Environment and Society Part 2

Chapter 9: Carbon engineers are working on a way to use an absorbing solution to remove carbon dioxide from the air, then sell the captured gas to oil companies and use it to feed algae that produce biofuel. Another team of scientists is creating artificial trees that take carbon dioxide out of the air, then release it underground or store it to be used industrially. People involved in both of these projects were concerned with of the economic feasibility of them, which circles back to the idea that carbon production problems are rooted in the economy. Lackner, one of the scientists creating artificial trees, has an idea that the government could mandate energy companies to buy a “certificate of sequestration” for each ton of fossil fuel extracted. Carbon dioxide could also be used to make methanol via electrolysis, carbonated drinks, formic acid and dry ice.

Chapter 10: It was interesting to read about how reliant humans are on trees, for things like food to shelter to spiritual connections. This made me wonder about the history of Arbor Day, and I found that it stemmed from the importance of trees as windbreakers for soil, trees as fuel and building materials and shade.

Here is an in-depth study on the biodiversity of cocoa plantations.

Win-Win Ecology by Michael Rosenzweig might be an interesting book to read for this class as it goes more in-depth to explaining reconciliation ecology and providing interesting territorial and aquatic case histories.

Which approach – rights-of-nature approach, market approach or political economy approach – do you think is the most valuable?

Chapter 11: It’s interesting that sometimes the survival of a species depends on that species’ cultural significance and the public’s perceptions/ negative constructions. This concept connected to my previous current event about the protection of gray wolves under the endangered species act. Here is a list of all the wolf organizations in Canada, the United States and Europe (it’s surprisingly long).

Do you think species reintroductions should be guided by ecocentric, anthropocentric or economic concerns?

Chapter 12: It was interesting to read about the nuclear fuel chain, which only made me more wary about using nuclear power due to all of the risks like meltdowns, long-lasting pollutants, environmental injustice, the potential building of weapons and potentially unpredictable events (like the migration of radioactive contamination at Maxey Flats, Kentucky).

Do you think the safety risks, pollution and toxic waste products of nuclear fuel are worth the power supplied and the decrease in greenhouse gases?

Chapter 13: Besides the bycatch of dolphins, shark and ray bycatch is still high with purse seiners. Here is a study surrounding the bycatch in small-tuna fisheries and methods of decreasing bycatch. Because tuna are a top predator in marine environments, a severe decline in their numbers can cause an imbalance in marine systems. According to the WWF, over 85% of global fish stocks are at risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. WWF has been tagging the Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea so that they can better understand their migratory behaviors and explain to fisheries managers how to protect bluefin tuna.

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This food chain shows the organisms that will be affected from a decrease in tuna. Here a link to a video about the sustainability of the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Chapter 14: Living in a suburb of Chicago, I see the feeling of responsibility and sense of social status that comes from the lawn as a social construction. Our family avoids using chemicals to treat our lawn. To reduce the amount of lawn but still maintain a healthy looking yard, my dad and his friend planted trees and bushes around the yard, then covered the area with different rocks. They also made a grotto made of bricks, rocks and mulch, then enclosed the space with trees. Organic mulch, which retains moisture and suppresses weeds (sometimes), can be a good substitute for grass. This website gives examples of organic mulch, along with its pros and cons.

Chapter 15: Various water-purifying devices such as the Life Straw and water-purifying bicycle can eliminate the package, landfill and garbage management costs from water bottles (thought there is still the cost of energy and material impacts of transportation). Energy from the bike is used to purify the bicycle and people can ride the bike to water sources that may be far away. The bike also provides a way to easily transport that collected water. Ultraviolet light sources can remove 99.9% of impurities from any water source in two minutes (but people may associate unclear drinking water with high risk even after it is filtered, so choose not to use this method).

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Here is a picture of the wonderful water-purifying bicycle.

Chapter 17: The numbers associated with the production of French fries were shocking, especially the steps of potato farming including soil fumigant, insecticide, herbicide, fertilizers, fungicides and crop dusting. If you want to learn more about slow food, here is a good website. This is also a good website to learn more about herbicide-resistant crops and GMO’s that that function as insecticide.  My take-home message from this chapter was to eat homemade fries that can be made with any type of potato, olive oil and seasoning cooked in the oven rather than French fries.

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