The second half of Environment and Society was less interesting to me than the first, I liked that it tried to look at the different individual problems that we face in environmental policy and practices from the different viewpoints described in the first half, however, the subjects were mostly repetitive of subjects or examples that have constantly been examples in other classes and readings that I have done.
I think it is interesting to look at the social and political justice side of environmental problems, the book constantly brought up different problems with the limits and undemocratic implications that come with environmental problems. One of the major problems being that the people that are most effected by issues like climate change tend to be those with the fewest resources to combat such problems. This is something that is often not discussed when we talk about our duty and initiative to change, but it’s extremely important when we think about solutions to environmental issues. I’m constantly amazed by how little people care about being sustainable, but every time this is because they don’t see the change, they don’t see that they are making a difference, so to them there is no purpose to the extra effort.
Something that surprised me was the stats on nuclear power being used as frequently as hydropower and this being theoretically cleaner than natural gas. This is something I generally think of as a dirty energy source, and it is, in terms of the waste it produces and the unsustainable management we have of it, but it would be interesting to see how we could change this if we put effort and resources into making it cleaner like we do other fuel sources.
Something that I thought was weird was the discussion of dead dolphins in relation to tuna fishing. The book talked about the issues as if it was a problem of the past, and this may true in relation to certain tuna fishing, but this is a really big current issue with the global fish industry, especially with long line fishing for shrimp, where 95% of catch is bycatch, which is killed and then thrown back into the ocean. I did enjoy the idea of consumer advocacy, but this only works when people have other incentive to buy sustainable products, and it also leads to shady advertising by companies that are only interested in their bottom line.
I also thought it was interesting to think that bottled water was commoditized and therefore privatized due to the belief that it was safer than tap water, which was more accessible, cheaper, and more sustainable. I grew up drinking well water out of the tap, and have had many people visit my house and be unwilling to drink it because of the possibility that it might not be clean. This has always been ludicrous to me, but it is definitely an idea that has spread, and it would be interesting to see how we could change this view or how this will change as water becomes less available in different areas.
There have been multiple instances of aquaculture fish being accidently released into the rivers of Africa, including crayfish and tilapia. These are outcompeting native species of the rivers, causing them to be endangered.