-industrial life were arguably even greater than those of the literati with their delicate sensibilities.”

He also discussed the purpose of humans and their place in the world. Using Darwin’s evolution, he explained that everything is connected, humans are great but they are still tied to all things natural. This section sort of reminded me of Pocahontas’s Colors of the Wind.

“His [Darwin] evolutionary model did not insist that humans were directly descended from the apes.  Instead it stressed divergence from a common progenitor, a relationship conveyed by the idea of parallel but separate limbs of a tree, united by trunk and roots”

I think the idea of humans playing God is very interesting. I do animal research and fully believe that animal research is necessary for medical advancements. When he was talking about cloning Dolly, I was particularly intriguing because from my point of view, we barley know anything about the world, even with all the amazing findings we have had, we are just scraping the surface. Therefore our cloning research is just us trying to better understand biology. It is not used as a tool for profit.

Current Event: Death Valley’s Superbloom of Flowers 

In the California national park, Death Valley, there has been a boom in flowers that has not been seen since 2005. Apparently due to heating after rainfall in the area and little wind, the valley looks beautiful with millions of flowers. There are more than 20 different flower types, including Brittlebush, Desert Five-Spot, Gravel Ghost, Notchleaf Phacelia, Golden Evening Primrose, Rock Daisy, Sand Verbena, and Desert Gold. Apparently, the flowers will stay as long as the rain stays. Right now, El Nino has brought more rain to the area, allowing it to thrive. If the area returns to it’s normal drought weather, the flowers will soon fade. Normally, the area is barren and uncomely which detracts from it’s popularity but it is surrounded with snow capped mountains that make the superbloom just that much more beautiful.


Current Event: Palau Vs. the Poachers

February 24, 2016

By: Ian Urbina

This article appeared in the New York Times, and it brings to light the struggles and accomplishments of the small nation of Palau against the onslaught of the poaching industry, an nation of archipelago islands. Their use of new technologies, outside help in locating poaching vessels in timely manners, so that the poachers can be caught within their jurisdiction, and their willingness to protect their protected waters is aspiring.

Without a military, the poor nation of Palau has only a handful of police officers to protect its people and its waters, and it has one deep sea vessel, the Remeliik, to run down poachers and pirates. The Remeliik alone patrols 230,000 miles of protected Palauen ocean, and is only able to do so with outside help from organizations such as Greenpeace, satellite feeds, and two Australian Navy officers who are on loan from the Australian government.

This article documented the seizing of a poaching vessel through the help of all of these parties including the help of a satellite analyst who was in West Virrginia analyzing satellite feeds. The successful capture of the Taiwanese ship fishing in Palauen waters proved to be well worth it, as Palauen officers confiscated several hundred shark fins.

In Palau, the successful switch from a fishing economy to a ecotourism economy has impacted the nation in positive ways, and can lead to small nation out of its poor state. The realization in Palauen government officials that the value of sharks alive heavily outweighs the value of them dead was a major driving factor in making the world’s first shark sanctuary. However, the threat to Palau does not stop at poaching, due to the nations water housing some of the most diverse population of sea creatures and corals, ocean acidification, rising sea surface temperatures, mega-cyclones, and a massive expanse of floating trash.

The article also delves into the issues with legal fishing, and how the increase in efficiency of catching fish is leading to them becoming scarce in areas they used to flourish. Designating more marine conservation areas, and being able to monitor and protect those areas from poaching is going to play a large part in the survivor-ship of many fish species, and ensure that the ocean stays healthy for years to come.

-Ashley Tims