Environment and Society: part 2

Unlike the first part of this book which discusses broad concepts and perspectives, the second half dedicates its pages to addressing specific issues in detail. I liked this much better because it’s easier to relate to on a personal level due to their relevance and concreteness. Furthermore, the book analyzes these issues from varying perspectives (to an extent) including environmental, economic, historical, and social, which is nice.

However, there were some things that I did not care for. For example, in Chapter 12: Uranium it was very clear to see the authors distaste for uranium and nuclear energy. In my opinion, the author attempted to be unbiased to the information, but did an extremely poor job of it. After reading some of my classmate’s blogs, it was also apparent that what was written in that chapter had a negative impact on their opinions.

While reading the chapter I personally found myself getting stressed out and angry at the wording the author used and the way they presented their information. They highlighted the negatives and left out the pros (many of which people already don’t know about). Not only did they highlight the negatives, they did it in such a way that came off as almost demonizing the entire industry. The only positive aspect they talked about was the negligible greenhouse gases emitted, and even that was fleeting and overshadowed by the onslaught of critique. And then, miraculously, when I got to the summarizing section, the author had an evident shift in writing style that suggested they were impartial to the subject, as if they had been the entire time when it was evident that they were not. It just made me think that this is a problem in itself—that so many people truly think they are being open and entertaining all perspectives of an issue, when they actually have tunnel vision. Needless to say, it did a good job of confirming people’s fears and left no realistic promise of advancement.


Progress toward a Zika vaccine


MIT researchers have devised a new vaccine candidate for the Zika virus in the form of messenger RNA. Essentially, the genetic material is packaged into a nanoparticle that is delivered to the cells. Once inside, he RNA is translated into proteins that provoke an immune response from the host. RNA vaccines are appealing for a handful of reasons including its ability to function like a synthetic virus that is not pathogenic and does not spread, its capacity to induce host cells to produce many copies of the proteins encoded by the RNA thus provoking a stronger immune response, and the capability of controlling how long its expressed thus ensuring it will not integrate into the host genome.

To learn more, visit MIT’s website!

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