week eleven, y’all – Environment and Society pt 2

October 30, 2018

Environment and Society pt. 2

Things that really stood out to me:

Figure 9.5 on pg 150

“uneven development” – I’ve never heard this term before. I’ve usually called it like institutionalized racism, but it’s cool that there is a specific term for this specific manifestation p.157

“greenwashing” – another word I didn’t know but I love it. I’ve always seen through marketing stuff like that. I’m so glad there’s a word for it. pg. 159

Figure 10.2 on pg 168

pg. 170 – a lot of trees are not in forests, but are incorporated into agriculture – I found this interesting because I knew that trees were in agricultural contexts, but I didn’t think it was a large percentage, especially when compared to forests.

pg 170 “Reconciliation Ecology” sounds amazing. I would love to see a successful example of that

pg 197 – 199 Wolves and Masculinity  – this was one of my favorite things to read. Gender theory and ecology!

pg 207 – figure 12.1

figure 12.2, pg 208

“depleted uranium” s very cool, I had no idea it existed pg 208

pg. 211, “radwaste” is so much cooler than “nuclear waste”

214, we talked about the Navajo Uranium crisis in Environmental Ethics, too. It’s so important!

pg 230 – we talked about green consumption and the dolphin safe stuff in Environmental Politics and Policy. It’s really neat but really terrible that the industry was doing that

pg. 247 Eutrophocation – very cool and relevant. I didn’t know there was a term for it, I just called it algal blooms from run off.

pg. 263 – figure 15.4 bottled water consumption by country

Project Update:

I’ll be at First Friday this week to survey people about their interest in sustainability in general, and more specifically composting.

I’ll compile that and make a visual representation of the data. It will most likely be a pie chart, but I’m not sure yet because it really depends on how I record the answers.

Environmental News: We Have a “New” Pollutant!

Environmental Chemists at Indiana University decided to do a general sweep of chemicals in the area and found one that they did not know about before. It’s called tri(2,4-di-t-butylphenyl phosphate, or TDTBPP, which is not that much easier.

The fact that they have just learned about this chemical is very telling about the way chemicals have been and are being monitored. According to the article, TDTBPP is not regulated under the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act until it is being used for new purposes, but the uses of it are very secretive.

So far they have found the substance in high concentrations in an E-waste recycling plant, people’s homes, and the environment. They’re not sure how it got into the environment, but that is down the line. They also don’t know how toxic it is, if at all. The environmental chemists at Indiana University are still trying to figure out how TDTBPP generates. As of now, it can be an impure version of a similar molecule, or a byproduct of when other chemicals degrade.

Read the article here: https://www.enn.com/articles/55889-study-uncovers-high-levels-of-previously-unsuspected-pollutant-in-homes-environment

 


Week X (II) -Environment & Society

October 30, 2018

The second part of this book is less user-friendly and more packed with charts and graphs like a textbook. It covers a diverse group of environmental viewpoints regarding the extent of our general footprint on the planet. I found this really boring, but I do think that there are ideas within the text that can challenge our current values and perspectives.

The first idea I found interesting was forest transplanting. Many environments in our world are no longer naturally sustainable…in their own environments. Could humanity work together to adapt these wildernesses to survive on another part of the planet? Can we really engineer nature to bend around humanity’s progress? The answer is likely no. We know that the climate is changing as it always has. Vegetation and animals alike have either died off or adapted to survive throughout time, and this task is hard enough without the added challenges of pollution and deforestation. Reintroducing wolves into West Virginia or insects in Ohio with the aim of controlling nature only further unbalances it are examples of this manipulation and why we shouldn’t experiment too much with nature.

Our Earth and it’s processes of geology and life are both delicate and destructive and largely still mysteries in many ways despite the scientific evidence we have collected. There are billions of undocumented years that we can only study through thorough observations. Society is a very new concept for Earth and it has had grave consequences. Humans have always aimed to alter their surroundings for added advantages to survival. Humans worked together sharing all resources to survive fairly and evenly until someone put their name on a resource and society began. These are challenging ideas brought up by Rousseau and others.

TL;DR

The Earth can be easily unbalanced and cannot be controlled by society. Society has massive benefits that add value to our lives. As we now know, the law of diminishing marginal returns is in effect, and now society is working to over-correct or compensate for the damage done by our predecessors, however; this could just be causing more damage. Progress has consequences, and this book offers endless details and suggested readings that point towards the evidence of these claims.

Current Event: (Yale Study)

Drug cocktail almost doubles lifespan of worms

Life-extending effects in worms could one day translate into treatments that delay ageing in humans

A research team has discovered a combination of drugs that increases healthy lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans. The team administered combinations compounds targeting different ageing pathways to C. elegans. Results showed that two drug pairs extended the mean lifespan of the worms synergistically, and combined with a third compound almost doubled mean lifespans, an effect larger than any lifespan extension previously reported

for any drug intervention in adult animals.


Week X-Environment and Society Part 2

October 30, 2018

Reading Part 2

A lot of the modern world is based around societal norms which are based upon shifting, growing, and emerging social constructs. I appreciate that this book makes a very clear point to identify what environmental phenomena are based on those social constructs and how exactly that effects how people treat it and the resulting costs of that.

I found a lot of the figures and tables confusing however because of the lack of information on them. A lot of the figures had no legend so the values are up for interpretation and the values on some of the tables could mean two conflicting things. They might make more sense with a more thorough read through but given the time of course I could only skim and hope that it wasn’t too important for understanding the point of the chapter.

News

Scientists have figured out a way to synthetically engineer organisms that probably lived billions of years ago on the Earth to try and study how they may have evolved to lead to Earths current organisms.


Week [?] // G. Garcia

October 30, 2018

Environment & Society pt. 2

   

The second half of the book was definitely more of a slog to get through. I found myself skipping to specific chapters for more interesting things to be discussed. I found that while I may have not enjoyed the density and formatting of this textbook, the authors convey points of nuance on these subjects, such as carbon, trees, and the recent phenomena of bottled water. The approach that they take in explaining response to these problems, are first in a population/markets approach, then they build off of that with the political economy approach, and then discuss the ethics of it. None of their arguments are more definitive than one another, it all just depends on personal predispositions to certain forms of mitigation; however this does not mean I don’t think some forms of mitigation could be more effective than others.

    For example, the nuances of the issue of carbon emissions spans more than just the greenhouse effect. Approaches to reducing this are under the presumption of the common property of Earth and the atmosphere. Now take it back to the industrial revolution, which countries were making a killing, monetarily and environmentally? The culprits of this rise in carbon emissions are European nations and the Americas; Two small sections of our planet, yet they have emitted way more, prior to anyone else. This begs the question, if Earth and our atmosphere is common property and we should abide by the rules set out by that, then why would less financially privileged nations–’Global South’–be obliged to pay and be under the same regulations that the ‘Core’ is. This is where the idea of green taxes becomes muddy, basically due to the inherent inequality of the world, that even countries who do not emit the same abhorrent amounts, are subject to the same types of restrictions. This is where I start leaning towards a system of cap and trade, although I am not even definitive on that statement, there are to many factors at play that could make that type of system thrive, or fail.

 

News

Moon missions in five years: Bezos’ Blue Origin sets sights high

 

    Yet another instance in where the earth’s wealthiest humans, not looking to earth for investing, but rather in the fucking sky. I know that in theory this is good, what with these same guys being in the business of supporting carbon emissions here on earth, the need to find a way to capitalize of the new frontier is obvious, finding a way to make the ultra rich who will leave earth to fund their wealth. I’m a pessimist, so yeah, people can be like, ‘well we don’t know what they will do with their wealth to make technological advancements’. This is the same line of thinking that goes along with induced intensification, but not for supporting agriculture, or water, or ecosystems, its spaceships. I do not trust Bezos at all as well, just for clarification, he gives me super villain vibes, and his buddies Musk and Branson all have the same idea about capitalizing on the new ‘space race’.


Environmental Geography

October 30, 2018

Environment and Society- Textbook notes

The section on lawns brings up a great point on property values. A pretty, well-manicured lawn will attract people who have money to tend to lawns. They are probably mild-mannered, which creates a sociability aspect to create the suburbs of your mildest dreams.

 – Water bottles as a concept is something that will always be near and dear to my heart. The plastic waste builds up more and more as people continue to use them for their replicability, convenience, and implied cleanliness that is better than tap. I am from Toledo, and we recently had issues with our water in 2014. Algal blooms created toxins that were not filtered out properly for human consumption. City-wide panic struck and there was no water for several hours’ drive. After those few days, I would hear fellow residents talk about how they do not trust Toledo water. I think about this a lot in context of Flint, and others who have to fight for their water with environmental issues, including the Lakota tribe in South Dakota. Sure the bottled water is safe, but it is safe at the cost of being made into a commodity, rather than a necessity.

-Wolves. This is an issue that I had no idea that was a topic for environmentalists. I just had a conception of wolves being a problem in the olden days of yore. It makes sense that I had this idea, because as it turns out they’ve been mostly eradicated. With their reintroduction changing the food chain, there has been a massive effect in the way that the ecosystem of Yellowstone. The 8 wolves they started with increased their population, as well as the populations of beavers, eagles, and beetles. Willow trees grew healthier and the elk population decreased. It makes sense that people fear them. There is a lot of power in that.

-Potatoes- As a concept, potatoes are just a force to be reckoned with. They have ancestors who are poisonous, and yet they have become a staple in many diets (enough so to start a famine). And in popular culture, potatoes mean so much in diet and symbolism. We eat fries, chips, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, and generally value carbs. So it makes a lot of sense to me that we are having a kind of fry crisis. 

-Tuna- I don’t like tuna, but if we’re killing dolphins over it, I will actively hate it.

Project Update-

Last week I went with Janelle and Dustin to the area next to Merrick and we staked out a shape for the bioretention cell. It was a lot of fun to do. I also called Oak Brothers Farm and requested the native grasses and sedges that I had planned on, but to no avail. They did recommend I try Scioto Gardens, which didn’t have exactly what I wanted, but it’s nice to know I have options. We have a concept drawn out thanks to Dustin!!

Bioretention Cell Sideview Braden.jpg

Environmental News-

A tree canopy on Pearland’s Main Street? That’s what this project will provide

They are planting a lot of trees in Pearland, Texas. A city just outside of Houston, Pearland has been expanding a lot in the past couple of years, with land increases on their main street and new sewers and lights installed too. The multimillion dollar project will beautify the area, while providing some fresh air too.


Environment and Society- Part 2

October 29, 2018

Book tidbits:

For this week, I picked three chapters that stood out to me…

Carbon Dioxide:

As this chapter primarily talks about the premises and parameters of Carbon Dioxide, it goes into detail about different aspects. For example, in a short history of CO2, it mentions photosynthesis and how it and animals are involved in the Carbon Cycle. I think that knowing the carbon cycle is one of the most important and basic environmental pieces. I do like how it goes into detail even in tons and how it is involved in the earth’s crust.

Another important aspect is mention on the Greenhouse effect on page 146 and 146.  An important quote that stood out to me was “But if a buildup of gases increases the level of heat-trapping over time, it can be reasonably predicted that global temperatures will rise” (Pg, 147). Another topic I think was worth mentioning is greenwashing. I think this is something that happens on a daily basis. For example: using other kinds of water bottles than plastic ones.

Wolves:

This chapter stood out to me as a zoology major and conservationist, especially the story about wolf “832F.” I loved this section touched on the geographical location of wolves and biodiversity and role they play. Especially the part on the speciation and ecosystem roles they play as apex predators. I think the chapter is correct in its information with the wolves in relation to species, habitats, and their bio-role.

The next few pages touch on the laws and ethics involved in NEPA and conservation biology, and resource management. This is not only applicable to wolves on many levels, but many zoology related topics and animals. The last thing I want to touch on is the section of Social Construction: Of Wolves and Men (crossed out) and Masculinity. Touching on the geographical aspect of the subject is something I would not have thought about, yet appears relevant. Talking also about the wolf as a hunter and “man” as well is also interesting.

Bottled Water:

One thing I want to touch on is the stereotypical feel from this chapter on bottled water, yet truth in it as well. It talks about common property and how that process and definition means and works. It also goes over the life cycle analysis of the environmental impacts of the product and the risks associated is assessment, perception and communication.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 9.53.56 PM

Project update:

This week, the course of my project changed slightly. Since Janelle and I noticed there was more debris and green waste in the Delaware run than trash, we are now going to use the nets to collect more green waste and debris and then some trash. We are going to test for Nitrates, phosphorous, pH, Total suspended solids, ammonia levels, chlorine levels, dissolved oxygen levels and temperature with the new parameters. We will be testing for some of the things with a HACH kit. This will continue into next semester and summer.

On Sunday Janelle and I met at Panera for a few hours and we hashed out the details of my TPG including wording for most parts, budget for the entire project and the summer and my…wait for it….INTERNSHIP with her and the city this Summer!!!!!!!! YAY!!!

Environmental news:

Wild Chimps Share Food

Chimps in Ivy Coast from Tai National Park had a study conducted on them about sharing food (animal behavior) in relation to other monkey’s. It was shown that neither dominance, harassment or size mattered to the monkey’s with larger fruit in accordance to sharing. Sharing is something that has to do with human societies and evolution. Results of this study showed Chimpanzees were selective in whom they shared their larger items like honey, fruit or meat. They shared with chimps that were their friends.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 8.46.33 PM.png

Female Dance Flies

This article talks about how female dance flies are most attracted to males with the largest abdomen sacs. Rhamphomyia longicauda is the species that is being studied. The female partner displays sexual ornamentation to attract mates to fertilize her eggs. Scientists studied dance flies and how they use abdomen sac size and leg scales to attract mates.

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Week 11 – Hintz’s, Robbins’, and Moore’s Environment and Society part 2 + Environmental News Item

October 29, 2018

Thoughts on Environment and Society:

The following objects of concern were ones that really intrigued me, so I chose to write about them: Carbon Dioxide, Wolves, and Lawns.

Carbon Dioxide:

When I took an environmental course about a semester or two ago (don’t remember which class it was), I recall talking about the exchange of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as we drive our vehicles to and from places with air conditioning blasting and engines running. The opening few paragraphs of this section provide a perfect example for how daily life of a commuter works, and frankly, it isn’t pretty. Little do we realize the impact we have on the environment from just driving to and from work every day, or even to and from school every day. Last week in class we talked about driving to class and why there are students who drive when walking to campus probably takes less time, and this topic from the book perfectly reflects that. Even if we think that driving from the dorms to academic side have little effect on the environment, those times we drive around – even if it be for just a mile or two of distance – begin to add up in the long run. The book also makes a statement that I think is true regarding this issue: “The CO2 that escapes from these tailpipes is entirely invisible. It rises into the atmosphere, mixes with other gases and apparently disappears. Regrettably, what is out of sight and out of mind is by no means out of action.” I’d say this is accurate for everyone that looks at cars when driving, myself included. I’ll see exhaust fumes trailing out of the tailpipe of someone’s car, but, as the statement says, it eventually seems to dissipate. At that point I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s true. I guess the moral of this object of concern is to be cognizant of the profound impacts each of our vehicles has on the environment. It’s time we make smarter decisions about driving – only drive when it’s deemed as truly necessary, not when you’re feeling lazy or tired.

Wolves:

Wolves of all species alike provide multiple benefits to an ecosystem. They are considered apex predators that control populations of deer, rabbits, and other organisms. Without their presence in an ecosystem, the environment kind of goes to shit. Deer and rabbits outgrow the ecosystem and rid themselves of resources. Without food to go around, these once seemingly abundant populations grow scarce until the resources replenish themselves. This never-ending cycle is a constant reminder that we need predators like wolves to keep populations of herbivores in check. This section reminded me of Aldo Leopold’s “Sand County Almanac,” specifically when he talks about the death of a wolf that he had shot and killed. After he kills the wolf, he makes this profound statement that had moved me immensely when I first read it: “In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy… When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks. We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. … I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” After Leopold realized how stupid his logic was, he made it a goal to conserve the remaining wolf populations. While I think his actions were immoral and did not agree with his views, I was elated to see his realization that wolves are vital to the ecosystem more than he had ever known.

Lawns:

I liked this object very much because I think that the culture behind lawns is just so weird. I’m glad that my family doesn’t really give a crap about what our lawn looks like. It definitely isn’t overgrowing with weeds or anything of that nature, but we surely don’t spend thousands of dollars on it every summer just to maintain a pristine look. I don’t think we even run a sprinkler anymore to water it. The least we do is mow it. Granted, anything we do with our yard leaves an ecological footprint, but it isn’t as drastic as it could be. There are people across the country who pay thousands to keep their yards looking nice. Why are people like that? Even after reading the history of lawns and having a general understanding of the culture, I just don’t get it, but whatever. This whole section reminded me of a chapter from William Cronon’s “Uncommon Ground.” He has a whole section that talks about people’s yards in California and what they do to maintain them. He treats it as a symbol of American culture rather than an expression of the economy. It has grown into an instrument for maintaining both growth in contemporary urban development and for creating a responsible American citizen. It’s crazy, the things that people do just to maintain a perfect image of themselves.

 

Environmental news item:

The Science of the Sniff: Why Dogs are Great Disease Detectors

Dogs are currently being trained to detect malaria in human vectors that are asymptomatic of the disease (that is, they show zero symptoms but still carry the parasite). In double-blind lab tests, two canines proved able to correctly pick out the scent of children infected with malaria parasites 70 percent of the time. They tested the dogs on students from primary schools in Gambia. The students were required to wear socks overnight and return them the next day, where the dogs would be trained to weed out the parasite-ridden socks. While all the schoolchildren appeared healthy, blood tests administered on-site discovered that 30 children were actually carrying the disease. The goal is to someday get dogs located at airports or border crossings to get them to smell asymptomatic carriers and prevent them from introducing the disease elsewhere.