Second Class Notes, Emily Howald

Reading Notes:

Reading through both the book and article, along with some pondering of my own, I came to a surprising conclusion: As an objective scientist concerned for “the big picture”, environmentalism is useless. Now as a subjective and passionate person, I am an environmentalist. But taking morals and emotions out of the picture and using the history of the Earth and the life on Earth, it is hard to make a case that people could really mess it up that badly and that it must be the moral additions that give environmentalism its strength. Also, some selfish intention boosts the cause even more. If you trace most environmental and conservation causes they lead to the sustaining of diversity of life on earth. Killing of life and extinctions are the core of the cause. But life is more incredible than we are giving it credit with this view. First, if 90% of life could go extinct in a single extinction event plus several other events since and there is the amazing life diversity we have today then the extinction event people “cause” will be pretty normal and recoverable. Extinction events are simply the passing from one era of life forms to another on earth. The ones around today are really cool making it sad to think of them replaced but that is the course of life. Second, people won’t be around forever. This may seem to go with the theory that only the death of the human species could save earth but really I’m just pointing out that we are simply a transient part of the story of life on earth. Third, whatever people leave behind, life will overcome. Creatures have been evolving to survive harsh environments and perform feats pretty much forever. It would be underestimating of the natural world to think it can’t “come up” with new solutions to whatever things humans leave (like plastic and the ruins of cities). Fish have been making homes of shipwrecks since ships starting sailing. Animals have been digesting new substances and poisons for awhile too. The meadowlands are a perfect example of other organisms overcoming what people leave behind. If toxic water and dumps next to the once “unhealthiest city in America” can sustain so many insects, plants, and birds, and even the occasional fish, and rodent, the world will be alright. The real problem of an extinction event is that hundreds of generations of humans (probably until humans are also extinct, assuming that, as with other life, they will be) will have to live in the world of transition with little diversity. The levels of diversity will recover but humans probably won’t witness it so we must selfishly preserve it. Again, I really am an environmentalist, and I am simply “playing devil’s advocate” and looking at the problem objectively. I’ll admit that this is kind of a relief. My environmentalist side can know that not all hope is lost and focus on what environmentalism means to culture and to people and less what it means to the world.

Also, in contribution on the discussion of wilderness I found that in reading about the meadowlands, they are never considered good. On one hand they are wild which has the connotations of chaos, uncontrollably (like all the people that were determined to utilize it) and on the other hand they aren’t wild because they are imprinted on by people which has the connotation of waste (like all those who want to clean it). At least in this particular instance being wild or not has nothing to do with value because both are bad.

Personal Introduction: I am a zoology and environmental studies major from Ohio. I have recently gotten involved in the sustainability issues on campus like the sustainability plan. I also help with Earthdance Ohio, a super cool hippie event held every fall. I work in IS and for the alumni center.

Project Ideas:

  1. Start the student run energy reduction challenge from the sustainability plan
  2. Promote and work on the sustainability plan
  3. Work on the food collaboration proposal in the sustainability plan
  4. Get proposal for “life hacks” quarter credit courses

Current Environmental Topic:

Why is compressed natural gas not more popular?


Image Source

Recently while in Columbus I saw a bus with a sign that it was run by compressed natural gas. Having little knowledge or experience of this fuel source, I investigated. Turns out it is super abundant, cheap, and safe plus it emits 90% less harmful emissions than traditional car fuel sources. Usually this fuel source is retrieved from natural gas deposits in the Earth however there are even sustainable ways of getting it since it is mostly just methane. One example is the gases that come off of manure or landfills. Sadly the US has yet to embrace this fuel source yet it seems other places globally have. At least in my experience, electric cars are the green model of vehicles in the US but electricity is produced by mostly non-renewable resources, some still harmful like coal burning. That isn’t very green especially compared to compressed natural gas. This source for vehicles may not be perfect but it seems a lot better to me. Here and Here are two links concerning compressed natural gas.

One Response to Second Class Notes, Emily Howald

  1. […] August 31st: Meadowlands, Wilderness, and Compressed Natural Gas […]

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