Hi, I’m Allie, I’m a junior Zoology, Environmental Studies, and Spanish major. I don’t exactly know what I want to do with my life, but something with conservation. This summer I studied abroad in Costa Rica, it was awesome, I really love travelling and this was a totally new experience for me. I am also on the swim team here at OWU. I also enjoy reading, specifically fantasy, but I guess I’ll give this non-fiction opinions thing for the semester. One of my goals in life is to make it to all of the national parks in the US, I’d also like to make it to as many countries, cultures, and continents as I can.
That’s all I can think of right now, so I guess that’s the nutshell of my life. Though I’m not sure how nuts my life actually is, but I digress…
News: In Mumbai there were 5 dogs found that apparently “turned blue” which originally leaked as being due to chemicals in a local river, Kasardi, though this turned out to be false. The dogs were actually died due to blue died standing water from a pigment factory that was 2 miles from the river, however, this did lead to investigations into the quality of the river water and the discovery of illegal dumping by the factory. This is now being shown to have had negative effects on the fish in the river, which local fishermen say has led to a 90% decrease in their catch volumes. There has also been shown that the pollution levels in this river are over 13x the safe limit for fish and 40x the the limit for human consumption.
Local environmentalists hope this will lead to a larger crackdown on enforcement in regards to illegal dumping and lead to efforts to reduce the pollution and waste, however there is a greater fear that the lack of connection to the dogs will decrease interest in the issue and it will lead to no changes.
Project Ideas: I would be interested in further developing the composting agenda with the composting dumpsters and making a plan with chartwells. I am also interested in looking into furthering the food recovery project, and the Delaware run restoration project.
The Meadowlands response:
Sullivan tends to often imply that the Meadowlands would be better without humans, he touches on how the natural world there was working perfectly before humans involved themselves (16). He quotes Mayor Just in saying that government should save the area (29). He describes in depth the idea of the toxic water flowing and how their might be a single drop somewhere that has not been in contact with humans and is therefore safe (97). Though these are all important ideas, we can’t just remove humans from nature in order to save nature because it takes away the naturalness of the area, as humans are a part of the planet, we need to find an in-between, where we are not destroying the area, but we are also not being removed from the area.
Even though he says that we should “save” the area by putting it aside, he often makes it sound undesirable and unremarkable, it’s an industrial waste area, he complains about the smell and the undrinkable water, there are areas that have waste that might explode randomly (64) The mob is involved and doesn’t follow environmental regulations that are currently in place (94). I’m not saying that this means that we shouldn’t do anything to make the area cleaner and a more sustainable habitat, but for me, I kept wondering when he said this place needed to be put aside and left to be as it would, why the disgusting place he was describing warranted that, or if he had a plan on how we should intervene. Additionally, one case that he had for saving the area, specifically, was the panoramic view near the city that looks completely natural (61), but where I’m from this is nothing special, so it wasn’t a particularly moving argument.
However, I did get the idea that he was trying to make the argument that one man’s waste was another’s treasure (in this area literally, 80). At one point he calls it special because of its unattractive attractiveness (60). There was also the man who was willing to swim in the water regardless of the so-called toxicity (89) because for him it was beautiful and it hadn’t proved otherwise, where areas considered safe had been toxic to him. Sullivan also wrote about how to get something to be considered natural, by getting people interested and aware of it, and this then needs to be proactive in order to create conservation promotion (190). This argument into the unexpected beauty in the area and the history and beauty that the area had for those who lived there and that being a reason to save it for the future was much more convincing to me than the other arguments he was making.
I thought the book did a good job of pointing out the idea that our society often feels the need to control areas, first trying to develop the Meadowlands over and over again (44) and later with the idea that we can always improve on the area with the people currently saying that we need to find a new use for the Meadowlands (48). He also showed this with a couple of quotes from different times they were building roads, bringing more people to the area. When he discussed the first road in the area he showed a quote, “it proves to what point may be carried that patience of man, who is determined to conquer nature” (172). This showed the feelings of the people there at the time that nature was an obstacle that we must overcome in order to be more civilized. Later he described how the use of the skyway got passersby to “praise the development of the Meadowlands, which they hoped the skyway would help transform the marsh to fields filled with factories.” (177) This shows again the lack of perceiving the area as beautiful and therefore designating it no value.
The book also brought up a few environmental concerns to me. Firstly, there was a whale that was hit by a boat and killed and then removed from beach and dropped in the Meadowlands (100). This concerns me because whales are extremely important to the ocean ecosystem as food sources and carbon sinks, so it seems irresponsible to remove them from this job just for beach beautification. It also talks about the goal to completely remove the mosquitos from the area and this being a nationwide project (111). This seems a bit shortsighted as mosquitos are important to freshwater food chains. Later, it talks about how the water that is most polluted is least likely to freeze (133), which is concerning in terms of the wildlife that lives in it and their survival through the winter, as the ice provides a warmer controlled environment for the underlying water. I was also disconcerted by the not in my backyard approach to the cockroaches that were removed from the subsequent houses in the area because they have an important ecological role as well (138). He also talked about how there were efforts to change the area into a salt marsh as it was considered more valuable (199) and this scares me because everyone’s ideas about nature are different but if we kill off environments that we don’t like for ones that we do like, we get into dangerous territory of playing at gods and deciding what lives and what dies, not based on its purpose, but on its perceived beauty. All of this is underlined by the scariness of the pollution produced by the landfills themselves, the fires used to burn them and the chemicals that are released during this burning, the trash that has toxins in it that are being leached back into the environment, etc. In general, there were a lot of environmental concerns brought up by the book that should be addressed.
The trouble with wilderness response:
I think this article has some really good points that are kind of hard to read at first, but they make you think critically about your biases and subconscious ideals about nature. I think its important to note that wilderness is a product of civilization and that the definition of wilderness has changed over time, because we often think about conserving the areas that are unique and that are far away, and are on their own, uninhabited, and without human influence, but this leaves us with nowhere for humans to go as well as a lack of appreciation for conserving the nature and diversity of areas around us that have been affected by humans. Additionally I think that it’s important to talk about the idea that the plots that we are setting apart as “wild” are more and more tamed by humans in order to increase economic benefits and to make them more attractive to visit, removing the history of the areas, removing the peoples that lived there, despite our desire to be more like them when we visit these areas. This is an injustice to the history and culture that has been cultivated in these areas and makes them less authentic, rather than the other way around.