Colten Harvey’s Week 13 Postings

November 13, 2017

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Climate Change: I enjoyed reading this book. I thought it asked brought up a lot of good points and really got me to think critical about our current situation. It is amazing how many people choose to simply ignore climate change even though its effects are everywhere, such as heat waves becoming more frequent, stronger superstorms, typhoons wreaking havoc , sea levels rising, the Arctic permafrost is melting faster than expected, corals and fish are dying, and there are more floods and droughts. All of these are critical effects of climate change yet nothing is really being done to stop it. My favorite quote from the book is “the climate paradox is easily evident. The scientific data and measurements about climate change and global warming are getting stronger and stronger. It’s not that scientists are alarmists — it’s that the science itself is alarming.” This goes to show that this issue needs to be taken seriously and something needs to be done, and the author gives us a few possible ways to help combat climate change. Overall I found this book to quite interesting and well worth the read.

Event: That’s Baa-rach! Sheep Can ID Obama, Other Celebs

Sheep are known to be social animals who can recognize each other and even recognize their caretakers. However, researchers have now found that sheep can recognize unfamiliar faces even if they are not in 3-D. The researchers trained the sheep to recognize Obama, Emma Watson, Jake Gllyenhal, and others. The sheep were on par with human recognition and they can even recognize them when presented different pictures at different angles.


Current Event

November 8, 2017

Although animal testing on chimpanzees is no longer legal, there are still a large number of these animals in captivity as no one is quite sure what to do with them. Current efforts are focused on moving the animals to new homes in sanctuaries and wildlife reservations, but finding the space is a slow process. It started in 2011 when the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, declared that the N.I.H. would fund no new biomedical research using chimpanzees. Five chimps made the news recently as a result of their recent transition to a new “wild” home in a sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Atlanta. According to the New York Times, “By 2015, the N.I.H. had gone through several stages of decision-making and concluded that it would retire all chimps it owned, retaining none for potential emergency use — in case of a human epidemic, for instance. The agency owns about 220 chimps outside of those now in sanctuaries and supports another 80, which will also be retired.”


Current Event – Janelle

November 8, 2017

Happy Cow Dance

Cow Science: Cattle are Intelligent, Emotional and They Have Eureka Moments—So Should We Be Killing Them?

Bovine cognition.  It’s a thing.

David Week 12

November 8, 2017

Placing Animals drew back on a lot of what we have read earlier in the semester, particularly Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, but Julie Urbanik approaches these topics in a different way.  This is most plainly seen in first chapter of her book, where she spends less time talking about animals and more time introducing and explaining geographic terms and concepts.  It felt like I was actually reviewing stuff I read when I took cultural geography when reading the first couple chapters of Urbanik.  She introduced concepts such as places and regions, and how areas are different for both spatial and temporal reasons.  I even recognized a couple of geographers she cited, such as Carl Sauer and Doreen Massey.

There were also a lot of random facts that really stuck out to me.  Like how the first known book to written to depict an animal’s perspective was published in 1887, or how there are more tigers living in captivity in the United States than there are living in the wild.  I also liked Urbanik’s examination of the role animals play in language, and how we associate certain traits and personality characteristics to particular animals, like the clever fox, the brave lion, and the chicken chicken.  Although there was a lot of interesting new perspectives, I still found a few parts to be repetitive because of their similarity to our previous readings.


Current Event

Planet of the Baboons

Collin Placing Animals Response

November 8, 2017


Julie Urbanik’s Placing Animals was, in many ways, a reiteration of many themes we’ve come into contact with over the course of the semester. Chief among these themes is the exact relationship between humankind and the natural world. Nevertheless, I would contend that this book suffers from relying in part on a flawed theory. This theoretical notion is that of hybridity, defined as recognizing that “the ability to act or effect change– is multidirectional and does not come from humans alone” (Urbanik 44). The fundamental problem facing this methodological approach to human-animal relations is rooted in what hybridity is: a human-forged model. Indeed, the only way we can conceptualize animals is through the lens of human reason, and most models will be inherently anthropocentric for that reason. Our attempts to understand and interpret animals will always be through the lens of human experience. Thus, although Descartes’s overly mechanistic account of animals is incorrect, he was on to something when he attached importance to animals’ inability to speak (Urbanik 23).

A clear example of how apparent hybridity is covertly anthropocentric can be found in the case of animals and religion. As the book notes, some religions like Hinduism directly elevate animals to a literally divine, in the case of Ganesha, or semi-divine status (Urbanik 55). Although this is speculative, it would seem that a deification of animals, be it in India or Ancient Egypt, says much more about humanity’s relation to itself than to animals. In our attempts to understand animals and gain valuable human knowledge, we have tried to place animals and their behavior within the wider cosmos, our cosmos rather. Both Ganesha and Bastet are animal-human fusions that connect human interpretations of animal behavior, understood within a human context, to humans themselves. Even though it might seem like the ultimate reverence for animals to place them in a pantheon, we’ve only situated them as such because of humanlike interpretations of their behavior, which is an intrusion of anthropocentrism.

Another example of this process is in the case with the domestication of animals as pets. Though this is an outwardly symbiotic relationship, it is anchored in anthropocentric ideas. As the book documents, a type of affection for pets emerged during the Victorian era; however, this was really no more progressive than a view of them as utilitarian beasts. The moment we begin to empathize with pets is the moment we assert our dominance over them and over any possible understanding of them. We cannot begin to conceptualize animals in-and-of-themselves. Their minds are noumenal to us, for any attempt to speak about them is situated within the limits of our human reason. Obviously, domesticated beasts of burden are hardly better off. In this case, the unilateral power dynamic between humans and animals is most apparent. An exemplary case that Urbanik mentions is how the shorthorn cow was selectively bred to produce desired traits for economic purposes (Urbanik 99). In this variant of domestication, anthropocentrism is rampant as humans intentionally use and shape animals for their own devices.

Ultimately, I thought that Urbanik’s book was fascinating, yet I think it paints too rosy of a picture where human-animal relations are concerned.

Environmental News:

Recently, the Department of Energy has introduced a plan to subsidize about 90 coal and nuclear power plants, with a cost to taxpayers of over ten billion dollars a year. Ostensibly, this subsidy is supposed to support these plants for their dependable contributions to our electrical grid. Nevertheless, it has come under fire for propping up dirty forms of energy, and it has been chastised for potentially interfering with market efficiency given the declining costs of renewable energy and natural gas.


Curent Envio Event–Daniel Delatte

November 8, 2017

Time Travel is possible. Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev basically lives in the future. After spending 804 days in space and returning back to earth he has put himself in the future. That phenomenon is created by time dilation. This makes it possible when one travels faster than the speed of light. He is now living .02 seconds in the future.

Also, that last article that was posted had octopuses spelled “octopuses.”

Placing Animal’s–Daniel Delatte Review

November 8, 2017

Urbanik’s Placing Animals discusses the relationships that we have with animals and how we should be able to distinguish the differences between them and the animals that we aren’t too fond of. The book plays with the idea that there are animals that do not belong in the same category as every other one. Those categories are by what the animals believe that they are going along the lines as in allies or enemies—those that have two legs are enemies and those that are on four or have wings are friends. This differentiation can be seen in the foods we eat and how we treat animals. This can be said to be a capitalist way of thinking as the way we treat some animals for what they can do and provide for us. While in India animals are allowed to roam freely and not be eaten as they are sacred, since India is neither pure capitalist or socialist. It further provides a deeper thinking to how we view animals, as well as how we think animals would view us given their ability to think like we do. Our way of thinking is challenged by how Urbanik would toy with the idea when he places animal’s in a farm that has each animal play certain roles, almost like a government setting. I think what he does with giving certain animals certain characteristics that motivate their way their ability to think makes it more relatable to us as humans in terms of our differences (race, socioeconomic background, culture, nationality, etc.) It could be argued that their way of thinking in terms of agricultural planning is better influenced because they are pushing for ways that is best suited to be best for their species. The statement of “Long Live Humanity” by Snowball was pretty funny considering, how they are all animals and that the story had them playing humanlike roles.