placing animals, but late

November 11, 2019

This book was super cool! I liked it best of all the textbook style readings we have had this semester. The delivery was very accessible and I learned a lot — not only about animals and history but also about geography and its applications.

As we discussed in class, I found the chapters that covered the peculiarity of pet-keeping to be perhaps most intriguing. The language used to describe the ways in which we have manipulated dogs through breeding programs was very powerful and made me stop to question many of my shallow notions on things. And honestly, I don’t know, I’m starting to feel like we should be eating dogs?

down to earth, but late

November 11, 2019

When I first started to read this essay, I was stoked. He was talking about material that I was covering in another class (border relations // immigration issues // globalization) — and I love to see my liberal arts education ring true.

As I continued on, however, he started to get awfully wordy and technical. All those diagrams really threw me. For the parts that I was able to dig out of it all, though, I appreciated. His call to grow beyond our simplistic and detrimental binaries was inspiring and sometimes eloquently put.

Missing Item: Environmental News 11/6/19 – Bioacoustics!

November 7, 2019

Bioacoustics is an increasingly popular method of learning about the natural word by measuring and recording the sounds of the environment, from the songs of birds to the gurgling of streams. Small microphones can be attached to trees and other structures, similarly to a camera trap, but these microphones can transmit data to artificial intelligence software that can distinguish multiple overlapping sounds from one another. Audio recording devices can also pick up data from a much greater land area than a camera with a limited frame.

Tropical ecologist Mitch Aide “dreams that one day soon, audio recordings of natural soundscapes will be like rainfall and temperature data, collected from a worldwide network of permanent stations, widely available for analysis, and permanently archived.” Bioacoustics may help us determine how species are responding to disturbances including habitat destruction, climate change, etc. in ways such as listening for their sounds in new places or lack thereof in places where they have a historical presence. Australia is already implementing 100 of these bioacoustic recording devices across the continent.

Read more about this emerging science here:

Missing Item: Environmental News, 10/30/19 – FUNGI!

November 7, 2019

Using fungi in the place of fertilizers for crops is a developing area of research that could lead to new farming systems which reduce the harmful contributions of fertilizers on the environment.

A lot of agricultural crops have been bred for certain desirable characteristics, and some of this breeding has reduced natural symbiotic relationships between crops and fungi in the soil. However, a recent study reintroduced fungi to wheat crops, and the fungi provided the wheat with phosphorous and nitrogen under multiple different climate variables. Under high atmospheric CO2 levels, the fungi continued to provide the crop with the same amount of nutrients, indicating that fungi may be a reliable source of nutrients for important crops even under future/projected carbon levels.

Fertilizers contribute to carbon emissions, can cause eutrophication in water systems, and may be poisonous to organisms that ingest them, so the relationship of crops and fungi looks promising in terms of helping out the environment. Of course, more research is necessary, especially since fungi have been found to occasionally parasitize crops, but in this particular study, the fungi did not take more carbon from their partners than usual even under the high CO2 levels.

Read more:

Madison Valentine: Environmental News

November 6, 2019

Solar and Wind Energy Preserve Groundwater for Drought, Agriculture

“A new Princeton University-led study in Nature Communications is among the first to show that solar and wind energy not only enhance drought resilience, but also aid in groundwater sustainability.”

This piece talks about how the increased use of solar and wind energy can potentially decrease the reliance on hydropower which is really helpful in places like California that are prone to droughts.

Madison Valentine:

November 6, 2019

Why animal geography is relevant today: (p.4-5)

-The understanding of how humans, through their economic production and consumption patterns, are contributing to to environmental problems, and thereby our impact on other animal species specifically is becoming more pronounced.

-Changes in our understanding of how human society works have been taking place over the last several decades. Advances in social theories have lead to a critique of the modernist view of the world.

-The politics of animal issues

Animal Definitions Vary:

  • some exclude humans
  • some exclude groups of animals like livestock and fish
  • China: “Any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, and any other vertebrate or invertebrate wild or tame”
  • Zimbabwe: “Any kind of domestic vertebrate animal, any kind of wild vertebrate animal in captivity.”

*”Many animals are excluded from legal definitions so that they can be excluded from legal definitions so that they can be excluded from animal welfare laws to help locally based animal-related industries like fishing or animal research.” (p.6)

-Michael Vick & Travis the Monkey examples (p.49)

  • The place of animals in our homes
  • Questions of place, identity, ethics and politics
  • What constitutes as a pet?
  • The role of power in pet keeping
  • “Cruelty is deeply embedded in human nature. Our relation to pets, with all of its surface play of love and devotion, is incorrectly perceived unless this harsh fact is is recognized.”
  • terrible beasts, unknown, uncontrollable forces of nature/ beauty, power, divine, spiritual
  • “Pet-keeping does this by manipulating the reproductive processes of animals in order to mold them into “creatures of a shape of habit that please their owners.”” A new perspective that I had never considered before
  • Dog and goldfish breeding is directly related to this: This kind of breeding can harm the animals (breathing issues for short-snouted dogs, sterility/difficulty reproducing on their own, hip dysplasia, eye problems, cancers, etc.)
  • “This must be considered the most brutal kind of domination.”
  • Spay/neuter, crop tails and ears, declaw, etc.

Zoos: (p.78)

-This is a chapter that I knew I was going to be extremely interested in due to my area of study and the career path that I have chosen.

  • Zoos started as a place for collectors to develop classification systems and gather information about the animals. The main purpose was to provide a way to see and study different species.
  • The original zoos did not care about the lives that the animals lived while in captivity
  • Today, they have evolved to be a place of education/educational entertainment (for the public, veterinarians, biologists). Animals are kept in cages but the goal is to get people to learn about the species living in the world and the problems they face.
  • geographers have focused on zoos as spaces that denote the separation of humans and animals as well as on the dimensions that these specific zoo sites reveal about human experiences of the animal other.
  • Zoo modernism
  • electronic zoos Vs. traditional zoos
  • Lab mouse Vs. endangered mouse, pet mouse Vs. pest mouse
  • “Zoo animals are also research tools because zookeepers use captive animals to solve problems about animal health, learn about animal behaviors, and practice breeding programs that can be used for conservation purposes.”

“Down to Earth” Review by Mahnoor

November 6, 2019

Reading this short, but convoluted essay required a lot of focus and outside research. To understand Bruno Latour’s frame of mind, I read more about the actor-network theory, semiotics, social construction theory, and modernism/postmodernism/amodernism, which helped me make sense of his approach slightly better than when I started reading.

I think what he is asking for or proposing is a complete overhaul of our current materialistic, dualistic, and anthropocentric system. We need to reimagine our system beyond the two-dimensional false dichotomies of Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative, progressive/reactionary, capitalist/communist, or Global/Local. The issue of climate change is so all-encompassing and inescapable that there is no “Us v. Them,” as we are all Terrestrials a part of the same world. All things “terrestrial” therefore need to be factored into every facet of our lives, our economies, our systems of governments, our Weltanschauung. Latour poses that humans are terrestrial actors in a network of human/nonhuman terrestrials with the agency to make a difference, and that we are not somehow removed from our situation with external forces acting upon us. There is no “inside” or “outside,” no “here” or “there,” rather only an “in-between.” For someone who opposes dualities, he creates a lot of them with his concepts of “globalization plus/minus,” Local plus/minus,” and “nature as process/universe”

But in the end, when his writing becomes slightly more lucid and accessible, he asks the vital question we must all ask ourselves: where would you like to land and with whom would you agree to share a dwelling place. His question made me think of Carl Sagan’s “A Pale Blue Dot,” which I shared in class. And though his writing may have been fueled by current events, I think these questions and concepts have been long coming and it’s about time we confront our reality, constructed and fragmented as it may be.