Nature Part 2 Notes

117-122: Discussion of the different styles of parks prompted me to reflect on Chicago parks today. Friends of the Park is an organization devoted to the “protection, preservation, expansion and improvement of the city’s 8,100 acres of parks and playgrounds.”  I find their word choice of “preservation” here interesting, because it refers to the upkeep of man-made playgrounds, which do not fit most definitions of “nature.” Friends of the Park has been involved with preventing the construction of parking lots, restoring gardens and conservatories, and recently preventing the construction of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts to keep the view of the lakefront from being blocked. This seems a little ironic to me since, from what I have observed, what people find most impressive about Lake Michigan when visiting Chicago is the Chicago skyline; they do not admire the actual lake as much as they admire the man-made buildings. When I think of Chicago parks, I think more about artwork and statues like the Bean, Buckingham Fountain, ice rinks and Crown Fountain; parks in Chicago seem to use the land to showcase human works and the culture of the city rather than connect with the green spaces of Chicago.

131: It was interesting to read about the different perceptions of landscape, and I could relate to the quote: “Theological and scientific innovations promoted feelings of awe for physical creation as an ordered system whose perfection mirrored that of its creator….” I think one of the reasons I am so interested in science is that I can further appreciate the world around me and connect with God. In conversations I have had with religious scientists, people have explained that this intricacy of the world serves as their proof of God’s existence. In a way, this also ties into the foundation of OWU’s Travel Learning program because it is heavily based on the idea that students can better appreciate places they travel to after formally studying and understanding components of that place.

156-158: “For social justice environmentalists the source of these problems is ‘environmental racism’….” One solution to environmental racism that we discussed in Environmental Ethics is science. For example, events related to uranium mining on Navajo land helped me to think that only if science is conducted in a non-bias way and people enforce regulations and educate the public fairly, scientific results can be effective in environmental justice. Science led to the discovery of what the casual agent for lung cancer associated with mining was, and John Harley’s work led to the definition of a working level (1412). By identifying the casual agent, the risk of danger became quantifiable, which led to regulations like New Mexico’s 10 working level-maximum (1414) and preventative measures like ventilation. Bias in the government system and a lack of publicity, however, limited success of regulations and preventative measures. Scientific findings must be made accessible and comprehendible to people, which PHS did not make an effort to do since some miners may not have had the literacy or English skills to understand the pamphlets they handed out (1413). These examples show that science leads to the resources to educate, though it doesn’t always mean people will choose to share scientific discoveries; its effectiveness depends on people with the power to spread such information in a fair way.

3

Here is an example of how “…propogandists exploited conservation and animal rights…” (170).

178: “…’designer’ animals – not only leaner chickens but a chicken that is nothing but lean flesh… ‘…our children will redefine living things as temporal programmes that can be edited, revised, and re-programmed.’” Thinking about the future of genetic engineering makes me uneasy because in extreme cases I believe it can lead to devaluing life as God intended it to be, but at the same time I can see it from an alternative perspective of God giving us the knowledge to take advantage of genetic engineering… I’m not quite sure exactly where I stand on this issue. This paper explains the complications with and examples of genetic engineering in companion animals like GloFish, inquiries about cloning deceased pets, the cloning of wild animals to prevent extinction, and the genetic engineering of farm and research animals for productivity. This website contains a draft of the FDA’s guidance on animals with modified genomic DNA. This website provides interesting examples of an artist’s portrayal of designer animals as satire.

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Kathryn Fleming illustrates the ridiculous idea that people can re-create the world to represent fantasy.

180-183: I like how Coates included arguments from both sides of what people think differentiates between animals and humans. I have always associated culture with humans, but in a way, animals have a type of culture too since they do have social hierarchies, niches and interact with members of their community. The discussion of bird communication as “dialects” containing “intra-community differences” reminded me of the specificity of certain bird calls which I think can be defined as language. For example, chickadees incorporate more “dee” notes in their calls as the size of a potential predator decreases (the call becomes more urgent when smaller predators, who are more likely to go after the small chickadees, are near), and chickens have a distinct call depending on if they see an air or ground predator.

190: “The crucial question is not how wild or natural nature is, but how healthy it is.” This reminded me of how the workers at Stratford had to cut down all the ash trees, even when new healthy trees grew, because the native trees could so easily become infested with amerald ash borers. In this example, I think nature was no longer natural because it was no longer healthy and invaded by an insect native to eastern Asia.

Questions:

116: What is your idea of an “ideal garden”?

133: “This desire stemmed from the belief that man’s essential nature resided in his emotions (‘I feel therefore I am’) rather than his reason (‘I think therefore I am’)….” Which belief do you identify more with?

138: What animals/plants are included in your “ethical circle,” if any?

176: “…by changing the weather, we make every spot on earth man-made and artificial… Nature’s independence is its meaning…’” Does nature have a separate existence from humans?

180- 183: Do you think human intellect, culture, language, tool-making capacity, artistic creativity and/or ability to think in abstract terms differentiates between animals and humans?

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