Desert Solitaire -Emily

January 31, 2017

Desert Solitaire was a very different type of environmental book than I am used to reading.  Abbey obviously has an intense affection for the world around him in Arches National Monument, however, he has an extreme dislike of people.  I can see where he’s coming from as I also agree that tourists who aren’t used to camping or being out in nature can be extremely annoying.  They don’t seem to appreciate the Earth in the same way.  But, Abbey’s feelings are a bit stronger than mine.  He mentions that national parks shouldn’t be accessible by cars and that only those who truly want to experience nature with their whole body will then be willing and deserving to come. This is a good idea in theory, but what about people who are handicapped and want to be out in nature? It would be much too difficult for them to see the national park and to enjoy themselves completely because of the intense physical effort.

Overall, I agreed with most of Abbey’s ideas and felt that the book gave a pretty good description of what living for a while in Utah all by yourself would be like, especially if you enjoy nature.  I found this even more interesting considering I just accepted an internship for the summer where I will be living and doing work 20 miles away from Moab and will most likely spend time in Arches National Park.  I kind of treated this book as a preview for what my summer might be like.

I also think it is worth mentioning the strange story that Abbey spent a very long time telling about the gold miner who was killed and then his son wandered out into the desert and basically fried to death in the sun.  What was that? I felt that this had absolutely no relation to the style or subject of the rest of the book and didn’t see the point at all.  If anyone else found a reason for this I’d be glad to hear it.

Current Event-Emily

January 31, 2017

The expansion of the Suez Canal has caused a large increase in the number of nonnative species in the Mediterranean Sea.  Populations of herbivorous fish have eaten the algae off of the rocks in the rocky coastal areas, causing issues with population size for the algae, but also the fish and their predators.  They are hoping that research will help to discover an effective science-based management technique.



Amur Tigers to be Introduced to Western Kazakhstan

January 31, 2017

Caspian tigers used to range from Turkey through Central Asia, but they became extinct in the mid-1960’s due to poisoning, trapping, and irrigation projects that destroyed tugay woodlands and reed thickets (important components of the tiger’s and the tiger’s prey habitat). With the fall of the Soviet Union, poisoning and trapping became discouraged, and irrigation projects were halted.


The Ili River Delta in Kazakhstan supports tugay woodlands.

There are now plans to reintroduce a subspecies of tiger called the Amur tiger (native to the Russian Far East) to western Kazakhstan. The Amur tiger is the only subspecies whose population has grown in the past 65 years (there are an estimated 520-540 individuals in the wild), so relocating about 40-55 tigers is not expected to significantly impact the population of Amur tigers in Russia. Hopefully, within 50 years, the population will increase to about 64-98 tigers.



Mikhail Paltsyn, a co-author of the tiger reintroduction study, and what is thought to be an Amur Tiger.


A depiction of a Caspian tiger.

This reintroduction may lead to wildlife tourism, business growth and higher employment rates at Ili-Balkhash Nature Reserve. Before this plan can be enacted, however, scientists must work to control fires that have been destroying river banks in the tugay woodlands, restore tiger prey population, regulate water consumption from the Ili River so that tugay and reed ecosystems can persist, and consider human safety.


More information on the status and history of tigers.

Intro Post

January 25, 2017


Hi, my name is Flannery and I am a junior majoring in studio art and environmental science. I’m from Columbus, Ohio, and I like living in the city just as much as I love nature. Since I was a toddler I’ve always appreciated the aesthetics of the things around me and tried to reflect them with my own art. The future of the planet is incredibly important to me and I make my best efforts to live sustainably, while also spreading awareness of the environmental issues that we have less individual control over. Living in Tree House the past two years has been a big help with this and has taught me a lot more.


Reading both The Meadowlands and Cronon’s paper at the same time was interesting, because they connect in several ways. What I noticed was that Cronon criticizes the puritanical, capitalistic view people have of wilderness and begins to bring up alternative ways of looking at it, Sullivan really delves into this alternative, and discusses a way to experience wilderness that focuses less on the sublime and purely recreational, but more on the exploratory aspect. Cronon begins to talk about appreciating the wilderness that isn’t natural parks, but rather the human-influenced and even cultivated nature in our own backyards. He talks about how going out into nature became a thing for the bourgeoisie, for people who are disconnected from it in their daily lives and benefit from the system that is actually damaging the “sublime” wilderness. I also liked his quotes from early wilderness explorers, who viewed wilderness as frightening, something not made for human eyes and feet. This is exactly how I feel in pristine wilderness, and it made me think about the way I relate to nature. The “backyard” wilderness, or the Meadowlands, are the kinds of nature I find comforting, because I feel more connected to it. These places have a human aspect that Cronon makes an effort to show is part of wilderness, because before civilization, we were part of it. I’m also really glad he discussed native Americans and indigenous people who live in what we want to be humanless, pristine wilderness, because these people are a part of the ecosystem and biodiversity of the places they live, and they show how human lives can never truly be seperated from nature.

Something I really appreciated about The Meadowlands was that it described a kind of place that, as I mentioned, comforts me. It reminds me of some of my favorite places in Columbus and Delaware. I’m a big fan of walking along train tracks, because trains move through nature in an oddly unobtrusive way, and train tracks seem to incorporate into the surrounding area like they were meant to be there. I can lose myself in the parallel lines that stretch seemingly infinitely into the distance. The meadowlands is crisscrossed by tracks, too, and going back to the book, the tracks in Delaware lead to some pretty meadowlands-esque places. In one direction, they lead to a large industrial area with factories both abandoned and functioning (I’ve been in at least one). They are surrounded by ditches and big thickets of honeysuckle, and marshy, empty fields. In the other direction, they lead to Troy road and the surrounding fields: some long for-sale agricultural fields with gravel roads and tire tracks running through them, and piles of interesting garbage in the bushes. Here, there are tiny, oddly clear swamps on the sides of the tracks (I’ve been in one of those too) with aquatic plants and little frogs living in them. These places are neither as toxic or as vast as the Meadowlands, but Sullivan’s descriptions reminded me of them.

Current Event

Since I’m thinking about swamps right now, I chose an article about peat swamps. I know that swamps, marshes, bogs, and mangrove forests, with their specific conditions, can bury carbon, but I was surprised to find out that peat swamps cover only 3% of the earth’s surface and hold almost as much carbon as the atmosphere. I’ve also studied mangrove forests in the past, and drew some connections to that. Both mangrove forests and peat swamps, if destroyed, could release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I think both of these places are very interesting and some of the most beautiful places on earth. They both serve a hugely important service to the planet, and are home to huge numbers of plant and animal species, such as the lowland gorillas in the Congo mentioned in this article.

Project Ideas

  1. I’ve always been interested in invasive species and the ways they grow and spread, and how we can stop them from damaging the environment. I want to look at a few areas in Delaware- both more pristinely natural and affected by humans- and quantify numbers of invasive plants, particularly bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard, and form some sort of action plan to reduce their numbers. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to get much done on this until spring.

2. Although the largest producers of waste are factories and corporations, individuals can still reduce how much waste goes into landfills. As a person with a uterus, I’ve noticed that a huge amount of waste comes from period products. I want to find numbers for just how much waste half the population produces every month, and then I want to raise awareness across campus of products such as reusable cloth pads and moon cups. Then, I would like to sell reusable pads, and use the funds for more large-scale waste reduction efforts.

Post #1

January 25, 2017


My name is Caitlyn Trickey and I am  from Gaithersburg, Maryland. I am a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies and Planetary Science. And I play volleyball for OWU, as well as coaching for club volleyball. I also work in IT while I am back home.

The Meadowlands and The Trouble with Wilderness

Sullivan’s Meadowlands was an interesting book that I enjoyed reading. Firstly, I did not realize that there was any kind of meadowland just outside of New York, as it is always associated as a large busy city. As I continue reading Meadowlands, I find it astonishing Sullivan’s descriptions of the swamp and how the area was converted from a beautiful cedar forest to an murky, trash-filled swamp that collects all the pollutants of the ever-growing New York, or how Sullivan described as the “urban wasteland.” I am surprised to read how it is not uncommon to see people venturing into these meadowlands, no matter how grotesque it sounds. However, it is somewhat refreshing to know that people still want to escape the city life for awhile, even if it is filled with all types of garbage and the reminiscence of the old town that populated this swamp.

Cronon’s The Trouble with Wilderness was an interesting take on describing the Wilderness that I have never heard of or considered before. “There’s nothing natural about the concept of wilderness” was one of the first things that struck me as odd, as we are so used to hearing wilderness as being pristine and untouched by mankind. As I read more in depth of his article, Cronon writes, “it is entirely a creation of the culture that holds it dear, a product of the very history it seeks to deny.” As I read this, I interpreted this as more of our technological advances and modern world expands, the more people want to erase our old mindsets as primitive (or when settlers came to the Americas). He also writes how “Wilderness” is often associated with spiritual or religious values that reflect human ideals-pristine, virgin, and God’s own creation. This change in perspective of the wilderness is quite different than what I am used to  and I found it very interesting to read.

Project Ideas

  • Last year, some of the athletic teams came together to pick up trash and clean up the Ohio Wesleyan campus. It would be beneficial to get the teams or anyone interested to help clean up our town.
  • Composting systems in all food places as well as look for a place to put the composted material.
  • Cleaning up the student run garden-for one of the activities for my UC160 class last year, the class came together to clean up the overgrown garden. The food in the garden is sold to the school and is used to feed the students, which can encourage students to eat more locally grown foods.

Current Event

Bioengineers at the University of Nottingham are considering using shrimp shells to make biodegradable shopping bags. Chitosan, a human-made polymer derived from the organic chitin, is extracted from shrimp shells, was chosen because it is a promising biodegradable polymer already used in pharmaceutical packaging due to its antimicrobial, antibacterial and biocompatible properties. These would be a green alternative to the oil-based plastic in our normal everyday usage as well as a new food packaging material to extend product shelf life.

Learn more here:


Ellen Sizer- Blog Post 1

January 25, 2017



This isn’t a news article, but I trust this website and this article discusses an environmental issue of waste that has perked my interest since taking ECON GEOG.



My name is Ellen. I am junior Geology major with a minor in Fine Art. I am an avid traveler, animal rights activist, and enjoy photography.



This article deals with the same issues my team had dealt with and discussed before, during and after our trip to Chile. Many of the topics discussed in this article were discussed with my team. These topics include: the meaning of wilderness; spirituality in wild places; land preservation; deep ecology; and cultural imperialism in terms of imposing the American culture of environmental preservation on other places.


My consistent thoughts on these themes relate similarly to William Cronon’s understanding of wilderness and the discrepancies placed on the meaning and understanding of “wilderness”. Both Cronon and I share the belief that humans should preserve, conserve, and value the environment they are around-nonhuman or manmade. “To think before you act” so to speak. Additionally, we judge similarly on the fact that concepts like wilderness and modernity should not be separated and one should not be weighted with higher value than the other. Cronin did not explicitly agree on this point, but I think that this claim is not far off from his ideals. Lastly, Cronin and I both have love and distaste for narrative. We both seem to realize that narrative has a huge impact on the actions and the ideals society place on a particular environment. In other words, how we describe something has a major impact on the social norms are distributed and what our environment looks.

In general, I thoroughly enjoyed this article and part of me wishes I read before I read Meadowlands, because this book seems to put Cronon’s arguments into context and into practice through Robert Sullivan. Sullivan’s artistic, jumbled, and spontaneous nature of writing weaves together stories of the many unique and burly characters he met and describes in what many now consider a “wasteland” on the edge of of bursting and bumbling cityscape. Through Sullivan’s exploration of the Meadowlands he puts into practice what Cronon strongly encourages the human race to do which is appreciate and value the environment we do have and to not idealize the one we did have. Through Sullivan’s interviews, landscape adventures, and extensive historical research it is clear to say that many of the Cronon’s arguments about wilderness are evident. For example, Cronon and Sullivan both describe that historically land was that was unattainable for monetary value was a waste. Many investors put their efforts into making the Meadowlands a land of monetary wealth but most if not all projects failed. The view of the Meadowlands now as a dump and toxic wasteland is not so much a failure on the meadowlands but on the historic tendencies for humans to conquer and utilize for humanistic purposes. Even though the Meadowlands might actually be a toxic swamp, the narrative and social ideas society portrays onto a landscape play a huge role of how the land is treated and viewed by the general population. In this case, the landscape is viewed very poorly.




I have been trying to coordinate with Chartwells through my previous executive position Veg Club and through my newly elected position in WSCA to make a new location on campus that serves vegan and vegetarian food explicitly. This ongoing project could be combined with the project assignment in this class.


As my current article suggests, I am into waste. I am fascinated in e-waste particularly. I might want to continue the cellphone recycling campaign listed under previous project. I was part of similar project in middle school and again in high-school. It was to bring awareness of the materials that go into making a cellphone that destroy gorilla habitats.


A project brought up on the Chile trip was trying to make all TIPIT grants set aside money for carbon offsets due to major travel accommodated with most trips.

Post #1

January 25, 2017


Hi everyone, I’m Sydney Spotts. I’m a senior and I study Zoology & Environmental Studies. I’m from a tiny town that you’ve never heard of that’s kind of close to OWU. I’m a (newbie) vegetarian and I like to play hide and seek with my dog.

Meadowlands/Trouble with Wilderness:

These two books are interesting to read in combination because they are, in a way, opposites of each other. On the one hand, Cronon discusses our American obsession with a ‘pristine’ wilderness, one that is unscathed and safe from the destructive nature of humans, and our desire to travel to such places of sublimity to ‘get away’ from the harsh hands of civilization. But Sullivan muses on his obsession with the Meadowlands and ponders each and every human activity that has challenged it. In fact, he thoughtfully describes many instances of human interference over the decades in heavy detail, implying that those are the things he thinks about while there. Therefore, it is possible to assume that his fondness for the Meadowlands was in large part because of human interference. Sullivan was not trying to ‘get away from it all’, he was learning to appreciate the nature of ‘nature’ when it collides fiercely with human civilization.

Cronon challenges what is traditionally thought to be ‘natural’ in our world and claims that humans are drawn to those things that we believe have been untouched, but Sullivan—an anomaly—clearly defies this generalization and would probably get a high-five from Cronon.

Project Ideas:

  1. Plan accordingly to ensure a successful May Move-out
  2. Revolutionize recycling on campus to increase participation
  3. Increase efforts to combat the non-normative attitudes toward sustainability in the larger student population in order to increase acceptance/participation of sustainable practices campus-wide

Current Event:

The NASA satellite, SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive), provides an unprecedented level of detailed, worldwide information on the amount of water in the top 2 inches of soil which is collected globally every two to three days. This is important because that thin layer is a key part of the global water cycle over the continents, and also a key factor in the global energy and carbon cycles. Previously, the behavior and dynamics of this reservoir of moisture have been hard to quantify and analyze because measurements have been a slow and laborious process to make, but SMAP makes it much easier and quicker. SMAP was employed in 2015 and its first year of data has now been analyzed and is providing information that will help in the modeling of climate, forecasting of weather, and monitoring of agriculture around the world.

Learn more by following the attached url:

Personal Introduction and Project Ideas

January 25, 2017

Personal Introduction: My name is Serena and I am a sophomore Pre-Professional Zoology and Environmental Studies double major. I’m working towards becoming a wildlife veterinarian so that I can work in a rescue, rehabilitation and release program. I’m on the tennis team and am a member of the Interfaith House. I’m from the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and I love to travel, hike, rock climb and draw.

Project Ideas:

  1. I think it would be fun to work with Dr. Fink on his Cooking Matters program. I volunteer with Delaware County’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and I’d like to incorporate a way to add an educational component for those kids to the Cooking Matters program. This might give the kids a healthy activity to do with their families, in addition to the other objectives of the Cooking Matters Program.
  2. I could work with Dick Tuttle to construct bird houses and/or feeders out of recycled material.
  3. Residential Life likes SLUs to host theme weeks, so I was thinking I could organize a week that instead of focusing on a theme from one house, involves all of the houses. Each SLU could either do a service project or organize a discussion/event that relates to environmentalism and their house mission.

Reading Notes for Week 2

January 25, 2017

Notes on The Meadowlands

Pg 20: “On top of Snake Hill, I am in the middle of a place that the forces of progress have perennially targeted but have never managed to completely control, a place that people rush past on their way to the rest of America, a place they spit at with their exhaust pipes.” This quote portrays feelings of disdain toward the Meadowlands and reveals how so many Americans take them for granted. Perhaps this is because the nature in the Meadowlands is not pristine or untouched;  this connects to Cronon’s complaint that “By teaching us to fetishize sublime places and wide open country, these peculiarly American ways of thinking about wilderness encourage us to adopt too high a standard for what counts as ‘natural’” (Cronon, 8).

IMG_5664.PNGPg 28: While some thought the pig farms in the Meadowlands were laughable, Mayor Just believed them to be an important form of recycling. This reminded me of a trip I took to Price Farm Organics. They use some of the larger food scraps from what they receive for composting to feed the pigs, which were later used for meat.

Pg 36-40: The stark contrast between what the marsh looks like today and what the marsh used to be like (so much plant and animal diversity, Indian tribes living responsibly with the land, and farmers practicing sustainability) was shocking. The description of the cedar stumps as “piles of old bones” (40) stood out to me because it made me feel like the diversity loss in the Meadowlands was something to mourn since it can never be restored. The shift from sustainable use in the Meadowlands to the disregard for the wildlife, like in the case with cedar deforestation, directly connects to Cronon’s idea that people must be educated on using nature responsibly, not jut trying to keep humans and nature completely separate; after all, we are surrounded by nature.

Pg 48-50: “People were always trying to invent new uses for the Meadowlands; most people thought anything was better than what was there” (48). The developmental plans for the Meadowlands embodied the ideas of Americans in the 1800’s who thought nature was something that needed to be controlled because it was only impeding progress; order and industrialization was beauty. People described the Meadowlands as “barren acres,” even though they are teeming with life, because they lacked industrial development (50).

Pg 77: I was surprised at how expensive it was for Sullivan to travel across the Meadowlands. This reinforced Cronon’s point that experiencing wilderness at one point became a luxury for the upper class. This train of thought led me to think about how not everyone can experience wilderness the same way today, sometimes not just because of money, but because of physical or health limitations. People who can only experience certain areas in nature if, for example, a ski lift can bring them to the top of a mountain or a road is built to drive them through a forest probably have different opinions than those who feel nature should remain as untouched by humans as possible.

Pg 82-87: I found much of the description of Sullivan’s journey to be comical: “Using our compass and the power lines to guide us… [we] observed the migratory patterns of the cars” (82, 87). Sullivan finds a way to appreciate both the natural and industrial parts of the Meadowlands. I like how Sullivan does not use nature solely as an escape like many do today; he interacts with the people of the Meadowlands and questions the history, while also appreciating nature as a place of solitude (“We felt alone and far away” (82)).

Pg 116: The mention of DDT reminded me of the book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. She describes the use of pesticides as “man’s war against nature” (Carson, 7) to portray the lethality (to both humans and the environment) of pesticides and the need for constant “combat” as using insecticides that some insects are resistant to results in bugs coming back stronger in the next generation. Carson points out that the “insect problem” is actually connected to modern social conditions or social practices. For example, disease-carrying insects are a result of overcrowding and poor sanitation, like during war or in poverty-stricken places (9). In addition, farming a single crop over an unnaturally large area provides insects with an unnaturally large habitat and food supply (10). I find it interesting that things seemingly unrelated to the environment like politics and economics can have such a profound effect on the ecosystem. At the same time, as Cronon expressed, a person’s economic state and social status can effect how they view and what they value in the environment.

206: Ending the book with the juxtaposition of Sullivan’s encounter with the kind man and the policeman with the magazine mentioning details of murders in the meadowlands noted the stark contrast of feelings that can be evoked from the Meadowlands. On the one hand, it is possible to find people like Walter (137) and Sheehan (192) who value the Meadowlands and the nostalgia it evokes. The Meadowlands are a place of connections with people and history. On the other hand, there are many gory parts of that history and that history’s impact lingers today.

Notes on Uncommon Ground

While elite tourists thought “wild land was not a site for productive labor and not a permanent home; rather, it was a place of recreation” (5), when I went on a service/ hiking trip to Peru, we focused on trying to live as “travelers” rather than “tourists,” the difference being that travelers try to engage with the people, culture and history of a place (they try to live in it, even though it is not permanent), whereas tourists use the place as an escape from responsibility. At the same time, we indulged in the recreational aspect of the landscape.

“No matter what the angle from which we regard it, wilderness offers us the illusion that we can escape the cares and troubles of the world in which our past has ensnared us” (5). I think many times I do go hiking, I view it as an escape from the stresses of daily life. However, it is not so much of an escape from total responsibility because many times I use it as a time for reflection and prayer. I think this is why I experience what Cronon might call a “domesticated sublime” when hiking, because I let myself slow down and take extra time to be thankful when I feel peaceful in nature. I think connecting nature with solitude and spirituality may also be because when we are in non-human places, we are away from material things, money and many other corrupting influences which distract us from God. The vastness of nature also reminds me of God’s power.

Three Issues/ Questions:

“And yet protecting the rain forest in the eyes of First World Environmentalists all too often means protecting it from the people who live there” (Cronon, 6). What are some ways we can protect the environment without compromising the ways of life of people living off the land?

Which of Cronon’s descriptions of nature (the original garden, the frontier, the sacred sublime, etc.) do you most relate to?

What do you think should happen to the Meadowlands—industrialization, restoration, or a mixture of both?

Google three issues:

As Sullivan listed the various animals that used to inhabit the Meadowlands, I became curious as to what the biodiversity is like today.  I found that the Meadowlands are home to 275 plant species, 332 bird species, 50 fish species, 25 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 24 species of mammals. I was also interested in the conservational milestones in the Meadowlands, which this site also describes.

120927012648-01-jimmy-hoffa-horizontal-large-galleryI wanted to know more about the Jimmy Hoffa case and found a relatively recent article. According to one source, he is buried in Oakland County, Michigan and the FBI are trying to get a warrant.


I was interested in learning more about the role of phragmites and found that phragmites are actually an invasive species due to habitat alteration, and while they do prevent many birds from foraging in the marsh, there are also specialized phragmite foragers whose populations significantly decrease when areas of the marshes are destroyed.


I made a mistake, this is too long and I’m unhealthy.

Post #1-Dom

January 24, 2017

Intro: My name is Dominick Anthony Orsini and I am from Massillon, Ohio (NE Ohio). I am a senior majoring in Economics Management and minoring in Accounting. I played football for 4 years at OWU as well as multiple other intramural sports. I also work the front desk in the weight room at OWU.

3 Ideas:

1.) Rid the purchases of water bottles in fraternities by installing convenient water access to each floor of their building.

2.) Rid the campus and surrounding areas in Delaware of invasive plant species.

3.) Look for affordable ways to create renewable energy on  campus.


Current Event: “Trump advances controversial oil pipelines with executive action”(CNN)

-On Tuesday, newly elected President Donald Trump signed an approval to build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. With this approval, the pipelines cause risk of polluting water and air throughout its route. Due to these risk, protesters quickly assembled in scrutinizing the Trump Administration, speaking out that the administration is seeking their own interest instead of America’s interest. With this approval of the oil pipelines, which was denied during the Obama Administration, it is possibly foreshadowing a dark future for the environment around our country due to a new president who has already vowed to slash environmental protection regulations.



-Sullivan does a great job of presenting his audience with a piece of nature that has rejected human alteration and development. This book brought to my attention how any piece of nature, ugly or beautiful, can positively affect a person, by bringing them either peace of mind, calmness, or helps them to “escape the real world”. This book opened my eyes up to how much untouched nature around us is being consumed by human use, which is taking away homes from animals and plants that are inhabited there. This made me think about how much land humans have actually affected, which according to national geographic, the “human footprint” has been seen on 83% of earth’s land. This shows that one day people might have to convert to Sullivan and the other’s vision of an industrial toxic wasteland as a spot to enjoy nature and get away from city life.

-In the article “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature” I found it interesting when Cronon talked about how humans need to remember that we are also apart of the nature, but that wilderness sometimes makes us feel like we are not, which when we feel that way it will lead us to be irresponsible with nature because we create a thought that we are better than it, which in reality we are apart of it.