Environment and Society Part 1


My current event for this week is about the major extinction that took place 250 million years ago between the Permian and Triassic periods.  This extinction wiped out 95% of all marine life that was present at the time.  Up until recently, scientists had believed that rising global temperatures were responsible for this extinction.  However, they have just discovered that a major volcanic eruption put enough ash into the sky to cause a minor 80,000 year ice age.  This happened right before the increases in global temperature, which is what made scientists believe that was the cause.  In fact, the placement of basalt in the Siberian Traps which was originally thought to be the cause happened 500,000 years after this extinction.  This is important because it shows that while climate warming does have an important impact on the environment, it is not the only thing that will cause major environmental changes.


There was a lot of information in this book that I had learned from other classes so I think a lot of this book was just reaffirming what I already knew.  I did think the chapters about pollution were really interesting though because even though pollution is something that everyone is aware of, its impact is really something taught in class.  I think this is because pollution tends to be more of an environmental justice issue.  Pollution (whether it is garbage, something in the air, or something in the water) is always dumped near poor people who can’t afford to move away.  This obviously makes sense because rich people would never stand for living near a dump.  However, that doesn’t make it any better.  I think we really need a safe place to put our garbage, but putting it where there is no people would just ruin that pristine area that people with money want to protect.  It also doesn’t help that people who aren’t directly affected by pollution in a major don’t really care.  This issue is definitely a tricky one to try to find a solution to.

Another major issue dealing with environmental issues is money.  A majority of the time people only do environmental responsible things, like taking shorter showers or turning off lights, because it will save them money.  Helping the environment is an added bonus.  This is great because people do more than they would if it didn’t save them money.  But, how much more could we be doing if money wasn’t an issue?  Most people are not willing to face a minor inconvenience just to help the environment.  I think the best way to help the environment is to change this mindset.  If people are suddenly helping the environment because they genuinely want to, so many things would start to get better.

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