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.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170123151351.htm

 

 


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.

delta-wetlands-shrubs-s

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.

 

tigerscouldr

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

caspian_tiger_16207_1_314393s

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.

march_1997

More information on the status and history of tigers.


Intro Post

January 25, 2017

Introdution

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.

Readings

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

Introduction

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:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170110133539.htm

 


Ellen Sizer- Blog Post 1

January 25, 2017

Article:http://www.care2.com/causes/e-waste-is-growing-rapidly-in-asia.html

 

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.

 

Intro:

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.

 

Paper

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.

 

 

Project:

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

Intro:

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:

http://news.mit.edu/2017/smap-satellite-memory-soil-moisture-0116