Niemeyer Nature reflection and News

September 25, 2017

The second half of Nature offered what I felt to be a more relatable construct of nature.

I thought it was interesting when Coates described nature as offering a scope of imagination, but natural “scenes” as being framed, and therefore allowing less imagination to flow, or only specific thoughts based on how the scene is framed.  In this, places like national parks fall under this category despite the fact that they are generally considered “real” nature/wilderness, they have been placed as they are to look like they do by humans and therefore, despite their perceived wilderness they have an unseen frame, we are meant to view them in a certain way.

I also think it’s important how he notes the social injustice that goes with nature, stating that parks were a social construct of private property, solely allowing an outlet for the rich.  Along with this, throughout history we have used “nature” to justify the hierarchy, because our treatment of people is their “natural” place.  He also discusses that it is important to understand not only the role of things like the industrial revolution and population increase and their impact on nature, but also the difference between privileged and underprivileged humans and their differing role in human impact on nature and to note that many changes to the environment have been devastations to certain populations of humans, but there is also an importance in removing this social justice interplay because it removes nature from being the victim.

I also thought the book took an interesting look at the eugenics movement and GMO’s, stating that it was unnatural and was about economics rather than natural selection, which I completely agree with.  However, so is agriculture in general, we are trying to feed ourselves, not create a natural environment, there are so many impacts that changing forest to pastureland and mass producing cattle and other agricultural practices have that aren’t natural selection, they are completely about economics.

I also thought it was interesting that he noted the modern movement of the idea that nature has not been completely oppressed, that it still plays a powerful force and still heals itself.  Which is true, but that doesn’t mean that we can just be complacent and standby and continue the degrading practices we have been utilizing when we know how degrading they are.

NEWS: Tapping into the public’s passion for the ocean could be the key to reducing the threats to it posed by plastic pollution.

A new study from University of Plymouth suggests that people may be more inclined to make decisions about plastic and waste if they see how their actions affect themselves (I know, ground-breaking).  They say that it may be beneficial to place warnings on plastics about the potential degradation they will cause to marine life and oceanfront vacation locations like the ones that are on cigarette boxes.  I think this may help peak interest in conservation, but it does not get at the route of the problem, that the companies are using these plastic problems, and we don’t have a very sustainable alternative to these packaging techniques.


Nature presentation pictures-Makali

September 23, 2017

Current Event and Project Update

September 20, 2017


I met with Emily and she shared contact information of some local gardeners/plant enthusiasts with me. I was introduced to a student (Dustin) who is very into gardening and had some suggestions about perennial planting and maintenance. I will also be attending a field trip to Dustin’s high school to view the garden he worked on while there.


Current Event

The researchers found that overall, sensitivity to temperature changes varied greatly between ocean-dwelling and freshwater fish. In general, marine fish in the tropics and freshwater fish in higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere were the most at risk when water temperatures warmed. Using years of data — and relying on the fact that many fish species are taxonomically related and tend to share the same thermal limits — the researchers were able to predict the breaking-point temperature for close to 3,000 species.

Fish in the tropical oceans are already living in water that is approaching the upper range of their tolerance. By contrast, in freshwater streams in the far north, fish are accustomed to cooler water temperatures but have much less tolerance for warming waters. Since the effects of climate change are acutely felt in high latitudes, this doesn’t bode well for fish in those streams that have a small window for survivable temperatures.


This figure shows the risk that freshwater fish (top) and marine fish (bottom) could exceed their thermal limits by the year 2070. Blue indicates a low risk and red shows a high risk.

Miranda: Weekly Event

September 20, 2017

Thousands of non-native fish are loose near Washington’s Cypress Island. A fish farm/s net pen failed which let loose 305,000 Atlantic salmon. The concern is that Atlantic salmon could out-compete native Chinook salmon and steelhead for food and spawning grounds.

Janelle: Reading Notes

September 20, 2017

Nature:  Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times by Peter Coates… “Nature, like us, has a history”.  This book, although not a particularly enjoyable read, touches on an array of different historical concepts, religions, and categories responsible for building this complete history of nature.

  • Nature as a physical place
  • Nature as a collective phenomena
  • Nature as an essence, quality, or principle
  • Nature as an inspiration and guide
  • Nature as the opposite of culture

By identifying these aspects of nature Coates creates an informative tour of “intellectual forces” of Western Civilization.  Coates starts in Ancient Greek and Rome by stating this spot on the map is the bedrock for Western intellectual experience, and then continues to the Middle Ages stating the relationship between earlier societies and their physical environments was essentially passive.

I found myself reading and re-reading multiple pages during this book.  I’m glad this reading is split into two weeks, because starting Thursday night I’ll have to basically start over again.  I appreciate Coates’ memoirs, witty statements,  and adventures, but I agree with whoever said this book reads like a textbook.  I may have fallen asleep twice in my attempt to read the first three chapters… I also may have had to sit on my front porch, on the concrete step to keep awake during my second attempt.  The “jury” is still out on this one…

Nature Chapter 4 Presentation

September 20, 2017

Chapter 4: The Advent of Modernity

“Mankind experienced a decisive alienation from nature between the Renaissance and the scientific revolution… people desacralized nature, a process furthered during the enlightenment”

Question 1: How is this “alienation from nature” manifested in today’s society? Are we still in the process of desacralizing nature or did that end with the loss of experiencing nature as a sublime/fear-inducing place in which one could be closest to God?

Coates argues that all of these epochs/events contributed to our modern views and relationship to the natural world/environment.

Enlightenment a.k.a. “The locomotive of modernity”

“The real legacy of the Enlightenment project to humankind has been the subjugation of nature”

Industrial Revolution a.k.a. The watershed between today’s impoverished world and the nature we have lost”

Translated the alienation from, and the desacralization and subjugation of, nature into “highly visible environmental change”

Renaissance: a.k.a. “The spread of urbanization and the emergence of capitalism”

“Nothing has value independent of the human valuer”

“People no longer believed they belonged to the natural world”

Question 2: How do we interpret these claims in today’s society? Do you personally agree or disagree with these sentiments?

Major Religious Sects on Nature

Protestantism: “questioned virtually every existing source of authority save that of humans over the natural world”

Lutheranism: “nature was cursed”

Calvinism: “it was man’s duty to God to subdue the earth”

From humanistic ideology “flowed the modern scientific study of the natural world informed by theory and experimentation”

Renaissance thinkers wanted “to figure out how things worked” and believed that “humans can make the world in which they live”

“The full range of natural phenomena were now considered legitimate for study, entirely knowable and at man’s disposal”

“‘Animals might be strong, but man, because of his superior intellect, was stronger’”


Scientific Revolution a.k.a. “The handmaiden of capitalist modes of production”

“By transforming nature from a living organism into a machine…the new mechanistic philosophy assisted the commodification of nature and fuelled the cancerous ethic of ‘growthism’”

Who we should blame a.k.a. “The Lords of Nature”, “Dead but still Dangerous White European Males,” or “The evil midwives of modernity”

Francis Bacon

-Nature should be “moulded, enslaved, and penetrated”

-from “what is nature?” to “what can we do with nature?”

-progress is defined as “improvement in the material condition of humanity through ever deeper control of nature”

-”Bacon rendered the square, unbruisable tomato thinkable”

Question 3: Would we still have come to a place where genetic engineering/modification is acceptable if nature was never conceived of as something that could and should be controlled?

Rene Descartes

-”the act of thinking was the criterion of existence and the status of humans as thinking beings ultimate proof of their separation from the rest of creation”

-animals are “mere automata regulated by the same principles as the clock”

-”French philosopher Rene Descartes didn’t believe animals had souls. To test his theory, he nailed his wife’s dog to a board and chopped it open while the poor thing was still alive.”



-The scientific revolution ”sanctioned the domination of both nature and women”

-”new science was a white middle-class male product calculated to serve this group’s interests”

-”the patriarchal enterprise of modern science debased women by strengthening their association with lust, animalism and diabolism”

-this ideology “retained the femininity of nature” but turned nature into “a woman who can be freely violated”

-Prior to the renaissance, natural disasters were interpreted as punishments for violating the natural environment, Post scientific revolution, however, nature is described as an evil stepmother “who wickedly conceals her bounty from the deserving and needy children”

-Nature who was once depicted as having her clothing ripped away by humans is portrayed in statues as “coyly removing her own veil and exposing herself to science”


Question 4: Do you agree with the claims posited by ecofeminist theorists? Had you ever before considered feminism and environmentalism to be linked?


Question 5: Which of these four time periods (the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, or the Industrial Revolution) do you believe is most responsible for current environmental problems?

Anna- Week 5

September 20, 2017

Nature Book Review:

There are five ways that Peter Coates defines Nature and these are:

  1. “Nature as a physical place, notably places unmodified by people (‘unspoiled nature’) and threatened by human activity.”
  2. “Nature as the collective phenomena of the world or universe, including or excluding humans.”
  3. “Nature as an essence, quality, and/or principle that informs the workings of the world or universe.”
  4. “Nature as an inspiration and guide for people and a source of authority governing human affairs.”
  5. “Nature as the conceptual opposite of culture.”.

Placing the development of western society with these five concepts, and building the ethical and philosophical discussion of how western society has been shaped over time from almost the stone age through history to modern times is the focus of this book.  Coates presents a challenge to the notion that things are getting worse all the time or that reckless environmental damage is caused by humanity. The accusations of our reckless treatment of mother earth, goes back to roman times. A dynamic view of the world presented exhaustively and authoritatively with references to historical periods, philosopher’s opinions and various movements with our culture, including the modern notions of environmentalism.

I learnt much about the how modern culture and society, following the reading took a lot of thought and effort, to place together, up the mountain of destruction that today’s society has in position to avert if the change.

I am glad that someone has written a book as this, presenting us with judicious.  I can use this book in conversations about the environment.  Although I do not take much notice of the doom and gloom interpretation.

Cotes present a challenge to our society and how we are challenging nature.


News Today:

I saw this along my Facebook feed and I just found it very interesting with all that is going on in today’s world. I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and I grew up and lived about 10-20 minutes away from where Furguson took place. Mike Brown was shot and killed during my senior year of high school and the court in my country is where the trails and everything took place. I had a very close friend who lived in the Ferguson area and it was interesting to hear her opinion and everything that was going on around her home.

The whole Black Lives Matter groups are really well known all over the States. And so is the people that support President Trump. And typically those people don’t get along or have the same view points, but this video shows how both parties came together as one to stand for what they are against.