Nature Pt.2 & Current Event

February 21, 2017

 Fifth of World’s food lost to over-eating and waste

A study has shown that almost 20% of the food made available to consumers is lost through over-eating or waste. Researchers say that the world population consumes 10% more food than it needs and almost 9% is thrown away or left to spoil.

At the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, scientist examined 10 stages in the global food system (food consumption and the growing/harvesting of crops) to become knowledgeable of the extent of the losses. They used the data collected by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Almost half of harvested crops are lost through over-consumption, consumer waste, and inefficiencies in production processes. Livestock loses 78% and 1.08 billion tons of harvested crops are used to produce 240 million tons of edible products. This stage accounts for 40% of all losses of harvested crops.

Encouraging people to eat fewer animal products, reduce waste, and not exceed their nutritional needs could help reverse these trends. Dr. Peter Alexander, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences said,

“Reducing losses from the global food system would improve food security and help prevent environmental harm. Until now, it was not known how over-eating impacts on the system. Not only is it harmful to health, we found that over-eating is bad for the environment and impairs food security.”

1/5 of world’s food lost to over-eating and waste.


Nature Pt.2 

Coates talks about how every landscape we have now has been altered by humans one way or another. I agree with him, only a few tiny parts of the world hasn’t been touched by humans. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but isn’t a good thing either. Sometimes we help sustain and keep landscapes conserved and others we destroy and use for our own selfish reasons.

The last section of the book talks about how since animals can’t communicate we feel inferior. I can see how that is portrayed but I have always thought of animals somewhat of equal beings. Even though they can’t talk they have showed how they have their own unique personalities and how they have feelings.



Animals, Lawns, and Human Destruction

February 21, 2017

Nature: Part 2

Brain Wiggles:


– Coates seems to distaste for human interaction with nature or the natural world. He says that all the landscapes we see today have been once altered by humans. I personally don’t see that as a negative in every case. Humans utilize the world around them and sometimes go too far. But, I don’t think human interaction is ALL bad. In other words, I believe that humans can live in nature without destroying it.


-The pristine lawn and garden ideal has been around for a long time. I remember in Art history we discussed the different gardens based on the region. Gardens were merely another form of art when art represented wealth or importance within a community.

The “perfect lawn” craze makes me a bit wigged out. It follows the same idea as sign of importance, but it feels a little outdated.  I do not understand the strive for perfection in a lawn, especially in an age of environmental revolution. Lawns do not help the planet. Raking leaves off a lawn actually kills it. The activist in me wants to plant trees all over perfectly cut grass.


Above: French Garden Below: British Garden


Coates short section reflecting on the idea that humans have dominance on animals

due to lack of communication, made a lot of sense to me. I am surprised how novel this idea was to me. Lack of communication can lead to a dominant -inferior relationship. I have always equated the lives of animals to the live of my own. I have always been bewildered but not surprised by the inferior partnership animals inherit due to American history and how people treated other people as inferior for centuries. I feel like something clicked in me when I read this section of the book. I understand the other side of the story, because before it was innate to me to treat animals with respect.

Current Event:

Wind is cool! haha. Wind power sets a record for providing electricity to some states. This gives new hope to and new perspective to continuing the effort in providing energy through wind alone. Thanks, Obama.

Nature Pt 2.

February 21, 2017


My current event for this week is about drones that have been created in Japan to be artificial pollinators.  The drones are covered in horse hair with a sticky gel that helps them collect the pollen and carry it to another flower.  The gel was actually discovered by accident when doing another experiment.  It went wrong so they kept the gel in a cabinet and rediscovered it 10 years later.  After finding that it was still sticky, they decided to use it and started putting it on ants and houseflies to see how it worked.  They then bought a small drone and attached the horse hairs and gel.  The drone is expected to help counter the effect of declining honeybee populations.


To be completely honest, I thought the first half of this chunk was really weird and pointless.  The second half wasn’t too bad.

Englishman used to create  giant gardens that I think were supposed to represent their ability to control nature and make it look nice.  However I don’t think that really looks like nature at all, or at least not as I like to imagine it which is usually as a forest.  People imagined the perfect world to be like the Garden of Eden but without the “burden of church” and thought that indigenous people had the perfect life because they ran around “devoid of sin and clothing.” I thought this was an interesting way of thinking about it, especially because Christians often imagine the perfect world as the Garden of Eden as well.  The only difference is that they enjoy that “burden of church.”  This seemed to fit into the idea introduced earlier that Christianity was the root of all of our problems.

Coates also introduced the idea of how different forms of government have different effects on nature.  He mentions at one point that capitalism is the root of our problems with the environment.  He also explains how Karl Marx felt about the environment, in that he strongly supported nature’s rights but actually hated being in nature.

The last little section of this reading brought in animals and explained why humans think we have dominance over them.  He explains how animals not being able to communicate was a big reason for this way of thinking but also mentions the chimps we have taught sign language to and mentions that crows can do deductive reasoning.

Manatees may be Reclassified from Endangered to Threatened

February 21, 2017

Florida surveyors counted over 6,000 manatees (3,488 on the east coast and 3,132 on the west coast). This number was drastically different than the 1991 count of 1,267 manatees, prompting the US Fish and Wildlife Service to consider classifying the West Indian manatee as threatened rather than endangered. The manatee’s decline was attributed to red tides, watercrafts and cold weather, among other factors. It seems that with the help of Save Crystal River and the Save the Manatee Club, the increase in water temperature and restrictions on boat speed and waterfront development have helped the manatees come back.


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Here’s a short video about the sea cows!


February 15, 2017

Right off the bat, I kind of wish this book wasn’t just about western attitudes towards nature. It would be interesting to look at the history of humans altering their environment in Africa and Asia, too. I still found it a decent enough read though it was a little bit hard to comprehend at times. In chapters two and three, the author seems to suggest that the introduction of capitalism and Christianity are the two main beginning points of mass disrespect for nature, but later talks about how even civilizations preceding these things such as th Native Americans have been responsible for mass environmental change. I also like that he talks about the difference between merely altering nature and damaging it, because I really believe we can integrate ourselves into nature without haring it, though I wish he would touch on that more. I hope he goes into it in later chapters.

Current event

We’re all aware of how warm this winter is, and while it’s easy to say that this is climate change in action, it is also due to natural weather patterns. This article says that El nina could be the cause of warmer than average temperatures this year, though it does say that Ohio should have around average temperatures at this point in the year since El nina causes warmer temperatures in the south and colder ones in the north around now.

Nature (part 1) and Current Event

February 15, 2017
  • Between the Greek and Roman times and the Medieval times, the author talked about a change between nature being a part of the religion and something seen as evil or less by religion.  He didn’t really explain why this was, but I speculate that it had to do with Christianity’s attempts to turn anything to do with the pagan religions into a sin.
  • The idea that nature/material world and person was separate from the spiritual part of a person seemed to span quite a few religions as well as over a long span of time. This isn’t really my area, so is this view still around in present day religion?  I’ve never heard of a modern day person think that the natural world is somehow lesser because it’s not the spiritual part, but I guess it could still be around as subtext to religion.
  • When the author mentioned that the Native Americans, a culture typically seen as very ecological, had a greater impact on the land than the colonists after a century into colonization, I wondered how much and what kind of impact he was talking about.  Any species in an area leaves an impact on the environment by living there.  At what point does human impact go beyond our natural affect on the world and instead become unnatural? They mentioned in the beginning that that point may be as soon as humans stop being nomadic.
  • Current event-A sheep and goat plague has been going around Mongolia since the end of last year, and it has been affecting the saiga antelope population, enough that 2,500 antelope have died, and the endemic isn’t going away naturally.  This is estimated to be 25% of the population and as long as the endemic doesn’t slow down, it could kill up to 80% of the population.  Ways to stop the disease is being researched by many groups, but so far nothing major has been decided. WCN Saiga disease outbreak update

Nature Notes

February 15, 2017

11: It has always been interesting to me to learn about habits and techniques that humans and other animals share, like the example Coates gives of African termites “farming” fungus. Green herons  catch prey by baiting fish with things like pieces of bread or smaller fish, and frogfish use an appendage that looks like a tangle of worms in order to bait crustaceans and other fish (and that appendage grows back once it has been bitten off!). Some human inventions, like fishing, do not seem that separate from nature after all.

17: I have not really considered nature through a historical lens before, so I found Coates’ history to overall be very interesting and informative. I think he did a good job of addressing misconceptions (like how even primitive/basic survival skills such as building a fire, not just industrial activities, have environmental repercussions).

25-26: It was interesting to read about the civilizations that have fallen due to agricultural crises and to see that “modern problem” have really been happening for centuries. Since I have been learning about mathematical models in my Marine Biology class, I found an interesting paper that uses a mathematical model analyzing resource availability, capital, waste and production to explain why past societies have collapsed. One example includes the Mayan collapse as a result of overuse of the nutrient-poor soils in the Yucatan lowlands.

35: “The persisting Western tradition of the weekend cottage or lakeside cabin echoes the Roman search for respite from the stresses of city life, personal troubles and public office.” Growing up, my family and I went to my grandparent’s lake house every summer, and a few people in my neighborhood visited around the same area of Wisconsin every year as well. It is interesting to see where this tradition originates.


Depiction of animal trials.

50-58: When Coates mentioned E.P. Evans’ book about the public hanging of animals, I was interested in reading it, and then I was shocked to find that animal trials actually occurred. Animals were subject to capital punishment for murder and exorcism and excommunication for property destruction. Given that the meaning of “paradise” today is usually connotative of open areas in nature, it was interesting to hear that the meaning of paradise is “walled enclosure,” like shady groves and hunting reserves, which shows how much the perception of nature has evolved over the years, and how culture and the media today can impact perceptions of nature.

76: The ethics of animal experimentation is an ongoing controversy today that I have been thinking a lot about since I have started taking advantage of research opportunities, and I found this article describing some history of vivisection and animal experimentation in England in the seventeenth century.

93: “Attempts to restore past environments may be psychologically soothing and emotionally satisfying but they are vainglorious and fatuous from an ecological standpoint.” Even by restoring past environments, present environments would be destroyed because nature is constantly changing. I think this brings the reader back to Coates’ earlier question: “And if change is the only constant in the natural world as well as in human society, where is the urgency or sense in trying to preserve in perpetuity something both relatively recent and likely to change of its own accord anyhow?” My perception of conservation is preserving present environments that are currently evolving due to human change, not by “their own accord.”

106-109: “Nature was a vital cohesive force in a country that lacked the glue of ethnic, religious and racial homogeneity” (108). It is interesting to see that almost all countries listed on this website have an animal as their national symbol, showing how integral nature is to culture.


12: “One thing at least is certain: no human society has ever lived completely inside nature or outside environmental change.” Can individuals live completely inside nature?

41: “Images, myths and perceptions are worth studying, regardless of their accuracy as representations of the physical world.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

63: What do you think are the roles of God, man and nature?

86-99: Do you think there is one specific source of environmental degradation? Some blame Columbus, others blame agriculture (86), and some blame European imperialism and technology (99).