Daniel Delatte-Environment & Society Response

October 24, 2017

The points Paul Robbin’s makes in the book have to do with the multiple variables affecting the environments of the world. In the book, he writes mainly on the environment pressures associated with making them less sustainable along with those growing implications, such as populations, that keep mankind from making the progress we expect to achieve. As we become more socially aware, there are new ways that we need to look at things because assumptions are not always seen on both ends and this book explains why.

Robbins’ alluded to the term “common property” which is something that we are pretty familiar with as a “commons.” It makes sense that this is a reoccurring topic because it is problem with the growing populations and degradation of our environment. We struggle for things that were once in abundance and were willing to use freely and without concern. The fault in self-regulation is what makes us the governing body to our our own turmoil.

The value of those resources in the market is another topic I felt was an important topic to look at. He uses a model that lists the challenges to the market assumptions and it states: “transactions are not by any means free, contracts and property rights have to be defined and enforced often at great legal and regulatory expense, and not all parties to negotiations have perfect and equal information.” So basically, economic exchange is weird because the real world value may be more than what the assumed value is because of various factors. A common scenario, that is easy to understand, is a good that is becoming scarce in a market, but is manipulated by monopolies who take advantage by upping the price because it is vital for life. Non-market values also exist that can add to the challenges. Opinions make deals lopsided when it comes to valuing things like aesthetic. Green Thinking is something else that can be used to make something for appealing as we enter a new age of conciseness. Things are better marketable as they begin to become more environmentally friendly, as consumers feel more entitled to do their part in keeping a sustainable earth.

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Eating Animals Review and Current Event–Daniel Delatte

October 4, 2017

Eating Animals provided an interesting take on the unconscious concept we have about the food we consume. We, as humans, are natural predators that are constantly striving to survive like any other species. The concept of vegetarianism is something that one may look at a question is it really worth it. There are multiple ways of looking at it, and from the books perspective our pets are on the highest of all pedestals, specifically cats and dogs. The idea behind that is what Foer explains as, “not eating animals with significant mental capabilities.” (25) But at the same time dogs and cats are being euthanized at an alarming rate. About “three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized annually… millions of pounds of meat are being thrown away every year.”We are not eating them for the same reasons we wouldn’t eat dogs and cats for the same reason we wouldn’t eat or date our siblings. Foer places heavy emphasis on the emphasis on how we make out what we eat on how we treat it. We have an underlying understanding of sympathy and regard for something that we care for. We generally care about something that can understand that we care. Vegetarians, from what I’ve heard, do not like the idea of something dying in order for them to live. The other idea lies in what they believe and don’t believe goes on in food processing. “For the most part, we do not live in close proximity to the animals we kill.” (98) We have to make the assumption that we are being fed what we are being told we are fed, along with all of the ingredients that are being included. The trust value varies according to the person. We know that there are no guarantees when it comes to money, and places like “Whole Foods” makes a lump sum over the image of being majestic. That is a result of the “factory farm industry (in alliance with the pharmaceutical industry) currently has more power than the public-health professionals,” (141) a result of capitalism. The norms and values on our society are heavy influences on what we eat, but do not have the final say. It is how we take it and what we place values on which will coincide with our diet.

 

 

 


Eating Animals Response Niemeyer

October 3, 2017

I thought that Eating Animals had an interesting take on the discussion of vegetarianism, but it mostly focused on whether it was humane and whether you could stomach (nudge nudge) the practices that the meat industry utilizes, rather than the actual impact that the meat and dairy industry have on the environment.

One thing that I thought was interesting was the idea that nobody really anthropomorphized animals and kept them as companions until there was a middle class, when, like the discussion from last week about gardens, they became a sign of extravagance and accomplishment.  This was interesting because it’s like the idea that gardens are like small farms, and pets are like small scale livestock, but we get no real use out of these like we do, farms and livestock, and put a lot of money into them and their care.  I was on the other hand shocked by the ecological impact of euthanized dogs, and for that matter, the amount of discarded livestock animals. Neither of these were things I didn’t know about, they were just things I never thought about that have a really large impact on the environment.

I thought that Foer’s story about his son at the aquarium and realizing that the aquarium didn’t give him as much joy as it once did because he knew more about the aquarium trade and its ecological impacts was very similar to my experience with zoos.  When I was younger I loved going to the zoo, seeing the animals that I always wanted to see in the wild, but through volunteering at the zoo and learning more and more about different conservation methods, I have seen the disinterest and boredom that many of the animals experience from being kept in a cage, and have, like Foer, imagined myself in their place, and I think that companies like zoos, that have such an integral role in the education of future generations about animal welfare, have a duty to treat the animals better.

Something I think Foer did a good job of bringing up was that there is a large lack of knowledge as to where people’s food comes from, and a large amount of misinformation and misinterpretations about the food choices that are healthy and what the body needs to survive, as well as confusion around words like “natural” and “organic” and their implications.  On the other hand, there is a lot of misinformation about factory farms and what they look like, Foer adds to this misinformation, he goes to the worst of the worst factory farms and describes the worst of the worst factory farms.  There are many “factory farms” that don’t look anything like the ones he described.  This is not to say that the ones he describes are not abundant or that the practices he talked about don’t take place, it’s just important that people get the real picture and not the biased one, and Foer definitely describes a biased picture.

Something that he brings up that I found odd was the lack in change of price of dairy and meat products in the last 50 years despite the increase in demand, and how this is due to the more “efficient” practices being used in regards to the growth of the animals and the lack of care for the individuals.  I didn’t know that there was such a small difference in prices over that time, but it doesn’t surprise me because meat and dairy industries have such a large impact in the government and can basically do and say what they want without repercussions.

I would have been interested in learning more about the actual numbers related to the ecological impact of livestock, but that wasn’t Foer’s point in writing the book.


Week 6-Nature Review Daniel Delatte

September 26, 2017

The first thing that really stuck out to me in this part of the book was that the landscape and and idea of the American West was not created by “19th century white adventures, but Euro-Americans.” I do not completely agree with this point, but I would also not argue against it. It also put into perspective the way we preserve the land compared to the indigenous people’s of the America’s. Coates says that Yosemite was park like because of the way that Indians had managed the lands. “It struck white visitors who came in the soldiers’ wake as parklike because of the way the Indians had intensively managed the valleys to maximize the number of game and animals and acorns (as well as to create recreational opportunities). It was a little funny how the a woman whose tribe had previously inhabited the land thought it was very poorly handled and was “unimpressed” with the layout. John Clare sort of reminded me of a Edward Abbey, just sort of detailing nature through whatever means he could. The description they gave him thoroughly fit what kind of man he seemed to be “peasant poet.” Wrote because he wanted to, not for money. The Black Act of 1723 just showed how serious they began to take nature. Ralph Allen’s “Bath” he created reminds me of the people of indigenous people of Easter Island who drove themselves to ecological suicide by doing the same thing. They used all of their trees creating ropes to form a system, like Ralph’s, tramway, to create a system to maneuver their created sculptures across the island. They both did it recreationally only Ralph had the means to do it without catastrophically harming himself or the environment. I like how, and agree on how the latter part of the book—mainly in Ch. 7—stresses how new environmentalism and romanticism is more aligned with biocentric thinking because I do believe in this new age it is interpreted a whole lot differently than in previous years. It had previously been under authority from churches, monarchs, and God (which was “selfish” 127.) Now, it is more amply shared amongst the people (forest lands are “for the people.”) With the abundance of green spaces declining people go out of their way to find new places that may not even be necessarily green, but make do. It was also cool to see how sublime reappeared again. Immanuel Kant used it saying that in order for it to truly be sublime you’ll feel “horror” in the experience. I previously read Fukuyama’s piece “The End of History” in a International Politics class here and I did not expect it to lead to him placing the blame on environmentalists as the culprits behind the end to history. I can see how the course of nature and it’s development is altered by the course of actions that are taken to preserve it, but at the same time where would we be without it?


Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times- Daniel Delatte

September 19, 2017

Coates writes this book much like Pascal Bruckner did in his piece The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse. The only difference is that he doesn’t go about blaming anyone. He’s a “neither nor” type of guy, where he even refers to the Nazi’s in one of his arguments. He also chooses to explain things in the easiest manner breaking it up into subjects inside the chapter. The style, however, is the same to Bruckner’s where he goes on bringing about points and defending them in the next. He constantly reverts back to things that occurred previously in history to show how people of that time would handle situations of improper ecology. He uses many sources, like the Bible, which is something we’ve seen a lot of these environmental authors do. It’s interesting to me to see it done so often by these scientific scholars who you wouldn’t think would try to acknowledge it in their works because of their backgrounds. I think what he addressed early on in the book, the responsibility aspect of it, was most important because of exactly what he said, “no human society has ever lived completely inside or outside of environmental change.” I don’t see how we could play the blame game on something that’s going to happen regardless of who’s inhabiting the land at what time.

 


Nature part 1 reflection and news

September 19, 2017

The first part of Nature was interesting, but I thought it discussed a lot of things with very little detail and then repeated the same ideas over and over again.  It also seemed like there was a lot of information that didn’t exactly relate to the topic of the attitudes that people have had of nature, though Coates obviously interpreted that differently, I just didn’t always understand the link and he didn’t point it out specifically.

I think it is interesting to look at the changing definition of nature through time, but the common link of otherness.  It seems that in some way nature has always been a structure separate from humans, and with some sort of mysticism to it, despite that it has changed from being a place set aside for gods, a place to be feared, to a place that as humans is our rightful claim and we must conquer it, to a place to be held above all others and protected.

The amount with which Coates seems to believe Christianity has played in the destruction of nature kind of surprised me. As a Christian who has always really cared about the environment, I have never interpreted the Bible as saying that humans have a right to everything and can just destroy the earth, I’ve had the more Franciscan view of needing to conserve things and all creatures being important in God’s creation.  However, I do understand where Coates and others have seen that Christianity has played a role in the destruction of nature.

I also think it’s really common for people to assume that pre-Columbian societies had little or no negative impact on the natural world surrounding them, and I think this mostly has to do with the racist views of those peoples being more like animals, and therefore more closely related to nature.  I think its important to look back and see that humans have always impacted the environment, and changed their surroundings, and its important to note that no society was perfect in their efforts to not do this, so we shouldn’t be taking all of our cues from any one society.  However, I think it is also important to note that the impact we are having right now is much higher than it has been in the past whether because of the large increase in population, our changed food source, or increased use of fuels.

This book gives a very baseline understanding of how nature has been interpreted and how we have interacted with it over the years, but it also shows how we got to the beliefs that we have, and may hold a key as to how we can continue to change ideas about nature and its importance to society, not as separate entities, but as two parts of a whole.

News:

http://e360.yale.edu/features/in-a-stunning-turnaround-britain-moves-to-end-the-burning-of-coal

Great Britain has officially decided to stop using coal as a source of energy.  They have recently converted or closed many coal plants including the world’s largest plant: Drax Power Station.  This is especially significant because coal has been one of the main drivers of Britain’s economy since its beginning and is what put them on the map as an empire during the industrial revolution.  By 2025 the UK plans on completely removing the use of coal, which is an extremely dirty fuel.  This has been a common trend in the developed world, though places such as the US, Germany, and Austria have not begun to follow suit.


Allie Niemeyer’s Fanatacism post

September 12, 2017

Response to Fanaticism of the Apocalypse:

 

I found this book interesting, it seemed that Bruckner had some good points regarding how we are fighting humans and persecuting ourselves, though I felt that he did a lot of complaining about how we are giving up all of our virtues for this undeterminable event that is probably either a farce or has no answer, but he didn’t really expand on how he thinks we should approach the problem.  I think it’s fair to say that modern ecologists tend to back ideas that decrease our global impact without any regard as to what this means in the face of progress and I also think that its important to think critically about where the place of humans is if we are considering both human progression and minimizing impact.  If we are going to figure out how to combat problems such as how to optimally help conserve nature while determining the place of humans in this world we need to understand the arguments presented in the book.

Something I didn’t like about the book was that it seemed to be attempting to discredit all ecological conservation efforts as being radical defeatist ideas or insignificant acts.  Most of the examples Bruckner was citing were very radical, intermixed with pretty normal conservation efforts, which attempted to say that all the ideas were ridiculous and asking too much, when they don’t really even affect the individual’s life once the change is implemented.  For example, there are people who believe that we should have mass human death to regain a sustainable population, and he places this argument with the idea that we should sort our garbage into recycling and compost and implies that both are equally arbitrary and unattainable, but obviously killing a bunch of humans is a lot more difficult and moral changing than sorting your garbage, which is both more attainable and doesn’t really change our way of life.

I think it is important to note, as Bruckner did, that we can’t be 100% certain of climate change and its exact effects, and as he states, convictions are dangerous and we can’t predict exactly what will happen just because of our models.  However, unlike Bruckner I don’t think this means that we should just avoid the science altogether and pretend like nothing will (or is) happen(ing).  I also don’t think that taking preventative measures means that we have to give up the human ideal of progression, nor does it mean that we have to give up all worldly pleasures or desires, and I think it’s important to find a balance.

I like when Bruckner talks about vegetarianism and this contradictions of this lifestyle.  He discusses how not eating meat products in order to help decrease our carbon (methane) footprints, while all well and good, brings up a philosophical problem of what we are deciding to conserve, who we are deciding to protect, and whether it should be in our rights to annihilate livestock populations in order to feed humans.  I think that this is important, something to be discussed, though I believe we should keep in mind that it isn’t entirely dissimilar from the game hunting that we allow for population control.

I disagree with Bruckner’s opinion on why we conserve things, and that this is out of our own greediness, wanting more of certain things like wilderness, and though I don’t think this is entirely wrong or an unprecedented opinion, I think that taking this stance is a polarizing viewpoint.  Though there are many things that are chosen to be conserved over other things due to bureaucratic opinions on what is best for humanity to conserve, and like Leapold said in the Sand County Almanac, we each have our own biases on what we would personally want to conserve, Bruckner’s viewpoint says that we only do this out of greediness, and therefore should not conserve them, which I think is an incomplete argument.

I think it’s really good to look at a book like this because it shows a public opinion shared by a large percentage of the population, that doesn’t necessarily match that of the general population we surround ourselves with, and understanding their viewpoint is an important part of creating a discourse to farther spread sustainability ideas and climate change science.  Bruckner, though not necessarily intentionally, spreads the ideas of climate change deniers, something that I intend to help combat, so I think it’s good to look at their arguments and rationale.

 

News: Young birds suffer in the city

http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/52431

New research from Lund University in Sweden shows that birds in urban environments undergo more stress than those in rural environments and therefore, birds under the age of 1 year old are less likely to survive in urban environments.  I think it’s more interesting though, that they showed no increase in stress for adult birds, and no increase in mortality.  This means the birds are able to adapt to their environment.